“I came after some of Mose’s mince-meat,” she explained hastily. “It’s a terrible storm, isn’t it? I’m glad it didn’t strike yesterday. I thought you were going to be gone for several days.”
Ford, with embarrassed haste to match her own, presented Rock in the same breath with wishing that Rock was elsewhere; for Mose was not in the kitchen, and he had not had more than a few words with her for twenty-four hours. He was perilously close to forgetting his legal halter when he looked at her.
She was, he thought, about as sweet a picture of a woman as a man need ever look upon, as she stood there with the red Navajo blanket falling back from her dark hair, and with her wide, honest eyes fixed upon Rock. She was blushing, as if she, too, wished Rock elsewhere. She turned impulsively, set down the basin she had been holding in her arm, and pulled the blanket up so that it framed her face bewitchingly.
“Mose can bring up the mince-meat when he comes—since he isn’t here,” she said hurriedly. “We weren’t looking for you back, but dinner will be ready in half an hour or so, I think.” She pulled open the door and went out into the storm.
Rock stared at the door, still quivering with the slam she had given it. Then he looked at Ford, and afterward sat down weakly upon a stool, and began dazedly pulling the icicles from his mustache.
“Well—I’ll—be—cremated!” he said in a whisper.
“And what’s eating you, Rock?” Ford quizzed gayly. He had seen something in the eyes of Josephine, when he met her, that had set his blood jumping again. “Did Miss Melby—”
“Miss Melby my granny!” grunted Rock, in deep disgust. “That there is your wife!”
Ford backed up against the wall and stared at him blankly. Afterward he took a deep breath and went out as though the place was on fire.
What Ford Found at the Top
Ford Campbell was essentially a man of action; he did not waste ten seconds in trying to deduce the whys and hows of the amazing fact; he would have a whole lifetime in which to study them. He started for the house, and the tracks he made in the loose, shifting snow were considerably more than a yard apart. He even forgot to stamp off the clinging snow and scour his boot-soles upon the porch rug, and when he went striding in, he pushed the door only half shut behind him, so that it swung in the wind and let a small drift collect upon the parlor carpet, until Mrs. Kate, feeling a draught, discovered it, and was shocked beyond words at the sacrilege.
Ford went into the dining-room, crossed it in just three strides, and ran his quarry to earth in the kitchen, where she was distraitly setting out biscuit materials. He started toward her, realized suddenly that the all-observing Buddy was at his very heels, and delayed the reckoning while he led that terrible man-child to his mother.