“Don’t you want to know what he said?” asked Miss Alice, with a bell-like laugh.
“Yes; what?” he smiled.
“He said if you undertook to carry a bag of salt down a mountain, or up it either, you would never rest until you got there.”
Her eyes twinkled, and Gordon appeared half teased, though he was inwardly pleased.
Mrs. Yorke looked shocked.
“Oh, Alice, Dr. Balsam did not say that, for I heard him!” she exclaimed reprovingly. “Dr. Balsam was very complimentary to you, Mr. Keith,” she explained seriously. “He said your people were among the best families about here.” She meant to be gracious; but Gordon’s face flushed in spite of himself. The condescension was too apparent.
“Your father was a pre—a—a—clergyman?” said Mrs. Yorke, who had started to say “preacher,” but substituted the other word as more complimentary.
“My father a clergyman! No’m. He is good enough to be one; but he was a planter and a—a—soldier,” said Gordon.
Mrs. Yorke looked at her daughter in some mystification. Could this be the wrong man?
“Why, he said he was a clergyman?” she insisted.
Gordon gazed at the girl in bewilderment.
“Yes; he said he was a minister,” she replied to his unspoken inquiry.
Gordon broke into a laugh.
“Oh, he was a special envoy to England after he was wounded.”
The announcement had a distinct effect upon Mrs. Yorke, who instantly became much more cordial to Gordon. She took a closer look at him than she had given herself the trouble to take before, and discovered, under the sunburn and worn clothes, something more than she had formerly observed. The young man’s expression had changed. A reference to his father always sobered him and kindled a light in his eyes. It was the first time Mrs. Yorke had taken in what her daughter meant by calling him handsome.
“Why, he is quite distinguished-looking!” she thought to herself. And she reflected what a pity it was that so good-looking a young man should have been planted down there in that out-of-the-way pocket of the world, and thus lost to society. She did not know that the kindling eyes opposite her were burning with a resolve that not only Mrs. Yorke, but the world, should know him, and that she should recognize his superiority.
MR. KEITH’S IDEALS
After this it was astonishing how many excuses Gordon could find for visiting the village. He was always wanting to consult a book in the Doctor’s library, or get something, which, indeed, meant that he wanted to get a glimpse of a young girl with violet eyes and pink cheeks, stretched out in a lounging-chair, picturesquely reclining amid clouds of white pillows. Nearly always he carried with him a bunch of flowers from Mrs. Rawson’s garden, which were to make patches of pink or red or yellow among Miss Alice’s pillows, and bring a fresh light into her eyes. And sometimes he took a basket of cherries or strawberries for Mrs. Yorke. His friends, the Doctor and the Rawsons, began to rally him on his new interest in the Springs.