"Zeb meant that I was eligible--having been born in this country," said Austen. "But where did you see him?"
"It isn't so far in an automobile," she replied, as though in excuse, and added, still more lamely, "Zeb and I became great friends, you know, in the hospital."
He did not answer, but wondered the more at the simplicity and kindness in one brought up as she had been which prompted her to take the trouble to see the humblest of her friends: nay, to take the trouble to have humble friends.
The road wound along a ridge, and at intervals was spread before them the full glory of the September sunset,--the mountains of the west in blue- black silhouette against the saffron sky, the myriad dappled clouds, the crimson fading from the still reaches of the river, and the wine-colour from the eastern hills. Both were silent under the spell, but a yearning arose within him when he glanced at the sunset glow on her face: would sunsets hereafter bring sadness?
His thoughts ran riot as the light faded in the west. Hers were not revealed. And the silence between them seemed gradually to grow into a pact, to become a subtler and more intimate element than speech. A faint tang of autumn smoke was in the air, a white mist crept along the running waters, a silver moon like a new-stamped coin rode triumphant in the sky, impatient to proclaim her glory; and the shadows under the ghost-like sentinel trees in the pastures grew blacker. At last Victoria looked at him.
"You are the only man I know who doesn't insist on talking," she said. There are times when--"
"When there is nothing to say," he suggested.
She laughed softly. He tried to remember the sound of it afterwards, when he rehearsed this phase of the conversation, but couldn't.