Once more Hamel descended from the little train, and, turning away from St. David’s Hall, made his way across the marshes, seawards. The sunshine of the last few days had departed. The twilight was made gloomy by a floating veil of white mist, which hung about in wet patches. Hamel turned up his coat collar as he walked and shivered a little. The thought of his solitary night and uncomfortable surroundings, after all the luxury of St. David’s Hall, was scarcely inspiring. Yet, on the whole, he was splendidly cheerful. The glamour of a host of new sensations was upon him. There was a new love of living in his heart. He forgot the cold east wind which blew in his face, bringing with it little puffs of damp grey mist. He forgot the cheerlessness which he was about to face, the lonely night before him. For the first time in his life a woman reigned in his thoughts.
It was not until he actually reached the very side of the Tower that he came back to earth. As he opened the door, he found a surprise in store for him. A fire was burning in the sitting-room, smoke was ascending from the kitchen chimney. The little round table was laid with a white cloth. There was a faint odour of cooking from the back premises. His lamp was lit, there were logs hissing and crackling upon the fire. As he stood there looking wonderingly about him, the door from the back was opened. Hannah Cox came quietly into the room.
“What time would you like your dinner, sir?” she enquired.
Hamel stared at her.
“Why, are you going to keep house for me, Mrs. Cox?” he asked.
“If you please, sir. I heard that you had been in the village, looking for some one. I am sorry that I was away. There is no one else who would come to you.”
“So I discovered,” he remarked, a little grimly.
“No one else,” she went on, “would come to you because of Mr. Fentolin. He does not wish to have you here. They love him so much in the village that he had only to breathe the word. It was enough.”
“Yet you are here,” he reminded her.
“I do not count,” she answered. “I am outside all these things.”
Hamel gave a little sigh of satisfaction.
“Well, I am glad you could come, anyhow. If you have something for dinner, I should like it in about half an hour.”
He climbed the narrow stairs which led to his bedroom. To his surprise, there were many things there for his comfort which he had forgotten to order—clean bed-linen, towels, even a curtain upon the window.
“Where did you get all the linen up-stairs from, Mrs. Cox?” he asked her, when he descended. “The room was almost empty yesterday, and I forgot nearly all the things I meant to bring home from Norwich.”
“Mrs. Seymore Fentolin sent down a hamper for you,” the woman replied, “with a message from Mr. Fentolin. He said that nothing among the oddments left by your father had been preserved, but that you were welcome to anything you desired, if you would let them know at the Hall.”