The Dark Flower eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about The Dark Flower.
it be that they were both asleep?  Once more he knocked on her door; then desperately turned the handle, and took a flying glance.  Empty, tidy, untouched!  Not back!  He turned and ran downstairs again.  All the guests were streaming out from dinner, and he became entangled with a group of ‘English Grundys’ discussing a climbing accident which had occurred in Switzerland.  He listened, feeling suddenly quite sick.  One of them, the short grey-bearded Grundy with the rather whispering voice, said to him:  “All alone again to-night?  The Stormers not back?” Lennan did his best to answer, but something had closed his throat; he could only shake his head.

“They had a guide, I think?” said the ‘English Grundy.’

This time Lennan managed to get out:  “Yes, sir.”

“Stormer, I fancy, is quite an expert!” and turning to the lady whom the young ‘Grundys’ addressed as ‘Madre’ he added: 

“To me the great charm of mountain-climbing was always the freedom from people—­the remoteness.”

The mother of the young ‘Grundys,’ looking at Lennan with her half-closed eyes, answered: 

“That, to me, would be the disadvantage; I always like to be mixing with my own kind.”

The grey-bearded ‘Grundy’ murmured in a muffled voice: 

“Dangerous thing, that, to say—­in an hotel!”

And they went on talking, but of what Lennan no longer knew, lost in this sudden feeling of sick fear.  In the presence of these ‘English Grundys,’ so superior to all vulgar sensations, he could not give vent to his alarm; already they viewed him as unsound for having fainted.  Then he grasped that there had begun all round him a sort of luxurious speculation on what might have happened to the Stormers.  The descent was very nasty; there was a particularly bad traverse.  The ‘Grundy,’ whose collar was not now crumpled, said he did not believe in women climbing.  It was one of the signs of the times that he most deplored.  The mother of the young ‘Grundys’ countered him at once:  In practice she agreed that they were out of place, but theoretically she could not see why they should not climb.  An American standing near threw all into confusion by saying he guessed that it might be liable to develop their understandings.  Lennan made for the front door.  The moon had just come up over in the South, and exactly under it he could see their mountain.  What visions he had then!  He saw her lying dead, saw himself climbing down in the moonlight and raising her still-living, but half-frozen, form from some perilous ledge.  Even that was almost better than this actuality of not knowing where she was, or what had happened.  People passed out into the moonlight, looking curiously at his set face staring so fixedly.  One or two asked him if he were anxious, and he answered:  “Oh no, thanks!” Soon there would have to be a search party.  How soon?  He would, he must be, of it!  They should not stop him this time.  And suddenly he thought:  Ah, it is all because I stayed up there this afternoon talking to that girl, all because I forgot her!

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The Dark Flower from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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