“Tell me this, then,” the Duke said, his clear brown eyes fixed steadily upon Cecil’s miserable white face. “Were there any unusual circumstances at all connected with his leaving here?”
“None whatever,” Cecil answered, with an uneasy little laugh, “except that I had to get up to see him off, and it was a beastly cold morning.”
The lawyer, who had been standing silent all this time, drew the Duke for a moment on one side.
“I should recommend, sir,” he whispered, “that we went away. If they know anything they do not mean to tell, and the less we let them know as to whether we are satisfied or not, the better.”
The Duke nodded, and turned once more to Cecil.
“I am forced to accept your word, Mr. De la Borne,” he said, “and when my brother confirms your story I shall make a special visit here to offer you my apologies. Madam,” he added, bowing to the Princess, “I regret to have disturbed your interesting occupation.”
Forrest he completely ignored, turning his back upon him almost immediately. Cecil went out with them into the hall. In a moment the great front door was opened and closed. Cecil came back into the room, and the perspiration stood out in great beads upon his forehead. Now that the Duke had departed, something seemed to have fallen from their faces. They looked at one another as the ghosts of their real selves might have looked. Forrest stumbled toward the sideboard. Cecil was already there.
“The brandy!” he muttered. “Quick!”
Bareheaded, Jeanne walked upon the yellow sands close to the softly breaking waves. Inland stretched the marshes, with their patches of vivid green, their clouds of faintly blue wild lavender, their sinuous creeks stealing into the bosom of the land. She climbed on to a grassy knoll, warm with the sun’s heat, and threw herself down upon the turf. She turned her back upon the Hall and looked steadily seawards, across the waste of sands and pasture-land to where sky and sea met. Here at least was peace. She drew a long breath of relief, cast aside the book which she had never dreamed of reading, and lay full length in the grass, with her eyes upturned to where a lark was singing his way down from the blue sky.
Andrew came before long, speeding his way out of the village harbour in his little catboat. She watched him cross the sandy bar of the inlet, and run his boat presently upon the beach below where she sat. Then she shook out her skirts and made room for him by her side.
“Really, Mr. Andrew,” she said, resting her chin upon her hands, and looking up at him with her full dark eyes, “you are becoming almost gallant. Until now, when I have been weary, and have wished to talk to you, I have had almost to come and fetch you. To-day it is you who come to me. That is a good sign.”
“It is true,” he admitted. “I have kept my telescope fixed upon the sands here for more than an hour. I wanted to see you.”