An hour later, when the long summer twilight was deepening into gloom, Jim Dodge crossed the empty library and paused at the open door of the room beyond. The somber light from the two tall windows fell upon the figure of the girl. She was sitting before Andrew Bolton’s desk, her head upon her folded arms. Something in the spiritless droop of her shoulders and the soft dishevelment of her fair hair suggested weariness—sleep, perhaps. But as the young man hesitated on the threshold the sound of a muffled sob escaped the quiet figure. He turned noiselessly and went away, sorry and ashamed, because unwittingly he had stumbled upon the clew he had long been seeking.
“Beside this stone wall I want flowers,” Lydia was saying to her landscape-gardener, as she persisted in calling Jim Dodge. “Hollyhocks and foxgloves and pinies—I shall never say peony in Brookville—and pansies, sweet williams, lads’ love, iris and sweetbrier. Mrs. Daggett has promised to give me some roots.”
He avoided her eyes as she faced him in the bright glow of the morning sunlight.
“Very well, Miss Orr,” he said, with cold respect. “You want a border here about four feet wide, filled with old-fashioned perennials.”
He had been diligent in his study of the books she had supplied him with.
“A herbaceous border of that sort in front of the stone wall will give quite the latest effect in country-house decoration,” he went on professionally. “Ramblers of various colors might be planted at the back, and there should be a mixture of bulbs among the taller plants to give color in early spring.”
She listened doubtfully.
“I don’t know about the ramblers,” she said. “Were there ramblers—twenty years ago? I want it as nearly as possible just as it was. Mrs. Daggett told me yesterday about the flower-border here. You—of course you don’t remember the place at all; do you?”
He reddened slightly under her intent gaze.
“Oh, I remember something about it,” he told her; “the garden was a long time going down. There were flowers here a few years back; but the grass and weeds got the better of them.”