He reached and entered the old grey house well ahead of any of the other sportsmen. He was determined to find Violet somehow, and he made instant enquiry for her of one of the servants.
The reply served in some measure to soothe his chafing mood. Her ladyship had gone up into the turret some little time back, and was believed to be on the roof.
Without delay he followed her. The air blew chill down the stone staircase as he mounted it. He would have preferred sitting downstairs with her over the fire. But at least interruptions were less probable in this quarter.
There was a battlemented walk at the top of the tower, and here he found her, with a wrap thrown over her head, gazing out through one of the deep embrasures over the misty country to a line of hills in the far distance. The view was magnificent, lighted here and there by sunshine striking through scudding cloud-drifts. And a splendid rainbow spanned it like a multi-coloured frame.
She did not hear him approaching. He wondered why, till he was so close that he could see her face, and then very swiftly she turned upon him and he saw that she was crying.
“My dear girl!” he exclaimed.
She drew back sharply. It was impossible to conceal her distress all in a moment. She moved aside, battling with herself.
He came close to her. “Violet!” he said.
“Don’t!” she said, in a choked whisper.
He slipped an arm about her, gently overcoming her resistance. “I say—what’s the matter? What’s troubling you?”
He had never held her so before. Always till that moment she had maintained a delicate reserve in his presence, a barrier which he had never managed to overcome. He had even wondered sometimes if she were afraid of him. But now in her hour of weakness she suffered him, albeit under protest.
“Oh, go away!” she whispered. “Please—you must!”
But Wentworth had no thought of yielding his advantage. He pressed her to him.
“Violet, I say! You’re miserable! I knew you were the first moment I saw you. And I can’t stand it. You must let me help. Don’t anyhow try to keep me outside!”
“You can’t help,” she murmured, with her face averted. “At least—only by going away.”
But he held her still. “That’s rot, you know. I’m not going. What is it? Tell me! Is he a brute to you?”
She made a more determined effort to disengage herself. “Whatever he is, I’ve got to put up with him. So it’s no good talking about it.”
“Oh, but look here!” protested Wentworth. “You and I are such old friends. I used to think you cared for me a little. Violet, I say, what induced you to marry that outsider?”
She was silent, not looking at him.
“You were always so proud,” he went on. “I never thought in the old days that you would capitulate to a bounder like that. Why, you might have had that Bohemian prince if you’d wanted him.”