“Good old White Horse! I’m glad I stopped in bed. Did you see him yourself now?”
“I’ve rid him! Yes!—an’ told him where to go,” with a ghoulish nod.
“Quite friendly with ghosts and things, eh?”
“I don’ mind ’em. I seen the ole lady up at the big house. Yes, an’ talked to her too.”
“Clever boy! Put the evil eye on her?”
“Noh, ee cann’t.”
“Can’t? Why, I thought you were a past master in all little matters of that kind.”
“Ee cann’t put evil eye on a ghost,” with infinite scorn.
“Oh, she’s a ghost, is she? And what did you talk about?”
“You coul’n’t understan’,” grunted Johnnie, to whom his meeting with the White Lady was a treasured memory if a somewhat tender subject.
And Marielihou? Ah, Marielihou was a black mystery. Sometimes she was there, and sometimes she wasn’t, and if at such times you asked Johnnie where she was, he would reply mysteriously, “Aw, she’s busy.”
And busy Marielihou was, always and at all times. If Graeme found her in the hedge with Johnnie, she was busy licking her lips with vicious enjoyment as though she had just finished eating something that had screamed as it died. Or she was licking them snarlishly and surreptitiously, and sharpening her claws, as though just about starting out after something to eat—something which he knew would certainly scream as it died. For Marielihou was a mighty hunter, and her long black body could be seen about the cliffs at any time of night or day, creeping and worming along, then, of a sudden, pointing and stiffening, and flashing on to her prey like the black death she was.
Six full-grown rabbits had Marielihou been known to bring home in a single day, to say nothing of all the others that had gone to the satisfaction of her own inappeasable lust for rabbit-flesh and slaughter.
As to the strange tales the neighbours whispered about her, Graeme could make neither head nor tail of them. But when old Tom Hamon put it to him direct, he had to confess that he never had seen old Mother Vautrin and Marielihou together, nor both at the same time.
“B’en!” said old Tom, as if that ended the matter. “An’ I tell you, if I had a silver bullet I’d soon try what that Marrlyou’s made of.”
“And why a silver bullet?” asked Graeme.
“’Cause—Lead bullets an’t no good ‘gainst the likes o’ Marrlyou. Many’s the wan I’ve sent after her, ay, an’ through her, and she none the worse. Guyablle!” and old Tom spat viciously.
“Perhaps you missed her,” suggested Graeme, not unreasonably as he thought.
“Missed her!” with immense scorn. “I tell ee bullets goes clean through her, in one side an’ out t’other, an’ she never a bit the worse. I’ve foun’ ’em myself spatted on rock just where she sat.”
“Well, why don’t you get a silver bullet and try again?”