“Of course not. I’ll take it now,” answered the girl.
“That’s right good of you. I’ll jest sit here and be talking to Mr. Street, as you might say. Wouldn’t that make a good picture—kinder liven up the porch if we’re on it?”
Roy felt a sudden impulse to protest, but he dared not yield to it. What was it this man wanted of the picture? Why had he baited a trap to get a picture of him without Beulah Rutherford knowing that he particularly wanted it? While the girl took the photograph, his mind was racing for Tighe’s reason.
“I’ll send you a copy as soon as I print it, Mr. Tighe,” promised Beulah.
“I’ll sure set a heap of store by it, Miss Beulah. . . . If you don’t mind helping me set the table, we’ll leave Mr. Street this old newspaper for a few minutes whilst we fix up a snack. You’ll excuse us, Mr. Street? That’s good.”
Beulah went into the house the same gay and light-hearted comrade of Beaudry that she had been all morning. When he was called in to dinner, he saw at once that Tighe had laid his spell upon her. She was again the sullen, resentful girl of yesterday. Suspicion filmed her eyes. The eager light of faith in him that had quickened them while she listened for his answers to her naive questions about the great world was blotted out completely.
She sat through dinner in cold silence. Tighe kept the ball of conversation rolling and Beaudry tried to play up to him. They talked of stock, crops, and politics. Occasionally the host diverted the talk to outside topics. He asked the young man politely how he liked the park, whether he intended to stay long, how long he had lived in New Mexico, and other casual questions.
Roy was glad when dinner was over. He drew a long breath of relief when they had turned their backs upon the ranch. But his spirits did not register normal even in the spring sunshine of the hills. For the dark eyes that met his were clouded with doubt and resentment.
Beulah Asks Questions
A slim, wiry youth in high-heeled boots came out of the house with Brad Charlton just as the buggy stopped at the porch of the horse ranch. He nodded to Beulah.
“My brother Ned—Mr. Street.” The girl introduced them a little sulkily.
Ned Rutherford offered Roy a coffee-brown hand and looked at him with frank curiosity. He had just been hearing a lot about this good-looking stranger who had dropped into the park.
“See Jess Tighe? What did he say about the windmill?” asked Charlton.
“Wanted to think it over,” answered Beaudry.
Beulah had drawn her brother to one side, but as Roy talked with Charlton he heard what the other two said, though each spoke in a low voice.
“Where you going, Ned?” the sister asked.
“Oh, huntin’ strays.”