“Thank you,” and he bowed as he gave the signal to begin again.
“Mr. Ames, more peaches are wanted—the big yellow ones. Where shall I find them?”
“I’ll get some—or, I’ll go with you.” He was getting quite bold. Perhaps the music had something to do with that.
He did not take the basket, but led the way out into the orchard. It was quite a distance to the right tree.
“That is beautiful music,” said she. “Mr. Holm is a genius. He’ll make his mark if he keeps on.”
“Yes, I understand that he is going East to study. That will bring him out if there is anything in him.”
There was a pause in the conversation; then Rupert remarked carefully, as if feeling his way:
“Yes, there’s talent in Volmer, but he makes music his god, which I think is wrong.”
“Do you think so?” she asked.
What that expression meant, it was hard to say.
“Yes, I think that no man should so drown himself in one thing that he is absolutely dead to everything else. Mr. Holm does that. Volmer worships nothing but music.”
Rupert filled the basket and they sauntered back.
“A more beautiful god I cannot imagine,” she said, half aloud.
Rupert turned with an inquiring look on his face, but he got nothing more from her, as she was busy with a peach. Her straw hat was tilted back on her head, and the wavy brown hair was somewhat in confusion. School teaching had not, as yet, driven the roses from her cheeks, nor the smiles from her lips. There was just enough of daylight left so that Rupert could see Miss Wilton’s big eye looking into his own. How beautiful she was!
“Mr. Ames, before we get back to the company, I wish to ask you a question. Mr. Holm has asked me to sing at his concert, and I should like to help him, if the school trustees do not object.”
“Why should they, Miss Wilton?”
“Well, some people, you know, are so peculiar.”
“I assure you they will not care—that is, if it will not interfere with your school duties.”
“As to that, not a moment. I need no rehearsals as I am used to—that is I—you see, I will sing some old song.”
Miss Wilton’s speech became unusually confused, and Rupert noticed it; but just then Nina and her escort joined them, and they all went back to the lawn.
“Miss Wilton’s going to sing at the concert,” Volmer told Rupert later in the evening. “’Twill be a big help. She’s a regular opera singer, you know. She’s been in the business. I heard her sing in Denver two years ago, and she was with a troupe that passed through here some time since. I remember her well, but of course I wouldn’t say anything to her about it. No doubt she wishes to forget it all.”
“What do you mean?” asked Rupert, quite fiercely.
“I mean that her company then was not of the choicest, but I believe she’s all right and a good enough girl. Rupe, don’t bother about that. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything to you.”