“I mean, no matter where he goes he’ll have to pay for it, come soon, come late. Th’ day air sure to come when Joe, Ben Lorey’s son, ’ll meet him face to face an’ make him answer for his crime!”
“God-speed to him!” exclaimed the Colonel, fervently.
Madge, in a gesture full of drama, although quite unconscious, raised her head, looking off into the vastness of the mountains, her hands thrust straight down at her sides and clenched, her shoulders squared, her chest heaving with a mighty intake. The little mountain-girl, as she stood there, thrilling with her longing for revenge, with prayers that some day the sinner might be punished for his dreadful crime, made an impressive figure.
“Come soon or late!” she sighed. “Come soon or late!”
The party watched her, fascinated, till Holton took his daughter’s arm and urged her, uneasily, out of the little group.
Later Madge asked the Colonel to go with her to the pasture lot and take a look at Little Hawss. Gladly he went with her, tenderly this expert in Kentucky racers, the finest horses in the world, examined the shaggy little pony’s hoof. He told Madge what to do for him and promised to send up a lotion with which to bathe the injured foot, although he gently warned her that she must not hope that Little Hawss would ever do much racing up and down the mountain trails again. She choked, when he said this, and the horseman’s heart went out to her.
“Little one,” said the Colonel, as the party was preparing to go down the mountain, “you’re a thoroughbred, and Colonel Sandusky Doolittle is your friend from the word ‘go.’” He took her hand in his and smiled down into her eyes.
Then, turning to Miss ’Lethe: “Do you know, Miss ’Lethe, there’s something about this little girl that puts me in mind of you, when I first met you? You remember?”
“Ah, Colonel, that was twenty years ago—the day I was eighteen.”
“And I was twenty-five. Now I’m forty-five and you—”
“Are still eighteen.’ He bowed, impressively, with that charming, gallant smile which was peculiar to him.
“Aren’t you going down with us, Frank?” asked Barbara, looking at the youth with plain surprise when she noted that he lingered when she and her father were ready for the start.
“I wish to speak to Madge, a moment. I’ll overtake you.”
The bluegrass beauty looked at him, wrath blazing in her eyes, then turned away with tossing head.
“Good-bye,” said Madge, and held her hand out to her.
Barbara paid no attention to the small, brown hand, but, instead, opened her parasol almost in the face of the astonished mountain-girl, who jumped back, startled. “Oh, very well,” said Barbara to Frank.
Madge turned to him, the softness of the mood engendered by her talk with the Colonel and Miss ’Lethe all gone, now. Her face was flushed with anger. “Dellaw!” said she. “Thought she was goin’ to shoot!”