Ruth turned a smiling face towards her.
“It is to say that our fete day is at an end,” she said, looking for her stick.
“Fete days do not end at six o’clock in the afternoon,” Fenella replied. “I want you to be very kind and give us all a great deal of pleasure. We want to make a little party—you and Mr. Chetwode, my brother, myself and Mr. Weatherley—and dine under that cedar tree, just as we are. We are going to call it supper. Then, afterwards, you will have a ride back to London in the cool air. Either my brother will take you, or we will send a car from here.”
“It is a charming idea,” Sabatini said. “Miss Lalonde, you will not be unkind?”
She hesitated only for a moment. They saw her glance at her frock, the little feminine struggle, and the woman’s conquest.
“If you really mean it,” she said, “why, of course, I should love it. It is no good my pretending that if I had known I should have been better prepared,” she continued, “because it really wouldn’t have made any difference. If you don’t mind—”
“Then it is settled!” Sabatini exclaimed. “My young friend Arnold is now going to take me out upon the river. I trust myself without a tremor to those shoulders.”
Arnold rose to his feet with alacrity.
“You get into the boat-house down that path,” Sabatini continued. “There is a comfortable punt in which I think I could rest delightfully, or, if you prefer to scull, I should be less comfortable, but resigned.”
“It shall be the punt,” Arnold decided, with a glance at the river. “Won’t any one else come with us?”
Fenella shook her head.
“I am going to talk to Miss Lalonde,” she said. “After we have had an opportunity of witnessing your skill, Mr. Chetwode, we may trust ourselves another time. Au revoir!”
They watched the punt glide down the stream, a moment or two later, Sabatini stretched between the red cushions with a cigarette in his mouth, Arnold handling his pole like a skilled waterman.
“You like my brother?” Fenella asked.
The girl looked at her gratefully.
“I think that he is the most charming person I ever knew in my life,” she declared.
THE REFUGEE’S RETURN
Sabatini’s attitude of indolence lasted only until they had turned from the waterway into the main river. Then he sat up and pointed a little way down the stream.
“Can you cross over somewhere there?” he asked.
Arnold nodded and punted across towards the opposite bank.
“Get in among the rushes,” Sabatini directed. “Now listen to me.”
Arnold came and sat down.
“You don’t mean to tire me,” he remarked.
“Do you seriously think that I asked you to bring me on the river for the pleasure of watching your prowess with that pole, my friend?” he asked. “Not at all. I am going to ask you to do me a service.”