“Don’t you believe it!” Ford urged emphatically. “I don’t want to bump into her again; a little of her company will last me a long while!”
“Oh, you won’t meet Jo to-night; Josephine, her name is. She’s in bed, and will be for a week or so, most likely. You’ve just got to come, Ford. Kate’ll be down here after you herself, if I go back without you—and she’ll give me the dickens into the bargain. I want you to get acquainted with my kid—Buddy. He’s down in the river field with the boys, but he’ll be back directly. Greatest kid you ever saw, Ford! Only seven, and he can ride like a son-of-a-gun, and wears chaps and spurs, and can sling a loop pretty good, for a little kid! Come on!”
“Wel-ll, all right—but Lordy me! I do hate to, Ches, and that’s a fact. Women I’m plumb scared of. I never met one in my life that didn’t hand me a package of trouble so big I couldn’t see around it. Why—” He shut his teeth upon the impulse to confide to Mason his matrimonial mischance.
“These two won’t. My wife’s the real goods, once you get to know her; a little fussy, maybe, over some things—most all women are. But she’s all right, you bet. And Josephine’s the proper stuff too. A little abrupt, maybe—”
“Abrupt!” Ford echoed, and laughed over the word. “Yes, she is what you might call a little—abrupt!”
Josephine waited languidly while Kate chose a second-best cushion from the couch and, lifting the bandaged foot as gently as might be, placed it, with many little pats and pulls, under the afflicted member. Josephine screwed her lips into a soundless expression of pain, smiled afterwards when Kate glanced at her commiseratingly, and pulled a long, dark-brown braid forward over her chest.
“Do you want tea, Phenie?—or would you rather have chocolate to-day? I can make chocolate just as easy as not; I think I shall, anyway. Buddy is so fond of it and—”
“Is that man here yet?” Josephine’s tone carried the full weight of her dislike of him.
“I don’t know why you call him ‘that man,’ the way you do,” Kate complained, turning her mind from the momentous decision between tea and chocolate. “Ford’s simply fine! Chester thinks there’s no one like him; and Buddy just tags him around everywhere. You can always,” asserted Kate, with the positiveness of the person who accepts unquestioningly the beliefs of others, living by faith rather than reason, “depend upon the likes and dislikes of children and dogs, you know.”
“Has the swelling gone out of his eyes?” Josephine inquired pointedly, with the irrelevance which seemed habitual to her and Kate when they conversed.
“Phenie, I don’t think it’s kind of you to harp on that. Yes, it has, if you want to know. He’s positively handsome—or will be when the—when his nose heals perfectly. And I don’t think that’s anything one should hold against Ford; it seems narrow, dear.”