With a curious embarrassment she answered him. “Jeanie has not been well all the winter. Dr. Tudor has ordered a change, and we are going—she and I—to Stanbury Cliffs to-morrow.”
“Are you though?” He opened his eyes. “Just you and she, eh? What a cosy party!”
“The other children will probably join us for the Easter holidays,” Avery said. “It’s a nice place, they say. Do you know it?”
“I should think I do. Victor and I used to go there regularly when I was a kid. It was there I learnt to swim.”
“Who is Victor?” asked Avery, beginning to walk on up the hill.
“Victor? Oh, he’s my French nurse—the best chap who ever walked. We are great pals,” laughed Piers. “And so you’re off to-morrow, are you? Hope you’ll have a good time. Give my love to the kiddie! She isn’t really ill, what?”
“Dr. Tudor is not satisfied about her,” Avery said.
“Oh, Tudor!” Piers spoke with instant disparagement. “I don’t suppose he’s any good. What does he say anyway?”
“He is afraid of lung trouble,” Avery said. “But we hope the change is going to do wonders for her. Do you know, I think I must run in now? I have several little jobs still to get through this evening.”
Piers stopped at once. “Good-bye!” he said. “I’m glad I saw you. Take care of yourself, Avery! And the next time you see me coming—don’t run away!”
He set his foot in the stirrup and swung himself up into the saddle. Pompey immediately began to execute an elaborate dance in the roadway, rendering further conversation out of the question. Piers waved his cap in careless adieu, and turned the animal round. In another moment he was tearing down the lane at a gallop, and Avery was left looking after him still with that curious sense of doubt lying cold at her heart.
The sight of a black, clerical figure emerging from the churchyard caused her to turn swiftly and pursue her way to the Vicarage gate. But the sounds of those galloping hoofs still wrought within her as she went. They beat upon her spirit with a sense of swift-moving Destiny.
THE EVESHAM DEVIL
“Confound the boy!” said Sir Beverley.
He rose up from the black oak settle in the hall with a jerky movement of irritation, and tramped to the front-door.
It had been one of those strange soft days that sometimes come in the midst of blustering March storms, and though the sun had long gone down the warmth still lingered. It might have been an evening in May.