Page:That Lass o' Lowrie's.djvu/198

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CHAPTER XXVI.
THE PACKAGE RETURNED.


As Joan turned the corner of a lane leading to the highroad, she found herself awkwardly trying to pass a man who confronted her—a young fellow far too elegant and well-dressed to be a Rigganite.

"Beg pardon!" he said abruptly, as if he were not in the best of humors. And then she recognized him.

"It's Mester Ralph Landsell," she said to herself as she went on. "What is he doin' here?"

But before she had finished speaking, she started at the sight of a figure hurrying on before her,—Liz herself, who had evidently just parted from her lover, and was walking rapidly homeward.

It was a shock to Joan, though she did not suspect the whole truth. She had trusted the girl completely; she had never interfered with her outgoing or incoming; she had been generously lenient toward her on every point, and her pang at finding herself deceived was keen. Her sudden discovery of the subterfuge filled her with alarm. What was the meaning of it? Surely it could not mean that this man was digging fresh pitfalls for the poor straying feet. She could not believe this,—she could only shudder as the ominous thought suggested itself. And Liz—nay, even Liz could not be weak enough to trifle with danger again.

But it was Liz who was hurrying on before her, and who was walking so fast that both were breathless when