There, with the increasing ruggedness of the scenery and his first view of the Raxalpe, came recollection of the urgency of Stewart's last message, of Marie Jedlicka, of the sordid little tragedy that awaited him at the end of his journey. Peter sobered. Life was rather a mess, after all, he reflected. Love was a blessing, but it was also a curse.
I meet them in the hospital, but I don't know their names." "Where does Peter Byrne live?" "In a pension, I believe, my dear. Are we going to have anything to eat or do we sup of Peter Byrne?" Mrs. Boyer made no immediate reply. She repaired to the bedroom of Marie Jedlicka, and placed her hat, coat and furs on one of the beds with the crocheted coverlets. It is a curious thing about rooms.
In the mirror of Marie Jedlicka, clad in familiar garments that had accommodated themselves to the idiosyncrasies of her figure, Mrs. Boyer was a plump, rather comely matron. Here before the plate glass of the modiste, under the glare of a hundred lights, side by side with a slim Austrian girl who looked like a willow wand, Mrs. Boyer was grotesque, ridiculous, monstrous. She shuddered.
Harmony was sleeping soundly when the bell rang. Her first thought was that Peter had come back but Peter carried a key. The bell rang again, and she slipped on the old kimono and went to the door. "Is it Peter?" she called, hand on knob. "I come from Peter. I have a letter," in German. "Who is it?" "You do not know me Marie Jedlicka. Please let me come in."
Harmony met him with forgiveness and restoration. "Sometimes," said Peter humbly, "when I am in very great favor, you say, 'Good-evening, Peter, dear." "Good-evening, Peter, dear," said Harmony. The affairs of young Stewart and Marie Jedlicka were not moving smoothly.
He got up with a great show of stretching and yawning and lounged into the passage. He did not speak to the girl; Marie noted that with some comfort. But shortly after she saw him conversing easily with a male member of the party. Her heart sank again. Life was moving very fast for Marie Jedlicka that afternoon on the train.
Marie Jedlicka, in a sort of ecstasy, leaned back and watched the mountain; its crown faded from rose to gold, from gold to purple with a thread of black. There was a shadow on the side that looked like a cross. Marie stopped the sleigh at a wayside shrine, and getting out knelt to say a prayer for the travelers who had died on the Rax.
The time had gone by when an incident of the sort could have been met with scorn or with threats; things had changed for Marie Jedlicka since the day Peter had refused to introduce her to Harmony. Then it had been vanity; now it was life itself. "What you mean," she said with pale lips, "is that we must not be seen together at all. Must I do you wish me to remain a prisoner while you " she choked.
Marie Jedlicka took her cue and lapsed into silence, but her thoughts were busy. Perhaps this girl was going to Semmering also and the Herr Doktor would meet her. But that was foolish! There were other resorts besides Semmering, and in the little villa to which they went there would be no Americans. It was childish to worry about a girl whose back and profile only she had seen.