PART II. Neighboring Fields
4. CHAPTER IV
Carl had changed, Alexandra felt, much less than one might have
expected. He had not become a trim, self-satisfied city man. There
was still something homely and wayward and definitely personal
about him. Even his clothes, his Norfolk coat and his very high
collars, were a little unconventional. He seemed to shrink into
himself as he used to do; to hold himself away from things, as if
he were afraid of being hurt. In short, he was more self-con-scious
than a man of thirty-five is expected to be. He looked older than
his years and not very strong. His black hair, which still hung
in a triangle over his pale forehead, was thin at the crown, and
there were fine, relentless lines about his eyes. His back, with
its high, sharp shoulders, looked like the back of an over-worked
German professor off on his holiday. His face was intelligent,
That evening after supper, Carl and Alexandra were sitting by the
clump of castor beans in the middle of the flower garden. The
gravel paths glittered in the moonlight, and below them the fields
lay white and still.
"Do you know, Alexandra," he was saying, "I've been thinking how
strangely things work out. I've been away engraving other men's
pictures, and you've stayed at home and made your own." He pointed
with his cigar toward the sleeping landscape. "How in the world
have you done it? How have your neighbors done it?"
"We hadn't any of us much to do with it, Carl. The land did it.
It had its little joke. It pretended to be poor because nobody
knew how to work it right; and then, all at once, it worked itself.
It woke up out of its sleep and stretched itself, and it was so big,
so rich, that we suddenly found we were rich, just from sitting
still. As for me, you remember when I began to buy land. For
years after that I was always squeezing and borrowing until I was
ashamed to show my face in the banks. And then, all at once, men
began to come to me offering to lend me money--and I didn't need
it! Then I went ahead and built this house. I really built it
for Emil. I want you to see Emil, Carl. He is so different from
the rest of us!"