After supper she sat a long while in thought over the fire, shielding its heat from her with her hands. They were exquisite hands, but once or twice she turned them palms-uppermost, as though to make sure they bore no scars.
She spent a week in Port Nassau, recognised by none. She walked its streets, her features half hidden by a veil; and among the Port Nassauers she passed for an English lady of quality who, by one of those freaks from which the wealthy suffer, designed to rent or build herself a house in the neighbourhood. Her accent by this time was English; by unconscious preference she had learnt it from her lover, translating and adapting it to her own musical tones. It deceived the Port Nassauers completely.
She visited many stores, always with a manservant in attendance; and, always paying down ready-money, bought of the best the little town could afford (but chiefly small articles of furniture, with some salted provisions and luxuries such as well-to-do skippers took to sea for their private tables). The waggon had arrived; it, too, contained a quantity of wine and provisions, camp furniture, clothes, etc.
At the end of the week she left Port Nassau with her purchases, the two men escorting her, the laden waggon following. They climbed the hill above the town, and struck inland from the base of the peninsula, travelling north and by west. The road—a passably good one—led them across a dip of cultivated land, shaped like a saddle-back, with a line of forest trees topping its farther ridge. This was the fringe of a considerable forest, and beyond the ridge they rode for miles in the shade of boughs, slanting their way along a gentle declivity, with here and there glimpses of a broad plain below, and of a broad-banded river winding through it with many loops.
But these glimpses were rare, and a stranger could not guess the extent of the plain until, stepping from the forest into broad day, he found himself on the very skirts of it.
An ample plain it was; a grass ground of many thousand acres, where fifty years ago the Indians had pastured, but where now the farmers laboriously saved their hay when the floods allowed, and in spring launched their punts and went duck-shooting with long guns and wading-boots. For in winter one sheet of water—or of ice, as it might happen—covered the meadows and made the great river one with the many brooks that threaded their way to her. But at this season they ran low between their banks and the eye easily traced their meanderings, while the main stream itself rolled its waters in full view—in places three hundred yards wide, and seldom narrower than one hundred. Dwarf willows fringed it: at some distance back from the shore, alders and reddening maples dotted the meadows, with oaks here and there, and everywhere wild cranberry bushes in great moss-like hummocks.