The enchantment, whatever it was, was broken. Although he missed the slipper from among the trifles scattered over his table, its absence brought him a kind of relief. He less frequently caught himself falling into brown studies. The details of his adventure daily grew more indistinct; the picture was becoming a mere outline; it was fading away. He might have been able in the course of time to set the whole occurrence down as a grotesque dream, if he had not now and then beheld Deacon Twombly driving by the bank with Mary attached to the battered family carry-all. Mary was a fact not easily disposed of.
Insensibly Lynde lapsed into his old habits. The latter part of this winter at Rivermouth was unusually gay; the series of evening parties and lectures and private theatricals extended into the spring, whose advent was signalized by the marriage of Miss Bowlsby and Preston. In June Lynde ran on to New York for a week, where he had a clandestine dinner with his uncle at Delmonico’s, and bade good-by to Flemming, who was on the eve of starting on a protracted tour through the East. “I shall make it a point to visit the land of the Sabaeans,” said Flemming, with his great cheery laugh, “and discover, if possible, the unknown site of the ancient capital of Sheba.” Lynde had confided the story to his friend one night, coming home from the theatre.
Once more at Rivermouth, Edward Lynde took up the golden threads of his easy existence. But this life of ideal tranquillity and contentment was not to be permitted him. One morning in the latter part of August he received a letter advising him that his uncle had had an alarming stroke of apoplexy. The letter was followed within the hour by a telegram announcing the death of David Lynde.
BEYOND THE SEA
In the early twilight of a July evening in the year 1875, two young Americans, neither dreaming of the other’s presence, came face to face on the steps of a hotel on the Quai du Montblanc at Geneva. The two men, one of whom was so bronzed by Eastern suns that his friend looked pallid beside him, exchanged a long, incredulous stare; then their hands met, and the elder cried out, “Of all men in the world!”
“Flemming!” exclaimed the other eagerly; “I thought you were in Egypt.”
“So I was, a month ago. What are you doing over here, Ned?”
“I don’t know, to tell the truth.”
“You don’t know!” laughed Flemming. “Enjoying yourself, I suppose.”
“The supposition is a little rash,” said Edward Lynde. “I have been over nearly a year—quite a year, in fact. After uncle David’s death”—
“Poor old fellow! I got the news at Smyrna.”
“After he was gone, and the business of the estate was settled, I turned restless at Rivermouth. It was cursedly lonesome. I hung on there awhile, and then I came abroad.”