They were quite alone when he came to her. It was morning, and the porches were empty of guests. Jane was in a long wicker chair, with her pot of coffee on an hour-glass table. Far down on the terrace two Jap gardeners clipped and cut and watered and saw nothing.
“You are younger than ever,” Jane said when they had clasped hands. “Will you ever grow old, O-liver?”
“The men say not.” He seated himself opposite her. “Jane, Jane, it’s heavenly to see you. I’ve been—starved!”
She had hungered and thirsted for him. Her hand shook a little as she poured him a cup of coffee.
“I told you not to come, O-liver.”
He laid the telegram before her. Fluffy Hair was dead!
The yellow sheet lay between, defying them to speak so soon of happiness.
“To-morrow,” O-liver said, “I go to Washington. When will you come to me, Jane?”
Her hand went out to him. Her breath was quick. “In time to hear your first speech, O-liver. I’ll sit in the gallery, and lean over and listen and say to myself, ‘He’s mine, he’s mine!’”
She heard many speeches in the months that followed, and sometimes Tommy or Atwood or Henry, traveling across the continent, came and sat beside her. And Atwood always clung to his prophecy: “He’ll be governor next; and then it’ll be the White House. Why not?”
And Jane, dreaming, asked herself “Why?”
The East had had its share. Had the time not come for a nation to seek its leader in the golden West?
Billy and I came down from the North and opened a grocery store at Jefferson Corners. It is a little store and there aren’t many houses near it—just the railroad station and a big shed or two. Beyond the sheds a few cabins straggle along the road, and then begin the great plantations, which really aren’t plantations any more, because nobody around here raises much of anything in these days. They just sit and sigh over the things that are different since the war.
That’s what Billy says about them. Billy is up-to-date and he has a motor-cycle. He made up his mind when he came that he was going to put some ginger into the neighborhood. So he rides miles every morning on his motor-cycle to get orders, and he delivers the things himself unless it is barrels of flour or cans of kerosene or other heavy articles, and then he hires somebody to help him. At first he had William Watters and his mule. William is black and his mule is gray, and they are both old. It took them hours to get anywhere, and I used to feel sorry for them. But when I found out that compared to Billy and me they lived on flowery beds of ease, I stopped sympathizing. They both have enough, to eat, and they work only when they want to. Billy and I work all the time. We have our way to make in the world, and we feel that it all depends on ourselves. We started out with nothing ahead of us but my ambitions and Billy’s energy, and a few hundred dollars which my guardian turned over to me when I married Billy on my twenty-first birthday.