“No; you’re right; it wouldn’t,” he said, throwing away his ferns. “But you’ll want something to tie the stems with; you must use the grass.” He left that with her, and went back to his bushes. He added, from beyond a little thicket, as if what he said were part of the subject, “I was afraid you wouldn’t like my skipping about there on the rocks, doing the coloured uncle.”
“I mean—I—you thought it undignified—trivial—”
She said, after a moment: “It was very funny; and people do all sorts of things at picnics. That’s the pleasure of it, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is; but I know you don’t always like that kind of thing.”
“Do I seem so very severe?” she asked.
“Oh no, not severe. I should be afraid of you if you were. I shouldn’t have dared to come to Campobello.”
He looked at her across the blueberry bushes. His gay speech meant everything or nothing. She could parry it with a jest, and then it would mean nothing. She let her head droop over her work, and made no answer.
“I wish you could have seen those fellows on the boat,” said Mavering.
“Hello, Mavering!” called the voice of John Munt, from another part of the woods.
“Alice!—Miss Pasmer!” came that of Miss Anderson.
He was going to answer, when he looked at Alice. “We’ll let them see if they can find us,” he said, and smiled.
Alice said nothing at first; she smiled too. “You know more about the woods than I do. I suppose if they keep looking—”
“Oh yes.” He came toward her with a mass of clusters which he had clipped. “How fast you do them!” he said, standing and looking down at her. “I wish you’d let me come and make up the withes for you when you need them.”
“No, I couldn’t allow that on any account,” she answered, twisting some stems of the grass together.
“Well, will you let me hold the bunches while you tie them; or tie them when you hold them?”
“This once, then?”
“This once, perhaps.”
“How little you let me do for you!” he sighed.
“That gives you a chance to do more for other people,” she answered; and then she dropped her eyes, as if she had been surprised into that answer. She made haste to add: “That’s what makes you so popular with—everybody!”
“Ah, but I’d rather be popular with somebody!”
He laughed, and then they both laughed together consciously; and still nothing or everything had been said. A little silly silence followed, and he said, for escape from it, “I never saw such berries before, even in September, on the top of Ponkwasset.”
“Why, is it a mountain?” she asked. “I thought it was a—falls.”
“It’s both,” he said.
“I suppose it’s very beautiful, isn’t it! All America seems so lovely, so large.”
“It’s pretty in the summer. I don’t know that I shall like it there in the winter if I conclude to—Did your—did Mrs. Pasmer tell you what my father wants me to do?”