“Shoo!” she said; “shoo!”
“Granny,” Barbara’s voice came, calm and breathless, “don’t! You only excite him! Are we near the stile?”
“Ten yards,” panted Lady Casterley.
“Look out, then!” There was a sort of warm flurry round her, a rush, a heave, a scramble; she was beyond the stile. The bull and Barbara, a yard or two apart, were just the other side. Lady Casterley raised her handkerchief and fluttered it. The bull looked up; Barbara, all legs and arms, came slipping down beside her.
Without wasting a moment Lady Casterley leaned forward and addressed the bull:
“You awful brute!” she said; “I will have you well flogged.”
Gently pawing the ground, the bull snuffled.
“Are you any the worse, child?”
“Not a scrap,” said Barbara’s serene, still breathless voice.
Lady Casterley put up her hands, and took the girl’s face between them.
“What legs you have!” she said. “Give me a kiss!”
Having received a hot, rather quivering kiss, she walked on, holding somewhat firmly to Barbara’s arm.
“As for that bull,” she murmured, “the brute—to attack women!”
Barbara looked down at her.
“Granny,” she said, “are you sure you’re not shaken?”
Lady Casterley, whose lips were quivering, pressed them together very hard.
“Not a b-b-bit.”
“Don’t you think,” said Barbara, “that we had better go back, at once—the other way?”
“Certainly not. There are no more bulls, I suppose, between us and this woman?”
“But are you fit to see her?”
Lady Casterley passed her handkerchief over her lips, to remove their quivering.
“Perfectly,” she answered.
“Then, dear,” said Barbara, “stand still a minute, while I dust you behind.”
This having been accomplished, they proceeded in the direction of Mrs. Noel’s cottage.
At sight of it, Lady Casterley said:
“I shall put my foot down. It’s out of the question for a man of Miltoun’s prospects. I look forward to seeing him Prime Minister some day.” Hearing Barbara’s voice murmuring above her, she paused: “What’s that you say?”
“I said: What is the use of our being what we are, if we can’t love whom we like?”
“Love!” said Lady Casterley; “I was talking of marriage.”
“I am glad you admit the distinction, Granny dear.”
“You are pleased to be sarcastic,” said Lady Casterley. “Listen to me! It’s the greatest nonsense to suppose that people in our caste are free to do as they please. The sooner you realize that, the better, Babs. I am talking to you seriously. The preservation of our position as a class depends on our observing certain decencies. What do you imagine would happen to the Royal Family if they were allowed to marry as they liked? All this marrying with Gaiety girls, and American money,