Mr. Frank glanced up at the engraving and turned his face away. It was the face of a man taken at unawares, embarrassed, almost afraid. The Vicar, who had been watching him, intending some pleasant remark about the picture, saw at once that something was wrong, and with great tact kept the talk upon some petty act of charity in which he sought to enlist his visitor’s help. Mr. Frank listened, gave his promise hurriedly and made his escape. He never entered the Vicarage again.
Eighteen years had passed since Miss Bracy’s interview with Bassett; and now, late on a summer afternoon, she and Mr. Frank were pacing the little waterside garden while they awaited their first visitor.
Mr. Frank betrayed the greater emotion, or at any rate the greater nervousness. Since breakfast he had been unable to sit still or to apply himself to any piece of work for ten minutes together, until Miss Bracy suggested the lawn-mower and brought purgatory upon herself. With that lawn-mower all the afternoon he had been “rattling her brain to fiddle-strings”—as she put it—and working himself into a heat which obliged a change of clothes before tea. The tea stood ready now on a table which Deborah had carried out into the garden—dainty linen and silverware, and flowered china dishes heaped with cakes of which only Scotswomen know the secrets. The sun, dropping behind Battery Point, slanted its rays down through the pine-trunks and over the fiery massed plumes of rhododendrons. Scents of jasmine and of shorn grass mingled with the clean breath of the sea borne to the garden wall on a high tide tranquil