Nevertheless, the June days passed, growing dreamily swift, growing more incomprehensibly full; and still she had not broached to Glenn the main object of her visit—to take him back East. Yet a little while longer! She hated his work and had not talked of that. Yet an honest consciousness told her that as time flew by she feared more and more to tell him that he was wasting his life there and that she could not bear it. Still was he wasting it? Once in a while a timid and unfamiliar Carley Burch voiced a pregnant query. Perhaps what held Carley back most was the happiness she achieved in her walks and rides with Glenn. She lingered because of them. Every day she loved him more, and yet—there was something. Was it in her or in him? She had a woman’s assurance of his love and sometimes she caught her breath—so sweet and strong was the tumultuous emotion it stirred. She preferred to enjoy while she could, to dream instead of think. But it was not possible to hold a blank, dreamy, lulled consciousness all the time. Thought would return. And not always could she drive away a feeling that Glenn would never be her slave. She divined something in his mind that kept him gentle and kindly, restrained always, sometimes melancholy and aloof, as if he were an impassive destiny waiting for the iron consequences he knew inevitably must fall. What was this that he knew which she did not know? The idea haunted her. Perhaps it was that which compelled her to use all her woman’s wiles and charms on Glenn. Still, though it thrilled her to see she made him love her more as the days passed, she could not blind herself to the truth that no softness or allurement of hers changed this strange restraint in him. How that baffled her! Was it resistance or knowledge or nobility or doubt?
Flo Hutter’s twentieth birthday came along the middle of June, and all the neighbors and range hands for miles around were invited to celebrate it.
For the second time during her visit Carley put on the white gown that had made Flo gasp with delight, and had stunned Mrs. Hutter, and had brought a reluctant compliment from Glenn. Carley liked to create a sensation. What were exquisite and expensive gowns for, if not that?
It was twilight on this particular June night when she was ready to go downstairs, and she tarried a while on the long porch. The evening star, so lonely and radiant, so cold and passionless in the dusky blue, had become an object she waited for and watched, the same as she had come to love the dreaming, murmuring melody of the waterfall. She lingered there. What had the sights and sounds and smells of this wild canyon come to mean to her? She could not say. But they had changed her immeasurably.
Her soft slippers made no sound on the porch, and as she turned the corner of the house, where shadows hovered thick, she heard Lee Stanton’s voice:
“But, Flo, you loved me before Kilbourne came.”