“All the visit I make to-day won’t hurt me, I reckon,” said he; pushing his hat a little more to one side and looking up at ’Lena, who, in some surprise, asked what he meant.
“I mean what I say,” was his ungracious answer; “I’ve no intention whatever of going to Frankfort.”
“Not going?” repeated ’Lena. “Why not? What will Carrie do?”
“Stick herself in with you and Durward, I suppose,” said John Jr., just as Carrie entered the room, together with Mr. Bellmont, Malcolm, and Anna.
“Not going?—of course then I must stay at home, too,” said Carrie, secretly pleased at her brother’s decision.
“Why of course?” asked Durward, who, in the emergency, felt constrained to offer his services to Carrie though he would greatly have preferred ’Lena’s company alone. “The road is wide enough for three, and I am fully competent to take charge of two ladies. But why don’t you go?” turning to John Jr.
“Because I don’t wish to. If it was anywhere in creation but there, I’d go,” answered the young man; hastily leaving the room to avoid all further argument.
“He does it just to be hateful and annoy me,” said Carrie, trying to pout, but making a failure, for she had in reality much rather go under Durward’s escort than her brother’s.
The horses were now announced as ready, and in a few moments the little party were on their way, Carrie affecting so much fear of her pony that Durward at last politely offered to lead him a while. This would of course bring him close to her side, and after a little well-feigned hesitation, she replied, “I am sorry to trouble you, but if you would be so kind——”
’Lena saw through the ruse, and patting Vesta gently, rode on in advance, greatly to the satisfaction of Carrie, and greatly to the chagrin of Durward, who replied to his loquacious companion only in monosyllables. Once, indeed, when she said something concerning ’Lena’s evident desire to show off her horsemanship, he answered rather coolly, that “he’d yet to discover in Miss Rivers the least propensity for display of any kind.”
“You’ve never lived with her,” returned Carrie, and here the conversation concerning ’Lena ceased.
Meantime, Nellie Douglass was engaged in answering a letter that morning received from Mary Wilbur. A few years before, Mary had spent some months in Mr. Douglass’s family, conceiving a strong affection for Nellie, whom she always called her sister, and with whom she kept up a regular correspondence. Mary was an orphan, living with her only brother Robert, who was a bachelor of thirty or thirty-five. Once she had ventured to hope that Nellie would indeed be to her a sister, but fate had decreed it otherwise, and her brother was engaged to a lady whom he found a school-girl in Montreal, and who was now at her own home in England. This was well-known to Nellie, but she did not deem it a matter of sufficient importance to discuss, so it was a secret in Frankfort,