A GROTESQUE TRAGEDY 125
' Give it me at once; I mean to have it! I require it.'
' Unfortunately, I think I require it myself !' returned the lady, walking a little quicker, with a sharper cracking of her joints and clinking of her bones.
He started to follow her, but nearly fell: his knee-grass had burst, and with an oath he stopped, grasping his leg again.
' Come and tie it up properly !' he would have thundered, but he only piped and whistled !
She turned and looked at him.
' Come and tie it up instantly !' he repeated.
She walked a step or two farther from him.
' I swear I will not touch you !' he cried.
' Swear on, my lord ! there is no one here to believe you. But, pray, do not lose your temper, or you will shake yourself to pieces, and where to find string enough to tie up all your crazy joints, is more than I can tell/
She came back, and knelt once more at his side— first, however, laying the stick in dispute beyond his reach and within her own.
The instant she had finished retying the joint, he made a grab at her, thinking, apparently, to seize her by the hair; but his hard fingers slipped on the smooth poll.
' Disgusting!' he muttered, and laid hold of her upper arm-bone.
' You will break it!' she said, looking up from her knees.
' I will, then!' he answered, and began to strain at it.
'I shall not tie your leg again the next time it comes loose !' she threatened.