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I didn't hear what you
said, you brought the past back so poignantly."

There was something in his voice which touched her, but before he could
go on they were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Blakesly and one of the other
teachers. There was a dancing light in Mrs. Blakesly's eyes as she
looked at Ware. She had just been saying to her husband: "What a
splendid figure Miss Powell is! How well they look together! Wouldn't it
be splendid if----"

"Oh, my dear, you're too bad. Please don't match-make any more to-day.
Let Nature attend to these things," Mr. Blakesly replied with manifest
impatience; "Nature attended to our case."

"I have no faith in Nature any more. I want to have at least a finger in
the pie myself. Nature don't work in all cases. I'm afraid Nature can't
in his case."

"Careful! He'll hear you, my dear."

"Where do we go now, Miss Powell?" asked Blakesly as they came to a halt
on the opposite side of the campus.

"I think they are all going to the gymnasium building. Won't you come?
That is my dominion."

They answered by moving off, Mrs. Blakesly taking Miss Powell's arm. As
they streamed away in files she said: "Isn't he good-looking? We've
known him for years. He's all right," she said significantly, and
squeezed Miss Powell's arm.

"Well, Lou Blakesly, you're the same old irrepressible!"

"Blushing already, you _dear_! I tell you he's splendid. I wish he'd
take to you," and she gave Miss Powell another squeeze. "It would be
_such_ a match! Brains and beauty, too."

"Oh, hush!"

They entered the cool, wide hall of the gymnasium, with its red brick
walls, its polished floor, and the yellow-red wooden beams lining the
ceiling.

There were only a few people remaining in the hall, most of them having
passed on into the museum. As they came to the various appliances, Miss
Powell explained them.

"What are these things for?" inquired Mrs. Blakesly, pointing at the row
of iron rings depending from long ropes.

"They are for swinging on," and she leaped lightly upward and caught and
swung by one hand.

"Mercy! Do you do that?"

"She seems to be doing it now," Blakesly said.

"I am one of the teachers," Miss Powell replied, dropping to the floor.

It was glorious to see how easily she seized a heavy dumb-bell and swung
it above her head. The front line of her body was majestic as she stood
thus.

"Gracious! I couldn't do that," exclaimed Mrs. Blakesly.

"No, not with your style of dress," replied her husband.--"I have to pin
her hat on this year," he said to Ware.

"I love it," said Miss Powell, as she drew a heavy weight from the floor
and stood with the cord across her shoulder. "It adds so much to life!
It gives what Browning calls the wild joy of living. Do you know, few
women know what that means? It's been denied us. Only the men have
known

"'The wild joys of living! the leaping from rock
up to rock,
The strong rending of boughs from the fir tree,
the cool silver shock
Of a plunge in the pool's living water.'

I try to teach my girls 'How good is man's life, the mere living!'"

The men cheered as she paused for a moment flushed and breathless.

She went on: "We women have been shut out from the sports too long--I
mean sports in the sun. The men have had the best of it. All the
swimming, all the boating, wheeling, all the grand, wild life; now we're
going to have a part."

The young ladies clustered about with flushed, excited faces while their
teacher planted her flag and claimed new territory for women.

Miss Powell herself grew conscious, and flushed and paused abruptly.

Mrs. Blakesly effervesced in admiring astonishment. "Well, well! I
didn't know you could make a speech."

"I didn't mean to do so," she replied.

"Go on! Go on!" everybody called out, but she turned away to show some
other apparatus.

"Wasn't she fine?" exclaimed Mrs. Blakesly to Ware.

"Beyond praise," he replied. She went at once to communicate her morsel
of news to her husband, and at length to Miss Powell.

The company passed out into other rooms until no one was left but Mrs.
Blakesly, the professor, and Ware. Miss Powell was talking again, and to
Ware mainly. Ware was thoughtful, Miss Powell radiant.

"I didn't know what life was till I could do that." She took up a large
dumb-bell and, extending it at arm's length, whirled it back and forth.
Her forearm, white and smooth, swelled into strong action, and her
supple hands had the unwavering power and pressure of an athlete, and
withal Ware thought: "She is feminine. Her physical power has not
coarsened her; it has enlarged her life, but left her entirely womanly."

In some adroit way Mrs. Blakesly got her husband out of the room and
left Ware and Miss Powell together. She was showing him the view from
the windows, and they seemed to be perfectly absorbed. She looked around
once and saw that Mrs. Blakesly was showing her husband something in the
farther end of the room. After that she did not think of them.

The sun went lower in the sky and flamed along the sward. He spoke of
the mystical power of the waving daisies and the glowing greens which no
painter ever seems to paint. While they looked from the windows their
arms touched, and they both tried to ignore it. She shivered a little as
if a cold wind had blown upon her. At last she led the way out and down
the stairs to the campus. They heard the gay laughter of the company at
their cakes and ices, up at the central building.

He stopped outside the hallway, and as she looked up inquiringly at him,
he said quietly: "Suppose we go down the road. It seems pleasanter
there."

She acquiesced like one in a pleasure which made duty seem absurd.

Strong and fine as she was, she had never found a lover to whom she
yielded her companionship with unalloyed delight. She was thirty years
of age, and her girlhood was past. She looked at this man, and a
suffocating band seemed to encircle her throat. She knew he was strong
and good. He was a little saddened with life--that she read in his
deep-set eyes and unsmiling lips.

The road led toward the river, and as they left the campus they entered
a lane shaded by natural oaks. He talked on slowly. He asked her what
her plans were.

"To teach and to live," she said. Her enthusiasm for the work seemed
entirely gone.

Once he said, "This is the finest hour of my life."

On the bank of the river they paused and seated themselves on the sward
under a tree whose roots fingered the stream with knuckled hands.

"Yes, every time you look up at me you bring back my boyish idol," he
went on. "She was older than I. It is as if I had grown older and she
had not, and that she were you, or you were she. I can't tell you how it
has affected me. Every movement you make goes deep down into my
sweetest, tenderest recollections. It's always June there, always sweet
and sunny. Her death and burial were mystical in their beauty. I looked
in her coffin. She was the grandest statue that ever lay in marble; the
Greek types are insipid beside that vision. You'll say I idealized her;
possibly I did, but there she is. O God! it was terrible to see one die
so young and so lovely."

There was a silence. Tears came to her eyes. He could only exclaim;
weeping was denied him. His voice trembled, but grew firmer as he went
on:

"And now you come. I don't know exactly in what way you resemble her. I
only know you shake me as no other human being has done since that
coffin-lid shut out her face." He lifted his head and looked around.
"But Nature is beautiful and full of light and buoyancy. I am not going
to make you sad. I want to make you happy. I was only a boy to her. She
cared for me only as a mature woman likes an apt pupil, but she made all
Nature radiant for me, as you do now."

He smiled upon her suddenly. His somber mood passed like one of the
shadows of the clouds floating over the campus. It was only a
recollected mood. As he looked at her the old hunger came into his
heart, but the buoyancy and emotional exaltation of youth came back
also.

"Miss Powell, are you free to marry me?" he said suddenly.

She grew very still, but she flushed and then she turned her face away
from him. She had no immediate reply.

"That is an extraordinary thing to ask you, I know," he went on; "but it
seems as if I had known you a long time, and then sitting here in the
midst of Nature with the insects singing all about us--well, conventions
are not so vital as in drawing rooms. Remember your Browning."

She who had declaimed Browning so blithely now sat silent, but the color
went out of her face, and she listened to the multitudinous stir and
chirp of living things, and her eyes dreamed as he went on steadily, his
eyes studying her face.

"Browning believed in these impulses. I'll admit I never have. I've
always reasoned upon things, at least since I became a man. It has
brought me little, and I'm much disposed to try the virtue of an
impulse. I feel as certain that we can be happy together as I am of
life, so I come back to my question, Are you free to marry me?"

She flushed again. "I have no other ties, if that is what you mean."

"That is what I mean precisely. I felt that you were free, like myself.
I might ask Blakesly to vouch for me, but I prefer not. I ask for no
one's opinion of you. Can't you trust to that insight of which women are
supposed to be happily possessed?"

She smiled a little. "I never boasted of any divining power."

He came nearer. "Come, you and I have gone by rule and reason long
enough. Here we have a magnificent impulse; let us follow. Don't ask me
to wait, that would spoil it all; considerations would come in."

"Ought they not to come in?"

"No," he replied, and his low voice had the intensity of a trumpet. "If
this magnificent moment passes by, this chance for a pure impulsive
choice, it is lost forever. You know Browning makes much of such lost
opportunities. Seeing you there with bent head and blowing hair, I would
throw the world away to become the blade of grass you break. There, will
that do?" He smiled.

"That speech should bring back youth to us both," she said.

"Right action _now_ will," he quickly answered.

"But I must consider."

"Do not.



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