“The papers for what?” she demanded.
“For that useless bit of land on the other side of the fork,” he responded.
“Dermott,” she said, “you play fair, don’t you? You wouldn’t take advantage of any one?”
“Wouldn’t I?” he said. “If it were to help you, I’d outwit the deil himself, Lady Katrine.”
KATRINE’S OWN COUNTRY
In the following fortnight Francis and Katrine met but three times.
One day, having grown restless, she went to walk, taking the road from the plantation back into the mountains. Returning by the ford, she heard laughter and the ring of horses’ hoofs, and by a sudden turn of the road came directly upon Frank, who, separated from a party, was riding beside Anne Lennox. At first sight of her whom she knew instinctively to be a rival, Katrine was reminded of a golden peony, for the pale-yellow hair, bright hazel eyes shot with yellow light, and thick, creamy skin had given Anne Lennox from early childhood a noticeable and flower-like beauty. A long-limbed, slender, full-breasted, laughing woman, with square shoulders and the carriage of one much accustomed to the saddle, she looked with curiosity at Katrine, who was standing aside beneath the elderberry-bushes to permit them to pass.
“As I was saying,” Anne had just remarked, “when you act as you have done since I have been here, Frank, it’s always a woman. At Biarritz, you remember, it was Mrs. Vaughn. That beast of a spring at Marno, it was Mrs. McIntire. You might as well tell me who it is. You will in the end.”
“Upon my honor, Anne—” Frank began, with a laugh, when he met the clear eyes of Katrine looking at him from below.
If there had been some coldness, some resentment at his lack of attention to her, or implied jealousy at his devotion to another, he could have understood it. But there was nothing of the kind. In those eyes, which he believed the most beautiful in the world, there was nothing but a glad light at seeing him, a bright smile of recognition in which he could detect neither remembrance nor regret.
Anne Lennox turned her keen brown eyes backward to look at Katrine as she crossed the bridge. “Frank Ravenel,” she exclaimed, “if a girl who looks like that lives near you, you have been making love to her! I wonder if by any chance she could be the woman!”
“She is the daughter of the new overseer,” Frank answered; and his tone implied, though the words were not spoken: “and by this reason out of the class.” The statement was made with misleading frankness, and Anne Lennox, understanding his pride, put the affair from her mind.
The next time of meeting between Francis and Katrine was one morning on the river road. Her cheeks flushed at sight of him, and there was an odd reserve in her manner; but she never seemed more beautiful.
He stood, hat in hand, wondering at her silence, a bit amused.