He climbed up the stepladder, which creaked under his weight, and began to
twist the tough stems of the holly into the frame- work of the chandelier.
"I forgot to tell you that I had a letter from Wilson, this morning, explaining his
telegram. He is coming on because an old uncle up in Vermont has conveniently
died and left Wilson a little money--something like ten thousand. He's coming on
to settle up the estate. Won't it be jolly to have him?"
"And how fine that he's come into a little money. I can see him posting down
State Street to the steamship offices. He will get a good many trips out of that ten
thousand. What can have detained him? I expected him here for luncheon."
"Those trains from Albany are always late. He'll be along sometime this
afternoon. And now, don't you want to go upstairs and lie down for an hour?
You've had a busy morning and I don't want you to be tired to-night."
After his wife went upstairs Alexander worked energetically at the greens for a
few moments. Then, as he was cutting off a length of string, he sighed suddenly
and sat down, staring out of the window at the snow. The animation died out of
his face, but in his eyes there was a restless light, a look of apprehension and
suspense. He kept clasping and unclasping his big hands as if he were trying to
realize something. The clock ticked through the minutes of a half-hour and the
afternoon outside began to thicken and darken turbidly. Alexander, since he first
sat down, had not changed his position. He leaned forward, his hands between
his knees, scarcely breathing, as if he were holding himself away from his
surroundings, from the room, and from the very chair in which he sat, from
everything except the wild eddies of snow above the river on which his eyes were
fixed with feverish intentness, as if he were trying to project himself thither. When
at last Lucius Wilson was announced, Alexander sprang eagerly to his feet and
hurried to meet his old instructor.
"Hello, Wilson. What luck! Come into the library. We are to have a lot of people to
dinner to-night, and Winifred's lying down. You will excuse her, won't you? And
now what about yourself? Sit down and tell me everything."
"I think I'd rather move about, if you don't mind. I've been sitting in the train for a
week, it seems to me." Wilson stood before the fire with his hands behind him
and looked about the room. "You HAVE been busy. Bartley, if I'd had my choice
of all possible places in which to spend Christmas, your house would certainly be
the place I'd have chosen. Happy people do a great deal for their friends. A
house like this throws its warmth out. I felt it distinctly as I was coming through
the Berkshires. I could scarcely believe that I was to see Mrs. Bartley again so
"Thank you, Wilson. She'll be as glad to see you. Shall we have tea now? I'll ring
for Thomas to clear away this litter. Winifred says I always wreck the house when