Christian read and re-read this note, then turned to Greta.
“What did you say to Dr. Dawney?”
Greta took back the piece of paper, and replied: “I said:
“’Dear Dr. Edmund,—We are anxious about Herr Harz. We think he is perhaps not very well to-day. We (I and Christian) should like to know. You can tell us. Please shall you? Greta.’
“That is what I said.”
Christian dropped her eyes. “What made you write?”
Greta gazed at her mournfully: “I thought—O
Chris! come into the garden.
I am so hot, and it is so dull without you!”
Christian bent her head forward and rubbed her cheek against Greta’s, then without another word ran upstairs and locked herself into her room. The child stood listening; hearing the key turn in the lock, she sank down on the bottom step and took Scruff in her arms.
Half an hour later Miss Naylor, carrying a candle, found her there fast asleep, with her head resting on the terrier’s back, and tear stains on her cheeks....
Mrs. Decie presently came out, also carrying a candle, and went to her brother’s room. She stood before his chair, with folded hands.
“Nicholas, what is to be done?”
Mr. Treffry was pouring whisky into a glass.
“Damn it, Con!” he answered; “how should I know?”
“There’s something in Christian that makes interference dangerous. I know very well that I’ve no influence with her at all.”
“You’re right there, Con,” Mr. Treffry replied.
Mrs. Decie’s pale eyes, fastened on his face, forced him to look up.
“I wish you would leave off drinking whisky and attend to me. Paul is an element—”
“Paul,” Mr. Treffry growled, “is an ass!”
“Paul,” pursued Mrs. Decie, “is an element of danger in the situation; any ill-timed opposition of his might drive her to I don’t know what. Christian is gentle, she is ‘sympathetic’ as they say; but thwart her, and she is as obstinate as....
“You or I! Leave her alone!”
“I understand her character, but I confess that I am at a loss what to do.”
“Do nothing!” He drank again.
Mrs. Decie took up the candle.
“Men!” she said with a mysterious intonation; shrugging her shoulders, she walked out.
Mr. Treffry put down his glass.
‘Understand?’ he thought; ’no, you don’t, and I don’t. Who understands a young girl? Vapourings, dreams, moonshine I.... What does she see in this painter fellow? I wonder!’ He breathed heavily. ’By heavens! I wouldn’t have had this happen for a hundred thousand pounds!’
For many hours after Dawney had taken him to his hotel, Harz was prostrate with stunning pains in the head and neck. He had been all day without food, exposed to burning sun, suffering violent emotion. Movement of any sort caused him such agony that he could only lie in stupor, counting the spots dancing before, his eyes. Dawney did everything for him, and Harz resented in a listless way the intent scrutiny of the doctor’s calm, black eyes.