“There!” I said, my irritation entirely gone. “I had no right to lose my temper, and I’m sorry I spoke so unkindly. The truth is, Miss Cullen, the girl I care for is in love with another man, and so I’m bitter and ill-natured in these days.”
My companion stopped walking at the steps of 218, and asked, “Has she told you so?”
“No,” I answered. “But it’s as plain as she’s pretty.”
Madge ran up the steps and opened the door of the car. As she turned to close it, she looked down at me with the oddest of expressions, and said—
“How dreadfully ugly she must be!”
WAITING FOR HELP
If ever a fellow was bewildered by a single speech, it was Richard Gordon. I walked up and down that platform till I was called to breakfast, trying to decide what Miss Cullen had meant to express, only to succeed in reading fifty different meanings into her parting six words. I wanted to think that it was her way of suggesting that I deceived myself in thinking that there was anything between Lord Ralles and herself; but, though I wished to believe this, I had seen too much to the contrary to take stock in the idea. Yet I couldn’t believe that Madge was a coquette; I became angry and hot with myself for even thinking it for a moment.
Puzzle as I did over the words, I managed to eat a good breakfast, and then went into the Cullens’ car and electrified the party by telling them of Camp’s and Fred’s despatches, and how I had come to overhear the former. Mr. Cullen and Albert couldn’t say enough about my cleverness in what had really been pure luck, and seemed to think I had sat up all night in order to hear that telegram. The person for whose opinion I cared the most—Miss Cullen—didn’t say anything, but she gave me a look that set my heart beating like a trip-hammer and made me put the most hopeful construction on that speech of hers. It seemed impossible that she didn’t care for Lord Ralles, and that she might care for me; but, after having had no hope whatsoever, the smallest crumb of a chance nearly lifted me off my feet.
We had a consultation over what was best to be done, but didn’t reach any definite conclusion till the station-agent brought me a telegram from the Postmaster-General. Breaking it open, I read aloud—
* * * * *
“Do not allow service of writ, and retain possession of letters according to prior instructions. At the request of this department, the Secretary of War has directed the commanding officer at Fort Whipple to furnish you with military protection, and you will call upon him at once, if in your judgment it is necessary. On no account surrender United States property to Territorial authorities. Keep Department notified.”
* * * * *
“Oh, splendid!” cried Madge, clapping her hands.