The Lair of the White Worm HTML version

14. Battle Renewed
The consequences of that meeting in the dusk of Diana's Grove were acute and far-
reaching, and not only to the two engaged in it. From Oolanga, this might have been
expected by anyone who knew the character of the tropical African savage. To such,
there are two passions that are inexhaustible and insatiable--vanity and that which they
are pleased to call love. Oolanga left the Grove with an absorbing hatred in his heart. His
lust and greed were afire, while his vanity had been wounded to the core. Lady Arabella's
icy nature was not so deeply stirred, though she was in a seething passion. More than ever
she was set upon bringing Edgar Caswall to her feet. The obstacles she had encountered,
the insults she had endured, were only as fuel to the purpose of revenge which consumed
As she sought her own rooms in Diana's Grove, she went over the whole subject again
and again, always finding in the face of Lilla Watford a key to a problem which puzzled
her--the problem of a way to turn Caswall's powers--his very existence--to aid her
When in her boudoir, she wrote a note, taking so much trouble over it that she destroyed,
and rewrote, till her dainty waste-basket was half-full of torn sheets of notepaper. When
quite satisfied, she copied out the last sheet afresh, and then carefully burned all the
spoiled fragments. She put the copied note in an emblazoned envelope, and directed it to
Edgar Caswall at Castra Regis. This she sent off by one of her grooms. The letter ran:
"I want to have a chat with you on a subject in which I believe you are interested. Will
you kindly call for me one day after lunch-- say at three or four o'clock, and we can walk
a little way together. Only as far as Mercy Farm, where I want to see Lilla and Mimi
Watford. We can take a cup of tea at the Farm. Do not bring your African servant with
you, as I am afraid his face frightens the girls. After all, he is not pretty, is he? I have an
idea you will be pleased with your visit this time.
"Yours sincerely,
At half-past three next day, Edgar Caswall called at Diana's Grove. Lady Arabella met
him on the roadway outside the gate. She wished to take the servants into her confidence
as little as possible. She turned when she saw him coming, and walked beside him
towards Mercy Farm, keeping step with him as they walked. When they got near Mercy,
she turned and looked around her, expecting to see Oolanga or some sign of him. He was,
however, not visible. He had received from his master peremptory orders to keep out of
sight--an order for which the African scored a new offence up against her. They found
Lilla and Mimi at home and seemingly glad to see them, though both the girls were
surprised at the visit coming so soon after the other.