“He’s comin’ ’round,” said Johnny peering down into the white face in the aureole of lantern-light. “The rain in his face likely. . . . Well, young fellow, what do you think of yourself, eh?”
“Not much,” said Philip blankly and stared about him.
“Can you follow us to the camp fire yonder?” asked Diane compassionately.
Philip, though evidently very dizzy, thought likely he could, and he did. That his shoulder was wet and very painful, he was well aware, though somehow he had forgotten why. Moreover, his head throbbed queerly.
There came a tent and a bed and a blur of incidents.
Mr. Poynter dazedly resigned himself to a general atmosphere of unreality.
ON THE RIDGE ROAD
At the Westfall farm as the electric vanguard of the storm flashed brightly over the valley, the telephone had tinkled. In considerable distress of mind Aunt Agatha answered it.
“I—I’m sure I don’t know when he will be home,” she said helplessly after a while. . . . “He went barely a minute ago and very foolish too, I said, with the storm coming. . . . At dinner he spoke some of going to the camp—Miss Westfall’s camp. . . . I—I really don’t know. . . . I wish I did but I don’t.”
The lightning blazed at the window and left it black. Beyond in the lane, a car with glaring headlights was rolling rapidly toward the gateway. Aunt Agatha hung up with an aggrieved sniff.
Catching the reflection of the headlights she hurried to the window.
“Carl! Carl!” she called through the noise of wind and thunder.
The car came to a halt with a grinding shudder of brakes.
“Yes?” said Carl patiently. “What is it, Aunt Agatha?”
“Dick Sherrill phoned,” said his aunt plaintively. “I thought you’d gone. He wanted you to come up and play bridge. Oh, Carl, I—I do wish you wouldn’t motor about in a thunder shower. I once knew a man—such a nice, quiet fellow too—and very domestic in his habits—but he would ramble about and the lightning tore his collar off and printed a picture of a tree on his spine. Think of that!”
Carl laughed. He was raincoated and hatless.
“An arboreal spine!” said he, rolling on. “Lord, Aunt Agatha, that was tough! Moral—don’t be domestic!”
“Carl!” quavered his aunt tearfully.
Again, throbbing like a giant heart in the darkness, the car halted. Carl tossed his hair back from his forehead with a smothered groan, but said nothing. He was always kinder and less impatient to Aunt Agatha in a careless way than Diane.
“Will you take Diane an extra raincoat and rubbers?” appealed Aunt Agatha pathetically. “Like as not the pockets of the other are full of bugs and things.”
“Aunt Agatha,” grumbled Carl kindly, “why fuss so? Diane’s equipped with nerve and grit and independence enough to look out for herself.”