Part II
Chapter I
 

Betty never denied that she enjoyed her visit to California, despite the several thousand miles between the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts, and Senator North's rooted aversion to writing letters. She received exactly three brief epistles from him in almost as many months, but in one he said that he missed her even in the North, in another that Washington was not Washington without her, and in the third that he looked forward with pleasure to the cool Adirondacks and herself. And a woman can live on less than that. Betty read and re- read these simple and possibly perfunctory statements until they were weighted with love.

And although she visited all the wonders of the most wonderful State in the Union, and was deeply grateful to them, they never pushed the man from the forefront of her mind for a moment. The egoism of love reduces scenery to a setting and the splendours of sunset to a background. Betty thought of him by day and by night, in company and in solitude, but even the agony of longing to which her imagination sometimes rose contained no heartbreak. For the future was all over there, on the far side of the continent; its grave-clothes were deep under lavender and rosemary. To think of him was a luxury and a delight, and would remain so until Imagination had been pushed aside by the contradictory details of Reality. Sometimes she wept pleasurably, but she smiled oftener. And still, although she laid no reins on her imagination, she refused to look beyond the summer among the Adirondack pines, the frequent and more frequent hours at the close of busy days. If pressed, she would doubtless have answered that she must bow to Circumstance, but that in Thought he was wholly hers.