They loitered in the quiet paths of the campus. “Bright College Years” followed them from the singers at the library. If there’s any sentiment in man or woman the airs of a spring night in our midwestern country will call it out. The planets shone benignantly through the leaves of maple and elm; and the young grass was irregular, untouched as yet by the mower—as we like it best who love our Madison! A week-old moon hung in the sky—ample light for the first hay-ride of the season that is moving toward Water Babble to the strains of guitar and banjo and boy and girl voices. It’s unaccountable that there should be so much music in a sophomore—or maybe that’s a fraternity affair—Sigma Chi or Delta Tau or Deke. Or mayhap those lads wear a “Fiji” pin on their waistcoats; I seem to recall spring hay-rides as an expression of “Fiji” spirit in my own days at Madison, when I myself was that particular blithe Hellenist with the guitar, and scornful of all Barbarians!
Sylvia was a woman now. AEons stretched between to-night and that afternoon when she had opened the door for Harwood in Buckeye Lane. His chivalry had been deeply touched by Mrs. Owen’s disclosure at the bank, and subsequent reflection had not lightened the burden of her confidence. Such obscurities as existed in the first paragraph of the first page of Sylvia’s life’s record were dark enough in any circumstances, but the darkness was intensified by her singular isolation. The commission he had accepted in her behalf from Mrs. Owen carried a serious responsibility. These things he pondered as they walked together. He felt the pathos of her black gown; but she had rallied from the first shock of her sorrow, and met him in his key of badinage. She was tall—almost as tall as he; and in the combined moon- and star-light of the open spaces their eyes met easily.
He was conscious to-night of the charm in Sylvia that he had felt first on the train that day they had sped through the Berkshires together. No other girl had ever appealed to him so strongly. It was not the charm of cleverness, for she was not clever in the usual sense; she said few bright, quotable things, though her humor was keen. She had carried into womanhood the good looks of her girlhood, and she was a person one looked at twice. Her eyes were fine and expressive, and they faced the world with an engaging candor. They had learned to laugh since we saw her first—college and contact with the world had done that for her. Her face was long, her nose a compromise of good models, her mouth a little large, but offering compensations when she smiled in her quick, responsive fashion. One must go deeper, Harwood reflected, for Sylvia’s charm, and it dawned upon him that it was in the girl’s self, born of an alert, clear-thinking mind and a kind and generous heart. Individuality, personality, were words with which he sought to characterize her; and as he struggled with terms, he found that she was carrying the burden of the talk.