“Duane did,” said her brother briefly. “He was scared blue.”
Her eyes rested on her lover, indulgent, dreamily humorous.
“Such expensive habits,” she murmured, “when everybody is economising. Kathleen, dear, he needs schooling. You and Mr. Tappan ought to take him in hand and cultiwate him good and hard!”
Scott, who had been wandering around his sister’s room with innate masculine curiosity concerning the mysteries of intimate femininity, came upon a sketch of Duane’s—the colour not entirely dry yet.
“It’s Sis!” he exclaimed in unfeigned approval. “Lord, but you’ve made her a good-looker, Duane. Does she really appear like that to you?”
“And then some,” said Duane. “Keep your fingers off it.”
Scott admired in silence for a while, then: “You certainly are a shark at it, Duane.... You’ve struck your gait all right.... I wish I had.... This Rose-beetle business doesn’t promise very well.”
“You write most interestingly about it,” said Kathleen warmly.
“Yes, I can write.... I believe journalism would suit me.”
“The funny column?” suggested Geraldine.
“Yes, or the birth, marriage, and death column. I could head it, ’Hatched, Matched, and Snatched’——”
“That is perfectly horrid, Scott,” protested his sister; “why do you let him say such rowdy things, Kathleen?”
“I can’t help it,” sighed Kathleen; “I haven’t the slightest influence with him. Look at him now!”—as he laughingly passed his arm around her and made her two-step around the room, protesting, rosy, deliciously helpless in the arms of this tall young fellow who held her inflexibly but with a tenderness surprising.
Duane smiled and seated himself on the edge of the bed.
“You plucky little thing,” he said, “were you perfectly mad to try to block that boar in the scrub? You won’t ever try such a thing again, will you, dear?”
“I was so excited, Duane; I never thought there was any danger——”
“You didn’t think whether there was or not. You didn’t care.”
She laughed, wincing under his accusing gaze.
“You must care, dear.”
“I do,” she said, serious when he became so grave. “Tell me again exactly what happened.”
He said: “I don’t think the brute saw you; he was hard hit and was going blind, and he side-swiped you and sent you flying into the air among those icy rocks.” He drew a long breath, managed to smile in response to her light touch on his hand. “And that’s how it was, dear. He crashed headlong into a tree; your last shot did it. But Miller and I thought he’d got you. We carried you in——”
“You did?” she whispered.
“Yes. I never was so thoroughly scared in all my life.”
“You poor boy. Are the rifles safe? And did Miller save the head?”
“He did,” said Duane grimly, “and your precious rifles are intact.”