"No. Oh, how I should love to see it!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, you would like to see it," he answered simply. He would like to take her there, to climb, with her hand in his, the well-known paths in the darkness, to reach the summit in the rosy-fingered dawn: to see her stand on the granite at his side in the full glory of the red light, and to show her a world which she was henceforth to share with him.
Some such image, some such vision of his figure on the rock, may have been in her mind as she turned her face again toward the mountain.
"You are cold," he said, reaching for the mackintosh in the back of the trap.
"No," she said. But she stopped the horse and acquiesced by slipping her arms into the coat, and he felt upon his hand the caress of a stray wisp of hair at her neck. Under a spell of thought and feeling, seemingly laid by the magic of the night, neither spoke for a space. And then Victoria summoned her forces, and turned to him again. Her tone bespoke the subtle intimacy that always sprang up between them, despite bars and conventions.
"I was sure you would understand why I wrote you from New York," she said, "although I hesitated a long time before doing so. It was very stupid of me not to realize the scruples which made you refuse to be a candidate for the governorship, and I wanted to--to apologize."
"It wasn't necessary," said Austen, "but--I valued the note." The words seemed so absurdly inadequate to express his appreciation of the treasure which he carried with him, at that moment, in his pocket. "But, really," he added, smiling at her in the moonlight, "I must protest against your belief that I could have been an effective candidate! I have roamed about the State, and I have made some very good friends here and there among the hill farmers, like Mr. Jenney. Mr. Redbrook is one of these. But it would have been absurd of me even to think of a candidacy founded on personal friendships. I assure you," he added, smiling, "there was no self denial in my refusal."
She gave him an appraising glance which he found at once enchanting and disconcerting.