It was Tom Temple who spoke, and a turn in the lane revealed him. To say I was sorry would be but to hint at my feelings. But I could not hinder the turn things had taken, so we started our horses into a gallop, I hoping that soon another opportunity might occur for our being alone, when I trusted she would tell me what I desired to know.
I do not know how I dared to make my confession of love, for certainly I had but little proof of her caring for me. If I hoped, it was almost without reason; and yet, as we galloped on, my heart beat right joyfully.
Nothing of importance occurred during the ride. The castle we visited was grim and grey enough; but it was not the kind of afternoon when one could enjoy to the full such a place, so we were not long before we turned our horses’ heads homeward. Time after time, on our homeward journey, did I contrive to be alone with Miss Forrest, but always in vain. She kept by the side of Edith Gray in spite of all my schemes to get her by mine. Her lips were compressed, and her eyes had a strange look. I longed to know what she was thinking about, but her face revealed nothing.
We came to the house at length, however, and then I hastened from her side to lift her from the saddle. Then my heart gave a great throb, for I thought she returned the pressure of my hand.
“Do be careful about that man,” she said hurriedly, and then ran into the house.
It was joy and light to me, and I needed it in the dark days that came after.
The stable-boy had scarcely taken the horses when a thought struck me. I looked at my watch, and it was almost too dark for me to discern the time, but I saw, after some difficulty, that it wanted but a few minutes to five. In my joy I had forgotten my determination, but now I quickly made my way to the summer-house that stood in the dark fir plantation.
THE HALL GHOST
Perhaps some of my readers may think I was doing wrong in determining to listen to the proposed conference between Miss Staggles and Voltaire. I do not offer any excuse, however. I felt that if this man was to be fought, it must be by his own weapons; such, at any rate, as I could use. I remembered the terrible influence he had exercised over me, the power of which might not yet be broken. I remembered Miss Forrest too. Evidently this man was a villain, and wanted to make her his wife. To stop such an event, I would devote my life. Something important might be the result of such a conversation. I might hear disclosed the secret of his influence, and thereby discover the means whereby I could be free, and this freedom might, I hoped, make me his master.
Anyhow, I went. The dark clouds which swept across the sky hid the pale rays of the moon, and, clothed in black as I was, it would be difficult to see me amongst the dark tall trees. I hurried to the summer-house, for I wished to be there before they arrived. I was successful in this. When I came, all was silent; so I got behind a large tree, which, while it hid me from any one entering the house, enabled me to be within earshot of anything that might be said, especially so as the summer-house was a rustic affair, and the sides by no means thick.