“My father did,” she sighed.
They did not speak again until they had passed from between the chill walls to the warm sunshine of the valley beyond. Among the rocks above the trail, she glimpsed some early anemones blossoming bravely.
She drew up with a little cry of pleasure. “They’re the first I have seen. I must have them.”
Fraser swung from the saddle, but he was not quick enough. She reached them before he did, and after they had gathered them she insisted upon sitting down again.
He had his suspicions, and voiced them. “I believe you got me off just to make me sit down.”
She laughed with deep delight. “I didn’t, but since we are here we shall.” And she ended debate by sitting down tailor-fashion, and beginning to arrange her little bouquet.
A meadow lark, troubadour of spring, trilled joyously somewhere in the pines above. The man looked up, then down at the vivid creature busy with her flowers at his feet. There was kinship between the two. She, too, was athrob with the joy note of spring.
“You’re to sit down,” she ordered, without looking up from the sheaf of anemone blossoms she was arranging.
He sank down beside her, aware vaguely of something new and poignant in his life.
Jed Briscoe takes A hand
Suddenly a footfall, and a voice:
“Hello, Arlie! I been looking for you everywhere.”
The Texan’s gaze took in a slim dark man, goodlooking after a fashion, but with dissipation written on the rather sullen face.
“Well, you’ve found me,” the girl answered coolly.
“Yes, I’ve found you,” the man answered, with a steady, watchful eye on the Texan.
Miss Dillon was embarrassed at this plain hostility, but indignation too sparkled in her eye. “Anything in particular you want?”
The newcomer ignored her question. His hard gaze challenged the Southerner; did more than challenge— weighed and condemned.
But this young woman was not used to being ignored. Her voice took on an edge of sharpness.
“What can I do for you, Jed?”
“Who’s your friend?” the man demanded bluntly, insolently.
Arlie’s flush showed the swift, upblazing resentment she immediately controlled. “Mr. Fraser— just arrived from Texas. Mr. Fraser, let me introduce to you Mr. Briscoe.”
The Texan stepped forward to offer his hand, but Briscoe deliberately put both of his behind him.
“Might I ask what Mr. Fraser, just arrived from Texas, is doing here?” the young man drawled, contriving to make an insult of every syllable.
The girl’s eyes flashed dangerously. “He is here as my guest.”
“Oh, as your guest!”
“Doesn’t it please you, Jed?”
“Have I said it didn’t please me?” he retorted smoothly.