“Marielihou is not good company for anyone but herself,” said Graeme. “Now, where would you like to go?”
“We were up that way before breakfast,” said Miss Penny, nodding due north.
“Been to the Coupee yet?”
“No, we’ve been nowhere except just along here. We were afraid of getting lost or tumbling over the edges.”
“Then you must see the Coupee at once. And we’ll call at John Philip’s as we pass, to get you some shoes.”
“Shoes?” and each stuck out a dainty brown boot and examined it critically for inadequacies, and then looked up at him enquiringly.
“Yes, I know. They’re delicious, but in Sark you must wear Sark shoes—this kind of thing”—sticking up his own—“or you may come to a sudden end. And, seeing that you’re in my charge—”
“Oh?” said Margaret.
“Come along to John Philip’s,” said Miss Penny. And as they turned down the road with Punch, the hedge opened and Scamp came wriggling through, with white-eyed glances for Johnnie Vautrin and Marielihou sitting in the bushes farther up.
Miss Penny and Graeme did most of the talking. Margaret was unusually silent, pondering, perhaps, her friend’s utterances of the early morning, and still wondering at the strange turn of events that had so unexpectedly thrown herself and John Graeme into such close companionship that he could actually claim to be in charge of her, and had proved it beyond question by making her buy a pair of shoes which she considered anything but shapely.
Graeme understood and kept to his looking-glass promise.
His heart was dancing within him. It was impossible to keep the lilt of it entirely out of his eyes. They were radiant with this unlooked-for happiness.
It was Margaret’s shadow that mingled with his own on the sunny road—when it wasn’t Miss Penny’s. It was Margaret’s pleated blue skirt that swung beside him to a tune that set his pulses leaping. Miss Penny’s skirt was there too, indeed, but a thousand of it flapping in a gale would not have quickened his pulse by half a beat.
And Miss Penny probably understood—some things, or parts of things—or thought she did, and was extremely happy in that which was vouchsafed to her. Oh, she knew, did Miss Penny! She had not, indeed, had much—if put into a corner and made to confess to bare and literal truth, not any—experience, that is personal and practical experience, of such matters,—if, indeed, such matters are capable of being brought to the test of such a word as practical. But she had read much about them—in search of truth, and right and fitting books to be admitted to the school library—and she knew all about it. And here, unless she, Henrietta Penny, was very much mistaken, was a veritable live love-affair budding and blossoming—at least she hoped it would blossom—before her very eyes. Budding it undoubtedly was, on one side at all events, and blossom it certainly should if she could help it on; for he had ripply hair, and deep attractive eyes, and a frank open face, and she liked him.