She climbed up the bank, catching at the grass and twigs, and feeling her tears running hot over the icy wetness of her cheeks. When she reached the top she picked up her coat with numb, shaking hands and, shivering violently, put it on with a passionate desire for warmth.
“I tried; I tried,” she said; “but—I can’t!”
It was after ten o’clock that night when Eleanor’s icy fingers fumbled at Mrs. Newbolt’s doorbell. The ring was not heard at first, because her aunt and Edith Houghton and Johnny Bennett were celebrating his departure the next day for South America, by making a Welsh rabbit in a chafing dish before the parlor fire. Mrs. Newbolt, entering into the occasion with voluble reminiscences, was having a very good time. She liked Youth, and she liked Welsh rabbits, and she liked an audience; and she had all three! Then the doorbell rang. And again.
“For Heaven’s sake!” said Mrs. Newbolt; “at this time of night! Johnny, the girls have gone to bed; you go and answer it, like a good boy.”
“Dump in some more beer, Edith,” Johnny commanded, and went out into the hall, whistling. A moment later the other two heard his startled voice, “Why, come right in!” There was no reply, just shuffling steps; then Eleanor, silent, without any hat, her hair plastered down her ghastly cheeks, her face bruised and soiled with sand, stood in the doorway, the astonished John Bennett behind her. Everybody spoke at once:
“Eleanor! What has happened?”
“Eleanor! Where is your hat?”
“Good gracious! Eleanor—”
She was perfectly still. Just looking at them, during that blank moment before everything became a confusion of jostling assistance. Edith rushed to help her off with her coat. Johnny said, “Mrs. Newbolt, where can I get some whisky?” Mrs. Newbolt felt the soaking skirt, and tried to unfasten the belt so that the wet mass might fall to the floor.
Eleanor was rigid. “Get a doctor!” Edith commanded.