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The Piazza

"With fairest flowers,
Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele--"

When I removed into the country, it was to occupy an old-fashioned
farm-house, which had no piazza--a deficiency the more regretted,
because not only did I like piazzas, as somehow combining the coziness
of in-doors with the freedom of out-doors, and it is so pleasant to
inspect your thermometer there, but the country round about was such a
picture, that in berry time no boy climbs hill or crosses vale without
coming upon easels planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painters
painting there. A very paradise of painters. The circle of the stars cut
by the circle of the mountains. At least, so looks it from the house;
though, once upon the mountains, no circle of them can you see. Had the
site been chosen five rods off, this charmed ring would not have been.

The house is old. Seventy years since, from the heart of the Hearth
Stone Hills, they quarried the Kaaba, or Holy Stone, to which, each
Thanksgiving, the social pilgrims used to come. So long ago, that, in
digging for the foundation, the workmen used both spade and axe,
fighting the Troglodytes of those subterranean parts--sturdy roots of a
sturdy wood, encamped upon what is now a long land-slide of sleeping
meadow, sloping away off from my poppy-bed. Of that knit wood, but one
survivor stands--an elm, lonely through steadfastness.

Whoever built the house, he builded better than he knew; or else Orion
in the zenith flashed down his Damocles' sword to him some starry night,
and said, "Build there." For how, otherwise, could it have entered the
builder's mind, that, upon the clearing being made, such a purple
prospect would be his?--nothing less than Greylock, with all his hills
about him, like Charlemagne among his peers.

Now, for a house, so situated in such a country, to have no piazza for
the convenience of those who might desire to feast upon the view, and
take their time and ease about it, seemed as much of an omission as if a
picture-gallery should have no bench; for what but picture-galleries are
the marble halls of these same limestone hills?--galleries hung, month
after month anew, with pictures ever fading into pictures ever fresh.
And beauty is like piety--you cannot run and read it; tranquillity and
constancy, with, now-a-days, an easy chair, are needed. For though, of
old, when reverence was in vogue, and indolence was not, the devotees of
Nature, doubtless, used to stand and adore--just as, in the cathedrals
of those ages, the worshipers of a higher Power did--yet, in these times
of failing faith and feeble knees, we have the piazza and the pew.

During the first year of my residence, the more leisurely to witness the
coronation of Charlemagne (weather permitting, they crown him every
sunrise and sunset), I chose me, on the hill-side bank near by, a royal
lounge of turf--a green velvet lounge, with long, moss-padded back;
while at the head, strangely enough, there grew (but, I suppose, for
heraldry) three tufts of blue violets in a field-argent of wild
strawberries; and a trellis, with honeysuckle, I set for canopy. Very
majestical lounge, indeed. So much so, that here, as with the reclining
majesty of Denmark in his orchard, a sly ear-ache invaded me. But, if
damps abound at times in Westminster Abbey, because it is so old, why
not within this monastery of mountains, which is older?

A piazza must be had.

The house was wide--my fortune narrow; so that, to build a panoramic
piazza, one round and round, it could not be--although, indeed,
considering the matter by rule and square, the carpenters, in the
kindest way, were anxious to gratify my furthest wishes, at I've
forgotten how much a foot.

Upon but one of the four sides would prudence grant me what I wanted.
Now, which side?

To the east, that long camp of the Hearth Stone Hills, fading far away
towards Quito; and every fall, a small white flake of something peering
suddenly, of a coolish morning, from the topmost cliff--the season's
new-dropped lamb, its earliest fleece; and then the Christmas dawn,
draping those dim highlands with red-barred plaids and tartans--goodly
sight from your piazza, that. Goodly sight; but, to the north is
Charlemagne--can't have the Hearth Stone Hills with Charlemagne.

Well, the south side. Apple-trees are there. Pleasant, of a balmy
morning, in the month of May, to sit and see that orchard, white-budded,
as for a bridal; and, in October, one green arsenal yard; such piles of
ruddy shot. Very fine, I grant; but, to the north is Charlemagne.

The west side, look. An upland pasture, alleying away into a maple wood
at top. Sweet, in opening spring, to trace upon the hill-side, otherwise
gray and bare--to trace, I say, the oldest paths by their streaks of
earliest green. Sweet, indeed, I can't deny; but, to the north is

So Charlemagne, he carried it. It was not long after 1848; and, somehow,
about that time, all round the world, these kings, they had the casting
vote, and voted for themselves.

No sooner was ground broken, than all the neighborhood, neighbor Dives,
in particular, broke, too--into a laugh. Piazza to the north! Winter
piazza! Wants, of winter midnights, to watch the Aurora Borealis, I
suppose; hope he's laid in good store of Polar muffs and mittens.

That was in the lion month of March. Not forgotten are the blue noses of
the carpenters, and how they scouted at the greenness of the cit, who
would build his sole piazza to the north. But March don't last forever;
patience, and August comes. And then, in the cool elysium of my northern
bower, I, Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, cast down the hill a pitying
glance on poor old Dives, tormented in the purgatory of his piazza to
the south.

But, even in December, this northern piazza does not repel--nipping cold
and gusty though it be, and the north wind, like any miller, bolting by
the snow, in finest flour--for then, once more, with frosted beard, I
pace the sleety deck, weathering Cape Horn.

In summer, too, Canute-like, sitting here, one is often reminded of the
sea. For not only do long ground-swells roll the slanting grain, and
little wavelets of the grass ripple over upon the low piazza, as their
beach, and the blown down of dandelions is wafted like the spray, and
the purple of the mountains is just the purple of the billows, and a
still August noon broods upon the deep meadows, as a calm upon the Line;
but the vastness and the lonesomeness are so oceanic, and the silence
and the sameness, too, that the first peep of a strange house, rising
beyond the trees, is for all the world like spying, on the Barbary
coast, an unknown sail.

And this recalls my inland voyage to fairy-land. A true voyage; but,
take it all in all, interesting as if invented.

From the piazza, some uncertain object I had caught, mysteriously
snugged away, to all appearance, in a sort of purpled breast-pocket,
high up in a hopper-like hollow, or sunken angle, among the northwestern
mountains--yet, whether, really, it was on a mountain-side, or a
mountain-top, could not be determined; because, though, viewed from
favorable points, a blue summit, peering up away behind the rest, will,
as it were, talk to you over their heads, and plainly tell you, that,
though he (the blue summit) seems among them, he is not of them (God
forbid!), and, indeed, would have you know that he considers
himself--as, to say truth, he has good right--by several cubits their
superior, nevertheless, certain ranges, here and there double-filed, as
in platoons, so shoulder and follow up upon one another, with their
irregular shapes and heights, that, from the piazza, a nigher and lower
mountain will, in most states of the atmosphere, effacingly shade itself
away into a higher and further one; that an object, bleak on the
former's crest, will, for all that, appear nested in the latter's flank.
These mountains, somehow, they play at hide-and-seek, and all before
one's eyes.

But, be that as it may, the spot in question was, at all events, so
situated as to be only visible, and then but vaguely, under certain
witching conditions of light and shadow.

Indeed, for a year or more, I knew not there was such a spot, and might,
perhaps, have never known, had it not been for a wizard afternoon in
autumn--late in autumn--a mad poet's afternoon; when the turned maple
woods in the broad basin below me, having lost their first vermilion
tint, dully smoked, like smouldering towns, when flames expire upon
their prey; and rumor had it, that this smokiness in the general air was
not all Indian summer--which was not used to be so sick a thing, however
mild--but, in great part, was blown from far-off forests, for weeks on
fire, in Vermont; so that no wonder the sky was ominous as Hecate's
cauldron--and two sportsmen, crossing a red stubble buck-wheat field,
seemed guilty Macbeth and foreboding Banquo; and the hermit-sun, hutted
in an Adullum cave, well towards the south, according to his season, did
little else but, by indirect reflection of narrow rays shot down a
Simplon pass among the clouds, just steadily paint one small, round,
strawberry mole upon the wan cheek of northwestern hills. Signal as a
candle. One spot of radiance, where all else was shade.

Fairies there, thought I; some haunted ring where fairies dance.

Time passed; and the following May, after a gentle shower upon the
mountains--a little shower islanded in misty seas of sunshine; such a
distant shower--and sometimes two, and three, and four of them, all
visible together in different parts--as I love to watch from the
piazza, instead of thunder storms, as I used to, which wrap old
Greylock, like a Sinai, till one thinks swart Moses must be climbing
among scathed hemlocks there; after, I say, that, gentle shower, I saw a
rainbow, resting its further end just where, in autumn, I had marked the
mole. Fairies there, thought I; remembering that rainbows bring out the
blooms, and that, if one can but get to the rainbow's end, his fortune
is made in a bag of gold. Yon rainbow's end, would I were there, thought
I. And none the less I wished it, for now first noticing what seemed
some sort of glen, or grotto, in the mountain side; at least, whatever
it was, viewed through the rainbow's medium, it glowed like the Potosi
mine. But a work-a-day neighbor said, no doubt it was but some old
barn--an abandoned one, its broadside beaten in, the acclivity its
background. But I, though I had never been there, I knew better.

A few days after, a cheery sunrise kindled a golden sparkle in the same
spot as before. The sparkle was of that vividness, it seemed as if it
could only come from glass. The building, then--if building, after all,
it was--could, at least, not be a barn, much less an abandoned one;
stale hay ten years musting in it. No; if aught built by mortal, it must
be a cottage; perhaps long vacant and dismantled, but this very spring
magically fitted up and glazed.

Again, one noon, in the same direction, I marked, over dimmed tops of
terraced foliage, a broader gleam, as of a silver buckler, held sunwards
over some croucher's head; which gleam, experience in like cases taught,
must come from a roof newly shingled. This, to me, made pretty sure the
recent occupancy of that far cot in fairy land.

Day after day, now, full of interest in my discovery, what time I could
spare from reading the Midsummer's Night Dream, and all about Titania,
wishfully I gazed off towards the hills; but in vain. Either troops of
shadows, an imperial guard, with slow pace and solemn, defiled along the
steeps; or, routed by pursuing light, fled broadcast from east to
west--old wars of Lucifer and Michael; or the mountains, though unvexed
by these mirrored sham fights in the sky, had an atmosphere otherwise
unfavorable for fairy views. I was sorry; the more so, because I had to
keep my chamber for some time after--which chamber did not face those

At length, when pretty well again, and sitting out, in the September
morning, upon the piazza, and thinking to myself, when, just after a
little flock of sheep, the farmer's banded children passed, a-nutting,
and said, "How sweet a day"--it was, after all, but what their fathers
call a weather-breeder--and, indeed, was become go sensitive through my
illness, as that I could not bear to look upon a Chinese creeper of my
adoption, and which, to my delight, climbing a post of the piazza, had
burst out in starry bloom, but now, if you removed the leaves a little,
showed millions of strange, cankerous worms, which, feeding upon those
blossoms, so shared their blessed hue, as to make it unblessed
evermore--worms, whose germs had doubtless lurked in the very bulb
which, so hopefully, I had planted: in this ingrate peevishness of my
weary convalescence, was I sitting there; when, suddenly looking off, I
saw the golden mountain-window, dazzling like a deep-sea dolphin.
Fairies there, thought I, once more; the queen of fairies at her
fairy-window; at any rate, some glad mountain-girl; it will do me good,
it will cure this weariness, to look on her. No more; I'll launch my
yawl--ho, cheerly, heart! and push away for fairy-land--for rainbow's
end, in fairy-land.

How to get to fairy-land, by what road, I did not know; nor could any
one inform me; not even one Edmund Spenser, who had been there--so he
wrote me--further than that to reach fairy-land, it must be voyaged to,
and with faith. I took the fairy-mountain's bearings, and the first fine
day, when strength permitted, got into my yawl--high-pommeled, leather
one--cast off the fast, and away I sailed, free voyager as an autumn
leaf. Early dawn; and, sallying westward, I sowed the morning before me.

Some miles brought me nigh the hills; but out of present sight of them.
I was not lost; for road-side golden-rods, as guide-posts, pointed, I
doubted not, the way to the golden window. Following them, I came to a
lone and languid region, where the grass-grown ways were traveled but by
drowsy cattle, that, less waked than stirred by day, seemed to walk in
sleep. Browse, they did not--the enchanted never eat. At least, so says
Don Quixote, that sagest sage that ever lived.

On I went, and gained at last the fairy mountain's base, but saw yet no
fairy ring. A pasture rose before me. Letting down five mouldering
bars--so moistly green, they seemed fished up from some sunken wreck--a
wigged old Aries, long-visaged, and with crumpled horn, came snuffing
up; and then, retreating, decorously led on along a milky-way of
white-weed, past dim-clustering Pleiades and Hyades, of small
forget-me-nots; and would have led me further still his astral path, but
for golden flights of yellow-birds--pilots, surely, to the golden
window, to one side flying before me, from bush to bush, towards deep
woods--which woods themselves were luring--and, somehow, lured, too, by
their fence, banning a dark road, which, however dark, led up. I pushed
through; when Aries, renouncing me now for some lost soul, wheeled, and
went his wiser way.. Forbidding and forbidden ground--to him.

A winter wood road, matted all along with winter-green. By the side of
pebbly waters--waters the cheerier for their solitude; beneath swaying
fir-boughs, petted by no season, but still green in all, on I
journeyed--my horse and I; on, by an old saw-mill, bound down and hushed
with vines, that his grating voice no more was heard; on, by a deep
flume clove through snowy marble, vernal-tinted, where freshet eddies
had, on each side, spun out empty chapels in the living rock; on, where
Jacks-in-the-pulpit, like their Baptist namesake, preached but to the
wilderness; on, where a huge, cross-grain block, fern-bedded, showed
where, in forgotten times, man after man had tried to split it, but lost
his wedges for his pains--which wedges yet rusted in their holes; on,
where, ages past, in step-like ledges of a cascade, skull-hollow pots
had been churned out by ceaseless whirling of a flintstone--ever
wearing, but itself unworn; on, by wild rapids pouring into a secret
pool, but soothed by circling there awhile, issued forth serenely; on,
to less broken ground, and by a little ring, where, truly, fairies must
have danced, or else some wheel-tire been heated--for all was bare;
still on, and up, and out into a hanging orchard, where maidenly looked
down upon me a crescent moon, from morning.

My horse hitched low his head. Red apples rolled before him; Eve's
apples; seek-no-furthers. He tasted one, I another; it tasted of the
ground. Fairy land not yet, thought I, flinging my bridle to a humped
old tree, that crooked out an arm to catch it. For the way now lay where
path was none, and none might go but by himself, and only go by daring.
Through blackberry brakes that tried to pluck me back, though I but
strained towards fruitless growths of mountain-laurel; up slippery
steeps to barren heights, where stood none to welcome. Fairy land not
yet, thought I, though the morning is here before me.

Foot-sore enough and weary, I gained not then my journey's end, but came
ere long to a craggy pass, dipping towards growing regions still beyond.
A zigzag road, half overgrown with blueberry bushes, here turned among
the cliffs. A rent was in their ragged sides; through it a little track
branched off, which, upwards threading that short defile, came breezily
out above, to where the mountain-top, part sheltered northward, by a
taller brother, sloped gently off a space, ere darkly plunging; and
here, among fantastic rocks, reposing in a herd, the foot-track wound,
half beaten, up to a little, low-storied, grayish cottage, capped,
nun-like, with a peaked roof.

On one slope, the roof was deeply weather-stained, and, nigh the turfy
eaves-trough, all velvet-napped; no doubt the snail-monks founded mossy
priories there. The other slope was newly shingled. On the north side,
doorless and windowless, the clap-boards, innocent of paint, were yet
green as the north side of lichened pines or copperless hulls of
Japanese junks, becalmed. The whole base, like those of the neighboring
rocks, was rimmed about with shaded streaks of richest sod; for, with
hearth-stones in fairy land, the natural rock, though housed, preserves
to the last, just as in open fields, its fertilizing charm; only, by
necessity, working now at a remove, to the sward without. So, at least,
says Oberon, grave authority in fairy lore. Though setting Oberon aside,
certain it is, that, even in the common world, the soil, close up to
farm-houses, as close up to pasture rocks, is, even though untended,
ever richer than it is a few rods off--such gentle, nurturing heat is
radiated there.

But with this cottage, the shaded streaks were richest in its front and
about its entrance, where the ground-sill, and especially the doorsill
had, through long eld, quietly settled down.

No fence was seen, no inclosure. Near by--ferns, ferns, ferns;
further--woods, woods, woods; beyond--mountains, mountains, mountains;
then--sky, sky, sky. Turned out in aerial commons, pasture for the
mountain moon. Nature, and but nature, house and, all; even a low
cross-pile of silver birch, piled openly, to season; up among whose
silvery sticks, as through the fencing of some sequestered grave, sprang
vagrant raspberry bushes--willful assertors of their right of way.

The foot-track, so dainty narrow, just like a sheep-track, led through
long ferns that lodged. Fairy land at last, thought I; Una and her lamb
dwell here. Truly, a small abode--mere palanquin, set down on the
summit, in a pass between two worlds, participant of neither.

A sultry hour, and I wore a light hat, of yellow sinnet, with white duck
trowsers--both relics of my tropic sea-going. Clogged in the muffling
ferns, I softly stumbled, staining the knees a sea-green.

Pausing at the threshold, or rather where threshold once had been, I
saw, through the open door-way, a lonely girl, sewing at a lonely
window. A pale-cheeked girl, and fly-specked window, with wasps about
the mended upper panes. I spoke. She shyly started, like some Tahiti
girl, secreted for a sacrifice, first catching sight, through palms, of
Captain Cook. Recovering, she bade me enter; with her apron brushed off
a stool; then silently resumed her own. With thanks I took the stool;
but now, for a space, I, too, was mute. This, then, is the
fairy-mountain house, and here, the fairy queen sitting at her fairy

I went up to it. Downwards, directed by the tunneled pass, as through a
leveled telescope, I caught sight of a, far-off, soft, azure world. I
hardly knew it, though I came from it.

"You must find this view very pleasant," said I, at last.

"Oh, sir," tears starting in her eyes, "the first time I looked out of
this window, I said 'never, never shall I weary of this.'"

"And what wearies you of it now?"

"I don't know," while a tear fell; "but it is not the view, it is

Some months back, her brother, only seventeen, had come hither, a long
way from the other side, to cut wood and burn coal, and she, elder
sister, had accompanied, him. Long had they been orphans, and now, sole
inhabitants of the sole house upon the mountain. No guest came, no
traveler passed. The zigzag, perilous road was only used at seasons by
the coal wagons. The brother was absent the entire day, sometimes the
entire night. When at evening, fagged out, he did come home, he soon
left his bench, poor fellow, for his bed; just as one, at last, wearily
quits that, too, for still deeper rest. The bench, the bed, the grave.

Silent I stood by the fairy window, while these things were being told.

"Do you know," said she at last, as stealing from her story, "do you
know who lives yonder?--I have never been down into that country--away
off there, I mean; that house, that marble one," pointing far across the
lower landscape; "have you not caught it? there, on the long hill-side:
the field before, the woods behind; the white shines out against their
blue; don't you mark it? the only house in sight."

I looked; and after a time, to my surprise, recognized, more by its
position than its aspect, or Marianna's description, my own abode,
glimmering much like this mountain one from the piazza. The mirage haze
made it appear less a farm-house than King Charming's palace.

"I have often wondered who lives there; but it must be some happy one;
again this morning was I thinking so."

"Some happy one," returned I, starting; "and why do you think that? You
judge some rich one lives there?"

"Rich or not, I never thought; but it looks so happy, I can't tell how;
and it is so far away. Sometimes I think I do but dream it is there.
You should see it in a sunset."

"No doubt the sunset gilds it finely; but not more than the sunrise does
this house, perhaps."

"This house? The sun is a good sun, but it never gilds this house. Why
should it? This old house is rotting. That makes it so mossy. In the
morning, the sun comes in at this old window, to be sure--boarded up,
when first we came; a window I can't keep clean, do what I may--and half
burns, and nearly blinds me at my sewing, besides setting the flies and
wasps astir--such flies and wasps as only lone mountain houses know.
See, here is the curtain--this apron--I try to shut it out with then. It
fades it, you see. Sun gild this house? not that ever Marianna saw."

"Because when this roof is gilded most, then you stay here within."

"The hottest, weariest hour of day, you mean? Sir, the sun gilds not
this roof. It leaked so, brother newly shingled all one side. Did you
not see it? The north side, where the sun strikes most on what the rain
has wetted. The sun is a good sun; but this roof, in first scorches,
and then rots. An old house. They went West, and are long dead, they
say, who built it. A mountain house. In winter no fox could den in it.
That chimney-place has been blocked up with snow, just like a hollow

"Yours are strange fancies, Marianna."

"They but reflect the things."

"Then I should have said, 'These are strange things,' rather than,
'Yours are strange fancies.'"

"As you will;" and took up her sewing.

Something in those quiet words, or in that quiet act, it made me mute
again; while, noting, through the fairy window, a broad shadow stealing
on, as cast by some gigantic condor, floating at brooding poise on
outstretched wings, I marked how, by its deeper and inclusive dusk, it
wiped away into itself all lesser shades of rock or fern.

"You watch the cloud," said Marianna.

"No, a shadow; a cloud's, no doubt--though that I cannot see. How did
you know it? Your eyes are on your work."

"It dusked my work. There, now the cloud is gone, Tray comes back."


"The dog, the shaggy dog. At noon, he steals off, of himself, to change
his shape--returns, and lies down awhile, nigh the door. Don't you see
him? His head is turned round at you; though, when you came, he looked
before him."

"Your eyes rest but on your work; what do you speak of?"

"By the window, crossing."

"You mean this shaggy shadow--the nigh one? And, yes, now that I mark
it, it is not unlike a large, black Newfoundland dog. The invading
shadow gone, the invaded one returns. But I do not see what casts it."

"For that, you must go without."

"One of those grassy rocks, no doubt."

"You see his head, his face?"

"The shadow's? You speak as if _you_ saw it, and all the time your eyes
are on your work."

"Tray looks at you," still without glancing up; "this is his hour; I see

"Have you then, so long sat at this mountain-window, where but clouds
and, vapors pass, that, to you, shadows are as things, though you speak
of them as of phantoms; that, by familiar knowledge, working like a
second sight, you can, without looking for them, tell just where they
are, though, as having mice-like feet, they creep about, and come and
go; that, to you, these lifeless shadows are as living friends, who,
though out of sight, are not out of mind, even in their faces--is it

"That way I never thought of it. But the friendliest one, that used to
soothe my weariness so much, coolly quivering on the ferns, it was taken
from me, never to return, as Tray did just now. The shadow of a birch.
The tree was struck by lightning, and brother cut it up. You saw the
cross-pile out-doors--the buried root lies under it; but not the shadow.
That is flown, and never will come back, nor ever anywhere stir again."

Another cloud here stole along, once more blotting out the dog, and
blackening all the mountain; while the stillness was so still, deafness
might have forgot itself, or else believed that noiseless shadow spoke.

"Birds, Marianna, singing-birds, I hear none; I hear nothing. Boys and
bob-o-links, do they never come a-berrying up here?"

"Birds, I seldom hear; boys, never. The berries mostly ripe and
fall--few, but me, the wiser."

"But yellow-birds showed me the way--part way, at least."

"And then flew back. I guess they play about the mountain-side, but
don't make the top their home. And no doubt you think that, living so
lonesome here, knowing nothing, hearing nothing--little, at least, but
sound of thunder and the fall of trees--never reading, seldom speaking,
yet ever wakeful, this is what gives me my strange thoughts--for so you
call them--this weariness and wakefulness together Brother, who stands
and works in open air, would I could rest like him; but mine is mostly
but dull woman's work--sitting, sitting, restless sitting."

"But, do you not go walk at times? These woods are wide."

"And lonesome; lonesome, because so wide. Sometimes, 'tis true, of
afternoons, I go a little way; but soon come back again. Better feel
lone by hearth, than rock. The shadows hereabouts I know--those in the
woods are strangers."

"But the night?"

"Just like the day. Thinking, thinking--a wheel I cannot stop; pure want
of sleep it is that turns it."

"I have heard that, for this wakeful weariness, to say one's prayers,
and then lay one's head upon a fresh hop pillow--"


Through the fairy window, she pointed down the steep to a small garden
patch near by--mere pot of rifled loam, half rounded in by sheltering
rocks--where, side by side, some feet apart, nipped and puny, two
hop-vines climbed two poles, and, gaining their tip-ends, would have
then joined over in an upward clasp, but the baffled shoots, groping
awhile in empty air, trailed back whence they sprung.

"You have tried the pillow, then?"


"And prayer?"

"Prayer and pillow."

"Is there no other cure, or charm?"

"Oh, if I could but once get to yonder house, and but look upon whoever
the happy being is that lives there! A foolish thought: why do I think
it? Is it that I live so lonesome, and know nothing?"

"I, too, know nothing; and, therefore, cannot answer; but, for your
sake, Marianna, well could wish that I were that happy one of the happy
house you dream you see; for then you would behold him now, and, as you
say, this weariness might leave you."

--Enough. Launching my yawl no more for fairy-land, I stick to the
piazza. It is my box-royal; and this amphitheatre, my theatre of San
Carlo. Yes, the scenery is magical--the illusion so complete. And Madam
Meadow Lark, my prima donna, plays her grand engagement here; and,
drinking in her sunrise note, which, Memnon-like, seems struck from the
golden window, how far from me the weary face behind it.

But, every night, when the curtain falls, truth comes in with darkness.
No light shows from the mountain. To and fro I walk the piazza deck,
haunted by Marianna's face, and many as real a story.

Herman Melville