The brother and sister smiled indulgently.
"Isn't Grizel Dundas Somebody?" Martin enquired.
"She's a goose anyway!" corrected Katrine, but she said it with a laugh, and in a
voice which held no trace of the ordinary snap. Martin's eyes turned upon her
quickly; he also seemed to be infected with an unusual gentleness and amenity
"How nice you look, dear--how very nice!" he said genially. In the way of
definite approval it was more than he had said to Grizel herself. Katrine flushed
with pleasure, and brushed his arm with a caressing touch. Each was conscious
of a longing to make up for the growing disloyalty of the past months. The
position remained unchanged, but there was a different attitude towards it; they
had grown suddenly softer, kindlier; in each mind was a conviction of personal
responsibility, a disinclination to blame the other. "I haven't considered her
enough. She's had a desperately dull time." ... "I've been so narrow-minded--so
blind. I didn't understand!" Each heart made its own confession of shortcomings,
and felt lightened of a load. It was in the happiest of moods that the trio started
on their ten-mile drive through the wooded country which stretched between
Cumly and Barfield Castle.
In the matter of rural scenery England stands unsurpassed in the kingdoms of the
world, and a stranger to our isle could not have had a better introduction to its
beauties than the drive through that southern county. Long avenues of beeches
gave entrance to the most picturesque of villages, with the traditional duck-pond
and green; thatched cottages showed a blaze of flowers in their trim gardens; the
smooth white road curved through the heart of a great forest, dived through the
precipitous High Street of a quaint old town, and climbed steeply to a breezy
down. Everywhere there was a wealth of greenery, a universal air of prosperity,
of order, of well-being, good to behold on this brilliant summer morning.
Within a few miles of Barfield Castle, however, all peacefulness vanished from
the scene. The converging roads were filled with an unending stream of vehicles,
and the dust rose in clouds above the hedgerows. The women wrapped
themselves closely in dust cloaks and motor-veils, the pace slackened to a crawl,
and at frequent intervals ceased altogether as the congested lines merged
together near the castle gates. When once that point had been passed, progress