It was nearly nine o’clock when he awoke the following morning. The storm had not lifted; the colorless clouds were still letting down a fine, vapory rain that blurred everything. As soon as he had breakfasted, Lynde went to Mrs. Denham’s rooms. She answered his knock in person and invited him by a silent gesture to enter the parlor. He saw by the drawn expression of her countenance that she had not slept.
“Ruth is ill,” she said in a low voice, replying to Lynde’s inquiry.
“You do not mean very ill?”
“I fear so. She has passed a dreadful night. I have had a doctor.”
“Is it as serious as that? What does he say?”
“He says it is a severe cold, with symptoms of pneumonia; but I do not think he knows,” returned Mrs. Denham despairingly. “I must despatch a courier to my husband; our old family physician is now with him at Paris. I have just received a letter, and they are not coming this week! They must come at once. I do not know how to telegraph them, as they are about to change their hotel. Besides, I believe a telegram cannot be sent from here; the nearest office is at Geneva. I must send some messenger who will have intelligence enough to find Mr. Denham wherever he is.”
“I will go.”
“Why not? I shall waste less time than another. There should be no mistake in the delivery of this message. A courier might get drunk, or be stupid. I can do nothing here. If it had not been for me, possibly this unfortunate thing would not have happened. I am determined to go, whether you consent or not.”
“I shall be grateful to you all my life, Mr. Lynde. I should not have thought of asking such a favor. Ruth says I was rude to you yesterday. I did not mean to be. I was distracted with anxiety at having her out in such a storm. If there is any blame in the matter it is entirely mine. You forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive, Mrs. Denham; blame rests on no one; neither you nor I could foresee the rain. Write a line to Mr. Denham while I pack my valise; I shall be ready in ten minutes. Who is his banker at Paris?” “I think he has none.”
“How do you address your letters?”
“I have written but once since Mr. Denham’s arrival, and then I directed the letter to the Hotel Walther.”
“He has probably left his new address there. However, I shall have no difficulty in finding him. Mrs. Denham”—Lynde hesitated.
“Can I not see her a moment?”
“My request appears strange to you, does it not? It would not appear strange if you knew all.”
“All? I don’t understand you,” replied Mrs. Denham, resting her hand on the back of a chair and regarding him with slowly dilating pupils.
“If you knew how troubled I am—and how deeply I love her.”
“You love Ruth!”
“More than I can tell you.”