Alexander hurried toward her and took her gently by the arm. "Sit down, Hilda;
you're wet through. Let me take off your coat --and your boots; they're oozing
water." He knelt down and began to unlace her shoes, while Hilda shrank into the
chair. "Here, put your feet on this stool. You don't mean to say you walked down-
-and without overshoes!"
Hilda hid her face in her hands. "I was afraid to take a cab. Can't you see,
Bartley, that I'm terribly frightened? I've been through this a hundred times to-
day. Don't be any more angry than you can help. I was all right until I knew you
were in town. If you'd sent me a note, or telephoned me, or anything! But you
won't let me write to you, and I had to see you after that letter, that terrible letter
you wrote me when you got home."
Alexander faced her, resting his arm on the mantel behind him, and began to
brush the sleeve of his jacket. "Is this the way you mean to answer it, Hilda?" he
She was afraid to look up at him. "Didn't--didn't you mean even to say goodby to
me, Bartley? Did you mean just to-- quit me?" she asked. "I came to tell you that
I'm willing to do as you asked me. But it's no use talking about that now. Give me
my things, please." She put her hand out toward the fender.
Alexander sat down on the arm of her chair. "Did you think I had forgotten you
were in town, Hilda? Do you think I kept away by accident? Did you suppose I
didn't know you were sailing on Tuesday? There is a letter for you there, in my
desk drawer. It was to have reached you on the steamer. I was all the morning
writing it. I told myself that if I were really thinking of you, and not of myself, a
letter would be better than nothing. Marks on paper mean something to you." He
paused. "They never did to me."
Hilda smiled up at him beautifully and put her hand on his sleeve. "Oh, Bartley!
Did you write to me? Why didn't you telephone me to let me know that you had?
Then I wouldn't have come."
Alexander slipped his arm about her. "I didn't know it before, Hilda, on my honor I
didn't, but I believe it was because, deep down in me somewhere, I was hoping I
might drive you to do just this. I've watched that door all day. I've jumped up if the
fire crackled. I think I have felt that you were coming." He bent his face over her
"And I," she whispered,--"I felt that you were feeling that. But when I came, I
thought I had been mistaken."
Alexander started up and began to walk up and down the room.