“I shall come,” he answered doggedly, and they went down the steps to the boat-shed.
“Oh, look, daddy,” said Effie, “here comes the lady who was drownded with you and a gentleman,” and to Beatrice’s great relief the child ran forward and met them.
“Ah!” thought Geoffrey to himself, “that is the man Honoria said she was engaged to. Well, I don’t think very much of her taste.”
In another minute they had arrived. Geoffrey shook hands with Beatrice, and was introduced to Owen Davies, who murmured something in reply, and promptly took his departure.
They examined the canoe together, and then walked slowly up to the Vicarage, Beatrice holding Effie by the hand. Opposite the reef they halted for a minute.
“There is the Table Rock on which we were thrown, Mr. Bingham,” said Beatrice, “and here is where they carried us ashore. The sea does not look as though it would drown any one to-night, does it? See!”—and she threw a stone into it—“the ripples run as evenly as they do on a pond.”
She spoke idly and Geoffrey answered her idly, for they were not thinking of their words. Rather were they thinking of the strange chance that had brought them together in an hour of deadly peril and now left them together in an hour of peace. Perhaps, too, they were wondering to what end this had come about. For, agnostics, atheists or believers, are we not, most of us, fatalists at heart?
THE WRITING ON THE SAND
Geoffrey found himself very comfortable at the Vicarage, and as for Effie, she positively revelled in it. Beatrice looked after her, taking her to bed at night and helping her to dress in the morning, and Beatrice was a great improvement upon Anne. When Geoffrey became aware of this he remonstrated, saying that he had never expected her to act as nurse to the child, but she replied that it was a pleasure to her to do so, which was the truth. In other ways, too, the place was all that he desired. He did not like Elizabeth, but then he did not see very much of her, and the old farmer clergyman was amusing in his way, with his endless talk of tithes and crops, and the iniquities of the rebellious Jones, on whom he was going to distrain.
For the first day or two Geoffrey had no more conversations with Beatrice. Most of the time she was away at the school, and on the Saturday afternoon, when she was free, he went out to the Red Rocks curlew shooting. At first he thought of asking her to come too, but then it occurred to him that she might wish to go out with Mr. Davies, to whom he still supposed she was engaged. It was no affair of his, yet he was glad when he came back to find that she had been out with Effie, and not with Mr. Davies.