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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 6 (June, 1931)

[Continued articles and works],   pp. 66-87 PDF (13.4 MB)

Page 66

does your fingers
a stunning favor
IT began with the very smart world-
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He broke away from her, and still holding
the notebook, dashed up the ro' ks, Nancy
flying after him full pelt. She was a swift
runner, but she had little chance matched
against Lal's lean marathon pace. But at the
foot of the steps which led from the beach up
to the garden, Lal was held up by the watch-
ful gendarme, who all this while had been
leaning over the balustrade, keeping an eye
on the two loiterers.
Lal was not in a mood to be halted by mere
officialdom. He flung the gendarme aside,
and the poor man went staggering headlong
into a mass of dried seaweed strewn with
bits of dead crab. Yet the delay had been
just enough to give Nancy her advantage.
In the shock of his encounter with the gen-
darme, Lal had dropped the book. She
picked it up and sprang up the steps, well
ahead of him now, through the garden to-
wards the villa, Lal after her.
Nancy darted up the path that led round
the bed of hydrangeas. Lal leapt the
flowering bank, and so gained on her. Then,
neither of them quite knew how it happened,
they were both rolling over and over in each
other's embrace, laughing, flushed, glistening
with sweat; eves bright; limbs that were taut
a moment ago, now in a wilful curling heap.
. . . Their mood had changed. They were
absorbed as a pair of puppies in a happy
game, forgetting the actual issue, in the zest
of the sheer rough-and-tumble.
And now Lal was up again; down the gar-
den, down the steps, over the beach and on to
the rocks. They had described a complete
circle, and were back beside the same inlet
where they had started. Lal waited till the
fragile, yellow-clad figure should come up
over the rocks.
Yes, here she was, breathless, hair clinging
damply to her forehead,blood dripping from a
graze on one knee, but still valiantly deter-
mined to haul down her property. Lal held
it high above his head where she could not
reach. She hurled herself upon him, panting.
Her face was turned upward. On an impulse
that he simply could not fathom, he flung his
arms around her and kissed her mouth . . .
THE notebook, unheeded, dropped from his
hand and was sliding down into the water,
when Nancy pounced on it, and, desperately
searching for some measure that would elude
Lal, flung it with all her force across the little
bay to the out-jutting bluff of rock at the end
of the semi-circle. Without a second's hesi-
tation, Lal dived in and swam across, Nancy
racing him.
I hate him," rushed through Nancy's
mind, remembering Rosalind . . . remem-
bwring the kiss . . . And now he had landed
tirst, and she could not fight him any more.
But lial sagged down listlessly on to the rocks,
half in, half out of the water, leaving the note-
hook untouched. He buried his black head
in his hands.
Lal, what is it? Are you ill?" Alarmed,
\ancv drew herself out of the water, knelt
beside him.
"I'd forgotten," was jerked out of him.
Oh, God, to have forgotten. Ragging about
ind playing the fool-laughing!" And he
atded, as though remorse were twisting the
words out of him without his volition: "As
though 1, of all people, had any right to be
Nancy's sleeping terror leapt alive.
-Forgotten? You mean-Fred?"
The boy (lid not reply. He was bitterly
repudiating the spring of unquenchable
youth in him.
Nancy slipped her arm round his shoul-
ders: "Lal," softly, "Lal, I always used to
think, as well, that if a tragedy like this hap-
pened, and one were right in the middle of it,
that one wouldn't be able to forget it for a
second; that one would drag oneself about all
burdened with misery. But, somehow, now
that Fred-it isn't like that. It's awful, of
course, but not a bit unforgettable. And I
feel that if only I could shake off the actual
shock and everything mixed up with it, that
I'd find it horribly easy to be happy. And I
believe we all feel like that. Well then-- -"
"Well then?"   Lal lifted his head and
looked up at Nancy, pitifully eager to be
She said, slowly, working it out: "Then-
isn't it Fred's fault? Isn't it something miss-
ing in Fred, not in us, that we feel so little
grief? Real grief. It can't be just that we're
heartless. Lal, I don't believe Fred was nice.
So-please don't be so miserable that you're
not miserable enough. Please!" But still,
deep within her, that note of apprehension
quivered and would not be silenced. First:
"Nothing has turned out as we planned" . . .
And, "as though I, of all people, had any
right to be laughing." Two things that could
not be put down in her notebook.
Her notebook. She glanced towards it,
wondering if it would be tactless to reclaim
it? Lal noted the direction of her eyes. He
smiled, rose and picked it up; handed it to her.
"Here you are, dear. Sorry I've been such
a brute. I may add," with a note of embar-
rassed formality, "that I never had the
slightest intention of reading it."
"The notes are all in shorthand," retorted
Nancy, "so you couldn't have, anyhow."
Soberly, they returned to the villa.
LlONIE rushed into the salon, at breakfast,
with the news that Alarie-F~lise had found
a scorpion in her wash-basin. A thrill
of horror went round the table. It seemed
that the day which was to hold an inquest
and a funeral was to continue in the atmos-
phere of hot gray skies, and semi-tropical
varieties of the sub-human crawling about
to torture their overstrained nerves.
The party at Aloes was still bravely trying
to keel) up a pretense of being normal mem-
bers of society, with normal occupations, but
the effort was plainly visible. Their skins felt
warm and sticky, the outlook was gloomy,
and the younger ones were conscious of a
strong desire to shirk the unpleasantness of
the next twenty-four hours. Undoubtedly,
they would all have to attend the inquest at
eleven o'clock. On the other hand, Sophia
explained that it was not necessary for any of
them to appear at the funeral except herself.
"I'm coming with you," said Paul, and she
did not forbid it, knowing that she would be
grateful for his presence.
"Do you think the sister-in-law will get
back in time?"
"She may. The consul might know. I'll
ring up and ask him" . . . But she forgot to
do so, and Lal was glad. He did not want to
know exactly when Rosalind was coming.
He wanted to look up suddenly and see her,
exquisite as ever, the Rosalind he had wor-
shipped for six and a half years . . .
Rumples, in spite of the strong suspicions
harbored against her, remained calmest of
them all, and announced her invincible de-
cision of sitting down directly after breakfast
to rewrite her detective story from the very
"Rumples, how can you?"
"I can hold my mind suspended," said
Rumples, smiling winsomely on Prunella.
"You should do the same, and then you can't
worry, for you become a rhyme of the Eternal
Rhythm, and an arc of the Unbroken Circle."
"And a stair-rod on the Heavenly Stair-
case," grunted Paul, making a dreary attempt
to tease her. But even he had to admit
silently that this ecstatic philosophy, which
he had called a fake and an exasperation,
worked, as far as Rumples was concerned,
exceedingly well. Which of them, not dis-
ciples, would have had the courage to rewrite
about eighty thousand words, when the origi-
nal had been carried away by a round and
wrathful Commissaire?
"Now you've all had some personal experi-
ence," said Rumples, "I wonder if you could
tell me--"
ONE by one they all rose and strolled out of
the room. Thev (lid not mean to be rude,
but endurance had its limits, and when it came
to assisting Rumples depict the procedure
of the Welsh police after a fictitious murder
in Llanpumpsaint . . .
In spite of Rumples' example, Joe was
not able to concentrate on his work. He
mooched down to the rocks, saw two or three
figures, and, of course, the watching gen-
darme, in their usual bathing-place, and de-
cided that he would keep apart from them
and go to the other side, the east side, where
the green row-boat and the small scarlet
canoe rocked beside the landing-place.
In a crevice between two rocks, just under
water, he found what looked like a scrap
of leather; and on Pulling it out, recognized
it though sodden and (Turn to page 68)
Continued from page 65

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