One morning, early in June, Dorise, in a rough tweed suit and a pearl-grey suede tam-o’shanter, carrying a mackintosh across her shoulder, and accompanied by a tall, dark-haired, clean-shaven man of thirty-two, with rather thick lips and bushy eyebrows, walked down through the woods to the river. The man, who was in fishing clothes, sauntered at her side, smoking a cigarette; while behind them came old Sandy Murray, the grizzled, fair-bearded head keeper, carrying the salmon rods, the gaff, creel, and luncheon basket.
“The spate is excellent for us,” exclaimed George Sherrard. “We ought to kill a salmon to-day, Dorise.”
“I sincerely hope so,” replied the girl; “but somehow I never have any luck in these days.”
“No, you really don’t! But Marjorie killed a twelve-pounder last week, your mother tells me.”
“Yes. She went out with Murray every day for a whole fortnight, and then on the day before she went back to town she landed a splendid fish.”
On arrival at the bank of the broad shallow Tay, Murray stepped forward, and in his pleasant Perthshire accent suggested that a trial might be made near the Ardcraig, a short walk to the left.
After fixing the rods and baiting them, the head keeper discreetly withdrew, leaving the pair alone. In the servants’ hall at Blairglas it was quite understood that Miss Dorise and Mr. Sherrard were to marry, and that the announcement would be made in due course.
“What a lovely day—and what a silent, delightful spot,” Sherrard remarked, as he filled his pipe preparatory to walking up-stream, while the girl remained beside the dark pool where sport seemed likely.
“Yes,” she replied, inwardly wishing to get rid of her companion so as to be left alone with her own thoughts. “I’ll remain here for a little and then go down-stream to the end of our water.”
“Right oh!” he replied cheerily as he moved away.
Dorise breathed more freely when he had gone.
George Sherrard had arrived from London quite unexpectedly at nine o’clock on the previous morning. She had been alone with her mother after the last guest of a gay house-party had departed, when, unknown to Dorise, Lady Ranscomb had telegraphed to her friend George to “run up for a few days’ fishing.”
Lady Ranscomb’s scheme was to throw the pair into each other’s society as much as possible. She petted George, flattered him, and in every way tried to entertain him with one sole object, namely, to induce him to propose to Dorise, and so get the girl “off her hands.”
On the contrary, the girl’s thoughts were for ever centred upon Hugh, even though he remained under that dark cloud of suspicion. To her the chief element in the affair was the mystery why her lover had gone on that fateful night to the Villa Amette, the house of that notorious Mademoiselle. What had really occurred?
Twice she had received letters from him brought to her by the mysterious girl-messenger from Belgium. From them she knew how grey and dull was his life, hiding there from those who were so intent upon his arrest.