aida was hedged off from a neighbor's grounds by a low wall of stone and clay and sand, in and out of which grew roughly strong tamarisks now in their full pale pink blossom. The eyes of Judith had been on these tamarisks, waving like plumes in the sea-air, when she was startled from her reverie by the voice of Uncle Zachie.
"Why, Miss Judith! What is the matter with you? Dull, eh? Ah—wait a bit, when Oliver comes home we shall have mirth. He is full of merriment. A bright boy and a good son; altogether a fellow to be proud of, though I say it. He will return at the fall."
"I am glad to hear it, Mr. Menaida. You have not seen him for many years."
"Not for ten."
"It will be a veritable feast to you. Does he remain long in England?"
"I cannot say. If his employers find work for him at home, then at home he will tarry, but if they consider themselves best served by him at Oporto, then to Portugal must he return."
"Will you honor me by taking a seat near me—under the trellis?" asked Judith. "It will indeed be a pleasure to me to have a talk with you; and I do need it very sore. My heart is so full that I feel I must spill some of it before a friend."
"Then indeed I will hold out both hands to catch the sweetness."
"Nay—it is bitter, not sweet, bitter as gall, and briny as the ocean."
"Not possible; a little salt gives savor."
She shook her head, took up the stocking, did a couple of stitches, and put it down again. The sea-breeze that tossed the pink bunches of tamarisk waved stray tresses of her red-gold hair, but somehow the brilliancy, the burnish, seemed gone from it. Her eyes were sunken, and there was a greenish tinge about the ivory white surrounding her mouth.
"I cannot work, dear Mr. Menaida; I am so sorry that I should have played badly that sonata last night. I knew it fretted you, but I could not help myself, my mind is so selfishly directed that I cannot attend to anything even of Beethoven's in music, nor to stocking-knitting even for Jamie."