“I think I should prefer to go in the motor,” she said, and smiled with quivering lips. “Get Phil to drive with you. He likes the dog-cart better than I do.”
“I have talked it over with him,” Caryl responded gravely. “He agrees with me that this is the best arrangement.”
There was to be no escape then. Once more the stronger will prevailed. Without another word she turned from him and went upstairs. She might have defied him, but she knew in her heart that he could compass his ends in spite of her. And she was afraid.
She had a moment of absolute panic as she mounted into the high cart. He handed her up, and his grasp, close and firm, seemed to her eloquent of that deadly resolution with which he mastered her.
For the first half-mile he said nothing whatever, being fully occupied with the animal he was driving—a skittish young mare impatient of restraint.
Doris on her side sat in unbroken silence, enduring the strain with a set face, dreading the moment when he should have leisure to speak.
He was evidently in no hurry to do so. Or was it possible that he found some difficulty in choosing his words?
At length he turned his head and spoke.
“I secured this interview,” he said, “because there is an important point which I want to discuss with you.”
“What is it?”
She nerved herself to meet his look, but her eyes fell before its steady mastery almost instantly.
“About our wedding,” he said in his calm, deliberate voice. “I should like to have the day fixed.”
Her heart gave a great thump of dismay.
“Do you really mean to hunt me down then and—and marry me against my will?” she said, almost panting out the words.
Caryl turned his eyes back to the mare.
“I mean to marry you—yes,” he said. “I think you forget that you accepted me of your own accord.”
“I was mad!” she broke in passionately.
“People in love are never wholly sane,” he remarked cynically.
“I was never in love with you!” she cried. “Never, never!”
He raised his eyebrows.
“Nevertheless you will marry me,” he said.
“Why?” she gasped back furiously. “Why should I marry you? You know I hate you, and you—you—surely you must hate me?”
“No,” he said with extreme deliberation, “strange as it may seem, I don’t.”
Something in the words quelled her anger. Abruptly she abandoned the struggle and fell silent, her face averted.
“And so,” he proceeded, “we may as well decide upon the wedding-day without further argument.”
“And, if—if I refuse?” she murmured rather incoherently.
“You will not refuse,” he said with a finality so absolute that her last hope went out like an extinguished candle.
She seized her courage with both hands and turned to him.
“You will give me a little while to think it over?”