“And now may I ask where you two gad-abouts are going?” she inquired, noticing Margaret’s short skirt and Sam in a pair of stout tramping boots.
“To a pond, mother—the nearest, I believe. Think of it—we have four of them,” announced Margaret proudly.
“Then I’m going too,” declared her mother.
“Good!” cried Thayor. “Holcomb says he can easily take us there and back in time for luncheon.”
Alice turned to her husband, and patting the back of his hand, said:
“Sam, you’ll forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm since I came, won’t you? I was really ill; the heat was something frightful coming up.” The tone of her voice was captivating.
Thayor covered her hand with his own.
“Of course I will—you were tired out, dear—that was all. Hurry up and drink your coffee,” he continued, looking at the clock over the chimney-piece in the breakfast room; “Holcomb is waiting for us. But put on your heaviest boots, Alice, before you start; the trail is apt to be damp in places after the misty night. We are lucky not to have waked up in a drizzling rain.”
Margaret looked across the table at her mother:
“Oh, what a night it was!” she burst out. “Could there be anything more beautiful than the wilderness in the moonlight? It really seemed a sin to go to bed. I hope you saw it too—I was coming to wake you, it was so lovely.”
“And so I gather,” returned Alice with a smile, “that you went to bed very late.”
“Yes, I did,” confessed Margaret; “and so I have every night since we came—never have I seen anything so grand as the tumbling water. Oh, I just love it!” and she laid her little hand in her father’s as a silent tribute to his generosity in giving it to her.
The breakfast hurriedly finished, Thayor went out to the veranda and lighted a long, slim cigar. He felt like a man who had just received good news. For some moments he paced jauntily up and down, waiting for Holcomb to appear. Alice’s sudden change of manner had made him as happy as a boy. It was so extraordinary and so unexpected that he could hardly believe it was true. Her whole attitude during the drive in, and since, had been a bitter disappointment to him; now it seemed as if he had awakened from a bad dream. The caressing touch of her hand had put new life in him. Was she at last really repentant? he wondered; was there after all, a throb of love in her heart for him?
Suddenly he caught sight of Holcomb coming across the compound. He wore his gray slouch hat, a short jacket and his high boots. Very few of the young fellows about him had his build and breadth, and none his easy grace.
“Good morning, Billy!” he called.
“Good morning, Mr. Thayor,” returned Holcomb cheerily.
“And what a day, Billy!” answered Thayor, rubbing his hands in boyish glee.
“Just about as nice as they make them. You look happy, Mr. Thayor, and you look hearty—that’s best of all.”