“But I’m going,” she said calmly.
“If Michael’s not at his studio he may be—anywhere!”
“I know. If so, I shall follow—anywhere.”
Storran looked down at her and read the quiet determination in her face.
“Then let me come too,” he said. “Sort of courier, you know. I’d just be at hand in case of a tangle.”
“Oh, no! I couldn’t let you. There’s not the least need. Good heavens, I’m not a baby!”
There was a curious softness in Dan’s blue eyes as they rested on her.
“No. I think you’re—a very good friend,” he said. “But I don’t see why you should have the monopoly! Let me show I know how to be a good pal, too, if I want to.”
“No—no.” Gillian still protested, but her tone betrayed signs of weakening.
“We’ll be as conventional as you like,” urged Dan, twinkling. “I’d stop at different hotels.”
“Say ’yes’!” he insisted.
“You obstinate person! Yes, then!”
“Thank you. Then I’ll go along and buy a ticket.”
He turned and went towards the booking-office, while Gillian, inwardly much relieved, awaited his return. She could not but acknowledge that in the “wild-goose chase” upon which she was embarking it would be an enormous comfort to have Storran at hand in case of an emergency. As to the proprieties—well, Gillian was far too honest and independent a soul to worry about them in the circumstances. Her friend’s happiness was at stake. And whether people chose to talk because she and Dan Storran travelled to Paris together—or to Timbuctoo, for the matter of that, if Michael had chanced to depart thither—troubled her not at all.
When Storran rejoined her a much more practical consideration presented itself to her mind.
“But, my dear man, you can’t fly with me to Paris without even a tooth-brush! I’d forgotten you’d no luggage!”
Her face fell as she spoke. But Storran dismissed the matter with a smile.
“Oh, I can buy clean collars and shirts as I go along,” he replied, entirely unruffled. “The dickens was to get on to the train at all! They assured me there wasn’t a seat. However, I make a point of never believing official statements—on principle.”
And as a consequence of such well-directed incredulity, Storran accompanied Gillian to Dover and thence to Calais.
They had a good crossing—sun up and blue sky. Looking back, afterwards, it always seemed to Gillian as though the short time it occupied had been a merciful breathing space—a tranquil interval, specially vouchsafed, in which she was able to brace herself for the coming race against time. Just so long as they were on board, nothing she could do was of any importance whatever, either to help or hinder the fulfilment of her errand. She could not quicken the speed of the boat by a single throb of its engine. So, like a sensible woman, she sat on deck with Dan and enjoyed herself amazingly.