“It is not,” Cecil admitted. “Miss Le Mesurier has been quite unapproachable the last few days. She’s just civil to me and no more. She isn’t even half as decent as she was in town. I wish I hadn’t asked them here. It’s cost a lot more money than we can afford, and done no good that I can see.”
Andrew looked away seaward for a moment. Was it his fancy, or was there indeed a slim white figure coming across the marshes from the Hall?
“Cecil,” he said, “are you quite sure that your guests are worth the trouble you have taken to entertain them? I refer more particularly to the two men.”
“They go everywhere,” Cecil answered. “Lord Ronald is a bit of a wastrel, of course, and I am not very keen on Forrest, but we were all together when I gave the invitation, and I couldn’t leave them out.”
“Well,” he said, “I should be careful how I played cards with Forrest if I were you.”
Cecil’s face grew even a shade paler.
“You do not think,” he muttered, “that he would do anything that wasn’t straight?”
“On the contrary,” Andrew answered, “I have reason to believe that he would. Isn’t that one of your guests coming? You had better go and meet her.”
Andrew passed on his way, and Cecil walked towards Jeanne. All the time, though, she was looking over his shoulder to where Andrew’s tall figure was disappearing.
“What a nuisance!” she pouted. “I wanted to see Mr. Andrew, and directly I came in sight he hurried away.”
“Can I give him any message?” Cecil asked with faint irony. “He will no doubt be up with the fish later in the day.”
She turned her back on him.
“I am going back to the house,” she said. “I did not come out here to walk with you.”
“Considering that I am your host,” he began—
“You lose your claim to consideration on that score when you remind me of it,” she answered. “Really the only man who has not bored me for weeks is Mr. Andrew. You others are all the same. You say the same things, and you are always paving the way toward the same end. I am tired of it. Stop!”
She turned suddenly round.
“I quite forgot,” she said. “I must go into the village after all. I am going to send a telegram.”
They retraced their steps in silence. As they entered the telegraph-office Andrew was just leaving, and the postmistress was wishing him a respectful farewell. He touched his hat as the two entered, and stepped on one side. Jeanne, however, held out her hand.
“Mr. Andrew,” she said, “I am so glad to see you. I want to go out again in that great punt of yours. Please, when can you take me?”
“I am afraid,” Andrew answered, “that I am rather busy just now. I— "
He stopped short, for something in her face perplexed him. It was impossible for her, of course, to feel disappointment to that extent, and yet she had all the appearance of a child about to cry. He felt suddenly awkward and ill at ease.