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   Chapter 4 ADAM AND NEW YEAR'S EVE

The Brother of Daphne By Dornford Yates Characters: 32127

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Jonah rose, walked to the window, pulled the curtains aside, and peered out into the darkness.

"What of the night?" said I.

"Doth the blizzard yet blizz?" said Berry.

"It doth," said Jonah.

"Good," said Berry. Then he turned to Daphne. "Darling, you have my warmest Yuletide greetings and heartiest good wishes for a bright New Year. Remember the old saying:

"You may have move pretentious wishes,

But more sincere you can't than this is."

"Do you believe it's going on like this?" said his wife.

"Dear heart-two words-my love for you is imperishable. If it were left at the goods station for a month during a tram strike, it would, unlike the sausages, emerge fresh and sweet as of yore. I mean it."

"Fool," said Daphne. "I meant the weather, as you know."

"A rebuff," said her husband. "Do I care? Never. Strike me in the wind, and I will offer you my second wind for another blow. I did not forget everything when I married you. But to the weather. This berlizzard-German-has its disadvantages. A little more, and we shan't be able to bathe to-morrow. Never mind. Think of the Yule log. Noel." Here he regarded his empty glass for a moment. "Woman, lo, your lord's beaker requires replenishing. I ought not to have to tell you, really. However."

Daphne selected one of the harder chocolates, took careful aim, and discharged it in the direction of her husband's face. It struck him on the nose.

"Good shot," said I. "That entitles you to a vase. If you like, you can have another two shots instead." "I'll take the vase," said my sister. "For all the area of the target, I mightn't hit it again."

"A few years ago," said Berry, "you would probably have been pressed to death for this impious display. In consideration of your age, you might instead have been sent to a turret."

"What's a turret?" said Jill.

"Old English for bathroom, dear, and kept there till you had worked the murder of Becket in tapestry and four acts. I shall be more merciful. When you can show me a representation of the man who drew Slipaway in the Calcutta Sweep trying to believe that it wouldn't have won, even if it hadn't been knocked down when it was leading by nineteen lengths-"

"Very brilliant," said Daphne, "but the point is, what are we going to do about to-morrow night?"

"If it goes on like this, we can't go."

"Oh, but we must," said Jill.

"My dear, I'm not going out in this sort of weather without Sjvensen, and he may be too busy to leave town. Besides, the blubber hasn't come yet."

"Couldn't we get hold of Wenceslas?" said I. "He's getting five million a week at the Palliseum. Makes footprints there twice daily in real snow. The audience are invited to come and tread in them. They do, too, like anything. Happily, Wenceslas is famed for the size of his feet. But you can't expect a man to leave-"

"But it can't go on like this," said Daphne.

"My dear, English weather is like your dear self-capable of anything. Be thankful that we have only snow."

"If it occurred to it to rain icebergs, so that we were compelled willy or even nilly to give up sleeping out of doors, it would do so. Well, I'm tired. What about turning out, eh? Light the lanthorn, Jonah, and give me my dressing-gown."

"If you want to make me really ill," said Daphne, "you'll go on talking about bathing and sleeping out of doors."

Berry laughed a fat laugh. "My dear," he explained, "I was only joking."

We were all housed together in an old, old country inn, the inn of Fallow, which village lies sleeping at the foot of the Cotswold Hills. We knew the place well. Few stones of it had been set one upon the other less than three hundred years ago, and, summer and winter alike, it was a spot of great beauty comparatively little known, too, and far enough from London to escape most tourists. The inn itself had sheltered Cromwell, and before his time better men than he had warmed themselves at the great hearth round which we sat. For all that, he had given his name to the panelled room. Our bedrooms were as old, low-pitched and full of beams. The stairs also were a great glory. In fact, the house was in its way unique. A discreet decorator, too, had made it comfortable. Save in the Cromwell room, electric light was everywhere. And in the morning chambermaids led you by crooked passages over uneven doors to white bathrooms. It was all right.

Hither we had come to spend Christmas and the New Year. By day we walked for miles over the Cotswolds, or took the car and looked up friends who were keeping Christmas in the country, not too many miles away. The Dales of Stoy had been kind, and before the frost came I had had two days' hunting with the Heythrop. And to-morrow was New Year's Eve. Four miles the other side of the old market town of Steeple Abbas, and twenty-one miles from Pallow, stood Bill Manor, where the Hathaways lived. This good man and his wife Milly were among our greatest friends, and they had wanted us to spend Christmas with them. Though we had not done so, we had motored over several times and they had lunched with us at Fallow only the day before. And for New Year's Eve the Hathaways had arranged a small but very special ball, to which, of course, we were bidden. Indeed, I think the ball was more for us than for anyone else. Anyway, Jim and Milly said so. The idea was that we should come over in the car in time for dinner with the house-party, the ball would begin about ten, and when it was over, we should return to Fallow in the ordinary way. Nobody had anticipated such heavy weather.

And now it was a question whether we should be able to go. Also, if we went, whether we should be able to get back. The dispute waxed. Daphne and Jill insisted that go we must, could, and should. I rather supported them. Berry and Jonah opposed us; the latter quietly, as is his wont, the former with a simple stream of provoking irony. At length:

"Very well, ghouls," said Berry, "have your most wicked way. Doubtless the good monks of the Hospice will find my corpse. I wish the drinking-trough, which will be erected to my memory, to stand half-way up St. James's Street. How strange it will sound in future."

"What'll sound?" said Jill. "The new Saint's Day, dear-Berrymas."

When order had been restored, Jonah suggested that we should adjourn the debate till the next morning, in case it stopped snowing during the night. As it was nearly one, the idea seemed a good one, and we went to bed.

The morning was bright and cloudless. The cold was intense, but the sun glorious, while the clear blue sky looked as if it had never heard of snow. In a word, the weather was now magnificent, and, but for the real evidence Upon the country-side, no one would ever have believed such a cheery, good-natured fellow guilty of a raging blizzard. But the snow lay thick upon the ground, and it was freezing hard.

"We can get there all right," said Jonah, "but I don't see the car coming back at four o'clock in the morning. No, thanks, I'Il have marmalade."

"There's almost a full moon," said I.

"I know," said Berry, "but the banjo's being painted."

"We'd better stop at the inn at Steeple Abbas," said Jonah.

"If we can get as far as Steeple, we can make Fallow," said I. "Remember, I'm driving."

"We are not likely to forget it, brother," said Berry. "If you knew the difference between the petrol-tank and the gear-box-"

"But I do. Petrol in one, tools in the other. However."

"Jonah's right," said Daphne. "We'd better stop at Steeple."

"Not I." said I.

"Nor me," said Jill. "Boy and I'll come back to our dear Fallow and our nice big grate and our own beds."

"Good little girl," said I. Berry emptied his mouth and began to recite "Excelsior."

At twenty minutes past three the next morning I drove out of the courtyard of 'The Three Bulls', Steeple Abbas. Alone, too, for it had begun to snow again, and although I was determined to sleep that night, or what remained of it, at Fallow, I would not take Jill with me for such an ugly run. As a matter of fact, I had started once with her in the car, but before we had got clear of the town, I had turned about and driven her back to the inn. The people had evidently half expected her back, for, as we stopped at the door, it was flung open and the landlord stood ready to welcome her in. The next moment I was once more on my way. In spite of the weather, the car went well, and I had soon covered more than half the distance. I was just about to emerge from a side-road on to the main highway, when a dark mass right on the opposite corner against the hedgerow attracted my attention. The next second my head-lights showed what it was, and I slowed down. A great limousine, if you please, standing at an angle of twenty degrees, its near front wheel obviously well up the bank, and the whole car sunk in a drift of snow some four or five feet deep. All its lights were out, and fresh snow was beginning to gather on the top against the luggage rail.

I stopped, took out one of my side oil lamps, and, getting out of the car, advanced to the edge of the drift, holding the light above my head. The limousine was evidently a derelict.

"You look just like a picture I've seen somewhere," said a gentle voice.

"And you've got a voice just like a dream I've dreamed some time or other. Isn't that strange? And now, who, what, where, why, and how are you? Are you the goddess in the car, or the woman in the case? And may I wish you a very happy New Year? I said it first."

"Try the woman in the car."

"One moment," said I. "I know."

"What?"

"I know who you are. Just fancy."

"Who am I?

"Why, you're New Year's Eve."

A little laugh answered me.

"I know I've dreamed that laugh," said I. "However, where were we? Oh, I know. And your father, Christmas, has gone for help. If I know anything, he won't be back again for ages. Seriously, how did what happen?"

"Chauffeur took the turn rather late, and next moment we were up the bank and in this wretched drift. It wasn't altogether the man's fault. One of our head-lights wouldn't work, and you couldn't see the drift till we were in it."

"He might have known better than to run so close to the hedge these days."

"He's paying for it, any way, poor man. He's got to walk till he finds a farm where they'll lend him horses to get the car out."

"Considering the hour and the climatic conditions, I don't suppose the farmers will come running. I mean they'll wait to put some clothes on."

"Probably. Besides, he doesn't know the district, so he's up against something this little night."

"Of all nights, too, Eve! But what about her, poor lass?"

"Oh, I'm all right."

"You must be. But don't you find it rather hot in there? Can I turn on the electric fan?"

"I've been making good resolutions to pass the time."

"Hurray! So've I. I'm going to give up ferns. And you can tell me yours as we go along."

"Go along?"

"Yes, my dear. Didn't I tell you I was a highwayman? I only left York two hours ago."

"Quick going."

"Yes, I came by the boat train, with Black Bess in a horse-box. And now I'm going to abduct you, Eve. Your soul's not your own when you're up against High Toby. I have a pistol in my holster, a cloak on my back, and a price on my head. My enemies call me Red Nat, me friends-"

I paused.

"What do your friends call you?"

"Adam," said I. "Let's see. You'll have to get out on the near side, won't you? Wait a moment."

I plunged round the back of the car and opened the door. Certainly it was terribly cold. While we had been talking, she had been leaning against the side of the tilted car, with her face close to the inch and a half of open window. Except for an occasional flash, which had showed where her eyes were, I had not seen her at all. Expectantly I raised the lamp and peered into the limousine. Out of a huge fur rug a solitary eye regarded me steadily.

"Only one eye?" I said. "How sad. How did it happen?"

The solitary eye went out, and then reappeared with a fellow.

"You remind me of the North Foreland," said I. "That's an intermittent light, isn't it? Two winks and a blink every ten seconds."

"I didn't wink." This in a plainly indignant, if muffled tone-too muffled for me. So:

"I beg your pardon," said I. A little hand appeared and pulled the rug away from a small white nose and a mouth whose lips were paler than they should be. But it was a dear mouth.

"I said I didn't wink."

"So you did. I don't mean you did, you know. I mean, I know you said you didn't. I'm not sure I've got it right now."

"Never mind. I've only one brain, and at this hour of night-"

"The vitality of the human frame is at its lowest ebb. Exactly. That's why you must let me get you out of this as quick as possible."

"Oh, but I don't think-I mean-"

"My dear Eve, I know you come of an old-fashioned family-look at your father-but Convention's going by the board to-night. I'm staying at an inn about nine miles away. We'll be there under the half-hour. There's supper and a fire waiting for us, Why, yes, and you can have Jill's room. Of course, there'll be a fire there, too, and everything ready. You see-"

Hurriedly I explained the situation. When I had finished:

"But what'll the inn people think?" she said, with big eyes.

"Oh, hang the inn people?"

"And supposing it got out?"

"I think the proceedings at the inquest would read worse, my dear. Get up and come along at once."

"Oh, but you know I can't."

"You must. I'm serious. You'll die if you stop here much longer, my dear child. Do you realize how cold it really is?"

A faint smile came over the gentle face, set in its frame of fur.

"Poor lass," I cried. "What a fool I am. Give me her hand, and I'Il help her up."

"But what about Falcon?"

"The chauffeur?"

She nodded. I thought for a moment, then I looked for the companion. There, happily, were tablets and a pencil.

"We'll write him a note," said I. "Wait a minute."

With difficulty I scrawled a few words. Then:

"How will this do? Falcon, I have been found and taken to shelter. If possible, bring the car to 'The Three Bulls,' Steeple Abbas, by noon tomorrow. Will you sign it?"

I put the pencil into her hand and held the lamp for her to see. She wrote quickly. When she had finished, I laid the tablets on the seat, where they must be seen at once. When I looked at her again, I saw she was smiling.

"So there's something in the nickname, after all?"

"What nickname?" said I. "Red Nat?"

"No. 'Gentleman of the road,' Adam."

"Thank you, Eve. If I could feel my mouth, I'd kiss your hand for that. As it is-"

I helped her to her feet and set the lamp on the front seat. Then I bade her stand in the doorway while I wrapped the rug about her.

"I'm afraid I can't dig you a pathway, so I'm going to carry you to my car. I used to be able to delve once-"

"When Who was a gentleman?"

"Exactly. And you span. But I'm out of practice now. Besides, I left my niblick in London. Come along. Don't be frightened if I slip. I shan't go down. Yes, I'll come back for your dressing-case."

The next moment she was in my arms, and three minutes later we were making for Fallow at nearer thirty than twenty miles an hour.

As we ran into the village, I heard the church clock chime the half-hour. Half-past four. We had come well. A moment later I had stopped at the old inn's door. Except for a flickering light, visible between the curtains of the Cromwell room, the place was in darkness. I clambered stiffly out and felt for the key I had asked for. A Yale lock in the studded door! Never mind. This door is only a reproduction. The original probably shuts off some pantry from some servants' hall in New York City. However. When I had switched on a course of lights, I went back to the car and opened the door. Have I said that it was a cabriolet?

"Eve," said I. No answer, I took the lamp once more and flooded the c

ar with light. In the far corner, still wrapped in the rugs, my lady lay fast asleep. With some difficulty I got her into my arms. On the threshold I met Thomas, our waiter. He had little on but a coat and trousers, and there was slumber in his eyes.

"I didn't wait up, sir," he explained, "but, hearing the car, I just come down to see you'd got everything. Miss Mansel asleep, sir?"

I stared at him for a moment and then looked down at the charge in my arms. A corner of the rug had fallen over her face. Thomas, naturally enough, thought it was Jill.

"Er-yes," said I. "She's tired, you know. And you'd better not let her see you. She'll be awfully angry to think you got up for us. You know what she said."

Thomas laughed respectfully. I passed up the stairs, and he followed. "I'll only open the door and see that the fire's all right, sir," he said. I placed my burden gently on the sofa, away from the light of the fire.

"You'll let me light the candles, sir?"

"Not a farthing dip, Thomas. Miss Mansel may wake any moment. You can come and open the coach-house door, if you like."

"Very good, sir."

"You can get to it from the inside, can't you? Because you're not to go out of doors."

"Oh, yes, thank you, sir."

Two minutes later the car was in the garage, and Thomas and I were making our way back past the kitchens. Outside the Cromwell room I stopped.

"You may take Miss Mansel's dressing-case to her room and see to her fire, then you are to go back to bed."

"It won't take a minute to serve you, sir."

"Thomas, you are to do as I say. It was very good of you to come down. I'm much obliged. Good night."

"Good night, sir. Oh-"

"Yes?"

"I forgot to tell you, sir, there's a temporary maid will wait on Miss Mansel in the morning, sir. Susan's had to go away sudden. I think her father's ill, sir."

"I'm sorry for that. All right. I'Il tell Miss Mansel. Good night."

"Good night, sir."

As I closed the door of the Cromwell room:

"So I'm Miss Mansel," said Eve.

"Quite right, my dear," said I. "One of our party-my cousin, in fact. When did you wake?"

"Just as you were lifting me out of the car."

I took off my cap and shook its snow into the fire.

"I uncover," said I. "In other words, I take my hat off to you. Eve, you are an artist. I only wish I were."

"Why?"

"I'd paint you-here, now, just as you are."

"I know I look awful."

"You look perfectly sweet."

"I can't help it."

"I shouldn't try."

She did look wonderful. I had put her upon the sofa, but she had moved from there, and was sitting on the hearth in front of the great fire. Plainly she had kept her long grey fur coat on, when she had first sat down but now she had slipped out of it, and it lay all tumbled about her on the rug. She was in evening dress, and might have returned, as I had, from a ball. All blue, it was, blue of a wonderful shade-periwinkle, I think they call it, Her stockings were flesh-coloured and her shoes of gold: these she had taken off, the better to warm her little shining feet. White arms propped her towards the fire, and she sat sideways, with one leg straight by the warm kerb, the other drawn up and bringing her dress tight and a little away from a silk knee. Her dark hair had worked loose under the weight of the rug, and was lying thick about her smooth shoulders. Save in her face, she wore no jewels, but two great brown stars smiled at me from either side of a straight nose. The lips were red now, and her throat soft and white as her shoulders. I gazed down at her.

"No jewels, you see, Adam," she said suddenly. "I'm afraid you've struck a loser this time. You'll have to stick to the Great North Road in future."

"No jewels?" said I. "You have a wealth of hair, and what about the pearls behind your lips? They're worth a king's ransom."

"They're not made to take out, though, and there's no gold with them."

She put up the red mouth and showed two rows of teeth, white and even.

"Tempt me no more," said I. "Oh, Eve, you're just as bad as ever. After all this time, too. However. I hesitate to mention supper, because you look so lovely sitting there, but-"

She stretched out a warm hand, and I lifted her to her feet. For a second I held the slight fingers.

"Tell me one thing," said I. "Is there anyone who doesn't love you?"

The fingers slipped away. "Yes, stacks of people. You wouldn't like me a bit, only I'm not myself to-night. I'm just-just Eve. See? New Year's Eve."

"Thomas thinks you're Jill-Miss Mansel."

"To him I am. To the temporary maid in the morning, too. As for breakfast-oh, you and my high collar must get me through breakfast and out of here and over to Steeple Abbas somehow. Funny, your telling Falcon to go to 'The Three Bulls.' It's where we were making for. I'd taken a room there."

"By Jove," said I. "Then, when I went back with Jill, they thought it was you arriving."

And I related what had occurred. When I had finished, she threw back her head and laughed.

"Then you're not a robber, after all, Adam?"

"Certainly not. But why?"

"I mean, assuming the exchange is a fair one."

"Fair?" said I. "It's exquisite. Why, just to look at you's as good as a feast, and-"

"Which reminds me I'm awfully hungry. Oh, no, no, I didn't mean that, Adam, dear, I didn't really."

And my companion leaned against the chimney-piece, laughing helplessly.

"That's torn it," said I, laughing too.

"And now," said Eve, recovering, "take off your coat. You must be so tired."

I drew my pumps out of the great pockets, and threw the coat off me and across the back of a chair. Then I kicked off my great high rubber boots, stepped into my pumps, and looked ruefully at my dress trousers.

"They're only a little creased," said the girl.

"You must forgive them," said I.

"Jill wouldn't have minded, would she?"

"Jill wouldn't have mattered."

"Nor does Eve. Remember my hair."

"I shall never forget it," said I. Then I picked up her little shoes and stooped to fit them on to their feet.

"You are looking after me nicely, Adam," she said, laying a hand on my shoulder to keep her balance. I straightened my back and looked at her.

"My dear," I said, "I-oh, heavens, let's see what we've got for supper." And I turned hurriedly to the dishes in front of the fire.

When I looked round, she was lighting the candles.

"You mustn't go to bed at once," I said, pushing back my chair. "It's bad for the digestion. Sit by the fire a little, as you did before. Wait a moment. I'll give you a cigarette."

I settled her amid cushions, put out the candles, and struck the red fire into flames.

"But where will you sit, Adam?"

"I shall lean elegantly against the chimney-piece and tell you a fairy story."

"I'm all for the story, but I think you'd better be a child and sit on the hearthrug, too. There's plenty of room."

"A child," said I, sitting down by her side. "My dear, do you realize that I'm as old as the Cotswold Hills."

"There now, Adam. And so am I."

"No," I said firmly, "certainly not."

"But-"

"I don't care. You're not. Goddesses are immortal and their youth dies not."

"I suppose I ought to get up and curtsey."

"If you do, I shall have to rise and make you a leg, so please don't."

For a moment she smiled into the fire. Then:

"I wonder if two people have ever sat here before, as we're sitting now?"

"Many a time," said I. "Runaway couples, you know. I expect the old wood walls think we're another pair."

"They can't see, though."

"No. Born blind. That's why they hear so well. And they never forget. These four"-with a sweep of my cigarette-"have long memories of things, some sweet, some stern, some full of tears, and some again so mirthful that they split their panelled sides with merriment whenever they call them to mind."

"And here's another to make them smile."

"Smile? Yes. Wise, whimsical, fatherly smiles, especially wise. They think we're lovers, remember."

"I forgot. Well, the sooner they find out their mis-"

"Hush!" said I. "Walls love lovers. Have pity and don't undeceive them. It'd break the poor old fellows' hearts. That one's looking rather black already.

"She laughed in spite of herself. Then:

"But they haven't got any hearts to break."

"Of course they have. The best in the world, too. Hearts of oak. Now you must make up for it. Come along." I altered my tone. "Chaste and beautiful one, dost thou realize that at this rate we shall reach Gretna next Tuesday week?"

"So soon, Jack?"-languishingly.

"Glorious," said I: "that is, aye, mistress. Remember, I have six spare axles disguised as golf clubs."

"But what of my father? His grey hairs-"

"When I last saw thine aged sire, pipkin, three postboys were engaged in sawing him out of a window, through which he should never have attempted to climb. The angle of his chaise suggested that one of the hind wheels was, to put it mildly, somewhat out of the true. The fact that, before we started, I myself withdrew its linchpin goes to support this theory."

"My poor father! Master Adam, I almost find it in my heart to hate you."

"Believe me, fair but haughty, the old fool has taken no hurt. Distant as we were, I could hear his oaths of encouragement, while the post-boys sawed as they had never sawed before. From the way they were doing it, I shouldn't think they ever had."

"But they will soon procure a new linchpin. Is that right? And, oh, Adam, they may be here any moment."

"Not so, my poppet. To get a linchpin, they must find a smith. All the smiths within a radius of thirty miles are drunk. Yes, me again. A man has to think of all these little things. I say, we're giving the walls the time of their life, aren't we? Have another cigarette?"

"After which I must go to bed."

"As you please, Mistress Eve," said I, reaching for a live coal to give her a light.

For a little space we sat silent, watching the play of the flames. Then she spoke slowly, half her thoughts elsewhere:

"You never told me your fairy tale, Adam."

"I expect you know it," said I. "It's all about the princess a fellow found in the snow, and how he took her to his home for shelter, and set her on her way in the morning, and then spent his poor life trying to find her again. Anyway, one doesn't tell fairy-tales to fairies, and-and I'd rather you watched the fire. He'll tell you a finer story than ever I could. At least-"

"Yes?"

"Well, he's a bold fellow, the fire. He'll say things that I can't, Eve. He'll praise, thank, bless you all in a flash. See what he says for a moment. Remember he's speaking for me."

"Praise, thank, bless," she repeated dreamily. "Does he ever ask anything in return?"

"Never," said I.

For a full moment she sat gazing into the flames. Then she flung her cigarette into the grate and jumped to her feet before I had time to help her.

"Bed-time," she cried. "Mine, at any rate.

"I'll see you to your room," said I, lighting one of the candles. Then I picked up her grey fur coat and laid it over my arm.

"Adam," said Eve.

I looked up and across at her, standing straight by the other side of the hearth, the leaping flames lighting her tumbled hair. One foot was on the kerb, and her left hand hitching her dress in the front a little, as women do. The other she held, palm downwards to the blaze, warming it. I marked the red glow between its slight fingers, making them rosy. Her eyes still gazed into the fire.

"Yes," said I.

"If Jill were here, Adam, would you kiss her good night?"

The next morning, with the help of the high collar and a little strategy, my companion's incognito was preserved, and by half-past eleven we had breakfasted and were once more in the car. It was another brilliant day, and at five minutes past twelve we ran into Steeple Abbas. Eve was sitting in front by my side this time. As we turned into the main street, I slowed down. Outside 'The Three Bulls' stood the limousine, weather-beaten a little and its nickel work dull, but seemingly all right. In the middle of the road stood a chauffeur, his cap pushed back and a hand to his head. As we approached, he looked away from the little writing-block and stared up at the signboard of the inn. When he heard the car approaching, he made for the pavement, turning a puzzled face in our direction. At that moment I heard Jill's voice.

"Berry, Berry, I can hear a car coming. I expect it's Boy."

There was not a moment to lose. Quick as a flash I drew alongside the limousine, which stood on our left between us and the hotel. Then I stopped, stood up, leaned across my companion and opened the big car's door.

"Good-bye, dear," I said.

The next moment she had changed cars. To thrust her rug and dressing-case after her was the work of a second. For a moment I held her hand to my lips. Then I shut the door, slipped back into my seat, and drove on and in to the kerb. As I pulled up, Jill came running down the steps of the inn.

"Then you got home all right, Boy?"

Before I had time to answer, Berry appeared in the doorway. "Aha," said he, "the brave's return! Skaul! You are late, but never mind. Skaul again, my pathfinder. I thought of you when I was going to bed. Was the snow-hut comfortable? I hope you didn't find that coat too much? It isn't really cold, you know. Now, when I was in Patagonia-"

"Are you all ready?" said I. "I'm just coming in to warm my hands." I followed Jill up the steps. In the doorway I turned and took off my hat. The chauffeur was starting up the limousine. And Eve was leaning forward, looking out of the open window. As I smiled, she kissed her hand to me.

Ten minutes later we left 'The Three Bulls.' I had thrown my gauntlets on to the front seat before I entered the inn. As I drew on the right one, I felt a sheet of paper in its cuff. I plucked it out, wondering. It had been torn from the writing-block, and bore the message I had written for Falcon the night before. The signature was Evelyn Fairie, and underneath had been added, "Castle Charing, Somerset. With my love."

I slipped it into my pocket and started the car.

"And how did Jilly get on?" I said abstractedly, as we rolled down the street.

"Oh, Boy," she cried, "it was so funny. I'm sure they took me for somebody else. There was a lovely big room all ready and everybody kept bowing and calling me 'my lady.' They couldn't understand my connection with the others at first and when they asked about the car, and I said it had gone back to Fallow, they nearly fainted. They were going to make out my bill separately, too, only Berry-"

"And you didn't enlighten them?"

"I couldn't make out what was wrong till I was undressing."

"And the real one never turned up?"

"I don't think she can have. The landlord stammered something about 'your ladyship,' as I said 'Good-bye.'"

"How strange," said I. Jill chattered on all the way to Fallow. Fortunately I remembered to tell her about the new chambermaid. I was rather uneasy about the girl, as a matter of fact. She must have seen Eve properly. But my luck was holding, for on our arrival we found that Susan had returned.

The following day, January the second, after breakfast, a wire for Jonah arrived. When he had read it:

"That's curious," he said. "I wonder how he knew we were here?"

"Who's it from?" said Jill.

"Harry Fairie, the man I met at Pau last Easter. Wants us to go over to his place in Somerset before we go back to town."

"All of us?"

"Apparently. 'You and party,' the wire says."

"I believe I met his sister once," said I.

"You wouldn't forget her if you had," said Jonah. "She's a wonderful creature. Eyes like stars."

"Where did you meet her?" said Daphne.

"I seem to associate her with winter sports."

"Switzerland?" said my sister. "What year? Nineteen-twelve?"

I walked to the door and opened it. "If I told you," I said, "you wouldn't believe me." Then I went out.

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