Then, as she turned her gaze, a man’s figure broke upon the field of snow, coming towards her. It was Dudley Webb, and in the resolute swing of his carriage, in the resistless ardour of his eyes, he seemed to reach her from east and west, from north and south, surrounding her with a warmth of summer.
As he looked at her he held out his arms.
“Eugie—poor girl! dear girl!”
In the desolation of her life he stood to her as the hearth of home to a wanderer in the frozen North.
For an instant she held back, and then, with a sob, she yielded.
“I must be loved,” she said. “I must be loved or I shall die.”
Around them the winter landscape reddened as the sunset broke, and above their heads the crows flew, cawing, across the snow.
THE MAN AND THE TIMES
The Democratic State Convention had taken an hour’s recess. From the doors of the opera house of Powhatan City the assembled delegates emerged, heated, clamorous, out of breath. The morning session, despite its noise, had not been interesting—awaiting the report of the Committee on Credentials, the panting body had fumed away the opening hours. Of the fifteen hundred representatives of absent voters, the favoured few who had held the floor had been needlessly discursive and undeniably dull. There had been overmuch of the party platform, and an absence of the wit which is the soul of political speaking; and, though the average Virginia Convention is able to breast triumphantly the most encompassing wave of oratory, the present one had shown unmistakable signs of suffocation. At the end of the third speech, metaphor had failed to move it, and alliteration had ceased to evoke applause. It had heard without emotion similes that concerned the colour of Cleopatra’s hair, and had yawned through perorations that ranged from Socrates to the Senior Senator, who sat upon the stage. Attacks upon the “cormorants and harpies that roost in Wall Street” had roused no thrill in the mind of the majority that knew not rhetoric. The most patient of the silent members had observed that “after all, their business was to nominate a candidate for governor,” while the unruly spirits, as they brandished palm-leaf fans, had wished “that blamed committee would come on.”
Now, after hours of restless waiting, they emerged, stiff-kneed and perspiring, into the blazing sunshine that filled the little street. Once outside, they opened their lungs to the warm air in an attempt to banish the tainted atmosphere of the interior; but the original motive of expansion was lost in a flow of words. On the sidewalk the crowd divided into streams, pulsing in opposite directions. Heated, noisy, pervasive, it surged to dinners in hotels and boarding-houses, and overflowed where Moloney’s restaurant displayed its bill of fare. It came