I think he had some idea in his mind that he was performing an act of penance.
Having waited a reasonable length of time after dinner, Crombie again left his room, resolved to make a call upon Mr. Littimer, on the plea of apologizing for having marched away with his shoes.
He would not run the risk, by sending his card, of being denied as a stranger; so, notwithstanding much hesitation and tremor, he approached the door which he had once seen standing open, and knocked. A voice which he now heard for the second time in his life, but which was so sweet and crept so naturally into the centre of his heart that the thought of it seemed always to have been there, answered: “Come in.” And he did come in.
“Is Mr. Lit—is your father at home?” It seemed to bring him a little nearer to her to say “your father.”
Blanche had risen from the chair where she was reading, and looked very much surprised. “Oh,” she exclaimed, with girlish simplicity, “I thought it was the waiter! N-no; he hasn’t come home yet.”
“I beg pardon. Then perhaps I’d better call later.” Crombie made a feeble movement toward withdrawal.
“Did you want to see him on business? Who shall I tell him?”
“Mr. Crombie, please. It’s nothing very important.”
“Oh,” said Blanche, with a little blush at her own deception, “haven’t I seen you in the house before? Are you staying here?”
She remembered distinctly the incident of the card-case, and how very nice she had thought him, both on that occasion and every time she had seen him. But as for him, his heart sank at the vague impersonality with which she seemed to regard him.
“Yes, I’m here, and can easily come in again.”
“I expect my father almost any moment,” she said. “Would you like to wait?”
What an absurd question, to one in his frame of mind! “Well, really, it is such a very small matter,” he began, examining his hat attentively. Then he glanced up at her again, and smiled: “I only wanted to—to make an apology.”
“An apology!” echoed Blanche, becoming rather more distant. “Oh, dear! I’m very sorry, I’m sure. I didn’t know there’d been any trouble.” She began to look anxious, and turned her eyes upon the smouldering fire in the grate. So this was to be the end of her pleasant, cheerful reveries about this nice young man. And the reveries had been more frequent than she had been aware of until now.
“There has been no trouble,” he assured her, eagerly. “Just a little mistake that occurred; and, in fact, I was hardly responsible for it.”
Blanche’s eyes began to twinkle with a new and amusing interpretation. “Ah!” she cried, “are you the gentleman who—” Then she stopped short.
Crombie was placed in an unexpected embarrassment. How could he possibly drag into his conversation with this lovely young creature so commonplace and vulgar a subject as shoe-leather! Ignoring her unfinished question, he asked: “Do you know, Miss Littimer, whether the—a—one of the servants here has brought up anything for your father—that is, a parcel, a—”