“This,” Lord Belpher was saying in a determined voice, “settles it. From now on Maud must not be allowed out of our sight.”
Lord Marshmoreton spoke.
“I rather wish,” he said regretfully, “I hadn’t spoken about the note. I only mentioned it because I thought you might think it amusing.”
“Amusing!” Lady Caroline’s voice shook the furniture.
“Amusing that the fellow should have handed me of all people a letter for Maud,” explained her brother. “I don’t want to get Maud into trouble.”
“You are criminally weak,” said Lady Caroline severely. “I really honestly believe that you were capable of giving the note to that poor, misguided girl, and saying nothing about it.” She flushed. “The insolence of the man, coming here and settling down at the very gates of the castle! If it was anybody but this man Platt who was giving him shelter I should insist on his being turned out. But that man Platt would be only too glad to know that he is causing us annoyance.”
“Quite!” said Lord Belpher.
“You must go to this man as soon as possible,” continued Lady Caroline, fixing her brother with a commanding stare, “and do your best to make him see how abominable his behaviour is.”
“Oh, I couldn’t!” pleaded the earl. “I don’t know the fellow. He’d throw me out.”
“Nonsense. Go at the very earliest opportunity.”
“Oh, all right, all right, all right. Well, I think I’ll be slipping out to the rose garden again now. There’s a clear hour before dinner.”
There was a tap at the door. Alice Faraday entered bearing papers, a smile of sweet helpfulness on her pretty face.
“I hoped I should find you here, Lord Marshmoreton. You promised to go over these notes with me, the ones about the Essex branch—”
The hunted peer looked as if he were about to dive through the window.
“Some other time, some other time. I—I have important matters—”
“Oh, if you’re busy—”
“Of course, Lord Marshmoreton will be delighted to work on your notes, Miss Faraday,” said Lady Caroline crisply. “Take this chair. We are just going.”
Lord Marshmoreton gave one wistful glance through the open window. Then he sat down with a sigh, and felt for his reading-glasses.
Your true golfer is a man who, knowing that life is short and perfection hard to attain, neglects no opportunity of practising his chosen sport, allowing neither wind nor weather nor any external influence to keep him from it. There is a story, with an excellent moral lesson, of a golfer whose wife had determined to leave him for ever. “Will nothing alter your decision?” he says. “Will nothing induce you to stay? Well, then, while you’re packing, I think I’ll go out on the lawn and rub up my putting a bit.” George Bevan was of this turn of mind. He might be in love; romance might have sealed him for her own; but that was no reason for blinding himself to the fact that his long game was bound to suffer if he neglected to keep himself up to the mark. His first act on arriving at Belpher village had been to ascertain whether there was a links in the neighbourhood; and thither, on the morning after his visit to the castle and the delivery of the two notes, he repaired.