The Evil Shepherd HTML version

Chapter 23
There followed a brief period of time, the most wonderful of his life, the happiest of hers.
They took advantage of Sir Timothy's absolute license, and spent long days at The
Sanctuary, ideal lovers' days, with their punt moored at night amongst the lilies, where
her kisses seemed to come to him with an aroma and wonder born of the spot. Then there
came a morning when he found a cloud on her face. She was looking at the great wall,
and away at the minaret beyond. They had heard from the butler that Sir Timothy had
spent the night at the villa, and that preparations were on hand for another of his
wonderful parties. Francis, who was swift to read her thoughts, led her away into the rose
garden where once she had failed him.
"You have been looking over the wall, Margaret," he said reproachfully.
She looked at him with a little twitch at the corners of her lips.
"Francis dear," she confessed, "I am afraid you are right. I cannot even look towards The
Walled House without wondering why it was built--or catch a glimpse of that dome
without stupid guesses as to what may go on underneath."
"I think very likely," he said soothingly, "we have both exaggerated the seriousness of
your father's hobbies. We know that he has a wonderful gymnasium there, but the only
definite rumour I have ever heard about the place is that men fight there who have a
grudge against one another, and that they are not too particular about the weight of the
gloves. That doesn't appeal to us, you know, Margaret, but it isn't criminal."
"If that were all!" she murmured.
"I dare say it is," he declared. "London, as you know, is a hot-bed of gossip. Everything
that goes on is ridiculously exaggerated, and I think that it rather appeals to your father's
curious sense of humour to pose as the law-breaker."
She pressed his arm a little. The day was overcast, a slight rain was beginning to fall.
"Francis," she whispered, "we had a perfect day here yesterday. Now the sun has gone
and I am shivery."
He understood in a moment.
"We'll lunch at Ranelagh," he suggested. "It is almost on the way up. Then we can see
what the weather is like. If it is bad, we can dine in town tonight and do a theatre."
"You are a dear," she told him fervently. "I am going in to get ready."