As Cardo approached and patted her neck, she looked softly at him out of her liquid brown eyes shaded with long black lashes. "She is a beauty!" said Cardo, looking at her with the critical eye of a farmer, "and worthy to be Valmai's pet. What a picture for Ellis to paint! Valmai and Corwen. By Jove, I'll try to manage it."
"Perhaps, but that will have to wait," and as he drew his handkerchief over the shining face of the sideboard he thought within himself, "Where shall I find one? There are not two Valmai's in the world, and I declare she has spoiled me for every other woman. By the by, I must call on Mrs. Besborough Power, and see if I can't bring her visitor into a better frame of mind."
The old postmaster had noticed her wistful looks of disappointment, and seemed to share her anxiety for the arrival of a letter who from, he did not know for certain, but he made a very good guess, for Valmai's secret was not so much her own only as she imagined it to be.
"His name is Gwynn," said her uncle at last, while she listened breathlessly to the opening of the front door, and the entrance of the stranger. "This is Captain Powell's house?" said a voice which set Valmai's pulses throbbing, and all the blood in her body rushed to her face and head. For a moment she felt dizzy, and she all but dropped the tray which she was holding for her uncle.
Then came the explanation, which, no doubt, ere this you have received from Valmai's own lips, for I know that to-morrow she will see you, having received her sister's letter in the morning; and the veil will be lifted, and all your sorrow will disperse like the baseless fabric of a dream.
"Yes; it is Valmai's red hood; she wears it sometimes, and sometimes a broad-brimmed white hat." Ellis looked at his watch. "Too late to go back now; it is close upon one o'clock." "Deucedly provoking!" said Cardo; "we will try again after dinner." But after dinner they seemed to be no more successful, although they found their way into the very field where they had seen the red hood.
Why he thus hurried away he never could explain. Ever since he had leant on the bridge over the Berwen in the morning he had been haunted by a feeling of Valmai's presence. Little had he guessed that she had been so near him while he looked down through the interlacing scenery which hid the river from his sight.
Having reached this point, Valmai's fun suddenly deserted her. What should she do next? should she touch him? No! Should she speak to him? Yes; but what should she say? Cardo! No! and a faint blush overspread her face. A mysterious newborn shyness came over her, and it was quite a nervous, trembling voice that at last said: "Mr. Wynne?" Cardo turned round quickly. "Valmai!
Valmai began to chafe at the want of brightness which surrounded her little one's life. She was proud of him, and wished to take him into the village. "No, my child," said Nance gently, "you had better not." "Why not?" was on Valmai's lips, but she hesitated. A deep blush crimsoned her face. "My boy has nothing to be ashamed of," she said, with a proud toss of her head.
For a moment Cardo was speechless with astonishment, but not for long, for, in answer to Valmai's apologetic, "Oh! Cardo, it's me; it's only me, whatever!" she was folded in his arms, and pressed so close to his heart that her breath came and went in a gasp half of fright and half of delight. "Gracious heavens! What does it mean?" he said, holding her at arms' length. "My own little wild sea-bird!