“I suppose Delaine will be here directly?” Philip went on.
“I suppose so.”
Philip let himself down into the seat beside her.
“Look here, Elizabeth,” lowering his voice; “I don’t think Delaine is any more excited about Canada than I am. He told me last night he thought the country about Winnipeg perfectly hideous.”
“Oh!” cried Elizabeth, as though someone had flipped her.
“You’ll have to pay him for this journey, Elizabeth. Why did you ask him to come?”
“I didn’t ask him, Philip. He asked himself.”
“Ah! but you let him come,” said the youth shrewdly. “I think, Elizabeth, you’re not behaving quite nicely.”
“How am I not behaving nicely?”
“Well, you don’t pay any attention to him. Do you know what he was doing while you were looking at the cows yesterday?”
Elizabeth reluctantly confessed that she had no idea.
“Well, he was sitting by a lake—a kind of swamp—at the back of the house, reading a book.” Philip went off into a fit of laughter.
“Poor Mr. Delaine!” cried Elizabeth, though she too laughed. “It was probably Greek,” she added pensively.
“Well, that’s funnier still. You know, Elizabeth, he could read Greek at home. It’s because you were neglecting him.”
“Don’t rub it in, Philip,” said Elizabeth, flushing. Then she moved up to him and laid a coaxing hand on his arm. “Do you know that I have been awake half the night?”
“All along of Delaine? Shall I tell him?”
“Philip, I just want you to be a dear, and hold your tongue,” said Lady Merton entreatingly. “When there’s anything to tell, I’ll tell you. And if I have—”
“Behaved like a fool, you’ll have to stand by me.” An expression of pain passed over her face.
“Oh, I’ll stand by you. I don’t know that I want Mr. Arthur for an extra bear-leader, if that’s what you mean. You and mother are quite enough. Hullo! Here he is.”
A little later Delaine and Elizabeth were sitting side by side on the garden chairs, four of which could just be fitted into the little railed platform at the rear of the car. Elizabeth was making herself agreeable, and doing it, for a time, with energy. Nothing also could have been more energetic than Delaine’s attempts to meet her. He had been studying Baedeker, and he made intelligent travellers’ remarks on the subject of Southern Saskatchewan. He discussed the American “trek” into the province from the adjoining States. He understood the new public buildings of Regina were to be really fine, only to be surpassed by those at Edmonton. He admired the effects of light and shadow on the wide expanse; and noticed the peculiarities of the alkaline lakes.
Meanwhile, as he became more expansive, Elizabeth contracted. One would have thought soon that Canada had ceased to interest her at all. She led him slyly on to other topics, and presently the real Arthur Delaine emerged. Had she heard of the most recent Etruscan excavations at Grosseto? Wonderful! A whole host of new clues! Boni—Lanciani—the whole learned world in commotion. A fragment of what might very possibly turn out to be a bi-lingual inscription was the last find. Were we at last on the brink of solving the old, the eternal enigma?