Congress was having night sessions. “If I could only have you up there,” Maxwell had said to Anne as he had driven her home from the matinee, with old Molly and Ethel on the back seat. “I should steal you if I dared.”
“Do you mean it?”
“Yes. To-night. Ethel and Amy are going to a Colonial Dames meeting with Molly Winchell. I never go. I hate ancestors.”
“I shouldn’t let you do it,” he hesitated, “but ghosts walk after dark in the Capitol corridors.”
“I know,” she nodded. “Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.”
“Yes. Then you’ll come?”
It was the thought of her rendezvous with him that lighted her eyes when she talked to Murray. But Murray did not know. So he swayed up on his toes and glanced in the glass and was glad of his thinness and tallness.
Maxwell came for Anne promptly. “You must get me back by ten,” she told him. “I have a key, and Charlotte’s out.”
It was a night of nights, never to be forgotten. Maxwell did not take Anne into the Gallery. He had not brought her there to hear speeches or to be conspicuous in the glare of lights. He led her through shadowy corridors—up wide dim stairways.
At one turn he touched her arm. “Look!” he whispered.
“Lafayette passed us—on the stairs.”
It was a great game! On the east front Columbus spoke to them of ships that sailed toward the sunset; in the Rotunda they kept a tryst with William Penn; from the west-front portico they saw a city beautiful—the streets under the moon were rivers of light—the great monument reached like the soul of Washington toward the stars!
Out there in the moonlight Maxwell spoke of another great soul, gone of late to join a glorious company.
“It was he who taught me that life is an adventure.”
“You loved him too?”
Anne caught her breath. “To think of him dead—to think of them all—dead.”
Maxwell looked down at her. “They live somewhere. You believe that, don’t you?”
He was silent for a moment; then he laid his hand lightly on her shoulder. “I feel to-night as if they pressed close.”
Oh, it was a rare game to meet great souls in odd corners! They could scarcely tear themselves away. But he got her home before her sisters arrived, and Anne went to bed soberly, and lay long awake, thinking it out. She had never before had such a playmate. In all these years she had starved for other things than food.
In due time Congress adjourned, but Maxwell did not go home. He continued to see Anne. Amy was at last driven to her duty by Murray. She could not forbid Maxwell the house. There was nothing to do but talk to Anne.