“You bet, if you put it that way,” she consented, simply, “but I reckon that Mrs. Herndon is likely to wish I hadn’t.”
Together, yet scarcely exchanging another word, the two retraced their steps slowly down the steep trail leading toward the little town in the valley, walking unconsciously the pathway of fate, the way of all the world.
“I’ve come here to live”
Widely as these two companions differed in temperament and experience, it would be impossible to decide which felt the greater uneasiness at the prospect immediately before them. The girl openly rebellious, the man extremely doubtful, with reluctant steps they approached that tall, homely yellow house—outwardly the most pretentious in Glencaid—which stood well up in the valley, where the main road diverged into numerous winding trails leading toward the various mines among the foothills.
They were so completely opposite, these two, that more than one chance passer-by glanced curiously toward them as they picked their way onward through the red dust. Hampton, slender yet firmly knit, his movements quick like those of a watchful tiger, his shoulders set square, his body held erect as though trained to the profession of arms, his gray eyes marking every movement about him with a suspicion born of continual exposure to peril, his features finely chiselled, with threads of gray hair beginning to show conspicuously about the temples. One would glance twice at him anywhere, for in chin, mouth, and eyes were plainly pictured the signs of strength, evidences that he had fought stern battles, and was no craven. For good or evil he might be trusted to act instantly, and, if need arose, to the very death. His attire of fashionably cut black cloth, and his immaculate linen, while neat and unobtrusive, yet appeared extremely unusual in that careless land of clay-baked overalls and dingy woollens. Beside him, in vivid contrast, the girl trudged in her heavy shoes and bedraggled skirts, her sullen eyes fastened doggedly on the road, her hair showing ragged and disreputable in the brilliant sunshine. Hampton himself could not remain altogether indifferent to the contrast.
“You look a little rough, Kid, for a society call,” he said. “If there was any shebang in this mud-hole of a town that kept any women’s things on sale fit to look at, I ’d be tempted to fix you up a bit.”
“Well, I’m glad of it,” she responded, grimly. “I hope I look so blame tough that woman won’t say a civil word to us. You can bet I ain’t going to strain myself to please the likes of her.”
“You certainly exhibit no symptoms of doing so,” he admitted, frankly. “But you might, at least, have washed your face and fixed your hair.”