Then she hurried to bed, grateful for the warm woolly blankets. Relaxation and thought brought consciousness of the heat of her blood, the beat and throb and swell of her heart, of the tumult within her. In the lonely darkness of her room she might have faced the truth of her strangely renewed and augmented love for Glenn Kilbourne. But she was more concerned with her happiness. She had won him back. Her presence, her love had overcome his restraint. She thrilled in the sweet consciousness of her woman’s conquest. How splendid he was! To hold back physical tenderness, the simple expressions of love, because he had feared they might unduly influence her! He had grown in many ways. She must be careful to reach up to his ideals. That about Flo Hutter’s toil-hardened hands! Was that significance somehow connected with the rift in the lute? For Carley admitted to herself that there was something amiss, something incomprehensible, something intangible that obtruded its menace into her dream of future happiness. Still, what had she to fear, so long as she could be with Glenn?
And yet there were forced upon her, insistent and perplexing, the questions—was her love selfish? was she considering him? was she blind to something he could see? Tomorrow and next day and the days to come held promise of joyous companionship with Glenn, yet likewise they seemed full of a portent of trouble for her, or fight and ordeal, of lessons that would make life significant for her.
Carley was awakened by rattling sounds in her room. The raising of sleepy eyelids disclosed Flo on her knees before the little stove, in the act of lighting a fire.
“Mawnin’, Carley,” she drawled. “It’s shore cold. Reckon it’ll snow today, worse luck, just because you’re here. Take my hunch and stay in bed till the fire burns up.”
“I shall do no such thing,” declared Carley, heroically.
“We’re afraid you’ll take cold,” said Flo. “This is desert country with high altitude. Spring is here when the sun shines. But it’s only shinin’ in streaks these days. That means winter, really. Please be good.”
“Well, it doesn’t require much self-denial to stay here awhile longer,” replied Carley, lazily.
Flo left with a parting admonition not to let the stove get red-hot. And Carley lay snuggled in the warm blankets, dreading the ordeal of getting out into that cold bare room. Her nose was cold. When her nose grew cold, it being a faithful barometer as to temperature, Carley knew there was frost in the air. She preferred summer. Steam-heated rooms with hothouse flowers lending their perfume had certainly not trained Carley for primitive conditions. She had a spirit, however, that was waxing a little rebellious to all this intimation as to her susceptibility to colds and her probable weakness under privation. Carley got up. Her bare feet landed upon the board floor instead of the Navajo rug, and she thought she had encountered cold stone. Stove and hot water notwithstanding, by the time she was half dressed she was also half frozen. “Some actor fellow once said w-when you w-went West you were c-camping out,” chattered Carley. “Believe me, he said something.”