For himself, Delaine could only feel that the advent of this stranger had spoilt the whole situation. It seemed now as though Elizabeth and her brother could not get on without him. As he leant over the railing of the balcony, Delaine could see far below, in the wood, the flutter of a white dress. It belonged to Lady Merton, and the man beside her was George Anderson. He had been arranging their walks and expeditions for the last four days, and was now about to accompany the English travellers on a special journey with a special engine through the Kicking Horse Pass and back, a pleasure suggested by the kindness of the railway authorities.
It was true that he had at one time been actively engaged on the important engineering work now in progress in the pass; and Lady Merton could not, therefore, have found a better showman. But why any showman at all? What did she know about this man who had sprung so rapidly into intimacy with herself and her brother? Yet Delaine could not honestly accuse him of presuming on a chance acquaintance, since it was not to be denied that it was Philip Gaddesden himself, who had taken an invalid’s capricious liking to the tall, fair-haired fellow, and had urgently requested—almost forced him to come back to them.
Delaine was not a little bruised in spirit, and beginning to be angry. During the solitary day he had been alone with them Elizabeth had been kindness and complaisance itself. But instead of that closer acquaintance, that opportunity for a gradual and delightful courtship on which he had reckoned, when the restraint of watching eyes and neighbourly tongues should be removed, he was conscious that he had never been so remote from her during the preceding winter at home, as he was now that he had journeyed six thousand miles simply and solely on the chance of proposing to her. He could not understand how anything so disastrous, and apparently so final, could have happened to him in one short week! Lady Merton—he saw quite plainly—did not mean him to propose to her, if she could possibly avoid it. She kept Philip with her, and gave no opportunities. And always, as before, she was possessed and bewitched by Canada! Moreover, the Chief Justice and the French Canadian, Mariette, had turned up at the hotel two days before, on their way to Vancouver. Elizabeth had been sitting, figuratively, at the feet of both of them ever since; and both had accepted an invitation to join in the Kicking Horse party, and were delaying their journey West accordingly.