Frosty, as I soon discovered, was not in Kenmore. He had been, for I learned by inquiring around that he had passed the night there at that one little hotel. Also that he had, not more than two hours before—or three, at most—hired a rig and driven on to Osage. A man told me that he had taken a lady with him; but, knowing Frosty as I did, I couldn’t quite swallow that. It was queer, though, about his hiring a rig and leaving his saddle-horse there in the stable. I couldn’t understand it, but I wasn’t going to buy into Frosty’s affairs unless I had to. I ate my dinner dejectedly in the hotel—the dinner was enough to make any man dejected—and started home again.
The Broken Motor-car.
Out where the trail from Kenmore intersects the one leading from Laurel to and through King’s Highway, I passed over a little hill and came suddenly upon a big, dark-gray touring-car stalled in the road. In it Beryl King sat looking intently down at her toes. I nearly fell off my horse at the shock of it, and then my blood got to acting funny, so that my head felt queer. Then I came to, and rode boldly up to her, mentally shaking hands with myself over my good luck. For it was good luck just to see her, whether anything came of it or not.
“Something wrong with the wheelbarrow?” I asked her, with a placid superiority.
She looked up with a little start—she never did seem to feel my presence until I spoke to her—and frowned prettily; but whether at me or at the car, I didn’t know.
“I guess something must be,” she answered quite meekly, for her. “It keeps making the funniest buzz when I start it—and it’s Mr. Weaver’s car, and he doesn’t know—I—I borrowed it without asking, and—”
“That car is all right,” I bluffed from my saddle. “It’s simply obeying instructions. It comes under the jurisdiction of my private Providence, you see. I ordered it that you should be here, and in distress, and grateful for my helping hand.” How was that for straight nerve?
“Well, then, let’s have the helping hand and be done. I should be at home, by now. They will wonder—I just went for a—a little spin, and when I turned to go back, it started that funny noise. I—I’m afraid of it. It—might blow up, or—or something.”
She seemed in a strangely explanatory mood, that was, to say the least, suspicious. Either she had come out purposely to torment me, or she was afraid of what she knew was in my mind, and wanted to make me forget it. But my mettle was up for good. I had no notion of forgetting, or of letting her.
“I’ll do what I can, and willingly,” I told her coolly. “It looks like a good car—an accommodating car. I hope you are prepared to pay the penalty—”
“Penalty?” she interrupted, and opened her eyes at me innocently; a bit too innocently, I may say.