George’s face cleared. “That sounds rather sport. I’d better bring up the servants. They might turn out useful. And I suppose I’ll bring a couple of rifles for you, in case it’s all a fraud and we want to go shooting. I thought the place was going to be stale, but it promises pretty well now.” And he studied the plan on his shirt cuff. Then an idea came to him.
“Suppose you find no rising. That will mean that Marker’s letter was a blind of some sort. He wanted to get you out of the way or something. What will you do then? Come back here?”
“N—o,” said Lewis hesitatingly. “I think Thwaite is good enough, and I should be no manner of use. You and I will wait up there in the hills on the off-chance of picking up some news. I swear I won’t come back here to hang about and try and discover things. It’s enough to drive a man crazy.”
“It is rather a ghastly place. Wonder how the Logans thrive here. Odd mixture this. Strauss and hill tribes not twenty miles apart.”
Lewis laughed. “I think I prefer the hill tribes. I am not in the humour for Strauss just now. I shall have to be off in an hour, so I am going to change. See you to-morrow, old man.”
George retired to the ballroom, where he had to endure the reproaches of Mrs. Logan. He was an abstracted and silent partner, and in the intervals of dancing he studied his cuff. Miss A talked to him of polo, and Miss B of home; Miss C discovered that they had common friends, and Miss D that she had known his sister. Miss E, who was more observant, saw the cause of his distraction and asked, “What queer hieroglyphics have you got on your cuff, Mr. Winterham?”
George looked down in a bewildered way at his sleeve. “Where on earth have I been?” he asked in wonder. “That’s the worst of being an absent-minded fellow. I’ve been scribbling on my cuff with my programme pencil.”
Soon he escaped, and made his way down to the garden gate, where Thwaite was standing smoking. A sais held a saddled pony by the road-side. Lewis, in rough shooting clothes, was preparing to mount. From indoors came the jigging of a waltz tune and the sound of laughter, while far in the north the cliffs of the pass framed a dark blue cleft where the stars shone. George drew in great draughts of the cool, fresh air. “I wish I was coming with you,” he said wistfully.
“You’ll be in time enough to-morrow,” said Lewis. “I wish you’d give him all the information you can about the place, Thwaite. He’s an ignorant beggar. See that he remembers to bring food and matches. The guns are the only things I can promise he won’t forget.”
Then he rode off, the little beast bucking excitedly at the patches of moonlight, and the two men walked back to the house.
“Hope he comes back all right,” said Thwaite.
“He’s too good a man to throw away.”