Did he fall in love? Gentle reader, be patient. You want a love-story, and I don’t blame you. For my part, I should not take the trouble to record this history if there were no love in it. Love is the universal bond of human sympathy. But you must give people time. What we call falling in love is not half so simple an affair as you think, though it often looks simple enough to the spectator. Albert Charlton was pleased, he was full of enthusiasm, and I will not deny that he several times reflected in a general way that so clear a talker and so fine a thinker would make a charming wife for some man—some intellectual man—some man like himself, for instance. He admired Miss Minorkey. He liked her. With an enthusiastic young man, admiring and liking are, to say the least, steps that lead easily to something else. But you must remember how complex a thing love is. Charlton—I have to confess it—was a little conceited, as every young man is at twenty. He flattered himself that the most intelligent woman he could find would be a good match for him. He loved ideas, and a woman of ideas pleased his fancy. Add to this that he had come to a time of life when he was very liable to fall in love with somebody, and that he was in the best of spirits from the influence of air and scenery and motion and novelty, and you render it quite probable that he could not be tossed for half a day on the same seat in a coach with such a girl as Helen Minorkey was—that, above all, he could not discuss Hugh Miller and the “Vestiges of Creation” with her, without imminent peril of experiencing an admiration for her and an admiration for himself, and a liking and a palpitating and a castle-building that under favorable conditions might somehow grow into that complex and inexplicable feeling which we call love.
In fact, Jim, who drove both routes on this day, and who peeped into the coach whenever he stopped to water, soliloquized that two fools with idees would make a quare span ef they had a neck-yoke on.
LAND AND LOVE.
Mr. Minorkey and the fat gentleman found much to interest them as the coach rolled over the smooth prairie road, now and then crossing a slough. Not that Mr. Minorkey or his fat friend had any particular interest in the beautiful outline of the grassy knolls, the gracefulness of the water-willows that grew along the river edge, and whose paler green was the prominent feature of the landscape, or in the sweet contrast at the horizon where grass-green earth met the light blue northern sky. But the scenery none the less suggested fruitful themes for talk to the two gentlemen on the back-seat.