“Oh, well—’happy’?—that’s a different thing. But it does as well as anything else.”
The last thing she wanted, apparently, was to talk about Canada. He, himself, as a temporary settler in the Great Dominion, cherished an enthusiasm for Canada and a belief in the Canadian future, not, perhaps, very general among Americans; but although her knowledge of the country gave them inevitably some common ground, she continually held back from it, she entered on it as little as she could. She had been in the Dominion, he presently calculated, about seven or eight years; but she avoided names and dates, how adroitly, he did not perceive till they had parted, and he was thinking over their walk. She must have gone out to Canada immediately after leaving school. He gathered that her father had been a clergyman, and was dead; that she knew the prairie life, but had never been in British Columbia, and only a few days in Montreal and Toronto. That was all that, at the end of their walk, he knew; and all apparently she meant him to know. Whereas she on her side showed a beguiling power of listening to all he had to say about the mysterious infinity of the Canadian forest-lands and the wild life that, winter or spring, a man may live among them, which flattered the very human conceit of a strong and sensitive nature.
But at last they had climbed the tree-strewn slope, and were on the open ridge with the northern plain in view. The sun was now triumphantly out, just before his setting; the clouds had been flung aside, and he shone full upon the harvest world—such a harvest world as England had not seen for a century. There they lay, the new and golden fields, where, to north and south, to east and west, the soil of England, so long unturned, had joyously answered once more to its old comrade the plough.
“‘An enemy hath done this,’” quoted Ellesborough, with an approving smile, as he pointed towards the plain. “But there was a God behind him!”
Rachel laughed. “Well, I’ve got three fields still to get in,” she said. “And they’re the best. Goodnight.”
She gave him her hand, standing transfigured in the light, the wind blowing her beautiful hair about her.
“May I come and see you?” he asked, rather formally.
She smiled assent.
“Next week everything will be in, and some of it threshed. I shall be freer then. You’ll like our place.”