She lifted her eyes.
“Ah—but nothing like this! One hears of how the young nations came down and peopled the Roman Empire. But that lasted so long. One person—with one life—could only see a bit of it. And here one sees it all—all, at once!—as a great march—the march of a new people to its home. Fifty years ago, wolves and bears, and buffaloes—twelve years ago even, the great movement had not begun—and now, every week, a new town!—the new nation spreading, spreading over the open land, irresistibly, silently; no one setting bounds to it, no one knowing what will come of it!”
She checked herself. Her voice had been subdued, but there was a tremor in it. Delaine caught her up, rather helplessly.
“Ah! isn’t that the point? What will come of it? Numbers and size aren’t everything. Where is it all tending?”
She looked up at him, still exalted, still flushed, and said softly, as though she could not help it, “’On to the bound of the waste—on to the City of God!’”
He gazed at her in discomfort. Here was an Elizabeth Merton he had yet to know. No trace of her in the ordinary life of an English country house!
“You are Canadian!” he said with a smile.
“No, no!” said Elizabeth eagerly, recovering herself, “I am only a spectator. We see the drama—we feel it—much more than they can who are in it. At least”—she wavered—“Well!—I have met one man who seems to feel it!”
“Your Canadian friend?”
“He sees the vision—he dreams the dream!” she said brightly. “So few do. But I think he does. Oh, dear—dear!—how time flies! I must go and see what Philip is after.”
Delaine was left discontented. He had come to press his suit, and he found a lady preoccupied. Canada, it seemed, was to be his rival! Would he ever be allowed to get in a word edgewise?
Was there ever anything so absurd, so disconcerting? He looked forward gloomily to a dull afternoon, in quest of fat cattle, with a car-full of unknown Canadians.
At three o’clock, in the wide Winnipeg station, there gathered on the platform beside Lady Merton’s car a merry and motley group of people. A Chief Justice from Alberta, one of the Senators for Manitoba, a rich lumberman from British Columbia, a Toronto manufacturer—owner of the model farm which the party was to inspect, two or three ladies, among them a little English girl with fine eyes, whom Philip Gaddesden at once marked for approval; and a tall, dark-complexioned man with hollow cheeks, large ears, and a long chin, who was introduced, with particular emphasis, to Elizabeth by Anderson, as “Mr. Felix Mariette”—Member of Parliament, apparently, for some constituency in the Province of Quebec.