For instance, you think you know why I ran away with Major Brandon. But you don’t. You never will know—unless I tell you, probably not even then.”
She broke off with an abrupt sigh, and leant back in her chair.
“One thing I do thank you for,” she said irrelevantly. “And that is that you didn’t take me back to Rivermead last night. Have they, I wonder, any idea where I am?”
“I left a message for your cousin before I left,” Caryl said.
“Oh, then he knew—?”
“He knew that I had you under my protection,” Caryl told her grimly. “I did not go into details. It was unnecessary. Only Flicker knew the details. I marked him down in the afternoon, after the incident at luncheon.”
She opened her eyes.
“Then you guessed—?”
“I knew he did not find the missing glove under the table,” said Caryl quietly. “I did not need any further evidence than that. I knew, moreover, that you had not devoted the whole of the previous afternoon to your correspondence. I was waiting for your cousin in the conservatory when you joined Brandon in the garden.”
“And you—you were in the conservatory last night when I went through. I—I felt there was someone there.”
“Yes,” he answered. “I waited to see you go.”
“Why didn’t you stop me?”
For an instant her eyes challenged his.
He stood up, straightening himself slowly.
“It would not have answered my purpose,” he told her steadily.
She stood up also, her face gone suddenly white.
“You chose this means of—of forcing me to marry you?”
“I chose this means—the only means to my hand—of opening your eyes,” he said. “It has not perhaps been over successful. You are still blind to much that you ought to see. But you will understand these things better presently.”
“Presently?” she faltered.
“When you are my wife,” he said.
She flashed him a swift glance.
“I am to marry you then?”
He held out his hand to her across the table.
“Will you marry me, Doris?”
She hesitated for a single instant, her eyes downcast. Then suddenly, without speaking, she put her hand into his, glad that, notwithstanding the overwhelming strength of his position, he had allowed her the honours of war.
THE WILLING CAPTIVE
“And so you were obliged to marry your bete noire after all! My dear, it has been the talk of the town. Come, sit down, and tell me all about it. I am burning to hear how it came about.”
Doris’s old friend, Mrs. Lockyard, paused to flick the ash from her cigarette, and to laugh slyly at the girl’s face of discomfiture.
Doris also held a cigarette between her fingers, but she was only toying with it restlessly.
“There isn’t much to tell,” she said. “We were married by special licence. I was not obliged to marry him. I chose to do so.”