He even wondered as he went away if he had not possibly exaggerated the whole matter, though at the heart of him he knew that this was only what Piers himself desired him to believe. He could not but feel convinced, however, that the danger was past for the time at least. In his own inimitable fashion Piers had succeeded in reassuring him. He was fully satisfied that the boy would keep his word, for his faith in him was absolute. But he felt the victory that was his to be a baffling one. He had conquered merely because Piers of his own volition had ceased to resist. He did not understand that sudden submission. Like Sir Beverley, he was puzzled by it. There was about it a mysterious quality that eluded his understanding. He would have given a good deal for a glimpse of the motive that lay behind.
But he had to go without it. Piers was in no expansive mood. Perhaps he might have found it difficult to explain himself even had he so desired.
Whatever the motive that had urged him, it urged him no longer, or it had been diverted into a side-channel. For almost as soon as he was alone, he threw himself down and scribbled a careless line to Ina Rose, advising her to accompany her father to Mentone, and adding that he believed she would not be bored there.
When he had despatched Victor with the letter, he flung his window wide and leaned out of it with his eyes wide opened on the darkness, and on his lips that smile that was not good to see.
It was a blustering spring day, and Avery, caught in a sudden storm of driving sleet, stood up against the railings of the doctor’s house, sheltering as best she might. She was holding her umbrella well in the teeth of the gale, and trying to protect an armful of purchases as well.
She was alone, Gracie, the black sheep, having been sent to school at the close of the Christmas holidays, and Jeanie being confined to the house with a severe cold. Olive, having become more and more her father’s constant companion, disdained shopping expeditions. The two elder boys and Pat were all at a neighbouring school as weekly boarders, and though she missed them Avery had it not in her heart to regret the arrangement. The Vicarage might at times seem dreary, but it had become undeniably an abode of peace.
Mrs. Lorimer was gradually recovering her strength, and Avery’s care now centred more upon Jeanie than her mother. Though the child had recovered from her accident, she had not been really well all the winter, and the cold spring seemed to tax her strength to the uttermost. Tudor still dropped in at intervals, but he said little, and his manner did not encourage Avery to question him. Privately she was growing anxious about Jeanie, and she wished that he would be more communicative. He had absolutely forbidden book-work, a fiat to which Mr. Lorimer had yielded under protest.