“The entrance is boarded up, you see,” Cecil said, “but you can see through the chinks. There is the sea just below, and the rope ladder used to hang from these staples.”
She looked out. Sheer below was the sea, breaking upon the rocks and sending a torrent of spray into the air with every wave.
“We can’t get out this way, then?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“No, we should want a rope ladder,” he said, “and a boat. Have you seen enough?”
“More than enough,” Jeanne answered. “Let us get back.”
* * *
Jeanne sank into a garden seat a few minutes later with a little exclamation of relief.
“Never,” she declared, “have I appreciated fresh air so much. I think, Mr. De la Borne, that smuggling, though it was a very romantic profession, must have had its unpleasant side.”
“There were more air-holes in those days,” he said, “but our ancestors were a tougher race than we. Coarse brutes, most of them, I imagine,” he added, lighting a cigarette. “Drank beer for breakfast, and smoked clay pipes before meals. Fancy if one had their constitutions and our tastes!”
“The two would scarcely go together,” Jeanne remarked. “But after all I should think that absinthe and cigarettes are more destructive. I am dying for some tea. Let us go in and find the others.”
Tea was set out in the hall, but only Engleton was there. Forrest and the Princess were walking slowly up and down the avenue.
“I imagine,” the latter was saying drily, “that we are fairly free from eavesdroppers here. Now tell me what it is that you have to say, Nigel.”
“I am bothered about Engleton,” Forrest said. “I didn’t like his insisting upon cutting last night. What do you think he meant by it?”
The Princess shrugged her shoulders.
“Nothing at all,” she answered. “He may have thought that we were lucky together, and of course he knows that you are the best player. There is no reason why he should be willing to play with Cecil de la Borne, when by cutting with you he would be more likely to win.”
“You think that that is all?” Forrest asked.
“I think so,” the Princess answered. “What had you in your mind?”
“I wondered,” Forrest said thoughtfully, “whether he had heard any of the gossip at the club.”
The Princess frowned impatiently.
“For Heaven’s sake, don’t be imaginative, Nigel!” she declared. “If you give way like this you will lose your nerve in no time.”
“Very well,” Forrest said. “Let us take it for granted, then, that he did it only because he preferred to play with me to playing against me. What is to become of our little scheme if we cut as we did last night all the time?”
The Princess smiled.
“You ought to be able to manage that,” she said carelessly. “You are so good at card tricks that you should be able to get an ace when you want it. I always cut third from the end, as you know.”