He started, leaned on a table as though from weakness, and continued to stare at the sign.
“Who is the cleverest fakir in that business?” he said at length to himself.
And then, after a few intent minutes:
“When he was a freight clerk—thirty years ago—that was at Farnham Mills—’H.W.’—granite shaft—sure it can be done!”
As Dr. Blake tucked his racket under his arm and came down to the net, the breeze caught a corner of her veil and let the sunlight run clear across her face. He realized, in that moment, how the burning interest as a man, which he had developed in these three weeks for Annette Markham, had quite submerged his interest as a physician. For health, this was a different creature from the one whom he had studied in the parlor-car. Her color ran high; the greatest alarmist in the profession would have wasted no thought on her heart valves; the look as of one “called” had passed. Though she still appeared a little grave, it was a healthy, attractive gravity; and take it all in all she had smiled much during three weeks of daily walks and rides and tennis. Indeed, now that he remembered it, her tennis measured the gradual change. She would never be good at tennis; she had no inner strength and no “game sense.” But at first she had played in a kind of stupor; again and again she would stand at the backline in a brown study until the passage of the ball woke her with an apologetic start. Now, she frolicked through the game with all vigor, zest and attention, going after every shot, smiling and sparkling over her good plays, prettily put out at her bad ones.
While he helped her on with her sweater—lingering too long over that little service of courtesy—he expressed this.
“Do you know that for physical condition you’re no more the same girl whom I first met than—than I am!”
She laughed a little at the comparison. “And you are no more the same man whom I first met—than I am!”
He laughed too at this tribute to his summer coating of bronze over red. “I feel pretty fit,” he admitted.
“My summer always has that effect,” she went on. “Do you know that for all I’ve been so much out of the active world”—a shadow fell on her eyes,—“I long for country and farms? How I wish I could live always out-of-doors! The day might come—” the shadow lifted a little—“when I’d retire to a farm for good.”
“You’ve one of those constitutions which require air and light and sunshine,” he answered.
“You’re quite right. I actually bleach in the shadow—like lettuce. That’s why Aunt Paula always sends me away for a month every now and then to the quietest place proper for a well-brought-up young person.”
His eyes shadowed as though they had caught that blasting shade in hers. From gossip about the Mountain House, later from her own admission, he knew who “Aunt Paula” was—“a spirit medium, or something,” said the gossip; “a great teacher of a new philosophy,” said Annette Markham.