“She’s good at scheming,” growled Tudor.
Avery became silent again. At the Vicarage gates however very suddenly and sweetly she spoke. “Dr. Tudor, forgive me,—but isn’t it rather a pity to let oneself get intolerant? It does spoil life so.”
He looked at her. “There’s not much in my life that could spoil,” he said gloomily.
She laughed a little, but not derisively. “But there’s always something, isn’t there? Have you no sense of humour?”
He pulled up at the Vicarage gates. “I have a sense of the ridiculous,” he said bluntly. “And I detest it in the person of Miss Whalley.”
“I believe you detest a good many people,” Avery said, as she descended.
He laughed himself at that. “But I am capable of appreciating the few,” he said. “Mind the step! And don’t trouble to wait for me! I’ve got to tie this animal up.”
He stopped to do so, and Avery opened the gate and walked slowly up the path.
At the porch she paused to await him, and turned her face for a moment to the darkening sky. But the Star of Hope was veiled.
A PAIR OF GLOVES
“Piers! Where the devil are you, Piers?”
There was loud exasperation in the query as Sir Beverley halted in the doorway of his grandson’s bedroom.
There was a moment’s pause; then Victor the valet came quickly forward.
“But, Monsieur Pierre, he bathe himself,” he explained, with beady eyes running over the gaunt old figure in the entrance.
Sir Beverley growled at him inarticulately and turned away.
A moment later he was beating a rousing tattoo on the bathroom-door. “Piers! Let me in! Do you hear? Let me in!”
The vigorous splashing within came to a sudden stop. “That you, sir?” called Piers.
“Of course it’s me!” shouted back Sir Beverley, shaking the door with fierce impatience. “Damn it, let me in! I’ll force the door if you don’t.”
“No, don’t, sir; don’t! I’m coming!”
There came the sound of a splashing leap, and bare feet raced across the bathroom floor. The door was wrenched from Sir Beverley’s grasp, and flung open. Piers, quite naked, stood back and bowed him in with elaborate ceremony.
Sir Beverley entered and glared at him.
Piers shut the door and took a flying jump back into the bath. The room was dense with steam.
“You don’t mind if I go on with my wash, do you?” he said. “I shall be late for dinner if I don’t.”
“What in thunder do you want to boil yourself like this for?” demanded Sir Beverley.
Piers, seated with his hands clasped round his knees, looked up with the smile of an infant. “It suits my constitution, sir,” he said. “I freeze myself in the morning and boil myself at night—always. By that means I am rendered impervious to all atmospheric changes of temperature.”