Silent-footed as he was, Lady Arabella heard him coming, and turned to meet him. It was somewhat hard to see in the gloom, for, as usual, he was all in black, only his collar and cuffs showing white. Lady Arabella opened the conversation which ensued between the two.
“What do you want? To rob me, or murder me?”
“No, to lub you!”
This frightened her a little, and she tried to change the tone.
“Is that a coffin you have with you? If so, you are wasting your time. It would not hold me.”
When a nigger suspects he is being laughed at, all the ferocity of his nature comes to the front; and this man was of the lowest kind.
“Dis ain’t no coffin for nobody. Dis box is for you. Somefin you lub. Me give him to you!”
Still anxious to keep off the subject of affection, on which she believed him to have become crazed, she made another effort to keep his mind elsewhere.
“Is this why you want to see me?” He nodded. “Then come round to the other door. But be quiet. I have no desire to be seen so close to my own house in conversation with a—a—a nigger like you!”
She had chosen the word deliberately. She wished to meet his passion with another kind. Such would, at all events, help to keep him quiet. In the deep gloom she could not see the anger which suffused his face. Rolling eyeballs and grinding teeth are, however, sufficient signs of anger to be decipherable in the dark. She moved round the corner of the house to her right. Oolanga was following her, when she stopped him by raising her hand.
“No, not that door,” she said; “that is not for niggers. The other door will do well enough for you!”
Lady Arabella took in her hand a small key which hung at the end of her watch-chain, and moved to a small door, low down, round the corner, and a little downhill from the edge of the Brow. Oolanga, in obedience to her gesture, went back to the iron door. Adam looked carefully at the mongoose box as the African went by, and was glad to see that it was intact. Unconsciously, as he looked, he fingered the key that was in his waistcoat pocket. When Oolanga was out of sight, Adam hurried after Lady Arabella.
The woman turned sharply as Adam touched her shoulder.
“One moment whilst we are alone. You had better not trust that nigger!” he whispered.
Her answer was crisp and concise:
“Forewarned is forearmed. Tell me if you will—it is for your own protection. Why do you mistrust him?”
“My friend, you have no idea of that man’s impudence. Would you believe that he wants me to marry him?”
“No!” said Adam incredulously, amused in spite of himself.
“Yes, and wanted to bribe me to do it by sharing a chest of treasure—at least, he thought it was—stolen from Mr. Caswall. Why do you distrust him, Mr. Salton?”