Exquisite picture of strength and beauty superbly modelled: the horses’ glossy coats glinting all a polished chestnut’s hues; the perfect artistry and symmetry of slender limbs, and glorious, arching necks, and noble heads, and velvet muzzles; the dazzling bits and chains and buckles; the glinting bridles, reins and saddles; Lord Tybar’s exquisitely poised figure, so perfectly maintaining and carrying up the symmetry of his horse as to suggest the horse would be disfigured, truncated, were he to dismount; his taking swagger, his gay, fine face; and she....
An incantation: jingle of bits mouthed in those velvet muzzles; a hoof pawed sharply on the road; swish of long, restless tails; creaking of saddlery; and sudden bursts of all the instruments in unison when heads were tossed and shaken. Remotely the whirr of a reaping machine. And somewhere birds....
Greetings had been exchanged; his apologies for his blundering descent upon them laughed at. Lord Tybar was saying, “Well, it’s a tiger of a place, this Garden Home of yours, Sabre—”
“It’s not mine,” said Sabre. “God forbid.”
“Ah, you’ve not got the same beautiful local patriotism that I have. It’s one of my most elegant qualities, my passionate devotion to my countryside. That was what that corker of a vicar of yours, Boom Bagshaw, told me I was when I wept with joy while he was showing me round. Yes, and now I’m a patron of the Garden Home Trust or a governor or a vice-priest or something. I am really. What is it I am, Nona?”
“You’re a bloated aristocrat and a bloodsucker,” Nona told him in her clear, fine voice. “And you’re living on estates which your brutal ancestors ravaged from the people. That’s what you are, Tony. I showed it you in the Searchlight yesterday. And, I say, don’t use ‘elegant’; that’s mine.”
“Oh, by gad, yes, so I am,” said Lord Tybar. “Bloodsucker! Good lord, fancy being a bloodsucker!”
He looked so genuinely rueful and abashed that Sabre laughed; and then said to Nona, “Why is elegant ‘yours’, Lady Tybar?”
She made a little pouting motion at him with her lips. “Marko, I wish to goodness you wouldn’t call me Lady Tybar. Dash it, we’ve called one another Nona and Marko for about a thousand years, long before I ever knew Tony. And just because I’m married—”
“And to a mere loathsome bloodsucker, too,” Lord Tybar interposed.
“Yes, especially to a bloodsucker. Just remember to say Nona, will you, otherwise there’ll be a cruel scene between us. I told you about it before I went away. You don’t suppose Tony minds, do you?”
“And Sabre,” said Lord Tybar, “what the devil does it matter what a bloated robber minds, anyway? That’s the way to look at me, Sabre. Trample me underfoot, my boy. I’m a pestilent survivor of the feudal system, aren’t I, Nona?”