“But he is very fond of Piers,” said Jeanie. “And so is Caesar.” She gave a little sigh. “Poor Mikey! Do you remember how angry he used to be when Caesar ran by?”
Avery suppressed a shiver. Vivid as a picture flung on a screen, there rose in her brain the memory of that winter evening when Piers and Mike and Caesar had all striven together for the mastery. Again she seemed to hear those savage, pitiless blows. She might have known! She might have known!
Sharply she wrenched herself back to the present. “Jeanie darling,” she said, “your mother says that you may come and stay at the Abbey for a little while. Do you—would you—like to come?”
Her voice was unconsciously wistful. Jeanie turned for the first time and looked at her.
“Oh, Avery!” she said. “Stay with you and Piers?”
Her eyes were shining. She slid a gentle arm round Avery’s neck.
“You would like to?” Avery asked, faintly smiling.
“I would love to,” said Jeanie earnestly. She looked across at her mother. “Shall you be able to manage, dear?” she asked in her grown-up way.
Mrs. Lorimer stifled a sigh. “Oh yes, Jeanie
dear. I shall do all right.
Gracie will help with the little ones, you know.”
Jeanie smiled at that. “I think I will go and talk to Gracie,” she said, quietly releasing herself from Avery’s arm.
But at the door she paused. “I hope Father won’t mind,” she said. “But he did say I wasn’t to have any more treats till my Easter holiday-task was finished.”
“I will make that all right, dear,” said Mrs. Lorimer.
“Thank you,” said Jeanie. “Of course I can take it with me. I expect I shall get more time for learning it at the Abbey. You might tell him that, don’t you think?”
“I will tell him, darling,” said Mrs. Lorimer.
And Jeanie smiled and went her way.
THE GREAT GULF
“Hullo!” said Piers. “Has the Queen of all good fairies come to call?”
He strode across the garden with that high, arrogant air of his as of one who challenges the world, and threw himself into the vacant chair by the tea-table at which his wife sat.
The blaze of colour that overspread her pale face at his coming faded as rapidly as it rose. She glanced at him momentarily, under fluttering lids.
“Jeanie has come to stay,” she said, her voice very low.
His arm was already round Jeanie who had risen to meet him. He pulled her down upon his knee.
“That is very gracious of her,” he said. “Good Heavens, child! You are as light as a feather! Why don’t you eat more?”
“I am never hungry,” explained Jeanie. She kissed him and then drew herself gently from him, sitting down by his side with innate dignity. “Have you been riding all day?” she asked. “Isn’t Pompey tired?”