Alice Thayor’s first meeting with Holcomb since the time when he saved her husband’s life, consisted of a slight nod of recognition and an annoyed “How do you do?” She wore a smart travelling gown of Scotch homespun and a becoming toque of gray straw enveloped in a filmy dragon-green veil. Holcomb thought it strange that Thayor kissed his daughter and simply greeted his wife with the question, “I do hope you were comfortable, dear, coming up?”
“The heat was something frightful,” she replied, lifting the dragon-green veil wearily and binding it straight across her forehead. “My head is splitting.”
Holcomb glanced at her exquisite features. The brilliancy of her dark eyes was enhanced by the pallor of her ivory skin. Alice Thayor loathed travelling.
Margaret had greeted him far more graciously; she had extended her firm little gloved hand to him, with genuine delight in her brown eyes, and had told him how very glad indeed she was to see him—which was the truth. During the drive in her mother scarcely opened her lips. She sat in the middle seat beside her daughter, haughtily gracious and inwardly bored. Margaret’s enthusiasm irritated her. The woman going to her exile was in no mood to enthuse over nature. Holcomb drove, with Thayor on the front seat beside him; on the back seat sat Blakeman and Annette, in respectful silence. As they entered the deep woods at a smart trot, Margaret half closed her eyes in sheer ecstasy and drew in a long, delicious breath of forest air.
“My—but that’s good, daddy!” she exclaimed. Everything was of intense interest to her. The sudden glimpse of some great mountain towering above the trees; the velvety green, billowy moss; the merry little brooks they crossed; the whirring flight of a startled partridge and now the sinking sun flooding the silent woods with gold. When she was not in ecstasies over these, her brown eyes glanced at the clean-cut, handsome profile of the young woodsman who was so skilfully driving the bay team.
He was no longer the awkward and embarrassed young fellow she remembered that summer at Long Lake. He had, she realized much to her agreeable surprise, the ease and manner of a well-bred man about him now. His honest, cheery frankness appealed to her; moreover, she thought him exceedingly handsome.
“That’s where the line crosses,” said Holcomb, pointing quickly to a blazed hemlock.
“Oh, look, mother—quick!” cried Margaret.
“We’re in Big Shanty tract now, dear,” explained Thayor. “The line we have just passed strikes due east from here and runs—how far, Billy?”
“Oh—clear to Alder Brook—about fifteen miles, before it corners south.”
Alice’s lips grew tense; she was beginning to realize the vastness of her husband’s purchase. She began to wonder, too, how much it had cost him—this folly of Sam’s.
“And is it all as beautiful as this?” asked Margaret of the young man whose strong brown hands held the reins.