offence, Miss; it's my experience that there's generally a lady in the case. Anyhow, you can judge for yourself, and you'll know where to find me waiting when you want me again."
"Suppose something happens," I suggested, "that we don't expect?"
"I shan't lose my head, Miss, whatever happens."
"All very well, coachman; but I have only your word for it." In the irritable state of my mind, the man's confident way of talking annoyed me.
"Begging your pardon, my young lady, you've got (if I may say so) what they call a guarantee. When I was a young man, I drove a cab in London for ten years. Will that do?"
"I suppose you mean," I answered, "that you have learned deceit in the wicked ways of the great city." He took this as a compliment. "Thank you, Miss. That's it exactly."
After a long drive, or so it seemed to my impatience, we passed the chaise drawn up at a lonely house, separated by a front garden from the road. In two or three minutes more, we stopped where the road took a turn, and descended to lower ground. The farm-house which we had left behind us was known to the driver. He led the way to a gate at the side of the road, and opened it for me.
"In your place, Miss," he said slyly, "the private way back is the way I should wish to take. Try it by the fields. Turn to the right when you have passed the barn, and you'll find yourself at the back of the house." He stopped and looked at his big silver watch. "Half-past twelve," he said, "the Chawbacons--I mean the farm-house servants, Miss--will be at their dinner. All in your favor, so far. If the dog happens to be loose, don't forget that his name's Grinder; call him by his name, and pat him before he has time enough to think, and he'll let you be. When you want me, here you'll find me waiting for orders."
I looked back as I crossed the field. The driver was sitting on the gate, smoking his pipe, and the horse was nibbling the grass at the roadside. Two happy animals, without a burden on their minds!
After passing the barn, I saw nothing of the dog. Far or near, no living creature appeared; the servants must have been at dinner, as the coachman had foreseen