Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 185

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Page 185

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription THE PRIMA DONNAI85
It may be readily imagined that my indifference, from that instant,
disappeared. I was now all eyes and ears and devoted attention. I
drank in every sound, watched every expression, and was ready to
believe any extravagance which the public enthusiasm might exhibit
or express. She was triumphant in her performances that night. She
was said, by the critics, even to have surpassed herself. Opinion had
but one voice, and that was admiration; feeling but one emotion, and
that was love. She was, indeed, a most lovely creature. Her form,
which I now beheld entire, and in a perfect light, for the first time,
was one, harmoniously rounded into grace, whose every movement
seemed to swell into expression. She looked admirably the character
she played for the time she was one of those sylphs of the moon-
light and the sea, which breathed in poetic spirituality from the works
of the ancient masters of English romance. Nor was the intellectual
spirituality of her appearance, lessened by the unvarying sadness
which prevailed upon her countenance, —a sadness not unfitly suited
to the looks of a being otherwise pure and designing to be so, born
for heaven, and ultimately secure of it, but whom, a single, sad lapse,
has banished into short but painful exile from its bright and blessing
I cannot say that I listened to, or even heard, the music. The seat
which I occupied was in the pit, and so near to the footlights the
orchestra being between, that I could note every change in the ex-
pression of her face. I may have deceived myself, but I certainly
fancied, that she at length saw mine. If she did, she read a volume in
the 'quivering of my lip in the tearful admiration of my eye. There
was one period in her performance when I know that she beheld me.
She .had advanced to the outer edge of the proscenium in obedience to
the action of the piece. My emotions had been gaining strength for a
considerable time before. Heedless of the impropriety I had risen
from my seat, and without a consciousness of my folly until forcibly
drawn back to my place by some one behind me, my motion towards
the stage had corresponded entirely with hers. The good people
ascribed to a music frenzy the absurdity of my conduct. But she she
knew better; she saw the movement of my person—she beheld the