As her eyes accustomed themselves to the brightness, Doris made out a small closed motor-car, with a masked chauffeur seated at the wheel.
“Good little Fricker!” said Brandon, slapping the chauffeur’s shoulder as he passed. “So you’ve got your steam up! Straight ahead then, and as fast as you like. Don’t get run in, that’s all.”
He handed Doris into the car, followed her, and slammed the door.
The next moment they passed swiftly out on to the road, and Doris knew that the die was cast. She stood finally committed to this, the wildest, most desperate venture of her life.
A MASTER STROKE
“Here beginneth,” laughed Brandon, sliding his arm around her as she sat tense in every nerve gazing at the rain-blurred window.
She did not heed him; it was almost as if she had not heard. Her hands were tightly clasped upon one another, and her face was turned from him. There was no lamp inside the car, the only illumination proceeding from those without, showing them the driver huddled over the wheel, but shedding little light into the interior.
He tightened his arm about her, laying his other hand upon her clasped ones.
“By Jove, little girl, you’re cold!” he said.
She was—cold as ice. She parted her fingers stiffly to free them from his grasp.
“I—I’m quite comfortable,” she assured him, without turning her head. “Please don’t trouble about me.”
But he was not to be thus discouraged.
“You can’t be comfortable,” he argued. “Why, you’re shivering. Let me see what I can do to make things better.”
He tried to draw her to him, but she resisted almost angrily.
“Oh, do leave me alone! I’m not uncomfortable. I’m only thinking.”
“Well, don’t be silly!” he urged. “It’s no use thinking at this stage. The thing is done now, and well done. We shall be man and wife by this time to-morrow. We’ll go to Paris, eh, and have no end of a spree.”
“Perhaps,” she said, not looking at him or yielding an inch to his persuasion.
It was plain that for some reason she desired to be left in peace, and after a brief struggle with himself, Brandon decided that he would be wise to let her have her way. He leant back and crossed his arms in silence.
The car sped along at a pace which he found highly satisfactory. He had absolute faith in Fricker’s driving and knowledge of the roads.
They had been travelling for the greater part of an hour, when Doris at length relaxed from her tense attitude and lay back in her corner, nestling into it with a long shiver.
Brandon was instantly on the alert.
“I’m sure you are cold. Here’s a rug here. Let me—”
“Oh, do please leave me alone!” she said, with a sob. “I’m so horribly tired.”
Beseechingly almost she laid her hand upon his arm with the words.