Yes, he would study. He would write letters, too—real letters. He had neglected every one, especially Lynda Kendall. The others did not matter, but Lynda mattered more than anything. She always would! And thinking of Lynda reminded him that he had also, in his trunk, the play upon which he had worked for several years during hours that should have been devoted to rest. He would get out the play and try to breathe life into it, now that he himself was living. Lynda had said, when last they had discussed his work, “It’s beautiful, Con; you shall not belittle it. It is beautiful like a cold, stone thing with rough edges. Sometime you must smooth it and polish it, and then you must pray over it and believe in it, and I really think it will repay you. It may not mean anything but a sure guide to your goal, but you’d be grateful for that, wouldn’t you?” Of course he would be grateful for that! It would mean life to him—life, not mere existence. He began to hope that Jim White would stay away a month; what with study, and the play, and the doing for himself, the time ahead was provided for already!
Stalking noiselessly forward, Truedale came into the clearing, passed White’s shack, and approached his own with a fixed determination. Then he stopped short. He was positive that he had closed windows and doors—the caution of the city still clung to him—but now both doors and windows were set wide to the brilliant autumn day and a curl of smoke from a lately replenished fire cheerfully rose in the clear, dry air.
“Well, I’ll be—!” and then Truedale quietly slipped to the rear of the cabin and to a low, sliding window through which he could peer, unobserved. One glance transfixed him.
The furnishing of the room was bare and plain—a deal table, a couple of wooden chairs, a broad comfortable couch, a cupboard with some nondescript crockery, and a good-sized mirror in the space between the front door and the window. Before this glass a strange figure was walking to and fro, enjoying hugely its own remarkable reflection. Truedale’s bedraggled bath robe hung like a mantle from the shoulders of the intruder—they were very straight, slim young shoulders; an old ridiculous fez—an abomination of his freshman year, kept for sentimental reasons—adorned the head of the small stranger and only partly held in check the mass of shadowy hair that rippled from it and around a mischievous face.
Surprise, then wonder, swayed Truedale. When he reached the wonder stage, thought deserted him. He simply looked and kept on wondering. Through this confusion, words presently reached him. The masquerader within was bowing and scraping comically, and in a low, musical voice said:
“How-de, Mister Outlander, sir! How-de? I saw your smoke a-curling way back from home, sir, and I’ve come a-visiting ‘long o’ you, Mister Outlander.”