“I think you may meet her,” answered the Doge. “She went away early taking her luncheon, before she knew that you were going.”
So Ignacio had been acting on his own authority! The thrill of the news singing in Jack’s veins was too overwhelming for him to notice the challenge and apprehension in the Doge’s glance. The Doge saw the glow of a thousand happy, eager thoughts in Jack’s face. He hesitated again on the brink of speech, before, with a toss of his leonine head as if he were veritably leaving fate’s affairs to fate, he turned to go; and Jack mechanically touched P.D.’s rein, while he gazed toward the pass. P.D. had not gone many steps when Jack heard the same sonorous call that had greeted him that first night when he stopped before the door of the Ewolds; the call of a great, infectious fellowship between men:
“Luck, Sir Chaps! I defy you to wear your spurs up the Avenue! Give my love to that new Campanile in Babylon, the Metropolitan tower! Get it in the mist! Get it under the sun! Kiss your hand to golden Diana, huntress of Manhattan’s winds! Say ahoy to old Farragut! And on gray days have a look for me at the new Sorollas in the Museum! Luck, Sir Chaps!”
“Good crops and a generous mail, O Doge!”
Jack rode fast, in the gladness of a hope this side of the pass and in the face of shadows on the other side which he did not attempt to define. To Firio he seemed to have grown taller and older.
“LUCK, JACK, LUCK!”
Apprehensively he watched the end of the ribbon running under P.D.’s hoofs for the sight of a horsewoman breaking free of the foothills. The momentary fear which rode with him was that Mary might be returning earlier than usual. If they met on the road—why, the road was without imagination and, in keeping with her new attitude toward him, she might pass him by with a nod. But at the top of the pass imagination would be supreme. There they had first met; there they had found their first thought in common in the ozone which had meant life to them both.
He did not look up at the sky changes. As he climbed the winding path worn by moccasined feet before the Persians marched to Thermopylae, his mind was too occupied making pictures of its own in glowing anticipation to have any interest in outside pictures. This path was narrow. Here, at least, she must pause; and she must listen. Every turn which showed another empty stretch ahead sent his spirits soaring. Then he saw a pony with an empty side-saddle on the shelf. A few steps more and he saw Mary.
She was seated with the defile at her back, her hands clasped over her knee. In this position, as in every position which she naturally took, she had a pliant and personal grace. The welter of light of the low sun was ablaze in her face. Her profile had a luminous wistfulness. Her lashes were half closed, at once retaining the vision of the panorama at her feet as a thing of atmospheric enjoyment and shutting it out from the intimacy of her thoughts. And more enveloping than the light was the silence which held her in a spell as still as the rocks themselves, waiting on time’s dispensation where time was nothing. Yet the soft movement of her bosom with her even breaths triumphed in a life supreme and palpitant over all that dead world.