The Law and the Lady
2. The Bride's Thoughts
WE had been traveling for a little more than an hour when a change passed insensibly
over us both.
Still sitting close together, with my hand in his, with my head on his shoulder, little by
little we fell insensibly into silence. Had we already exhausted the narrow yet eloquent
vocabulary of love? Or had we determined by unexpressed consent, after enjoying the
luxury of passion that speaks, to try the deeper and finer rapture of passion that thinks? I
can hardly determine; I only know that a time came when, under some strange influence,
our lips were closed toward each other. We traveled along, each of us absorbed in our
own reverie. Was he thinking exclusively of me--as I was thinking exclusively of him?
Before the journey's end I had my doubts; at a little later time I knew for certain that his
thoughts, wandering far away from his young wife, were all turned inward on his own
For me the secret pleasure of filling my mind with him, while I felt him by my side, was
a luxury in itself.
I pictured in my thoughts our first meeting in the neighborhood of my uncle's house.
Our famous north-country trout stream wound its flashing and foaming way through a
ravine in the rocky moorland. It was a windy, shadowy evening. A heavily clouded
sunset lay low and red in the west. A solitary angler stood casting his fly at a turn in the
stream where the backwater lay still and deep under an overhanging bank. A girl (myself)
standing on the bank, invisible to the fisherman beneath, waited eagerly to see the trout
The moment came; the fish took the fly.
Sometimes on the little level strip of sand at the foot of the bank, sometimes (when the
stream turned again) in the shallower water rushing over its rocky bed, the angler
followed the captured trout, now letting the line run out and now winding it in again, in
the difficult and delicate process of "playing" the fish. Along the bank I followed to
watch the contest of skill and cunning between the man and the trout. I had lived long
enough with my uncle Starkweather to catch some of his enthusiasm for field sports, and
to learn something, especially, of the angler's art. Still following the stranger, with my
eyes intently fixed on every movement of his rod and line, and with not so much as a
chance fragment of my attention to spare for the rough path along which I was walking, I
stepped by chance on the loose overhanging earth at the edge of the bank, and fell into
the stream in an instant.
The distance was trifling, the water was shallow, the bed of the river was (fortunately for
me) of sand. Beyond the fright and the wetting I had nothing to complain of. In a few
moments I was out of the water and up again, very much ashamed of myself, on the firm