“My own people used to go there summers when I was a little thing,” she told him, “and of late—there are many friends who ask me over.”
“Say, Vina, when you get over to Nantucket, would you be terribly disconcerted to discover some morning, down among the wharves there, with a copy of Moby Dick, and a distressed look from deciding whether breakfast should be of clam or cod chowder—me?”
“I should be glad of all things,” she said with quiet eagerness. “There are so many ways to pass the hours——”
“Besides walking in Lily Lane in the dusk?”
“Yes.... There’s the ride over the open moors. It’s like Scotland in places, with no division or fences, and the sea away off in all directions. Then, we must go to the lighthouse, one of the most important of America, and the first to welcome the steamers coming in from Europe. And the Haunted House on Moor’s End, the Prince Gardens and the wonderful old water-front—where I am to discover you—once so rich and important in the world, now forgotten and sunken and deserted, except for an old seasoned sea captain here and there, smoking about, dreaming as you imagine, of the China trade or the lordly days of the old sperm fishery, and looking wistfully out toward the last port.... Venice or Nantucket—I can hardly say which is more dream-like or alluring, or sad with the goneness of its glory.... I’d love to show you, because I know every stick and stone on the Island, and many of its quaint people.”
“And when do you think you will go?” he asked.
“I don’t know, David,—not before the last of June. And I won’t be able to stay very long this year, because there is no place to work there. I ought to have a little change and rest, but I can’t afford to ’run down’ entirely—just enough to freshen the eye.”
Cairns nodded seriously....
A day or two afterward he brought Bedient. To Vina he was like some tremendous vibration in the room. Her mind was roused as if by some great music.... It was in nothing that Bedient had said or looked, yet only a little while after the two men had gone, Vina realized she had a lover in David Cairns.
She was dismayed, filled with confusion and alarm, but this was the foreground of mind. She had the sense of glad singing in the distances. There was no sleep for hours this night, though of late, she had been sleeping unusually well.... Why had the realization been so slow in coming? An answer was ready enough: Because David was an old acquaintance. But another thought came: For years, except in rare reactionary hours, such as that afternoon in Beth’s studio, she had put away the thought of man as a mate.... For years, she had tried to become a block instead of a battery; tried to give the full portion of her life to the thing called work, and hated herself because she couldn’t. For years she had dreaded to go where men and women were, because the rare sight of human happiness brought