Mystic, and puritan as she was, there were moments when Janet felt her responsibility almost unbearable. Rachel deserted—Rachel in despair—Rachel turning on the woman who had advised her to her undoing—all these images were beating on Janet’s tremulous sense, as the small military hut where Ellesborough and two of his junior officers lived came into view, together with that wide hollow of the forestry camp where he and Rachel had first met. The letter in her pocket seemed a living and sinister thing. She had still power to retain it—to keep it imprisoned.
A lady in the dress of the Women’s Forestry Corps appeared on another path leading to Ellesborough’s hut. Janet recognized Mrs. Fergusson, and was soon greeted by a shout of welcome.
“Well, so Miss Henderson’s engaged to our Captain!” said Mrs. Fergusson, with a smiling countenance, as they shook hands. “The girls here, and I, are awfully interested. The camp began it! But do you want the Captain? I’m afraid he isn’t here.”
Janet’s countenance fell.
“I thought I should be sure to find him in the dinner hour.”
“No, he went up to town by the first train this morning on some business with the Ministry. We expect him back about three.”
It was not one o’clock. Janet pondered what to do.
“You wanted to see him?” said Mrs. Fergusson, full of sympathy.
“I brought a letter for him. If I leave it, will he be sure to get it directly he returns?”
“His servant’s in the hut. Let’s talk to him.”
Mrs. Fergusson rapped at the door of the hut, and walked in. An elderly batman appeared.
“I have a letter for Captain Ellesborough—an important letter—on business,” said Janet. “I was to wait for an answer. But as he isn’t here, where shall I leave it, so that he will be certain to get it?”
“On his table, if you please, ma’am,” said the soldier, opening the door of the Captain’s small sitting-room—“I’ll see that he gets it.”
“It’ll be quite safe?” said Janet anxiously, placing it herself in a prominent place on the writing-table.
“Lor, yes, ma’am. Nobody comes in here but me, when the Captain’s away. I’ll tell him of it directly he comes home.”
“May I just write a little note myself? I expected to find Captain Ellesborough in.”
The servant handed her a sheet of paper. She wrote—“I brought Rachel’s letter, and am very disappointed not to see you. Come at once. Don’t delay. Janet Leighton.”
She slipped it into an envelope, which she addressed and left beside the other. Then she reluctantly left the hut with Mrs. Fergusson.
“I am so sorry you didn’t find him,” said that lady. “Was it something about the wedding?” she added, smiling, her feminine curiosity getting the better of her.
“Oh, no—not yet,” said Janet, startled.
“Well, I suppose it won’t be long,” laughed Mrs. Fergusson. “He’s desperately in love, you know!”