The fact was Carley had never camped out. Her set played golf, rode horseback, motored and house-boated, but they had never gone in for uncomfortable trips. The camps and hotels in the Adirondacks were as warm and luxurious as Carley’s own home. Carley now missed many things. And assuredly her flesh was weak. It cost her effort of will and real pain to finish lacing her boots. As she had made an engagement with Glenn to visit his cabin, she had donned an outdoor suit. She wondered if the cold had anything to do with the perceptible diminishing of the sound of the waterfall. Perhaps some of the water had frozen, like her fingers.
Carley went downstairs to the living room, and made no effort to resist a rush to the open fire. Flo and her mother were amused at Carley’s impetuosity. “You’ll like that stingin’ of the air after you get used to it,” said Mrs. Hutter. Carley had her doubts. When she was thoroughly thawed out she discovered an appetite quite unusual for her, and she enjoyed her breakfast. Then it was time to sally forth to meet Glenn.
“It’s pretty sharp this mawnin’,” said Flo. “You’ll need gloves and sweater.”
Having fortified herself with these, Carley asked how to find West Fork Canyon.
“It’s down the road a little way,” replied Flo. “A great narrow canyon opening on the right side. You can’t miss it.”
Flo accompanied her as far as the porch steps. A queer-looking individual was slouching along with ax over his shoulder.
“There’s Charley,” said Flo. “He’ll show you.” Then she whispered: “He’s sort of dotty sometimes. A horse kicked him once. But mostly he’s sensible.”
At Flo’s call the fellow halted with a grin. He was long, lean, loose jointed, dressed in blue overalls stuck into the tops of muddy boots, and his face was clear olive without beard or line. His brow bulged a little, and from under it peered out a pair of wistful brown eyes that reminded Carley of those of a dog she had once owned.
“Wal, it ain’t a-goin’ to be a nice day,” remarked Charley, as he tried to accommodate his strides to Carley’s steps.
“How can you tell?” asked Carley. “It looks clear and bright.”
“Naw, this is a dark mawnin’. Thet’s a cloudy sun. We’ll hev snow on an’ off.”
“Do you mind bad weather?”
“Me? All the same to me. Reckon, though, I like it cold so I can loaf round a big fire at night.”
“I like a big fire, too.”
“Ever camped out?” he asked.
“Not what you’d call the real thing,” replied Carley.
“Wal, thet’s too bad. Reckon it’ll be tough fer you,” he went on, kindly. “There was a gurl tenderfoot heah two years ago an’ she had a hell of a time. They all joked her, ‘cept me, an’ played tricks on her. An’ on her side she was always puttin’ her foot in it. I was shore sorry fer her.”
“You were very kind to be an exception,” murmured Carley.