Now she could go. That was her one crying thought: She could go! And again he came to her rescue with his smiling considerateness.
“You have missed your breakfast, I’ll warrant,” he said to her. “Please don’t wait. You were so brave and cool about it all, and—I—” A faint tide of color rose to his cheeks, which had been pale from loss of blood. For once he seemed unable to find a word.
Mary denied him any assistance in his embarrassment.
“Yes,” she answered, almost bluntly. Then she added an excuse: “And you should have a doctor at once. I will send him.”
She did not look at Jack again, but hastened away. When she was over the bank of the arroyo out of sight she put her fingers to her temples in strong pressure. That pulse made her think of another, which had been under her thumb, and she withdrew her fingers quickly.
“It is the sun! I have no hat,” she said to herself, “and I didn’t sleep well.”
Dr. Patterson was still asleep when Mary rapped at his door. Having aroused him to action by calling out that a stranger had been wounded in the arroyo, she did not pause to offer any further details. With her eyes level and dull, she walked rapidly along the main street where nobody was yet abroad, her one thought to reach her room uninterrupted. As she approached the house she saw her father standing on the porch, his face beaming with the joy of a serenely-lived moment as he had his morning look at the Eternal Painter’s first display for the day. She had crossed the bridge before he became conscious of her presence.
“Mary! You are up first! Out so early when you went to bed so late!” he greeted her.
“I did not sleep well,” she explained.
“What, Mary, you not sleep well!” All the preoccupation with the heavens went from his eyes, which swept her from head to foot. “Mary! Your hand is covered with blood! There is blood on your dress’ What does this mean?”
She looked down and for the first time saw dark red spots on her skirt. The sight sent a shiver through her, which she mastered before she spoke.
“Oh, nothing—or a good deal, if you put it in another way. A real sensation for Little Rivers!” she said.
“But you are not telling!”
“It is such a remarkable story, father, it ought not to be spoiled by giving away its plot,” she said, with assumed lightness. “I don’t feel equal to doing full justice to it until after I’ve had my bath. I will tell you at breakfast. That’s a reason for your waiting for me.”
And she hastened past him into the house.
“Was it—was it something to do with this Wingfield?” he called excitedly after her.
“Yes, about the fellow of the enormous spurs—Senor Don’t Care, as Ignacio calls him,” she answered from the stair.