She held it out to him, soft and warm. Her fingers even returned the pressure of his. She looked at him pleasantly, and once more he felt like a man who has wandered into a strange country and has lost his bearings.
“I want you so much to be happy,” he said hoarsely, “but you are not strong yet, Rosamund. We cannot decide anything in a hurry.”
“How surprised you are to find that I am willing to be nice to you!” she murmured. “But why not? You cannot know why I have so suddenly changed my mind about you—and I have changed it. I have seen the truth these few minutes. There is a reason, Everard, why I should not kill you.”
“What is it?” he demanded.
She shook her head with all the joy of a child who keeps a secret.
“You are clever,” she said. “I will leave you to find it out. I am excited now, and I want you to go away for a little time. Please send Mrs. Unthank to me.”
The prospect of release was a strange relief, mingled still more strangely with regret. He lingered over her hand.
“If you walk in your sleep to-night, then,” he begged, “you will leave your dagger behind?”
“I have told you,” she answered, as though surprised, “that I have abandoned my intention. I shall not kill you. Even though I may walk in my sleep—and sometimes the nights are so long—it will not be your death I seek.”
Dominey left the room like a man in a dream, descended the stairs to his own part of the house, caught up a hat and stick and strode out into the sea mist which was fast enveloping the gardens. There was all the chill of the North Pole in that ice-cold cloud of vapour, but nevertheless his forehead remained hot, his pulses burning. He passed out of the postern gate which led from the walled garden on to a broad marsh, with dikes running here and there, and lapping tongues of sea water creeping in with the tide. He made his way seaward with uncertain steps until he reached a rough and stony road; here he hesitated for a moment, looked about him, and then turned back at right angles. Soon he came to a little village, a village of ancient cottages, with seasoned, red-brick tiles, trim little patches of garden, a church embowered with tall elm trees, a triangular green at the cross-roads. On one side a low, thatched building,—the Dominey Arms; on another, an ancient, square stone house, on which was a brass plate. He went over and read the name, rang the bell, and asked the trim maidservant who answered it, for the doctor. Presently, a man of youthful middle-age presented himself in the surgery and bowed. Dominey was for a moment at a loss.
“I came to see Doctor Harrison,” he ventured.
“Doctor Harrison retired from practice some years ago,” was the courteous reply. “I am his nephew. My name is Stillwell.”
“I understood that Doctor Harrison was still in the neighbourhood,” Dominey said. “My name is Dominey—Sir Everard Dominey.”