“That’s very kind of you. Ah, here we are.”
We went carefully over the rocks and in a short while the dim bulk of the wall rose before us. I descended, preceding her, found the opening and went through it.
“You’re not going any further with me,” she commanded in a suppressed tone. “I forbid it.”
I rose on the other side of the grille and dusted my knees.
“I should be sorry to disobey your commands,” I said firmly, “but the dangers of the woods at night—”
“Oh! How I abominate you!”
“Really? I am sorry.”
But she followed me through the aperture and I led the way down a path, which seemed fairly well worn, alongside the wall.
“Of course, your real name isn’t Smith,” I began again in a moment. And then after waiting in vain for a reply: “Are you staying with the Laidlaws? The Carews? The Van Wycks then? You won’t tell me? Oh, very well, I’ll inquire.”
My threat brought her to her senses.
“You wouldn’t do that!” she said in an agonized tone, catching me by the arm.
“I’m quite capable of it,” I replied, stopping beside her.
“I—I beg of you not to do that.”
“Am I a beast?” I smiled.
“No, no—not a beast. I’m sorry.”
“Why do you wish to remain unknown?”
“I—I had no business coming. No one knows. It was mere—mere feminine curiosity.” She turned away, “Does that satisfy you?” she cried.
“I think it does,” I said more gently. “And you’ll not return?”
“Good. I ask no questions. You stay out. It’s a bargain.”
She led the way now silently, and I hurried after her, a little sorry for my own part in the matter, but still jealous for our violated sanctuary. She had force, this girl, and not a little courage. Modern she was, if you like, but very spirited and human. When we reached the highroad I paused.
“If you wish, I will go on with you.”
“Our paths separate here.”
I offered her my hand.
“Forgive me,” I said gently. “I am only doing my duty.”
But she turned quickly and in a moment was running down the road where the night soon swallowed her.
Women are queer animals. She might at least have given me her hand.
JACK BALLARD TAKES CHARGE
On my way back to the Manor house I thought deeply of a way to make the best of the situation. That Jerry was a philosopher seemed for the moment to be a matter of little importance, for the portion of his conversation in the cabin which I had overheard was an indictment both of my teaching and my integrity. His eyes, thanks to the gabble of this mischievous visitor, were now open. He would want to know everything and I found myself placed in the position of being obliged to choose between a frankness which