“The dew’s beginning to rise, Miss Damaris,” she said, “and you’ve only got your house shoes on. You ought to go indoors at once.”
But—“Listen,” Damaris replied, and lingered.
The whistling of a tune, shrill, but true and sweet, and a rattle of loose shingle, while a young man climbed the seaward slope of the Bar. The whistling ceased as he stopped, on the crest of the ridge, and stood, bare-headed, contemplating the sunset. For a few seconds the fiery light stained his hands, his throat, his hair, his handsome bearded face; then swiftly faded, leaving him like a giant leaden image set up against a vast pallor of sea and sky.
Mary Fisher choked down a hasty exclamation.
“Come, do come, Miss Damaris, before the grass gets too wet,” she said almost sharply. “It’s going to be a drenching dew to-night.”
“Yes—directly—in a minute—but, Mary, tell me who that is?”
The woman hesitated.
“Out on the Bar, do you mean? No one I am acquainted with, Miss.”
“I did not intend to ask if he was a friend of yours,” Damaris returned, with a touch of grandeur, “but merely whether you could tell me his name.”
“Oh! it’s Mrs. Faircloth’s son I suppose—the person who keeps the Inn. I heard he’d been home for a few days waiting for a ship”—and she turned resolutely towards the house. “It’s quite time that silver was taken indoors and the library windows closed. But you must excuse me, Miss Damaris, I can’t have you stay out here in that thin gown in the damp. You really must come with me, Miss.”
And the child in Damaris obeyed. Dutifully it went, though the soul of the eighteen-year-old Damaris was far away, started once more on an anxious quest.
She heard the loose shingle shift and rattle under Faircloth’s feet as he swung down the near slope to the jetty. The sound pursued her, and again she was overtaken—overwhelmed by foreboding and desire of flight.
WHICH CANTERS ROUND A PARISH PUMP
Not until the second bell was about to cease ringing did Theresa Bilson—fussily consequential—reappear at The Hard.
During the absence of the master of the house she would have much preferred high tea in the schoolroom, combined with a certain laxity as to hours and to dress; but Damaris, in whom the sense of style was innate, stood out for the regulation dignities of late dinner and evening gowns. To-night, however, thanks to her own unpunctuality, Miss Bilson found ample excuse for dispensing with ceremonial garments.
“No—no—we will not wait,” she said, addressing Mary and her attendant satellite, Laura, the under-housemaid, as—agreeably ignorant of the sentiment of a servants’ hall which thirsted for her blood—she passed the two standing at attention by the open door of the dining-room. “I am not going to change. I will leave my hat and things down here—Laura can take them to my room later—and have dinner as I am.”