March thought of the impassioned existence of these young people playing the inevitable comedy of hide and seek which the youth of the race has played from the beginning of time. The other invalids who haunted the forest, and passed up and down before him in fulfilment of their several prescriptions, had a thin unreality in spite of the physical bulk that prevailed among them, and they heightened the relief that the forest-spirit brought him from the strenuous contact of that young drama. He had been almost painfully aware that the persons in it had met, however little they knew it, with an eagerness intensified by their brief separation, and he fancied it was the girl who had unconsciously operated their reunion in response to the young man’s longing, her will making itself electrically felt through space by that sort of wireless telegraphy which love has long employed, and science has just begun to imagine.
He would have been willing that they should get home alone, but he knew that his wife would require an account of them from him, and though he could have invented something of the kind, if it came to the worst, he was aware that it would not do for him to arrive without them. The thought goaded him from his seat, and he joined the upward procession of his fellow-sick, as it met another procession straggling downward; the ways branched in all directions, with people on them everywhere, bent upon building up in a month the health which they would spend the rest of the year in demolishing.
He came upon his charges unexpectedly at a turn of the path, and Miss Triscoe told him that he ought to have been with them for the view from the Hirschensprung. It was magnificent, she said, and she made Burnamy corroborate her praise of it, and agree with her that it was worth the climb a thousand times; he modestly accepted the credit she appeared willing to give him, of inventing the Hirschensprung.
Between his work for Stoller and what sometimes seemed the obstructiveness of General Triscoe, Burnamy was not very much with Miss Triscoe. He was not devout, but he went every Sunday to the pretty English church on the hill, where he contributed beyond his means to the support of the English clergy on the Continent, for the sake of looking at her back hair during the service, and losing himself in the graceful lines which defined, the girl’s figure from the slant of her flowery hat to the point where the pewtop crossed her elastic waist. One happy morning the general did not come to church, and he had the fortune to walk home with her to her pension, where she lingered with him a moment, and almost made him believe she might be going to ask him to come in.