“I feel a wreck,” said Elizabeth. “Monsieur, you are an excellent ally.” And she held out her hand to her colleague. Mariette took it, and bowed over it with the air of a grand seigneur of 1680.
“The next step must be yours, madam—if you really take an interest in our friend.”
Elizabeth rather nervously inquired what it might be.
“Find him a wife!—a good wife. He was not made to live alone.”
His penetrating eyes in his ugly well-bred face searched the features of his companion. Elizabeth bore it smiling, without flinching.
A fortnight passed—and Elizabeth and Philip were on their way home through the heat of July. Once more the railway which had become their kind familiar friend sped them through the prairies, already whitening to the harvest, through the Ontarian forests and the Ottawa valley. The wheat was standing thick on the illimitable earth; the plains in their green or golden dress seemed to laugh and sing under the hot dome of sky. Again the great Canadian spectacle unrolled itself from west to east, and the heart Elizabeth brought to it was no longer the heart of a stranger. The teeming Canadian life had become interwoven with her life; and when Anderson came to bid her a hurried farewell on the platform at Regina, she carried the passionate memory of his face with her, as the embodiment and symbol of all that she had seen and felt.
Then her thoughts turned to England, and the struggle before her. She braced herself against the Old World as against an enemy. But her spirit failed her when she remembered that in Anderson himself she was like to find her chiefest foe.
“What about the shooters, Wilson? I suppose they’ll be in directly?”
“They’re just finishing the last beat, ma’am. Shall I bring in tea?”
Mrs. Gaddesden assented, and then leaving her seat by the fire she moved to the window to see if she could discover any signs in the wintry landscape outside of Philip and his shooting party. As she did so she heard a rattle of distant shots coming from a point to her right beyond the girdling trees of the garden. But she saw none of the shooters—only two persons, walking up and down the stone terrace outside, in the glow of the November sunset. One was Elizabeth, the other a tall, ungainly, yet remarkable figure, was a Canadian friend of Elizabeth’s, who had only arrived that forenoon—M. Felix Mariette, of Quebec. According to Elizabeth, he had come over to attend a Catholic Congress in London. Mrs. Gaddesden understood that he was an Ultramontane, and that she was not to mention to him the word “Empire.” She knew also that Elizabeth had made arrangements with a neighbouring landowner, who was also a Catholic, that he should be motored fifteen miles to Mass on the following morning, which was Sunday; and her own easy-going Anglican temper, which carried her to the parish church about twelve times a year, had been thereby a good deal impressed.