“May I have a look at the letter, Mr. Crow?” asked Bonner. Anderson stealthily drew the square envelope from his inside pocket and passed it over.
“They’ve got to git up purty early to ketch me asleep,” he said proudly. Bonner drew the enclosure from the envelope. As he read, his eyes twinkled and the corners of his mouth twitched, but his face was politely sober as he handed the missive back to the marshal. “Looks like a trap, don’t it?” said Anderson. “You see there ain’t no signature. The raskils were afraid to sign a name.”
“I wouldn’t say anything to Miss Gray about this if I were you, Mr. Crow. It might disturb her, you know,” said Bonner.
“That means you, too, Eva,” commanded Anderson in turn. “Don’t worry the girl. She mustn’t know anything about this.”
“I don’t think it’s a trap,” remarked Eva as she finished reading the missive. Bonner took this opportunity to laugh heartily. He had held it back as long as possible. What Anderson described as an “ananymous” letter was nothing more than a polite, formal invitation to attend a “house warming” at Colonel Randall’s on the opposite side of the river. It read:
“Mr. and Mrs.
D.F. Randall request the honour of your presence
house warming, Friday evening, January 30, 190—, at eight o’clock.
“It is addressed to me, too, Anderson,” said his wife, pointing to the envelope. “It’s the new house they finished last fall. Anonymous letter! Fiddlesticks! I bet there’s one at the post-office fer each one of the girls.”
“Roscoe got some of the mail,” murmured the marshal sheepishly. “Where is that infernal boy? He’d oughter be strapped good and hard fer holdin’ back letters like this,” growled he, eager to run the subject into another channel. After pondering all evening, he screwed up the courage and asked Bonner not to tell any one of his error in regard to the invitation. Roscoe produced invitations for his sister and Rosalie. He furthermore announced that half the people in town had received them.
“There’s a telegram comin’ up fer you after a while, Mr. Bonner,” he said. “Bud’s out delivering one to Mr. Grimes, and he’s going to stop here on the way back. I was at the station when it come in. It’s from your ma, and it says she’ll be over from Boggs City early in the morning.”
“Thanks, Roscoe,” said Bonner with an amused glance at Rosalie; “you’ve saved me the trouble of reading it.”
“They are coming to-morrow,” said Rosalie long afterward, as the last of the Crows straggled off to bed. “You will have to go away with them, won’t you?”
“I’m an awful nuisance about here, I fancy, and you’ll be glad to be rid of me,” he said softly, his gaze on the blazing “back-log.”
“No more so than you will be to go,” she said so coolly that his pride suffered a distinct shock. He stole a shy glance at the face of the girl opposite. It was as calm and serene as a May morning. Her eyes likewise were gazing into the blaze, and her fingers were idly toying with the fringe on the arm of the chair.