Geraldine hung her head, colouring.
“I know it; I mean to keep cool; truly, I do. But things happen so quickly——”
“Why are you afraid Miller is going to complain?” interrupted her brother.
“Scott—it wasn’t anything very much—that is, I didn’t think so. You’d have done it—you know it’s a point of honour to track down wounded game.”
She turned to Duane:
“The Green Pass feeding-ground was about a thousand yards ahead in the alders, and I made Miller wait while I crept up. There was a fine boar feeding about two hundred yards off, and I fired and he went over like a cat in a fit, and then up and off, and I after him, and Miller after me, telling me to look out.”
She laughed excitedly, and made a little gesture. “That’s just why I ran—to look out!—and the trail was deep and strong and not much blood-dust. I was so vexed, so distressed, because it was almost sunset and the boar seemed to be going strongly and faster than a grayhound. And suddenly Miller shouted something about ’scrub hemlock’—I didn’t know he meant for me to halt!—So I—I”—she looked anxiously at her brother—“I jumped into the scrub and kicked him up before I knew it—and he—he tore my kilts—just one or two tears, but it didn’t wound me, Scott, it only just made my leg black and blue—and, anyway, I got him——”
“Oh, Lord,” groaned her brother, “don’t you know enough to reconnoitre a wounded boar in the scrub? I don’t know why he didn’t rip you. Do you want to be killed by a pig? What’s the use of being all cut and bitten to pieces, anyway?”
“No use, dear,” she admitted so meekly that Duane scarcely managed to retain his gravity.
She came over and humbly slipped her arm through his as they all rose from the table.
“Don’t think I’m a perfect idiot,” she said under her breath; “it’s only inexperience under excitement. You’ll see that I’ve learned a lot when we go out together. Miller will admit that I’m usually prudent, because, two weeks ago, I hit a boar and he charged me, and my rifle jammed, and I went up a tree! Wasn’t that prudent?”
“Perfectly,” he said gravely; “only I’d feel safer if you went up a tree in the first place and remained there. What a child you are, anyway!”
“Do you know,” she confided in him, “I am a regular baby sometimes. I do the silliest things in the woods. Once I gave Miller the slip and went off and built a doll’s house out of snow and made three snow dolls and played with them! Isn’t that the silliest thing? And another time a boar came out by the Westgate Oaks, and he was a black, hairy fellow, and so funny with his chin-whiskers all dotted with icicles that I began to say aloud:
’I swear by the beard
On my chinny-chin-chin—’
And of course he was off before I could pull trigger for laughing. Isn’t that foolish?”
“Adorably,” he whispered. “You are finding the little girl in the garden, Geraldine.”