“Ach, Gott! Gesegneter Gott! I see you again, my friend!” Thus the old Doctor.
“But tell me,” I interrupted, “where is the mistress of this house, the Baroness von Ritz?”
He looked at me in his mild way. “You mean my daughter Helena?”
Now at last I smiled. His daughter! This at least was too incredible! He turned and reached behind him to a little table. He held up before my eyes my little blanket clasp of shell. Then I knew that this last and most impossible thing also was true, and that in some way these two had found each other! But why? What could he now mean?
“Listen now,” he began, “and I shall tell you. I wass in the street one day. When I walk alone, I do not much notice. But now, as I walk, before my eyes on the street, I see what? This—this, the Tah Gook! At first, I see nothing but it. Then I look up. Before me iss a woman, young and beautiful. Ach! what should I do but take her in my arms!”
“It was she; it was—”
“My daughter! Yess, my daughter. It iss Helena! I haf not seen her for many years, long, cruel years. I suppose her dead. But now there we were, standing, looking in each other’s eyes! We see there—Ach, Gott! what do we not see? Yet in spite of all, it wass Helena But she shall tell you.” He tottered from the room.
I heard his footsteps pass down the hall. Then softly, almost silently, Helena von Ritz again stood before me. The light from a side window fell upon her face. Yes, it was she! Her face was thinner now, browner even than was its wont. Her hair was still faintly sunburned at its extremities by the western winds. Yet hers was still imperishable youth and beauty.
I held out my hands to her. “Ah,” I cried, “you played me false! You ran away! By what miracle did you come through? I confess my defeat. You beat me by almost half a year.”
“But now you have come,” said she simply.
“Yes, to remind you that you have friends. You have been here in secret all the winter. Mr. Calhoun did not know you had come. Why did you not go to him?”
“I was waiting for you to come. Do you not remember our bargain? Each day I expected you. In some way, I scarce knew how, the weeks wore on.”
“And now I find you both here—you and your father—where I would expect to find neither. Continually you violate all law of likelihood. But now, you have seen Elisabeth?”
“Yes, I have seen her,” she said, still simply.
I could think of no word suited to that moment. I stood only looking at her. She would have spoken, but on the instant raised a hand as though to demand my silence. I heard a loud knock at the door, peremptory, commanding, as though the owner came.
“You must go into another room,” said Helena von Ritz to me hurriedly.
“Who is it? Who is it at the door?” I asked.
She looked at me calmly. “It is Sir Richard Pakenham,” said she. “This is his usual hour. I will send him away. Go now—quick!”