Moving as if on wings. She neared the dark line of wood, and saw the
stark, outstretched branches of the oak that was her goal. In the same
instant she caught sight of a man's figure standing beneath it,
apparently waiting for her. He had evidently just come out of the wood.
He carried a gun on his shoulder, but the freedom of his pose was so
striking that she likened him on the instant to a Roman gladiator. She
could not stop herself at once though she checked her speed, and when
she finally managed to come to a stand, she was close to him. He stepped
forward to meet her with a royal air of welcome. "How nice of you to
come and call on me!" he said. His dark eyes shone mischievously as they
greeted her, and she was too flushed and dishevelled to stand upon
ceremony. Pantingly she threw back her gay reply. "This is the
children's happy hunting ground, not mine, I suppose, if the truth were
told, we are trespassing." He made her his sweeping bow. "There is not a
corner of this estate that is not utterly and for ever at your service."
He turned as the two elder boys came racing up, and she saw the
half-mocking light go out of his eyes as they glanced up the hill.
"Hullo!" he said. "There's one of them come to grief." Sharply she
turned also. Pat and Gracie were having a spirited race down the lower
slope of the hill. Olive had begun to descend from the top with becoming
dignity. And midway,