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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

Dealing with that which was done in the Panelled Parlour

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Upon the divan itself there had been lying a little dog; 'twas a King Charles' spaniel, a delicate pampered thing, which attached itself to her, and was not easily driven away. Once during the last hour the fierce, ill-hushed voices had disturbed it, and it had given vent to a fretted bark, but being a luxurious little beast, it had soon curled up among its cushions and gone to sleep again. But as its mistress walked about muttering low words and ofttimes breathing sharp breaths, it became disturbed again. Perhaps through some instinct of which naught is known by human creatures, it felt the strange presence of a thing which roused it. It stirred, at first drowsily, and lifted its head and sniffed; then it stretched its limbs, and having done so, stood up, turning on its mistress a troubled eye, and this she saw and stopped to meet it. 'Twas a strange look she bestowed upon it, a startled and fearful one; her thought drew the blood up to her cheek, but backward again it flowed when the little beast lifted its nose and gave a low but woeful howl. Twice it did this, and then jumped down, and standing before the edge of the couch, stood there sniffing.

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There was no mistake, some instinct of which it knew not the meaning had set it on, and it would not be thrust back. In all beasts this strange thing has been remarked--that they know That which ends them all, and so revolt against it that they cannot be at rest so long as it is near them, but must roar, or whinny, or howl until 'tis out of the reach of their scent. And so 'twas plain this little beast knew and was afraid and restless. He would not let it be, but roved about, sniffing and whining, and not daring to thrust his head beneath the falling draperies, but growing more and yet more excited and terrified, until at last he stopped, raised head in air, and gave vent to a longer, louder, and more dolorous howl, and albeit to one with so strange and noticeable a sound that her heart turned over in her breast as she stooped and caught him in her grasp, and shuddered as she stood upright, holding him to her side, her hand over his mouth. But he would not be hushed, and struggled to get down as if indeed he would go mad unless he might get to the thing and rave at it.

"If I send thee from the room thou wilt come back, poor Frisk," she said. "There will be no keeping thee away, and I have never ordered thee away before. Why couldst thou not keep still? Nay, 'twas not dog nature."

That it was not so was plain by his struggles and the yelps but poorly stifled by her grasp.

She put her hand about his little neck, turning, in sooth, very pale.

"Thou too, poor little beast," she said. "Thou too, who art so small a thing and never harmed me."

When the lacquey came back he wore an air more timorous than before.

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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