“We shall lose our place.”
“There is no one behind.”
She sank on to the little knoll of sand to which he had pointed, with a resigned sigh.
“You really are a queer person,” she declared. “You have been playing golf this morning as though your very life depended upon it. You have scarcely missed a shot or spoken a word. And now, all of a sudden, you want to sit on a sand hummock and watch the tide.”
“I have been silent,” he told her, “because I have been thinking.”
“That may be truthful,” she remarked, “but you wouldn’t call it polite, would you?”
“The subject of my thoughts is my excuse. I have been thinking of you.”
For a single moment her eyes seemed to have caught something of that sympathetic light with which he was regarding her. Then she looked away.
“Was it my mashie shots you were worrying about?” she asked.
“It was not,” he replied simply. “It was you—you yourself.”
She laughed, not altogether naturally.
“How flattering!” she murmured. “By-the-by, you are rather a downright person, aren’t you, Mr. Hamel?”
“So much so,” he admitted, “that I am going to tell you one or two things now. I am going to be very frank indeed.”
She sat suddenly quite still. Her face was turned from him, but for the first time since he had known her there was a slight undertone of colour in her cheeks.
“A week ago,” he said, “I hadn’t the faintest idea of coming into Norfolk. I knew about this little shanty of my father’s, but I had forgotten all about it. I came as the result of a conversation I had with a friend who is in the Foreign Office.”
She looked at him with startled eyes.
“What do you mean?” she asked quickly. “You are Mr. Hamel, aren’t you?”
“Certainly,” he replied. “Not only am I Richard Hamel, mining engineer, but I really have all that reading to do I have spoken about, and I really was looking for a quiet spot to do it in. It is true that I had this part of the world in my mind, but I do not think that I should ever have really decided to come here if it had not been for my friend in London. He was very interested indeed directly I mentioned St. David’s Tower. Would you like to know what he told me?”
“Yes! Go on, please.”
“He told me a little of the history of your uncle, Mr. Fentolin, and what he did not tell me at the time, he has since supplemented. I suppose,” he added, hesitatingly, “that you yourself—”
“Please go on. Please speak as though I knew nothing.”
“Well, then,” Hamel continued, “he told me that your uncle was at one time in the Foreign Office himself. He seemed to have a most brilliant career before him when suddenly there was a terrible scandal. A political secret—I don’t know what it was—had leaked out. There were rumours that it had been acquired for a large sum of money by a foreign Power. Mr. Fentolin retired to Norfolk, pending an investigation. It was just as that time that he met with his terrible accident, and the matter was dropped.”