No, not to Waldron. Yet wander they did, despite her; and with persistence they followed channels till then quite unknown to her.
What might these channels be? And whither, I ask again, did the girl’s memories and fancies, her wondering thoughts, her vague, half-formulated longings, lead?
You, perhaps, can answer, as well as I, if you but remember that—Billionaire’s daughter though she was, and all unversed in the hard realities of life—she was, at heart and soul, very much a woman after all.
During the long days, the June days, of her convalescence, Catherine found herself involuntarily reverting, more often than she could understand, to thoughts of the inscrutable and unknown man who had in all probability saved her life.
“Had it not been for him,” she reflected, as she sat there gazing out over the river, “I might not be here, this minute. Caught as I was, on the very brink of the precipice, I should almost certainly have slipped and fallen over, in my dazed condition, when I tried to get up. If I’d been alone, if he hadn’t found me just when he did—!”
She shuddered at thought of what must almost inevitably have happened, and covered her face with both hands. Her cheeks burned; she knew emotion such as not once had Waldron’s kiss ever been able to arouse in her. The memory of how she, half-unconscious, had lain in that stranger’s arms, so powerful and tense; had been carried by him, as though she had been a child; had felt his breath upon her face and the quick, vigorous beating of his heart—all this, and more, dwelt in her soul, nor could she banish it.
Gratitude? Yes, and more. For the first time in her two-and-twenty years, Catherine had sensed the power, the virility of a real man—not of the make-believe, manicured and tailored parasites of her own class—and something elemental in her, some urge of primitive womanhood, grappled her to that memory and, all against her will, caused her to live and re-live those moments, time and time again, as the most strange and vital of her life.
Yet, it was not this physical call alone, in her, that had awakened her being. The man’s eyes, and mouth and hair, true, all remained with her as a subtly compelling lure; his strength and straight directness seemed to conquer her and draw her to him; but beyond all this, something in his speech, in his ideas and the strange reticence that had so puzzled her, kept him even more constantly in her wondering thoughts.
“A workingman,” she murmured to herself, in uncomprehending revery, “he said he was a workingman—and he knew that I was very, very rich. He knew my father would have rewarded him magnificently, given him money, work, anything he might have asked. And yet, and yet—he would not even tell his name. And he refused to know mine! He didn’t want to know! His pride—why, in all my life, among all the proud, rich people that I’ve known, I’ve never found such pride as that!”