way, I thought, the need of a closer union between all
"Oh, dear me!" said Rhoda, coolly. "I'm not so very cruel. I'm only a little vindictive and cat-like. If people offend me, I like to play with them a bit, and amuse myself, and then kill them--kill them--kill them; that is all."
This pretty little revelation of character was accompanied with a cruel smile that showed a long row of dazzling white teeth. They seemed capable of killing anything from a liar up to a hickory-nut.
Severne looked at her and gave a shudder. "Then Heaven forbid you should ever be my enemy!" said he, sadly, "for I am unhappy enough already."
Having delivered this disarming speech, he collapsed, and seemed to be overpowered with despondency. Miss Gale showed no signs of melting. She leaned back and eyed him with steady and composed curiosity, as a zoologist studying a new specimen and all its little movements.
They drove up to the Hall door, and Miss Gale was conducted to the drawing-room, where she found Lord Uxmoor and the two young ladies. Zoe shook hands with her. Fanny put a limp paw into hers, which made itself equally limp directly, so Fanny's dropped out. Lord Uxmoor was presented to her, at his own request. Soon after this luncheon was announced. Vizard joined them, welcomed Rhoda genially, and told the party he had ordered the break, and Uxmoor would drive them to the farm round by Hillstoke and the Common. "And so," said he, "by showing Miss Gale our most picturesque spot at once, we may perhaps blind her to the horrors of her situation--for a time."
The break was driven round in due course, with Uxmoor's team harnessed to it. It was followed by a dog-cart crammed with grooms, Uxmoorian and Vizardian. The break was padded and cushioned, and held eight or nine people very comfortably.. It was, indeed, a sort of picnic van, used only in very fine weather. It rolled on beautiful springs. Its present contents were Miss Gale and her luggage and two hampers full of good things for her; Vizard, Severne, and Miss Dover. Zoe sat on the box beside Lord Uxmoor. They drove through the village, and Mr. Severne was so obliging as to point out its beauties to Miss Gale. She took little notice of his comments, except by a stiff nod every now and then, but eyed each house and premises with great keenness.
At last she stopped his fluency by inquiring whether he had been into them all; and when he said he had not, she took advantage of that admission to inform him that in two days' time she should be able to tell him a great deal more than he was likely to tell her, upon his method of inspecting villages.
"That is right," said Vizard; "snub him: he gets snubbed too little here. How dare he pepper science with his small-talk? But it is our fault--we admire his volubility."