“Oh, Piers,” she said, “you are all he has. He couldn’t be hard to you!”
Piers smiled a wry smile, and said nothing.
“Besides,” she went on gently, “there is really nothing for you to quarrel about,—that is, if I am the cause of the trouble. It is perfectly natural that your grandfather should wish you to make a suitable marriage, perfectly natural that he should not want you to run after the wrong woman. You can tell him, Piers, that I absolutely see his point of view, but that so far as I am concerned, he need not be anxious. It is not my intention to marry again.”
“All right,” said Piers.
He gave her hand a little shake and released it. For a second—only a second—she caught a sparkle in his eyes that seemed to her almost like a gleam of mockery. And then with characteristic suddenness he sprang to his feet.
“Well, I’d better be going,” he said in a voice that was perfectly normal and free from agitation. “I can’t stop to see the kiddie this time. I’m glad she’s going on all right. I wonder when you’ll be back again.”
“Not at present, I think,” said Avery, trying not to be disconcerted by his abruptness.
He looked down at her whimsically. “You’re a good sort, Avery,” he said. “I won’t be so violent next time.”
“There mustn’t be a next time,” she said quickly. “Please Piers, that must be quite understood!”
“All right,” he said again. “I understand.”
And with that very suddenly he left her, so suddenly that she sat motionless on her rock and stared after him, not believing that he was really taking his leave.
He did not turn his head, however, and very soon he passed round the jutting headland, and was gone from her sight. Only when that happened did she draw a long, long breath and realize how much of her strength had been spent to gain what after all appeared to be but a very barren victory.
“Ah! C’est Monsieur Pierre enfin!” Eagerly Victor greeted the appearance of his young master. He looked as if he would have liked to embrace him.
Piers’ attitude, however, did not encourage any display of tenderness. He flung himself gloomily down into a chair and regarded the man with sombre eyes.
“Where’s Sir Beverley?” he said.
Victor spread forth expressive hands. "Mais, Sir Beverley, he sit up all the night attending you, mon petit monsieur. Et moi, I sit up also. Mais Monsieur Pierre! Monsieur Pierre!"
He began to shake his head at Piers in fond reproof, but Piers paid no attention.
“Sat up all night, what?” he said. “Then where is he now? In bed?”
There was a deep line between his black brows; all the gaiety and sparkle had gone from his eyes. He looked tired out.
It was close upon the luncheon-hour, and he had tramped up from the station. There were refreshments in front of him, but he bluntly refused to touch them.