No one else was in sight. Mrs. Ginnell was cooking on the other side of the house. Anderson had gone off to catch his train. For twenty minutes, the man outside leant against the window-sash apparently lounging and smoking. Nothing could be seen from the path, but a battered blind flapping in the June breeze, and a dark space of room beyond.
The days passed on. Philip in the comfortable hotel at Lake Louise was recovering steadily, though not rapidly, from the general shock of immersion. Elizabeth, while nursing him tenderly, could yet find time to walk and climb, plunging spirit and sense in the beauty of the Rockies.
On these excursions Delaine generally accompanied her; and she bore it well. Secretly she cherished some astonishment and chagrin that Anderson could be with them so little on these bright afternoons among the forest trails and upper lakes, although she generally found that the plans of the day had been suggested and organised by him, by telephone from Laggan, to the kind and competent Scotch lady who was the manager of the hotel. It seemed to her that he had promised his company; whereas, as a rule, now he withheld it; and her pride was put to it, on her own part, not to betray any sign of discontent. He spoke vaguely of “business,” and on one occasion, apparently had gone off for three days to Saskatchewan on matters connected with the coming general election.
From the newspaper, or the talk of visitors in the hotel, or the railway officials who occasionally found their way to Lake Louise to make courteous inquiries after the English party, Elizabeth became, indeed, more and more fully aware of the estimation in which Anderson was beginning to be held. He was already a personage in the Northwest; was said to be sure of success in his contest at Donaldminster, and of an immediate Parliamentary career at Ottawa. These prophecies seemed to depend more upon the man’s character than his actual achievements; though, indeed, the story of the great strike, as she had gathered it once or twice from the lips of eye-witnesses, was a fine one. For weeks he had carried his life in his hand among thousands of infuriated navvies and miners—since the miners had made common cause with the railwaymen—with a cheerfulness, daring, and resource which in the end had wrung success from an apparently hopeless situation; a success attended, when all was over, by an amazing effusion of good will among both masters and men, especially towards Anderson himself, and a general improvement in the industrial temper and atmosphere of the Northwest.
The recital of these things stirred Elizabeth’s pulses. But why did she never hear them from himself? Surely he had offered her friendship, and the rights of friendship. How else could he justify the scene at Field, when he had so brusquely probed her secret anxieties for Philip? Her pride rebelled when she thought of it, when she recalled her wet eyes, her outstretched hand. Mere humiliation!—in the case of a casual or indifferent acquaintance. No; on that day, certainly, he had claimed the utmost privileges, had even strained the rights, of a friend, a real friend. But his behaviour since had almost revived her first natural resentment.