"I guess so," he replied. "I don't just know what makes a girl a darling to another girl. I only know"--he was on thin ice now--"and I don't even know that very well."
They turned to the landscape again. The whole building was growing quiet. Footsteps were fading away down the halls. Doors clicked faintly here and there. Somebody was singing softly in the basement laboratory, and the sunset sky was exquisitely lovely above the quiet gray December prairies.
"It is too beautiful to last," Elinor said, turning to the young man beside her. "The joy of it is too deep for us to hold."
She did not mean to stay a moment longer, for all the scene could be hers forever in memory--imperishable!--and Victor did not mean to detain her. But her face as she turned from the window, the hallowed setting of time and opportunity, and a heart-love hungering through hopeless, slow-dragging months, all had their own way with him. He put out his arms to her and she nestled within them, lifting a face to his own transfigured with love's sweetness. And he bent and kissed her red lips, holding her close in his arms. And in the shadowy twilight, with the faintly roseate banners of the sunset's after-glow trailing through it, for just one minute, heaven and earth came very near together for these two. And then they remembered, and Elinor put her hand in Victor's, who held it in his without a word.
Out in the hall, Trench with soft lazy step had just come to the study door in time to see and turn away unseen, and slowly pass out of the big front door, whistling low the while:
My sweetheart lives on the prairies wide By the sandy Cimarron, In a day to come she will be my bride, By the sandy Cimarron.
Out by the big stone pillars of the portico, he looked toward the south turret and saw Dr. Fenneben as Vic had seen Elinor on the evening of the May storm. He did not call, but with a twist of the fingers as of unlocking a door, he dodged back into the building and up to the chapel end of the turret stairs to release the Dean.
Dr. Fenneben had started down to the study by the same old "road to perdition" stairs and paused at the window as Dennie and Burgess were passing out, unconscious of three pairs of eyes on them. Then the Dean saw down through the half-open study door the two young people by the window, and he knew he was not needed there. What that look in his black eyes meant, as he turned to the half-way window of the turret, it would have been hard to read. And the picture of a fair-faced girl came back to his own hungry memory. He was trying to calculate the distance from the turret window to the ground when Trench wig-wagged a rescue signal.