In a little while, along the path, I heard the clank of a step, and the gentleman in the green cutaway coat, sucking his cane, and eyeing me with an offensive familiar sort of stare the while, passed me by, rather hesitating as he did so. I was glad when he turned the corner in the little hollow close by, and disappeared. I stood up at once, and was reassured by a sight of Madame, not very many yards away, looking at the ruin, and apparently restored to her right mind. The last beams of the sun were by this time touching the uplands, and I was longing to recommence our walk home. I was hesitating about calling to Madame, because that lady had a certain spirit of opposition within her, and to disclose a small wish of any sort was generally, if it lay in her power, to prevent its accomplishment.
At this moment the gentleman in the green coat returned, approaching me with a slow sort of swagger.
‘I say, Miss, I dropped a glove close by here. May you have seen it?’
‘No, sir,’ I said, drawing back a little, and looking, I dare say, both frightened and offended.
’I do think I must ‘a dropped it close by your foot, Miss.’
‘No, sir,’ I repeated.
‘No offence, Miss, but you’re sure you didn’t hide it?’
I was beginning to grow seriously uncomfortable.
‘Don’t be frightened, Miss; it’s only a bit o’ chaff. I’m not going to search.’
I called aloud, ‘Madame, Madame!’ and he whistled through his fingers, and shouted, ‘Madame, Madame,’ and added, ’She’s as deaf as a tombstone, or she’ll hear that. Gi’e her my compliments, and say I said you’re a beauty, Miss;’ and with a laugh and a leer he strode off.
Altogether this had not been a very pleasant excursion. Madame gobbled up our sandwiches, commending them every now and then to me. But I had been too much excited to have any appetite left, and very tired I was when we reached home.
‘So, there is lady coming to-morrow?’ said Madame, who knew everything. ‘Wat is her name? I forget.’
‘Lady Knollys,’ I answered.
‘Lady Knollys—wat odd name! She is very young—is she not?’
‘Past fifty, I think.’
‘Helas! She’s vary old, then. Is she rich?’
‘I don’t know. She has a place in Derbyshire.’
‘Derbyshire—that is one of your English counties, is it not?’
‘Oh yes, Madame,’ I answered, laughing. ’I have said it to you twice since you came;’ and I gabbled through the chief towns and rivers as catalogued in my geography.
‘Bah! to be sure—of course, cheaile. And is she your relation?’
‘Papa’s first cousin.’
‘Won’t you present-a me, pray?—I would so like!’
Madame had fallen into the English way of liking people with titles, as perhaps foreigners would if titles implied the sort of power they do generally with us.