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his delightful art - delightful nature I thought it then - did not
surprise me either; for I knew that she was sometimes jaundiced and
perverse. I saw her features and her manner slowly change; I saw
her look at him with growing admiration; I saw her try, more and
more faintly, but always angrily, as if she condemned a weakness in
herself, to resist the captivating power that he possessed; and
finally, I saw her sharp glance soften, and her smile become quite
gentle, and I ceased to be afraid of her as I had really been all
day, and we all sat about the fire, talking and laughing together,
with as little reserve as if we had been children.
Whether it was because we had sat there so long, or because
Steerforth was resolved not to lose the advantage he had gained, I
do not know; but we did not remain in the dining-room more than
five minutes after her departure. 'She is playing her harp,' said
Steerforth, softly, at the drawing-room door, 'and nobody but my
mother has heard her do that, I believe, these three years.' He
said it with a curious smile, which was gone directly; and we went
into the room and found her alone.
'Don't get up,' said Steerforth (which she had already done)' my
dear Rosa, don't! Be kind for once, and sing us an Irish song.'
'What do you care for an Irish song?' she returned.
'Much!' said Steerforth. 'Much more than for any other. Here is
Daisy, too, loves music from his soul. Sing us an Irish song,
Rosa! and let me sit and listen as I used to do.'
He did not touch her, or the chair from which she had risen, but
sat himself near the harp. She stood beside it for some little
while, in a curious way, going through the motion of playing it
with her right hand, but not sounding it. At length she sat down,
and drew it to her with one sudden action, and played and sang.
I don't know what it was, in her touch or voice, that made that
song the most unearthly I have ever heard in my life, or can
imagine. There was something fearful in the reality of it. It was
as if it had never been written, or set to music, but sprung out of
passion within her; which found imperfect utterance in the low
sounds of her voice, and crouched again when all was still. I was
dumb when she leaned beside the harp again, playing it, but not
sounding it, with her right hand.
A minute more, and this had roused me from my trance: - Steerforth