When, in obedience, she reached Ravensham, she found her grandmother and Lord-Dennis in the white room. They were standing by one of the tall windows, apparently contemplating the view. They turned indeed at sound of Barbara’s approach, but neither of them spoke or nodded. Not having seen her grandfather since before Miltoun’s illness, Barbara found it strange to be so treated; she too took her stand silently before the window. A very large wasp was crawling up the pane, then slipping down with a faint buzz.
Suddenly Lady Casterley spoke.
“Kill that thing!”
Lord Dennis drew forth his handkerchief.
“Not with that, Dennis. It will make a mess. Take a paper knife.”
“I was going to put it out,” murmured Lord Dennis.
“Let Barbara with her gloves.”
Barbara moved towards the pane.
“It’s a hornet, I think,” she said.
“So he is!” said Lord Dennis, dreamily:
“Nonsense,” murmured Lady Casterley, “it’s a common wasp.”
“I know it’s a hornet, Granny. The rings are darker.”
Lady Casterley bent down; when she raised herself she had a slipper in her hand.
“Don’t irritate him!” cried Barbara, catching her wrist. But Lady Casterley freed her hand.
“I will,” she said, and brought the sole of the slipper down on the insect, so that it dropped on the floor, dead. “He has no business in here.”
And, as if that little incident had happened to three other people, they again stood silently looking through the window.
Then Lady Casterley turned to Barbara.
“Well, have you realized the mischief that you’ve done?”
“Ann!” murmured Lord Dennis.
“Yes, yes; she is your favourite, but that won’t save her. This woman—to her great credit—I say to her great credit—has gone away, so as to put herself out of Eustace’s reach, until he has recovered his senses.”
With a sharp-drawn breath Barbara said:
“Oh! poor thing!”
But on Lady Casterley’s face had come an almost cruel look.
“Ah!” she said: “Exactly. But, curiously enough, I am thinking of Eustace.” Her little figure was quivering from head to foot: “This will be a lesson to you not to play with fire!”
“Ann!” murmured Lord Dennis again, slipping his arm through Barbara’s.
“The world,” went on Lady Casterley, “is a place of facts, not of romantic fancies. You have done more harm than can possibly be repaired. I went to her myself. I was very much moved.’ If it hadn’t been for your foolish conduct——”
“Ann!” said Lord Dennis once more.
Lady Casterley paused, tapping the floor with her little foot. Barbara’s eyes were gleaming.
“Is there anything else you would like to squash, dear?”
“Babs!” murmured Lord Dennis; but, unconsciously pressing his hand against her heart, the girl went on.