"And I thought that you would be pleased to see me, ma fille," said a soft drawling voice. "I beg you will not shoot me dead." Great-coated, booted and spurred, not a hair of his elegant wig out of place, his Grace of Avon stood upon the threshold, quizzing raised, a faint smile curling his thin lips.
"Oh, I was just teasing Rupert!" Léonie replied buoyantly. "That is why I am in these clothes. I put them on to make him angry. And I ran away from him into the wood, and then that pig-person was there-"
"One moment, my infant. You will pardon my ignorance, but I do not know who the--er--pig-person is meant to be."
"Why, the wicked Comte!" said Léonie. "He is a pig-person, Monseigneur."
"I see. I do not think I admire your choice of adjective, though."
"Oh, you know the rest. Monseigneur! Ha gave me an evil drink--pig-wash! He called it coffee."
"Then let us also call it coffee, child, I beg of you. I can support 'Pig-person', but 'Pig-wash' I will not endure."
"But it was, Monseigneur! I threw it at him, and he swore."
His Grace regarded her inscrutably.
"You seem to have been a pleasant traveling companion," he remarked. "What then?"
"Then he brought more pig--coffee, and he made me drink it. It was drugged, Monseigneur, and it made me go to sleep."
"Eloped?" Léonie echoed. "With Rupert? Ah, bah, I would as soon elope with the old goat in the field!"
"If it comes to that, I'd as soon elope with a tigeress!" retorted Rupert. "Sooner, by Gad!"
"When this interchange of civilities is over," said his Grace languidly, "I will continue. But do not let me interrupt you."
Léonie waved agitated hands.
"No, no, imbécile! Tais toi!" She pursed her mouth primly. "M. Marling would be shocked, and madame would say that it not at all respectable. Monseigneur, he is not to tell!"
"One would infer that it was some disgraceful secret," said his Grace. "I believe that I have several times requested you not to call Rupert 'imbécile', infant."
"But Monseigneur, he is an imbécile!" she protested. "You know he is!"
"Undoubtedly, ma fille, but I do not tell the whole world so."
"Then I do not know what I am to call him," said Léonie. "He calls me spitfire, Monseigneir, and wildcat."
"And so she is, by Gad!" exclaimed his lordship.
"I am not, Rupert, I am a lady. Monseigneur says so."
"A manifestly false assertion," said his Grace. "But I cannot remember ever having said anything of the kind, infant."
"Abduted?" Davenant looked round, half-incredulous. "What's this?"
"On that pig-person!" said Léonie scornfully.
"My love!" Lady Fanny jumped. "What did I hear you say?"
"Well, but, Madame, Monseigneur allows me to say pig-person. You do not mind, do you, Monseigneur?"
"My infant, it is not a beautiful expression, nor am I in any way enamoured of it, but I believe that I did say I could support it as long as you refrained from talking of pig--er--wash."