“But with our accustomed ingenuity,” he added modestly, “we have solved it. Back there in a village we induced a blacksmith with brains and brawn to fit a tall iron frame around the wagon and if the sun’s too hot, or it showers, we shed some more hay and drape a tarpaulin or so over the frame. It’s an excellent arrangement. We can have side curtains or not just as we choose. In certain wet circumstances, of course, we’ll most likely take to barns and inns and wood-houses and corncribs and pick up the trail in the morning. You can’t imagine,” he added, “how ready pedestrians are to tell us which way the green moving van went.”
Whereupon the nomad of the hay-camp and his ruffled guest crossed swords again over a pot of coffee, with inglorious defeat for Diane, who departed for her own camp in a blaze of indignation.
“I’ll ignore him!” she decided in the morning as the green van took to the road again. “It’s the only way. And after a while he’ll most likely get tired and disgruntled and go home. He’s subject to huffs anyway. It’s utterly useless to talk to him. He thrives on opposition.”
Looking furtively back, she watched Mr. Poynter break camp. It was very simple. Ras, yawning prodigiously, heaved a variety of unnecessary provisions overboard from the seat pantry, abandoned the ice-cream freezer to a desolate fate by the ashes of the camp fire and peeled the hay-bed. Philip slipped a small tin plate, a collapsible tin cup, a wooden knife, fork and spoon into his pocket. Ras put his in his hat, which immediately took on a somewhat bloated appearance. Having climbed languidly to the reins, the ridiculous negro appeared to fall asleep immediately. Mr. Poynter, looking decidedly trim and smiling, summoned Dick Whittington, climbed aboard and, whistling, disappeared from view with uncommon grace and good humor. The hay-wagon rumbled off.
Diane bit her lips convulsively and looked at Johnny. Simultaneously they broke into an immoderate fit of laughter.
“Very well,” decided the girl indignantly a little later, “if I can’t do anything else, I can lose him!”
But even this was easier of utterance than accomplishment. Diane was soon to learn that if the distance between them grew too great, Mr. Poynter promptly unloaded all but a scant layer of hay, took the reins himself, and thundered with expedition up the trail in quest of her, with Dick Whittington barking furiously. It was much too spectacular a performance for a daily diet.
Diane presently ordered her going and coming as if the persistent hay-gypsy on the road behind her did not exist, but every night she caught the cheerful glimmer of his camp fire through the trees, and frowned.
A NOMADIC MINSTREL