“No. And Amy says that Murray’s wiser than I. But I’m not sure. Amy thinks that all men are wiser than women.”
Maxwell chuckled. Anne was refreshing. She was far from modern in her modes of thought. She was—he hunted for the word and found it—mid-Victorian in her attitude of mind.
He wondered what Winifred Reed would think of her. Winifred lived in Chicago. She was athletic and intellectual. She wrote tabloid dramas, drove her own car, dressed smartly, and took a great interest in Maxwell’s career. She wrote to him once a week, and he always answered her letters. Now and then she failed to write, and he missed her letters and told her so. It was altogether a pleasant friendship.
She hated the idea of Maxwell’s farm. She thought it a backward step. “Are you going to spend the precious years ahead of you in the company of cows?”
“There’ll be pigs too, Winifred; and chickens. And, of course, my horses.”
“You belong in a world of men. It’s the secret of your success that men like you.”
“My cows like me—and there’s great comfort after the stress of a stormy session in the reposefulness of a pig.”
“I wish you’d be serious.”
“I am serious. Perhaps it’s a throwback, Winifred. There is farmer blood in my veins.”
It was something deeper than that. It was his virile joy in fundamentals. He loved his golden-eared Guernseys and his black Berkshires and his White Wyandottes—not because of their choiceness but because they were cows and pigs and chickens; and he kept a pair of pussy cats, half a dozen dogs, and as many horses, because man primitively had made friends of the dumb brutes upon whom the ease and safety of his life depended.
There was, rather strangely, something about Anne which fitted in with this atavistic idea. She was, more than Winifred, a hearthstone woman. A man might carry her over his threshold and find her when he came home o’ nights. It was hard to visualize Winifred as waiting or watching or welcoming. She was always going somewhere with an air of having important things to do, and coming back with an air of having done them. Maxwell felt that these important things were not connected in any way with domestic matters. One did not, indeed, expect domesticity of Winifred.
Thus Anne, drawing upon him by mysterious forces, drew him also by her beauty and a certain wistfulness in her eyes. He had once had a dog, Amber Witch, whose eyes had held always a wistful question. He had tried to answer it. She had grown old on his hearth, yet always to the end of her eyes had asked. He hoped now that in some celestial hunting ground she had found an answer to that subtle need.
He told Anne about Amber Witch. “I have one of her puppies on my farm.”
She was much interested. “I’ve never had a dog; or a cat.”