“Yes,” said Max, with a sudden twinkle in his green eyes. “You know, it isn’t good for little girls to know too much.”
As the door banged upon her retreat, he leaned back, holding to the edge of the table, and laughed with his chin in the air.
Life in the country, notwithstanding its many drawbacks, was turning out to be more diverting than he had anticipated.
“Ah, my dear, there you are! I was just wondering if I would come over and see you.”
Violet Campion reined in her horse with a suddenness that made him chafe indignantly, and leaned from the saddle to greet Olga, who had just turned in at the Priory gates.
Olga was bicycling. She sprang from her machine, and reached up an impetuous hand, as regardless of the trampling animal as its rider.
“Pluto is in a tiresome mood to-day,” remarked his mistress. “I know he won’t be satisfied till he has had a good beating. Perhaps you will go on up to the house while I give him a lesson.”
“Oh, don’t beat him!” Olga pleaded. “He’s only fresh.”
“No, he isn’t. He’s vicious. He snapped at me before I mounted. It’s no good postponing it. He’ll have to have it.” Violet spoke as if she were discussing the mechanism of a machine. “You go on up the drive, my dear, while I take him across the turf.”
But Olga lingered. “Violet, really—I know he will throw you or bolt with you. I wish you wouldn’t.”
Violet’s laugh had a ring of scorn. “My dear child, if I were afraid of that, I had better give up riding him altogether.”
“I wish you would,” said Olga. “He is much too strong for a woman to manage.”
Violet laughed again, this time with sheer amusement, and then, with dark eyes that flashed in the sunlight, she slashed the animal’s flank with her riding-whip. He uttered a snort that was like an exclamation of rage, and leaped clean off the ground. Striking it again, he reared, but received a stinging cut over the ears that brought him down. Then furiously he kicked and plunged, catching the whip all over his glossy body, till with a furious squeal he flung himself forward and galloped headlong away.
Olga stood on the drive and watched with lips slightly compressed. She knew that as an exhibition of skilled horsemanship the spectacle she had just witnessed was faultless; but it gave her no pleasure, and there was no admiration in the eyes that followed the distant galloping figure with the merciless whip that continued active as long as she could see it.
As horse and rider passed from sight beyond a clump of trees, she remounted her bicycle, and rode slowly towards the house.