“Not exactly,” she said; “but Mr. Griffin has quick discernment, and is unhesitating in action. He saw someone about to—make himself, let us say, unpleasant—and he moved promptly. I am glad of this chance to thank him.”
Mark hoped she would not try. The heavily lashed eyes of violet blue, under the graceful arches, were doing that splendidly. Mark was uneasy under the gaze of them, but strangely glad. He wanted to go and yet to stay; but he knew that it was proper to go.
Father Murray walked with him to the end of the lawn.
“There was nothing serious in the matter to which Miss Atheson referred, Mr. Griffin?” he said. “No one offered insult?” He was plainly anxious.
“Not at all,” answered Mark. “I think the man only wanted to stare. I gave him a chance to stare at me—and at the water. That is all.”
Father Murray looked relieved as he clasped Mark’s hand.
“Good-bye,” he said. “Come to see me again. I am usually alone. Come often. The latch-string is where you can reach it.”
In the street Mark met Saunders, but this time it was the agent who wanted to talk.
“How did you like the Padre?” he began.
“Splendid. Thank you for the meeting.”
“Did you see the lady who went in?”
“Yes; I was introduced.”
“Well,” the agent was confused, “I don’t see why not after all. Did you see her face?”
“She had on a veil.”
“Of course; she always has. She was the woman who passed us on the bluff road.”
“You saw her, then?”
“Yes, I saw her; but not close enough to know whether—”
“I think she is someone I know. Are you coming back to the hotel?”
That night, tossing in bed, Mark Griffin found the lady of the tree occupying the center of his thoughts. He had to acknowledge to himself the simple truth, that she interested him more than any other woman he had ever seen; and he had a vague idea that he had met her before—but where? He was wise enough to know where such interest would ultimately lead him. The more he worried about it, the more a cause for worry it became. The very idea was foolish. He had seen her twice, had spoken to her once. Yes, she was charming; but he had known others almost as charming and he had not even been interested. Now he might go deeper—and what of the risks?
Saunders was certainly shadowing the woman. The town constable was constantly with him, seemingly ready to make an arrest the moment the detective was sure of his ground. It was easy to figure that out. Worse than all, the woman was afraid—or why the veil? Why the secret door through a tree? Why her embarrassment when she faced the danger of having the detective see her face?