“How delightful!” she exclaimed. “We are on the way there, too. Georgiana was my dearest chum at school, and I am to be her ’best girl.’”
“Let’s go around on the porch and sit down,” said Ralph.
Mr. Van Kamp, back in the woodshed, looked about him with an eye of content.
“Rather cozy for a woodshed,” he observed. “I wonder if we couldn’t scare up a little session of dollar limit?”
Both Uncle Billy and Mr. Ellsworth were willing. Death and poker level all Americans. A fourth hand was needed, however. The stage driver was in bed and asleep, and Mr. Ellsworth volunteered to find the extra player.
“I’ll get Ralph,” he said. “He plays a fairly stiff game.” He finally found his son on the porch, apparently alone, and stated his errand.
“Thank you, but I don’t believe I care to play this evening,” was the astounding reply, and Mr. Ellsworth looked closer. He made out, then, a dim figure on the other side of Ralph.
“Oh! Of course not!” he blundered, and went back to the woodshed.
Three-handed poker is a miserable game, and it seldom lasts long. It did not in this case. After Uncle Billy had won the only jack-pot deserving of the name, he was allowed to go blissfully to sleep with his hand on the handle of the big jug.
After poker there is only one other always available amusement for men, and that is business. The two travelers were quite well acquainted when Ralph put his head in at the door.
“Thought I’d find you here,” he explained. “It just occurred to me to wonder whether you gentlemen had discovered, as yet, that we are all to be house guests at the Carston-Tyler wedding.”
“Why, no!” exclaimed his father in pleased surprise. “It is a most agreeable coincidence. Mr. Van Kamp, allow me to introduce my son, Ralph. Mr. Van Kamp and myself, Ralph, have found out that we shall be considerably thrown together in a business way from now on. He has just purchased control of the Metropolitan and Western string of interurbans.”
“Delighted, I’m sure,” murmured Ralph, shaking hands, and then he slipped out as quickly as possible. Some one seemed to be waiting for him.
Perhaps another twenty minutes had passed, when one of the men had an illuminating idea that resulted, later on, in pleasant relations for all of them. It was about time, for Mrs. Ellsworth, up in the bare suite, and Mrs. Van Kamp, down in the draughty barn, both wrapped up to the chin and both still chilly, had about reached the limit of patience and endurance.
“Why can’t we make things a little more comfortable for all concerned?” suggested Mr. Van Kamp. “Suppose, as a starter, that we have Mrs. Van Kamp give a shiver party down in the barn?”
“Good idea,” agreed Mr. Ellsworth. “A little diplomacy will do it. Each one of us will have to tell his wife that the other fellow made the first abject overtures.”