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Spy Rock Henry van Dyke

Section III.

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This was what perplexed and oppressed me. I needed all the time until the next Saturday to think the question through, to decide what should be done. But the matter was taken out of my hands. After our latest expedition Keene's dark mood returned upon him with sombre intensity. Dull, restless, indifferent, half-contemptuous, he seemed to withdraw into himself, observing those around him with half-veiled glances, as if he had nothing better to do and yet found it a tiresome pastime. He was like a man waiting wearily at a railway station for his train. Nothing pleased him. He responded to nothing.

Graham controlled his indignation by a constant effort. A dozen times he was on the point of speaking out. But he restrained himself and played fair. Dorothy's suffering could not be hidden. Her loyalty was strained to the breaking point. She was too tender and true for anger, but she was wounded almost beyond endurance.

Keene's restlessness increased. The intervening Thursday was Thanksgiving Day; most of the boys had gone home; the school had holiday. Early in the morning he came to me.

"Let us take our walk to-day. We have no work to do. Come! In this clear, frosty air, Spy Rock will be glorious!"

"No," I answered, "this is no day for such an expedition. This is the home day. Stay here and be happy with us all. You owe this to love and friendship. You owe it to Dorothy Ward."

"Owe it?" said he. "Speaking of debts, I think each man is his own preferred creditor. But of course you can do as you like about to-day. Tomorrow or Saturday will answer just as well for our third walk together."

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About noon he came down from his room and went to the piano, where Dorothy was sitting. They talked together in low tones. Then she stood up, with pale face and wide-open eyes. She laid her hand on his arm.

"Do not go, Edward. For the last time I beg you to stay with us to-day."

He lifted her hand and held it for an instant. Then he bowed, and let it fall.

"You will excuse me, Dorothy, I am sure. I feel the need of exercise. Absolutely I must go; good-by--until the evening."

The hours of that day passed heavily for all of us. There was a sense of disaster in the air. Something irretrievable had fallen from our circle. But no one dared to name it. Night closed in upon the house with a changing sky. All the stars were hidden. The wind whimpered and then shouted. The rain swept down in spiteful volleys, deepening at last into a fierce, steady discharge. Nine o'clock, ten o'clock passed, and Keene did not return. By midnight we were certain that some accident had befallen him.

It was impossible to go up into the mountains in that pitch-darkness of furious tempest. But we could send down to the village for men to organise a search-party and to bring the doctor. At daybreak we set out--some of the men going with the Master along Black Brook, others in different directions to make sure of a complete search--Graham and the doctor and I following the secret trail that I knew only too well. Dorothy insisted that she must go. She would bear no denial, declaring that it would be worse for her alone at home, than if we took her with us.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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