“Yes,” the girl assented, “that’s what we’re taught to believe.” She meant by the novels, to which we all trust our instruction in such matters, and her doubt doubly rankled after she had put it to silence.
She kept on writing to Dan’s mother, though more and more perfunctorily; and now Eunice and now Minnie Mavering acknowledged her letters. She knew that they must think she was silly, but having entered by Dan’s connivance upon her folly, she was too proud to abandon it.
At last, after she had ceased to expect it, came a letter from his mother, not a brief note, but a letter which the invalid had evidently tasked herself to make long and full, in recognition of Alice’s kindness in writing to her so much. The girl opened it, and, after a verifying glance at the signature, began to read it with a thrill of tender triumph, and the fond prevision of the greater pleasure of reading it again with Dan.
But after reading it once through, she did not wait for him before reading it again and again. She did this with bewilderment, intershot with flashes of conviction, and then doubts of this conviction. When she could misunderstand no longer, she rose quietly and folded the letter, and put it carefully back into its envelope and into her writing desk, where she sat down and wrote, in her clearest and firmest hand, this note to Mavering—
“I wish to see you immediately.
Dan had learned, with a lover’s keenness, to read Alice’s moods in the most colourless wording of her notes. She was rather apt to write him notes, taking back or reaffirming the effect of something that had just passed between them. Her note were tempered to varying degrees of heat and cold, so fine that no one else would have felt the difference, but sensible to him in their subtlest intention.
Perhaps a mere witness of the fact would have been alarmed by a note which began without an address, except that on the envelope, and ended its peremptory brevity with the writer’s name signed in full. Dan read calamity in it, and he had all the more trouble to pull himself together to meet it because he had parted with unusual tenderness from Alice the night before, after an evening in which it seemed to him that their ideals had been completely reconciled.
The note came, as her notes were apt to come, while Dan was at breakfast, which he was rather luxurious about for so young a man, and he felt formlessly glad afterward that he had drunk his first cup of coffee before he opened it, for it chilled the second cup, and seemed to take all character out of the omelet.
He obeyed it, wondering what the doom menaced in it might be, but knowing that it was doom, and leaving his breakfast half-finished, with a dull sense of the tragedy of doing so.