By Thomas Hardy.
Next morning, when dressing, he heard her through the rickety floor of the building engaged in conversation with the other servants. Having by this time regularly installed himself as the exponent of the Long-pursued -- as one who, by no initiative of his own, had been chosen by some superior Power as the vehicle of her next début, she attracted him by the cadences of her voice; she would suddenly drop it to a rich whisper of roguishness, when the slight rural monotony of its narrative speech disappeared, and soul and heart -- or what seemed soul and heart -- resounded. The charm lay in the intervals, using that word in its musical sense. She would say a few syllables in one note, and end her sentence in a soft modulation upwards, then downwards, then into her own note again. The curve of sound was as artistic as any line of beauty ever struck by his pencil -- as satisfying as the curves of her who was the World's Desire.
The subject of her discourse he cared nothing about -- it was no more his interest than his concern. He took special pains that in catching her voice he might not comprehend her words. To the tones he had a right, none to the articulations. By degrees he could not exist long without this sound.
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