The long minutes passed, and still he did not come.
If this was his system of revenge, the plan was without humour and lacked originality.
Somewhere a clock struck eight. He had been gone over half an hour, and the place where the pony and jingle were stabled was only five minutes away.
Mary was dispirited and tired.
She had been on her legs since the early afternoon, and now that the high pitch of excitement had died away she wanted to rest.
It would be difficult to recapture the careless, irresponsible mood of the last few hours. Jem had taken his gaiety with him.
At last Mary could stand it no longer, and she set off up the hill in search of him.
The long street was deserted, save for a few stragglers, who hung about in the doubtful shelter of doorways as she had done. The rain was pitiless, and the wind came in gusts. There was nothing left now of the Christmas spirit.
In a few minutes she came to the stable where they had left the pony and jingle in the afternoon.
The door was locked, and, peering through a crack, she saw that the shed was empty. Jem must have gone.
She knocked at the little shop next door, in a fever of impatience, and after a while it was opened by the fellow who had admitted them to the shed earlier in the day.
He looked annoyed at being disturbed from the comfort of his fire, and at first did not recognise her, wild as she was in her wet shawl.
"What do you want?" he said. "We don't give food to strangers here."
"I haven't come for food," Mary replied. "I'm looking for my companion.
We came here together with a pony and jingle, if you remember.
I see the stable is empty.
Have you seen him?"
The man muttered an apology.
"You'll excuse me, I'm sure.
Your friend has been gone twenty minutes or more.
He seemed in a great hurry, and there was another man with him.
I wouldn't be sure, but he looked like one of the servants from the White Hart.
They turned back in that direction at any rate."
"He left no message, I suppose?"
"No, I'm sorry he did not.
Maybe you'll find him at the White Hart.
Do you know where it is?"
"Yes, thank you.
I'll try there.
The man shut the door in her face, glad enough to be rid of her, and Mary retraced her steps in the direction of the town.
What should Jem want with one of the servants from the White Hart?
The man must have been mistaken.
There was nothing for it but to find out the truth for herself.
Once more she came to the cobbled square.
The White Hart looked hospitable enough, with its lighted windows, but there was no sign of the pony and jingle.
Mary's heart sank.
Surely Jem had not taken the road without her?
She hesitated for a moment, and then she went up to the door and passed inside.
The hall seemed to be full of gentlemen, talking and laughing, and once again her country clothes and wet hair caused consternation, for a servant went up to her at once and bade her be gone.
"I've come in search of a Mr. Jem Merlyn," said Mary firmly. "He came here with a pony and jingle and was seen with one of your servants.
I'm sorry to trouble you, but I'm anxious to find him.
Will you please make some enquiry?"
The man went off with an ill grace, while Mary waited by the entrance, turning her back on the little group of men who stood by the fire and stared.
Amongst them she recognised the dealer and the little lynx-eyed man.
She was aware of a sudden sense of foreboding.
In a few moments the servant returned with a tray of glasses, which he distributed amongst the company by the fire, and later he appeared again with cake and ham.
He took no more notice of Mary, and only when she called to him for the third time did he come towards her.
"I'm sorry," he said; "we've plenty here tonight without wasting our time over people from the fair.
There's no man here by the name of Merlyn.