She got out of the car, and “Red” rattled down to the home-made garage a few rods away.
They were alone; and they stood there in the path for a moment, looking into each other’s eyes.
“He is my husband,” Lucia then found herself saying. “I am now Mrs. Pell.”
“What are we going to do?” Gilbert asked. He had the face of a dreamer, she thought. The steel-gray eyes were full of fire and longing. What had these few years done to him?
“We are going to do nothing at all. What is there to do? We shall not be here many days. If you’d rather we went back to Bisbee....”
“Oh, no! That would only make an issue of nothing. He doesn’t know anything? You’re sure? Oh, Lucia!” He seemed suddenly overcome at their amazing meeting.
She saw that she would have to be the mistress of the situation. “Don’t—don’t, Gilbert,” she begged. “I am just a guest of yours.”
“I know—I know,” he said, and there was a shade of anguish in his voice. “Forgive me. There shall be absolutely nothing said. Not even a gesture. I promise you that. It is as though we had never known each other.”
“Surely we can play a part. It isn’t as if we were children,” she said, and smiled.
He looked at her—indeed, his eyes had never left her face. Never had she seemed so wonderful to him.
“I’m in bad,” he told her. “Got to give the old place up. But what’s that to you?” There was a sound behind them. “Here comes Uncle Henry!”
A wheel chair came out of the doorway. In it sat an old man of about sixty. But he did not look much like an invalid. His cheeks were rosy, and his abundant white hair was brushed back from a forehead of fine moulding. His eyes were penetrating—as young as Gilbert’s, almost. Ten years before he had become paralyzed in his legs, and now he wheeled himself about, not at all uncomfortable.
“Uncle Henry, this is Mrs. Pell. Come out and meet her,” his nephew said.
Lucia felt that she should go to the invalid; but he beat her to it. Quick as a billiard-ball he had reached her side, turning the wheels of his chair with great rapidity.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, and put out a white hand. “How long you goin’ to stay?”
“What a question,” Gilbert laughed. “As long as she and her husband wish, of course.”
“Well, by cricketty ginger!” Henry Smith exclaimed. “Hope you’ll give ’em enough to eat!” And before anyone could say another word, he had turned and scooted back into the house.
“Don’t mind Uncle Henry,” Gilbert said to Lucia. “He’s got a heart of gold, but he can be cranky and eccentric sometimes. Maybe he’s got one of his moods to-day. I never know. Tomorrow he’ll be all right—perhaps. I hope so, anyhow.... But come inside. You must be tired after your trip. Your rooms are upstairs.”