“I’m on the lookout fer a girl—an’ she’ll be’s rich’s Crowses if I c’n only find ’er. I dassent tell ’er name jest now,” he went on, slowly retracing his steps, “’cause I don’t want people—er her either, fer that matter—to git onter my scheme. But you jest wait.” He was standing very close to her now and looking her full in the face. “You’re sure you don’t know anythin’ ’bout her?”
“Why, how should I know? You’ve told me nothing.”
“You’ve got purty good clothes fer a common school-teacher,” he flung at her in an aggressive, impertinent tone, but the warm colour that swiftly rose to her cheeks forced him to recall his words, for he quickly tempered them with, “Er, at least, that’s what all the women folks say.”
“Oh, so some one has been talking about my affairs? Some of your excellent women want to know more about me than—”
“Don’t git excited, Miss Banks,” he interrupted; “the women ain’t got anythin’ to do with it—I mean, it’s nothin’ to them. I—”
“Mr. Crow,” she broke in, “if there is anything you or anybody in Tinkletown wants to know about me you will have to deduce it for yourself. I believe that is what you call it—deduce? And now good-bye, Mr. Crow. Recess is over,” she said pointedly; and Mr. Crow shuffled out as the children galloped in.
That evening Ed Higgins and ’Rast Little came to call, but she excused herself because of her correspondence. In her little upstairs room she wrote letter after letter, one in particular being voluminous. Mrs. Holabird, as she passed her door, distinctly heard her laugh aloud. It was a point to be recalled afterward with no little consideration. Later she went downstairs, cloaked warmly, for a walk to the post-office. Ed Higgins was still in the parlour talking to the family. He hastily put in his petition to accompany her, and it was granted absently. Then he surreptitiously and triumphantly glanced through the window, the scene outside pleasing him audibly. ’Rast was standing at the front gate talking to Anderson Crow. Miss Banks noticed as they passed the confused twain at the gate that Anderson carried his dark lantern.
“Any trace of the heiress, Mr. Crow?” she asked merrily.
“Doggone it,” muttered Anderson, “she’ll give the whole snap away!”
“What’s that?” asked ’Rast.
“Nothin’ much,” said Anderson, repairing the damage. “Ed’s got your time beat to-night, ’Rast, that’s all!”
“I could ‘a’ took her out ridin’ to-night if I’d wanted to,” lied ’Rast promptly. “I’m goin’ to take her to the spellin’-bee to-morrow night out to the schoolhouse.”
“Did she say she’d go with you?”
“Not yet. I was jest goin’ to ast her to-night.”
“Mebby Ed’s askin’ her now.”
“Gosh dern it, that’s so! Maybe he is,” almost wailed ’Rast; and Anderson felt sorry for him as he ambled away from the gate and its love-sick guardian.