He followed her indications and found an archway leading into a huge courtyard crowded with Chinese coolies and Quichua Indians. A huge dray, coming from the direction of the harbor, rumbled under the archway, and wheeled in the court to let an empty one pass out. People and things seemed to unite in making as much dust and noise as possible.
So she manages all this,” he reflected as he made his way toward a door at which she had appeared.
You may kiss me,” she said as she closed the door behind them.
He took her in his arms and held her to him, by far the more troubled of the two. Again it was she who spoke first.
So you really have not forgotten?”
Could you believe it, dear?”
Well, you were so long in coming.”
But I wrote, and…”
Well, never mind now. It is not too late. I have just refused my fourth suitor, Don Alonso de Cuelar. And father, I think, is furious with me for refusing the most eligible young man in Lima…. Well, why don’t you say something?”
Forgive me, dear…. How is your father? and the kiddies?… I hardly know what I am saying, I am so glad.”
Father is very well, and very glad to hear that you were coming. To tell the truth though, he is far more interested in your uncle’s visit. He has arranged a meeting at the Geographical Society for him. And for the past month he has been thinking and talking of nothing but archaeology. They have been digging up all sorts of things.”
And so he has been angry with you?”
He seems to think he has every reason to be. I am twenty-three and he already sees me an old maid…. It’s awfully funny! Do you know what they call me in Lima now? The Virgin of the Sun!”
What does that mean?”
Aunt Agnes and Aunt Irene will explain better than I can. It’s something like one of the Vestals—an old Inca legend.”
H’m, some superstitious rot…. But look here, Maria-Teresa, I’m an awful coward. Do you think your father…”
Of course! He’ll do anything I like if he is asked at the right moment We’ll be married in three months’ time from San Domingo. Truly we will!”
You dear!… But I’m only a poor devil of an engineer, and he may not think me much of a son-in-law for the Marquis de la Torre.”