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|The Lair of the White Worm||Bram Stoker|
The White Worm
|Page 2 of 4||
"Was he after Lilla?"
"Yes, and the fellow didn't lose any time either. Almost as soon as they met, he began to butter her up, and tell her how beautiful she was. Why, before he left her side, he had asked himself to tea tomorrow at Mercy Farm. Stupid ass! He might see that the girl isn't his sort! I never saw anything like it. It was just like a hawk and a pigeon."
As he spoke, Sir Nathaniel turned and looked at Mr. Salton--a keen look which implied a full understanding.
"Tell us all about it, Adam. There are still a few minutes before dinner, and we shall all have better appetites when we have come to some conclusion on this matter."
"There is nothing to tell, sir; that is the worst of it. I am bound to say that there was not a word said that a human being could object to. He was very civil, and all that was proper--just what a landlord might be to a tenant's daughter. . . Yet--yet--well, I don't know how it was, but it made my blood boil."
"How did the hawk and the pigeon come in?" Sir Nathaniel's voice was soft and soothing, nothing of contradiction or overdone curiosity in it--a tone eminently suited to win confidence.
"I can hardly explain. I can only say that he looked like a hawk and she like a dove--and, now that I think of it, that is what they each did look like; and do look like in their normal condition."
"That is so!" came the soft voice of Sir Nathaniel.
Adam went on:
"Perhaps that early Roman look of his set me off. But I wanted to protect her; she seemed in danger."
"She seems in danger, in a way, from all you young men. I couldn't help noticing the way that even you looked--as if you wished to absorb her!"
"I hope both you young men will keep your heads cool," put in Mr. Salton. "You know, Adam, it won't do to have any quarrel between you, especially so soon after his home-coming and your arrival here. We must think of the feelings and happiness of our neighbours; mustn't we?"
"I hope so, sir. I assure you that, whatever may happen, or even threaten, I shall obey your wishes in this as in all things."
"Hush!" whispered Sir Nathaniel, who heard the servants in the passage bringing dinner.
After dinner, over the walnuts and the wine, Sir Nathaniel returned to the subject of the local legends.
"It will perhaps be a less dangerous topic for us to discuss than more recent ones."
"All right, sir," said Adam heartily. "I think you may depend on me now with regard to any topic. I can even discuss Mr. Caswall. Indeed, I may meet him to-morrow. He is going, as I said, to call at Mercy Farm at three o'clock--but I have an appointment at two."
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