“Never mind!” said Monck.
She braced herself. “You are not to be angry with him. He—is my servant. I will reprimand him—if necessary.”
“It isn’t,” said Monck, with a brief smile. “You can tell him to finish laying the cloth.”
He kissed her and let her go, leaving her with a strong impression that she had behaved foolishly. If it had not been for that which she had seen in his eyes for those few awful seconds, she would have despised herself for her utter imbecility. But the memory was one which she could not shake from her. She did not wonder that even Peter, proud Sikh as he was, had quailed before that look. Would Monck have accepted even Tessa’s appeal if he had not found her watching? She wondered. She wondered.
She did not look forward to the meal on the verandah, but Monck realized this and had it laid in the dining-room instead. At his command Peter carried a plate out to Tessa, but it came back untouched, Peter explaining in a very low voice that ‘Missy baba was not hungry.’ The man’s attitude was abject. He watched Monck furtively from behind Stella’s chair, obeying his every behest with a promptitude that expressed the most complete submission.
Monck bestowed no attention upon him. He smiled a little when Stella expressed concern over Tessa’s failure to eat anything. It was evident that he felt no anxiety on that score himself. “Leave the imp alone!” he said. “You are not to worry yourself about her any more. You have done more than enough in that line already.”
There was insistence in his tone—an insistence which he maintained later when he made her lie down for her afternoon rest, steadily refusing to let her go near the delinquent until she had had it.
Greatly against her will she yielded the point, protesting that she could not sleep nevertheless. But when he had gone she realized that the happenings of the morning had wearied her more than she knew. She was very tired, and she fell into a deep sleep which lasted for nearly two hours.
Awakening from this, she got up with some compunction at having left the child so long, and went to her window to look for her. She found the corner of Tessa’s punishment empty. A little further along the verandah Monck lounged in a deep cane chair, and, curled in his arms asleep with her head against his neck was Tessa.
Monck’s eyes were fixed straight before him. He was evidently deep in thought. But the grim lines about his mouth were softened, and even as Stella looked he stirred a little very cautiously to ease the child’s position. Something in the action sent the tears to her eyes. She went back into her room, asking herself how she had ever doubted for a moment the goodness of his heart.
Somewhere down the hill the blue jay was laughing hilariously, scoffingly, as one who marked, with cynical amusement the passing show of life; and a few seconds later the Rajah’s car flashed past, carrying the Rajah and a woman wearing a cloudy veil that streamed far out behind her.