Chapter XIII. Happiness Again

By slow degrees Audrey learnt the story of her husband's escape.

It was Phil's doing in the main, he told her simply, and she understood that but for Phil he would not have taken the trouble. Something Phil had said to him that night had stuck in his mind, and it had finally decided him to make the attempt.

Circumstances had favoured him. Moreover it was by no means the first time that he had been among the Hill tribes in native guise. One sentinel alone had returned to guard the hut after Phil's departure, and this man he had succeeded in overpowering without raising an alarm.

Then, disguising himself once more, he had managed to escape just before the dawn, and had lain hidden for hours among the boulders of the river-bed, fearing to emerge by daylight. But in the evening he had left his hiding-place, and found the fort to be occupied by British troops. The Waris had gone to earth before their advance, and they had found the place deserted.

He had forthwith presented himself in his disguise and been taken before Phil, the officer-in-command.

"But surely he knew you?"

"Yes, he knew me. But I swore him to secrecy."

She drew a little closer to him.

"Eustace, why?" she whispered.

His arm tightened about her.

"I had to know the truth first," he said.

"Oh!" she murmured. "And now--are you satisfied?"

He bent and kissed her forehead gravely, tenderly.

"I am satisfied," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well, didn't I tell you so?" laughed Phil, when they shook hands later.

Audrey did not ask him what he meant, for, with all his honesty, Phil could be enigmatical when he chose. Moreover, it really didn't much matter, for, as she tacitly admitted to herself, fond as she was of him, he no longer occupied the place of honour in her thoughts, and she was not vitally interested in him now that the trouble was over.

So when, a few weeks later, Phil cheerily packed his belongings and departed to Poonah, having effected an exchange into the other battalion stationed there, only his major understood why, and was sorry.