Jasper Ewold had laid out his little domain according to a set plan before the water was first let go in laughing triumph over the parched earth, and this plan, as one might see on every hand, was expressive of the training of older civilizations in landscape gardening, which ages of men striving for harmonious forms of beauty in green and growing things had tested, and which the Doge, in all his unconventionalism of personality, was as little inclined to amend as he was to amend the classic authors. An avenue of palms is the epic of the desert; a bougainvillea vine its sonnet.
Between the palms to the right and left Jack had glimpses of a vegetable garden; of rows of berry bushes; of a grove of young fig-trees; of rows of the sword-bundles of pineapple tops. Everything except the old-fashioned flower-bed, with its border of mignonette, and the generous beds of roses and other flowers of the bountiful sisterhood of petals of artificial cultivation, spoke of utility which must make the ground pay as well as please.
Jack took each step as if he were apprehensive of disturbing the quiet Midway of the avenue of palms ran a cross avenue, and at the meeting-point was a circle, which evidently waited till the oranges and the olives should pay for a statue and surrounding benches. Over the breadth of the cross avenue lay the glossy canopy of the outstretched branches of umbrella-trees. A table of roughly planed boards painted green and green rattan chairs were in keeping with the restful effect, while the world without was aglare with light.
Here Mary had brought her sewing for the afternoon. She was working so intently that she had not heard his approach. He had paused just as his line of vision came flush with the trunks of the umbrella-trees. For the first time he saw his companion in adventure in repose, her head bent, leaving clear the line of her neck from the roots of her hair to the collar, and the soft light bringing out the delicate brown of her skin.
There seemed no movement anywhere in the world at the moment, except the flash of her needle in and out.
“HOW FAST YOU SEW!”
And she had not seen him! He was touched with a sense of guilt for having looked so long; for not having at once called to her; and rather than give her the shock of calling now, he moved toward her, the scuff of his limp, pendent foot attracting her attention. Her start at the sound was followed, when she saw him, with amazement and a flush and a movement as if she would rise. But she controlled the movement, if not the flush, and fell back into her chair, picking up her sewing, which had dropped on the table.
It was like him, she might well think, to come unexpectedly, without invitation or announcement. She was alert, ready to take the offensive as the best means of defence, and wishing, in devout futility, that he had stayed away. He was smiling happily at everything in cosmos and at her as a part of it.