At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.
The great miraculous bell of translucent ice is suspended in mid-air. It rings to announce endings and beginnings. And it rings because there is fresh promise and wonder in the skies. Its clear tones resound in the placid silence of the winter day, and echo long into the silver-blue serenity of night. The bell can only be seen at the turning of the year, when the days wind down into nothing, and get ready to march out again. When you hear the bell, you feel a tug at your heart. It is your immortal inspiration.
Nice piano," I said. "Do you play?" "oh no, but Edwart does!" Eva Mullen said. "A little," Edwart said sheepishly. "Go ahead, play!" Eva said. She picked up the triangle that was lying on the piano and handed it to Edwart. He started banging on it. It sounded like construction work very early in the morning. "Whoops. I messed up. Let me start over," he said. He started banging again. "Wait. Uh. I haven't practiced in a while. Let me start over." Edwart continued to bang the triangle. Eva closed her eyes and raised her arms, swaying rhythmically to Edwart's music. Edwart held the triangle up high, in what appeared to be a grand finish, but then he brought it down hard, hitting the top of the piano. He continued to bang the piano, putting the entire force of his slim body into each smash. The piano shook. The room vibrated. When he finished I subtly removed my hands from my ears. "I wrote that for you," Edwart murmured, drawing me close. "It's called Belle's Lullaby.
He could not believe that any of them might actually hit somebody. If one did, what a nowhere way to go: killed by accident; slain not as an individual but by sheer statistical probability, by the calculated chance of searching fire, even as he himself might be at any moment. Mathematics! Mathematics! Algebra! Geometry! When 1st and 3d Squads came diving and tumbling back over the tiny crest, Bell was content to throw himself prone, press his cheek to the earth, shut his eyes, and lie there. God, oh, God! Why am I here ? Why am I here ? After a moment's thought, he decided he better change it to: why are we here. That way, no agency of retribution could exact payment from him for being selfish.
But her role had changed; she was now available for marriage and her primary task was to find a mate. As Florence and Hugh Bell's daughter, she was expected to make an excellent match. And if there wasn't one here, at least she would learn how to conduct herself for the chase.