“Would you still care to be my ‘trail guide’ in the Yosemite Valley?”
“Would I care?” echoed Nick.
“Then we’ll go. I’ll give up the McCloud River. I’ll telephone Mrs. Harland—she’s in San Francisco till day after to-morrow. I’ll find an excuse—I haven’t had time to think it out yet. But I don’t care what happens, I won’t change again! I’m going to the Yosemite if you’ll take me.”
He looked at her searchingly. “Because you’re kind-hearted, and afraid you’ve hurt me——”
“No—no! Because I want to go!”
Women are strange, and hard to understand, when they are worth taking the trouble to understand; and even then they cannot understand themselves.
THE CITY OF ROMANCE
Angela was ridiculously happy next morning. She had no regrets. Nick had stayed to dinner after all, and they had made plans. There was nothing in this, really, she reminded herself, laughing five times an hour; nothing at all. But it was about as wild and exciting as if—as if it were an elopement: to have given up everything she had almost decided upon, and to be going to the Yosemite Valley—with Nick, whom she had intended gently to put in his place—at a distance from hers.
“There will never, never be anything in my life again like this,” she said. “I’ve never lived. I’ve never done the things I wanted to do. There was always some one or something to keep me back. Now, for a week or a fortnight, I shall live—live! nothing and no one shall keep me back.” She knew how absolutely contradictory this was, after taking so much pains to “let the ‘forest creature’ down gently,” and begin all over again. But she did not care. Nothing mattered, except that she could not send him to Mrs. Gaylor. As gaily as she had embarked upon the “little adventure” at Los Angeles, did she now face the great one.
Nick, too, was violently happy, happier than he had ever been or supposed it possible to be. At Los Angeles he had hardly dared to hope for anything beyond the pleasure of having this woman by his side for a few hours. Since then, his feelings had, as he expressed it to himself, been running up and down, like a thermometer in changeable weather; but they had been “mostly down,” and during the last few days had mounted little above freezing-point. Now the sudden bound bewildered him. He did not know why Angela had changed again at the very moment when she had seemed most cold; but she had changed, and almost fiercely he determined now to fight for her. He loved her, and she must know what was in his heart. She could not do what she had just agreed to do unless she liked and trusted him: and he would make the most of all the days to come. He would keep her forever if he could.
Her sudden throwing over of her own plans, for his sake, seemed too good to be true, especially after her strange conduct at Paso Robles; but like a boy who dreams he has all the Christmas presents he ever coveted in vain, and wakes to find them his, he reminded himself that it was true—true—true!