They ate for a while in silence. The stream roared at their feet. Above them, in the gap of the hills, Jupiter already blazed, and as the last of the light faded, star after star came out to keep him company.
He praised her roasting of the partridges. “To-morrow,” she answered, “you shall take your gun and get me game. We must be good providers. To-morrow—”
“To-morrow—and for ever and ever—” He poured wine and drank it slowly.
“Ah, look up at the heavens! And we two alone. Is this not best, after all? Was I not right?”
“Perhaps,” he answered after a pause. “It is good, at all events.”
“To-morrow we will explore; and when this place tires us—but my lord has not praised it yet—”
“Must I make speeches?”
“No. When this place tires us, we will strike camp and travel up through the pass. It may be we shall find boatmen on the upper waters, and a canoe. But for some days, O my love, let these only woods be enough for us!”
Their dessert of fruit eaten, she arose and turned to the business of washing-up. He would have helped; but she mocked him, having hidden his shoes. “You are to rest quiet, and obey!”
Before setting to work she brought him coffee and a roll of tobacco-leaf, and held a burning stick for him while he lit and inhaled.
For twenty minutes, perhaps, he watched her, stretched on the rock, resting on his elbow, his hunger appeased, his whole frame fatigued, but in a delicious weariness, as in a dream.
Far down the valley the full moon thrust a rim above the massed oaks and hemlocks. It swam clear, and he called to her to come and watch it.
She did not answer. She had slipped away to the house—as he supposed to restore the plates to their shelves. Apparently it took her a long while. . . . He called again to her.
The curtain of the doorway was lifted and she stood on the threshold, all in white, fronting the moon.
“Will my lord come into his house?”
Her voice thrilled down to him. . . . Then she remembered that he stood there shoeless; and, giving a little cry, would have run barefoot down the moonlit rocky steps, preventing him.
But he had sprung to his unshod feet, and with a cry rushed up to her, disregarding the thorns.
She sank, crossing her arms as a slave—in homage, or, it may be, to protect her maiden breasts.
“No, no—” she murmured, sliding low within his arms. “Look first around, if our house be worthy!”
But he caught her up, and lifting her, crushing her body to his, carried her into the hut.
She awoke at daybreak to the twittering of birds. Raising herself little by little, she bent over him, studying the face of her beloved. He slept on; and after a while she slipped from the couch, collected her garments in a bundle, tiptoed to the door, and lifting its curtain, stole out to the dawn.