His humour, she informed him, was on a par with his driving. Also it was in poor taste at such a moment.
In time of danger, he replied, the brave man jests.
We were now in the park. We clipped a spray of leaves off a syringia bush. On a curve we slid in loose gravel to the wrong side.
“Yes, my dear?”
“Let me out! I decline to be butchered to make a holiday for a motormaniac.”
“Don’t talk to the motormaniac,” said Todd.
She clutched a top support and gasped for breath, appalled at his audacity, or my speed, or both. In the straight reaches I could see the Burton Mammoth a quarter of a mile ahead. When it swung into the broad avenue that leads to the mountain, we were holding our own.
“You are following them—deliberately,” said Mrs. Todd.
“Yet not so deliberately, at that. Do you feel us pick up my dear, when I give her gas? Aha!” he laughed. “I agree with you, however, that the order of precedence is unsatisfactory. Why should we follow the Burtons, indeed?”
We went after them; we gave them the horn and overtook and passed them on a stiff grade, amid cheers from both cars. But all of our cheering was done by Todd.
“Now they are following us,” said he. “Do you feel better, my dear?”
“Better!” she lamented. “How can I ever look them in the face again?”
“Turn around,” he suggested, “and direct your gaze through the little window in the back curtain.”
She bade him stop at the next corner. She would walk home. She was humiliated. Never had she felt so ashamed.
“Isn’t that an odd way to feel when we have beaten the shoes off them?”
“But they will think we tried to.”
“So we did,” he chuckled; “and we walked right past them, in high, while Burton was fussing with his gear shift. Give our little engine a fair go at a hill, my dear——”
“I am not in the least interested in engines, sir. I am only mortified beyond words.”
She had words a-plenty, however.
“Isn’t it bad enough for you to drive your little rattletrap to college and get into the paper about it? No; you have to show it off in a fashionable avenue, and run races with the best people in Ashland, and scream at them like a freshman, and make an exhibition of me!”
His attention was absorbed in hopping out from under a truck coming in from a side street. A foolish driver would have slowed and crashed. I was proud of Todd. But his lady was not.
“You have no right to go like this. You don’t know enough. You will break something.”
He had already broken the speed law. Unknown to him, a motor-cycle cop was tagging close behind us on our blind side.
“If you think this is going, my dear,” said Todd reassuringly, “wait till we strike the turnpike. Then I’ll show you what little Hilaritas can really do.”