“Well, I’ll leave now—as soon as ever you like,” replied Magda, slipping down from the bed. She was unwontedly meek, from which Gillian judged that for once she felt herself unable to cope with the situation she had created. “Will you arrange it?”
Gillian shrugged her shoulders.
“I suppose so,” she returned resignedly. “As usual, you break the crockery and someone else has to sweep up the pieces.”
Magda bent down and kissed her.
“You’re such a dear, Gillyflower,” she said with that impulsive, lovable charm of manner which it was so difficult to resist. “Still”—her voice hardening a little—“perhaps there are a few odd bits that I’ll have to sweep up myself.”
And she departed to her own room to complete her morning toilette, leaving Gillian wondering rather anxiously what she could have meant.
When, half an hour later, the two girls descended for breakfast, Dan Storran was not visible. He had gone off early to work, June explained, and Magda experienced a sensation of distinct relief. She had dreaded meeting Dan this morning. The mad, bizarre scene of the night before, with sudden unleashing of savage and ungoverned passions, had shaken even her insouciant poise, though she was very far from seeing it in its true proportions.
June received Gillian’s intimation that they proposed leaving Stockleigh Farm that day without comment. She was very quiet and self-contained, and busied herself in making the necessary arrangements for their departure, sending a boy into Ashencombe to order the wagonette from the Crown and Bells to take them to the station whilst she herself laboriously made out the account that was owing. When she presented the latter, with a perfectly composed and business-like air, and proceeded conscientiously to stamp and receipt it, no one could have guessed how bitter a thing it was to her to accept Miss Vallincourt’s money. Within herself she recognised that every penny of it had been earned at the cost of her own happiness.
But as she stood at the gate, watching the ancient vehicle from the Crown and Bells bearing the London visitors towards the station, a little quiver of hope stirred in her heart. Early that morning Dan himself had said to her before starting out to his work: “Get those people away! They must be out of the house before I come into it again. Pay them a week’s money instead of notice if necessary. We can afford it.” So it was evident that he, too, had realised the danger of their happiness—hers and his—if Miss Vallincourt remained at Stockleigh any longer.
He did not come in till late in the evening, when June was sitting in the lamplight, adding delicate stitchery to some tiny garments upon which she was at work. She hid them hastily at the sound of his footsteps, substituting one of his own socks that stood in need of repair. Not yet could she share with him that wonderful secret joy which was hers. There must be a clearer understanding between them first. They must get back to where they were before Miss Vallincourt came between them, so that nothing might mar the sweetness of the telling.