“Your cigarette is burning splendidly,” hinted Diane coolly, “and you’ve a match in your hand.”
For a tense, magnetic instant the keen blue eyes flashed a curious message of pleading and apology, then the aviator fell to whistling softly, struck the match and finding no immediate function for it, dropped it in the water.
“I don’t in the least mind floating about,” he stammered, his eyes sparkling with silent laughter, “and possibly I’ll make shore directly; but Lord love us! don’t send the sharp-shooteress—please! Better abandon me to my fate.”
Slim and straight as the silver birches by the water, Diane hurried away up the lake-path.
“The young man,” she flashed with a stamp of her foot, “is a very great fool.”
“Johnny,” she said a little later to a little, bewhiskered man with cheeks like hard red winter apples, “there’s a sociable, happy-go-lucky young man perched on an aeroplane in the middle of our lake. Better take a rope and rescue him. I don’t think he knows enough about aeroplanes to be flying so promiscuously about the country.”
Johnny Jutes collected a band of enthusiasts and departed.
“Nobody there, Miss Diane,” reported young Allan Carmody upon returning; “leastwise nobody that couldn’t take care of himself. Only a chap buzzin’ almighty swift over the trees. Swooped down like a hawk when he saw us an’ waved his hand, laughin’ fit to kill himself, an’ dropped Johnny a fiver an’ gee! Miss Diane, but he could drive some! Swift and cool-headed as a bird. He’s whizzin’ off like mad toward the Sherrill place, with his motor a-hummin’ an’ a-purrin’ like a cat. Leanish, sunburnt chap with eyes that ‘pear to be laughin’ a lot.”
Diane’s eyes flashed resentfully and as she walked away to the house her expression was distinctly thoughtful.
AN INDOOR TEMPEST
“If you’re broke,” said Starrett, leering, “why don’t you marry your cousin?”
Carl Granberry stared insolently across the table.
“Pass the buck,” he reminded coolly. “And pour yourself some more whiskey. You’re only a gentleman when you’re drunk, Starrett. You’re sober now.”
Payson and Wherry laughed. Starrett, not yet in the wine-flush of his heavy courtesy, passed the buck with a frown of annoyance.
A log blazed in the library fireplace, staining with warm, rich shadows the square-paneled ceiling of oak and the huge war-beaten slab of table-wood about which the men were gathered, both feudal relics brought to the New York home of Carl Granberry’s uncle from a ruined castle in Spain.
“If you’ve gone through all your money,” resumed Starrett offensively, “I’d marry Diane.”
“Miss Westfall!” purred Carl correctively. “You’ve forgotten, Starrett, my cousin’s name is Westfall, Miss Westfall.”