The Evil Shepherd HTML version

Chapter 19
Francis was surprised, when he descended for breakfast the next morning, to find the
table laid for one only. The butler who was waiting, handed him the daily papers and
wheeled the electric heater to his side.
"Is no one else breakfasting?" Francis asked.
"Sir Timothy and Mrs. Hilditch are always served in their rooms, sir. Her ladyship is
taking her coffee upstairs."
Francis ate his breakfast, glanced through the Times, lit a cigarette and went round to the
garage for his car. The butler met him as he drove up before the porch.
"Sir Timothy begs you to excuse him this morning, sir," he announced. "His secretary has
arrived from town with a very large correspondence which they are now engaged upon."
"And Mrs. Hilditch?" Francis ventured.
"I have not seen her maid this morning, sir," the man replied, "but Mrs. Hilditch never
rises before midday. Sir Timothy hopes that you slept well, sir, and would like you to
sign the visitors' book."
Francis signed his name mechanically, and was turning away when Lady Cynthia called
to him from the stairs. She was dressed for travelling and followed by a maid, carrying
her dressing-case.
"Will you take me up to town, Mr. Ledsam?" she asked.
"Delighted," he answered.
Their dressing-cases were strapped together behind and Lady Cynthia sank into the
cushions by his side. They drove away from the house, Francis with a backward glance of
regret. The striped sun-blinds had been lowered over all the windows, thrushes and
blackbirds were twittering on the lawn, the air was sweet with the perfume of flowers, a
boatman was busy with the boats. Out beyond, through the trees, the river wound its
placid way.
"Quite a little paradise," Lady Cynthia murmured.
"Delightful," her companion assented. "I suppose great wealth has its obligations, but
why any human being should rear such a structure as what he calls his Borghese villa,
when he has a charming place like that to live in, I can't imagine."