“Behind the sandhills there,” he remarked.
There was a grinding of brakes. The car came to a standstill below. A woman, who sat alone in the back seat, raised her veil and looked upwards.
“Am I late?” she asked. “Clara has gone on—they told me!”
She had addressed Mannering, but her eyes seemed suddenly drawn to Borrowdean. As though dazzled by the sun, she dropped her veil. Borrowdean was standing as though turned to stone, perfectly rigid and motionless. His face was like a still, white mask.
“I am so sorry,” Mannering said, “but I have had a most unexpected visit from an old friend. May I introduce Sir Leslie Borrowdean—Mrs. Handsell!”
The lady in the car bent her head, and Borrowdean performed an automatic salute. Mannering continued:
“I am afraid that I must throw myself upon your mercy! Sir Leslie insists upon returning this afternoon, and I am taking him back for an early luncheon. You will find Clara and Lindsay at the golf club. May we have our foursome to-morrow?”
“Certainly! I will not keep you for a moment. I must hurry now, or the tide will be over the road.”
She motioned the driver to proceed, but Borrowdean interposed.
“Mannering,” he said, “I am afraid that the poison of your lotos land is beginning to work already. May I stay until to-morrow and walk round with you whilst you play your foursome? I should enjoy it immensely.”
Mannering looked at his friend for a moment in amazement. Then he laughed heartily.
“By all means!” he answered. “Our foursome stands, then, Mrs. Handsell. This way, Borrowdean!”
The two men turned once more seaward, walking in single file along the top of the grassy bank. The woman in the car inclined her head, and motioned the driver to proceed.
THE WOMAN WITH AN ALIAS
Borrowdean seemed after all to take but little interest in the game. He walked generally, some distance away from the players, on the top of the low bank of sandhills which fringed the sea. He was one of those men whom solitude never wearies, a weaver of carefully thought-out schemes, no single detail of which was ever left to chance or impulse. Such moments as these were valuable to him. He bared his head to the breeze, stopped to listen to the larks, watched the sea-gulls float low over the lapping waters, without paying the slightest attention to any one of them. The instinctive cunning which never deserted him led him without any conscious effort to assume a pleasure in these things which, as a matter of fact, he found entirely meaningless. It led him, too, to choose a retired spot for those periods of intensely close observation to which he every now and then subjected his host and the woman who was now his partner in the game. What he saw entirely satisfied him. Yet the way was scarcely clear.