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   Chapter 6 No.6

The Human Chord By Algernon Blackwood Characters: 8180

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


At first Spinrobin was only aware of the keen delight produced in him by the manner of Skale's uttering her name, for it entered his consciousness with a murmuring, singing sound that continued on in his thoughts like a melody. His racing blood carried it to every portion of his body. He heard her name, not with his ears alone but with his whole person-a melodious, haunting phrase of music that thrilled him exquisitely. Next, he knew that she stood close before him, shaking his hand, and looking straight into his eyes with an expression of the most complete trust and sympathy imaginable, and that he felt a well-nigh irresistible desire to draw her yet closer to him and kiss her little shining face. Thirdly-though the three impressions were as a matter of fact almost simultaneous-that the huge figure of the clergyman stood behind them, watching with the utmost intentness and interest, like a keen and alert detective eager for some betrayal of evidence, inspired, however, not by mistrust, but by a very zealous sympathy.

He understood that this meeting was of paramount importance in Mr.

Skale's purpose.

"How do you do, Mr. Spinrobin," he heard a soft voice saying, and the commonplace phrase served to bring him back to a more normal standard of things. But the tone in which she said it caused him a second thrill almost more delightful than the first, for the quality was low and fluty, like the gentle note of some mellow wind instrument, and the caressing way she pronounced his name was a revelation. Mr. Skale had known how to make it sound dignified, but this girl did more-she made it sound alive. "I will give thee a new name" flashed into his thoughts, as some memory-cell of boyhood discharged its little burden most opportunely and proceeded to refill itself.

The smile of happiness that broke over Spinrobin's face was certainly reflected in the eyes that gazed so searchingly into his own, without the smallest sign of immodesty, yet without the least inclination to drop the eyelids. The two natures ran out to meet each other as naturally as two notes of music run to take their places in a chord. This slight, blue-eyed youth, light of hair and sensitive of spirit, and this slim, dark-skinned little maiden, with the voice of music and the wide-open grey eyes, understood one another from the very first instant their atmospheres touched and mingled; and the big Skale, looking on intently over their very shoulders, saw that it was good and smiled down upon them, too, in his turn.

"The harmony of souls and voices is complete," he said, but in so low a tone that the secretary did not hear it. Then, with a hand on a shoulder of each, he half pushed them before him into the dining room, his whole face running, as it were, into a single big smile of contentment. The important event had turned out to his entire satisfaction. He looked like some beneficent father, well pleased with his two children.

But Spinrobin, as he moved beside the girl and heard the rustle of her dress that almost touched him, felt as though he stood upon a sliding platform that was moving ever quicker, and that the adventure upon which he was embarked had now acquired a momentum that nothing he could do would ever stop. And he liked it. It would carry him out of himself into something very big….

And at dinner, where he sat opposite to the girl and studied her face closely, Mr. Skale, he was soon aware, was occupied in studying the two of them even more closely. He appeared always to be listening to their voices. They spoke little enough, however, only their eyes met continually, and when they did so there was no evidence of a desire to withdraw. Their gaze remained fastened on one another, on her part without shyness, without impudence on his. That Mr. Skale wished for them an intimate and even affectionate understanding was evident, and the secretary warmed to him on that account more than ever, if on no other.

It surprised him too-when he thought of it, which was rarely-that a girl who was perforce of humble origin could carry hers

elf with an air of such complete and natural distinction, and prove herself so absolutely "the lady." For there was something about her of greater value than any mere earthly rank or class could confer; her spirit was in its very essence distinguished, perfectly simple, yet strong with a great and natural pride. It never occurred to her soul to doubt its own great value-or to question that of others. She somehow or other made the little secretary feel of great account. He had never quite realized his own value before. Her presence, her eyes, her voice served to bring it out. And a very curious detail that he always mentions just at this point is the fact that it never occurred to him to wonder what her surname might be, or whether, indeed, she had one at all. Her name, Miriam, seemed sufficient. The rest of her-if there was any other part of her not described by those three syllables-lay safely and naturally included somewhere in his own name. "Spinrobin" described her as well as himself. But "Miriam" completed his own personality and at the same time extended it. He felt all wrapped up and at peace with her. With Philip Skale, Mrs. Mawle and Miriam, he, Robert Spinrobin, felt that he naturally belonged as "one of the family." They were like the four notes in the chord: Skale, the great bass; Mawle, the mellow alto; himself and Miriam, respectively, the echoing tenor and the singing soprano. The imagery by which, in the depths of his mind, he sought to interpret to himself the whole singular business ran, it seems, even then to music and the analogies of music.

The meal was short and very simple. Mrs. Mawle carved the joint at the end of the table, handed the vegetables and looked after their wants with the precision of long habit. Her skill, in spite of the withered arm, was noteworthy. They talked little, Mr. Skale hardly at all. Miriam spoke from time to time across the table to the secretary. She did not ask questions, she stated facts, as though she already knew all about his feelings and tastes. She may have been twenty years of age, perhaps, but in some way she took him back to childhood. And she said things with the simple audacity of a child, ignoring Mr. Skale's presence. It seemed to the secretary as if he had always known her.

"I knew just how you would look," she said, without a trace of shyness, "the moment I heard your name. And you got my name very quickly, too?"

"Only part of it, at first-"

"Oh yes; but when you saw me completely you got it all," she interrupted. "And I like your name," she added, looking him full in the eye with her soft grey orbs; "it tells everything."

"So does yours, you know."

"Oh, of course," she laughed; "Mr. Skale gave it to me the day I was born."

"I heard it," put in the clergyman, speaking almost for the first time.

And the talk dropped again, the secretary's head fairly whirling.

"You used it all, of course, as a little boy," she said presently again; "names, I mean?"

"Rather," he replied without hesitation; "only I've rather lost it since-"

"It will come back to you here. It's so splendid, all this world of sound, and makes everything seem worth while. But you lose your way at first, of course; especially if you are out of practice, as you must be."

Spinrobin did not know what to say. To hear this young girl make use of such language took his breath away. He became aware that she was talking with a purpose, seconding Mr. Skale in the secret examination to which the clergyman was all the time subjecting him. Yet there was no element of alarm in it all. In the room with these two, and with the motherly figure of the housekeeper busying about to and fro, he felt at home, comforted, looked after-more even, he felt at his best; as though the stream of his little life were mingling in with a much bigger and worthier river, a river, moreover, in flood. But it was the imagery of music again that most readily occurred to him. He felt that the note of his own little personality had been caught up into the comforting bosom of a complete chord….

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