“Do you wonder,” Randy said, under his breath to Becky, “that his men fought, and that they died for him?”
She found her little handkerchief and wiped her eyes. “He’s a—perfect—darling,” she whispered, and could say no more.
Dalton was for the time eclipsed. He knew it and was not at ease. He was glad when Mrs. Paine stood up. “I am sorry to tear myself away. But I must. I can’t be sure that Susie has made up the morning rolls. There’s a camp-meeting at Jessica, and she’s lost the little mind that she usually puts on her cooking.”
Randy and the Major went with her in the low carriage, with Rosalind making good time towards the home stable, and with Nellie Custis following with flapping ears.
Dalton stayed on. The Judge urged him. “It’s too lovely to go in,” he said; “what’s your hurry?”
Aunt Claudia, who was inexpressibly weary, felt that her father was exceeding the bounds of necessary hospitality. She felt, too, that the length of Dalton’s first call was inexcusable. But she did not go to bed. As long as Becky was there, she should stay to chaperon her. With a sense of martyrdom upon her, Mrs. Beaufort sat stiffly in her chair.
The Judge was talkative and brilliant, glad of a new and apparently attentive listener. Becky had little to say. She sat with her small feet set primly on the ground. Her hands were folded in her lap. Dalton was used to girls who lounged or who hung fatuously on his words, as if they had set themselves to please him.
But Becky had no arts. She was frank and unaffected, and apparently not unconscious of Dalton’s charms. The whole thing was, he felt, going to be rather stimulating.
When at last he left them, he asked the Judge if he might come again. “I’d like to look at those birds by daylight.”
Becky, giving him her hand, hoped that he might come. She had been all the evening in a sort of waking dream. Even when Dalton had been silent, she had been intensely aware of his presence, and when he had talked, he had seemed to speak to her alone, although his words were for others.
“I saw you dancing,” he said, before he dropped her hand.
“Oh, did you?”
Back of the house the dogs barked.
“Will you dance some time with me?”
“Oh, could I?”
A moment later he was gone. The light of his motor flashed down the hills like a falling star.
“I wonder what made the dogs bark,” the Judge said as they went in.
“They probably thought it was morning,” was Mrs. Beaufort’s retort, as she preceded Becky up the stairs.
The dogs had barked because Randy after a quick drive home had walked back to Huntersfield.
“Look here,” he burst out as he and the Major had stood on the steps of the Schoolhouse, “do you like him?”