“You are still trembling from the shock that I have given you,” he said in a tone of self-reproach, and noticing how the flowers quivered in her grasp, “pray, pardon me and give me a handshake of welcome, or I shall almost regret that I came.”
She looked up frankly into his dark eyes, and laid her small hand unhesitatingly in his.
“You are very welcome, Mr. Heath,” she said, “and I am sure that papa will be very glad to see you.”
William Heath smiled at her words.
He felt sure that she, too, was glad to see him—that his coming was a pleasant break in the monotony of her life; her varying color, the bright, happy gleam of her eyes told him this.
Her wonderful beauty, so out of place in that wild region, thrilled him strangely. Her queenly manner, her delicacy and refinement astonished him, and he wondered more and more what mysterious circumstances could have combined to drive two such cultivated people so far from civilization to hide themselves in the rugged fastnesses of those dreary mountains.
A Mountain Ramble.
“You were reading,” he remarked, stooping to pick up the book that had fallen to the ground as she arose. “Tacitus!” he added, in a tone of astonishment, as his eye fell upon the title page.
“Yes, I am reviewing; papa likes me to study a little every day, still,” Virgie returned, quietly, while she examined her flowers with a critical eye, and wondered that a gentleman could have arranged them so well.
He must be an artist, she thought, for no one save an artist, or a lover of art, could have taken such pains to harmonize colors like that.
“I should suppose you would labor under serious difficulties in trying to pursue your studies in such a place as this,” Mr. Heath remarked.
“Oh, no, papa is a fine scholar, and he makes a most delightful teacher.”
“And have you pursued a regular course under him?”
“Yes, partly. I left school when I was fifteen, but I have kept right on the same as I should have done if I had remained, and I graduated two years ago,” she concluded, smiling archly at the idea of graduating in that wild country.
“And with high honors, of course,” said her companion in the same vein.
“Certainly; with all the honors, since there was no one to compete with me or to bear away the palm from me. But, Mr. Heath, you must be both weary and hungry after your ride over the mountains; come in, and let me get you a lunch,” Virgie concluded, on hospitable thoughts intent.
“No, indeed, thank you; I will eat nothing until tea time, when, if you will permit me, I will gladly join you. I should much prefer to sit here and enjoy this magnificent view with you to going indoors.”
He seated himself, as he spoke, upon the rustic seat, and Virgie, following his example, they fell into a pleasant chat, which lasted more than an hour.