In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates went to propose a girl who wasn't in love with him, but he thought she loved him. He went to her home's garden in the darkness to talk to her:

“Margaret,” whispered Yates hardly above his breath.

The girl advanced toward the fence.

“Is that you?” she whispered in return, with an accent on the last word that thrilled her listener. The accent told plainly as speech that the word represented the one man on earth to her.

“Yes,” answered Yates, springing over the fence and approaching her.

“Oh!” cried Margaret, starting back, then checking herself, with a catch in her voice. “You—you startled me—Mr. Yates.”

At first I thought it means that he is the only man on earth who she loves, but I later found that she refused him and wasn't in love with him, so shouldn't have the author said "it seemed that accent told that he is the one man"? Or did it have another meaning?

1 Answer 1


The sentence in bold ("The accent told plainly as speech that the word represented the one man on earth to her.") appears to describe the point of view of Yates, "her listener". The phrase "the word" refers back to "you" in the preceding sentence. In other words, the intonation with which Margaret says "you" betrays (in Yates's perception) that he was the one man on earth about which she really cared.

(The fact that Margaret refuses him does not necessarily prove that she doesn't love him. She may have other reasons to do that.)

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