His eyes were as grave as hers, and he was glad, glad that he had ridden here through the desert.
“You came to see my father?”
Conniston colored slightly. Why had he come? What was he going to do now that he was here? How should he seek to explain? He hesitated a moment, and then answered, slowly:
“I am afraid that my reasons for coming at all are too complicated to be told. You see, we just got off the train in Indian Creek out of idle curiosity to see what the desert country was like. We’re from New York. And then we rode out toward the hills. One of your father’s men overtook us there, and, as he was coming this way and as we were anxious to see the cattle-country and—” he broke off, smiling. “You see, it is hard to make it sound sensible. We just came!”
She looked up at him, a little puzzled frown in her eyes.
“You have friends with you?”
“One friend. He was pretty well tuckered out, and the red-headed gentleman who calls himself Lonesome Pete is bringing him along in his buckboard.”
“And you have no business at all out here?”
“I had none,” he retorted.
“You don’t know father?”
“I am sorry that I don’t.”
“You are going on to Crawfordsville?”
“I don’t know where Crawfordsville is. Is it the nearest town?”
“Since I don’t see how we can stay here, I suppose we’ll go on to Crawfordsville, then. That would be the best way, wouldn’t it?”
“Really,” she replied, quietly, “I don’t see that I am in a position to advise. If you haven’t any business with my father—”
Then the buckboard drove up, and Greek Conniston devoutly wished that he had left Roger Hapgood behind. And when he saw the radiant smile which lightened the girl’s gray eyes as they rested upon Lonesome Pete and took notice of the wide, sweeping flourish with which the cowboy’s hat was lifted to her, he wished that the red-headed student of Shakespeare was with Hapgood on Broadway.
Roger Hapgood, the stiff soreness of yesterday only aggravated by the cramp which had stolen into his legs during the ride of to-day, climbed down from the buckboard and limped across the lawn to where Conniston stood.
“I say, Greek,” he was growling, as he trudged forward, “what fool thing are you going to do next?” He stopped suddenly, in his surprise forgetting to shut his mouth. The same eyes which had laughed up into his when she offered him ten cents as a tip were laughing into them now. He dragged his hat from his head, stammering.
“Miss Crawford—for you are Miss Crawford, aren’t you?” began Conniston.
“I should have introduced myself. I am William Conniston, Junior, son of William Conniston, Senior, as one might guess. This is my friend, Mr. Hapgood.”