“He’s just up from the farm and doesn’t like town very much. But he shall go home again soon,” she said as they rode on.
“Oh, you go down to shepherd those spring lambs!” he exclaimed, with misgiving in his heart. He had followed her across the sea and now she was about to take flight again!
“Yes; and to escape from the tiresome business of trying to remember people’s names.”
“Then you reverse the usual fashionable process—you go south to meet the rising mercury.”
“I hadn’t thought of it, but that is so. I dearly love a hillside, with pines and cedars, and sloping meadows with sheep—and rides over mountain roads to the gate of dreams, where Spottswood’s golden horseshoe knights ride out at you with a grand sweep of their plumed hats. Now what have you to say to that?”
“Nothing, but my entire approval,” he said.
He dimly understood, as he left her in this gay mood, at the Claiborne house, that she had sought to make him forget the lurking figure in the park thicket and the dark deed thwarted there. It was her way of conveying to him her dismissal of the incident, and it implied a greater kindness than any pledge of secrecy. He rode away with grave eyes, and a new hope filled his heart.
JOHN ARMITAGE IS SHADOWED
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Armitage dined alone that evening and left the hotel at nine o’clock for a walk. He unaffectedly enjoyed paved ground and the sights and ways of cities, and he walked aimlessly about the lighted thoroughfares of the capital with conscious pleasure in the movement and color of life. He let his eyes follow the Washington Monument’s gray line starward; and he stopped to enjoy the high-poised equestrian statue of Sherman, to which the starry dusk gave something of legendary and Old World charm.
Coming out upon Pennsylvania Avenue he strolled past the White House, and, at the wide-flung gates, paused while a carriage swept by him at the driveway. He saw within the grim face of Baron von Marhof and unconsciously lifted his hat, though the Ambassador was deep in thought and did not see him. Armitage struck the pavement smartly with his stick as he walked slowly on, pondering; but he was conscious a moment later that some one was loitering persistently in his wake. Armitage was at once on the alert with all his faculties sharpened. He turned and gradually slackened his pace, and the person behind him immediately did likewise.