“It’s very different with us; we’re not young,” she urged, only half seriously.
Her husband laughed. “I see you want me to defend him. Oh, hello!” he cried, and she saw Burnamy coming toward them with a young lady, who was nodding to them from as far as she could see them. “This is the easy kind of thing that makes you Blush for the author if you find it in a novel.”
Mrs. March fairly took Miss Triscoe in her arms to kiss her. “Do you know I felt it must be you, all the time! When did you come? Where is your father? What hotel are you staying at?”
It appeared, while Miss Triscoe was shaking hands with March, that it was last night, and her father was finishing his breakfast, and it was one of the hotels on the hill. On the way back to her father it appeared that he wished to consult March’s doctor; not that there was anything the matter.
The general himself was not much softened by the reunion with his fellow-Americans; he confided to them that his coffee was poisonous; but he seemed, standing up with the Paris-New York Chronicle folded in his hand, to have drunk it all. Was March going off on his forenoon tramp? He believed that was part of the treatment, which was probably all humbug, though he thought of trying it, now he was there. He was told the walks were fine; he looked at Burnamy as if he had been praising them, and Burnamy said he had been wondering if March would not like to try a mountain path back to his hotel; he said, not so sincerely, that he thought Mrs. March would like it.
“I shall like your account of it,” she answered. “But I’ll walk back on a level, if you please.”
“Oh, yes,” Miss Triscoe pleaded, “come with us!”
She played a little comedy of meaning to go back with her father so gracefully that Mrs. March herself could scarcely have told just where the girl’s real purpose of going with Burnamy began to be evident, or just how she managed to make General Triscoe beg to have the pleasure of seeing Mrs. March back to her hotel.
March went with the young people across the meadow behind the Posthof and up into the forest, which began at the base of the mountain. At first they tried to keep him in the range of their talk; but he fell behind more and more, and as the talk narrowed to themselves it was less and less possible to include him in it. When it began to concern their common appreciation of the Marches, they even tried to get out of his hearing.
“They’re so young in their thoughts,” said Burnamy, “and they seem as much interested in everything as they could have been thirty years ago. They belong to a time when the world was a good deal fresher than it is now; don’t you think? I mean, in the eighteen-sixties.”
“Oh, yes, I can see that.”
“I don’t know why we shouldn’t be born older in each generation than people were in the last. Perhaps we are,” he suggested.