“Yet you think I ought to provide for Nan, in some way; how am I going to do it unless I ignore the hornets?”
“Now you are more reasonable,” she said approvingly. “I shall ride to-morrow morning, and if you should happen to overtake me, we might think up something.”
The door was opening gently under the pressure of her hand, but he was loath to go.
“I wouldn’t take five added years of life for what I’ve learned to-night, Ardea;” he said passionately. And then: “Have you fully made up your mind to marry Vincent Farley?”
In the twinkling of an eye she was another woman—cold, unapproachable, with pride kindling as if she had received a mortal affront.
“Sometimes—and they are bad times for you, Mr. Gordon—I am tempted to forget the boy-and-girl anchorings in the past. Have you no sense of the fitness of things—no shame?”
“Not very much of either, I guess,” he said quite calmly. “Love hasn’t any shame; and it doesn’t concern itself much about the fitness of anything but its object.”
And then he bade her good night and went his way with a lilting song of triumph in his heart which not even the chilling rebuff of the leave-taking was sufficient to silence.
“She loves me! She would still love me if she were ten times Vincent Farley’s wife!” he said, over and over to himself; the words were on his lips when he fell asleep, and they were still ringing in his ears the next morning at dawn-break when he rose and made ready to go to ride with her.
THE PLOW IN THE FURROW
One of Miss Ardea Dabney’s illuminating graces was the ability to return easily and amicably to the status quo ante bellum; to “kiss and be friends,” in the unfettered phrase of Margaret Catherwood, her chum and room-mate at Carroll College.
Wherefore, when Tom, mounted on Saladin, overtook her on the morning next after the night of offenses, she greeted him quite as if nothing had happened, challenging him gaily to a gallop with the valley head for its goal, and refusing to be drawn into anything more serious than joyous persiflage until they were returning at a walk down a boulder-strewn wood road at the back of the Dabney horse pasture. Then, and not till then, was the question of Nancy Bryerson’s future suffered to present itself.
For Miss Dabney the question was settled before it came up for discussion. In the Major’s young manhood Deer Trace had maintained a pack of foxhounds, and it was the Major’s bride, a city-bred Charleston belle, who first objected to the dooryard kennels and the clamor of the dogs. Back of the horse pasture, and a hundred yards vertical above the road Ardea and Tom were traversing, a pocket-like glen indented the mountain side, and in this glen the kennels had been established, with a substantial log cabin for the convenience of the dog-keeper.