“Good morning,” said the man.
Mavis took no notice, but called to Jill.
“Good morning,” repeated the man, who was young and pleasant-looking.
Mavis did not reply.
“Would little Mavis mind moving a little further up the bank?” continued the man.
Mavis looked at him in astonished anger.
“Because I can’t get to my clothes until you do.”
Mavis got up, called to Jill, and turned her back on the nook, wondering how on earth the man could have known her name; also, why he had the impertinence to address her so familiarly.
She did not get very far, because, call as she might to Jill, the spoiled dog took no notice of her summons, but remained about the place that her mistress had left.
Mavis called vainly for some minutes, till, at last, Jill appeared, carrying the man’s collar in her mouth. Mavis tried to induce the dog to come to her, but, instead, Jill raced madly round and round, delighted with her find.
Very soon the man appeared, now dressed in a flannel suit, but collarless; a bath towel was thrown over his shoulder. He advanced to Mavis in leisurely fashion.
“Bother the man!” she thought.
“May I introduce myself?” he asked, as he lifted his hat.
“No, thank you,” she replied coldly.
“There’s no occasion. We’ve already met,” he continued.
“I’m sure we haven’t, and I haven’t the least wish to know you.”
“Rot! I’m Charlie Perigal.”
“Yes. And how is little Mavis after all these years? But there’s little need to ask.”
Here he stared at her with an immense admiration in his eyes.
Mavis looked at the friend of her youth. As she saw him now, he was, in appearance, but a grown-up replica of the boy she remembered. There were the same steely blue eyes, curly hair, and thin, almost bloodless lips. With years and inches, the man had acquired a certain defiant self-possession which was not without a touch of recklessness; this last rather appealed to Mavis; she soon forgot the resentment which his earlier familiarity had excited.
“You haven’t altered a bit!” she declared.
“But you have.”
“I know. I’m quite an old woman.”
“That’s what I was going to say.”
“I knew you’d be pleased. May I have my collar?”
“It’s that naughty Jill. I am so sorry.”
Mavis rescued the collar from the dog’s unwilling mouth.
“How did you know it was me?”
“You aren’t clever enough.”
“Quite right. The pater told me you were to be found in Melkbridge.”
“Your father! How did he know?”