I waited a day or two, and then practically ran away from my work and rode over to that little butte. Some one was sitting on the same flat rock, and I climbed up to the place with more haste than grace, I imagine. When I reached the top, panting like the purr of the Yellow Peril—my automobile—when it gets warmed up and going smoothly, I discovered that it was Edith Loroman sitting placidly, with a camera on her knees, doing things to the internal organs of the thing. I don’t know much about cameras, so I can’t be more explicit.
“If it isn’t Ellie, looking for all the world like the Virginian just stepped down from behind the footlights!” was her greeting. “Where in the world have you been, that you haven’t been over to see us?”
“You must know that the palace of the King is closed against the Carletons,” I, said, and I’m afraid I said it a bit crossly; I hadn’t climbed that unmerciful butte just to bandy commonplaces with Edith Loroman, even if we were old friends. There are times when new enemies are more diverting than the oldest of old friends.
“Well, you could come when Uncle Homer is away—which he often is,” she pouted. “Every Sunday he drives over to Kenmore and pokes around his miners and mines, and often Terence and Beryl go with him, so you could come—”
“No, thank you.” I put on the dignity three deep there. “If I can’t come when your uncle is at home, I won’t sneak in when he’s gone. I—how does it happen you are away out here by yourself?”
“Well,” she explained, still doing things to the camera, “Beryl came out here yesterday, and made a sketch of the divide; I just happened to see her putting it away. So I made her tell me where she got that view-point, and I wanted her to come with me, so I could get a snap shot; it is pretty, from here. But she went over to the mines with Mr. Weaver, and I had to come alone. Beryl likes to be around those dirty mines—but I can’t bear it. And, now I’m here, something’s gone wrong with the thing, so I can’t wind the film. Do you know how to fix it, Ellie?”
I didn’t, and I told her so, in a word. Edith pouted again—she has a pretty mouth that looks well all tied up in a knot, and I have a slight suspicion that she knows it—and said that a fellow who could take an automobile all to pieces and put it together again ought to be able to fix a kodak. That’s the way some women reason, I believe—just as though cars and kodaks are twin brothers.
Our conversation, as I remember it now, was decidedly flat and dull. I kept thinking of Beryl being there the day before—and I never knew; of her being off somewhere to-day with that Weaver fellow—and I knew it and couldn’t do a thing. I hardly know which was the more unpleasant to dwell upon, but I do know that it made me mighty poor company for Edith. I sat there on a near-by rock and lighted cigarettes, only to let them go out, and glowered at King’s Highway, off across the flat, as if it were the mouth of the bottomless pit. I can’t wonder that Edith called me a bear, and asked me repeatedly if I had toothache, or anything.