"I'm sorry I'm late," she said, "but I hope my niece has entertained you well."
"Yes, she's been very amusing," said Mr Nuttel.
"D'you mind the open window?" asked Mrs Sappleton. "My husband and brothers will soon be home from shooting and they always come into the house this way." And she went on speaking gaily about shooting. After what Mr Nuttel had just heard, he looked worried.
"The doctors told me," he said, trying to change the subject, "to have a rest here and to avoid anything that would make me feel nervous."
"Did they?" said Mrs Sappleton in a voice which showed that she was not at all interested in what Mr Nuttel was saying. She never took her eyes off the open window and suddenly cried out:
"Here they are at last! Just in time for tea. How tired they look."
Mr Nuttel looked at the girl and saw that she was looking out through the open window with horror in her eyes. Mr Nuttel turned round slowly in his seat, looked in the same direction and saw three figures walking across the garden towards the window. They all carried guns and one of them had a coat over his shoulder. A tired brown dog was following them. Noiselessly they approached the house, and then a young voice began to sing. "Bertie, why don't you come?"
Mr Nuttel seized his hat and ran out of the house like mad.
"Here we are, my dear," said Mrs Sappleton's husband, coming in through the window. "We've enjoyed ourselves very much. I wonder what made that gentleman run out so quickly when we came up? Who is he?"
"A very strange young man, called Nuttel. He could only talk about his illness. He didn't say a single interesting thing. I don't understand why he ran out that way without saying good-bye," said his wife.
"I think it was the dog," said the niece calmly. "He told me that he was afraid of dogs. Once when he was attacked by a pack of dogs somewhere in India, he was so frightened that he started running like mad, and finding himself in a cemetery, climbed down into a newly-dug grave, where he had to spend the night. Since then he has always been afraid of dogs."
She was very good at inventing stories and did it artistically.