To Marie the house seemed the epitome of elegance, even luxury. It clung to a steep hillside. Their room, on the third floor, looked out from the back of the building over the valley, which fell away almost sheer from beneath their windows. A tiny balcony outside, with access to it by a door from the bedroom, looked far down on the tops of tall pines. It made Marie dizzy.
She was cheerful again and busy. The American trunk was to be unpacked and the Herr Doktor’s things put away, his shoes in rows, as he liked them, and his shaving materials laid out on the washstand. Then there was a new dress to put on, that she might do him credit at supper.
Stewart’s bad humor had returned. He complained of the room and the draft under the balcony door; the light was wrong for shaving. But the truth came out at last and found Marie not unprepared.
“The fact is,” he said, “I’m not going to eat with you to-night, dear. I’m going to the hotel.”
“With the Americans?”
“Yes. I know a chap who went to college with the brother—with the young man you saw.”
Marie glanced down at her gala toilet. Then she began slowly to take off the dress, reaching behind her for a hook he had just fastened and fighting back tears as she struggled with it.
“Now, remember, Marie, I will have no sulking.”
“I am not sulking.”
“Why should you change your clothes?”
“Because the dress was for you. If you are not here I do not wish to wear it.”
Stewart went out in a bad humor, which left him before he had walked for five minutes in the clear mountain air. At the hotel he found the party waiting for him, the women in evening gowns. The girl, whose name was Anita, was bewitching in pale green.
That was a memorable night for Walter Stewart, with his own kind once more—a perfect dinner, brisk and clever conversation, enlivened by a bit of sweet champagne, an hour or two on the terrace afterward with the women in furs, and stars making a jeweled crown for the Rax.
He entirely forgot Marie until he returned to the villa and opening the door of the room found her missing.
She had not gone far. At the sound of his steps she moved on the balcony and came in slowly. She was pale and pinched with cold, but she was wise with the wisdom of her kind. She smiled.
“Didst thou have a fine evening?”
“I am sorry if I was unpleasant. I was tired, now I am rested.”
“Good, little Marie!”
The card in the American Doctors’ Club brought a response finally. It was just in time. Harmony’s funds were low, and the Frau Professor Bergmeister had gone to St. Moritz for the winter. She regretted the English lessons, but there were always English at St. Moritz and it cost nothing to talk with them. Before she left she made Harmony a present. “For Christmas,” she explained. It was a glass pin-tray, decorated beneath with labels from the Herr Professor’s cigars and in the center a picture of the Emperor.