The sun that had been gilding everything from masthead to floating spar gathered in its forces, and for one moment seemed to rest upon Liberty’s torch, throwing the statue into clear relief, and then dropped rapidly behind the river’s night-cloud bank, and presently lights began to glimmer far and near, the night breath rose from the water, and the wave-cradled gulls slept.
“Do you like our New York?” asked Evan, turning to go.
“Don’t speak,” whispered Miss Lavinia, hanging back.
But we were no sooner on the elevated train than she found use for her tongue, for whose feet should I stumble over on entering, quite big feet too, or rather shoes, for the size of the man, but Martin Cortright’s, and of course he was duly presented to Miss Lavinia.
That night Miss Lavinia was forced to ask “for time for ‘forty winks’” before she could even think of dinner, and Evan and I sat them out in the deep, hospitable chairs by the library fire. We were not tired, simply held in check; country vitality shut off from certain ways for six months is not quickly exhausted, but, on the other hand, when it is spent, it takes several months to recuperate.
The first night that I leave home for these little excursions I have a sense of virtue and simmering self-congratulation. I feel that I am doing a sensible thing in making a break from what the theorists call “the narrowing evenness of domestic existence.” Of course it is a good thing for me to leave father and the boys, and see and hear something new to take back report of to them; it is better for them to be taught appreciation of me by absence; change is beneficial to every one, etc., etc., and all that jargon.
The second night I am still true to the theory, but am convinced that to the highly imaginative, a city day and its doings may appear like the Biblical idea of eternity—reversed—“a thousand years.” The third night I am painfully sure of this, and if I remain away over a fourth, which is very rare, I cast the whole theory out to the winds of scepticism, and am so restless and disagreeable that Evan usually suggests that I take a morning train home and do not wait for him, which is exactly the responsibility that I wish him to assume, thus saving me from absolute surrender.
We always have a good time on our outings, and yet after each the pleasure of return grows keener, so that occasionally Evan remonstrates and says: “Sometimes I cannot understand your attitude; you appear to enjoy every moment keenly, and yet when you go home you act as if you had mercifully escaped from a prison that necessitated going through a sort of thanksgiving ceremony. It seems very irrational.”
But when I ask him if it would be more rational to be sorry to come home, he does not answer,—at least not in words.