Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 182

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Page 182

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 182THE PRIMA DONNA
noted he went forth as usual, just after my breakfast hour had been
passed. I took the precaution now, to do my espionage through the
blinds of my window, which I kept as carefully closed as my opposite
neighbour. I could see that his eyes were cast upwards as he passed
out and came in, and I readily conjectured, that, having noted my
constant watchfulness from the window, the quick instinct of jealousy
converted my appearance at night beneath his, into proofs, and
"Confirmation strong as holy writ,"
of evil purposes contemplated, and, possibly, evil deeds performed.
Yet, truly, did I mean no evil. At the worst, that susceptible vanity
of the youthful heart which makes it equally ready to exercise its
own, and to believe that the affections of another are sympathetically
awakened, was all my error. The strange surprise of hearing such
music, and seeing such a face, in such a dwelling, was, perhaps, more
than any thing beside, the source of that interest which the songstress
awakened in my bosom. Had she come and gone, without bringing
about the annoying little incident just mentioned, she would most
probably have been nothing more in my eyes and thought, than any
other among the "sweet singers of Israel."
It was impossible, now, that I should feel any such indifference.
Curiosity was awakened, within me, and sharpened into activity all
those other emotions which had been merely roused before. Every
thing about her lowly household had now an interest in my sight
which kept me feverishly alive to every sound which reached my
ears from, and every movement of life which took place in, that
quarter. Her ugly, little, bilious-faced and fiery-eyed protector, was,
in particular, an object of excessive concern with me; and I followed
his rickety movements, as he went abroad, and was careful to
scrutinize them as he returned home, as if it were possible for me
to derive from such a scrutiny a knowledge of those secrets which
had become so annoyingly worth knowing. I was not long, however,
permitted to maintain this watch upon his movements. On the third
morning after the night on which we had encountered, I was im-