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- Winding Paths - 78/78 -

When he was shown into Hal's little sitting-room, he found her crouching on a footstool in the firelight, before the fire. He stood a moment or two and looked at her, and then he said in a slightly harsh voice:

"I suppose you hurried away because you were bored. I thought you would have stayed until the end. I was a fool. Nothing I do ever has interested you, or ever will."

Hal did not look round. She was staring into the flames, with her chin resting in her hands. When he paused she said calmly:

"I can't hear what you say so far away."

He moved across the room and stood on the hearth beside her, towering above her, with his eyes on the opposite wall.

"I don't know why I came here at all," he continued; "but it didn't seem any use going anywhere else. Why did you run away in the middle! Did you want to punish my presumption for wishing to try and distinguish myself before you, as well as save a woman's life and honour?"

A little smile shone in Hal's eyes, where the firelight caught them.

"I can't hear what you say, right up there, near the ceiling."

He looked down at the dark shapely head, and something in her poise and in her voice made his heart suddenly begin to thump rather wildly.

"I haven't got a beanstalk," she added.

He leaned a little towards her.

"And if you had?" he asked tensely.

"If I had, I would perhaps climb up it."

He leaned lower still, his heart thumping yet more wildly.

"If you climbed up a ladder like that, you would be bound to climb into my arms."

"Well - and what if I did?" she said.


Winding Paths - 78/78

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