Mrs. Jervaise was taller and thinner than her husband, but lost something by always carrying her head with a slight droop as if she were for ever passing through a low doorway. Her features were sharper than his—she had a high hawk nose and a thin line of a mouth—but either they were carelessly arranged or their relative proportions were bad, for I never felt the least desire to model her. Jervaise’s face came out as a presentable whole, my memory of his wife delivers the hawk nose as the one salient object of what is otherwise a mere jumble.
Old Jervaise certainly looked the more aristocratic of the pair, but Mrs. Jervaise was a woman of good family. She had been a Miss Norman before her marriage—one of the Shropshire Normans.
* * * * *
The four people in the Hall looked as if they had reached the stage of being dreadfully bored with each other when we arrived. They did not hear us immediately, and as my momentary dream dissolved I had an impression of them all as being on the verge of a heartrending yawn. They perked up instantly, however, when they saw us, turning towards us with a movement that looked concerted and was in itself a question.
Frank Jervaise, striding on ahead of me, answered at once, with a gloomy shake of his head.
“Isn’t she there?” his mother asked. And “Hasn’t she been there at all?” she persisted when Frank returned a morose negative.
“Who did you see?” put in young Turnbull.
“Miss Banks,” Frank said.
“You are quite sure that Brenda hadn’t been there?” Olive Jervaise added by way of rounding up and completing the inquiry.
It was then Frank’s turn to begin an unnecessary interrogation by saying “She isn’t here, then?” He must have known that she was not, by their solicitude; but if he had not put that superfluous question, I believe I should; though I might not have added as he did, “You’re absolutely certain?”
Young Turnbull then exploded that phase of the situation by remarking, “I suppose you know that the car’s gone?”
Frank was manifestly shocked by that news.
“Good Lord! no, I didn’t. How do you know?” he said.
“I left my own car in the ditch, just outside the Park,” Ronnie explained. “Don’t know in the least how it happened. Suppose I was thinking of something else. Anyway, I’ve fairly piled her up, I’m afraid. I was coming back from the vicarage, you know. And then, of course, I walked up here, and Mr. Jervaise was good enough to offer me your car to get home in; and when we went out to the garage, it had gone.”
“But was it there when you went to get your own car?” Frank asked.
“I’m bothered if I know,” Ronnie confessed. “I’ve been trying hard to remember.”
Mr. Jervaise sighed heavily and took a little stroll across to the other side of the Hall. He seemed to me to be more perturbed and unhappy than any of the others.