“I am glad!” Jasper Ewold exclaimed with dramatic quickness. “Glad that your wound is so slight—glad that you need not be shut up long when you are due elsewhere.”
What books should he bring to the invalid to while away the time? “The Three Musketeers” or “Cyrano”? Jack seemed to know his “Cyrano” so well that a copy could be only a prompt. He settled deeper in his chair and, more to the sky than to Jasper Ewold, repeated Cyrano’s address to his cadets, set to a tune of his own. His body might be in the chair, with a bandaged leg, but clearly his mind was away on the trail.
“Yes, let me see,” he said, coming back to earth. “I should like the ‘Road to Rome,’ something of Charles Lamb, Aldrich’s ’Story of a Bad Boy,’ Heine—–but no! What am I saying? Bring me any solid book on economics. I ought to be reading economics. Economics and Charles Lamb, that will do. Do you think they could travel together?”
“All printed things can, if you choose. I’ll include Lamb.”
“And any Daudet lying loose,” Jack added.
“I carry Omar in my head, thank you, O Doge!”
“Sir Chaps of the enormous spurs, you have a broad taste for one who rides over the pass of Galeria after five years in Arizona,” said the Doge as he rose. He was covertly surveying that soft, winning, dreamy profile which had turned so hard when the devil that was within came to the surface.
“I was fed on books and galleries in my boyhood,” Jack said; but with a reticence that indicated that this was all he cared to tell about his past.
MARY BRINGS TRIBUTE
Every resident except the cronies of Pete Leddy considered it a duty, once a day at least, to look over the Galway hedge and ask how Senor Don’t Care was doing. That is, everyone with a single exception, which was Mary. Jack had never seen her even pass the house. It was as if his very existence had dropped out of her ken. The town remarked the anomaly.
“You have not been in lately,” Mrs. Galway reminded her.
“My flowers have required a lot of attention; also, I have been riding out to the pass a good deal,” she answered, and changed the subject to geraniums, for the very good reason that she had just been weeding her geranium bed.
Mrs. Galway looked at her strangely and Mary caught the glance. She guessed what Mrs. Galway was thinking: that she had been a little inconsiderate of a man who had been wounded in her service.
“Probably it is time I bore tribute, too,” she said to herself.
That afternoon she took down a glass of jelly from the pantry shelves and set forth in the line of duty, frowning and rehearsing a presentation speech as she went. With every step toward the Galway cottage she was increasingly confused and exasperated with herself for even thinking of a speech. As she drew near she heard a treble chorus of “ohs!” and “ahs!” and saw Jack on the porch surrounded by children.