“You were talking. I heard your voice. Was he conscious?”
“Thank God!” Lady Linden looked at the girl severely. “I suppose you will be the next invalid—women of your type always overdo it. How many nights is it since you had your clothes off?”
“That does not matter now.”
“By rights you should go to bed at once.”
“Aunt, I shall not leave him.”
Lady Linden sniffed. “Very well; I can do nothing with you.”
“Defiant!” she thought to herself. “She is getting character, that girl, after all, and about time. Well, it doesn’t matter, now that Tom will live.”
Lady Linden went downstairs. “Obstinate and defiant, new role—very well, I am content. She is developing character, and that is a great thing.”
He was going to live. It was more than hope now, it was certainty, after days, even weeks of anxiety, of watching and waiting; and this bright morning Lady Linden felt and looked ten years younger as she stepped out into the garden to bully her hirelings.
Jordan, her ladyship’s coachman, was sunning himself at the stable door. He took his pipe out hurriedly and hid it behind his back.
“Jordan,” said Lady Linden, “you are an old man.”
“Not so wonderful old, my lady.”
“You have lived all your life with horses.”
“With ’osses mainly, my lady.”
“How long would it take you, Jordan, to learn to drive a motor car?”
“Me?” He gasped at her in sheer astonishment.
“Jordan, we are both old, but we must move with the times. Horses are dangerous brutes. I have taken a dislike to them. I shall never sit behind another unless it is in a hearse—and then I shan’t sit. Jordan, you shall learn to drive a car.”
“Shall I?” thought Jordan as her ladyship turned away. “We’ll see about that.”
Again Tom opened his eyes, and he saw that face above him, and even as he looked the head was bent lower and lower till once again the red lips touched his own.
“Marjorie, is it only pity?” he whispered.
But she shook her head. “It is love, all my love—I know now. It is all ended. I know the truth. Oh, Tom, it—it was you all the time, and after all it was only you!”
“—She has given!”
Never so slowly as to-day had John Everard driven the six and a half miles that divided Buddesby and Little Langbourne from Starden. Never had his frank and open and cheerful face been so clouded and overcast. Many worries, many doubts and fears and uncertainties, were at work in John Everard’s mind.
No doubts and uncertainties of anyone but of himself. It was himself—his own feelings, his own belief in himself, his own belief in his love that he was doubting. So he drove very slowly the six and a half miles to Starden, because he had many questions to ask of himself, questions to which answers did not come readily.