“You see, I am looking for suitable quarters for all hands,” Doctor Gregory said, his laugh drowning hers, his eyes feasting on her delicious confusion. She was aware that feminine eyes from the house were watching her. Presently she had kissed Mrs. Dimmick good-bye. Warren had put his man in the tonneau; he would take the wheel himself for the three hours’ run into town.
“Good-bye, my dear!” said the old lady, adding with an innocent vacuity of manner quite characteristic of Quaker Bridge. “Let me know when the weddin’s goin’ to be!”
“I’ll let you know right now,” said Doctor Gregory, who, gloved and coated, was bustling about the car, deep in the mysterious rites incidental to starting. “It’s going to be to-morrow!”
“Good grief!” exclaimed Mrs. Dimmick delightedly. “Well,” she added, “folks down here think you’ve got an awfully pretty bride!”
“I’m glad she’s up to the standard down here,” Warren Gregory observed. “Nobody seems to think much of her looks up in the city!”
Rachael laughed and leaned from her place beside the driver to kiss the old lady again and to wave a general good-bye to Florrie and Chess and the group on the porch. As smoothly as if she were launched in air the great car sprang into motion; the storm-blown cottages, the battered dooryards, the great shabby trees over the little post office all swept by. They passed the turning that led to Clark’s Bar, and a weather-worn sign-post that read “Quaker Bridge, 1 mile.” It was not a dream, it was all wonderfully true: this was Greg beside her, and they were going to be married!
Rachael settled back against the deep, soft cushions in utter content. To be flying through the soft Indian summer sunshine, alone with Greg, to actually touch his big shoulder with her own, to command his interest, his laughter, his tenderness, at will— after these lonely months it was a memorable and an enchanting experience. Their talk drifted about uncontrolled, as talk after long silence must: now it was a waiter on the ocean liner of whom Gregory spoke, or perhaps the story of a small child’s rescue from the waves, from Rachael. They spoke of the roads, splendidly hard and clean after the rain, and of the villages through which they rushed.
But over their late luncheon, in a roadside inn, the talk fell into deeper grooves, their letters, their loneliness, and their new plans, and when the car at last reached the traffic of the big bridge, and Rachael caught her first glimpse of the city under its thousand smoking chimneys, there had entered into their relationship a new sacred element, something infinitely tender and almost sad, a dependence upon each other, a oneness in which Rachael could get a foretaste of the exquisite communion so soon to be.
They were spinning up the avenue, through a city humming with the first reviving breath of winter. They were at the great hotel, and Rachael was laughing in Elinor Vanderwall’s embrace. The linen shop, the milliner, a dinner absurdly happy, and one of the new plays—a sunshiny morning when she and Elinor breakfasted in their rooms, and opened box after box of gowns and hats—the hours fled by like a dream.