`Oh! your Ladyship, don't say that! He'd certainly have sent the two men, and they'd have come straight to the hut. I didn't know where it was, really.'

Connie flushed darker with rage, at the suggestion. Yet, while her passion was on her, she could not lie. She could not even pretend there was nothing between herself and the keeper. She looked at the other woman, who stood so sly, with her head dropped: yet somehow, in her femaleness, an ally.

`Oh well!' she said. `I fit is so it is so. I don't mind!'

`Why, you're all right, my Lady! You've only been sheltering in the hut. It's absolutely nothing.'

They went on to the house. Connie marched in to Clifford's room, furious with him, furious with his pale, over-wrought fee and prominent eyes.

`I must say, I don't think you need send the servants after me,' she burst out.

`My God!' he exploded. `Where have you been, woman, You've been gone hours, hours, and in a storm like this! What the hell do you go to that-bloody wood for? What have you been up to? It's hours even since the rain stopped, hours! Do you know what time it is? You're enough to drive anybody mad. Where have you been? What in the name of hell have you been doing?'

`And what if I don't choose to tell you?' She pulled her hat from her head and shook her hair.

He lied at her with his eyes bulging, and yellow coming into the whites. It was very bad for him to get into these rages: Mrs Bolton had a weary time with him, for days after. Connie felt a sudden qualm.

But really!' she said, milder. `Anyone would think I'd been I don't know where! I just sat in the hut during all the storm, and made myself a little fire, and was happy.'

She spoke now easily. After all, why work him up any more!

He looked at her suspiciously.

And look at your hair!' he said; `look at yourself!'

`Yes!' she replied calmly. `I ran out in the rain with no clothes on.'

He stared at her speechless.

`You must be mad!' he said.

`Why? To like a shower bath from the rain?'

`And how did you dry yourself?'

`On an old towel and at the fire.'

He still stared at her in a dumbfounded way.

`And supposing anybody came,' he said.

`Who would come?'

`Who? Why, anybody! And Mellors. Does he come? He must come in the evenings.'

`Yes, he came later, when it had cleared up, to feed the pheasants with corn.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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