“Of course,” he said, “if you really care about it, I should be very pleased to take you any morning toward the end of the week.”
“To-morrow morning, please,” she begged.
He glanced towards his brother, who shrugged his shoulders.
“If Miss Le Mesurier is really inclined to go, Andrew,” the latter said, “I am sure that you will take good care of her. Perhaps some of us will come, too.”
She nodded her farewells to Andrew, and turned back with her host toward the Hall. Cecil looked at her a little curiously. It was certain that she seemed in better spirits than a short time ago. What a creature of caprices!
“Will you tell me, Mr. De la Borne,” she asked, “why the postmistress called Mr. Andrew ‘sir’ if he is only a fisherman?”
“Habit, I suppose,” Cecil answered carelessly. “They call every one sir and ma’am.”
“I am not so sure that it was habit,” she said thoughtfully. “I think that Mr. Andrew is not quite what he represents himself to be. No one who had not education and experience of nice people could behave quite as he does. Of course, he is rough and brusque at times, I know, but then many men are like that.”
Cecil did not reply. A grey mist was sweeping in from the sea, and Jeanne shivered a little as they turned into the avenue.
“I wonder,” she said pensively, “why we came here. My mother as a rule hates to go far from civilization, and I am sure Lord Ronald is miserable.”
“I think one reason why your mother brought you here,” Cecil said slowly, “is because she wanted to give me a chance.”
She picked up her skirts and ran, ran so lightly and swiftly that Cecil, who was taken by surprise, had no chance of catching her. From the hall door she looked back at him, panting behind.
“Too many cigarettes,” she laughed. “You are out of training. If you do not mind you will be like Lord Ronald, an old young man, and I would never let any one say the sort of things you were going to say who couldn’t catch me when I ran away.”
She went laughing up the stairs, and Cecil de la Borne turned into his study. The Princess was playing patience, and the two men were in easy-chairs.
“At last!” the Princess remarked, throwing down her cards. “My dear Cecil, do you realize that you have kept us waiting nearly an hour?”
“I thought, perhaps,” he answered, “that you had had enough bridge.”
“Absurd!” the Princess declared. “What else is there to do? Come and cut, and pray that you do not draw me for a partner. My luck is dead out—at patience, anyhow.”
“Mine,” Cecil remarked, with a hard little laugh, “seems to be out all round. Touch the bell, will you, Forrest. I must have a brandy and soda before I start this beastly game again.”
The Princess raised her eyebrows.
“I trust,” she said, “that my charming ward has not been unkind?”