But he stopped in what he felt to be an unlucky speech at sight of her face, which without movement expressed so much more than his words. He was protesting as a civilized man; her face was the protest of Nature, the soundless declaration of beauty wasted against its will, beauty that was life’s invitation to the embrace which gave life birth.
“I’m clearing out, myself,” he said: “You and I, you know, are not good for these people. No birds of freedom allowed!”
Pressing his hand, she turned away into the house, leaving Courtier gazing at the patch of air where her white figure had stood. He had always had a special protective feeling for Audrey Noel, a feeling which with but little encouragement might have become something warmer. But since she had been placed in her anomalous position, he would not for the world have brushed the dew off her belief that she could trust him. And, now that he had fixed his own gaze elsewhere, and she was in this bitter trouble, he felt on her account the rancour that a brother feels when Justice and Pity have conspired to flout his sister. The voice of Frith the chauffeur roused him from gloomy reverie.
“Lady Barbara, sir!”
Following the man’s eyes, Courtier saw against the sky-line on the for above Ashman’s Folly, an equestrian statue. He stopped the car at once, and got out.
He reached her at the ruin, screened from the road, by that divine chance which attends on men who take care that it shall. He could not tell whether she knew of his approach, and he would have given all he had, which was not much, to have seen through the stiff grey of her coat, and the soft cream of her body, into that mysterious cave, her heart. To have been for a moment, like Ashman, done for good and all with material things, and living the white life where are no barriers between man and woman. The smile on her lips so baffled him, puffed there by her spirit, as a first flower is puffed through the sur face of earth to mock at the spring winds. How tell what it signified! Yet he rather prided himself on his knowledge of women, of whom he had seen something. But all he found to say was:
“I’m glad of this chance.”
Then suddenly looking up, he found her strangely pale and quivering.
“I shall see you in London!” she said; and, touching her horse with her whip, without looking back, she rode away over the hill.
Courtier returned to the moor road, and getting into the car, muttered:
“Faster, please, Frith!"....