A BULLET IN ARCADIA
“It’s time you were in bed,” said Diane. “Johnny’s out staring at the moon and that’s the final chore of the evening. Besides, it’s nine o’clock.”
“I shan’t go to bed,” Philip protested. “Johnny spread this tarpaulin by the fire expressly for me to recline here and think and smoke and b’jinks! I’m going to! After buying me two shirts yesterday and tobacco to-day—to say nothing of bringing home an unknown chicken for invalid stew, I can’t with decency offend him.”
“I can’t see why he’s taken such a tremendous shine to you!” complained Diane mockingly.
“Nor I!” agreed Philip, knocking the ashes from his pipe.
“You’ve been filling his pockets with money!” accused Diane indignantly. “It’s the only explanation of the demented way he trots around after you.”
“Disposition, beauty, singular grace and common sense all pale in the face of the ulterior motive,” Philip modestly told his pipe. “What a moon!” he added softly. “Great guns, what a moon!”
Beyond, through the dark of the trees, softly silvered by the moon above the ridge, glimmered the river, winding along by peaceful forest and meadows edged with grass and mint. There was moon-bright dew upon the clover and high upon the ridge a tree showed dark and full against the moon in lonely silhouette. It was an enchanted wood of moonlit depth and noisy quiet, of shrilling crickets, the plaintive cries of tree frogs, the drowsy crackle of the camp fire, or the lap of water by the shore, with sometimes the lonely hoot of an owl.
“A while back,” mused Diane innocently, “there was a shooting star above the ridge—”
“Yes?” said Philip puffing comfortably at his pipe.
“I meant to call your attention to it but ‘Hey!’ and ‘Look!’ were dreadfully abrupt.”
“There is always—’Philip!’” insinuated that young man. Diane bit her lip and relapsed into silence.
“You didn’t tell me,” said Philip presently, “whether or not you found any more flowers this morning.”
“Only heaps of wild blackberry,” Diane replied briefly. “But the trees were quite as devoid of new birds as Johnny’s detective trip of clues.”
“Too bad!” sympathized Philip. “I’ll go with you in the morning.”
“The bump on your head,” suggested Diane pointedly, “is growing malignant!”
“By no means!” said Philip lazily. “With the exception of certain memory erasures, it’s steadily improving.”
“Why,” demanded Diane with an unexpected and somewhat resentful flash of reminiscence, “why did you tell me your motor was deaf and dumb and insane when it wasn’t?”
“I didn’t,” said Philip honestly. “If you’ll recall our conversation, you’ll find I worded that very adroitly.”
Thoroughly vexed Diane frowned at the fire.