“I think, Mr. Carleton, we had better stop,” she said hesitatingly. “I don’t believe your enmity is so ungenerous as to wish to cause me unpleasantness. You surely are convinced now that I am not afraid of you, so the truce is over.”
I did not pretend to misunderstand. “I’m going home at once,” I told her gently, “and I shall take my spectacular crowd along with me; but I’m not sorry I came, and I hope you are not.”
She looked at me soberly, and then away. “There is one thing I should like to say,” she said, in so low a tone I had to lean to catch the words. “Please don’t try to ride through King’s Highway again; father hates you quite enough as it is, and it is scarcely the part of a gentleman to needlessly provoke an old man.”
I could feel myself grow red. What a cad I must seem to her! “King’s Highway shall be safe from my vandal feet hereafter,” I told her, and meant it.
“So long as you keep that promise,” she said, smiling a bit, “I shall try to remember mine enemy with respect.”
“And I hope that mine enemy shall sometimes view the beauties of White Divide from a little distance—say half a mile or so,” I answered daringly.
She heard me, but at that minute that Weaver chap came up, and she began talking to him as though he was her long-lost friend. I was clearly out of it, so I told Edith and her mother good night, bowed to “Aunt Lodema” and got the stony stare for my reward, and rounded up my crowd.
We passed old King in a body, and he growled something I could not hear; one of the boys told me, afterward, that it was just as well I didn’t. We rode away under the stars, and I wished that night had been four times as long, and that Beryl King would be as nice to me as was Edith Loroman.
One Day Too Late!
I suppose there is always a time when a fellow passes quite suddenly out of the cub-stage and feels himself a man—or, at least, a very great desire to be one. Until that Fourth of July life had been to me a playground, with an interruption or two to the game. When dad took such heroic measures to instil some sense into my head, he interrupted the game for ten days or so—and then I went back to my play, satisfied with new toys. At least, that is the way it seemed to me. But after that night, things were somehow different. I wanted to amount to something; I was absolutely ashamed of my general uselessness, and I came near writing to dad and telling him so.
The worst of it was that I didn’t know just what it was I wanted to do, except ride over to that little pinnacle just out from King’s Highway, and watch for Beryl King; that, of course, was out of the question, and maudlin, anyway.
On the third day after, as Frosty and I were riding circle quite silently and moodily together, we rode up into a little coulee on the southwestern side of White Divide, and came quite unexpectedly upon a little picnic-party camped comfortably down by the spring where we had meant to slake our own thirst. Of course, it was the Kings’ house-party; they were the only luxuriously idle crowd in the country.