“Glenn, did this girl Flo teach you to cook?” she queried, sharply.
“No. I always was handy in camp. Then out here I had the luck to fall in with an old fellow who was a wonderful cook. He lived with me for a while. . . . Why, what difference would it have made—had Flo taught me?”
Carley felt the heat of blood in her face. “I don’t know that it would have made a difference. Only—I’m glad she didn’t teach you. I’d rather no girl could teach you what I couldn’t.”
“You think I’m a pretty good cook, then?” he asked.
“I’ve enjoyed this dinner more than any I’ve ever eaten.”
“Thanks, Carley. That’ll help a lot,” he said, gayly, but his eyes shone with earnest, glad light. “I hoped I’d surprise you. I’ve found out here that I want to do things well. The West stirs something in a man. It must be an unwritten law. You stand or fall by your own hands. Back East you know meals are just occasions—to hurry through—to dress for—to meet somebody—to eat because you have to eat. But out here they are different. I don’t know how. In the city, producers, merchants, waiters serve you for money. The meal is a transaction. It has no significance. It is money that keeps you from starvation. But in the West money doesn’t mean much. You must work to live.”
Carley leaned her elbows on the table and gazed at him curiously and admiringly. “Old fellow, you’re a wonder. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you. That you could come West weak and sick, and fight your way to health, and learn to be self-sufficient! It is a splendid achievement. It amazes me. I don’t grasp it. I want to think. Nevertheless I—”
“What?” he queried, as she hesitated.
“Oh, never mind now,” she replied, hastily, averting her eyes.
The day was far spent when Carley returned to the Lodge—and in spite of the discomfort of cold and sleet, and the bitter wind that beat in her face as she struggled up the trail—it was a day never to be forgotten. Nothing had been wanting in Glenn’s attention or affection. He had been comrade, lover, all she craved for. And but for his few singular words about work and children there had been no serious talk. Only a play day in his canyon and his cabin! Yet had she appeared at her best? Something vague and perplexing knocked at the gate of her consciousness.