Truedale turned dark, sorrowful eyes upon Lynda.
“I—I wish I could tell it,” he said with a seriousness that made her laugh, “but it was the kind that eludes—words. The creeping, eating impression—sort of nightmare. Good Lord! how nerves play the deuce with you.”
Brace Kendall did not speak. From his place he had been watching Truedale, for the firelight had betrayed the truth. Truedale had not been sleeping: Truedale had been terribly upset by that last letter of his!
And just then Conning leaned forward and threw his entire mail upon the blazing logs!
For Truedale to await, calmly, further developments was out of the question. He did, however, force himself to act as sanely as possible. He felt confident that Nella-Rose, safely hidden and probably enjoying it in her own elfish way, would communicate with him in a few days at the latest, now that things had, according to White, somewhat settled into shape after the outlaw Lawson had taken himself off the scene.
To get to the station and telegraph would mean quite a feat for Nella-Rose at any time, and winter was in all likelihood already gripping the hills. To write and send a letter might be even more difficult. So Truedale reasoned; so he feverishly waited, but he was not idle. He rented a charming little suite of rooms, high up in a new apartment house, and begged Lynda to set them in order at once. Somehow he believed that in the years ahead, after she understood, Lynda would be glad that he had asked this from her.
“But why the hurry, Con?” she naturally questioned; “if people are going to be so spasmodic I’ll have to get a partner. It may be all right, looked at financially, but it’s the ruination of art.”
“But this is a special case, Lyn.”
“They’re all special cases.”
“But this is a—welcome.”
“Well, for me! You see I’ve never had a real home, Lyn. It’s one of the luxuries I’ve always dreamed of.”
“I had thought,” Lynda’s clear eyes clouded, “that your uncle’s house would be your home at last. It is big enough for us all—we need not run against each other.”
“Keep my room under the roof, Lyn.” Truedale looked at her yearningly and she—misunderstood! “I shall often come to that—to you and Brace—but humour me in this fancy of mine.”
So she humoured him—working early and late—putting more of her own heart in it than he was ever to know, for she believed—poor girl—that he would offer it to her some day and then—when he found out about the money—how exactly like a fairy tale it all would be! And Lynda had had so few fairy tales in her life.
And while she designed and Conning watched and suggested, they talked of his long-neglected work.
“You’ll have time soon, Con, to give it your best thought. Did you do much while you were away?”