Of Mortimer she saw very little; farm and woods and trout- streams seemed to swallow him up from dawn till dusk. Once, following the direction she had seen him take in the morning, she came to an open space in a nut copse, further shut in by huge yew trees, in the centre of which stood a stone pedestal surmounted by a small bronze figure of a youthful Pan. It was a beautiful piece of workmanship, but her attention was chiefly held by the fact that a newly cut bunch of grapes had been placed as an offering at its feet. Grapes were none too plentiful at the manor house, and Sylvia snatched the bunch angrily from the pedestal. Contemptuous annoyance dominated her thoughts as she strolled slowly homeward, and then gave way to a sharp feeling of something that was very near fright; across a thick tangle of undergrowth a boy’s face was scowling at her, brown and beautiful, with unutterably evil eyes. It was a lonely pathway, all pathways round Yessney were lonely for the matter of that, and she sped forward without waiting to give a closer scrutiny to this sudden apparition. It was not till she had reached the house that she discovered that she had dropped the bunch of grapes in her flight.
“I saw a youth in the wood today,” she told Mortimer that evening, “brown-faced and rather handsome, but a scoundrel to look at. A gipsy lad, I suppose.”
“A reasonable theory,” said Mortimer, “only there aren’t any gipsies in these parts at present.”
“Then who was he?” asked Sylvia, and as Mortimer appeared to have no theory of his own she passed on to recount her finding of the votive offering.
“I suppose it was your doing,” she observed; “it’s a harmless piece of lunacy, but people would think you dreadfully silly if they knew of it.”
“Did you meddle with it in any way?” asked Mortimer.
“I - I threw the grapes away. It seemed so silly,” said Sylvia, watching Mortimer’s impassive face for a sign of annoyance.
“I don’t think you were wise to do that,” he said reflectively. “I’ve heard it said that the Wood Gods are rather horrible to those who molest them.”
“Horrible perhaps to those that believe in them, but you see I don’t,” retorted Sylvia.