He took a cigar from the box and lighting it carefully quitted the room. His cousin waited until the door had closed behind him, and then turning to the window sat there in a fit of fury as silent as it was terrible.
The air was fresh and sweet from the park, heavy with the scent of new-mown grass. The fragrance of a cigar was now added to it, and glancing out he saw his cousin pacing slowly by. He rose and went to the door, and then, apparently altering his mind, he returned to the window and watched the figure of his cousin as it moved slowly away into the moonlight. Then he rose again, and, for a long time, the room was empty.
* * * * *
It was empty when Mrs. Benson came in some time later to say good-night to her son on her way to bed. She walked slowly round the table, and pausing at the window gazed from it in idle thought, until she saw the figure of her son advancing with rapid strides toward the house. He looked up at the window.
“Good-night,” said she.
“Good-night,” said Benson, in a deep voice.
“Where is Wilfred?”
“Oh, he has gone,” said Benson.
“We had a few words; he was wanting money again, and I gave him a piece of my mind. I don’t think we shall see him again.”
“Poor Wilfred!” sighed Mrs. Benson. “He is always in trouble of some sort. I hope that you were not too hard upon him.”
“No more than he deserved,” said her son, sternly. “Good night.”
The well, which had long ago fallen into disuse, was almost hidden by the thick tangle of undergrowth which ran riot at that corner of the old park. It was partly covered by the shrunken half of a lid, above which a rusty windlass creaked in company with the music of the pines when the wind blew strongly. The full light of the sun never reached it, and the ground surrounding it was moist and green when other parts of the park were gaping with the heat.
Two people walking slowly round the park in the fragrant stillness of a summer evening strayed in the direction of the well.
“No use going through this wilderness, Olive,” said Benson, pausing on the outskirts of the pines and eyeing with some disfavour the gloom beyond.
“Best part of the park,” said the girl briskly; “you know it’s my favourite spot.”
“I know you’re very fond of sitting on the coping,” said the man slowly, “and I wish you wouldn’t. One day you will lean back too far and fall in.”
“And make the acquaintance of Truth,” said Olive lightly. “Come along.”
She ran from him and was lost in the shadow of the pines, the bracken crackling beneath her feet as she ran. Her companion followed slowly, and emerging from the gloom saw her poised daintily on the edge of the well with her feet hidden in the rank grass and nettles which surrounded it. She motioned her companion to take a seat by her side, and smiled softly as she felt a strong arm passed about her waist.