She looked up at him, serious, wistful.
“It’s the boy who found her; I only helped. But I want to bring her home all alone.”
THE GOLDEN HOURS
The weather was unsuitable for hunting. It snowed for a week, thawed over night, then froze, then snowed again, but the moon that night promised a perfect day.
Young Mallett supposed that he was afoot and afield before anybody else in house could be stirring, but as he pitched his sketching easel on the edges of the frozen pasture brook, and opened his field-box, a far hail from the white hill-top arrested him.
High poised on the snowy crest above him, clothed in white wool from collar to knee-kilts, and her thick clustering hair flying, she came flashing down the hill on her skis, soared high into the sunlight, landed, and shot downward, pole balanced.
Like a silvery meteor she came flashing toward him, then her hair-raising speed slackened, and swinging in a widely gracious curve she came gliding across the glittering field of snow and quietly stopped in front of him.
“Since when, angel, have you acquired this miraculous accomplishment?” he demanded.
“Do I do it well, Duane?”
“A swallow from paradise isn’t in your class, dear,” he admitted, fascinated. “Is it easy—this new stunt of yours?”
“Try it,” she said so sweetly that he missed the wickedness in her smile.
So, balancing, one hand on his shoulder, she disengaged her moccasins from the toe-clips, and he shoved his felt timber-jack boots into the leather loops, and leaning on the pointed pole which she handed him, gazed with sudden misgiving down the gentle acclivity below. She encouraged him; he listened, nodding his comprehension of her instructions, but still gazing down the hill, a trifle ill at ease.
However, as skates and snow-shoes were no mystery to him, he glanced at the long, narrow runners curved upward at the extremities, with more assurance, and his masculine confidence in all things masculine returned. Then he started, waved his hand, smiling his condescension; then he realised that he was going faster than he desired to; then his legs began to do disrespectful things to him. The treachery of his own private legs was most disheartening, for they wavered and wobbled deplorably, now threatening to cross each other, now veering alarmingly wide of his body. He made a feebly desperate attempt to use his trail-pole; and the next second all that Geraldine could see of the episode was mercifully enveloped in a spouting pinwheel of snow.
Like all masculine neophytes, he picked himself up and came back, savagely confident in his humiliation. She tried to guide his first toddling ski-steps, but he was mad all through and would have his own way. With a set and mirthless smile, again and again he gave himself to the slope and the mercy of his insurgent legs, and at length, bearing heavily on his trail-pole, managed to reach the level below without capsizing.