So entirely absorbed in each other were the pair that they failed to notice the slim figure of a man who had followed the girl at some distance. Indeed, the individual in question had been lurking outside the house in Grosvenor Gardens, and had watched Dorise leave. At the end of the street a taxi was drawn up at the kerb awaiting him. Dorise had hailed the man, but his reply was a surly “Engaged.”
Then, walking about a couple of hundred yards, she had found another, and entering it, had driven to the Marble Arch. But the first taxi had followed the second one, and in it was the well-set-up man who was silently watching her in the park as she walked with her lover towards the Victoria Gate.
“What can I say to you in reply to your words of hope, darling?” exclaimed Hugh as he walked beside her. “I know full well how much all this must puzzle you. Have you seen Brock?”
“Oh! yes. I saw him two days ago. He called upon mother and had tea. I managed to get five minutes alone with him, and I asked if he had heard from you. He replied that he had not. He’s much worried about you.”
“Is he, dear old chap? I only wish I dared write to him, and give him my address.”
“I told him that you were back in London. But I did not give him your address. You told me to disclose nothing.”
“Quite right, Dorise,” he said. “If, as I hope one day to do, I can ever clear myself and combat my secret enemies, then there will be revealed to you a state of things of which you little dream. To-day I confess I am under a cloud. In the to-morrow I hope and pray that I may be able to expose the guilty and throw a new light upon those who have conspired to secure my downfall.”
They had halted in the dark path, and again their lips met in fond caress. Behind them was the silent watcher, the tall man who had followed Dorise when she had made her secret exit from the house wherein the gay dance was till in progress.
An empty seat was near, and with one accord the lovers sank upon it, Hugh still holding the girl’s soft hand.
“I must really go,” she said. “Mother will miss me, no doubt.”
“And George Sherrard, too?” asked her companion bitterly.
“He may, of course.”
“Ah! Then he is with you to-night?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, he is. Ah! Hugh! How I hate his exquisite and superior manners. But he is such a close friend of mother’s that I can never escape him.”
“And he still pesters you with his attentions, of course,” remarked Hugh in a hard voice.
“Oh! yes, he is always pretending to be in love with me.”
“Love!” echoed Hugh. “Can such a man ever love a woman? Never, Dorise. He does not love you as I love you—with my whole heart and my whole soul.”
“Of course the fellow cannot,” she replied. “But, for mother’s sake, I have to suffer his presence.”
“At least you are frank, darling,” he laughed.