“There’s not a single mirror left in the house!” she moaned.
Ralph heartlessly grinned. He could appreciate that this was a characteristic woman trick, and wondered admiringly whether Evelyn or her mother had thought of it. However, this was a time for action.
“I’ll get you some water to bathe your eyes,” he offered, and ran into the little room over the kitchen to get a pitcher. A cracked shaving-mug was the only vessel that had been left, but he hurried down into the yard with it. This was no time for fastidiousness.
He had barely creaked the pump handle when Mr. Van Kamp hurried up from the barn.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Mr. Van Kamp, “but this water belongs to us. My daughter bought it, all that is in the ground, above the ground, or that may fall from the sky upon these premises.”
The mutual siege lasted until after seven o’clock, but it was rather one-sided. The Van Kamps could drink all the water they liked, it made them no hungrier. If the Ellsworths ate anything, however, they grew thirstier, and, moreover, water was necessary if anything worth while was to be cooked. They knew all this, and resisted until Mrs. Ellsworth was tempted and fell. She ate a sandwich and choked. It was heartbreaking, but Ralph had to be sent down with a plate of sandwiches and an offer to trade them for water.
Halfway between the pump and the house he met Evelyn coming with a small pail of the precious fluid. They both stopped stock still; then, seeing that it was too late to retreat, both laughed and advanced.
“Who wins now?” bantered Ralph as they made the exchange.
“It looks to me like a misdeal,” she gaily replied, and was moving away when he called her back.
“You don’t happen to know the Gately’s, of New York, do you?” he was quite anxious to know.
“I am truly sorry, but I am acquainted with so few people in New York. We are from Chicago, you know.”
“Oh,” said he blankly, and took the water up to the Ellsworth suite.
Mrs. Ellsworth cheered up considerably when she heard that Ralph had been met halfway, but her eyes snapped when he confessed that it was Miss Van Kamp who had met him.
“I hope you are not going to carry on a flirtation with that overdressed creature,” she blazed.
“Why mother,” exclaimed Ralph, shocked beyond measure. “What right have you to accuse either this young lady or myself of flirting? Flirting!”
Mrs. Ellsworth suddenly attacked the fire with quite unnecessary energy.