Tommy’s recovery, however, was fairly rapid, and on the third night after her arrival she was able to lie down in his room and rest between her ministrations. Ralston professed himself well satisfied with his progress in the morning, and she looked forward to imparting this favourable report to Monck. But Monck did not make an appearance. She watched for him almost unconsciously all through the day, but he did not come. Tommy also watched for him, and finally concluded somewhat discontentedly that he had gone on some mission regarding which he had not deemed it advisable to inform them.
“He is like that,” he told Stella, and for the first time he spoke almost disparagingly of his hero. “So beastly discreet. He never thinks any one can keep a secret besides himself.”
“Ah well, never mind,” Stella said. “We can do without him.”
But Tommy had reached the stage when the smallest disappointment was a serious matter. He fretted and grew feverish over his friend’s absence.
When Major Ralston saw him that evening he rated him soundly, and even, Stella thought, seemed inclined to blame her also for the set-back in his patient’s condition.
“He must be kept quiet,” he insisted. “It is absolutely essential, or we shall have the whole trouble over again. I shall have to give him a sedative and leave him to you. I can’t possibly look in again to-night, so it will be useless to send for me. You will have to manage as best you can.”
He departed, and Stella arranged to divide the night-watches with Peter the Great. She did not privately believe that there was much ground for alarm, but in view of the doctor’s very emphatic words she decided to spend the first hours by Tommy’s side. Peter would relieve her an hour after midnight, when at his earnest request she promised to go to her room and rest.
The sedative very speedily took effect upon Tommy and he slept calmly while she sat beside him with the light from the lamp turned upon her book. But though her eyes were upon the open page her attention was far from it. Her thoughts had wandered to Monck and dwelt persistently upon him. The memory of that last conversation she had had with Ralph Dacre would not be excluded from her brain. What was the meaning of this mysterious absence? What was he doing? She felt uneasy, even troubled. There was something about this Secret Service employment which made her shrink, though she felt that had their mutual relations been of the totally indifferent and casual order she would not have cared. It seemed to her well-nigh impossible to place any real confidence in a man who deliberately concealed so great a part of his existence. Her instinct was to trust him, but her reason forbade. She was beginning to ask herself if it would not be advisable to leave India just as soon as Tommy could spare her. It seemed madness to remain on if she desired to avoid any increase of intimacy with this man who had already so far overstepped the bounds of convention in his dealing with her.