And Lord Tybar, his small, handsome head slightly on one side, looked from one to another with precisely that mock in his glance that Sabre had noticed, and transiently wondered at, on the day he had met them riding.
“But, Puggo, you don’t know Sabre, do you?” Lord Tybar said. “Sabre, this is Mrs. Winfred. A woman of mystery. One mystery is how she ever won Fred and the other why she is called Puggo. There must be something pretty dark in her past to have got her a name like Puggo.”
The woman of mystery shrugged her shoulders. “Of course Tony’s simply a fool,” she observed. “You know that, don’t you, Mr. Sabre?”
“It’s not her face,” Lord Tybar continued. “You might think it’s her figure the way she hides it up under all those furs on a day like this. But a pug’s figure—”
Nona broke in. “I suppose we’re going to start some time?”
“Will you come and sit here?” Puggo inquired, but without making any movement.
“No, I’ll sit behind.”
She got in. “Good-by, Marko.” Her voice sounded tired. She gave Sabre her hand. “Jolly, the books,” she said. “And our talk.”
“Now throw yourself in front, any boy who wants to be killed,” Lord Tybar called to the idlers. “No corpses to-day?” He let in the clutch. “Good-by, Sabre. Good-by, good-by.” He waved his hand airily. The big car slid importantly up the street.
Sabre watched them pass out of sight. As the car turned out of The Precincts into High Street—a nasty corner—Lord Tybar, alone of the three, one hand on the steering wheel, half turned in his seat and twirled the silver-grey bowler in gay farewell.
Through the day Sabre’s thoughts, as a man sorting through many documents and coming upon and retaining one, fined down towards a picture of himself alone with Nona—alone with her, watching her beautiful face—and saying to her: “Look here, there were three things you said, three expressions you used. Explain them, Nona.”
Fined down towards this picture, sifting the documents.
He thought, “Tybar—Tybar.—They’re just alike in their way of saying things, Nona and Tybar. That bantering way they talk when they’re together—when they’re together. Tybar does, whoever he’s with. Not Nona. Not with me. But with Tybar. She plays up to him when they’re together. And he plays up to her. Everybody says how amusing they are. They’re perfectly suited. They look so dashed handsome, the pair of them. And always that bantering talk. Nona chose deliberately between Tybar and me. I know she did. She loved me, till he came along. It’s old. Ten years old. I can look at it. She chose deliberately. I can see her choosing: ‘Tybar or Marko?—oh, dash it, Tybar.’ And she chose right. She’s just his mate. He’s just her mate. They’re a pair. That bantering, airy way of theirs together. That’s just characteristic of the oneness of their characters. I couldn’t put up that bantering sort of stuff. I never could. I’m a jolly sight too serious. And Nona knew it. She used to laugh at me about it. She still does. ’You puzzle, don’t you, Marko?’ she said this very morning.”