She did not need a hat. It would have hidden her hair. George Dalton, watching her from the door, decided that he had never seen such hair, bronze, parted on the side, with a thick wave across the forehead, it shaded eyes which were clear wells of light.
She was a little thing with a quality in her youth which made one think of the year at the spring, of the day at morn, of Botticelli’s Simonetta, of Shelley’s lark, of Wordsworth’s daffodils, of Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes—of all the lovely radiant things of which the poets of the world have sung——
Of course Dalton did not think of her in quite that way. He knew something of Browning and little of Keats, but he had at least the wit to discern the rareness of her type.
As for the rest, she wore faded blue, which melted into the blue of the mists, stubbed and shabby russet shoes and an air of absorption in her returned soldier. This absorption Dalton found himself subconsciously resenting. Following an instinctive urge, he emerged, therefore, from his chrysalis of ill-temper, and smiled upon a transformed universe.
“My raincoat, Kemp,” he said, and strode forth across the platform, a creature as shining and splendid as ever trod its boards.
Becky, beholding him, asked, “Is that Major Prime?”
“No, thank Heaven.”
Jefferson, steering the Major expertly, came up at this moment. Then, splashing down the red road whirled the gorgeous limousine. There were two men on the box. Kemp, who had been fluttering around Dalton with an umbrella, darted into the waiting-room for the bags. The door of the limousine was opened by the footman, who also had an umbrella ready. Dalton hesitated, his eyes on that shabby group by the mud-stained surrey. He made up his mind suddenly and approached young Paine.
“We can take one of you in here. You’ll be crowded with all of those bags.”
“Not a bit. We’ll manage perfectly, thank you,” Randy’s voice dismissed him.
He went, with a lingering glance backward. Becky, catching that glance, waked suddenly to the fact that he was very good-looking. “It was kind of him to offer, Randy.”
Nothing more was said, but Becky wondered a bit as they drove on. She liked Major Prime. He was an old dear. But why had Randy thanked Heaven that the other man was not the Major?
The Waterman motor passed the surrey, and Dalton, straining his eyes for a glimpse of the pretty girl, was rewarded only by a view of Randy on the front seat with his back turned on the world, while he talked with someone hidden by the curtains.
Perhaps the fact that she was hidden by the curtains kept Dalton’s thoughts upon her. He felt that her beauty must shine even among the shadows—he envied Major Prime, who sat next to her.
The Major was aware that his position was enviable. It was worth much to watch these two young people, eager in their reunion. “Becky Bannister, whom I have known all my life,” had been Randy’s presentation of the little lady with the shining hair.