When he opened the letter he and Trixie were seated at their early breakfast in the veranda, attended by a greedy and devoted gathering of pets. Two well-disciplined fox terriers watched in quivering impatience for scraps of toast, obediently oblivious of a pair of Persian kittens that clawed and mewed and sprang in unmannerly fashion; a noisy green parrot in a dome-shaped cage; a monkey that jumped and jabbered on the back of the memsahib's chair; a tame squirrel that darted to and fro with bead-like eyes and feathery tail, even a greater trial to the dogs than the Persian kittens. Trixie worshipped animals and children; indeed, she had one day scandalised the general's wife by declaring, most immodestly as that lady considered, that she intended to have twenty babies, but, meanwhile, she could content herself with dogs and cats and monkeys.
The bungalow was silent, dimly lit. A servant lay rolled up in a cotton sheet, like a corpse, across the threshold of the drawing-room door, which was open. Why was the door open? Why were the venetian outer doors not closed and bolted?
Rance Venner came into the circle of disputants. He did not mingle with the folk of this village, six miles from his fox-farm. This was his first visit to the store. The emporium nearest his home had burned down, that week. Hence his need to go farther afield for supplies.
"But the danger to the specimen—" Hatcher protested automatically.
"And then, I dare say," he suggested good-humouredly, "young Guy made an ass of himself, and you were obliged to squash him?"
Felix fell. Colonel Nef, his pistol held at the hip, tilted it toward Hartford. He looked startled for a moment, then dropped the pistol. In his wrist were three blowgun-darts. Clustered across his chest were half a dozen more. Hartford waved at the Kansans on the ledge. "Arigato!" he shouted, and told them to come down.
"All right for you, my boy, but you'll have a rare trouble to make him give up Eleanor," his uncle said.
"Tell me, Stanley," Retief said, rising. "Are we quite private here?"
The men who stood for the cause of the South
THE FAIRY SPY.
“Then I will be a true philosopher,” she said, with a laugh. The laugh was more than a mere recovery of spirits. It broke out again after a little, as if with a sense of something irresistibly comic. “But I must not interfere too much with Mariuccia, it appears. She knows what you like better than I do. I am only to look wise when she submits her menu, as if I knew all about it. I am very good at looking as if I knew all about it. By the way, do you know there is no piano? I should like to have a piano, if I might.”
She stood still regarding him with an expression that was half-amused and half-disdainful. "I didn't know you were so keen on long walks," she remarked, "or on getting away from here. Isn't this rather a new departure for you?"
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