She looked as harmless and innocent as a basket of peaches as she said it, and never the suspicion of a smile deepened the dimple in the cheek toward him. The smile was glowing cheerfully away inside, though. He could feel it, if he could not see it, and he laughed aloud.
“Your crowd rather got the better of us there,” he admitted with the keen appreciation of one still quite close to college days.
“Of course, the mater is furious, but I rather look on it as a lark.”
She thawed like an April icicle.
“It’s perfectly jolly,” she laughed with him. “Awfully selfish of us, too, I know, but such loads of fun.”
They were close to the Tutt House now, and her limp, that had entirely disappeared as they emerged from the woods, now became quite perceptible. There might be people looking out of the windows, though it is hard to see why that should affect a limp.
Ralph was delighted to find that a thaw had set in, and he made one more attempt to establish at least a proxy acquaintance.
“You don’t happen to know Peyson Kingsley, of Philadelphia, do you?”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” she replied. “I know so few Philadelphia people, you see.” She was rather regretful about it this time. He really was a clever sort of a fellow, in spite of that smile.
The center window in the second floor of the Tutt House swung open, its little squares of glass flashing jubilantly in the sunlight. Mrs. Ellsworth leaned out over the sill, from the quaint old sitting-room of the Van Kamp apartments!
“Oh, Ralph!” she called in her most dulcet tones. “Kindly excuse yourself and come right on up to our suite for a few moments!”
It is not nearly so easy to take a practical joke as to perpetrate one. Evelyn was sitting thoughtfully on the porch when her father and mother returned. Mrs. Ellsworth was sitting at the center window above, placidly looking out. Her eyes swept carelessly over the Van Kamps, and unconcernedly passed on to the rest of the landscape.
Mrs. Van Kamp gasped and clutched the arm of her husband. There was no need. He, too, had seen the apparition. Evelyn now, for the first time, saw the real humor of the situation. She smiled as she thought of Ralph. She owed him one, but she never worried about her debts. She always managed to get them paid, principal and interest.
Mr. Van Kamp suddenly glowered and strode into the Tutt House. Uncle Billy met him at the door, reflectively chewing a straw, and handed him an envelope. Mr. Van Kamp tore it open and drew out a note. Three five-dollar bills came out with it and fluttered to the porch floor. This missive confronted him:
MR. J. BELMONT VAN KAMP,
DEAR SIR: This is to notify you that I have rented the entire Tutt House for the ensuing week, and am compelled to assume possession of the three second-floor front rooms. Herewith I am enclosing the fifteen dollars you paid to secure the suite. You are quite welcome to make use, as my guest, of the small room over the kitchen. You will find your luggage in that room. Regretting any inconvenience that this transaction may cause you, I am,