Edith and her mother greeted me with much apparent joy, but, really, I felt sorry for Frosty; all that saved him from recognition then was the providential near-sightedness of Mrs. Loroman. I observed that he was careful not to come close enough to the lady to run any risk.
Aunt Lodema tilted her chin at me, and Beryl—to tell the truth, I couldn’t make up my mind about Beryl. When I first rode up to them, and she looked at me, I fancied there was a welcome in her eyes; after that there was anything else you like to name. I looked several times at her to make sure, but I couldn’t tell any more what she was thinking than one can read the face of a Chinaman. (That isn’t a pretty comparison, I know, but it gives my meaning, for, of all humans, Chinks are about the hardest to understand or read.) I was willing, however, to spend a good deal of time studying the subject of her thoughts, and got off my horse almost as soon as Mrs. Loroman and Edith invited me to stop and eat lunch with them. That Weaver fellow was not present, but another man, whom they introduced as Mr. Tenbrooke, was sitting dolefully on a rock, watching a maid unpacking eatables. Edith told me that “Uncle Homer”—which was old man King—and Mr. Weaver would be along presently. They had driven over to Kenmore first, on a matter of business.
Frosty, I could see, was not going to stay, even though Edith, in a polite little voice that made me wonder at her, invited him to do so. Edith was not the hostess, and had really no right to do that.
I tried to get a word with Miss Beryl, found myself having a good many words with Edith, instead, and in fifteen minutes I became as thoroughly disgusted with unkind fate as ever I’ve been in my life, and suddenly remembered that duty made further delay absolutely impossible. We rode away, with Edith protesting prettily at what she was pleased to call my bad manners.
For the rest of the way up that coulee Frosty and I were even more silent and moody than we had been before. The only time we spoke was when Frosty asked me gruffly how long those people expected to stay out here. I told him a week, and he grunted something under his breath about female fortune-hunters. I couldn’t see what he was driving at, for I certainly should never think of accusing Edith and her mother of being that especial brand of abhorrence, but he was in a bitter mood, and I wouldn’t argue with him then—I had troubles of my own to think of. I was beginning to call myself several kinds of a fool for letting a girl—however wonderful her eyes—give me bad half-hours quite so frequently; the thing had never happened to me before, and I had known hundreds of nice girls—approximately. When a fellow goes through a co-ed course, and has a dad whom the papers call financier, he gets a speaking-acquaintance with a few girls. The trouble with me was, I never gave the whole bunch as much thought as I was giving to Beryl King—and the more I thought about her, the less satisfaction there was in the thinking.