“I’m waiting, Duane,” said Naida plaintively.
So he turned away with her through the woods, where one by one the brilliant lantern flames were dying out, and where already in the east a silvery lustre heralded the coming dawn.
* * * * *
When he returned, Geraldine was gone. At the house somebody said she had come in with Kathleen, not feeling well.
“The trouble with that girl,” said a man whom he did not know, “is that she’s had too much champagne.”
“You lie,” said Duane quietly. “Is that perfectly plain to you?”
For a full minute the young man stood rigid, crimson, glaring at Duane. Then, having the elements of decency in him, he said:
“I don’t know who you are, but you are perfectly right. I did lie. And I’ll see that nobody else does.”
THE LOVE OF THE GODS
Two days later the majority of the people had left Roya-Neh, and the remainder were preparing to make their adieux to the young chatelaine by proxy; for Geraldine had kept her room since the night of the masked fete, and nobody except Kathleen and Dr. Bailey had seen her.
“Fashionable fidgets,” said Dr. Bailey, in answer to amiable inquiries; “the girl has been living on her nerves, like the rest of you, only she can’t stand as much as you can.”
To Duane he said, in reply to persistent questions:
“As a plain and unromantic proposition, young man, it may be her liver. God alone knows with what young women stuff their bodies in those bucolic solitudes.”
To Kathleen he said, after questioning her and listening in silence to her guarded replies:
“I don’t know what is the matter, Mrs. Severn. The girl is extremely nervous. She acts, to me, as though she had something on her mind, but she insists that she hasn’t. If I were to be here, I might come to some conclusion within the next day or two.”
Which frightened Kathleen, and she asked whether anything serious might be anticipated.
“Not at all,” he said.
So, as he was taking the next train, there was nothing to do. He left a prescription and whizzed away to the railroad station with the last motor-load of guests.
There remained only Duane, Rosalie Dysart, Grandcourt, and Sylvia Quest, a rather subdued and silent group on the terrace, unresponsive to Scott’s unfeigned gaiety to find himself comparatively alone and free to follow his own woodland predilections once more.
“A cordial host you are,” observed Rosalie; “you’re guests are scarcely out of sight before you break into inhuman chuckles.”
“Speed the parting,” observed Scott, in excellent spirits; “that’s the truest hospitality.”
“I suppose your unrestrained laughter will be our parting portion in a day or two,” she said, amused.