Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 186

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 186THE PRIMA DONNA
outstretched action of my hand, and never could intelligence like
hers, mistake the unequivocal language in my eye. Her countenance
changed on the instant —I could see that, though I could see little
else her cheeks became flushed, her lips trembled and her voice
for the first time faltered as she sung, while her eye was fixed upon
me with a tearful but sweet intensity of gaze.
Let it be remembered that I was little more than a boy at this
period that I had seen very little of the witchery of dramatic
representation that I had no sort of suspicion of guile in the heart
of one, who could personate innocence and grief quite as truly as
her own form and features personated loveliness—that I looked
upon the ideal in all things, and knew nothing of the real; and
believed that truth was an undoubted presence, for ever manifested
where it was professed. To those who have been once young, I need
not undertake to account for this confidence in the humanities—to
those who are still young, there will be no need for me 'to make
any such attempt. Enough that I looked, listened and believed. I
will not say that I loved. I am not sure that there is any passion
in the heart of man worthy of the name of love, until the character
is fixed by experience, and the heart subdued by some degree of
suffering. Perhaps it will be quite enough to admit that' my passions
were active my sensibilities without referring to any more subtle
I waited with indescribable impatience for the close of the per-
formance, and was the first, when she retired from the stage, to
leave the theatre. I went round and stationed myself at the place
of private egress. My former adventure under her window had
taught me to be cautious, and I took care to place myself as much
in shadow as possible. Here I watched and waited, counting the
moments as if they had been hours, and even reproaching the object
of my admiration, as if she had known that I awaited her. In reality
there was no great delay. It might have been a half hour after
her share in the performance was ended when she came forth, con-
ducted by her ancient protector. They passed close beside me, her
garments brushed against me, and her eye, keen and quickened, as