“No—she—she’s goin’ along with us.”
“Going along with us? What do you mean, Johnnie Green?”
He told her his story, not at all cheerfully. His bold plan looked very different now from what it had two days before.
Already the chant of the wheels had begun. The train was in the sub-Hudson darkness of the tunnel.
Kitty rose with decision. “Well, of all the foolishness I ever heard, Johnnie, this is the limit. I’m going right to that poor girl. You’ve spoiled everything between you. She’ll hate Mr. Lindsay for the rest of her life. How could he be so stupid?”
Her husband followed her, crestfallen. He wanted to weep with chagrin.
Beatrice opened the door of the stateroom. She had taken off her hat and Clay was hanging it on a hook.
“Come in,” she said cordially, but faintly.
Kitty did not quite understand. The atmosphere was less electric than she had expected. She stopped, taken aback at certain impressions that began to register themselves on her brain.
“Johnnie was tellin’ me—”
“About how he abducted me. Yes. Wasn’t it dear of him?”
“I’ve decided to make the best of it and go along.”
“I—your father, Mr. Whitford—” Kitty bogged down.
Beatrice blushed. Little dimples came out with her smile. “I think I’d better let Clay explain.”
“We were married two days ago, Kitty.”
“What!” shouted the Runt.
“We intended to ask you both to the wedding, but when Johnnie proposed to abduct Miss Whitford, I thought it a pity not to let him. So we—”
Johnnie fell on him and beat him with both fists. “You daw-goned ol’ scalawag! I never will help you git married again!” he shouted gleefully.
Clay sat down on the seat and gave way to mirth. He rocked with glee. Beatrice began to chuckle. She, too, yielded to laughter. Kitty, and then Johnnie, added to the chorus.
“Oh, Johnnie—Johnnie—you’ll be the death of me!” cried Clay. “It’ll never be a dull old world so long as you stay a bandit.”
“Did you really advise him to beat me, Johnnie?” asked Beatrice sweetly. “I never would have guessed you were such a cave man.”
Johnnie flamed to the roots of his hair. “Now, ma’am, if you’re gonna believe that—”
Beatrice repented and offered him her hand.
“We’ll not believe anything of you that isn’t good? even if you did want to kidnap me,” she said.
THE NEW DAY
The slapping of the wind against the tent awakened Beatrice. She could hear it soughing gently through the branches of the live oaks. An outflung arm discovered Clay missing.
Presently she rose, sleep not yet brushed fully from her eyes, drew the tent flaps together modestly under her chin, and looked out upon a world which swam in the enchanted light of a dawn primeval. The eastern sky was faintly pink with the promise of a coming sun. The sweet, penetrating lilt of the lark flung greeting at her.