Ellen thought these things over as she walked home, tasting them with reminiscent relish. The moonlit air sparkled with frost. The snow crisped under her feet. Below her lay the Glen with the white harbour beyond. There was a light in the manse study. So John Meredith had gone home. Had he asked Rosemary to marry him? And after what fashion had she made her refusal known? Ellen felt that she would never know this, though she was quite curious. She was sure Rosemary would never tell her anything about it and she would not dare to ask. She must just be content with the fact of the refusal. After all, that was the only thing that really mattered.
“I hope he’ll have sense enough to come back once in a while and be friendly,” she said to herself. She disliked so much to be alone that thinking aloud was one of her devices for circumventing unwelcome solitude. “It’s awful never to have a man-body with some brains to talk to once in a while. And like as not he’ll never come near the house again. There’s Norman Douglas, too—I like that man, and I’d like to have a good rousing argument with him now and then. But he’d never dare come up for fear people would think he was courting me again—for fear I’d think it, too, most likely—though he’s more a stranger to me now than John Meredith. It seems like a dream that we could ever have been beaus. But there it is—there’s only two men in the Glen I’d ever want to talk to—and what with gossip and this wretched love-making business it’s not likely I’ll ever see either of them again. I could,” said Ellen, addressing the unmoved stars with a spiteful emphasis, “I could have made a better world myself.”
She paused at her gate with a sudden vague feeling of alarm. There was still a light in the living-room and to and fro across the window-shades went the shadow of a woman walking restlessly up and down. What was Rosemary doing up at this hour of the night? And why was she striding about like a lunatic?
Ellen went softly in. As she opened the hall door Rosemary came out of the room. She was flushed and breathless. An atmosphere of stress and passion hung about her like a garment.
“Why aren’t you in bed, Rosemary?” demanded Ellen.
“Come in here,” said Rosemary intensely. “I want to tell you something.”