“I shall drive,” I announced quietly, taking her hands gently from the wheel. She moved over to make room mechanically, as if she didn’t in the least understand this new move of mine. I know she never dreamed of what was really in my heart to do.
“You will drive—where?” her voice was politely freezing.
“To find that preacher, of course,” I answered, trying to sound surprised that she should ask, I sent the speed up a notch.
“You—you never would dare!” she cried breathlessly, and a little anxiously.
“The deuce I wouldn’t!” I retorted, and laughed in the face of her. It was queer, but my thoughts went back, for just a flash, to the time Barney had dared me to drive the Yellow Peril up past the Cliff House to Sutro Baths. I had the same heady elation of daredeviltry. I wouldn’t have turned back, then, even if I hadn’t cared so much for her.
She didn’t say anything more, and I sent the car ahead at a pace that almost matched the mood I was in, and that brought White Divide sprinting up to meet us. The trail was good, and the car was a dandy. I was making straight for King’s Highway as the best and only chance of carrying out my foolhardy design. I doubt if any bold, bad knight of old ever had the effrontery to carry his lady-love straight past her own door in broad daylight.
Yet it was the safest thing I could do. I meant to get to Osage, and the only practicable route for a car lay through the pass. To be sure, there was a preacher at Kenmore; but with the chance of old King being there also and interrupting the ceremony—supposing I brought matters successfully that far—with a shot or two, did not in the least appeal to me. I had made sure that there was plenty of gasoline aboard, so I drove her right along.
“I hope your father isn’t home,” I remarked truthfully when we were slipping into the wide jaws of the pass.
“He is, though; and so is Mr. Weaver. I think you had better jump out here and run home, or it is not a velvet mask you will need, but a mantle of invisibility.” I couldn’t make much of her tone, but her words implied that even yet she would not take me seriously.
“Well, I’ve neither mask nor mantle,” I said, “But the way I can fade down the pass will, I think, be a fair substitute for both.”
She said nothing whatever to that, but she began to seem interested in the affair—as she had need to be. She might have jumped out and escaped while I was down opening the gate—but she didn’t. She sat quite still, as if we were only out on a commonplace little jaunt. I wondered if she didn’t have the spirit of adventure in her make-up, also. Girls do, sometimes. When I had got in again, I turned to her, remembering something.
“Gadzooks, madam! I command you not to scream,” I quoted sternly.
At that, for the first time in our acquaintance, she laughed; such a delicious, rollicky little laugh that I felt ready, at the sound, to face a dozen fathers and they all old Kings.