“En voiture, Monsieur! En voiture!”
Again something within Ste. Marie that was not his conscious direction acted for him, and he shook his head. The conductor gave two little blasts upon his horn, the tram wheezed and moved forward. In a moment it was on its way, swinging along at full speed toward the curve in the line that bore to the left and dipped under the railway bridge. Ste. Marie stood in the middle of that empty road, staring after it until it had disappeared from view.
* * * * *
THE WALLS OF AEA
Ste. Marie had acted upon an impulse of which he was scarcely conscious at all, and when he found himself standing alone in the road and watching the Clamart tram disappear under the railway bridge he called himself hard names and wondered what he was to do next. He looked before and behind him, and there was no living soul in sight. He bent his eyes again upon that unkempt patch of young trees and undergrowth, and once more the thought forced itself to his brain that it would make excellent cover for one who wished to observe a little—to reconnoitre.
He knew that it was the part of wisdom to turn his back upon this place, to walk on to Clamart or return to Vanves and mount upon a homeward-bound tram. He knew that it was the part of folly, of madness even, to expose himself to possible discovery by some one within the walled enclosure. What though no one there were able to recognize him, still the sight of a man prowling about the walls, seeking to spy over them, might excite an alarm that would lead to all sorts of undesirable complications. Dimly Ste. Marie realized all this, and he tried to turn his back and walk away, but the patch of little trees and shrubbery drew him with an irresistible fascination. “Just a little look along that unknown wall,” he said to himself, “just the briefest of all brief reconnaissances, the merest glance beyond the masking screen of wood growth, so that in case of sudden future need he might have the lie of the place clear in his mind;” for without any sound reason for it he was somehow confident that this walled house and garden were to play an important part in the rescue of Arthur Benham. It was once more a matter of feeling. The rather womanlike intuition which had warned him that O’Hara was concerned in young Benham’s disappearance, and that the two were not far from Paris, was again at work in him, and he trusted it as he had done before.
He gave a little nod of determination, as one who, for good or ill, casts a die, and he crossed the road. There was a deep ditch, and he had to climb down into it and up its farther side, for it was too broad to be jumped. So he came into the shelter of the young poplars and elms and oaks. The underbrush caught at his clothes, and the dead leaves of past seasons crackled underfoot; but after a little space he came to somewhat clearer ground, though the saplings still stood thick about him and hid him securely.