Rose O'Paradise

     Grace Miller White

Rose OParadise

On a hill, reared back from a northern lake, stood a weather-beaten farmhouse, creaking in a heavy winter blizzard. It was an old-fashioned, many-pillared structure. The earmarks of hard winters and the fierce suns of summer were upon it. From the main road it was scarcely discernible, settled, as it was, behind a row of pine trees, which in the night wind beat and tossed mournfully. In the front room, which faced the porch, sat a man,—a tall, thin man, with straight, long jaws, and heavy overhanging brows. With moody eyes he was staring into the grate fire, a fearful expression upon his face. He straightened his shoulders, got up, and paced the floor back and forth, stopping now and then to listen expectantly. Then again he seated himself to wait. Several times, passionately insistent, he shook his head, and it was as if the refusal were being made to an invisible presence. Suddenly he lifted his face as the sound of a weird, wild wail was borne to him, mingling with the elf-like moaning of the wind. He leaned forward slightly, listening intently. From somewhere above him pleading notes from a violin were making the night even more mournful. A change came over the thin face. “My God!” he exclaimed aloud. “Who’s playing like that?” He crossed the room and jerked the bell-rope roughly. In a few moments the head of a middle-aged colored woman appeared at the door. “Did you tell my daughter I wanted to see her?” questioned the man. “No, sah, I didn’t. When you got here she wasn’t in. Then she slid to the garret afore I saw ’er. Now she’s got to finish her fiddlin’ afore I tell ’er you’re here. I never bother Miss Jinnie when she’s fiddlin’, sah.” The old woman bowed obsequiously, as if pleading pardon. “Yes, sir; Jinnie, for short, sir,” answered the girl, with a slight inclination of her head. Awkwardly, and with almost an embarrassed manner, she walked in front of the grate to the chair pointed out to her. The man glanced sharply at the strongly-knit young figure, vibrant with that vital thing called “life.” He sighed and dropped back limply. There followed a lengthy silence, until at last Thomas Singleton shifted his feet and spoke slowly, with a grim setting of his teeth. “I have much to say to you. Sit back farther in your chair and don’t stare at me so.”

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