“I see,” said Jeff. He glanced towards Doris. “Shall we start back?” he said.
Hugh propped his gun against a tree, and stepped forward to mount her. “So you still have Hector,” he said.
“Jeff’s wedding present,” she answered, still smiling.
Lightly she mounted, and for a single moment he felt her passing touch upon his shoulder. Then Hector moved away, stepping proudly. Jeff was already in the saddle.
“Good-bye!” said Doris, looking back to him. “Don’t forget to come and see us!”
She was gone.
Hugh Chesyl turned with the sun-rays dazzling him, and groped for his gun.
He found it, shouldered it, and strode away down the woodland path. His face as he went was the face of a man suddenly awakened to the stress and the turmoil of life.
THE NEW LIFE
There was no doubt about it. Granny Grimshaw was not satisfied. Deeper furrows were beginning to appear in her already deeply furrowed face. She shook her head very often with pursed lips when she was alone. And this despite the fact that she and the young mistress of the Mill House were always upon excellent terms. No difficulties ever arose between them. Doris showed not the smallest disposition to usurp the old housekeeper’s authority. Possibly Granny Grimshaw would have been better pleased if she had. She spent much of her time out-of-doors, and when in the house she was generally to be found in the little sitting-room that Jeff had fitted up for her.
She had her meals in the parlour with Jeff, and these were the sole occasions on which they were alone together. If Doris could have had her way, Granny Grimshaw would have been present at these also, but on this point the old woman showed herself determined, not to say obstinate. She maintained that her place was the kitchen, and that her presence was absolutely necessary there, a point of view which no argument of Doris’s could persuade her to relinquish.
So she and Jeff breakfasted, dined, and supped in solitude, and though Doris became gradually accustomed to these somewhat silent meals, she never enjoyed them. Of difficult moments there were actually very few. They mutually avoided any but the most general subjects for conversation. But of intimacy between them there was none. Jeff had apparently drawn a very distinct boundary-line which he never permitted himself to cross. He never intruded upon her. He never encroached upon the friendship she shyly proffered. Once when she somewhat hesitatingly suggested that he should come to her sitting-room for a little after supper he refused, not churlishly, but very decidedly.
“I like to have my pipe and go to bed,” he said.
“But you can bring your pipe, too,” she said.
“No, thanks,” said Jeff. “I always smoke in the kitchen or on the step.”