Muriel passed her own gate at a canter, but hearing Grange behind her she soon reined in, and they trotted some distance side by side in silence.
But Grange was still uneasy. The girl’s rigid profile had that stony, aloof look that he had noted upon his arrival weeks before, and that he had come to associate with her escape from Wara.
Nevertheless, when she presently addressed him it was in her ordinary tone and upon a subject indifferent to them both. She had received a shock, he knew, but she plainly did not wish him to remark it.
They rode quite soberly back again, and separated at the door.
A HARBOUR OF REFUGE
To Daisy the news that Grange imparted was more pleasing than startling. “I knew he would come before long if he were a wise man,” she said.
But when her cousin wanted to know what she meant, she would not tell him.
“No, I can’t, Blake,” was her answer. “I once promised Muriel never to speak of it. She is very sensitive on the subject.”
Grange did not press for an explanation. It was not his way. He left her moodily, a frown of deep dissatisfaction upon his handsome face. Daisy did not spend much thought upon him. Her interests at that time were almost wholly centred upon her boy who was so backward and delicate that she was continually anxious about him. She was, in fact, so preoccupied that she hardly noticed at dinner that Muriel scarcely spoke and ate next to nothing.
Grange remarked both facts, and his moodiness increased. When Daisy went up to the nursery, he at once followed Muriel into the drawing-room. She was standing by the window when he entered, a slim, straight figure in unrelieved black; but though she must have heard him, she neither spoke nor turned her head.
Grange closed the door and came softly forward. There was an unwonted air of resolution about him that made him look almost grim. He reached her side and stood there silently. The wind had fallen, and the sky was starry.
After a brief silence Muriel dropped the blind and looked at him. There was something of interrogation in her glance.
“Shall we go into the garden?” she suggested. “It is so warm.”
He fell in at once with the proposal. “You will want a cloak,” he said. “Can I fetch you one?”
“Oh, thanks! Anything will do. I believe there’s one of Daisy’s in the hall.”
She moved across the room quickly, as one impatient to escape from a confined space. Grange followed her. He was not smoking as usual. They went out together into the warm darkness, and passed side by side down the narrow path that wound between the bare flower-beds. It was a wonderful night. Once as they walked there drifted across them a sudden fragrance of violets.
They reached at length a rustic gate that led into the doctor’s meadow, and here with one consent they stopped. Very far away a faint wind was stirring, but close at hand there was no sound. Again, from the wet earth by the gate, there rose the magic scent of violets.