“I suppose your mind is quite made up,” she said.
“Absolutely,” he answered.
Her maid came in just then, and Mannering offered to withdraw. She made no effort to detain him, and he went at once in search of his host and hostess. He found every one assembled in the hall below. Lord Redford, Borrowdean, and the chief whip of his party were talking together in a corner, and from their significant look at his approach, he felt sure that he himself had been the subject of their conversation. The situation was more than a little awkward. Lord Redford stepped forward and welcomed him cordially.
“I’m afraid you’ve been knocking yourself up, Mannering,” he said. “I’ve just been proposing to Culthorpe here that we bar politics completely for twenty-four hours. We’ll leave the dinner table with the ladies, and you and I will play golf to-morrow. I’ve had Taylor down here, and I can assure you that my links are worth playing over now. Then on Thursday we’ll have a conference.”
“I was scarcely sure,” Mannering said, with a slight smile, “whether I should be expected to stay until then. Sir Leslie has told you of my telegrams?”
“Yes, yes,” Lord Redford said, quickly. “We’ve postponed the meetings for the present. We’ll talk that all out later on. You’ve had some tea, I hope? No? Well, Eleanor, you are a nice hostess,” he added, turning to his wife. “Give Mr. Mannering some tea at once, and feed him up with hot cakes. Come into the billiard-room afterwards, Mannering, will you? I’ve got a new table in the winter-garden, and we’re going to have a pool before dinner.”
Berenice came in and laid her hand upon her host’s arm.
“You need not worry about Mr. Mannering,” she declared. “He is going to have tea with me at that little table, and I am going to take him for a walk in the park afterwards.”
“So long as you feed him well,” Lord Redford declared, with a little laugh, “and turn up in good time for dinner, you may do what you like. If you take my advice, Berenice, you will join our league. We have pledged ourselves not to utter a word of shop for twenty-four hours.”
“I submit willingly,” Berenice answered. “Mr. Mannering and I will find something else to talk about.”
THE END OF A DREAM
“You can guess why I brought you here, perhaps,” Berenice said, gently, as she motioned him to sit down by her side. “This place, more than any other I know, certainly more than any other at Bayleigh, seems to me to be completely restful. There are the trees, you see, and the water, and the swans, that are certainly the laziest creatures I know. You look to me as though you needed rest, Lawrence.”
“I suppose I do,” he answered, slowly. “I am not sure, though, whether I deserve it.”
“You are rather a self-distrustful mortal,” she remarked, leaning back in her corner and looking at him from under her parasol. “You have worked hard all the session, and now you have finished up by three weeks of, I should think, herculean labour. If you do not deserve rest who does?”