“The country,” he remarked to the Princess, “is having a terrible effect upon your stepdaughter.”
The Princess nodded and thrust a bonbon into the languid jaws of the dog she was holding.
“It is my fault,” she declared. “It is I who have set this fashion. It was a whim, and I am tired of it. Tell our host that we will go back.”
They tacked a few minutes later, and swept shoreward. Jeanne, still standing in the bows, was gazing steadfastly upon the little island at the entrance of the estuary.
“I should like,” she declared, pointing it out to Cecil, “to land there and have some tea.”
Cecil looked at her doubtfully.
“We shall be home in a little more than an hour,” he said, “and I don’t suppose we could get any tea there, even if we were able to land.”
“I have a conviction that we should,” Jeanne declared. “Mother,” she added, turning round to the older woman, “there is an island just ahead of us with a delightful looking cottage. I believe my preserver of this morning lives there. Wouldn’t it be lovely to go and beg him to give us all tea?”
“Charming!” the Princess declared, sitting up amongst her cushions. “I should love to see him, and tea is the one thing in the world I want to make me happy.”
Cecil de la Borne stood silent for a moment or two, looking steadfastly at the whitewashed cottage upon the island. It seemed impossible, after all, to escape from Andrew!
“The man lives there alone, I believe,” he said. “I don’t suppose there is any one to get us tea. He would only be embarrassed by our coming, and not know what to do.”
Jeanne smiled reflectively.
“I do not think,” she said, “that it would be easy to embarrass Mr. Andrew. However, if you like we will put it off to another afternoon, on one condition.”
“Let me hear the condition at any rate,” Cecil asked.
“That we go straight back, and that you show us that subterranean passage,” Jeanne declared.
“Agreed!” Cecil answered. “I warn you that you will find it only damp and mouldy and depressing, but you shall certainly see it.”
The girl moved toward the side of the boat, and stood leaning over, with her eyes fixed upon the island. Standing on the small grass plot in front of the cottage she could see the tall figure of a man with his face turned toward them. A faint smile parted her lips as she watched. She took out her handkerchief and waved it. The man for a moment stood motionless, and then raising his cap, held it for a moment above his head. The boat sped on, and very soon they were out of sight. She stood there, however, watching, until they had rounded the sandy spit and entered the creek which led into the harbour. There was something unusually piquant to her in the thought of that greeting with the man. whose response to it had been so unwilling, almost ungracious.