“Excellency, no!” regretted Diane. “I fear it is quite unknown to me.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the patriotic Baron, “that is indeed unfortunate. For it is well worth a visit.” He turned to Philip. “You are pale and quiet, Poynter,” he added kindly. “A day or so more perhaps here where it is quiet—”
Philip flushed hotly,
“Excellency!” he protested feebly.
The Baron bowed courteously to Diane.
“If I may crave still further hospitality and indulgence,” he begged regretfully. “There is already much excitement at the Sherrill place owing to the officious act of my man, Themar, and his accident. Another invalid—my secretary—one flounders in a dragnet of unfortunate circumstances. And I am sensitive in the disturbance of my host’s guests—”
Diane’s eyes as they rested upon Philip were very kind.
“Excellency,” she said warmly, “Mr. Poynter’s tent lies there among the trees. I trust he will not hesitate to use it until he is strong again. Fortunately we are equipped for emergency.”
The Baron bowed gratefully.
“You are a young woman of exceeding common sense!” he said with deep respect.
Philip was very grateful that the Baron had not misunderstood; a breath might shatter the idyllic crystal into atoms.
Later, when the Baron had departed, Philip flushed suddenly at the ugly suspicion rising wraithlike in his mind. He was accustomed to the Baron’s subtleties.
“Mr. Poynter!” called Diane.
Mr. Poynter perversely went on whittling out the hollow of his wildwood pipe.
The bowl, already sufficient for a Titan’s smoke, grew a trifle larger and somewhat irregular. Carving had conceivably injured Mr. Poynter’s hearing, for he kept on whistling.
“Philip!” said Diane and stamped her foot.
“Yes?” replied Philip respectfully, and instantly discarded the Titan’s pipe to listen.
“Why are you so quiet?” flashed Diane.
“Well, for one thing,” explained Philip cheerfully, “I’m mighty busy and for another, I’m thinking.”
“Do you withdraw into a sound-proof shell when you think?”
“Mr. Poynter does!” regretted Philip. “I do not.”
“I do hope,” said the girl demurely, “that you’ll be able to hear when the doctor gets here. He’s coming through the trees.”
BY THE BACKWATER POOL
The sun had set with a primrose glory of reflection upon the river and the ridge. Over there in the west now there was a pale after-glow of marigold. It streamed across the dark, still waters of the backwater pool by the river and faintly edged the drowsy petals of white and yellow lilies. Already distant outline and perspective were hazy, there was purple in the forest, and birds were winging swiftly to the woods.