They went back to the Red House at the end of the first week in October. Little Gyp, home from the sea, was now an almost accomplished horsewoman. Under the tutelage of old Pettance, she had been riding steadily round and round those rough fields by the linhay which they called “the wild,” her firm brown legs astride of the mouse-coloured pony, her little brown face, with excited, dark eyes, very erect, her auburn crop of short curls flopping up and down on her little straight back. She wanted to be able to “go out riding” with Grandy and Mum and Baryn. And the first days were spent by them all more or less in fulfilling her new desires. Then term began, and Gyp sat down again to the long sharing of Summerhay with his other life.
One afternoon at the beginning of November, the old Scotch terrier, Ossian, lay on the path in the pale sunshine. He had lain there all the morning since his master went up by the early train. Nearly sixteen years old, he was deaf now and disillusioned, and every time that Summerhay left him, his eyes seemed to say: “You will leave me once too often!” The blandishments of the other nice people about the house were becoming to him daily less and less a substitute for that which he felt he had not much time left to enjoy; nor could he any longer bear a stranger within the gate. From her window, Gyp saw him get up and stand with his back ridged, growling at the postman, and, fearing for the man’s calves, she hastened out.
Among the letters was one in that dreaded hand writing marked “Immediate,” and forwarded from his chambers. She took it up, and put it to her nose. A scent—of what? Too faint to say. Her thumb nails sought the edge of the flap on either side. She laid the letter down. Any other letter, but not that—she wanted to open it too much. Readdressing it, she took it out to put with the other letters. And instantly the thought went through her: ’What a pity! If I read it, and there was nothing!’ All her restless, jealous misgivings of months past would then be set at rest! She stood, uncertain, with the letter in her hand. Ah—but if there were something! She would lose at one stroke her faith in him, and her faith in herself—not only his love but her own self-respect. She dropped the letter on the table. Could she not take it up to him herself? By the three o’clock slow train, she could get to him soon after five. She looked at her watch. She would just have time to walk down. And she ran upstairs. Little Gyp was sitting on the top stair—her favourite seat—looking at a picture-book.
“I’m going up to London, darling. Tell Betty I may be back to-night, or perhaps I may not. Give me a good kiss.”
Little Gyp gave the good kiss, and said:
“Let me see you put your hat on, Mum.”