The girl was stubbornly silent
“Unless you tell me why you did it, I shall be compelled to think there is some wrong reason—”
“Oh, no, there isn’t!”
“Then,—come now, Zaly,—’fess up. Was it for a joke on me?”
“Yes, yes, that was it!”
“No, that wasn’t it, and you only grasped at my suggestion to evade the real truth! Now, you must tell me. Out with it!”
“Well—you see, Cousin William, you are always asking me why I don’t get letters from my father, and—as I didn’t get any, I manufactured one to—to satisfy you. That’s all.”
“No, no, my girl, we haven’t got the truth yet. You had more of a motive than that. And, too, why don’t you get letters from your father? Is he angry with you? Are you two at odds?”
“Yes,—we are. He and I had a quarrel.”
“Azalea, you have a very readable face. I know when you are telling me the truth and when you are not. Now, you are ready to grasp at anything I suggest rather than let me know the real facts of the case. So I am justified in thinking it’s something pretty bad. What is it, child? Don’t be afraid of me. Did you run away from home?”
“Oh, no!” Azalea looked frightened. Then she burst into tears. “Wh-what makes you think I’m doing wrong?” she sobbed; “I’m not,—I’m oh,—I’m all right!” Her air of bravado suddenly returned and she looked up defiantly, brushing her tears aside.
Farnsworth could, as he said, read her face, and he was quite ready to meet her explanations when she was in a docile mood, but this quick return to her pose of injured innocence roused him to fresh indignation.
“I daresay you are all right, Azalea, and therefore it will be easy for you to answer a few questions which I must insist on having answered. Who was it that telephoned you yesterday?”
“Oh, that was Mr. Smith.”
“His name is not Smith!” Farnsworth spoke so sharply that Azalea fairly jumped.
But she insisted, “Yes, it is—”
“I know it is not! It was the man who came here to see you one day,—and whatever his name is, it is not Smith! Tell me the truth or not, as you choose, but don’t try to insist on Smith!”
“All right, then I choose to tell you nothing, I have a perfect right to have friends telephone me, and I think it shows an ill-bred curiosity for you to ask their names!”
Azalea’s would-be haughty face and her reference to ill-breeding struck Farnsworth so funny he laughed in spite of himself.
Azalea was quick to take advantage of this.
“Oh, Cousin William,” she said, smilingly, “don’t be hard on me. I’m only a wild Western girl, I know, but I’m—I’m your cousin and I claim your—your—”
Azalea didn’t quite know what she was claiming, but as it was really a cessation of the interview that she most desired, she turned on her heel and walked rapidly toward the house.