“I’m afraid you didn’t realize what you were doing when you snubbed him,” put in the Duke. “I haven’t been able to get him out of the woods since—till now, and I’ve had to bring him almost by main force.”
The carriage was at the door. The State chairman led the way to it. He had a home for his family apart from the big hotel, the mammoth hostelry of the State—one of his many business ventures.
“We are on our way home from our morning ride—it’s the real jolly part of the June day, the two hours before breakfast,” explained the girl, as they went down the steps. “When we called here for father you may imagine how delighted we were to find your grandfather. I know you understand, Mr. Harlan Thornton, what a dear old man your grandfather is!”
“He has been mother, father, brother, and sister and best friend—all those to me. He has seemed to have some of the elements of all.
“I know of the good things he has done, and how ungrateful some of the folks are he has helped. Your grandfather would be a real saint if it were not for politics. You know we folks at the State capital hear politics talked all the time. I suppose my good father has the same wicked things said about him—though, of course, I don’t hear them.”
“And I’ve been too deep in the woods to hear.”
Presson ushered his wife and the young people into the carriage.
“Thelismer and I would rather walk,” he said. “We have some more matters to talk over.” And he sent them away.
Harlan took his seat opposite the ladies, and now, in this close proximity, he realized how charming the young girl was. From the close braids of her brown hair to the tips of her bronze shoes she was womanly grace and refinement personified. There was a cordial frankness in her tone and eyes that attracted him, and put him at his ease. Yet there was no hint of coquetry. He liked her at once and instinctively, because somehow she seemed to meet him on a manly plane of good-fellowship—and yet she was so thoroughly and deliciously feminine. There was just a bit of a drawl in her voice, a suggestion of jocoseness, continual appreciation of the humor of life and living. And her laugh was an inspiration.
He was a little surprised at himself when he found that he was chatting with her so easily. Later, when he reflected, he understood. She had almost a masculine breadth of view in addition to her culture. In that first day of their meeting she gave voice to some of his own unexpressed views regarding the trend of the times in public matters. She apologized, half-humorously. “But as I said to you a while ago, we hear politics talked much at the State capital.”
Following the after-breakfast chat, he walked back to the hotel with his grandfather.
“By-the-way, I didn’t lie to you any about Luke’s girl, did I?” remarked the old man, casually, and as though the matter had occurred to him in default of better topic. “But she’s too advanced in her ideas for a woman. She’ll be suffragette-ing it next.”