“I see. He just eats and drinks?” He smiled at her.
“And works. And his work is—wonderful.”
They sat down on a stone bench which had been hewn out of solid gray rock. “I wish Ridgeley had time to play,” Anne said; “it would be nice for both of us—”
The amethyst light had gone, and the dusk descended. Anne’s gray dress was merged into the gray of the rock. She seemed just voice, and phantom outline, and faint rose fragrance. Christopher recognized the scent. He had sent her a precious vial in a sandalwood box. Nothing had seemed too good for the wife of his old friend Dunbar.
“Life for you and Ridgeley,” he told her, “should be something more than work or play—it should be infinite adventure.”
“Yes. But Ridgeley hasn’t time for adventure.”
“Oh, he thinks he hasn’t—”
As Christopher talked after that, Anne was not sure that he was in earnest. He complained that romance had fallen into disrepute. “With all the modern stories—you know the formula—an ounce of sordidness, a flavor of sensationalism, a dash of sex—” One had to look back for the real thing—Aucassin and Nicolette, and all the rest. “That’s why I haven’t married.”
“Well, I have often wondered.”
“If I loved a woman, I should want to make her life all glow and color—and mine—with her—”
Anne’s eyes were shining. What a big pleasant boy he was. He seemed so young. He had a way of running his fingers up through his hair. She was aware of the gesture in the dark. Yes, she liked him. And she felt suddenly gay and light-hearted, as she had felt in the days when she first met Ridgeley.
They talked until the stars shone in the tips of the birch trees. Ridgeley did not come, and when they went back to the house, they found that he had been called to New York on an urgent case. He would not return until the following Friday.
Anne and Christopher were thus left together for a week to get acquainted. With only old Jeanette Ware to play propriety.
It did not take Christopher long to decide that Ridgeley was no longer in love with his wife. “Of course he would call it love. But he could live just as well without her. He has made a machine of himself.”
He spoke to Dunbar one night about Anne. “Do you think she is perfectly well?”
“There’s a touch of breathlessness when we walk. Are you sure about her heart?”
“She has never been strong—” and that had seemed to be the end of it.
But it was not the end of it for Christopher. He watched Anne closely, and once when they climbed a hill together and she gave out, he carried her to the top. He managed to get his ear against her heart, and what he heard drained the blood from his face.
As for Anne, she thought how strong he was—and how fair his hair was with the sun upon it, for he had tucked his cap in his pocket.