The last two days of the voyage Bartley found almost intolerable. The stop at
Queenstown, the tedious passage up the Mersey, were things that he noted
dimly through his growing impatience. He had planned to stop in Liverpool; but,
instead, he took the boat train for London.
Emerging at Euston at half-past three o'clock in the afternoon, Alexander had his
luggage sent to the Savoy and drove at once to Bedford Square. When Marie
met him at the door, even her strong sense of the proprieties could not restrain
her surprise and delight. She blushed and smiled and fumbled his card in her
confusion before she ran upstairs. Alexander paced up and down the hallway,
buttoning and unbuttoning his overcoat, until she returned and took him up to
Hilda's living-room. The room was empty when he entered. A coal fire was
crackling in the grate and the lamps were lit, for it was already beginning to grow
dark outside. Alexander did not sit down. He stood his ground over by the
windows until Hilda came in. She called his name on the threshold, but in her
swift flight across the room she felt a change in him and caught herself up so
deftly that he could not tell just when she did it. She merely brushed his cheek
with her lips and put a hand lightly and joyously on either shoulder. "Oh, what a
grand thing to happen on a raw day! I felt it in my bones when I woke this
morning that something splendid was going to turn up. I thought it might be Sister
Kate or Cousin Mike would be happening along. I never dreamed it would be
you, Bartley. But why do you let me chatter on like this? Come over to the fire;
you're chilled through."
She pushed him toward the big chair by the fire, and sat down on a stool at the
opposite side of the hearth, her knees drawn up to her chin, laughing like a
happy little girl.
"When did you come, Bartley, and how did it happen? You haven't spoken a
"I got in about ten minutes ago. I landed at Liverpool this morning and came
down on the boat train."
Alexander leaned forward and warmed his hands before the blaze. Hilda
watched him with perplexity.
"There's something troubling you, Bartley. What is it?"
Bartley bent lower over the fire. "It's the whole thing that troubles me, Hilda. You