“If you like,” she answered doubtfully. “My hands are a little sore, and, of course,” with a glance at his broad shoulders, “you are much stronger. But if you are not used to it I dare say that I should get on as well as you.”
“Nonsense,” he said sharply. “I will not allow you to paddle me for five miles.”
She yielded without another word, and very gingerly shifted her seat so that her back was towards the bow of the canoe, leaving him to occupy the paddling place opposite to her.
Then he handed her his gun, which, together with the dead birds, she carefully stowed in the bottom of the frail craft. Next, with great caution, he slid down the rock till his feet rested in the canoe.
“Be careful or you will upset us,” she said, leaning forward and stretching out her hand for him to support himself by.
Then it was, as he took it, that he for the first time really saw her face, with the mist drops hanging to the bent eyelashes, and knew how beautiful it was.
A CONFESSION OF FAITH
“Are you ready?” he said, recovering himself from the pleasing shock of this serge-draped vision of the mist.
“Yes,” said Beatrice. “You must head straight out to sea for a little—not too far, for if we get beyond the shelter of Rumball Point we might founder in the rollers—there are always rollers there—then steer to the left. I will tell you when. And, Mr. Bingham, please be careful of the paddle; it has been spliced, and won’t bear rough usage.”
“All right,” he answered, and they started gaily enough, the light canoe gliding swiftly forward beneath his sturdy strokes.
Beatrice was leaning back with her head bent a little forward, so that he could only see her chin and the sweet curve of the lips above it. But she could see all his face as it swayed towards her with each motion of the paddle, and she watched it with interest. It was a new type of face to her, so strong and manly, and yet so gentle about the mouth—almost too gentle she thought. What made him marry Lady Honoria? Beatrice wondered; she did not look particularly gentle, though she was such a graceful woman.
And thus they went on for some time, each wondering about the other and at heart admiring the other, which was not strange, for they were a very proper pair, but saying no word till at last, after about a quarter of an hour’s hard paddling, Geoffrey paused to rest.
“Do you do much of this kind of thing, Miss Granger?” he said with a gasp, “because it is rather hard work.”
She laughed. “Ah,” she said, “I thought you would scarcely go on paddling at that rate. Yes, I canoe a great deal in the summer time. It is my way of taking exercise, and I can swim well, so I am not afraid of an upset. At least it has been my way for the last two years since a lady who was staying here gave me the canoe when she went away. Before that I used to row in a boat—that is, before I went to college.”