She found two corners of white projecting from under her door. And when she’d unlocked and opened it she stooped and picked them up, a visiting card and a folded bit of paper. She turned the card over and gave a little half-suffocated cry.
It was Rodney’s card and on it he’d written, “Sorry to have missed you. I’ll come back at eight.”
Her shaking fingers fumbled pitifully over the folds of the note, but she got it open at last. It was from him too. It read:
“This is hard luck. I suppose you’re off for a week-end somewhere. I want very much to see you. When you come back and have leisure for me, will you call me up? I know how busy you are so I’ll wait until I hear from you.
Her heart felt like lead when she’d read it. Dazedly, a little giddily, she pulled her door shut, went into her room and sat down.
He was in New York! He’d been to see her this afternoon—and left a card! And the note he’d written after his second visit was what Howard West might have written, or any other quite casual, slightly over-polite acquaintance. And it was from Rodney to her!
She couldn’t see him if he felt like that; couldn’t stand it to see him if he felt like that! Bitterness, contempt, hatred, anything would be easier to bear than that. She was to call up his hotel, was she? Well, she wouldn’t!
And then suddenly she spread the note open again and read it once more. Turned it over and scrutinized the reverse side of the paper, and uttered a little sobbing laugh. If he’d been as cool, unmoved, self-possessed, as that note had tried to sound, would he have forgotten to tell her at what hotel she was to call him up?
Then, with a gasp, she wondered how she could call him up. He’d think she knew where he was; he’d wait; and after he’d waited a while, in default of word from her, wouldn’t he take her silence for an answer and go back to Chicago?
She clenched her hands at that and tried to think. Well, the obvious thing to do seemed to be the only one. She must try one hotel after another until she found him. After all, there probably weren’t more than a dozen to choose among. It wouldn’t be easy looking up numbers with everything dancing before her eyes like this, but if she took the likeliest ones first she mightn’t have to go very far. And, indeed, at a third attempt she found him.
When the telephone girl switched her to the information desk, and the information clerk said, “Mr. Rodney Aldrich? Just a moment,” and then; “Mr. Aldrich is in fifteen naught five,” the dry contraction in her throat made it impossible for her to speak.
But the switchboard girl had evidently been listening in and plugged her through, because she heard the throb of another ring, a click of a receiver and then—then Rodney’s voice.
She couldn’t answer his first “Hello,” and he said it again, sharply, “Hello, what is it?”