Well, I went on from that and told dad about my flying trips through King’s Highway, too—with the girl left out. Dad matched his finger-tips together while I was telling it, and afterward he didn’t say much; only: “I knew you’d play the fool somehow, if you stayed long enough.” He didn’t explain, however, just what particular brand of fool I had been, or what he thought of old King, though I hinted pretty strong. Dad has got a smooth way of parrying anything he doesn’t want to answer straight out, and it takes a fellow with more nerve than I’ve got to corner him and just make him give up an opinion if he doesn’t want to. So I didn’t find out a thing about that old row, or how it started—more than what I’d learned at the Ragged H, that is.
Frosty had written me, a week or two after I left, that our fellows had really burned King’s sheds, and that Perry Potter had a bullet just scrape the hair off the top of his head, where he hadn’t any to spare. It made him so mad, Frosty said, that he wanted to go back and kill, slay, and slaughter—that is Frosty’s way of putting it. Another one of the boys had been hit in the arm, but it was only a flesh wound and nothing serious. So far as they could find out, King’s men had got off without a scratch, Frosty said; which was another great sorrow to Perry Potter, who went around saying pointed things about poor markmanship and fellows who couldn’t hit a barn if they were locked inside—that kept the boys stirred up and undecided whether to feel insulted or to take it as a joke. I wished that I was back there—until I read, down at the bottom of the last page, that Beryl King and her Aunt Lodema had gone back to the East.
The next day I learned the same thing from another source. Edith Loroman had kept her promise—as I remembered her, she wasn’t great at that sort of thing, either—and sent me a picture of White Divide just before I left the ranch. Somehow, after that, we drifted into letter-writing. I wrote to thank her for the picture, and she wrote back to say “don’t mention it”—in effect, at least, though it took three full pages to get that effect—and asked some questions about the ranch, and the boys, and Frosty Miller. I had to answer that letter and the questions—and that’s how it began. It was a good deal of a nuisance, for I never did take much to pen work, and my conscience was hurting me half the time over delayed answers; Edith was always prompt; she liked to write letters better than I did, evidently.
But when she wrote, the day after I got that letter from Frosty, and said that Beryl and Aunt Lodema had just returned and were going to spend the winter in New York and join the Giddy Whirl, I will own that I was a much better—that is, prompt—correspondent. Edith is that kind of girl who can’t write two pages without mentioning every one in her set; like those Local Items from little country towns; a paragraph for everybody.
So, having a strange and unwholesome hankering to hear all I could about Beryl, I encouraged Edith to write long and often by setting her an example. I didn’t consider that I was taking a mean advantage of her, either, for she’s the kind of girl who boasts about the number of her proposals and correspondents. I knew she’d cut a notch for me on the stick where she counted her victims, but it was worth the price, and I’m positive Edith didn’t mind.