A Mountain Woman by Elia W. Peattie
IF Leroy Brainard had not had such a respect for literature, he would have written a book.
As it was, he played at being an architect -- and succeeded in being a charming fellow. My sister Jessica never lost an opportunity of laughing at his endeavors as an architect.
"You can build an enchanting villa, but what would you do with a cathedral?"
"I shall never have a chance at a cathedral," he would reply. "And, besides, it always seems to me so material and so impertinent to build a little structure of stone and wood in which to worship God!"
You see what he was like? He was frivolous, yet one could never tell when he would become eloquently earnest.
Brainard went off suddenly Westward one day. I suspected that Jessica was at the bottom of it, but I asked no questions; and I did not hear from him for months. Then I got a letter from Colorado.
"I have married a mountain woman," he wrote. "None of your puny breed of modern femininity, but a remnant left over from the heroic ages, -- a primitive woman, grand and vast of spirit, capable of true and steadfast wifehood. No sophistry about her; no knowledge even that there is sophistry. Heavens! man, do you remember the ron- deaux and triolets I used to write to those pretty creatures back East? It would take a Saga man of the old Norseland to write for my mountain woman. If I were an artist, I would paint her with the north star in her locks and her feet on purple cloud. I suppose you are at the Pier. I know you usually are at this season. At any rate, I shall direct this letter thither, and will follow close after it. I want my wife to see something of life. And I want her to meet your sister."
"Dear me!" cried Jessica, when I read the letter to her; "I don't know that I care to meet anything quite so gigantic as that mountain woman. I'm one of the puny breed of modern femininity, you know. I don't think my nerves can stand the encounter."
"Why, Jessica!" I protested. She blushed a little.
"Don't think bad of me, Victor. But, you see, I've a little scrap-book of those triolets upstairs." Then she burst into a peal of irresistible laughter. "I'm not laughing because I am piqued," she said frankly. "Though any one will admit that it is rather irritating to have a man who left you in a blasted condition recover with such extraordinary promptness. As a philanthropist, one of course rejoices, but as a woman, Victor, it must be admitted that one has a right to feel annoyed. But, honestly, I am not ungenerous, and I am going to do him a favor. I shall write, and urge him not to bring his wife here. A primitive woman, with the north star in her hair, would look well down there in the Casino eating a pineapple ice, wouldn't she? It's all very well to have a soul, you know; but it won't keep you from looking like a guy among women who have good dressmakers. I shudder at the thought of what the poor thing will suffer if he brings her here."
Jessica wrote, as she said she would; but, for all that, a fortnight later she was walking down the wharf with the "mountain woman," and I was sauntering beside Leroy. At dinner Jessica gave me no chance to talk with our friend's wife, and I only caught the quiet contralto tones of her voice now and then contrasting with Jessica's vivacious soprano. A drizzling rain came up from the east with nightfall. Little groups of shivering men and women sat about in the parlors at the card-tables, and one blond woman sang love songs. The Brainards were tired with their journey, and left us early. When they were gone, Jessica burst into eulogy.
"That is the first woman," she declared, "I ever met who would make a fit heroine for a book."
"Then you will not feel under obligations to educate her, as you insinuated the other day?"
"Educate her! I only hope she will help me to unlearn some of the things I know. I never saw such simplicity. It is antique!"
"You're sure it's not mere vacuity?" "Victor! How can you? But you haven't talked with her. You must to-morrow. Good-night." She gathered up her trailing skirts and started down the corridor. Suddenly she turned back. "For Heaven's sake!" she whispered, in an awed tone, "I never even noticed what she had on!"
The next morning early we made up a riding party, and I rode with Mrs. Brainard. She was as tall as I, and sat in her saddle as if quite unconscious of her animal. The road stretched hard and inviting under our horses' feet. The wind smelled salt. The sky was ragged with gray masses of cloud scudding across the blue. I was beginning to glow with exhilaration, when suddenly my companion drew in her horse.
"If you do not mind, we will go back," she said.
Her tone was dejected. I thought she was tired.
"Oh, no!" she protested, when I apologized for my thoughtlessness in bringing her so far. "I'm not tired. I can ride all day. Where I come from, we have to ride if we want to go anywhere; but here there seems to be no particular place to -- to reach."
"Are you so utilitarian?" I asked, laughingly. "Must you always have some reason for everything you do? I do so many things just for the mere pleasure of doing them, I'm afraid you will have a very poor opinion of me."
"That is not what I mean," she said, flushing, and turning her large gray eyes on me. "You must not think I have a reason for everything I do." She was very earnest, and it was evident that she was unacquainted with the art of making conversation. "But what I mean," she went on, "is that there is no place -- no end -- to reach." She looked back over her shoulder toward the west, where the trees marked the sky line, and an expression of loss and dissatisfaction came over her face. "You see," she said, apologetically, "I'm used to different things -- to the mountains. I have never been where I could not see them before in my life."
"Ah, I see! I suppose it is odd to look up and find them not there."
"It's like being lost, this not having anything around you. At least, I mean," she continued slowly, as if her thought could not easily put itself in words, -- "I mean it seems as if a part of the world had been taken down. It makes you feel lonesome, as if you were living after the world had begun to die."
"You'll get used to it in a few days. It seems very beautiful to me here. And then you will have so much life to divert you."
"Life? But there is always that everywhere."
"I mean men and women."
"Oh! Still, I am not used to them. I think I might be not -- not very happy with them. They might think me queer. I think I would like to show your sister the mountains."
"She has seen them often."
"Oh, she told me. But I don't mean those pretty green hills such as we saw coming here. They are not like my mountains. I like mountains that go beyond the clouds, with terrible shadows in the hollows, and belts of snow lying in the gorges where the sun cannot reach, and the snow is blue in the sunshine, or shining till you think it is silver, and the mist so wonderful all about it, changing each moment and drifting up and down, that you cannot tell what name to give the colors. These mountains of yours here in the East are so quiet; mine are shouting all the time, with the pines and the rivers. The echoes are so loud in the valley that sometimes, when the wind is rising, we can hardly hear a man talk unless he raises his voice. There are four cataracts near where I live, and they all have different voices, just as people do; and one of them is happy -- a little white cataract -- and it falls where the sun shines earliest, and till night it is shining. But the others only get the sun now and then, and they are more noisy and cruel. One of them is always in the shadow, and the water looks black. That is partly because the rocks all underneath it are black. It falls down twenty great ledges in a gorge with black sides, and a white mist dances all over it at every leap. I tell father the mist is the ghost of the waters. No man ever goes there; it is too cold. The chill strikes through one, and makes your heart feel as if you were dying. But all down the side of the mountain, toward the south and the west, the sun shines on the granite and draws long points of light out of it. Father tells me soldiers marching look that way when the sun strikes on their bayonets. Those are the kind of mountains I mean, Mr. Grant."
She was looking at me with her face transfigured, as if it, like the mountains she told me of, had been lying in shadow, and waiting for the dazzling dawn.
"I had a terrible dream once," she went on; "the most terrible dream ever I had. I dreamt that the mountains had all been taken down, and that I stood on a plain to which there was no end. The sky was burning up, and the grass scorched brown from the heat, and it was twisting as if it were in pain. And animals, but no other person save myself, only wild things, were crouching and looking up at that sky. They could not run because there was no place to which to go."
"You were having a vision of the last man," I said. "I wonder myself sometimes whether this old globe of ours is going to collapse suddenly and take us with her, or whether we will disappear through slow disastrous ages of fighting and crushing, with hunger and blight to help us to the end. And then, at the last, perhaps, some luckless fellow, stronger than the rest, will stand amid the ribs of the rotting earth and go mad."
The woman's eyes were fixed on me, large and luminous. "Yes," she said; "he would go mad from the lonesomeness of it. He would be afraid to be left alone like that with God. No one would want to be taken into God's secrets."
"And our last man," I went on, "would have to stand there on that swaying wreck till even the sound of the crumbling earth ceased. And he would try to find a voice and would fail, because silence would have come again. And then the light would go out --"
The shudder that crept over her made me stop, ashamed of myself.
"You talk like father," she said, with a long-drawn breath. Then she looked up suddenly at the sun shining through a rift in those reckless gray clouds, and put out one hand as if to get it full of the headlong rollicking breeze. "But the earth is not dying," she cried. "It is well and strong, and it likes to go round and round among all the other worlds. It likes the sun and moon; they are all good friends; and it likes the people who live on it. Maybe it is they instead of the fire within who keep it warm; or maybe it is warm just from always going, as we are when we run. We are young, you and I, Mr. Grant, and Leroy, and your beautiful sister, and the world is young too!" Then she laughed a strong splendid laugh, which had never had the joy taken out of it with drawing-room restrictions; and I laughed too, and felt that we had become very good companions indeed, and found myself warming to the joy of companionship as I had not since I was a boy at school.
That afternoon the four of us sat at a table in the Casino together. The Casino, as every one knows, is a place to amuse yourself. If you have a duty, a mission, or an aspiration, you do not take it there with you, it would be so obviously out of place; if poverty is ahead of you, you forget it; if you have brains, you hasten to conceal them; they would be a serious encumbrance.
There was a bubbling of conversation, a rustle and flutter such as there always is where there are many women. All the place was gay with flowers and with gowns as bright as the flowers. I remembered the apprehensions of my sister, and studied Leroy's wife to see how she fitted into this highly colored picture. She was the only woman in the room who seemed to wear draperies. The jaunty slash and cut of fashionable attire were missing in the long brown folds of cloth that enveloped her figure. I felt certain that even from Jessica's standpoint she could not be called a guy. Picturesque she might be, past the point of convention, but she was not ridiculous.
"Judith takes all this very seriously," said Leroy, laughingly. "I suppose she would take even Paris seriously."
His wife smiled over at him. "Leroy says I am melancholy," she said, softly; "but I am always telling him that I am happy. He thinks I am melancholy because I do not laugh. I got out of the way of it by being so much alone. You only laugh to let some one else know you are pleased. When you are alone there is no use in laughing. It would be like explaining something to yourself."
"You are a philosopher, Judith. Mr. Max Müller would like to know you."
"Is he a friend of yours, dear?"
Leroy blushed, and I saw Jessica curl her lip as she noticed the blush. She laid her hand on Mrs. Brainard's arm.
"Have you always been very much alone?" she inquired.
"I was born on the ranch, you know; and father was not fond of leaving it. Indeed, now he says he will never again go out of sight of it. But you can go a long journey without doing that; for it lies on a plateau in the valley, and it can be seen from three different mountain passes. Mother died there, and for that reason and others -- father has had a strange life -- he never wanted to go away. He brought a lady from Pennsylvania to teach me. She had wonderful learning, but she didn't make very much use of it. I thought if I had learning I would not waste it reading books. I would use it to -- to live with. Father had a library, but I never cared for it. He was forever at books too. Of course," she hastened to add, noticing the look of mortification deepen on her husband's face, "I like books very well if there is nothing better at hand. But I always said to Mrs. Windsor -- it was she who taught me -- why read what other folk have been thinking when you can go out and think yourself? Of course one prefers one's own thoughts, just as one prefers one's own ranch, or one's own father."
"Then you are sure to like New York when you go there to live," cried Jessica; "for there you will find something to make life entertaining all the time. No one need fall back on books there."
"I'm not sure. I'm afraid there must be such dreadful crowds of people. Of course I should try to feel that they were all like me, with just the same sort of fears, and that it was ridiculous for us to be afraid of each other, when at heart we all meant to be kind."
Jessica fairly wrung her hands. "Heavens!" she cried. "I said you would like New York. I am afraid, my dear, that it will break your heart!"
"Oh," said Mrs. Brainard, with what was meant to be a gentle jest, "no one can break my heart except Leroy. I should not care enough about any one else, you know."
The compliment was an exquisite one. I felt the blood creep to my own brain in a sort of vicarious rapture, and I avoided looking at Leroy lest he should dislike to have me see the happiness he must feel. The simplicity of the woman seemed to invigorate me as the cool air of her mountains might if it blew to me on some bright dawn, when I had come, fevered and sick of soul, from the city.
When we were alone, Jessica said to me: "That man has too much vanity, and he thinks it is sensitiveness. He is going to imagine that his wife makes him suffer. There's no one so brutally selfish as your sensitive man. He wants every one to live according to his ideas, or he immediately begins suffering. That friend of yours hasn't the courage of his convictions. He is going to be ashamed of the very qualities that made him love his wife."
There was a hop that night at the hotel, quite an unusual affair as to elegance, given in honor of a woman from New York, who wrote a novel a month.
Mrs. Brainard looked so happy that night when she came in the parlor, after the music had begun, that I felt a moisture gather in my eyes just because of the beauty of her joy, and the forced vivacity of the women about me seemed suddenly coarse and insincere. Some wonderful red stones, brilliant as rubies, glittered in among the diaphanous black driftings of her dress. She asked me if the stones were not very pretty, and said she gathered them in one of her mountain river-beds.
"But the gown?" I said. "Surely, you do not gather gowns like that in river-beds, or pick them off mountain-pines?"
"But you can get them in Denver. Father always sent to Denver for my finery. He was very particular about how I looked. You see, I was all he had --" She broke off, her voice faltering.
"Come over by the window," I said, to change her thought. "I have something to repeat to you. It is a song of Sydney Lanier's. I think he was the greatest poet that ever lived in America, though not many agree with me. But he is my dear friend anyway, though he is dead, and I never saw him; and I want you to hear some of his words."
I led her across to an open window. The dancers were whirling by us. The waltz was one of those melancholy ones which speak the spirit of the dance more eloquently than any merry melody can. The sound of the sea booming beyond in the darkness came to us, and long paths of light, now red, now green, stretched toward the distant light-house. These were the lines I repeated: --
"What heartache -- ne'er a hill! Inexorable, vapid, vague, and chill The drear sand levels drain my spirit low. With one poor word they tell me all they know; Whereat their stupid tongues, to tease my pain, Do drawl it o'er and o'er again. They hurt my heart with griefs I cannot name; Always the same -- the same."
But I got no further. I felt myself moved with a sort of passion which did not seem to come from within, but to be communicated to me from her. A certain unfamiliar happiness pricked through with pain thrilled me, and I heard her whispering, --
"Do not go on, do not go on! I cannot stand it to-night!"
"Hush," I whispered back; "come out for a moment!" We stole into the dusk without, and stood there trembling. I swayed with her emotion. There was a long silence. Then she said: "Father may be walking alone now by the black cataract. That is where he goes when he is sad. I can see how lonely he looks among those little twisted pines that grow from the rock. And he will be remembering all the evenings we walked there together, and all the things we said." I did not answer. Her eyes were still on the sea.
"What was the name of the man who wrote that verse you just said to me?"
I told her.
"And he is dead? Did they bury him in the mountains? No? I wish I could have put him where he could have heard those four voices calling down the canyon."
"Come back in the house," I said; "you must come, indeed," I said, as she shrank from re-entering.
Jessica was dancing like a fairy with Leroy. They both saw us and smiled as we came in, and a moment later they joined us. I made my excuses and left my friends to Jessica's care. She was a sort of social tyrant wherever she was, and I knew one word from her would insure the popularity of our friends -- not that they needed the intervention of any one. Leroy had been a sort of drawing-room pet since before he stopped wearing knickerbockers.
"He is at his best in a drawing-room," said Jessica, "because there he deals with theory and not with action. And he has such beautiful theories that the women, who are all idealists, adore him."
The next morning I awoke with a conviction that I had been idling too long. I went back to the city and brushed the dust from my desk. Then each morning, I, as Jessica put it, "formed public opinion" to the extent of one column a day in the columns of a certain enterprising morning journal.
Brainard said I had treated him shabbily to leave upon the heels of his coming. But a man who works for his bread and butter must put a limit to his holiday. It is different when you only work to add to your general picturesqueness. That is what I wrote Leroy, and it was the unkindest thing I ever said to him; and why I did it I do not know to this day. I was glad, though, when he failed to answer the letter. It gave me a more reasonable excuse for feeling out of patience with him.
The days that followed were very dull. It was hard to get back into the way of working. I was glad when Jessica came home to set up our little establishment and to join in the autumn gayeties. Brainard brought his wife to the city soon after, and went to housekeeping in an odd sort of a way.
"I couldn't see anything in the place save curios," Jessica reported, after her first call on them. "I suppose there is a cooking- stove somewhere, and maybe even a pantry with pots in it. But all I saw was Alaska totems and Navajo blankets. They have as many skins around on the floor and couches as would have satisfied an ancient Briton. And everybody was calling there. You know Mr. Brainard runs to curios in selecting his friends as well as his furniture. The parlors were full this afternoon of abnormal people, that is to say, with folks one reads about. I was the only one there who hadn't done something. I guess it's because I am too healthy."
"How did Mrs. Brainard like such a motley crew?"
"She was wonderful -- perfectly wonderful! Those insulting creatures were all studying her, and she knew it. But her dignity was perfect, and she looked as proud as a Sioux chief. She listened to every one, and they all thought her so bright."
"Brainard must have been tremendously proud of her."
"Oh, he was -- of her and his Chilcat portières."
Jessica was there often, but -- well, I was busy. At length, however, I was forced to go. Jessica refused to make any further excuses for me. The rooms were filled with small celebrities.
"We are the only nonentities," whispered Jessica, as she looked around; "it will make us quite distinguished."
We went to speak to our hostess. She stood beside her husband, looking taller than ever; and her face was white. Her long red gown of clinging silk was so peculiar as to give one the impression that she was dressed in character. It was easy to tell that it was one of Leroy's fancies. I hardly heard what she said, but I know she reproached me gently for not having been to see them. I had no further word with her till some one led her to the piano, and she paused to say, --
"That poet you spoke of to me -- the one you said was a friend of yours -- he is my friend now too, and I have learned to sing some of his songs. I am going to sing one now." She seemed to have no timidity at all, but stood quietly, with a half smile, while a young man with a Russian name played a strange minor prelude. Then she sang, her voice a wonderful contralto, cold at times, and again lit up with gleams of passion. The music itself was fitful, now full of joy, now tender, and now sad:
"Look off, dear love, across the sallow sands, And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea, How long they kiss in sight of all the lands, Ah! longer, longer we."
"She has a genius for feeling, hasn't she?" Leroy whispered to me.
"A genius for feeling!" I repeated, angrily. "Man, she has a heart and a soul and a brain, if that is what you mean! I shouldn't think you would be able to look at her from the standpoint of a critic."
Leroy shrugged his shoulders and went off. For a moment I almost hated him for not feeling more resentful. I felt as if he owed it to his wife to take offence at my foolish speech.
It was evident that the "mountain woman" had become the fashion. I read reports in the papers about her unique receptions. I saw her name printed conspicuously among the list of those who attended all sorts of dinners and musicales and evenings among the set that affected intellectual pursuits. She joined a number of women's clubs of an exclusive kind.
"She is doing whatever her husband tells her to," said Jessica. "Why, the other day I heard her ruining her voice on 'Siegfried'!"
But from day to day I noticed a difference in her. She developed a terrible activity. She took personal charge of the affairs of her house; she united with Leroy in keeping the house filled with guests; she got on the board of a hospital for little children, and spent a part of every day among the cots where the sufferers lay. Now and then when we spent a quiet evening alone with her and Leroy, she sewed continually on little white night-gowns for these poor babies. She used her carriage to take the most extraordinary persons riding.
"In the cause of health," Leroy used to say, "I ought to have the carriage fumigated after every ride Judith takes, for she is always accompanied by some one who looks as if he or she should go into quarantine."
One night, when he was chaffing her in this way, she flung her sewing suddenly from her and sprang to her feet, as if she were going to give way to a burst of girlish temper. Instead of that, a stream of tears poured from her eyes, and she held out her trembling hands toward Jessica.
"He does not know," she sobbed. "He cannot understand."
One memorable day Leroy hastened over to us while we were still at breakfast to say that Judith was ill, -- strangely ill. All night long she had been muttering to herself as if in a delirium. Yet she answered lucidly all questions that were put to her.
"She begs for Miss Grant. She says over and over that she 'knows,' whatever that may mean."
When Jessica came home she told me she did not know. She only felt that a tumult of impatience was stirring in her friend.
"There is something majestic about her, -- something epic. I feel as if she were making me live a part in some great drama, the end of which I cannot tell. She is suffering, but I cannot tell why she suffers."
Weeks went on without an abatement in this strange illness. She did not keep her bed. Indeed, she neglected few of her usual occupations. But her hands were burning, and her eyes grew bright with that wild sort of lustre one sees in the eyes of those who give themselves up to strange drugs or manias. She grew whimsical, and formed capricious friendships, only to drop them.
And then one day she closed her house to all acquaintances, and sat alone continually in her room, with her hands clasped in her lap, and her eyes swimming with the emotions that never found their way to her tongue.
Brainard came to the office to talk with me about her one day. "I am a very miserable man, Grant," he said. "I am afraid I have lost my wife's regard. Oh, don't tell me it is partly my fault. I know it well enough. And I know you haven't had a very good opinion of me lately. But I am remorseful enough now, God knows. And I would give my life to see her as she was when I found her first among the mountains. Why, she used to climb them like a strong man, and she was forever shouting and singing. And she had peopled every spot with strange modern mythological creatures. Her father is an old dreamer, and she got the trick from him. They had a little telescope on a great knoll in the centre of the valley, just where it commanded a long path of stars, and they used to spend nights out there when the frost literally fell in flakes. When I think how hardy and gay she was, how full of courage and life, and look at her now, so feverish and broken, I feel as if I should go mad. You know I never meant to do her any harm. Tell me that much, Grant."
"I think you were very egotistical for a while, Brainard, and that is a fact. And you didn't appreciate how much her nature demanded. But I do not think you are responsible for your wife's present condition. If there is any comfort in that statement, you are welcome to it."
"But you don't mean --" he got no further.
"I mean that your wife may have her reservations, just as we all have, and I am paying her high praise when I say it. You are not so narrow, Leroy, as to suppose for a moment that the only sort of passion a woman is capable of is that which she entertains for a man. How do I know what is going on in your wife's soul? But it is nothing which even an idealist of women, such as I am, old fellow, need regret."
How glad I was afterward that I spoke those words. They exercised a little restraint, perhaps, on Leroy when the day of his terrible trial came. They made him wrestle with the demon of suspicion that strove to possess him. I was sitting in my office, lagging dispiritedly over my work one day, when the door burst open and Brainard stood beside me. Brainard, I say, and yet in no sense the man I had known, -- not a hint in this pale creature, whose breath struggled through chattering teeth, and whose hands worked in uncontrollable spasms, of the nonchalant elegant I had known. Not a glimpse to be seen in those angry and determined eyes of the gayly selfish spirit of my holiday friend.
"She's gone!" he gasped. "Since yesterday. And I'm here to ask you what you think now? And what you know."
A panorama of all shameful possibilities for one black moment floated before me. I remember this gave place to a wave, cold as death, that swept from head to foot; then Brainard's hands fell heavily on my shoulders.
"Thank God at least for this much," he said, hoarsely; "I didn't know at first but I had lost both friend and wife. But I see you know nothing. And indeed in my heart I knew all the time that you did not. Yet I had to come to you with my anger. And I remembered how you defended her. What explanation can you offer now?"
I got him to sit down after a while and tell me what little there was to tell. He had been away for a day's shooting, and when he returned he found only the perplexed servants at home. A note was left for him. He showed it to me.
"There are times," it ran, "when we must do as we must, not as we would. I am going to do something I have been driven to do since I left my home. I do not leave any message of love for you, because you would not care for it from a woman so weak as I. But it is so easy for you to be happy that I hope in a little while you will forget the wife who yielded to an influence past resisting. It may be madness, but I am not great enough to give it up. I tried to make the sacrifice, but I could not. I tried to be as gay as you, and to live your sort of life; but I could not do it. Do not make the effort to forgive me. You will be happier if you simply hold me in the contempt I deserve."
I read the letter over and over. I do not know that I believe that the spirit of inanimate things can permeate to the intelligence of man. I am sure I always laughed at such ideas. Yet holding that note with its shameful seeming words, I felt a consciousness that it was written in purity and love. And then before my eyes there came a scene so vivid that for a moment the office with its familiar furniture was obliterated. What I saw was a long firm road, green with midsummer luxuriance. The leisurely thudding of my horse's feet sounded in my ears. Beside me was a tall, black-robed figure. I saw her look back with that expression of deprivation at the sky line. "It's like living after the world has begun to die," said the pensive minor voice. "It seems as if part of the world had been taken down."
"Brainard," I yelled, "come here! I have it. Here's your explanation. I can show you a new meaning for every line of this letter. Man, she has gone to the mountains. She has gone to worship her own gods!"
Two weeks later I got a letter from Brainard, dated from Colorado.
"Old man," it said, "you're right. She is here. I found my mountain woman here where the four voices of her cataracts had been calling to her. I saw her the moment our mules rounded the road that commands the valley. We had been riding all night and were drenched with cold dew, hungry to desperation, and my spirits were of lead. Suddenly we got out from behind the granite wall, and there she was, standing, where I had seen her so often, beside the little waterfall that she calls the happy one. She was looking straight up at the billowing mist that dipped down the mountain, mammoth saffron rolls of it, plunging so madly from the impetus of the wind that one marvelled how it could be noiseless. Ah, you do not know Judith! That strange, unsophisticated, sometimes awkward woman you saw bore no more resemblance to my mountain woman than I to Hercules. How strong and beautiful she looked standing there wrapped in an ecstasy! It was my primitive woman back in her primeval world. How the blood leaped in me! All my old romance, so different from the common love-histories of most men, was there again within my reach! All the mystery, the poignant happiness were mine again. Do not hold me in contempt because I show you my heart. You saw my misery. Why should I grudge you a glimpse of my happiness? She saw me when I touched her hand, not before, so wrapped was she. But she did not seem surprised. Only in her splendid eyes there came a large content. She pointed to the dancing little white fall. 'I thought something wonderful was going to happen,' she whispered, 'for it has been laughing so.'
"I shall not return to New York. I am going to stay here with my mountain woman, and I think perhaps I shall find out what life means here sooner than I would back there with you. I shall learn to see large things large and small things small. Judith says to tell you and Miss Grant that the four voices are calling for you every day in the valley.
"Yours in fullest friendship,