The Song and the Flute

Dorothy J. Heydt


The wind was slacking off now: the thundercloud had passed overhead. Cynthia glanced upwards. There was another mass of clouds behind them, but for the moment no rain was falling, and the howling of the wind died away. And in the stillness they heard, faint and sweet as the last fragment of a dream clutched at on waking, a fine thread of song.

A single voice, pure and clear like the voice of a silver flute, singing words that tugged at the edges of the mind, teasing, almost-familiar as the memory of a fragrance. The shifting air blew the voice away from, toward them again, away again. And Cynthia and Demetrios looked at each other and said together, "Sirens," and again, "No, it couldn't be."

"They're supposed to be north of here, anyway," Demetrios added. "Up around Neapolis. I read it somewhere."

"Have you been in Neapolis? I have," Cynthia said. "Good cheap wine, great shellfish, sulphur fumes, thousands of people running around making money. Interminable noise, and no Sirens. And I don't believe in Sirens anyway--- Just the same, it's a strange thing, such a great ship to break on such a little island."

The wind shifted again, and blew the voice to them, and she heard faint but clear "Come, Cynthia," and "rest," and then a thin harsh sound like the mew of a seagull, the crying of a tiny child.


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