The guides made a huge fire down by the shore, and left them alone. They sat by it until nearly ten o’clock, he talking incessantly; her overtures had roused in him the desire to please, and, instead of the usual monologue of egotism and rant, he poured out poetry, eloquence, sense and humorous shrewdness. Had he been far less the unusual, the great man, she would still have listened with a sense of delight, for in her mood that night his penetrating voice, which, in other moods, she found as insupportable as a needle-pointed goad, harmonized with the great, starry sky and the mysterious, eerie shadows of forest and mountain and lake close round their huge, bright fire. As they rose to go in, up came the moon. A broad, benevolent, encouraging face, the face of a matchmaker. Craig put his arm round Margaret. She trembled and thrilled.
“Do you know what that moon’s saying?” asked he. In his voice was that exquisite tone that enabled him to make even commonplaces lift great audiences to their feet to cheer him wildly.
She lifted soft, shining eyes to his. “What?” she inquired under her breath. She had forgotten her schemes, her resentments, her make-believe of every kind. “What—Joshua?” she repeated.
“It’s saying: ’Hurry up, you silly children, down there! Don’t you know that life is a minute and youth a second?’” And now both his arms were round her and one of her hands lay upon his shoulder.
“Life a minute—youth a second,” she murmured.
“Do you think I’d scratch you horribly if I kissed you—Rita?”
She lowered her eyes but not her face. “You might try—Josh.”
“Our house is afire”
Next morning she was up and in her dressing-room and had almost finished her toilette before he awakened. For the first time in years—perhaps the first time since the end of her happy girlhood and the beginning of her first season in Washington society—she felt like singing. Was there ever such a dawn? Did ever song of birds sound so like the voice of eternal youth? Whence had come this air like the fumes from the winepresses of the gods? And the light! What colors, what tints, upon mountain and valley and halcyon lake! And the man asleep in the next room—yes, there was a Joshua Craig whom she found extremely trying at times; but that Joshua Craig had somehow resigned the tenancy of the strong, straight form there, had resigned it to a man who was the living expression of all that bewitched her in these wilds.