It was close upon ten o’clock when she saw her husband’s face for a moment in the doorway. He made a rapid sign to her, and with a murmured excuse she went to him, closing the door behind her.
Caryl was standing with him, calm as ever, though she fancied that his eyes were a little wider than usual and his bearing less supercilious.
Her husband, she saw at a glance, was both angry and agitated.
“She has gone off somewhere with that bounder Brandon,” he said. “They got down to tea, and went off again in the motor afterwards, Mrs. Lockyard doesn’t seem to know for certain where.”
“Phil!” she exclaimed in consternation, and added with her eyes on Caryl, “What is to be done? What can be done?”
Caryl made quiet reply:
“There was some talk of Wynhampton. I am going there now on your husband’s motor-bicycle. If I do not find her there——”
He paused, and on the instant a girl’s high peal of laughter rang through the house. The drawing-room door was flung back, and Doris herself stood on the threshold.
“Goodness!” she cried. “What a solemn conclave! You can’t think how funny you all look! Do tell me what it is all about!”
She stood before them, the motor-veil thrown back from her dainty face, her slight figure quivering with merriment.
Vera hastened to meet her with outstretched hands.
“Oh, my dear, you can’t think how anxious we have been about you.”
Doris took her by the shoulders and lightly kissed her.
“Silly! Why? You know I always come up smiling. Why, Phil, you are looking positively green! Have you been anxious, too? I am indeed honoured.”
She swept him a curtsey, her face all dimples and laughter.
“We’ve had the jolliest time,” she declared. “We motored to Wynhampton and saw the last of the races. After that, we dined at a dear little place with a duckpond at the bottom of the garden. And finally we returned—it ought to have been by moonlight, only there was no moon. Where is everyone? In the billiard-room? I want some milk and soda frightfully. Vivian, you might, like the good sort you are, go and get me some.”
She bestowed a dazzling smile upon her fiance and offered him one finger by way of salutation.
Abingdon, who had been waiting to get in a word, here exploded with some violence and told his young cousin in no measured terms what he thought of her conduct.
She listened with her head on one side, her eyes brimful of mischief, and finally with an airy gesture turned to Caryl.
“Don’t you want to scold me, too? I am sure you do. You had better be quick or there will be nothing left to say.”
Abingdon turned on his heel and walked away. He was thoroughly angry and made no attempt to hide it. His wife lingered a moment irresolute, then softly followed him. And as the door closed, Caryl looked very steadily into the girl’s flushed face and spoke: