“Now, if I don’t cut away and dress, and get my breakfast and clear out, I shall be in the way of the ladies, and Mrs. Carre will never forgive me,” he said. “I do hope you will include me in your plans for the day.”
His bow included them both, and he sped off up the path through the high hedge, with the two dogs racing alongside.
“Meg, my child, we will go for a little walk,” said Miss Penny.
The salt Sark air is uplifting at all times. The sea-water has a crisp effervescence of its own which tones and braces mind and body alike. Add to these the wonder of Margaret’s unexpected presence there and, if the gift of large imagination be yours, you may possibly arrive—within a hundred miles or so—of the state of John Graeme’s feelings as he raced up that path and bounded up the stairs of the Red House four at a time.
He looked out of the wide-open window across the fields, while the dogs, as usual, took the opportunity of appeasing their thirst at his water-jug,—for water lies at the bottom of deep cool wells in Sark, and sensible dogs take their chances when they offer.
Was this the room he had left an hour ago in the fresh of the dawn—a man whose gray future was just beginning to lift its bruised head out of the shadows?
Were those gleaming emerald fields the dim wastes he had sped across with his dumb companion, feeling as friendly towards him as towards anything on earth?
Were those trees over there, with the glow of spring-gold in their tender green leaves, the gloomy guardians of the churchyard where ghosts walked of a night?
Was that streak of blue away beyond the uplands, with the purple film along its rim, only the sea and a hint of Jersey, or was it a glimpse of heaven?
Was he, in very truth, that John Graeme who, for thirty days past, had been striving with all his might to root the thought of Margaret Brandt out of his life—and succeeding not at all?
It was the face of a stranger—a stranger with new joy of life in his sparkling eyes—that looked back at him out of the glass, as he plied his brushes, and tied his neck-tie with a careful assiduity to which the John Graeme of the past thirty days had been a stranger indeed.
It was amazing. It was almost past belief. Yet this was himself, and there was the gap in the dark hedge—never dark again to him so long as one twig of it lived—the gap where he had come upon her standing like a goddess of the morning with the glories of the dawn all about her. And somewhere not far away, under this same heavenly blue sky, was Margaret. And there was no sign or hint of Jeremiah Pixley in her atmosphere—nor of Charles Svendt.
What could it possibly all mean?
Miss Penny—Hennie Penny! What a delightfully ludicrous name! And what a delightful creature she was!—Miss Penny, unless he had been dreaming, had said they had come to get away from things—and people! Now what did she mean by that—if she really had said it and he had not been dreaming?