She rolled off the sofa on to the floor and lay there, writhing in abject terror, looking in the shadow of the table, where her long lithe form was twisting about in its robe of yellow barred with black, more like one of the great cats from which she took her name than a human being. “Spare me,” she gasped, “spare me, I don’t want to die. I swear that I will never meddle with you again.”
“I don’t want your oaths, woman,” answered the stern form bending over her with the knife. “A liar you have been from your youth up, and a liar you will be to the end. Do you understand what I have said?”
“Yes, yes, I understand. Ah! put away that knife, I can’t bear it! It makes me sick.”
“Very well then, get up.”
She tried to rise, but her knees would not support her, so she sat upon the floor.
“Now,” said Mr. Quest, replacing the knife upon the mantelpiece, “here is your money,” and he flung a bag of notes and gold into her lap, at which she clutched eagerly and almost automatically. “The two hundred and fifty pounds will be paid on the 1st of January in each year, and not one farthing more will you get from me. Remember what I tell you, try to molest me by word or act, and you are a dead woman; I forbid you even to write to me. Now go to the devil in your own way,” and without another word he took up his hat and umbrella, walked to the door, unlocked it and went, leaving the Tiger huddled together upon the floor.
For half-an-hour or more the woman remained thus, the bag of money in her hand. Then she struggled to her feet, her face livid and her body shaking.
“Ugh,” she said, “I’m as weak as a cat. I thought he meant to do it that time, and he will too, for sixpence. He’s got me there. I am afraid to die. I can’t bear to die. It is better to lose the money than to die. Besides, if I blow on him he’ll be put in chokey and I shan’t be able to get anything out of him, and when he comes out he’ll do for me.” And then, losing her temper, she shook her fist in the air and broke out into a flood of language such as would neither be pretty to hear nor good to repeat.
Mr. Quest was a man of judgment. At last he had realised that in one way, and one only, can a wild beast be tamed, and that is by terror.
“WHAT SOME HAVE FOUND SO SWEET”
Time went on. Mr. Quest had been back at Boisingham for ten days or more, and was more cheerful than Belle (we can no longer call her his wife) had seen him for many a day. Indeed he felt as though ten years had been lifted off his back. He had taken a great and terrible decision and had acted upon it, and it had been successful, for he knew that his evil genius was so thoroughly terrified that for a long while at least he would be free from her persecution. But with Belle his relations remained as strained as ever.