“You mean this?” Aynesworth asked.
“It is my custom,” Wingrave answered, “to mean what I say.”
Aynesworth set his alarm that night for half-past five. It seemed to him that his future would largely depend upon how soundly the child slept.
The cottage, as Aynesworth neared it, showed no sign of life. The curtainless windows were blank and empty, no smoke ascended from the chimney. Its plastered front was innocent of any form of creeper, but in the few feet of garden in front a great, overgrown wild rose bush, starred with deep red blossoms, perfumed the air. As he drew near, the door suddenly opened, and with a little cry of welcome the child rushed out to him.
“How lovely of you!” she cried. “I saw you coming from my window!”
“You are up early,” he said, smiling down at her.
“The sun woke me,” she answered. “It always does. I was going down to the sands. Shall we go together? Or would you like to go into the gardens at Tredowen? The flowers are beautiful there while the dew is on them!”
“I am afraid,” Aynesworth answered, “that I cannot do either. I have come to say goodbye.”
The light died out of her face all of a sudden. The delicate beauty of her gleaming eyes and quivering mouth had vanished. She was once more the pale, wan little child he had seen coming slowly up the garden path at Tredowen.
“You are going—so soon!” she murmured.
He took her hand and led her away over the short green turf of the common.
“We only came for a few hours,” he told her. “But I have good news for you, Juliet, unless you know already. Mr. Saunders has found out some of your friends. They are going to look after you properly, and you will not be alone any more.”
“What time are you going?” she asked.
“Silly child,” he answered, giving her hand a shake. “Listen to what I am telling you. You are going to have friends to look after you always. Aren’t you glad?”
“No, I am not glad,” she answered passionately. “I don’t want to go away. I am—lonely.”
Her arms suddenly sought his neck, and her face was buried on his shoulder. He soothed her as well as he could.
“I must go, little girl,” he said, “for I am off to America almost at once. As soon as I can after I come back, I will come and see you.”
“You have only been here one day,” she sobbed.
“I would stay if I could, dear,” Aynesworth answered. “Come, dry those eyes and be a brave girl. Think how nice it will be to go and live with people who will take care of you properly, and be fond of you. Why, you may have a pony, and all sorts of nice things.”
“I don’t want a pony,” she answered, hanging on his arm. “I don’t want to go away. I want to stay here—and wait till you come back.”