Then turning, she began to ascend the steep path which led from the river bank into a cornfield and through the wood, while the man stood and bit his lip.
“H’m!” he growled beneath his breath. “We shall see!—yes, we shall see!”
That night when Dorise, in a pretty, pale-blue evening gown, entered the great, old panelled dining-room rather late for dinner, her mother exclaimed petulantly:
“How late you are, dear! Mr. Sherrard has had a telegram recalling him to London. He has to catch the nine-something train from Perth.”
“Have you?” she asked the man who was odious to her. “I’m so sorry I’m late, but that Mackenzie girl called. They are getting up a bazaar for the old people down in the village, and we have to help it, I suppose. Oh! these bazaars, sales of work, and other little excuses for extracting shillings from the pockets of everybody! They are most wearying.”
“She called on me last week,” said Lady Ranscomb. “Newte told her I was not at home.”
The old-fashioned butler, John Newte, a white-haired, rosy-faced man, who had seen forty years’ service with the ducal owner of Blairglas, served the dinner in his own stately style. Sir Richard had been a good master, but things had never been the same since the castle had passed into its new owner’s hands.
Dorise endeavoured to be quite affable to the smooth-haired man seated before her, expressing regret that he was called away so suddenly, while he, on his part, declared that it was “awful hard luck,” as he had been looking forward to a week’s good sport on the river.
“Do come back, George,” Lady Ranscomb urged. “Get your business over and get back here for the weekend.”
“I’ll try,” was Sherrard’s half-hearted response, whereat Newte entered to announce that the car was ready.
Then he bade mother and daughter adieu, and went out.
Dorise could see that her mother was considerably annoyed at her plans being so abruptly frustrated.
“We must ask somebody else,” she said, as they lingered over the dessert. “Whom shall we ask?”
“I really don’t care in the least, mother. I’m quite happy here alone. It is a rest. We shall have to be back in town in a fortnight, I suppose.”
“George could quite well have waited for a day or two,” Lady Ranscomb declared. “I went out to see the Muirs, at Forteviot, and when I got back he told me he had just had a telegram telling him that it was imperative he should be in town to-morrow morning. I tried to persuade him to stay, but he declared it to be impossible.”
“An appointment with a lady, perhaps,” laughed Dorise mischievously.
“What next, my dear! You know he is over head and ears in love with you!”
“Oh! That’s quite enough, mother. You’ve told me that lots of times before. But I tell you quite frankly his love leaves me quite cold.”