“I can’t afford to lose this chance if there is money in it. But it isn’t what I had planned.”
As he sat there on the step and hugged his knees, every drop of blood in Randy seemed to be urging “Hurry, hurry.” He felt as a man might who, running a race, finds another rider neck and neck and strains towards the finish.
To sell cars in order to win Becky seemed absurd on the face of it. But he would at least be doing something towards solving the problem of self-support, and towards increasing the measure of his own self-respect.
“What had you planned?” the Major was asking.
“Well of course there is the law—— And I like it, but there would be a year or two before I could earn a living—— And I’ve wanted to write——”
“Write what? Books?”
“Anything,” said Randy, explosively, “that would make the world sit up.”
“Ever tried it?”
“Yes. At school. I talked to a teacher of mine once about it. He said I had better invent a—pill——”
The Major stared, “A pill?”
Randy nodded. “He didn’t quite mean it, of course. But he saw the modern trend. A poet? A poor thing! But hats off to the pillmaker with his multi-millions!”
“Stop that,” said the Major.
“Blaming the world for its sordidness. There is beauty enough if we look for it.”
“None of us has time to look for it. We are too busy trying to sell cars to people who love horses.”
In the end Randy got his car. And after that he, too, might have been seen running shuttle-like back and forth over the red roads. Nellie Custis was usually beside him on the front seat. She took her new honors seriously. For generations back her forbears had loped with flapping ears in the lead of a hunting pack. To be sitting thus on a leather seat and whirled through the air with no need of legs from morning until night required some readjustment on the part of Nellie Custis. But she had always followed where Randy led. And in time she grew to like it, and watched the road ahead with eager eyes, and with her ears perpetually cocked.
Now and then Becky sat beside Randy, with Nellie at her feet. The difference between a ride with Randy and one with George Dalton was, Becky felt, the difference a not unpleasant commonplace and the stuff that dreams are made of.
“It is rather a duck of a car,” she had said, the first time he took her out in it.
“Yes, it is,” Randy had agreed. “I am getting tremendously fond of her. I have named her ‘Little Sister.’”
“Oh, Randy, you haven’t.”
“Yes, I have. She has such confiding ways. I never believed that cars had human qualities, Becky.”
“They are not horses of course.”
“Well, they have individual characteristics. You take the three cars in our barn. The Packard reminds one of that stallion we owned three years ago—blooded and off like the wind. The Franklin is a grayhound—and Little Sister is a—duck——”