“I love it,” he went on, a moment later, “I love to go fast, fast, fast. It is wonderful. What is your car?”
“It is mother’s; nothing very remarkable in the way of speed, I fear. Would you care to go for a drive, Lady Brinsley?”
But Lady Brinsley had letters to write, and no one else volunteering for the excursion, half-past eleven found Brigit and Joyselle in the tonneau of the car, and Theo sitting with the chauffeur.
“Go to Kletchley, Hubbard.”
It was a cold, grey day, with a steely sky and a wind that threatened to be high later on. Brigit’s cap was tied on firmly with a strong green veil, but she wore nothing over her face, and the chill air made her feel better. She had not slept at all, and was tired, although nothing in her aspect betrayed the fact. All night her mind had been busy with its new-found problem, and the unusual presence of her mother had made her very nervous. But—she had not dared return to her room, for fear of finding Carron there.
If only she had had a father——
“Vous etes roublee, ma fille,” said Joyselle, suddenly taking one of her hands in his befurred ones; “what has happened? Can you not think of me as your old papa, and tell me?”
She started, half-frightened, half angry. “I am not troubled, M. Joyselle,” she returned, in French. “I—have a headache, that is all.”
Oh, time-honoured evasion; oh, classic lie, thou who hast served, surely, since Eve’s day, used without doubt by Helen of Troy, Cleopatra and all the other unsaintly women, ancient and modern, whose stories are so much more entertaining than those of the unco’ guid—oh, Splendid Mendax, where should we all be without you?
“A headache?” Joyselle’s magnificent eyes looked kindly but searchingly into hers. “No. Not that.” Then, asking no further question, he leaned back in his place and looked out over the fields on his left.
“Daughter—father—child—old man——” she told herself with set jaw, “that is what he thinks. He is eight years younger than that brute Gerald, too.”
The road climbed dully up for half an hour, and then with a quick turn stretched out over splendid downs, beyond which lay a narrow glittering strip of grey sea. “There is the sea,” announced Brigit, perfunctorily. It was not intrinsically beautiful, the scene, but as some chord in the human breast almost invariably vibrates in response to a view of salt water, this point was considered, at Kingsmead, to be a particularly important one, and as the motor flew on Brigit Mead wondered how many hundred times she had brought people there with the same curt introduction, “There is the sea.”
Theo, perfectly happy, turned occasionally to look at the other two, but spoke little. It filled him with joy to see his beloved and his father together, and his engagement was still so young that he had not got used to it, and loved to think about it.