Granny Grimshaw met him at the foot of the stairs. “Oh, Master Jeff,” she said, “I am that worried. We can’t find Mrs. Ironside.”
Jeff paused an instant and turned his grim face to her. “It’s all right, Granny. I know where she is,” he said. “Keep the breakfast hot!”
And with that he was gone.
He drove out of the yard a few minutes later in his dog-cart, muffled in a great coat with the collar up to his ears.
At the station, Doris sat huddled in a corner of the little waiting-room counting the dreary minutes as she waited for her train. No one beside herself was going by it.
She had walked across the fields, and had made a detour to leave a note at the Manor for Hugh. She could not leave Hugh in ignorance of her action.
She glanced nervously at the watch on her wrist. Yes, Jeff probably knew by this time. How was he taking it? Was he very angry? But surely even he must see how impossible he had made her life with him.
Restlessly she arose and went to the window. It had begun to snow in earnest. The road was all blurred and grey with the falling flakes. She shivered again. Her feet were like ice. Very oddly her thoughts turned to that day in September when Jeff had knelt before her and drawn off her muddy boots before the great open fire. A great sigh welled up within her and her eyes filled with quick tears. If only he would have consented to be her friend. She was so lonely—so lonely!
There came the sound of wheels along the road, and she turned away. Evidently someone else was coming for the train. A little tremor of impatience went through her. Would the train never come?
The wheels stopped before the station door. Someone descended, and there followed the sound of a man’s feet approaching her retreat. A hand was laid upon the door, and she braced herself to meet a possible acquaintance. It opened, and she glanced up.
“Oh, Jeff!” she said.
He shut the door behind him and came forward. His face was set in dogged, unyielding lines.
“I have come to take you back,” he said.
She drew sharply away from him. This was the last thing she had expected.
Desperately she faced him. “I can’t come with you, Jeff,” she said. “My mind is quite made up. I am very sorry for everything, especially sorry that you have taken the trouble to follow me. But my decision is quite unalterable.”
Her breath came fast as she ended. Her heart was throbbing in thick, heavy strokes. There was something so implacable in his attitude.
He did not speak at once, and she stood before him, striving with all her strength to still her agitation. Then quite calmly he stood back and motioned her to pass him. “Whatever you decide to do afterwards,” he said, “you must come back with me now. We had better start at once before it gets worse.”
A quiver of anger went through her; it was almost a sensation of hatred. She remained motionless. “I refuse,” she said in a low voice, her grey eyes steadily raised to his.