Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/100

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little idea he was taking thus the first step towards ruin that he began to whistle "White Wings" from pure joy of life.

The sheep stopped feeding and raised their heads to stare at him from pale-lashed eyes; first one and then another broke into a startled run, until there was a sudden woolly stampede of the entire flock. When Willoughby gained the ridge from which they had just scattered he came in sight of a woman sitting on a stile at the further end of the field. As he advanced towards her he saw that she was young and that she was not what is called "a lady"—of which he was glad: an earlier episode in his career having indissolubly associated in his mind ideas of feminine refinement with those of feminine treachery.

He thought it probable this girl would be willing to dispense with the formalities of an introduction and that he might venture with her on some pleasant foolish chat.

As she made no movement to let him pass he stood still, and, looking at her, began to smile.

She returned his gaze from unabashed dark eyes and then laughed, showing teeth white, sound, and smooth as split hazel-nuts.

"Do you wanter get over?" she remarked familiarly.

"I'm afraid I can't without disturbing you."

"Dontcher think you're much better where you are?" said the girl, on which Willoughby hazarded:

"You mean to say looking at you? Well, perhaps I am!"

The girl at this laughed again, but nevertheless dropped herself down into the further field; then, leaning her arms upon the cross-bar, she informed the young man: "No, I don't wanter spoil your walk. You were goin' p'raps ter Beacon Point? It's very pretty that wye."

"I was going nowhere in particular," he replied: "just exploring, so to speak. I'm a stranger in these parts."