True to his project, he laboured hard and skilfully for hours. Windomshire moved about in solitude, gnashing his teeth, while Derby unceremoniously whisked the dazed Anne off for pleasant walks or held her at bay in some secluded corner of the parlours. By dinner-time, encouraged by Joe’s wild but cautious applause, he had driven Windomshire almost to distraction. A thing he did not know, however,— else his pride might have cringed perceptibly,—was that Anne Courtenay was growing to hate him as no one was ever hated before.
“Well,” he said to the nervous Mr. Dauntless at seven o’clock that evening, having arrived at what he called the conclusion of his day’s work, “I think I’ve done all that was expected, haven’t I?”
“You’ve got him crazy, old boy. Look at him! It’s the first minute he’s had since half-past two. Say, what do you think of this cursed weather? It’s raining again—and muddy! Great Scot, old man! it’s knee deep, and we don’t dare take a carriage to the church. One can’t sneak worth a cent in a cab, you know. See you later! There’s Eleanor waiting to speak to me. By George, I’m nervous. You won’t fail us, old man?”
“I’ll do my part, Joe,” said Derby, smiling.
“Well, so long, if I don’t see you before nine. You look out for old Mr. Van Truder, will you? See that he sneaks out properly. And—”
“Don’t worry, old chap. Go to Miss Thursdale. She seems nervous.”
THE ROAD TO PARADISE
Night again—and again the mist and the drizzle; again the country lane, but without the warm club-house fire, the cheery lights, the highball, and the thumping motor car. Soggy, squashy mud instead of the clean tonneau; heavy, cruel wading through unknown by-ways in place of the thrilling rush to Fenlock. Not twenty-four hours had passed, and yet it seemed that ages lay between the joyous midnight and the sodden, heart-breaking eve that followed.
The guests at the Somerset kept close indoors,—that is, most of them did. It is with those who fared forth resolutely into the night that we have to do; the rest of the world is to be barred from any further connection with this little history. It is far out in the dreary country lane and not inside the warm hotel that we struggle to attain our end. First one, then another stealthy figure crept forth into the drizzle; before the big clock struck half-past eight, at least six respectable and supposedly sensible persons had mysteriously disappeared. Only one of our close acquaintances remained in the hotel,—Mrs. Van Truder. It was not to be long, however, before she, too, would be adventuring forth in search of the unknown.
By this it may be readily understood that Mr. Van Truder had succeeded in escaping from beneath her very nose, as it were.