Was it possible Margaret had come to get away from Jeremiah Pixley and Charles Svendt? On the face of it, it seemed not impossible, for Graeme’s only wonder was that she could ever have borne with them so long.
His brain was in a whirl. The eyes of his understanding were as the eyes of one immured for thirty days in a dark cell and then dragged suddenly into the full blaze of the sun. If he had just drunk a magnum of champagne he could not have felt more elevated, and he would certainly have felt very different. For his eye was clear as a jewel, and his hand was steady as a rock, though his heart had not yet settled to its beat and the red blood danced in his veins like fire.
“Jock, my lad,” he said to himself, as he got the knot of his tie to his liking at last,—“keep a grip of yourself and go steady. Such a thing is enough to throw any man a bit off the rails. Ca’ canny, my lad, ca’ canny!”
“Meg, I rather like young men with rippled hair,” said Miss Hennie Penny, as they passed the Carrefour and strolled between the dewy hedges towards La Tour, with larks by the dozen bursting their hearts in the freshness of the morning above them.
“Do you, dear? I thought you scorned young men?”
“As a class, yes!—Especially the Cambridge variety. But not in particular. I make an exception in this case.”
“So good of you!” murmured Margaret in her best company manner.
“Why did you never tell me how nice he was?”
“Tell you how nice he was? I don’t remember ever discussing him with you in any shape or form whatever.”
“Not to say discussed exactly, but you can’t deny that you’ve mentioned him occasionally.”
“So I have William Shakespeare and Alfred Tennyson—”
“And Charles Pixley!”
“That’s quite different—”
“You’re right, my dear. This is a horse of quite another colour. An awfully decent colour too. I’m glad you appreciate it. He’s as brown as a gipsy and not an ounce of flab about him. Charles Pixley is mostly flab—”
“Don’t be rude, Hen. You don’t know Charles. And do drop your school slang—”
“Can’t, my child. It’s part of my holiday, so none of your pi-jaw! If you want me to enjoy myself you must let me have my head. You can’t imagine how awfully good it tastes when you’ve been doing your best to choke girls off it for a year or two. It’s one of the outward and visible signs of emancipation. This is another!” and she sprang up the high turf bank of the orchard of La Tour and danced a breakdown on it, and then jumped back into the road with ballooning skirts, to the intense amazement of old Mrs. Hamon of Le Fort, who had just come round the corner to draw sweet water from the La Tour well.
“People will think you’re crazy,” remonstrated Margaret.
“So I am, and you’re my keeper, though it’s supposed to be the other way about. The air of Sark has got into my head. What a quaint bonnet that old lady has! I wonder what colour it was in its infancy. Good-morning, ma’am! Isn’t this a glorious day?” And old Madame Hamon murmured a word and passed hastily on lest worse should befall.