The Lair of the White Worm
23. In The Enemy's House
Sir Nathaniel was in the library next morning, after breakfast, when Adam came to him
carrying a letter.
"Her ladyship doesn't lose any time. She has begun work already!"
Sir Nathaniel, who was writing at a table near the window, looked up.
"What is it?" said he.
Adam held out the letter he was carrying. It was in a blazoned envelope.
"Ha!" said Sir Nathaniel, "from the White Worm! I expected something of the kind."
"But," said Adam, "how could she have known we were here? She didn't know last
"I don't think we need trouble about that, Adam. There is so much we do not understand.
This is only another mystery. Suffice it that she does know--perhaps it is all the better and
safer for us."
"How is that?" asked Adam with a puzzled look.
"General process of reasoning, my boy; and the experience of some years in the
diplomatic world. This creature is a monster without heart or consideration for anything
or anyone. She is not nearly so dangerous in the open as when she has the dark to protect
her. Besides, we know, by our own experience of her movements, that for some reason
she shuns publicity. In spite of her vast bulk and abnormal strength, she is afraid to attack
openly. After all, she is only a snake and with a snake's nature, which is to keep low and
squirm, and proceed by stealth and cunning. She will never attack when she can run
away, although she knows well that running away would probably be fatal to her. What is
the letter about?"
Sir Nathaniel's voice was calm and self-possessed. When he was engaged in any struggle
of wits he was all diplomatist.
"She asks Mimi and me to tea this afternoon at Diana's Grove, and hopes that you also
will favour her."
Sir Nathaniel smiled.
"Please ask Mrs. Salton to accept for us all."
"She means some deadly mischief. Surely--surely it would be wiser not."