“What in the world—”
“And, please, tell me where lives the Fraulein Harmony. The Herr Georgiev eats not nor sleeps that he cannot find her.”
Dr. Jennings was puzzled.
“She wishes to know where the girl lives,” she interpreted to Mrs. Boyer. “A man wishes to know.”
“Naturally!” said Mrs. Boyer. “Well, don’t tell her.”
Olga gathered from the tone rather than the words that she was not to be told. She burst into a despairing appeal in which the Herr Georgiev, Peter, a necktie Peter had forgotten, open windows, and hot water were inextricably confused. Dr. Jennings listened, then waved her back with a gesture.
“She says,” she interpreted as they walked on, “that Dr. Peter—by which I suppose she means Dr. Byrne—has left a necktie, and that she’ll be in hot water if she does not return it.”
Mrs. Boyer sniffed.
“In love with him, probably, like the others!” she said.
Peter went to Semmering the next morning, tiptoeing out very early and without breakfast. He went in to cover Jimmy, lying diagonally across his small bed amid a riot of tossed blankets. The communicating door into Harmony’s room was open. Peter kept his eyes carefully from it, but his ears were less under control. He could hear her soft breathing. There were days coming when Peter would stand where he stood then and listen, and find only silence.
He tore himself away at last, closing the outer door carefully behind him and lighting a match to find his way down the staircase. The Portier was not awake. Peter had to rouse him, and to stand by while he donned the trousers which he deemed necessary to the dignity of his position before he opened the street door.
Reluctant as he had been to go, the change was good for Peter. The dawn grew rosy, promised sunshine, fulfilled its promise. The hurrying crowds at the depot interested him: he enjoyed his coffee, taken from a bare table in the station. The horizontal morning sunlight, shining in through marvelously clean windows, warmed the marble of the floor, made black shadows beside the heaps of hand luggage everywhere, turned into gold the hair of a toddling baby venturing on a tour of discovery. The same morning light, alas! revealed to Peter a break across the toe of one of his shoes. Peter sighed, then smiled. The baby was catching at the bits of dust that floated in the sunshine.
Suddenly a great wave of happiness overwhelmed Peter. It was a passing thing, born of nothing, but for the instant that it lasted Peter was a king. Everything was well. The world was his oyster. Life was his, to make it what he would—youth and hope and joy. Under the beatific influence he expanded, grew, almost shone. Youth and hope and joy—that cometh in the morning.
The ecstasy passed away, but without reaction. Peter no longer shone; he still glowed. He picked up the golden-haired baby and hugged it. He hunted out a beggar he had passed and gave him five Hellers. He helped a suspicious old lady with an oilcloth-covered bundle; he called the guard on the train “son” and forced a grin out of that dignitary.