Jack arrived at Windlow in due course, and brought with him Guthrie to stay. Howard thought, and was ashamed of thinking, that Jack had some scheme on foot; and the arrival of Guthrie was embarrassing to him, as likely to complicate an already too complicated situation.
A plan was made for a luncheon picnic on the hill. There was a tower on the highest eminence of the down, some five miles away, a folly built by some wealthy squire among woodlands, and commanding wide views; it was possible to drive to a village at the foot, and to put up vehicles at a country inn; and it was proposed that they should take luncheon up to the tower, and eat it there. The Sandys party were to drive there, and Howard was to drive over with Miss Merry and meet them. Howard did not at all relish the prospect. He had a torturing desire for the presence of Maud, and yet he seemed unable to establish any communication with her; and he felt that the liveliness of the young men would reduce him to a condition of amiable ineffectiveness which would make him, as Marie Bashkirtseff naively said, hardly worth seeing. However, there was no way out, and on a delicious July morning, with soft sunlight everywhere, and great white clouds floating in a sky of turquoise blue, Howard and Miss Merry started from Windlow. The little lady was full of decorous glee, and her mirth, like a working cauldron, threw all her high-minded tastes to the surface. She asked Howard’s opinion