“Oh, you’re all right, Marko,” Nona agreed, “when you’re not too matter-of-fact. Yes, do come up. There’s always a harsh word and a blow for you at Northrepps.”
The mare steadied again. She stretched out her neck towards Sabre and quivered her nostrils at him, sensing him. He put up a hand to stroke her beautiful muzzle and she threw up her head violently and swerved sharply around.
Not in the least discomposed, Lord Tybar, his body in perfect rhythm with her curvettings, laughed at Sabre over his shoulder. “She thinks you’re up to something, Sabre. She thinks you’ve got designs on us. Marvellous how I know! Whisper and I shall hear, loved one. You’ll hurt yourself in a minute.”
The light in his smiling eyes was surely a mocking light. “Thinks you’re up to something! Thinks you’ve got designs on us!”
The mare was wheedled round again to her former position; against her will, but somehow as the natural result of her dancing. Marvellous how he directed her caprices into his own intentions and against her own. But Lord Tybar was now looking away behind him to where the adjoining meadow sloped far away and steeply to a copse. In the hollow only the tops of the trees could be seen. His eyes were screwed up in distant vision. He said, “Dash it, there’s that old blighter Sooper. He’s been avoiding me. Now I’ve got him. Nona, you won’t mind getting back alone? I must speak to Sooper. I’m going to have his blood over that fodder business. Blood! My word! Good!”
He twisted the mare in a wonderfully quick and dexterous movement. “Good-by, Sabre. You don’t mind, Nona?” And he flashed back a glance. He lifted the mare over the low bank with a superbly easy motion. He turned to wave his hand as she landed nimbly in the meadow, and he cantered away, image of grace, poetry of movement. Fortune’s favourite!
The two left watched him. At the brow of the meadow he turned again in his saddle and waved again jauntily. They waved reply. He was over the brow. Out of sight.
The features of the level valley beyond the brow where only he could have seen the individual he sought, were, at that distance, of Noah’s Ark dimensions. “How he could have recognised any one!” said Nona, her gaze towards the valley. “I can’t even see any one. He’s got eyes like about four hawks!”
Sabre said, “And rides like a—what do they call those things?—like a centaur.”
She turned her head towards him. “He does everything better than any one else,” she said. “That’s Tony’s characteristic. Everything. He’s perfectly wonderful.”
These were enthusiastic words; but she spoke them without enthusiasm; she merely pronounced them. “Well, I’m off too,” she said. “And what about you, Marko? You’re going to work, aren’t you? I don’t think you ought to be able to stop and gossip like this. You’re not getting an idler, are you? You used to be such a devoted hard-worker. My word!” and she laughed as though at some amused memory of his devotion to work.