And she laughed, and it would not have been a bad laugh for a ghoul.
’Come, my dearest Maud, you are not a such fool to say, if you tell me me go thees a way, I weel go that; and if you say, go that a way, I weel go thees—you are rasonable leetle girl—come along—alons donc—we shall av soche agreeable walk—weel a you?’
But I was immovable. It was neither obstinacy nor caprice, but a profound fear that governed me. I was then afraid—yes, afraid. Afraid of what? Well, of going with Madame de la Rougierre to Church Scarsdale that day. That was all. And I believe that instinct was true.
She turned a bitter glance toward Church Scarsdale, and bit her lip. She saw that she must give it up. A shadow hung upon her drab features. A little scowl—a little sneer—wide lips compressed with a false smile, and a leaden shadow mottling all. Such was the countenance of the lady who only a minute or two before had been smiling and murmuring over the stile so amiably with her idiomatic ‘blarney,’ as the Irish call that kind of blandishment.
There was no mistaking the malignant disappointment that hooked and warped her features—my heart sank—a tremendous fear overpowered me. Had she intended poisoning me? What was in that basket? I looked in her dreadful face. I felt for a minute quite frantic. A feeling of rage with my father, with my Cousin Monica, for abandoning me to this dreadful rogue, took possession of me, and I cried, helplessly wringing my hands—
‘Oh! it is a shame—it is a shame—it is a shame!’
The countenance of the gouvernante relaxed. I think she in turn was frightened at my extreme agitation. It might have worked unfavourably with my father.
’Come, Maud, it is time you should try to control your temper. You shall not walk to Church Scarsdale if you do not like—I only invite. There! It is quite as you please, where we shall walk then? Here to the peegeon-house? I think you say. Tout bien! Remember I concede you everything. Let us go.’
We went, therefore, towards the pigeon-house, through the forest trees; I not speaking as the children in the wood did with their sinister conductor, but utterly silent and scared; she silent also, meditating, and sometimes with a sharp side-glance gauging my progress towards equanimity. Her own was rapid; for Madame was a philosopher, and speedily accommodated herself to circumstances. We had not walked a quarter of an hour when every trace of gloom had left her face, which had assumed its customary brightness, and she began to sing with a spiteful hilarity as we walked forward, and indeed seemed to be approaching one of her waggish, frolicsome moods. But her fun in these moods was solitary. The joke, whatever it was, remained in her own keeping. When we approached the ruined brick tower—in old times a pigeon-house—she grew quite frisky, and twirled her basket in the air, and capered to her own singing.