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And now they entered a long lane, where the interlaced tree-tops made an arcade of foliage a lane whose beauty even Vixen could not gainsay. Ah, there were the Hampshire ferns on the steep green banks! She gave a little choking sob at sight of them, as if they had been living things. Hart's-tongue, and lady-fern, and the whole family of osmundas. Yes; they were all there.

There was a loose-box, shut off by a five-foot wainscot partition, surmounted by a waved iron rail, at one end of the stable, and on approaching this enclosure Vixen was saluted with sundry grunts and snorting noises, which seemed curiously familiar. At the sound of these she stopped short, turning red, and then pale, and looked intently at Rorie, who was standing close by, smiling at her.

This was not the Virginia that he had known and loved the Virginia he had played with in his youth but a warped and embittered Virginia, a waspish, heartless vixen who had never been anything but cold. She had worked him deliberately, resorting to woman's wiles to gain what was not her due, and now when his mill was smashed into kindling wood, she danced and laughed for joy.

This turned the scale, and Vixen burst into a joyous peal of laughter. "How did you find me here?" she asked. "Very easily. Your custodian what a grim-looking personage she is, by-the-way told me where you were gone, and directed me how to follow you. I told her I had a most important message to deliver to you from your mother. You don't mind that artless device, I hope?" "Not much.

But the vixen had a convincing method of dealing with any refractory member of her family; she would hold the cub firmly between her fore-feet while she continued her treatment, or administered slight, well-judged chastisement by nipping her wayward offspring in some tender spot, where, however, little harm could be the result.

The rain was everywhere, and the incessant pitter-patter of the drops beating against the windows of the Abbey made a dismal sound, scarcely less unpleasant to hear than the perpetual lamentation of the winds, which to-day had the sound of human voices; now moaning drearily, with a long, low, wailing murmur, now shrieking in the shrilly tones of an angry vixen.

"I am very glad," said Vixen, not knowing very well what to say; and then seeing Captain Winstanley standing stiffly at her side, with an aggrieved expression of countenance, she faltered: "I beg your pardon; I don't think you have ever met Mr. Vawdrey. Captain Winstanley Mr. Vawdrey."

Vixen was glad to be let off with so brief a lecture. In her heart of hearts she was not at all sorry that her mother's friendly dinner should fall on a day which she had promised to spend elsewhere. It was a treat to escape the sameness of that polite entertainment. Yes, Captain Winstanley was to be there of course, and prolonged acquaintance had not lessened her dislike to that gentleman.

A hundred times this poor gentleman bit his lip, drew down his torvous brows, and stamped his foot, and cursed himself bitterly, or called his lady bitch. He could not forgive himself neither, that he had not thought of the damned dog-fox before, but all the while had let the cubs frisk round him, each one a proof that a dog-fox had been at work with his vixen.

Barbara's behaviour to him had done nothing to humble him; for humiliation is at best but a poisoned and poisonous humility. Little Vixen ran out to Barbara, and made herself less unpleasant than usual: the monkey was preparing her, by what blandishment she was mistress of, to receive a complaint against the man in the library which would injure him in her favour.

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