He dropped her hand almost contemptuously. There was nothing lover-like about him at that moment.
“And remember,” he said, “that no experiment can ever prove a success unless it is given a fair trial. You will continue to be engaged to me until I set you free. Is that understood?”
She did not answer him. She was pulling at the loose ends of her veil with restless fingers, her face downcast and very pale.
“Doris!” he said.
She glanced up at him sharply.
“I am rather tired,” she said, and her voice quivered a little. “Do you mind if I say good-night?”
“Answer me first,” he said.
She shook her head.
“I forget what you asked me. It doesn’t matter, does it? There’s someone coming, and I don’t want to be caught. Good-night!”
She whisked round with the words before he could realize her intention, and in a moment was at the door. She waved a hand to him airily as she disappeared. And Caryl was left to wonder if her somewhat precipitate departure could be regarded as a sign of defeat or merely a postponement of the struggle.
THE KNIGHT ERRANT
It was the afternoon of Easter Day, and a marvellous peace lay upon all things.
Maurice Brandon, a look of supreme boredom on his handsome face, had just sauntered down to the river bank. A belt of daffodils nodded to him from the shrubbery on the farther shore. He stood and stared at them absently while he idly smoked a cigarette.
Finally, after a long and quite unprofitable inspection, he turned aside to investigate a boathouse under the willows on Mrs. Lockyard’s side of the stream. He found the door unlocked, and discovered within a somewhat dilapidated punt. This, after considerable exertion, he managed to drag forth and finally to run into the water. The craft seemed seaworthy, and he proceeded to forage for a punt-pole.
Fully equipped at length, he stepped on board and poled himself out from the shore. Arrived at the farther bank, he calmly disembarked and tied up under the willows. He paused a few seconds to light another cigarette, then turned from the river and sauntered up the path between the high box hedges.
The garden was deserted, and he pursued his way unmolested till he came within sight of the house. Here for the first time he stopped to take deliberate stock of his surroundings. Standing in the shelter of a giant rhododendron, he saw two figures emerge and walk along the narrow gravelled terrace before the house. As he watched, they reached the farther end and turned. He recognized them both. They were Caryl and his host Abingdon.
For a few moments they stood talking, then went away together round an angle of the house.
Scarcely had they disappeared before a girl’s light figure appeared at an upstairs window. Doris’s mischievous face peeped forth, wearing her gayest, most impudent grimace.