What a person you are for questions, I said.
Well, we cant stay here all night with a hyæna, she retorted.
I dont know what your ideas of comfort are, I said; but I shouldnt think of staying here all night even without a hyæna. My home may be an unhappy one, but at least it has hot and cold water laid on, and domestic service, and other conveniences which we shouldnt find here. We had better make for that ridge of trees to the right; I imagine the Crowley road is just beyond.
We trotted off slowly along a faintly marked cart-track, with the beast following cheerfully at our heels.
What on earth are we to do with the hyæna? came the inevitable question.
What does one generally do with hyænas? I asked crossly.
Ive never had anything to do with one before, said Constance.
Well, neither have I. If we even knew its sex we might give it a name. Perhaps we might call it Esmé. That would do in either case.
There was still sufficient daylight for us to distinguish wayside objects, and our listless spirits gave an upward perk as we came upon a small half-naked gipsy brat picking blackberries from a low-growing bush. The sudden apparition of two horsewomen and a hyæna set it off crying, and in any case we should scarcely have gleaned any useful geographical information from that source; but there was a probability that we might strike a gipsy encampment somewhere along our route. We rode on hopefully but uneventfully for another mile or so.
I wonder what the child was doing there, said Constance presently.
Picking blackberries. Obviously.
I dont like the way it cried, pursued Constance; somehow its wail keeps ringing in my ears.
I did not chide Constance for her morbid fancies; as a matter of fact the same sensation, of being pursued by a persistent fretful wail, had been forcing itself on my rather over-tired nerves. For companys sake I hulloed to Esmé, who had lagged somewhat behind. With a few springy bounds he drew up level, and then shot past us.
The wailing accompaniment was explained. The gipsy child was firmly, and I expect painfully, held in his jaws.
Merciful Heaven! screamed Constance, what on earth shall we do? What are we to do?
I am perfectly certain that at the Last Judgment Constance will ask more questions than any of the examining Seraphs.
Cant we do something? she persisted tearfully, as Esmé cantered easily along in front of our tired horses.
Personally I was doing everything that occurred to me at the moment. I stormed and scolded and coaxed in English and French and gamekeeper language; I made absurd, ineffectual cuts in the air with my thongless hunting-crop; I hurled my sandwich case at the brute; in fact, I really dont know what more I could have done. And still we lumbered on through the deepening dusk, with that dark uncouth shape lumbering ahead of us, and a drone of lugubrious music floating in our ears. Suddenly Esmé bounded aside into some thick bushes, where we could not follow; the wail rose to a shriek and then stopped altogether. This part of the story I always hurry over, because it is really rather horrible. When the beast joined
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