The twilight was now falling. For the last hour or more the three inmates of the carriage had scarcely spoken. They had unresistingly given themselves over to the glamour of the time and place. Along the ravines and in the lower gorges and chasms the gray dusk was gathering; high overhead the domes and pinnacles were each instant taking deeper tinges of rose and violet. It seemed as if a word loudly or carelessly uttered would break the spell of the alpgluhen. It was all like a dream, and it was in his quality of spectral figure in a dream that the driver suddenly turned on the box, and, pointing over his shoulder with the handle of his whip said—
The mist was still lingering in the valleys, though the remote peaks had been kindled more than an hour by the touch of sunrise. As Lynde paced up and down the trottoir in front of the Couronne hotel, he drew out his watch from time to time and glanced expectantly towards the hotel entrance. In the middle of the street stood a couple of guides, idly holding the bridles of three mules, two of which were furnished with side-saddles. It was nearly half an hour past the appointment, and the Denhams, who had retired at eight o’clock the night before in order to be fresh for an early start up the mountain, had made no sign. Lynde himself had set the lark an example that morning by breakfasting by candle-light. Here were thirty minutes lost. He quickened his pace up and down in front of the hotel, as if his own rapidity of movement would possibly exert some occult influence in hastening the loiterers; but another quarter of an hour dragged on without bringing them.
Lynde was impatiently consulting his watch for the twentieth time when Miss Denham’s troubled face showed itself in the doorway.
“Isn’t it too bad, Mr. Lynde? Aunt Gertrude can’t go!”
“Can’t go!” faltered Lynde.
“She has a headache from yesterday’s ride. She got up, and dressed, but was obliged to lie down again.”
“Then that’s the end of it, I suppose,” said Lynde despondently. He beckoned to one of the guides.
“I don’t know,” said Miss Denham, standing in an attitude of irresolution on the upper step, with her curved eyebrows drawn together like a couple of blackbirds touching bills. “I don’t know what to do...she insists on our going. I shall never forgive myself for letting her see that I was disappointed. She added my concern for her illness to my regret about the excursion, and thought me more disappointed than I really was. Then she declared she would go in spite of her headache... unless I went.”
The gloom which had overspread Lynde’s countenance vanished.
“It is not one of her severest turns,” continued Miss Ruth, ceasing to be a statue on a pedestal and slowly descending the hotel steps with her waterproof trailing from her left arm, “and she is quite capable of executing her threat. What shall we do, Mr. Lynde?”