“No; it is because that preaching, sanctimonious Katherine Minturn has influenced you against me,” hotly retorted her companion.
“Katherine Minturn is the dearest, loveliest, sweetest girl in the world, and I won’t hear one word against her,” said Sadie, in stout defense of her friend.
“Well, what are some of your other ’many reasons’?” demanded Mr. Willard, and quickly retreating from what he saw was dangerous ground.
“I—reckon I’m under no obligation to give them,” slowly returned the girl, after a moment of thought. “It is sufficient that I have decided to end everything. Now please let that settle it and don’t try to see me again.”
“Don’t you care for me any more, Sadie? What have I done? What fault have you to find with me?”
“Have you no fault to find with yourself, Ned Willard? Are you satisfied with the life you are living?” gravely inquired Sadie, but ignoring his queries.
“But you would be the making of me, Sadie. Under your influence I could be anything—everything you could wish.”
“Well, now—doesn’t that strike you as rather a weak argument for a man to offer for himself?” returned his companion, lapsing into her Southern drawl which, of late, had not been so prominent; “to ask a girl to bind herself irrevocably to him for life and holding out as an inducement the privilege of reforming him?” and there was a note of scorn in the lazy tones that stung the man to sudden anger.
“I swear I will not be trifled with in any such way,” he passionately exclaimed. “You shall rue your words, Sadie Minot—”
“I reckon I’d better go in,” she interrupted, and turned haughtily from him.
“You won’t go in yet,” he said, through tightly shut teeth, as he placed himself in her path. “I’ll see if—”
At that instant voices were heard, and, turning, both saw Katherine, accompanied by Dr. Stanley, mounting the steps leading to the veranda.
With a half audible imprecation, the baffled intruder sprang upon the railing and vaulted over.
But his foot becoming entangled in the vines trailing there caused him to fall heavily to the ground, where, after one sharp cry of agony, he lay silent and motionless.
In less time than it takes to record it, Sadie was kneeling beside him, while her friends followed closely after.
“I will call the coachman. We must get him into the house immediately,” said Katherine, who was intent only upon giving instant succor to the injured man.
“No,” vetoed Dr. Stanley, authoritatively, “he must not be taken in here. You may call help, however, and I will have him carried to my room, where I will ascertain how seriously he is injured, then we can decide what further disposition to make of him.”
The coachman and hostler were summoned, and the unconscious man was borne to the Hunt cottage and laid upon Phillip Stanley’s bed. Here an examination revealed that the left leg had been broken above the knee; but, before an hour had passed, this was skillfully set and the patient made as comfortable as possible for the night.