“I dislike bulls,” she said; “I think I must walk backward.”
“You can’t; it’s too uphill.”
“I am not going to turn back,” said Lady Casterley. “The bull ought not to be here. Whose fault is it? I shall speak to someone. Stand still and look at him. We must prevent his coming nearer.”
They stood still and looked at the bull, who continued to approach.
“It doesn’t stop him,” said Lady Casterley. “We must take no notice. Give me your arm, my dear; my legs feel rather funny.”
Barbara put her arm round the little figure. They walked on.
“I have not been used to bulls lately,” said Lady Casterley. The bull came nearer.
“Granny,” said Barbara, “you must go quietly on to the stile. When you’re over I’ll come too.”
“Certainly not,” said Lady Casterley, “we will go together. Take no notice of him; I have great faith in that.”
“Granny darling, you must do as I say, please; I remember this bull, he is one of ours.”
At those rather ominous words Lady Casterley gave her a sharp glance.
“I shall not go,” she said. “My legs feel quite strong now. We can run, if necessary.”
“So can the bull,” said Barbara.
“I’m not going to leave you,” muttered Lady Casterley. “If he turns vicious I shall talk to him. He won’t touch me. You can run faster than I; so that’s settled.”
“Don’t be absurd, dear,” answered Barbara; “I am not afraid of bulls.”
Lady Casterley flashed a look at her which had a gleam of amusement.
“I can feel you,” she said; “you’re just as trembly as I am.”
The bull was now distant some eighty yards, and they were still quite a hundred from the stile.
“Granny,” said Barbara, “if you don’t go on as I tell you, I shall just leave you, and go and meet him! You mustn’t be obstinate!”
Lady Casterley’s answer was to grip her granddaughter round the waist; the nervous force of that thin arm was surprising.
“You will do nothing of the sort,” she said. “I refuse to have anything more to do with this bull; I shall simply pay no attention.”
The bull now began very slowly ambling towards them.
“Take no notice,” said Lady Casterley, who was walking faster than she had ever walked before.
“The ground is level now,” said Barbara; “can you run?”
“I think so,” gasped Lady Casterley; and suddenly she found herself half-lifted from the ground, and, as it were, flying towards the stile. She heard a noise behind; then Barbara’s voice:
“We must stop. He’s on us. Get behind me.”
She felt herself caught and pinioned by two arms that seemed set on the wrong way. Instinct, and a general softness told her that she was back to back with her granddaughter.
“Let me go!” she gasped; “let me go!”
And suddenly she felt herself being propelled by that softness forward towards the stile.