The homage that had leaped into his eyes the first moment they had rested on her, and which had slowly deepened as the days slipped by, had somehow soothed her, restoring her feminine poise which Michael’s sudden defection had shaken.
She knew—as every woman always does know when a man is attracted by her—that she had the power to stir this big, primitive countryman, whose way of life had never before brought him into contact with her type of woman, just as she had stirred other men. And she carelessly accepted the fact, without a thought that in playing with Dan Storran’s emotions she was dealing with a man who knew none of the moves of the game, to whom the art of love-making as a pastime was an unknown quantity, and whose fierce, elemental passions, once aroused, might prove difficult to curb. He amused her and kept her thoughts off recent happenings, and for the moment that was all that mattered.
STORRAN OF STOCKLEIGH
It was a glorious morning. The sun blazed like a great golden shield out of a cloudless sky, and hardly a breath of air stirred the foliage of the trees.
Magda, to content an insatiable Coppertop, had good-naturally suffered herself to be dragged over the farm. They had visited the pigs—a new and numerous litter of fascinating black ones having recently made their debut into this world of sin—and had watched the cows being milked, and been chased by the irascible gander, and finally, laughing and breathless, they had made good their escape into the garden where Gillian sat sewing, and had flung themselves down exhaustedly on the grass at her feet.
“I’m in a state of mental and moral collapse, Gilly,” declared Magda, fanning herself vigorously with a cabbage leaf. “Whew! It is hot! As soon as I can generate enough energy, I propose to bathe. Will you come?”
Gillian shook her head lazily.
“I think not to-day. I want to finish this overall for Coppertop. And it’s such a long trudge from here down to the river.”
“Yes, I know.” Magda nodded. “It’s three interminable fields away—and the thistles and things prick one’s ankles abominably. Still, it’s lovely when you do get there! I think I’ll go now”—springing up from the velvet turf—“before I get too lazy to move.”
Gillian’s eyes followed her thoughtfully as she made her way into the house. She had never seen Magda so restless—she seemed unable to keep still a moment.
Half an hour later Magda emerged from the house wrapped in a cloak, a little scarlet bathing-cap turbanning her dark hair, and a pair of sandals on the slim supple feet that had danced their way into the hearts of half of Europe.
“Good-bye!” she called gaily, waving her hand. And went out by the wicket gate leading into the fields.
There was not a soul in sight. Only the cows, their red, burnished coats gleaming like the skin of a horse-chestnut in the hot sun, cast ruminative glances at her white-cloaked figure as it passed, and occasionally a peacefully grazing sheep emitted an astonished bleat at the unusual vision and skedaddled away in a hurry.