“Mr. Lynde! Mr. Lynde!” she said, taking the girl in her arms.
The tone of reproach in her voice cut him to the quick.
“He was in no way to blame, aunt,” said Ruth, trying to bring a smile to her blanched face; “it was I who would go.” She reached back her hand unperceived by Mrs. Denham and gave it to Lynde. He raised it gratefully to his lips, but as he relinquished it and turned away he experienced a sudden, inexplicable pang—as if he had said farewell to her.
IN THE SHADOW OF MONT BLANC
By the time Lynde had changed his wet clothing, the rain had turned into a dull drizzle, which folded itself like a curtain about the valley. Mont Blanc, with its piled-up acres of desolation, loomed through the mist, a shapeless, immeasurable cloud, within whose shadow the little town was to live darkly, half blotted out, for the next four days.
Lynde spent the afternoon between his own chamber and the reading-room of the hotel, wandering restlessly from one to the other, and not venturing to halt at Mrs. Denham’s door to inquire after Ruth. Though he held himself nearly guiltless in what had occurred, Mrs. Denham’s rebuking tone and gesture had been none the less intolerable. He was impatient to learn Ruth’s condition, and was growing every moment more anxious as he reflected on her extreme delicacy and the severe exposure she had undergone; but he could not bring himself just then to go to Mrs. Denham for information. He concluded to wait until he met her at dinner; but Mrs. Denham did not come down to the table d’hote.
The twilight fell earlier than usual, and the long evening set in. Lynde smoked his cigar gloomily at an open window looking upon the street. It was deserted and dismal. Even the shop across the way, where they sold alpenstocks and wood-carvings and knick-knacks in polished lapis, was empty; in pleasant weather the shop was always crowded with curiosity-mongers. The raw wind spitefully blew the rain into Lynde’s face as he looked out. “Quel temps de loup!” sighed a polite little French gentleman, making his unlighted cigarette an excuse for addressing Lynde. The wretched little French gentleman was perishing with a desire to say a thousand graceful things to somebody, but Lynde was in no mood for epigrams. He gave his interlocutor a light, and sheered off. In a corner of the reading-room was a tattered collection of Tauchnitz novels; Lynde picked up one and tried to read, but the slim types ran together and conveyed no meaning to him. It was becoming plain that he was to have no communication with the Denhams that night unless he assumed the initiative. He pencilled a line on the reverse of a visiting card and sent it up to Mrs. Denham’s parlor. The servant returned with the card on his waiter. The ladies had retired. Then Lynde took himself off to bed disconsolately.