“Oh,” said Dolly. “Really, is that so, Mr. Holmes? Wouldn’t it be a dreadful amount of trouble to you? Of course, if that’s so, and you really want us to come—”
“Nonsense, Dolly!” said Bessie, severely. “We can’t go, and we must be getting back to the house. Thank you ever so much, Mr. Holmes—and good-morning!”
But Dolly was not to be deprived of her treat so easily.
“I think you’re very rude, Bessie!” she said, bridling. “That may be the proper way to act in the country where you came from, but it’s not the way we do things in the city at all. Thank you very much, Mr. Holmes, and I shall be very pleased to accept your kind invitation, if you’re sure it’s not troubling you.”
“There you are, Miss Bessie!” said Holmes, heartily. “Now, you won’t be so unkind as to let Miss Dolly come with me alone, will you? She’s coming, and I think you’d better change your mind and come, too.”
Poor Bessie was in a quandary. She knew that Miss Mercer, even though she had laughed at her suspicions of Mr. Holmes, would not approve of such a prank as this; but she knew, also, that Dolly, inclined to be defiant and to resent the exercise of any authority, would not be moved by that argument. And, in the presence of Holmes, she could hardly tell Dolly the story of Zara’s disappearance and her own suspicions concerning the part that Holmes, or, at least, his car, had played in it. Neither, she felt, could she let Dolly go alone. The chances were that Holmes meant no harm, but she knew that Miss Eleanor had put Dolly in her charge in a measure, and she felt responsible for her new chum.
So, displeased as she was, Bessie climbed into the car after Dolly, who had already taken her place in the tonneau, and in a moment they were off, taking the road that led away from Deer Crossing. Holmes only smiled as she got in the car, but before he put on his dust glasses Bessie was sure that she saw a look of triumph in his eyes, as if he had succeeded beyond his hopes in some plan he had formed. Bessie did not at all relish the prospect of the little adventure upon which Dolly’s whim had launched her, but she decided to take it with a good grace, since, now that she was in the car, she had to see it through.
Once the car was under way, going fast, Mr. Holmes had to devote all his attention to driving, and, as it was a large one, there was so much noise the two girls could talk without being heard.
“I suppose you’re awfully mad at me,” said Dolly, in a whisper, looking at Bessie’s stern face. “Oh, Bessie, I couldn’t help it! He was so nice about it, and it was such a lovely chance to tease you! I do try to be good, but every time I see a chance to do anything like that I just can’t seem to help it.”
“I asked you not to. You could see I didn’t want to go, Dolly. And if we’re going to be friends, you oughtn’t to force me into doing things I don’t want to do.”