“Please don’t say anything more,” she begged. “I can’t—quite bear it just now. You know, you must remember—there is my mother. Do you think that I could leave her to struggle alone?”
His caddy, who had teed the ball, and who had regarded the proceedings with a moderately tolerant air, felt called upon at last to interfere.
“We’d best get on,” he remarked, pointing to two figures in the distance, “or they’ll say we’ve cut in.”
Hamel smote his ball far and true. On a more moderate scale she followed his example. They descended the steps together.
“Love-making isn’t going to spoil our golf,” he whispered, smiling, as he touched her fingers once more.
She looked at him almost shyly.
“Is this love-making?” she asked.
They walked together from the eighteenth green towards the club-house. A curious silence seemed suddenly to have enveloped them. Hamel was conscious of a strange exhilaration, a queer upheaval of ideas, an excitement which nothing in his previous life had yet been able to yield him. The wonder of it amazed him, kept him silent. It was not until they reached the steps, indeed, that he spoke.
“On our way home—” he began.
She seemed suddenly to have stiffened. He looked at her, surprised. She was standing quite still, her hand gripping the post, her eyes fixed upon the waiting motor-car. The delicate softness had gone from her face. Once more that look of partly veiled suffering was there, suffering mingled with fear.
“Look!” she whispered, under her breath. “Look! It is Mr. Fentolin! He has come for us himself; he is there in the car.”
Mr. Fentolin, a strange little figure lying back among the cushions of the great Daimler, raised his hat and waved it to them.
“Come along, children,” he cried. “You see, I am here to fetch you myself. The sunshine has tempted me. What a heavenly morning! Come and sit by my side, Esther, and fight your battle all over again. That is one of the joys of golf, isn’t it?” he asked, turning to Hamel. “You need not be afraid of boring me. To-day is one of my bright days. I suppose that it is the sunshine and the warm wind. On the way here we passed some fields. I could swear that I smelt violets. Where are you going, Esther?”
“To take my clubs to my locker and pay my caddy,” she replied.
“Mr. Hamel will do that for you,” Mr. Fentolin declared. “Come and take your seat by my side, and let us wait for him. I am tired of being alone.”
She gave up her clubs reluctantly. All the life seemed to have gone from her face.
“Why didn’t mother come with you?” she asked simply.
“To tell you the truth, dear Esther,” he answered, “when I started, I had a fancy to be alone. I think—in fact I am sure—that your mother wanted to come. The sunshine, too, was tempting her. Perhaps it was selfish of me not to bring her, but then, there is a great deal to be forgiven me, isn’t there, Esther?”