“I’ve got it, I believe,” he said. “Holmes acted as if you had treated him badly, didn’t he, when you took his car? As if he was hurt by your thinking that he didn’t mean to do just what he said?”
“Yes,” said Bessie.
“Then we’ll pretend to believe it, Miss Mercer and I. You needn’t, of course. That wouldn’t fool him for a minute. But he’ll probably try to make us think he’s all right, and that’s just what I want. Oh, we’ve got him now, I think! I hope Miss Mercer will be at the station. I can’t explain my plan now, but you’ll be in it, and then you’ll see. I’m going up to talk to him now.”
So Bessie and Dolly, sadly puzzled, and unable to see what the lawyer was driving at, saw the two men get off the train at Deer Crossing. Jamieson rushed over to Miss Mercer and spoke to her for a minute, and then Eleanor, laughing, held out her hand to Holmes, and turned to the two girls with a smile.
“Why, how silly you were,” she said, “to think that Mr. Holmes meant to be anything but kind! You mustn’t get such nonsensical ideas. Mr. Holmes, just to prove that you don’t bear any malice, you must let me drive you out to the farm for dinner. No, I really won’t let you refuse. I insist. There’s plenty of room in the car—the chauffeur will go back in one of the farm wagons, and Charlie will drive.”
Holmes glanced once at Bessie triumphantly but he was careful not to betray himself.
“I’m afraid I oughtn’t to impose on you, Miss Mercer,” he said. “But really, since you’re so pressing—well, I shall be most happy to come.”
THE TABLES TURNED
When they arrived at the farm, after the swift run in the Mercer car, Miss Mercer took Holmes out on the big back piazza, and Bessie and Dolly, under the watchful eyes of Jamieson, made up for their long fast. It was nearly five o’clock in the afternoon when they reached the dining-room, and Jamieson laughed as he saw them eat.
“You’ll spoil your appetites for dinner,” he said, as he saw Dolly making away with the cold meat and bread and milk that had been provided for them.
“I don’t care!” she answered. “It couldn’t taste half as good as this, no matter what it was. But now you’re not going to keep on being mean? You’ll tell us why you and Miss Eleanor are being so nice to Mr. Holmes?”
“Not yet,” he said. “But you’ll know soon enough. It isn’t just because we like the pleasure of his company, I can tell you that. Mr. Holmes is in for one of the worst surprises of his life before I get through with him, unless I fall down pretty hard. And I don’t expect to. I’ll tell you one thing, though. All you girls are going for a straw ride tonight, and Mr. Holmes is going to be along, too. He doesn’t know it yet, and he won’t know, even after we start, just where we’re going.”