Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 183

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Page 183

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription THE PRIMA DONNAI83
pressed with the conviction, after resuming my usual post of survey at
my window, that the dwelling of the suspicious pair was no longer
occupied. An air of unusual stillness overspread the establishment.
The windows and doors were all sealed up and silent. No smoke
ascended from the chimney no voice resounded from the enclosure
no old woman knocked at the gate for entrance nobody went in
and nobody came out. It presented a lamentable contrast to the
busy hum of the thick clustering hive around it. I waited with some
impatience for the breakfast hour. I hurried through the meal with-
out asking whether I had satisfied appetite, and certainly without
doing justice to my landlady's coffee biggin. I hastened back to my
window, and waited for the customary departure of my male neigh-
bour on his daily journey. He failed to appear as usual; and I was
pained to think that I should hear no more music from the lips of
the sweet, but melancholy stranger. My fears were well-grounded.
My venerable landlady congratulated herself at dinner, that those
noisy people, across the street, who sang so loud, had moved away
under cover of the last night the latter circumstance being one that
awakened all the good old lady's apprehensions for the security of
the rent due; in which an old lady of like dimensions with herself,
had, it appears, considerable interest. But even this fear did not
diminish her satisfaction at the removal when she recollected her
escape from the music which annoyed her. The other sounds from
the `rookery,' vile, various and discordant as they were—never
offended a single sense in her whole system. They were natural and
familiar, and, like certain other natural and familiar objects, they
"signified love."
But to me this confirmation of my fears brought with it a degree
of discomposure for which I was myself unprepared. I had sustained
a loss, which pressed for the moment heavily upon me; the loss of
that object of secret sympathy which responds to our emotions,
though in tears that we are not permitted to see, and in sighs that
we cannot hear. I felt the privation so seriously, and my curiosity had
been so highly stimulated, that I could no longer keep within the
house, and actually sallied forth, on the wild-goose chase of looking-
up the fugitives in such a city as New York.
A few hours ramble soon cured me of this folly, though it failed
to bring me to my senses. I gave up the search after persons whose