He took her hand upon his sleeve and bent over it. She thought he was going to kiss it, and a sharp dread went through her. But he only touched it for a single instant with his forehead.
“For Luke’s sake?” he said, not looking at her.
“For your own,” she made answer, almost as if she could not help herself.
“Because?” he questioned.
“Because I know you love him,” she said. “Because I know that you will be loyal to him.”
“Though I may be false to you?” he said.
She bent her head. “I am only a woman. I am afraid your experience of women has not taught you to respect them.”
He picked up the gun again and fell to work upon it. “My experience of one woman at least,” he said, “has taught me—something different, something I am not likely to forget.”
It was the end of the interview. In silence Anne turned to go. He wheeled round and opened the door for her, but he did not look at her again, nor she at him. When the door closed between them she felt as if a great silence had fallen in her life.
On the day succeeding Nap’s return Dot went to tea at Baronmead. She was a very constant visitor there. Lucas always enjoyed her bright presence and welcomed her with warmth. But Dot was not feeling very bright that day. She looked preoccupied, almost worried.
She found that Mrs. Errol and Anne had gone out, and, as her custom was when she found the house deserted, she went straight to her brother-in-law’s room.
Tawny Hudson answered her knock at the outer door, and she was struck by the lowering look the great half-breed wore. His expression was positively villainous, and sharp as a pin-prick there darted through her the memory of her first visit to Baronmead, and the hatred of Nap Errol she had that day seen revealed in the man’s eyes. She had never given the matter a thought since. To-day it awoke to life, stirring within her a vague apprehension.
“How is your master, Tawny?” she asked.
“He is not so well, madam,” said Tawny Hudson, but he opened the door wide notwithstanding, inviting her to enter.
She went in. The room adjoined that in which Lucas lay, and Hudson was always there when not actually in attendance upon his master, except in his off hours, which were as few as Lucas would permit.
“May I see him?” said Dot. “Or would he rather not be disturbed?”
Hudson stepped to the closed door and listened, his great red head bent almost to the keyhole.
After a few moments he stood up and softly turned the handle. He made a brief sign to her and passed noiselessly into the room.
Dot remained where she was. She heard Lucas accost him at once, and caught the murmur of the man’s low-spoken reply. And then in a moment Hudson came back to her.