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newest of sweethearts, laughing and embarrassed; Millicent's prayer of a moment earlier was answered. It was answered too late, or too soon, to be of any use to her. It was answered at an excessively inopportune moment. Through the open French windows, suddenly, in silence, and with great precipitation, as if he had been running, came a young
"Everard!" cried Millicent gaspingly. And, as if that were not enough, she must needs add, "How you startled me!" Well, of course, that was the worst thing she could possibly have said. The words proceeded from a mind as flushed as her cheeks, which were as red as they could be.
Everard was younger than the Gargoyle. He was a year older than Millicent, whereas the Gargoyle looked as if he might be about twenty-eight. Everard was the vicar's son. He was extremely learned, for his age, but he did not look learned, and, in fact, he did not look his age. He had very round pink cheeks, and a little chin with a dimpling cleft in the center of it. He had a large mass of curly flaxen hair, and wonderfully red pouting lips. The ten young women who composed the eligible population of Pigglesdown and its neighborhood were all discreetly half in love with Everard, and Millicent a year earlier had been given the prize, so that she was really a very lucky girl indeed. She knew this. She had known italmost monotonously-for twelve months. She knew it more distinctly than ever as she gazed at Everard after her idiotic remark, and saw him gazing at the Gargoyle with
a most peculiar expression upon his face. She had only to look from Everard to the Gargoyle, and back again, to realize her good fortune very acutely. Everard was wellfavored. By contrast with the strange ugly young man he became positively beautiful.
"Everard," cried Millicent eagerly. "This is Mr. Domayne. He's come to see Daddy, and Daddy's been called up to London. Come and sit down. Or first-call Annie. Oh, there you are, Annie." She was speaking feverishly, the color still flaming in her cheeks. "Yes, Annie; I was just going to ask if you'd bring them. Thank you. Mr. Domayne is writing a book, Everard. It's about that he's come to see Daddy."
"How d'you do?" said Everard stiffly, frowning with intense dis
"How d'you do?" responded the Gargoyle, beaming.
And, having exchanged these courtesies, the two young men appeared not to notice one another, after the best model for the deportment of young English gentlemen who meet for the first time. An age passed. Millicent gazed in despair at Everard. He looked black. He looked terrible. She ignored his expression, and dwelt upon his features. saw with joy and pride how the sunlight caught his mop of curly flaxen hair, and could not resist peeping at the Gargoyle in order to observe the degree to which he was impressed. To her indignation, his ugly face wore its apparently customary expression of hideous benevolence, but in the depths of those frank and comprehending eyes there
lurked once more the indescribable shadow of deep laughter. It was too much. Having seen Everard limply return his cup to the tray, and having satisfied herself that the Gargoyle, also, had finished his tea, she jumped to her feet.
"Now, Mr. Domayne," she said briskly. "Would you like Everard to telephone to the Crown, and ask them to keep a room for you, while I show you the garden?"
"That would be delightful," said the Gargoyle. "Would he mind?” "I'll ask him," Millicent dryly responded. "Will you, dear?"
"For to-night?" asked Everard— she feared rather sulkily. Nay, she knew it. Very sulkily.
"For an indefinite period," said the Gargoyle, beaming with amiability. "Thank you so much."
If Millicent had not by now thoroughly disliked Mr. Domayne, so that she was delighted when his horrible motor-bicycle snorted away to the village, she would have found Everard's new silence of jealousy rather gratifying. It pleased her vanity that Everard should be jealous, but it irritated her to know that the jealousy must be giving immense amusement to the Gargoyle. Also, Everard behaved in a rather ignominious way which made her ashamed of him. He ignored the stranger; but he ignored him overstudiously, until it seemed as though the Gargoyle glittered by comparison with a perfectly dull school-boy. And so, in spite of the Gargoyle's tact, their walk round the garden was less than a triumph of sociability. It gradually became a funereal promenade. And at last, much to Millicent's relief, Mr. Domayne took his
leave, promising to call again the following afternoon.
And as the loud clattering of his motor-bicycle died away in the distance Everard committed an indiscretion. Instead of clasping his beloved in his arms, and murmuring "At last!" (to which Millicent would have responded with a heartfelt "Thank goodness!") he looked distantly away from her, with a scowl as black as thunder on his plump childlike face, and uttered terrible words.
"I want to know how it is I found you kissing that bounder, Millicent?" he said.
Millicent could not believe her ears. "Everard?" she demanded.
"I want to know why you let that beast kiss you?" said Everard doggedly.
Millicent's heart seemed to lurch sharply. She felt sick. The blood swept up to her face exactly as it had done when she choked over the crumb which leaped into her windpipe.
"How dare you!" she cried, in a rage. "I'd never seen the man until an hour ago."
"That only makes it worse," retorted Everard, with trembling lips. Millicent could not speak. She was choking again-this time with indignation.
"I'll never speak to you again!" she declared. "At least, not till you've apologized!"
And with that she turned swiftly on her heel and ran back to the house.
She was still furious when she arrived indoors and for five minutes afterward. She walked about the sitting-room with her heart beating
and her teeth clenched. And at last her breath caught in a rather hysterical laugh of excitement.
"How ridiculous!" she exclaimed. Again she quivered with anger. "How shameful!"
Her finger flew for one instantso indignant was Millicent-to the half-hoop, as if she would cast it from her. But the action was not completed. Her hands dropped to her sides.
"To think that I'd . . . That man! Good gracious! what can Everard see in him? It's disgraceful of Everard. It's disgraceful! He'll be coming in to apologize in a minute, and say he's sorry. Then I'll explain. We'll laugh at it."
Slowly her head shook.
"I wonder if we shall?" she thought. "It's quite true, Everard's not easily amused. He's serious. It's because... Oh, how disloyal I am! He's perfect. Perfect." And all the time a little voice was saying within her: "He isn't. He's been silly and insulting . . ." But her conscious thought continued: "He's just different from Mr. Domayne, who's amused at everything-even if it's nothing at all . . . Here he
It was Annie, come to collect the tea-things. Millicent turned away to hide her bright eyes. Annie was another woman, who "noticed" such things.
Meanwhile, Everard, his heart swelling at thought of the fickleness of woman of modern woman-had reached the vicarage. He had entered the drawing-room, where his mother sat, eagle-eyed, rather eaglenosed, a large, rather short, magis
terial woman who wore a large square-patterned dress of gray flannel and held her head very high. "Everard!" she cried.
Sulkily Everard sat down at a distance.
"What is it, my dear?" demanded his mother. "You're upset. Tell mother what it is."
Haltingly the tale was told. And to an accompaniment of exclamations of incredulity and amazement. Mrs. Manners became more eaglelike than ever. She looked first at Everard, and then, scathingly, as if at an imaginary Millicent.
"Scandalous!" cried Mrs. Manners. "Her father not two hours gone from home. Scandalous! I always suspected it. The girl's no good. I must think what's to be done."
In his room at the Crown, the Gargoyle was staring at the tiny rose pattern of his wall-paper, and at the pictures of race-horses and dogs which hung irregularly about the room; and he was thinking: "What a very nice, pretty, attractive girl! And what a young prig of a sweetheart she's got!" And at the same time he thought with pleasure of the fact that he would be seeing Millicent again within twenty-four hours. Because although Maurice Domayne was quite the most learned man of his age regarding the Roman occupation of Britain, he had not gone so far into personal antiquity as to be blind or insensitive to young women as charming as Millicent Pearson.
He was still thinking of Millicent as he took a stroll through the lanes about Pigglesdown after his supper that evening. The hedges were
high, the roads were white under a large moon, except where they were deeply shadowed by overarching trees, and little bats were whisking about in the gloom, blundering about his head in their flight. Sounds carried very far, and a thousand faint rustlings caught Maurice Domayne's ear as he walked. Presently, when he had gone perhaps a mile or so from the village, he stopped to gaze through a gap in the dark hedge and across several moonbleached meadows, to the lovely shape of a low hill which stood at some little distance. Presently, tempted by such beauty, he slipped through the gap, and sat down on the grass, in the shadow, with his knees up and his arms clasping them. His position-although Maurice did not realize this until later was such as to conceal him from the rest of the world. It was completely shrouded by the darkness and by heavy undergrowth. Puffing gently at his big round-bowled pipe, Maurice sat in silence exulting at the radiance of the scene, and thinking idly and pleasantly of Millicent.
For several minutes he had sat thus, without hearing anything but the distant noises of the village, and the hushing of the soft leaves, and the hardly perceptible movements of birds and creeping things in the hedges about him, when without warning there came a whisper through the evening air. Maurice started. The first whisper was answered by another.
"You're late, I say."
as if two persons had brushed heavily against the hedge behind Maurice. "Don't be so rough," said one of the whisperers. "Ooh!"
Maurice became very uncomfortable. The rôle of eavesdropper was a new one for him, and he did not like it. Should he plunge suddenly out from his place of concealment? Or should he stay where he was? The voices seemed to be nearer. He remained still.
"I'm not rough." It was the thick voice of amorous youth. "Yes, you are." It was caressing, enticing. "Nice rough."
There was another rustling. For a moment Maurice thought the lovers were upon him. Then came silence. Had they gone? No. There was a whisper which he did not catch. It was indignantly answered-this time almost aloud, and by a man.
"I don't, Nellie. I swear I don't. Yes, I know; but she doesn't either. I caught her kissing another fellow this afternoon. I'm sick of it. But you know my mater . . . No, it's you. I swear it is."
"What you going to do, then?" came a quick murmur in reply.
They had passed, leaving Maurice staggered. Everard-wasn't that the name of the young man with the red face and the mop of yellow hair?
"I couldn't get out before . . . Goldilocks? The donor of that ap
Mum kept on at me . . ."
There was a kiss, and some smothered laughter from a girl. A rustling
palling half-hoop upon . . . And Nellie-what was Miss Pearson's name? Hadn't the fellow called her
Millicent? Yes, of course he had. Millicent Pearson. Not Nellie, or whatever the original of Nellie was. Besides, there was a burr in this girl's speech. This was a country girl. Millicent spoke otherwise. It was not she.
"Oho, Master Everard!" muttered the Gargoyle to himself. "So that's you, is it? Not a prig but a cad, is it? A Don Juan! Oho! Now this is decidedly interesting!"
And with that he puffed again at his pipe, relighted it, and came forth from his resting place and resumed his walk. The lanes were shadowed hereabouts; but they were not so shadowed as to prevent him, a few minutes later, from seeing two figures withdrawn into the darkness under the trees, hardly breathing, alarmed by his footsteps and hiding from his eyes. He had no difficulty-now that he had been warned-in recognizing the figure of the young man; and as he did this Maurice drew his breath sharply.
"Kissing another fellow, eh?" he thought. "You liar! And what are you doing?"
"Domayne? Look here, I'm so sorry about yesterday." The voice was raw and unrecognizable over the telephone. "I was called away. I got back an hour ago. Can you come up? Bring your traps. What's that? No, no, no; of course you're coming to stay here. That's all nonsense. My invitation holds good. The room's ready for you. Come along at once, will you? We'll have a good talk before dinner."
Maurice Domayne's beaming face had a little dry expression as he heard Millicent's father ring off.
He backed from the telephone, which was in the passageway of the Crown, between the parlor and the bar, and saw Mrs. Howard, the landlady, standing at a little distance, watching him and smiling. Mrs. Howard was a trim, plump, smooth-faced woman to whom everything was—it seemed as much of a joke as it was to Maurice. And she had taken a liking to the Gargoyle, reading, perhaps, his heart, and not (as Millicent had done) his face.
"So I've got to go, after all," Maurice said to her, a little ruefully. "Perhaps you'll come back again,
"Perhaps I shall. I hope I shall. Oh, by the way A thought struck Maurice. "Do you know a girl in the village-I should say about twenty-called Nellie?"
Mrs. Howard considered, her eyes bright with curiosity.
"Fair or dark?" she asked.
How was Maurice to know that? He had not seen the girl. Her voice? Some instinct guided him.
"Dark," he said promptly.
"Ah, that's Nellie Rich, over at the farm about a mile out of the village, sir. Parrott's Farm, they call it. She's a good girl; the eldest of seven bonny children. Mrs. Rich was a Furll, daughter of the baker here. Her mother was Why was it you asked, sir?"
For answer, the Gargoyle beamed. "I just wondered," he said pleasantly. "Only curiosity. She's very pretty."
Mr. Pearson received him warmly -an oldish, but not an old, loosely built man with a long chin, a wide, thin, humorous mouth, and some