“You see, the trespass rules here are very strictly enforced. It’s too bad you didn’t know about them. They’ve been in force for ten years. This is the first time, I think, that a woman has been inside the wall.”
“I—I’m a stranger,” she gasped. “I’m only visiting here.”
“Of course, that explains it. I couldn’t imagine your having ventured in otherwise.”
We had come to an opening where the trail was wider and I slowed my pace so that in a moment she walked beside me. She forged ahead at once, but I kept my place.
“Since you’re interested in sociological questions, Miss—er—Smith, perhaps—”
“You listened?” she asked scornfully.
“I did,” grimly. “I listened for at least ten minutes.”
“I’m sure you’re quite welcome,” she gasped.
“Since you’re interested in sociological questions,” I repeated, “perhaps you may be interested in educational ones.”
“That’s not consistent, for sociological problems can hardly be solved without the aid of—”
“Oh!” Her pent-up temper exploded. “I didn’t come in here to—to listen to a dissertation on—” Rage choked her and she couldn’t go on.
“I should be very much interested to learn what you did come in for.”
“You’re a beast!” she flashed at me.
“Come now, you don’t mean that. As a matter of fact, I’m merely a mild-mannered person of studious instincts hired to carry out a most valuable experiment in comparative psychology.”
“I have no interest in your experiments.”
“Or the object of them?” I put in quickly. She found that difficult to answer.
“You must admit that my inquiry is natural,” I went on suavely. “Since Jerry has just promised to give you his entire fortune, it seems to me only fair that his executors—”
“Will you be silent?” she cried, stopping suddenly. “It seems that I’m at your mercy. You will at least have the decency to let me go in peace.”
She broke away, running aimlessly. I followed rapidly, my conscience hurting, but my purpose relentless.
“This way,” I said coolly. “You’ve left the trail.”
“I don’t care,” she gasped. “Leave me.”
“I can’t do that. You see, I promised Jerry. But I will lead the way if you like. The stream is not far.”
I set out again and I heard her trudging behind me. If she had stuck me in the back with a hatpin, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But she was more tractable now.
“How are you getting on?” I asked as I neared the Sweetwater. But she wouldn’t reply. Her sentiments toward me, I am sure, were too deep for words.
“Where did you come in?” I asked again.
“The iron railing—at the stream,” she mumbled.
“Oh! It must be repaired at once.”
“You needn’t bother,” she said scornfully, “so far as I am concerned.”