“You’re a mean old thing, Bessie King!” she said, half crying.
GOOD-BYE TO THE FARM
Dolly had spoken in a low tone, her sobs seeming to strangle her speech, and only Bessie, who was amazed by this outburst, heard her. Grieved and astonished, she put her arm about Dolly, but the other girl threw it off, roughly.
“Don’t you pretend you love me—I know the mean sort of a cat you are now!” she said bitterly.
“Why, Dolly! Whatever is the matter with, you? What have I done to make you angry?”
“If you were so mad at me the other day getting you into that automobile ride with Mr. Holmes you might have said so—instead of tending that you’d forgiven me, and then turning around and making everyone laugh at me to-night! You’re prettier than I—and clever—but I think it’s pretty mean to make that Burns boy spend the whole evening with you!”
Gradually, and very faintly, Bessie began to have a glimmering of what was wrong with her friend. She found it hard work not to smile, or even to laugh outright, but she resisted the temptation nobly, for she knew only too well that to Dolly, sensitive and nervous, laughter would be just the one thing needed to make it harder than ever to patch up this senseless and silly quarrel, which, so far, was only one sided.
To Bessie, who thought little of boys, and to whom jealousy was alien, the idea that Dolly was really jealous of her seemed absurd, since she knew how little cause there was for such a feeling. But, very wisely, she determined to proceed slowly, and not to do anything that could possibly give Dolly any fresh cause of offence.
“Dolly,” she said, “you mustn’t feel that way. Really, dear, I didn’t do that at all. I talked to him when he came to sit down by me, but that was all. I couldn’t very well tell him to go away, or not answer him when he spoke to me, could I?”
“Oh, I know what you’re going to say—that it was all his fault. But if you hadn’t tried to make him come he wouldn’t have done it.”
“I didn’t try to make him come. Did you?”
Dolly stared at her a moment. The question seemed to force her to give attention to a new idea, to something she had not thought of before. But when she spoke her voice was still defiant.
“Suppose I did!” she said angrily. “I wanted to have a good time—and he was the nicest boy there—”
“Maybe he saw that you were waiting for him too plainly, Dolly. Maybe he wanted to pick out someone for himself—and if you’d pretended that you didn’t care whether he talked to you or not he would have been more anxious to be with you.”
Dolly blushed slightly at that, though it was too dark for Bessie to see the color in her cheeks. She knew very well that Bessie was right, but she wondered how Bessie knew it. That feigned indifference had brought her the attentions of more than one boy who had boasted that he was not going to pay any attention to her just because everyone else did.