The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 8, page 1 of 17)


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Chapter 8

They walked slowly back along the pike toward the brick house. The white-
ruffed fennel reached up its dusty yellow heads to touch her skirts as she
passed, and then drooped, satisfied, against the purple iron-weed at the
roadside. In the noonday silence no cricket chirped nor locust raised its
lorn monotone; the tree shadows mottled the road with blue, and the level
fields seemed to pant out a dazzling breath, the transparent "heat-waves"
that danced above the low corn and green wheat.

He was stooping very much as they walked; he wanted to be told that he
could look at her for a thousand years. Her face was rarely and
exquisitely modelled, but, perhaps, just now the salient characteristic of
her beauty (for the salient characteristic seemed to be a different thing
at different times) was the coloring, a delicate glow under the white
skin, that bewitched him in its seeming a reflection of the rich
benediction of the noonday sun that blazed overhead.

Once he had thought the way to the Briscoe homestead rather a long walk;
but now the distance sped malignantly; and strolled they never so slow, it
was less than a "young bird's flutter from a wood." With her acquiescence
he rolled a cigarette, and she began to hum lightly the air of a song, a
song of an ineffably gentle, slow movement.

That, and a reference of the morning, and, perhaps, the smell of his
tobacco mingling with the fragrance of her roses, awoke again the keen
reminiscence of the previous night within him. Clearly outlined before him
rose the high, green slopes and cool cliff-walls of the coast of Maine,
while his old self lazily watched the sharp little waves through half-
closed lids, the pale smoke of his cigarette blowing out under the rail of
a waxen deck where he lay cushioned. And again a woman pelted his face
with handfuls of rose-petals and cried: "Up lad and at 'em! Yonder is
Winter Harbor." Again he sat in the oak-raftered Casino, breathless with
pleasure, and heard a young girl sing the "Angel's Serenade," a young girl
who looked so bravely unconscious of the big, hushed crowd that listened,
looked so pure and bright and gentle and good, that he had spoken of her
as "Sir Galahad's little sister." He recollected he had been much taken
with this child; but he had not thought of her from that time to this, he
supposed; had almost forgotten her. No! Her face suddenly stood out to his
view as though he saw her with his physical eye--a sweet and vivacious
child's face with light-brown hair and gray eyes and a short upper lip.
. . . And the voice. . . .

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