“I’d like a picture of you with the badge and uniform, Wick,” said Edith with good-natured banter.
Just before the two ladies left for Boggs City that evening Bonner managed to say something to Edith.
“Say, Ede, I think it would be uncommonly decent of you to ask Miss Gray down to Boston this spring. You’ll like her.”
“Wicker, if it were not so awfully common, I’d laugh in my sleeve,” said she, surveying him with a calm scrutiny that disconcerted. “I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Mother was, perhaps, but not your dear little sister. Cheer up, brother. You’ll get over it, just like all the rest. I’ll ask her to come, but—Please don’t frown like that. I’ll suspect something.”
During the many little automobile excursions that the two girls enjoyed during those few days in Tinkletown, Miss Bonner found much to love in Rosalie, much to esteem and a great deal to anticipate. Purposely, she set about to learn by “deduction” just what Rosalie’s feelings were for the big brother. She would not have been surprised to discover the telltale signs of a real but secret affection on Rosalie’s part, but she was, on the contrary, amazed and not a little chagrined to have the young girl meet every advance with a joyous candour, that definitely set aside any possibility of love for the supposedly irresistible brother. Miss Edith’s mind was quite at rest, but with the arrogant pride of a sister, she resented the fact that any one could know this cherished brother and not fall a victim. Perversely, she would have hated Rosalie had she caught her, in a single moment of unguardedness, revealing a feeling more tender than friendly interest for him.
Sophisticated and world-wise, the gay, careless Miss Bonner read her pages quickly—she skimmed them—but she saw a great deal between the lines. If her mother had been equally discerning, that very estimable lady might have found herself immensely relieved along certain lines.
Bonner was having a hard time of it these days. It was worse than misery to stay indoors, and it was utterly out of the question for him to venture out. His leg was healing with disgusting rashness, but his heart was going into an illness that was to scoff at the cures of man. And if his parting with his mother and the rosy-faced young woman savoured of relief, he must he forgiven. A sore breast is no respecter of persons.
They were returning to the Hub by the early morning train from Boggs City, and it was understood that Rosalie was to come to them in June. Let it be said in good truth that both Mrs. Bonner and her daughter were delighted to have her promise. If they felt any uneasiness as to the possibility of unwholesome revelations in connection with her birth, they purposely blindfolded themselves and indulged in the game of consequences.
Mrs. Bonner was waiting in the automobile, having said good-bye to Wicker.
“I’ll keep close watch on him, Mrs. Bonner,” promised Anderson, “and telegraph you if his condition changes a mite. I ast ‘Doc’ Smith to-day to tell me the real truth ’bout him, an’—”