“By jove!” exclaimed Benis. “They’re starting to cut down Miller’s hill at last.”
Aunt Caroline rose flutteringly. “There is the water-tank,” she announced in an agitated voice. “Desire, where is your parasol? My dear, don’t kiss that child again, it’s sticky. Where is my hand-bag? John, do you see your car?”
“I don’t see it,” admitted John, “but—”
“Bainbridge!” shouted the brakeman.
Desire was conscious of a brown and gabled station with a bow-window and flower-beds, a long platform where baggage trucks lumbered, the calling of taxi-men, a confused noise of greeting and farewell, and Aunt Caroline’s voice uncomfortably near her ear.
“There she is!” whispered Aunt Caroline hoarsely. “Be careful! Don’t look!”
“Who? Where?” asked Desire, wondering.
“Eliza Merryweather. Second to the left.”
There was another confused impression of curious faces, of one face especially with eager eyes and bobbing grey curls, and then she was caught, as it were, in the swirl of Aunt Caroline and deposited, somewhat breathless, in a car which, providentially, seemed to expect her.
Miss Campion was breathing heavily but her face was calm.
“She nearly got it,” she said. “But not quite.”
“Got what?” asked Desire, still wondering.
“An introduction. Where is Benis? My dear, don’t look! She is the most determined person.”
Miss Campion herself was staring straight ahead. Desire, much amused, endeavored to do the same.
“Surely it is a trifle!” she murmured.
But Miss Campion was preoccupied. “Where can Benis be? John, do you know what is keeping Benis? Oh, here he is,” with an exclamation of relief. “Now we can start. Did I hear you say ‘trifle,’ my dear? There are no trifles in Bainbridge. John, I think we might drive home by the Park.”
They drove home by the Park. It was not a long drive, just a dozen or so of quiet streets, sentineled by maples; a factory in a hollow; a church upon a hill; a glimpse of two long rows of prosperous looking business blocks facing each other across an asphalted pavement; a white brick school where children shouted; then quiet streets again, the leisurely rising of a boulevarded slope and— home.
They turned in at a white gate in the centre of a long fence backed by trees. The Spences had built their homestead in days when land was plentiful and, being a liberal-minded race, they had taken of it what they would. Of all the houses in Bainbridge theirs alone was prodigal of space. It stood aloof in its own grounds, its face turned negligently from the street, outside. For the passer-by it had no welcome; it kept itself, its flowers and its charm, for its own people.