TO avoid the awkwardness of questions which could not be answered, all that had been told Jon was:
'There's a girl coming down with Val for the weekend.'
For the same reason, all that had been told Fleur was: 'We've got a youngster staying with us.'
The two yearlings, as Val called them in his thoughts, met therefore in a manner which for unpreparedness left nothing to be desired. They were thus introduced by Holly:
'This is Jon, my little brother; Fleur's a cousin of ours, Jon.'
Jon, who was coming in through a French window out of strong sunlight, was so confounded by the providential nature of this miracle, that he had time to hear Fleur say calmly: 'Oh, how do you do?' as if he had never seen her, and to understand dimly from the quickest imaginable little movement of her head that he never had seen her. He bowed therefore over her hand in an intoxicated manner, and became more silent than the grave. He knew better than to speak. Once in his early life, surprised reading by a night-light, he had said fatuously 'I was just turning over the leaves, Mum,' and his mother had replied: 'Jon, never tell stories, because of your face--nobody will ever believe them.'
The saying had permanently undermined the confidence necessary to the success of spoken untruth. He listened therefore to Fleur's swift and rapt allusions to the jolliness of everything, plied her with scones and jam, and got away as soon as might be. They say that in delirium tremens you see a fixed object, preferably dark, which suddenly changes shape and position. Jon saw the fixed object; it had dark eyes and passably dark hair, and changed its position, but never its shape. The knowledge that between him and that object there was already a secret understanding (however impossible to understand) thrilled him so that he waited feverishly, and began to copy out his poem-- which of course he would never dare to show her--till the sound of horses' hoofs roused him, and, leaning from his window, he saw her riding forth with Val. It was clear that she wasted no time; but the sight filled him with grief. He wasted