But she frowned at him in annoyance, and he left her, after all, without knowing whether he had gained or lost ground. Of one thing only he was sure-their meeting had been in some respects a disappointment. She was not by any means so warm and impulsive as he had supposed. Her girlishness, her simplicity, her little American ways, cloaked a deep reserve and a fine sense of the difference in their positions. She could be Spanish enough when she chose, he perceived, and he felt, as he was intended to feel, that the little lady of quality he had met to-night would be much harder to win than the girl of the woods. The plague of it was that, if anything, he was more in love with the definite and dazzling Gertrudis Garavel than he had been with the mysteriously alluring Chiquita. If only she were all American, or even all Spanish, perhaps he would know better how to act. But, unfortunately, she was both-just enough of both to be perplexing and wholly unreliable. And then, too, there was Alfarez!
He was in no more satisfactory frame of mind when, on the next afternoon, he shouldered his gun and set out for the country. He went directly to the fairy pool, and waited there in a very fever of anxiety. Despite the coolness and peace of the place, he felt his pulses throb and his face burn. If she came, it would mean everything to him. If she stayed away-why, then he would have to believe that, after all, the real Gertrudis Garavel had spoken last night at the opera, and that the sprightly, mirthful little maid who had bewitched him on their first meeting no longer existed. An odd bashfulness overtook him. It did not seem to him that it could possibly have been he who had talked to her so boldly only the evening before. At the thought of his temerity he felt almost inclined to flee, yet he would not have deserted his post for worlds. The sound of a voice shot through his troubled thoughts like a beam of sunlight through a dark room.
“Oh, Senor Antonio! How you startled me!”
Instantly his self-possession came back. He felt relieved and gay.
“Good-afternoon, queen!” He rose and bowed politely. “I thought I saw one underneath the waterfall just now.”
“Who would have expected you to be here?” she cried, with an extreme and obviously counterfeit amazement that filled him with delight.
“I’m lost,” he declared; then, after one look into her eyes, he added, “Absolutely, utterly, irretrievably lost.”
“It is very fortunate that I chanced to be passing, for this is a lonely spot; nobody ever comes here.”
“Well, I hardly ever lose myself in busy places. Won’t you sit down?”
“Since we have met quite by accident, perhaps it would not be so very improper,” She laughed mischievously.
“You know I’ve been lost now for several months. It’s a delightful feeling-you ought to try it.”