“Feelings? I have no feelings—”
“Oh yes, you have, my child. You’re not made of marble, though you can look it when you try. Why, I have myself. I like him—the little I’ve seen of him—and in spite of the fact that he caught me doing my hair, which is enough to turn anyone against anyone. I shall probably like him still more the better I get to know him. What have you against him?”
“I’ve nothing whatever against him. I—”
“Then, my dear, we’ll sit tight. If anyone should go it’s he, since he’s been here a month, and we’ve only been one day. But if he goes it will only be because you make him. You’ve no ill-will towards him?”
“I’ve no feeling at all about him, except that it’s awkward his being here.”
“Then we’ll just put the blame on Providence, and sit tight, as I said before. I’ll see you come to no harm, my child. I could make that young man, or any young man, fly to the other end of the island by simply looking at him.”
“Think so, dear?” and Margaret, the issue being decided for her, came back to equanimity.
“Sure!” said Miss Penny.
He was sitting on the low stone wall that shut off the cobble-paved forecourt from the road, with his back towards them, when they sauntered through the open door after breakfast. He was smoking the choice after-breakfast pipe of peace, legs dangling, back bent, hands loosely clasped between his knees. He was very beautifully dressed as regards tie and collar—for the rest, light tweeds and cap of the same, and shoes which struck Miss Penny as flat. But these things she only noticed later. At present all she saw was a square light-tweed back, and a curl of fragrant smoke rising over its left shoulder.
Below him in the dust were his two friends,—Punch, gravely observant of his every movement, and occasionally following the smoke with an interested eye; Scamp, no less watchful, but panting like a motor-car, and apparently exhausted with unrewarded scoutings up and down every possible route for the day’s programme.
In the hedge, on the opposite side of the road, sat a very small boy bunched up into an odd little heap, out of which looked a long sharp little face and a pair of black eyes as sharp as gimlets and as bright as a rat’s, and beside him sat a big black cat busy on its toilet, which it interrupted in order to eye the ladies keenly when they appeared.
“Now, see you here, my son,” they heard from the other side of the broad tweed back, “if you don’t make it fine for the next thirty days you and I will have words together. If you want it to rain, let it rain in the night. Not a drop after four A.M., you understand. If you turn it on after four in the morning there’ll be another rupture of diplomatic relations between you and me, same as there was last night.”
The small boy’s beady eyes twinkled, and he squeaked a few words in Sarkese.