Percy took it. It was a shilling.
The second gift was a small paper pamphlet. It was entitled “Now’s the Time!” and seemed to be a story of some kind. At any rate, Percy’s eyes, before they began to swim in a manner that prevented steady reading, caught the words “Job Roberts had always been a hard-drinking man, but one day, as he was coming out of the bar-parlour . . .” He was about to hurl it from him, when he met the other’s eye and desisted. Rarely had Lord Belpher encountered a man with a more speaking eye.
“And now you get along,” said the man. “You pop off. And I’m going to watch you do it, too. And, if I find you sneakin’ off to the Three Pigeons . . .”
His pause was more eloquent than his speech and nearly as eloquent as his eye. Lord Belpher tucked the tract into his sweater, pocketed the shilling, and left the house. For nearly a mile down the well-remembered highway he was aware of a Presence in his rear, but he continued on his way without a glance behind.
one that on a lonely road
Doth walk in fear and dread;
And, having once looked back, walks on
And turns no more his head!
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread!”
Maud made her way across the fields to the cottage down by Platt’s. Her heart was as light as the breeze that ruffled the green hedges. Gaily she tripped towards the cottage door. Her hand was just raised to knock, when from within came the sound of a well-known voice.
She had reached her goal, but her father had anticipated her. Lord Marshmoreton had selected the same moment as herself for paying a call upon George Bevan.
Maud tiptoed away, and hurried back to the castle. Never before had she so clearly realized what a handicap an adhesive family can be to a young girl.
At the moment of Lord Marshmoreton’s arrival, George was reading a letter from Billie Dore, which had come by that morning’s post. It dealt mainly with the vicissitudes experienced by Miss Dore’s friend, Miss Sinclair, in her relations with the man Spenser Gray. Spenser Gray, it seemed, had been behaving oddly. Ardent towards Miss Sinclair almost to an embarrassing point in the early stages of their acquaintance, he had suddenly cooled; at a recent lunch had behaved with a strange aloofness; and now, at this writing, had vanished altogether, leaving nothing behind him but an abrupt note to the effect that he had been compelled to go abroad and that, much as it was to be regretted, he and she would probably never meet again.
“And if,” wrote Miss Dore, justifiably annoyed, “after saying all those things to the poor kid and telling her she was the only thing in sight, he thinks he can just slide off with a ’Good-bye! Good luck! and God bless you!’ he’s got another guess coming. And that’s not all. He hasn’t gone abroad! I saw him in Piccadilly this afternoon. He saw me, too, and what do you think he did? Ducked down a side-street, if you please. He must have run like a rabbit, at that, because, when I got there, he was nowhere to be seen. I tell you, George, there’s something funny about all this.”