IN THE ADIRONDACKS
To the wild, out-of-the-world hunting lodge in the Adirondack wilderness of tree and lake and trout-haunted mountain stream which had been part of Norman Westfall’s heritage, came, one twilight of cloud and wind, Diane, tanned with the wind and sun of a year’s wandering—and very tired.
Wild relief at Carl’s tale of the jealous Indian, thoughts of Philip, of Carl, of Keela, of Ronador, all these, persistently haunting the girl’s harassed mind, had wearied her greatly. Moreover, Aunt Agatha was not restful; nor would she depart.
Wherefore, with the old habit when the voice of the forest called—when school and city and travel had palled and tortured—Diane had traveled feverishly north with Aunt Agatha, and thence to the Adirondack lodge which had been her hermitage since early childhood and to which, by an earlier compact, Aunt Agatha might not follow.
She had telegraphed old Roger to meet her with the buckboard. Now, as they drove up at twilight, Annie, his wife, stood in the cottage doorway. Beyond among the rustling trees stood the log lodge of Norman Westfall, far enough away for solitude and near enough, as Aunt Agatha frequently recalled with comfort, to the cottage of the two old servants for safety.
The lake stretched away to a dusk-dimmed shore set in a whispering line of ghostly birches.
“There’s wood in the fireplace, dearie!” said old Annie, patting the girl’s shoulder. “It’s a wee bit chill yet, for all the summer ought well be here. And you’ve not run away to the old lodge to cook and keep house and play gypsy this many a day!”
“No,” said Diane, “I haven’t.” She spoke of the van and Johnny.
“Dear! Dear!” quavered Annie, raising wrinkled, wondering hands. “Think of that now! And like you, too! And you grown so like your father, child, that I can’t well keep my eyes off your face. And brown as a berry from the sun. I’ve set a bit of a lunch in the great room yonder, dearie. You’ll likely be too tired to-night to be a gypsy.”
Old Roger, who had consigned the buckboard and horses to a tall awkward country lad who had slouched forward from the shadows, hurried off to light the fire in the lodge.
When Diane entered, the fire was crackling cheerfully in the great fireplace and dancing in bright waves over the china and glass upon a table by the fire.
The old room, extending the entire width of the lodge and half its generous depth, was much as it had been in the days of Norman Westfall. By the western wall stood the old piano. Uncovered rafters and an inner wall-lining of logs hinted nothing of the substantial plaster behind it. It was a great room of homely comfort, subtly akin to the forest beyond its walls.