Part 3 out of 7
"Oh, mine, I suppose"--quickly. "But it doesn't matter--since I regard
them as a set of harmless, conventional fools. No, thank you, I've no
intention of making friends with the people of Monkshaven."
"They're not all conventional. Some of them are rather interesting--
Mrs. Maynard, for instance, and the Herricks."
He gave her a keen glance.
"Do you know the Herricks?"
"Yes. Why don't you go to see them sometimes? Miles--"
"Oh, Miles Herrick's all right. I know that," he interrupted.
"It's very bad for you to cut yourself off from the rest of the world,
as you do," persisted Sara sagely.
He was silent for a while, his eyes intent on the strip of road that
stretched in front of him, and when he spoke again it was to draw her
attention to the effect of the cloud shadows moving across the sea,
exactly as though nothing of greater interest had been under
She began to recognize as a trick of his this abrupt method of
terminating a conversation that for some reason did not please him. It
was as conclusive as when the man at the other end of the 'phone
suddenly "rings off" without any preliminary warning.
By this time they had reached the steep hill that approached directly
to the Selwyns' house, and a couple of minutes later, Trent brought
the car to a standstill at the gate.
"You have nothing to thank me for," he said, curtly dismissing her
expression of thanks as they stood together on the path. "It is I who
should be grateful to you. My opportunities of social intercourse"--
drily--"are somewhat limited."
"Extend them, then, as I advised," retorted Sara.
"Do you wish me to?" he asked swiftly, and his intent eyes sought her
face with a sudden hawk-like glance.
Her own eyes fell. She was conscious, all at once, of an inexplicable
agitation, a tremulous confusion that made it seem a physical
impossibility to reply.
But he still waited for his answer, and, at last, with an effort she
mastered the nervousness that had seized her.
"I--I--yes, I do wish it," she said faintly.
A MEETING AT ROSE COTTAGE
It had not taken Sara very long to cut a niche for herself in the
household at Sunnyside. In a dwelling where the master of the house
was away the greater part of the day, the mistress a chronic invalid,
and the daughter a beautiful young thing whose mind was intent upon
"colour" and "atmosphere," and altogether hazy concerning the
practical necessities of housekeeping, the advent of any one
possessing even half Sara's intelligent efficiency would have been
provocative of many reforms.
Dick Selwyn, pushed to the uttermost limits of his strength by the
demands of his wide practice and by the nervous strain of combating
his wife's incessant fretfulness, quickly learned to turn to Sara for
that sympathetic understanding which had hitherto been denied him in
He had, of course, never again discussed with her his wife's incurable
self-absorption, as on the day of her arrival, when the painful scene
created by Mrs. Selwyn had practically forced him into some sort of
explanation, but Sara's quick grasp of the situation had infinitely
simplified matters, and by devoting a considerable amount of her own
time to the entertainment of the captious invalid, and thus keeping
her in a good humour, she contrived to save Selwyn many a bad half-
hour of recrimination and complaint.
Sara was essentially a good "comrade," as Patrick Lovell had
recognized in the old days at Barrow Court, and instinctively Selwyn
came to share with her the pin-prick worries that dog a man's
footsteps in this vale of woe, learning to laugh at them; and even his
apprehensions concerning Molly's ultimate development and welfare were
lessened by the knowledge that Sara was at hand.
Molly herself seemed to float through life like a big, beautiful moth,
sailing serenely along, and now and then blundering into things, but
never learning by experience the dangers of such blunders. One day, in
the course of her inconsequent path through life, she would probably
flutter too near the attractive blaze of some perilous fire, just as a
moth flies against the flame of a candle and singes its frail, soft
wings in the process.
It was of this that Sara was inwardly afraid, realizing, perhaps more
clearly than the girl's overworked and sometimes absent-minded father,
the risks attaching to her temperament.
Of late, Molly had manifested a certain moodiness and irritability
very unlike her usual facile sweetness of disposition, and Sara was
somewhat nonplussed to account for it. Finally, she approached the
matter by way of a direct inquiry.
"What's wrong, Molly?"
Molly was hunched up in the biggest and shabbiest armchair by the
fire, smoking innumerable cigarettes and flinging them away half-
finished. At Sara's question, she looked up with a shade of defiance
in her eyes.
"Why should anything be wrong?" she countered, obviously on the
"I don't know, I'm sure," responded Sara good-humouredly. "But I'm
pretty certain there is something. Come, out with it, you great baby!"
Molly sighed, smoked furiously for a moment, and then tossed her
cigarette into the fire.
"Well, yes," she admitted at last. "There is--something wrong." She
rose and stood looking across at Sara like a big, perplexed child.
"I--I owe some money."
Sara was conscious of a distinct shock.
"How much?" she asked sharply.
"It's--it's rather a lot--twenty pounds!"
"Twenty pounds!" This was certainly a large sum for Molly--whose
annual dress allowance totaled very little more--to be in debt. "What
on earth have you been up to? Buying a new trousseau? Where do you owe
it--Carr & Bishop's?"--mentioning the principal draper's shop in
"No. I--don't owe it to a shop at all. It's--it's a bridge debt!" The
confession came out rather hurriedly.
Sara's face grew grave.
"But, Molly, you little fool, you've no business to be playing bridge.
Where have you been playing?"
"Oh, we play sometimes at the studios--when the light's too bad to go
on painting, you know"--airily.
"You mean," said Sara, "the artists' club people play?"
Sara frowned. She knew that Molly was one of the youngest members of
this club of rather irresponsible and happy-go-lucky folk, and
privately considered that Selwyn had made a great mistake in ever
allowing her to join it. It embodied, as she had discovered by
inquiry, some of the most rapid elements of Oldhampton's society, and
was, moreover, open to receive as temporary members artists who come
from other parts of the country to paint in the neighbourhood. More
than one well-known name had figured in the temporary membership list,
and, in addition, the name of certain /dilettanti/ to whom the freedom
from convention of the artistic life signified far more that art
"I don't understand," said Sara slowly, "how they let you go on
playing until you owed twenty pounds. Don't you square up at the end
of the afternoon's play?"
"Yes. But I'd--I'd been losing badly, and--and some one lent me the
Molly flushed a bewitching rose-colour and appealed with big, pathetic
eyes. It was difficult to be righteously wroth with her, but Sara
steeled her heart.
"You'd no right to borrow," she said shortly.
'No. I know I hadn't. But, don't you see, I thought I should be sure
to win it all back? I couldn't ask Dad for it. Every penny he can
spare goes on something that mother can't possibly do without," added
the girl with unwonted bitterness.
The latter fact was incontrovertible, and Sara remained silent. In her
own mind she regarded Mrs. Selwyn as a species of vampire, sucking out
all that was good, and sweet, and wholesome from the lives of those
about her--even that of her own daughter. Did the woman realize, she
wondered, that instead of being the help all mothers were sent into
the world to be, she was nothing but a hindrance and a stumbling-
"I don't know what to do, I simply don't." Molly's humble, dejected
tones broke through the current of Sara's thoughts. "You see, the
worst of it is"--she blushed even more bewitchingly than before--"that
I owe it to a /man/. It's detestable owing money to a man!"--with
Two fine lines drew themselves between Sara's level brows. This was
worse than she had imagined.
"Who is it?" she asked, at last, quietly.
"And who--or what--is Lester Kent?"
"He's--he's an artist--by choice. I mean," stumbled Molly, "that he's
quite well off--he only paints for pleasure. He often runs down from
town for a month or two at a time and takes out a temporary membership
for our club."
"And he has lent you this money?"
"Well, he must be paid back at once. At once, do you understand? I
will give you the twenty pounds--you're not to bother your father
"Oh, Sara! You are a blessed duck!"
In an instant Molly's cares had slipped from her shoulders, and she
beamed across at her deliverer with the most disarming gratitude.
"Wait a moment," continued Sara firmly. "You must never borrow from
Mr. Kent--or any one else--again."
"Oh, I won't! Indeed, I won't!" Molly was fervent in her assurances.
"I've been wretched over this. Although"--brightening--"Lester Kent
was really most awfully nice about it. He said it didn't matter one
"Did he indeed?" Sara spoke rather grimly. "And how old is this Lester
"How old? Oh"--vaguely--"thirty-five--forty, perhaps. I really don't
know. Somehow he's not the sort of person whose age one thinks about."
"Anyway, he's old enough to know better than to be lending you money
to play bridge with," commented Sara. "I wish you'd give up playing,
"Oh, I couldn't!" coaxingly. "We play for very small stakes--as a
rule. But it /is/ amusing, Sara. And, you know this place is as dull
as ditchwater unless one does /something/. But I won't get into debt
again--I really won't."
Molly had all the caressing charm of a nice kitten, and now that the
pressing matter of her indebtedness to Lester Kent was settled, she
relapsed into her usual tranquil, happy-go-lucky self. She rubbed her
cheek confidingly against Sara's.
"You are a pet angel, Sara, my own," she said. "I'm so glad you
adopted us. Now I can go to the Herricks' tea-party this afternoon
without having that twenty pounds nagging at the back of my mind all
the time. I suppose"--glancing at the clock--"it's time we put on our
glad rags. The Lavender Lady said she expected us at four."
Half-an-hour later, Molly reappeared, looking quite impossibly lovely
in a frock of the cheapest kind of material, "run up" by the local
dressmaker, and very evidently with no other thought "at the back of
her mind" than of the afternoon's entertainment.
The tea-party was a small one, commensurate with the size of the rooms
at Rose Cottage, and included only Sara and Molly, Mrs. Maynard, and,
to Sara's surprise, Garth Trent.
As she entered the room, he turned quietly from the window where he
had been standing looking out at the Herricks' charming garden.
"Mr. Trent"--Miss Lavinia fluttered forward--"let me introduce you to
The Lavender Lady's pretty, faded blue eyes beamed benevolently on
him. She was so /very/ glad that "that poor, lonely fellow at Far End"
had at last been induced to desert the solitary fastnesses of Monk's
Cliff, but as she was simply terrified at the prospect of entertaining
him herself--and Audrey Maynard seemed already fully occupied,
chatting with Miles--she was only too thankful to turn him across to
Sara's competent hands.
"We've met before, Miss Lavinia," said Trent, and over her head his
hazel eyes met Sara's with a gamin amusement dancing in them. "Miss
Tennant kindly called on me at Far End."
"Oh, I didn't know." Little Miss Lavinia gazed in a puzzled fashion
from one to the other of her guests. "Sara, my dear, you never told me
that you and Dr. Selwyn had called on Mr. Trent."
Sara laughed outright.
"Dear Lavender Lady--we didn't. Neither of us would have dared to
insult Mr. Trent by doing anything so conventional." The black eyes
flashed back defiance at the hazel ones. "I got caught in a storm on
the Monk's Cliff, and Mr. Trent--much against his will, I'm certain"--
maliciously--"offered me shelter."
"Now that was kind of him. I'm sure Sara must have been most grateful
to you." And the kind old face smiled up into Trent's dark, bitter one
so simply and sincerely that it seemed as though, for the moment, some
of the bitterness melted away. Not even so confirmed a misanthrope as
the hermit of Far End could have entirely resisted the Lavender Lady,
with her serene aroma of an old-world courtesy and grace long since
departed from these hurrying twentieth-century days.
She moved away to the tea-table, leaving Trent and Sara standing
together in the bay of the window.
"So you are overcoming your distaste for visiting," said Sara a little
nervously. "I didn't expect to meet you here."
His glance held hers.
"You wished it," he answered gravely.
A sudden colour flamed up into the warm pallor of her skin.
"Are you suggesting I invited you to meet me here?" she responded,
willfully misinterpreting him. She shook her read regretfully. "You
must have misunderstood me. I should never have imposed such a strain
on your politeness."
His eyes glinted.
"Do you know," he said quietly, "that I should very much like to shake
"I'm glad," she answered heartily. "It's a devastating feeling! You
made me feel just the same the day I travelled with you. So now we're
"Won't you--please--try to forget that day in the train?" he said
quickly. "I behaved like a bore. I'm afraid I've no real excuse to
offer, except that I'd been reminded of something that happened long
ago--and I wanted to be alone."
"To enjoy the memory in solitude?" hazarded Sara flippantly. She was
still nervous and talking rather at random, scarcely heeding what she
A look of bitter irony crossed his face.
"Hardly that," he said shortly, and Sara knew that somehow she had
again inadvertently laid her hand upon an old hurt. She spoke with a
sudden change of voice.
"Then, as the train doesn't hold pleasant memories for either of us,
let's forget it," she suggested gently.
"Do you know what that implies?" he asked. "It implies that you are
willing to be friends. Do you mean that?"--incisively.
She nodded silently, not trusting herself to speak.
"Thank you," he said curtly, and then Audrey Maynard's gay voice broke
across the tension of the moment.
"Mr. Trent, I simply cannot allow Sara to monopolize you any longer.
Now that we /have/ succeeded in dragging the hermit out of his shell,
we all want a share of his society, please."
Trent turned instantly, and Sara slipped across the room and took the
place Audrey had vacated by Miles's couch. He greeted her coming with
a smile, but there were shadows of fatigue beneath his eyes, and his
lips were rather white and drawn-looking.
"This is a lazy way to receive visitors, isn't it?" he said
apologetically. "But my game leg's given out to-day, so you must
Sara's glance swept his face with quick sympathy.
"You oughtn't to be at the 'party' at all," she said. "You look far
too tired to be bothered with a parcel of chattering women."
"Do you know," he whispered humorously, "that, although you're quite
the four nicest women I know, the shameful truth is that I'm really
here on behalf of the one man! I met him yesterday in the town and
booked him for this afternoon, and, having at last dislodged him from
his lone pinnacle, I hadn't the heart to leave him unsupported."
"No. I'm glad you dug him out, Miles. It was clever of you."
"It will give Monkshaven something to talk about, anyway"--
"I suppose"--the toe of Sara's narrow foot was busily tracing a
pattern on the carpet--"I suppose you don't know why he shuts himself
up like that at Far End?"
"No, I don't," he answered. "But I'd wager it's for some better reason
than people give him credit for. Or it may be merely a preference for
his own society. Anyway, it is no business of ours." Then, swiftly
softening the suggestion of reproof contained in his last sentence, he
added: "Don't encourage me to gossip, Sara. When a man's tied by the
leg, as I am, it's all he can do to curb a tendency towards tattling
village scandal like some garrulous old woman."
It was evident that the presence of visitors was inflicting a
considerable strain on Herrick's endurance, and, as though by common
consent, the little party broke up shortly after tea.
Molly expressed her intention of accompanying Mrs. Maynard back to
Greenacres--the beautiful house which the latter had had built to her
own design, overlooking the bay--in order to inspect the pretty
widow's recent purchase of a new motor-car.
Trent turned to Sara with a smile.
"Then it devolves on me to see you safely home, Miss Tennant, may I?"
She nodded permission, and they set off through the high-hedged lane,
Sara hurrying along at top speed.
For a few minutes Trent strode beside her in silence. Then:
"Are you catching a train?" he inquired mildly. "Or is it only that
you want to be rid of my company in the shortest possible time?"
She coloured, moderating her pace with an effort. Once again the odd
nervousness engendered by his presence had descended on her. It was as
though something in the man's dominating personality strung all her
nerves to a high tension of consciousness, and she felt herself
overwhelmingly sensible of his proximity.
He smiled down at her.
"Then--if you're not in any hurry to get home--will you let me take
you round by Crabtree Moor? It's part of a small farm of mine, and I
want a word with my tenant."
Sara acquiesced, and, Trent, having speedily transacted the little
matter of business with his tenant, they made their way across a
stretch of wild moorland which intersected the cultivated fields lying
on either hand.
In the dusk of the evening, with the wan light of the early moon
deepening the shadows and transforming the clumps of furze into
strange, unrecognizable shapes of darkness, it was an eerie enough
place. Sara shivered a little, instinctively moving closer to her
companion. And then, as they rounded a furze-crowned hummock, out of
the hazy twilight, loping along on swift, padding feet, emerged the
figure of a man.
With a muttered curse he swerved aside, but Trent's arm shot out, and,
catching him by the shoulder, he swung him round so that he faced
"Leggo!" he muttered, twisting in Trent's iron grasp. "Leggo, can't
"I can, but I'm not going to," said Trent coolly. "At least, not till
you've explained your presence here. This is private property. What
are you doing on it?"
"I'm doing no harm," growled the man sullenly.
"No?" Trent passed his free hand swiftly down the fellow's body,
feeling the bulge of his coat. "Then what's the meaning of those
rabbits sticking out under your coat? Now, look here, my man, I know
you. You're Jim Brady, and it's not the first, nor the second, time
I've caught you poaching on my land. But it's the last. Understand
that? This time the Bench shall deal with you."
The man was silent for a moment. Then suddenly he burst out:
"Look here, sir, pass it over this time. My missus is ill. She's
mortal bad, God's truth she is, and haven't eaten nothing this three
days past. An' I thought mebbe a bit o' stewed rabbit 'ud tempt 'er."
"Pshaw!" Trent was beginning contemptuously, when Sara leaned forward,
peering into the poacher's face.
"Why," she exclaimed. "It's Brady--Black Brady from Fallowdene."
Ne'er-do-well as he was, the mere fact that he came from Fallowdene
warmed her heart towards him.
"Yes, miss, that's so," he answered readily. "And you're the young
lady what used to live at Barrow Court."
"Do you know this man?" Trent asked her.
" 'Bout as well as you do, sir," volunteered Brady with an impudent
grin. "Catched me poachin' one morning. Fired me gun at 'er, too, I
did, to frighten 'er," he continued reminiscently. "And she never
blinked. You're a good-plucked 'un, miss,"--with frank admiration.
Sara looked at the man doubtfully.
"I didn't know you lived here," she said.
"It's my native village, miss, Monks'aven is. But I didn't think 'twas
too 'healthy for me down here, back along"--grinning--"so I shifted to
Fallowdene, where me grandmother lives. I came back here to marry
Bessie Windrake' she've stuck to me like a straight 'un. But I didn't
mean to get collared poachin' again. Me and Bess was goin' to live
respectable. 'Twas her bein' ill and me out of work w'at did it."
"Let him go," said Sara, appealing to Trent. But he shook his head.
"I can't do that," he answered with decision.
"Not 'im, miss, 'e won't," broke in Brady. " 'E's not the soft-'earted
kind, isn't Mr. Trent."
Trent's brows drew together ominously.
"You won't mend matters by impudence, Brady," he said sharply. "Get
along now"--releasing his hold of the man's arm--"but you'll hear of
Brady shot away into the darkness like an arrow, probably chortling to
himself that his captor had omitted to relieve him of the brace of
rabbits he had poached; and Sara, turning again to Trent, renewed her
plea for clemency.
But Trent remained adamant.
"Why shouldn't he stand his punishment like any other man?" he said.
"Well, if it's true that his wife is ill, and that he has been out of
"Are you offering those facts as an excuse for dishonesty?" asked
"Yes, I believe I am," she acknowledged.
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Like nine-tenths of your sex, you are fiercely Tory in theory and a
rank socialist in practice," he grumbled.
"Well, I'm not sure that that isn't a very good working basis to go
on," she retorted.
As they stood in the porch at Sunnyside, she made yet one more effort
to smooth matters over for the evil-doer, but Trent's face still
showed unrelenting in the light that streamed out through the open
"Ask me something else," he said. "I would do anything to please you,
Sara, except"--with a sudden tense decision--"except interfere with
the course of justice. Let every man pay the penalty for his own sin."
"That's a hard creed," objected Sara.
"Hard?" He shrugged his shoulders. "Perhaps it is. But"--grimly--"it's
the only creed I believe in. Good-night"--he held out his hand
abruptly. "I'm sorry I can't do as you ask about Jim Brady."
Before Sara could reply, he was striding away down the path, and a
minute later the darkness had hidden him from view.
TWO ON AN ISLAND
Sara's conviction that Garth Trent would not be easily turned from any
decision that he might take had been confirmed very emphatically over
the matter of Black Brady.
Notwithstanding the fact that the man's story of his wife's illness
proved to be perfectly genuine, Trent persisted that he must take his
punishment, and all that Sara could do by way of mitigation was to
promise Brady that she would pay the amount of any fine which might be
Brady, however, was not optimistic.
"There'll be no opshun of a fine, miss," he told her. "I've a-been up
before the gen'lemen too many times"--grinning. "But if so be you'd
give an eye to Bessie here, whiles I'm in quod, I'd take it very kind
His forecast summed up the situation with lamentable accuracy. No
option of a fine was given, and during the brief space that the prison
doors closed upon him, Sara saw to the welfare of his invalid wife,
thereby winning the undying devotion of Black Brady's curiously
When he again found himself at liberty, she induced the frankly
unwilling proprietor of the Cliff Hotel--the only hotel of any
pretension to which Monkshaven could lay claim--to take him into his
employment as an odd-job man. How she accomplished this feat it is
impossible to say, but the fact remains that she did accomplish it,
and perhaps Jane Crab delved to the root of the matter in the terse
comment which the circumstances elicited from her: "Miss Tennant has a
way with her that 'ud make they stone sphinxes gallop round the desert
if so be she'd a mind they should."
Apparently, however, the sphinx of Far End was compounded of even more
adamantine substance than his feminine prototype, for he exhibited a
mulish aversion to budging an inch--much less galloping--in the
direction Sara had indicated as desirable.
The two quarreled vehemently over the matter, and a glacial atmosphere
of hostility prevailed between them during the period of Black Brady's
Garth, undeniably the victor, was the first to open peace
negotiations, and a few days subsequent to Brady's release from
prison, he waylaid Sara in the town.
She was preoccupied with numerous small, unnecessary commissions to be
executed for Mrs. Selwyn at half-a-dozen different shops, and she
would have passed him by with a frosty little bow had he not halted in
front of her and deliberately held out his hand.
"Good-morning!" he said, blithely disregarding the coolness of his
reception. "Am I still in disgrace? Brady's been restored to the bosom
of his family for at least five days now, you know."
Overhead, the sun was shining gloriously in an azure sky flecked with
little bunchy white clouds like floating pieces of cotton-wool, while
an April breeze, fragrant of budding leaf and blossom, rollicked up
the street. It seemed almost as though the frolicsome atmosphere of
spring had permeated even the shell of the hermit and got into his
system, for there was something incorrigibly boyish and youthful about
him this morning. His cheerful smile was infectious.
"Can't I be restored, too?" he asked
"Restored to what?" asked Sara, trying to resist the contagion of his
"Oh, well"--a faint shadow dimmed the sparkle in his eyes--"to the
same old place I held before our squabble over Brady--just friends,
For a moment she hesitated. He had pitted his will against hers and
won, hands down, and she felt distinctly resentful. But she knew that
in a strange, unforeseen way their quarrel had hurt her inexplicably.
She had hated meeting the cool, aloof expression of his eyes, and now,
urged by some emotion of which she was, as yet, only dimly conscious,
"That's good," he said contentedly. "And you might just as well give
in now as later," he added, smiling.
"All the same," she protested, "you're a bully."
"I know I am--I glory in it! But now, just to show that you really do
mean to be friends again, will you let me row you across to Devil's
Hood Island this afternoon? You told me once that you wanted to go
Sara considered the proposition for a moment, then nodded consent.
"Yes, I'll come," she said, "I should like to."
Devil's Hood Island was a chip off the mainland which had managed to
keep its head above water when the gradually encroaching sea had
stolen yet another mile from the coast. Sandy dunes, patched here and
there with clumps of coarse, straggling rushes, sloped upward from the
rock-strewn shore to a big crag that crowned its further side--a
curious natural formation which had given the island its name.
It was shaped like a great overhanging hood, out of which, crudely
suggested by the configuration of the rock, peered a diabolical face,
weather-worn to the smoothness of polished marble.
April was still doing her best to please, with blue skies and soft
fragrant airs, when Garth gave a final push-off to the /Betsy Anne/,
and bent to his oars as she skimmed out over the top of the waves with
her nose towards Devil's Hood Island.
Sara, comfortably ensconced amid a nest of cushions in the stern of
the boat, pointed to a square-shaped basket of quite considerable
dimensions, tucked away beneath one of the seats.
"What's that?" she asked curiously.
Trent's eyes followed the direction of her glance.
"That? Oh, that's our tea. You didn't imagine I was going to starve
you, did you? I think we shall find that Mrs. Judson has provided all
Sara laughed across at him.
"What a thoughtful man you are!" she said gaily. "Fancy a hermit
remembering a woman's crucial need of tea."
"Don't credit me with too much self-effacement!" he grinned. "I
enjoyed the last occasion when you were my guest, so I'm repeating the
"Still, even deducting for the selfish motive, you're progressing,"
she answered. "I see you developing into quite an ornament to society
in course of time."
"God forbid!" he ejaculated piously.
Sara looked entertained.
"Apparently your ambitions don't lie in that direction?" she rallied
"There is no question of such a catastrophe occurring. I've told you
that society--as such--and I have finished with each other."
His face clouded over, and for a while he sculled in silence, driving
the /Betsy Anne/ through the blue water with strong, steady strokes.
Sara was vividly conscious of the suggestion of supple strength
conveyed by the rippling play of muscle beneath the white skin of his
arms, bared to the elbow, and by the pliant swing of his body to each
sure, rhythmical stroke.
She recollected that one of her earliest impressions concerning him
had been of the sheer force of the man--the lithe, flexible strength
like that of tempered steel--and she wondered whether this were
entirely due to his magnificent physique or owed its impulse, in part,
to some mental quality in him. Her eyes travelled reflectively to the
lean, square-jawed face, with its sensitive, bitter-looking mouth and
its fine modeling of brow and temple, as though seeking there the
answer to her questionings, and with a sudden, intuitive instinct of
reliance, she felt that behind all his cynicism and surface hardness,
there lay a quiet, sure strength of soul that would not fail whoever
Yet he always spoke as though in some way his life had been a failure
--as though he had met, and been defeated, by a shrewd blow of fate.
Sara found it difficult to associate the words failure and defeat with
her knowledge of his dominating personality and force of will, and the
natural curiosity which had been aroused in her mind by his strange
mode of life, with its deliberate isolation, and by the aroma of
mystery which seemed to cling about him, deepened.
Her brows drew together in a puzzled frown, as she inwardly sought for
some explanation of the many inconsistencies she had encountered even
in the short time that she had known him.
His abrupt alterations from reticence to unreserved; his avowed
dislike of women and the contradictory enjoyment which he seemed to
find in her society; his love of music and of beautiful surroundings--
alike indicative of a cultivated appreciation and experience of the
good things of this world--and the solitary, hermit-like existence
which he yet chose to lead--all these incongruities of temperament and
habit wove themselves into an enigma which she found impossible to
"Here we are!"
Garth's voice recalled her abruptly from her musings to find that the
/Betsy Anne/ was swaying gently alongside a little wooden landing-
"But how civilized!" she exclaimed. "One does not expect to find a
jetty on a desert-island."
Trent laughed grimly.
"Devil's Hood is far from being a desert island in the summer, when
the tourists come this way. They swarm over it."
Whilst he was speaking, he had made fast the painter, and he now
stepped out on to the landing-stage. Sara prepared to follow him. For
a moment she stood poised with one foot on the gunwale of the boat,
then, as an incoming wave drove the little skiff suddenly against the
wooden supports of the jetty, she staggered, lost her balance, and
toppled helplessly backward.
But even as she fell, Garth's arms closed round her like steel bars,
and she felt herself lifted clean up from the rocking boat on to the
landing-stage. For an instant she knew that she rested a dead weight
against his breast; then he placed her very gently on her feet.
"All right?" he queried, steadying her with his hand beneath her arm.
"That was a near shave."
His queer hazel eyes were curiously bright, and Sara, meeting their
gaze, felt her face flame scarlet.
"Quite, thanks," she said a little breathlessly, adding: "You must be
She moved her arm as though trying to free it from his clasp, and he
released it instantly. But his face was rather white as he knelt down
to lift out the tea-basket, and he, too, was breathing quickly.
Somewhat silently they made their way up the sandy slope that
stretched ahead of them, and presently, as they mounted the last rise,
the malignant, distorted face beneath the Devil's Hood leaped into
view, granite-grey and menacing against the young blue of the April
"What a perfectly horrible head!" exclaimed Sara, gazing at it aghast.
"It's like a nightmare of some kind."
"Yes, it's not pretty," admitted Garth. "The mouth has a sort of
malevolent leer, hasn't it?"
"It has, indeed. One can hardly believe that it is just a natural
"It's always a hotly debated point whether the devil and his hood are
purely the work of nature or not. My own impression is that to a
certain extent they are, but that someone--centuries ago--being struck
by the resemblance of the rock to a human face, added a few touches to
complete the picture."
"Well, whoever did it must have had a bizarre imagination to
perpetuate such a thing."
"The handiwork--if handiwork it is--is attributed to Friar Anselmo--
the Spanish monk who broke his vows and escaped to Monkshaven, you
Sara looked interested.
"No, I don't know," she said. "Tell me about him. He sounds quite
"You don't meant to say no one has enlightened you as to the gentleman
whose exploit gave the town its name of Monkshaven?"
"No. I'm afraid my education as far as local history is concerned has
been shamefully neglected. Do make good the deficiencies"--smiling.
Garth laughed a little.
"Very well, I will. I always have a kind of fellow-feeling for Friar
Anselmo. But I propose we investigate the tea-basket first."
They established themselves beneath the shelter of a big boulder,
Garth first spreading a rug which he had brought from the boat for
Sara to sit on. Then he unstrapped the tea-basket, and it became
evident either that Mrs. Judson had a genius for assembling together
the most fascinating little cakes and savoury sandwiches, accompanied
by fragrant tea, hot from a thermos flask, or else that she had acted
under instructions from some one to whom the cult of afternoon tea as
sublimated by Rumpelmayer was not an unknown quantity. Sara, sipping
her tea luxuriously, decided in favour of the latter explanation.
"For a confirmed misogynist," she observed later on, when, the feast
over, he was repacking the basket, "you have a very complete
understanding of a woman's weakness for tea."
"It's a case of cause and effect. A misogynist"--caustically--"is the
product of a very complete understanding of most feminine weaknesses."
Sara's slender figure tautened a little.
"Do you think," she said, speaking a little indignantly, "that it is
quite nice of you to invite me out to a picnic and then to launch
remarks of that description at my head?"
"No, I don't," he acknowledged bluntly. "It's making you pay some one
else's bill." His lean brown hand closed suddenly over hers. "Forgive
The abrupt intensity of his manner was out of all proportion to the
merely surface friction of the moment; and Sara, sensing something
deeper and of more significance behind it, hurriedly switched the
conversation into a less personal channel.
"Very well," she said lightly, disengaging her hand. "I'll forgive
you, and you shall tell me about Friar Anselmo." She lifted her eyes
to the leering, sinister face that protruded from the Devil's Hood.
"As, presumably, from his choice of a profession, he, too, had no love
for women, you ought to enjoy telling his story," she added
Garth's eyes twinkled.
"As a matter of fact, it was love o' women that was Anselmo's
undoing," he said. "In spite of his vows, he fell in love--with a very
beautiful Spanish lady, and to make matters worse, if that were
possible, the lady was possessed of a typically jealous Spanish
husband, who, on discovering how the land lay, killed his wife, and
would have killed Anselmo as well, but that he escaped to England. The
vessel on which he sailed was wrecked at the foot of what has been
called, ever since, the Monk's Cliff; but Anselmo himself succeeded in
swimming ashore, and spent the remainder of his life at Monkshaven,
doing penance for the mistakes of his earlier days."
"He chose a charming place to repent in," said Sara, her eyes
wandering to the distant bay, where the quaint little town straggled
picturesquely up the hill that sloped away from the coast.
"Yes," responded Garth slowly, "it's not a bad place--to repent in.
. . . It would be a better place still--to love and be happy in."
There was a brooding melancholy in his tones, and Sara, hearing it,
spoke very gently.
"I hope you will find it--like that," she said.
"I?" He laughed hardly. "No! Those gifts of the gods are not for such
as I. The husks are my portion. If it were not so"--his voice deepened
to a sudden urgent note that moved her strangely--"if it were not
As though in spite of himself, his arms moved gropingly towards her.
Then, with a muttered exclamation, he turned away and sprang hastily
to his feet.
"Let us go back," he said abruptly, and Sara, shaken by his vehemence,
rose obediently, and they began to retrace their steps.
It had grown much colder. The sun hung low in the horizon, and the
deceptive warmth of mid-afternoon had given place to the chill
dampness in the atmosphere. Half unconsciously, feeling that the time
must have slipped away more rapidly than she had suspected, Sara
quickened her steps, Garth striding silently at her side. Presently
the little wooden jetty came into view once more. It bore a curiously
bare, deserted aspect, the waves riding and falling sluggishly on
either side of its black, tarred planking, Sara stared at it
incredulously, then an exclamation of sheer dismay burst from her
"The boat! Look! It's gone!"
"/Gone?/" Garth's eyes sought the landing-stage, then swept the vista
of grey-water ahead of them.
"/Damn!/" he ejaculated forcibly. "She's got adrift!"
A brown speck, bobbing maddeningly up and down in the distance and
momentarily drifting further and further out to sea on the ebbing
tide, was all that could be seen of the /Betsy Anne/.
An involuntary chuckle broke from Sara.
"Marooned!" she exclaimed. "How amusing!"
"Amusing?" Trent looked at her with a concerned expression. "It might
be, if it were eleven o'clock in the morning. But it's the wrong end
of the day. It will be dark before long." He paused, then asked
swiftly: "Does any one at Sunnyside know where you are this
"No. The doctor and Molly were both out to lunch--and you know we only
planned this trip this morning. I haven't seen them since. Why do you
"Because, if they know, they'd send over in search of us if we didn't
turn up in the course of the next hour or so. But if they don't know
where you are, we stand an excellent chance of spending the night
The gravity of what had first struck her as merely an amusing
/contretemps/ suddenly presented itself to Sara.
"Oh!--!" She drew her breath in sharply. "What--what on earth shall we
"Do?" Garth spoke with grim force. "Why, you must be got off the
island somehow. If not, you're fair game for every venomous tongue in
"Would any one hear us from the shore if we shouted?" she suggested.
He shook his head.
"No. The sound would carry in the opposite direction to-day."
"Then what /can/ we do?"
By this time the manifest anxiety in Trent's face was reflected in her
own. The possibility that they might be compelled to spend the night
on Devil's Hood Island was not one that could be contemplated with
equanimity, for Sara had no illusions whatever as to the
charitableness of the view the world at large would take of such an
episode--however accidental its occurrence. Unfortunately, essential
innocence is frequently but a poor tool wherewith to scotch a scandal.
"There is only one thing to be done," said Garth at last, after
fruitlessly scanning the waters for any stray fishing-boat that might
be passing. "I must swim across, and then row back and take you off."
"Swim across?" Sara regarded the distance between the island and the
shore with consternation. "You couldn't possibly do it. It's too far."
"Just under a mile."
"But you would have the tide against you," she urged. The current off
the coast ran with dangerous rapidity between the mainland and the
island, and more than one strong swimmer, as Sara knew, had lost his
life struggling against it.
She looked across to the further shore again, and all at once it
seemed impossible to let Garth make the attempt.
"No! no! You can't go!" she exclaimed.
"You wouldn't be nervous at being alone here?" he asked doubtfully.
She stamped her foot.
"No! Of course not! But--oh! Don't you see? It's madness to think of
swimming across with the tide against you! You could never do it. You
might get cramp--Oh! Anything might happen! You shan't go!"
She caught his arm impetuously, her eyes dilating with the sudden
terror that had laid hold of her. But he was obdurate.
"Look there," he said, pointing to a faint haze thickening the
atmosphere. "Do you see the mist coming up? Very soon it will be all
over us, like a blanket, and there'd be no possibility of swimming
across at all. I must go at once."
"But that only adds to the danger," she argued desperately. "The fog
may come down sooner than you expect, and then you'd lose your
"I must risk that," he answered grimly. "Don't you realize that it's
impossible--/impossible/ for us to remain here?"
"No, I don't," she returned stubbornly. "It isn't worth such a
frightful risk. Some one is sure to look for us eventually."
" 'Eventually' might mean to-morrow morning"--drily--"and that would
be just twelve hours too late. It's worth the risk fifty times over."
"It's not!"--passionately. "Do you suppose I care two straws for the
gossip of a parcel of spiteful old women?"
"Not at the moment, perhaps, but later you wouldn't be able to help
it. What people think of you, what they say of you, can make all the
difference between heaven and hell." He spoke heavily, as though his
words were weighted with some deadening memory. "And do you think I
could bear to feel that I--/I/ had given people a handle for gossiping
about you? I'd cut their tongues out first!" he added savagely.
He stripped off his coat, and, sitting down on a rock, began removing
his boots, while Sara stood watching him in silence with big, sombre
Presently he stood up, bareheaded and barefooted. Below the lean,
tanned face the column of his throat showed white as a woman's, while
the thin silk of his vest revealed the powerful line of shoulder at
its base. His keen eyes were gazing steadily across to the opposite
shore, as though measuring the distance he must traverse, and as a
chance shaft from the westering sun rested upon him, investing him
momentarily in its radiance, there seemed something rather splendid
about him--something very sure and steadfast and utterly without fear.
A sharp cry broke from Sara.
"Garth! Garth!"--his name sprang to her lips spontaneously. "You
mustn't go! You mustn't go! . . ."
He wheeled round, and at the sight of her white, strained face a
sudden light leapt into his eyes--the light of a great incredulity
with, back of it, an unutterable hope and longing. In two strides he
was at her side, his hands gripping her shoulders.
"Why, Sara?--God in heaven!"--the words came hurrying from him, hoarse
and uneven--"I believe you care!"
For an instant he hesitated, seeming to hold himself in check, then he
caught her in his arms, kissing her fiercely on eyes and lips and
"My dear! . . . Oh! My dear! . . ."
She could hear the broken words stammered through his hurried
breathing as she lay unresistingly in his arms; then she felt him put
her from him, gently, decisively, and she stood alone, swaying
slightly. A long shuddering sigh ran through her body.
She never knew whether the word really passed her lips or whether it
was only the cry of her inmost being, so importunate, so urgent that
it seemed to take on actual sound.
There came no answer. He was gone, and through the light veil of the
encroaching mists she could see him shearing his way through the
She remained motionless, her eyes straining after him. He was swimming
easily, with a powerful overhand stroke that carried him swiftly away
from the shore. A little sigh of relaxed tension fluttered between her
lips. At least, he was a magnificent swimmer--he had that much in his
Then her glance spanned the channel to the further shore, and it
seemed as though an interminable waste of water stretched between. And
all the time, at every stroke, that mad, racing current was pulling
against him, fighting for possession of the strong, sinewy body
battling against it.
She beat her hands together in an agony of fear. Why had she let him
go? What did it matter if people talked--what was a tarnished
reputation to set against a man's life? Oh! She had been mad to let
The fog grew denser. Strain as she might, she could no longer see the
dark head above the water, the rise and fall of his arm like a white
flail in the murky light, and she realized that should exhaustion
overtake him, or the swift-running current beat him, drawing him under
--she would not even know?
A sickening sense of bitter impotence assailed her. There was nothing
she could do but wait--wait helplessly until either his return, or
endless hours of solitude, told her whether he had won or lost the
fight against that grey, hungry waste of water. A strangled sob burst
from her throat.
"Oh, God! Let him come back to me! Let him come back!"
The creak of straining rowlocks and the even plash of dripping oars,
muffled by the numbing curtain of the fog, broke through the silence.
Then followed the gentle thudding noise of a boat as it bumped against
the jetty and a voice--Garth's voice--calling.
She rose from the ground where she had flung herself and came to him,
peering at him with eyes that looked like two dark stains in the
whiteness of her face.
"I though you were dead," she said dully. "Drowned. I mean--oh, of
course, it's the same thing, isn't it?" And she laughed, the shrill,
choking laughter of overwrought nerves.
Garth observed her narrowly.
"No, I've very much alive, thanks," he said, speaking in deliberately
cheerful and commonplace accents. "But you look half frozen. Why on
earth didn't you put the rug round you? Get into the boat and let me
tuck you up."
She obeyed passively, and in a few minutes they were slipping over the
water as rapidly as the mist permitted.
Sara was very silent throughout the return journey. For hours, for an
eternity it seemed, she had been in the grip of a consuming terror,
culminating at last in the conviction that Garth had failed to make
the further shore. And now, with the knowledge of his safety, the
reaction from the tension of acute anxiety left her utterly flaccid
and exhausted, incapable of anything more than a half-stunned
acceptance of the miracle.
When at last the Selwyns' house was reached, it was with a manifest
effort that she roused herself sufficiently to answer Garth's quiet
apology for the misadventure of the afternoon.
"If it was your fault that we got stranded on the island," she said,
summoning up rather a wan smile, "it is, at all events, thanks to you
that I shall be sleeping under a respectable roof, instead of
scandalizing half the neighbourhood!" She paused, then went on
uncertainly: " 'Thank you' seems ludicrously inadequate for all you've
"I've done nothing," he interrupted brusquely.
"You risked your life--"
An impatient exclamation broke from him.
"And if I did? I risked something of no value, I assure you--to
myself, or any one else."
Then he added practically--
"Get Jane Crab to give you some hot soup and go to bed. You look
Sara nodded, smiling more naturally.
"I will," she said. "Good-night, then." She held out her hand a little
He took it, holding it closely in his, and looking down at her with
the strange expression of a man who strives to impress upon his mind
the picture of a face he may not see again, so that in a lonely future
he shall find comfort in remembering.
"Good-bye!" he said, at last, very gravely. Then a queer little smile,
half-bitter, half-tender, curving his lips, he added: "I shall always
have this one day for which to thank whatever gods there be."
Sara lay long awake that night. Under Jane Crab's bluff and kindly
ministrations, her feeling of utter bodily exhaustion had given place
to an exquisite sense of mental and physical well-being, and, freed
from the shackles of material discomfort, her thoughts flew backward
over the events of the day.
All /was/ well--gloriously, blessedly well! There could be no
misunderstanding that brief, passionate moment when Garth had held her
in his arms; and the blinding anguish of those hours which had
followed, when she had not known whether he were alive or dead, had
shown her her own heart.
Love had come to her--the love which Patrick Lovell had called the one
altogether good and perfect gift--and with it came a tremulous unrest,
a shy sweetness of desire that crept through all her veins like the
burning of a swift flame.
She felt no fear or shame of love. Sara would never be afraid of life
and its demands, and it seemed to her a matter of little moment that
Garth had made no conventional avowal of his love. She did not, on
that account, pretend, even to herself, as many women would have done,
that her own heart was untouched, but recognized and accepted the fact
that love had come to her with absolute simplicity
Nor did she doubt or question Garth's feeling for her. She /knew/, in
every fibre of her being, that he loved her, and she was ready to wait
quite patiently and happily the few hours that must elapse before he
could come to her and tell her so.
Yet she longed, with a woman's natural longing, to hear him say in
actual words all that his whole attitude towards her had implied,
craved for the moment when the beloved voice should ask for that
surrender which in spirit she had already made.
She rose early, with a ridiculous feeling that it would bring the time
a little nearer, and Jane Crab stared in amazement when she appeared
downstairs while yet the preparations for breakfast were hardly in
"You're no worse for your outing, then, Miss Tennant," she observed,
adding shrewdly: "I'd as lief think you were the better for it."
Sara laughed, flushing a little. Somehow she did not mind the humorous
suspicion of the truth that twinkled in Jane's small, boot-button
eyes, but she sincerely hoped that the rest of the household would not
prove equally discerning.
She need have had no fears on that score. Dr. Selwyn had barely time
to swallow a cup of coffee and a slice of toast before rushing off in
response to an urgent summons from a patient, whilst Molly seemed
entirely preoccupied with the contents of a letter, in an unmistakably
masculine handwriting, which had come for her by the morning's post.
As for Mrs. Selwyn, she was always too much engrossed in analyzing the
symptoms of some fresh ailment she believed she had acquired to be
sensible of the emotional atmosphere of those around her. Her own
sensations--whether she were too hot, or not quite hot enough, whether
her new tabloids were suiting her or whether she had not slept as well
as usual--occupied her entire horizon.
This morning she was distressed because the hairpins Sara had
purchased for her the previous day differed slightly in shape from
those she was in the habit of using.
Sara explained that they were the only ones obtainable.
"At Bloxham's, you mean, dear. Oh, well, of course, you couldn't get
any others, then. Perhaps if you had tried another shop--" Mrs. Selwyn
paused, to let this suggestion sink in, then added brightly: "But,
naturally, I couldn't expect you to spend your whole morning going
from shop to shop looking for my particular kind of hairpin, could I?"
Sara, who had expended a solid hour over that very occupation, was
perfectly conscious of the reproach implied. She ignored it, however.
Like every one else in close contact with Mrs. Selwyn, she had learned
to accept the fact that the poor lady seriously believed that her
whole life was spent in bearing with admirable patience the total
absence of consideration accorded her.
When she descended from Mrs. Selwyn's room Sara was amazed to find
that the hands of the clock only indicated half-past ten. Surely no
morning had ever dragged itself away so slowly!
At two o'clock she and Molly were both due to lunch with Mrs. Maynard
at Greenacres, and she was radiantly aware that Garth Trent would be
included among the guests. Between them, Audrey, and the Herricks, and
Sara had succeeded in enticing the hermit within the charmed circle of
their friendship, and he could now be depended upon to join their
little gatherings--"provided," as he had bluntly told Audrey, "that
you can put up with my manners and morals."
Mrs. Maynard had only laughed.
"I'm not in the least likely to find fault with your manners," she
said cheerfully. "They're really quite normal, and as for your morals,
they are your own affair, my dear man. Anyway, there is at least one
bond between us--Monkshaven heartily disapproves of both of us."
Greenacres was a delightful place, built rather on the lines of a
French country house, with the sitting-rooms leading one into the
other and each opening in its turn on to a broad wooden verandah. The
latter ran round three sides of the house, and in summer the delicate
pink of Dorothy Perkins fought for supremacy with the deeper red of
the Crimson Rambler, converting it into a literal bower of roses.
Audrey was on the steps to greet the two girls when they arrived,
looking, as usual, as though she had just quitted the hands of an
expert French maid. It was in a great measure to the ultra-perfection
of her toilette that she owed the critical attitude accorded her by
the feminine half of Monkshaven. To the provincial mind, the fact that
she dyed her hair, ordered her frocks from Paris, and kept a French
chef to cook her food, were all so many indications of an altogether
worldly and abandoned character--and of a wealth that was secretly to
be envied--and the more venomous among Audrey's detractors lived in
the perennial hope of some day unveiling the scandal which they were
convinced lay hidden in her past.
Audrey was perfectly aware of the gossip of which she was the subject
--and completely indifferent to it.
"It amuses them," she would say blithely, "and it doesn't hurt me in
the least. If Mr. Trent and I both left the neighbourhood, Monkshaven
would be at a loss for a topic of conversation--unless they decided,
as they probably would, that we had eloped together!"
She herself was quite above the petty meanness of envying another
woman's looks or clothes, and she beamed frank admiration over Molly's
appearance as she led the way into the house.
"Molly, you're too beautiful to be true," she declared, pausing in the
hall to inspect the girl's young loveliness in its setting of shady
hat and embroidered muslin frock. Big golden poppies on the hat, and a
girdle at her waist of the same tawny hue, emphasized the rare colour
of her eyes--in shadow, brown like an autumn leaf, gold like amber
when the sunlight lay in them--and the whole effect was deliciously
"You've been spending your substance in riotous purple and fine
linen," pursued Audrey relentlessly. "That frock was never evolved in
Oldhampton, I'm positive."
Molly blushed--not the dull, unbecoming red most women achieve, but a
delicate pink like the inside of a shell that made her look even more
irresistibly distracting than before.
"No," she admitted reluctantly, "I sent for this from town."
Sara glanced at her with quick surprise. Entirely absorbed in her own
thoughts, she had failed to observe the expensive charm of Molly's
toilette and now regarded it attentively. Where had she obtained the
money to pay for it? Only a very little while ago she had been in
debt, and now here she was launching out into expenditure which common
sense would suggest must be quite beyond her means.
Sara frowned a little, but, recognizing the impossibility of probing
into the matter at the moment, she dismissed it from her mind,
resolving to elucidate the mystery later on.
Meanwhile, it was impossible to do other than acknowledge the results
obtained. Molly looked more like a stately young empress than an
impecunious doctor's daughter as she floated into the room, to be
embraced and complimented by the Lavender Lady and to receive a
generous meed of admiration, seasoned with a little gentle banter,
from Miles Herrick.
Sara experienced a sensation of relief on discovering Miss Lavinia and
Herrick to be the only occupants of the room. Garth Trent had not yet
come. Despite her longing to see him again, she was conscious of a
certain diffidence, a reluctance at meeting him in the presence of
others, and she wished fervently that their first meeting after the
events of the previous day could have taken place anywhere rather than
at this gay little lunch party of Audrey's.
As it fell out, however, she chanced to be entirely alone in the room
when Trent was at length ushered in by a trim maidservant, the rest of
the party having gradually drifted out on to the verandah, while she
had lingered behind, glad of a moment's solitude in which to try and
She had never conceived it possible that so commonplace an emotion as
mere nervousness could find place beside the immensities of love
itself, yet, during the interminable moment when Garth crossed the
room to her side, she was supremely aware of an absurd desire to turn
and flee, and it was only by a sheer effort of will that she held her
The next moment he had shaken hands with her and was making some
tranquil observation upon the lateness of his arrival. His manner was
quite detached, every vestige of anything beyond mere conventional
politeness banished from it.
The coolly neutral inflections of his voice struck upon Sara's keyed-
up consciousness as an indifferent finger may twang the stretched
strings of a violin, producing a shuddering violation of their
She hardly knew how she answered him. She only knew, with a sudden
overwhelming certainty, that the Garth who stood beside her now was a
different man, altered out of all kinship with the man who had held
her in his arms on Devil's Hood Island. The lover was gone; only the
She stammered a few halting words by way of response, and--was she
mistaken, or did a sudden look of understanding, almost, it seemed, of
compunction, leap for a moment into his eyes, only to be replaced by
the brooding, bitter indifference habitual to them?
The opportune return of Audrey and her other guests, heralded by a
gust of cheerful laughter, tided over the difficult moment, and Garth
turned away to make his apologies to his hostess, blaming some slight
mishap to his car for the tardiness of his appearance.
Throughout lunch Sara conversed mechanically, responding like an
automaton when any one put a penny in the slot by asking her a
question. She felt utterly bewildered, stunned by Garth's behaviour.
Had their meeting been exchanged under the observant eyes of the rest
of the party, it would have been intelligible to her, for he was the
last man in the world to wear his heart upon his sleeve. But they had
been quite alone for the moment, and yet he had permitted no
acknowledgment of the new relations between them to appear either in
word or look. He had greeted her precisely as though they were no more
to each other than the merest acquaintances--as though the happenings
of the previous day had been wiped out of his mind. It was
Sara felt almost as if some one had dealt her a physical blow, and it
required all her pluck and poise to enable her to take her share of
the general conversation before wending their several ways homeward.
". . . And we'll picnic on Devil's Hood Island."
Audrey's high, clear voice, as she chattered to Molly,
characteristically propounding half-a-dozen plans for the immediate
future, floated across to Sara where she stood waiting on the lowest
step, impatient to be gone. As though drawn by some invisible magnet,
her eyes encountered Garth's, and the swift colour rushed into her
cheeks, staining them scarlet.
His expression was enigmatical. The next moment he bent forward and
spoke, in a low voice that reached her ear alone.
"Much maligned place--where I tasted my one little bit of heaven!"
Then, after a pause, he added deliberately: "But a black sheep has no
business with heaven. He'd be turned away from the doors--and quite
rightly, too! That's why I shall never ask for admittance." He
regarded her steadily for a moment, then quietly averted his eyes.
And Sara realized that in those few words he had revoked--repudiating
all that he had claimed, all that he had given, the day before.
"Letters are unsatisfactory things at the best of times, and what
we all want is to have you with us again for a little while. I am
sure you must have had a surfeit of the simple life by this time,
so come to us and be luxurious and exotic in London for a change.
Don't disappoint us, Sara!
"Yours ever affectionately,
Sara, seated at the open window of her room, re-read the last
paragraph of the letter which the morning's post had brought her, and
then let it fall again on to her lap, whilst she stared with sombre
eyes across the bay to where the Monk's Cliff reared itself, stark and
menacing, against the sky.
April had slipped into May, and the blue waters of the Channel
flickered with a myriad dancing points of light reflected from an
unclouded sun. The trees had clothed themselves anew in pale young
green, and the whole atmosphere was redolent of spring--spring as she
reaches her maturity before she steps aside to let the summer in.
Sara frowned a little. She was out of tune with the harmony of things.
You need happiness in your heart to be at one with the eager pulsing
of new life, the reaching out towards fulfillment that is the
essential quality of spring. Whereas Sara's heart was empty of
happiness and hopes, and of all the joyous beginnings that are the
glorious appanage of youth. There could be no beginnings for her,
because she had already reached the end--reached it with such a
stupefying suddenness that for a time she had been hardly conscious of
pain, but only of a fierce, intolerable resentment and of a pride--
that "devil's own pride" which Patrick had told her was the Tennant
heritage--which had been wounded to the quick.
Garth had taken that pride of hers and ground it under his heel. He
had played at love, and she had been fool enough to mistake love's
simulacrum for the real thing. Or, if there had been any genuine spark
of love kindling the fire of passion that had blazed about her for one
brief moment, then he had since chosen deliberately to disavow it.
He had indicated his intention unmistakably. Since the day of the
luncheon party at Greenacres he had shunned meeting her whenever
possible, and, on the one or two occasions when an encounter had been
unavoidable, his manner had been frigidly indifferent and impersonal.
Outwardly she had repaid him in full measure--indifference for
indifference, ice for ice, gallantly matching her woman's pride
against his deliberate apathy, but inwardly she writhed at the
remembrance of that day on the island, when, in the stress of her
terror for his safety, she had let him see into the very heart of her.
Well, it was over now, and done with. The brief vision of love which
had given a new, transcendent significance to the whole of life, had
faded swiftly into bleak darkness, its memory marred by that bitterest
of all knowledge to a woman--the knowledge that she had been willing
to give her love, to make the great surrender, and that it had not
been required of her. All that remained was to draw a veil as decently
as might be over the forgettable humiliation.
The strain of the last fortnight had left its mark on her. The angles
of her face seemed to have become more sharply defined, and her eyes
were too brilliant and held a look of restlessness. But her lips
closed as firmly as ever, a courageous scarlet line, denying the power
of fate to thrust her under.
The Book of Garth--the book of love--was closed, but there were many
other volumes in life's library, and Sara did not propose to go
through the probable remaining fifty or sixty years of her existence
uselessly bewailing a dead past. She would face life, gamely, whatever
it might bring, and as she had already sustained one of the hardest
blows ever likely to befall her, she would probably make a success of
But, unquestionably, she would be glad to get away from Monkshaven for
a time, to have leisure to readjust her outlook on life, free from the
ceaseless reminders that the place held for her.
Here in Monkshaven, it seemed as though Garth's personality informed
the very air she breathed. The great cliff where he had his dwelling
frowned at her from across the bay whenever she looked out of her
window, his name was constantly on the lips of those who made up her
little circle of friends, and every day she was haunted by the fear of
meeting him. Or, worse than all else, should that fear materialize,
the torment of the almost hostile relationship which had replaced
their former friendship had to be endured.
The invitation to join the Durwards in London had come at an opportune
moment, offering, as it did, a way of escape from the embarrassments
inseparable from the situation. Moreover, amid the distractions and
bustle of the great city it would be easier to forget for a little her
burden of pain and humiliation. There is so much time for thinking--
and for remembering--in the leisurely traquillity of country life.
Sara would have accepted the invitation without hesitation, but that
there seemed to her certain reasons why her absence from Sunnyside
just now was inadvisable--reasons based on her loyalty to Doctor Dick
and the trust he had reposed in her.
For the last few weeks she had been perplexed and not a little worried
concerning Molly's apparent accession to comparative wealth. Certain
small extravagances in which the latter had recently indulged must
have been, Sara knew, beyond the narrow limits of her purse, and
inquiry had elicited from Selwyn the fact that she had received no
addition to her usual allowance.
Molly herself had light-heartedly evaded all efforts to gain her
confidence, and Sara had refrained from putting any direct question,
since, after all, she was not the girl's guardian, and her
interference might very well be resented.
She was uneasily conscious that for some reason or other Molly was in
a state of tension, alternating between abnormally high spirits and
the depths of depression, and the recollection of that unpleasant
little episode of her indebtedness to Lester Kent lingered
disagreeably in Sara's mind.
She had seen the man once, in Oldhampton High Street--Molly, at that
time still clothed in penitence, had pointed him out to her--and she
had received an unpleasing impression of a lean, hatchet face with
deep-set, dense-brown eyes, and of a mouth like that of a bird of
She felt reluctant to go away and leave things altogether to chance,
and finally, unable to come to any decision, she carried Elisabeth's
letter down to Selwyn's study and explained the position.
His face clouded over at the prospect of her departure.
"We shall miss you abominably," he declared. "But of course"--ruefully
--"I can quite understand Mrs. Durward's wanting you to go back to
them for a time, and I suppose we must resign ourselves to being
unselfish. Only you must promise to come back again--you mustn't
desert us altogether."
"You needn't be afraid of that. I shall turn up again like the
proverbial bad penny."
"All the same, make it a promise," he urged.
"I promise, then, you distrustful man! But about Molly?"
"I don't think you need worry about her." Selwyn laughed a little.
"The sudden accession to wealth is accounted for. It seems that she
has sold a picture."
"Oh! So that's the explanation, is it?" Sara felt unaccountably
"Yes--though goodness knows how she has beguiled any one into buying
one of her daubs!"
"Oh, they're quite good, really, Doctor Dick. It's only that Futurist
Art doesn't appeal to you."
"Not exactly! She showed me one of her paintings the other day. It
looked like a bad motor-bus accident in a crowded street, and she told
me that it represented the physical atmosphere of a woman who had just
Sara laughed suddenly and hysterically.
"How--how awfully funny!" she said in an odd, choked voice. Then,
fearful of losing her self-command, she added hastily: "I'll write and
tell Elisabeth that I'll come, then." And fled out of the room.
As Sara stepped out of the train at Paddington, the first person upon
whom her eyes alighted was Tim Durward. He hastened up to her.
"Tim!" she exclaimed delightedly. "How dear of you to come and meet
"Didn't you expect I should?" He was holding her hand and joyfully
pump-handling it up and down as though he would never let it go, while
the glad light in his eyes would indubitably have betrayed him to any
passer-by who had chanced to glance in his direction.
Sara coloured faintly and withdrew her hands from his eager clasp.
"Oh, well, you might conceivably have had something else to do," she
For an instant the blue eyes clouded.
"I never had anything to do," he said shortly. "You know that."
She laughed up at him.
"Now, Tim, I won't be growled at the first minute of my arrival. You
can pour out your grumbles another day. First now, I want to hear all
the news. Remember, I've been vegetating in the country since the
beginning of March!"
She drew him tactfully away from the old sore subject of his enforced
idleness, and, while the car bore them swiftly towards the Durwards'
house on Green Street, she entertained him with a description of the
"I should think your 'Doctor Dick' considers himself damned lucky in
having got you there--seeing that his house seems all at sixes and
sevens," commented Tim rather glumly.
"He does. Oh! I'm quite appreciated, I assure you."
Tim made no reply, but stared out of the window. The car rounded the
corner into Park Lane; in another moment they would reach their
destination. Suddenly he turned to her, his face rather strained-
"And--the other man? Have you met him yet--at Monkshaven?"
There was no mistaking his meaning. Sara's eyes met his unflinchingly.
"If you mean has any one asked me to marry him--no, Tim. No one has
done me that honour," she answered lightly.
"Thank God!" he muttered below his breath.
Sara looked troubled.
"Haven't you--got over that, yet?" she said, hesitatingly. "I--I hoped
you would, Tim."
"I shall never get over it," he asserted doggedly. "And I shall never
give you up till you are another man's wife."
The quiet intensity of his tones sounded strangely in her ears. This
was a new Tim, not the boyish Tim of former times, but a man with all
a man's steadfast purpose and determination.
She was spared the necessity of reply by the fact that they had
reached their journey's end. The car slid smoothly to a standstill,
and almost simultaneously the house-door opened, and behind the
immaculate figure of the Durwards' butler Sara descried the welcoming
faces of Geoffrey and Elisabeth.
It was good to see them both again--Geoffrey, big and debonair as
ever, his jolly blue eyes beaming at her delightedly, and Elisabeth,
still with that same elusive atmosphere of charm which always seemed
to cling about her like the fragrance of a flower.
They were eager to hear Sara's news, plying her with questions, so
that before the end of her first evening with them they had gleaned a
fairly accurate description of her life at Sunnyside and of the new
circle of friends she had acquired.
But there was one name she refrained from mentioning--that of Garth
Trent, and none of Elisabeth's quietly uttered comments or inquiries
sufficed to break through the guard of her reticence concerning the
Hermit of Far End.
"It sounds rather a manless Eden--except for the nice, lame Herrick
person," said Elisabeth at last, and her hyacinth eyes, with their
curiously veiled expression, rested consideringly on Sara's face,
alight with interest as she had vividly sketched the picture of her
life at Monkshaven.
"Yes, I suppose it is rather," she admitted. Her tone was carelessly
indifferent, but the eager light died suddenly out of her face, and
Elisabeth, smiling faintly, adroitly turned the conversation.
Sara speedily discovered that she would have even less time for the
fruitless occupation of remembering than she had anticipated. The
Durwards owned a host of friends in town with whom they were immensely
popular, and Sara found herself caught up in a perpetual whirl of
entertainment that left her but little leisure for brooding over the
She felt sometimes as though the London season had opened and
swallowed her up, as the whale swallowed Jonah, and when she declared
herself breathless with so much rushing about, Tim would coolly throw
over any engagement that chanced to have been made and carry her off
for a day up the river, where a quiet little lunch, in the tranquil
shade of overhanging trees, and the cosy, intimate talk that was its
invariable concomitant, seemed like an oasis of familiar, homely
pleasantness in the midst of the gay turmoil of London in May.
Tim had developed amazingly. He seemed instinctively to recognize her
moods, adapting himself accordingly, and in his thought and care for
her there was a half-playful, half-tender element of possessiveness
that sometimes brought a smile to her lips--and sometimes a sigh, as
the inevitable comparison asserted itself between Tim's gentle ruling
and the brusque, forceful mastery that had been Garth's. But, on the
whole, the visit to the Durwards was productive of more smiles than
sighs, and Sara found Tim's young, chivalrous devotion very soothing
to the wound her pride had suffered at Garth's hands.
She overflowed in gratitude to Elisabeth.
"You're giving me a perfectly lovely time," she told her. "And Tim
/is/ such a good playfellow!"
Elisabeth's face seemed suddenly to glow with that inner radiance
which praise of her beloved Tim alone was able to inspire.
"Only that, Sara?" she said very quietly. Yet somehow Sara knew that
she meant to have an answer to her question.
"Why--why----" she stammered a little. "Isn't that enough?"--trying to
Elisabeth shook her head.
"Tim wants more than a playfellow. Can't you give him what he wants,
Sara was silent a moment.
"I didn't know he had told you," she said, at last, rather lamely.
"Nor has he. Tim is loyal to the core. But a mother doesn't need
telling these things." Elisabeth's beautiful voice deepened. "Tim is
bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh--and he's soul of my soul as
well. Do you think, then, that I shouldn't know when he is hurt?"
Sara was strangely moved. There was something impressive in the
restrained passion of Elisabeth's speech, a certain primitive grandeur
in her envisagement of the relationship of mother and son.
"I expect," pursued Elisabeth calmly, "that you think I'm going too
far--farther than I have any right to. But it's any mother's right to
fight for her son's happiness, and I'm fighting for Tim's. Why won't
you marry him, Sara?" The question flashed out suddenly.
"Because--why--oh, because I'm not in love with him."
A gleam of rather sardonic mirth showed in Elisabeth's face.
"I wish," she observed, "that we lived in the good old days when you
could have been carried off by sheer force and /compelled/ to marry
Sara laughed outright.
"I really believe you mean it!" she said with some amusement.
"I do. I shouldn't have hesitated."
"And what about me? You wouldn't have considered my feelings at all in
the matter, I suppose?" Sara was still smiling, yet she had a dim
consciousness that, preposterous as it sounded, Elisabeth would have
had no scruples whatever about putting such a plan into effect had it
been in any way feasible.
"No." Elisabeth replied with the utmost composure. "Tim comes first.
But"--and suddenly her voice melted to an indescribable sweetness--
"You would be almost one with him in my heart, because you had brought
him happiness." She paused, then launched her question with a delicate
hesitancy that skillfully concealed all semblance of the probe. "Tell
me--is there any one else who has asked of you what Tim asks? Perhaps
I have come too late with my plea?"
Sara shook her head.
"No," she said flatly, "there is no one else." With a sudden bitter
self-mockery she added: "Tim's is the only proposal of marriage I have
to my credit."
The repressed anxiety with which Elisabeth had been regarding her
relaxed, and a curious look of content took birth in the hyacinth
eyes. It was as though the bitterness of Sara's answer in some way
reassured her, serving her purpose.
"Then can't you give Tim what he wants? You will be robbing no one.
Sara"--her low voice vibrated with the urgency of her desire--"promise
me at least that you will think it over--that you will not dismiss the
idea as though it were impossible?"
Sara half rose; her eyes, wide and questioning, were fixed upon
"But why--why do you ask me this?" she faltered.
"Because I think"--very softly--"that Tim himself will ask you the
same thing before very long. And I can't face what it will mean to him
if you send him away. . . . You would be happy with him, Sara. No
woman could live with Tim and not grow to love him--certainly no woman
whom Tim loved."
The depth of her conviction imbued her words with a strange force of
suggestion. For the first time the idea of marriage with Tim presented
itself to Sara as a remotely conceivable happening.
Hitherto she had looked upon his love for her as something which only
touched the outer fringe of her life--a temporary disturbance of the
good-comradely relations that had existed between them. With the easy
optimism of a woman whose heart has always been her own exclusive
property she had hoped he would "get over it."
But now Elisabeth's appeal, and the knowledge of the pain of love,
which love itself had taught her, quickened her mind to a new
understanding. Perhaps Elisabeth felt her yield to the impression she
had been endeavoring to create, for she rose and came and stood quite
close to her, looking down at her with shining eyes.
"Give my son his happiness!" she said. And the eternal supplication of
all motherhood was in her voice.
Sara made no answer. She sat very still, with bent head. Presently
there came the sound of light footsteps as Elisabeth crossed the room,
and, a moment later, the door closed softly behind her.
She had thrust a new responsibility on Sara's shoulders--the
responsibility of Tim's happiness.
"Give my son his happiness!" The poignant appeal of the words rang in
After all, why not? As Elisabeth had said, she would be robbing no one
by so doing. The man for whom had been reserved the place in the
sacred inner temple of her heart had signified very clearly that he
had no intention of claiming it.
No other would ever enter in his stead; the doors of that innermost
sanctuary would be kept closed, shutting in only the dead ashes of
remembrance. But if entrance to the outer courts of the temple meant
so much to Tim, why should she not make him free of them? That other
had come and gone again, having no need of her, while Tim's need was
Life, at the moment stretched in front of her very vague and
purposeless, and she knew that by marrying Tim she would make three
people whom she loved, and who mattered most to her in the whole world
--Tim, and Elisabeth, and Geoffrey--supremely happy. No one need
suffer except herself--and for her there was no escape from suffering
So it came about that when, as her visit drew towards its close, Tim
came to her and asked her once again to be his wife, she gave him an
answer which by no stretch of the imagination could she have conceived
as possible a short three weeks before.
She was very frank with him. She was determined that if he married
her, it must be open-eyed, recognizing that she could only give him
honest liking in return for love. Upon a foundation of sincerity some
mutual happiness might ultimately be established, but there should be
no submerged rock of ignorance and misunderstanding on which their
frail barque of matrimonial happiness might later founder in a sea of
"Are you willing to take me--like that?" she asked him. "Knowing that
I can only give you friendship? I wish--I wish I could give you what
you ask--but I can't."
Tim's eyes searched hers for a long moment.
"Is there some one else?" he asked at last.
A wave of painful colour flooded her face, then ebbed away, leaving it
curiously white and pinched-looking, but her eyes still met his
"There is--no one who will ever want your place, Tim," she said with
The sight of her evident distress hurt him intolerably.
"Forgive me!" he exclaimed quickly. "I had no right to ask that
"Yes, you had," she replied steadily, "since you have asked me to be
"Well, you've answered it--and it doesn't make a bit of difference. I
want you. I'll take what you can give me, Sara. Perhaps, some day,
you'll be able to give me love as well."
She shook her head.
"Don't count on that, Tim. Friendship, understanding, the comradeship
which, after all, can mean a good deal between a man and woman--all
these I can give you. And if you think those things are worth while,
I'll marry you. But--I'm not in love with you."
"You will be--I'm sure it's catching," he declared with the gay,
buoyant confidence which was one of his most endearing qualities.
Sara smiled a little wistfully.
"I wish it were," she said. "But please be serious, Tim dear--"
"How can I be?" he interrupted joyfully. "When the woman I love tells
me that she'll marry me, do you suppose I'm going to pull a long face
He caught her in his arms and kissed her with all the impetuous
fervour of his two-and-twenty years. At the touch of his warm young
lips, her own lips whitened. For an instant, as she rested in his
arms, she was stabbed through and through by the memory of those other
arms that had held her as in a vice of steel, and of stormy,
passionate kisses in comparison with Tim's impulsive caress, half-shy,
half-reverent, seemed like clear water beside the glowing fire of red
She drew herself sharply out of his embrace. Would she never forget--
would she be for ever remembering, comparing? If so, God help her!
"No," she said quietly. "You needn't pull a long face over it. But--
but marriage is a serious thing, Tim, after all."
"My dear"--he spoke with a sudden gentle gravity--"don't misunderstand
me. Marriage with you is the most serious and wonderful and glorious
thing that could ever happen to a man. When you're my wife, I shall be
thanking God on my knees every day of my life. All the jokes and
nonsense are only so many little waves of happiness breaking on the
shore. But behind them there is always the big sea of my love for you
--the still waters, Sara."
Sara remained silent. The realization of the tender, chivalrous,
worshiping love this boy was pouring out at her feet made her feel
very humble--very ashamed and sorry that she could give so little in
Presently she turned and held out her hands to him.
"Tim--my Tim," she said, and her voice shook a little. "I'll try not
to disappoint you."
THE NAME OF DURWARD
The Durwards received the news of their son's engagement to Sara with
unfeigned delight. Geoffrey was bluffly gratified at the
materialization of his private hopes, and Elisabeth had never appeared
more captivating than during the few days that immediately followed.
She went about as softly radiant and content as a pleased child, and
even the strange, watchful reticence that dwelt habitually in her eyes
was temporarily submerged by the shining happiness that welled up
She urged that an early date should be fixed for the wedding, and
Sara, with a dreary feeling that nothing really mattered very much,
listlessly acquiesced. Driven by conflicting influences she had burned
her boats, and the sooner all signs of the conflagration were
obliterated the better.
But she opposed a quiet negative to the further suggestion that she
should accompany the Durwards to Barrow Court instead of returning to
"No, I can't do that," she said with decision. "I promised Doctor Dick