“It wouldn’t have hurt him. He’d have landed in the fountain.”
“So he would. What then?”
“Oh, I’d have held him there till he got cooled off, and then made a run for it. A wet man can’t catch a dry man.”
“Say, son, you’re a dry one, all right.”
“Wake up! I’m saying you’re all right.”
“You certainly took enough off him to rile a sheep. Why didn’t you do it?”
“Tip him in.”
Perkins glanced upward at the balcony where the vines had closed upon a face that smiled.
“Oh,” he said mildly, “he’s a friend of a friend of mine.”
TWO ON A MOUNTAIN-SIDE
Orchids do not, by preference, grow upon a cactus plant. Little though she recked of botany, Miss Brewster was aware of this fundamental truth. Neither do they, without extraneous impulsion, go hurtling through the air along deserted mountain-sides, to find a resting-place far below; another natural-history fact which the young lady appreciated without being obliged to consult the literature of the subject. Therefore, when, from the top of the appointed rock, she observed a carefully composed bunch of mauve Cattleyas describe a parabola and finally join two previous clusters upon the spines of a prickly-pear patch, she divined some energizing force back of the phenomenon. That energizing force she surmised was temper.
“Fie!” said she severely. “Beetle gentlemen should control their little feelings. Naughty, naughty!”
From below rose a fervid and startled exclamation.
“Naughtier, naughtier!” deprecated the visitor. “Are these the cold and measured terms of science?”
“You haven’t lived up to your bet,” complained the censured one.
“Indeed I have! I always play fair, and pay fair. Here I am, as per contract.”
“Nearly half an hour late.”
“Not at all. Four-thirty was the time.”
“And now it is three minutes to five.”
“Making twenty-seven minutes that I’ve been sitting here waiting for a welcome.”
“Waiting? Oh, Miss Brewster—”
“I’m not Miss Brewster. I’m a voice in the wilderness.”
“Then, Voice, you haven’t been there more than one minute. A voice isn’t a voice until it makes a noise like a voice. Q.E.D.”
“There is something in that argument,” she admitted. “But why didn’t you come up and look for me?”
“Does one look for a sound?”
“Please don’t be so logical. It tires my poor little brain. You might at least have called.”
“That would have been like holding you up for payment of the bet, wouldn’t it? I was waiting for you to speak.”
“Not good form in Caracuna. The senor should always speak first.”
“You began the other time,” he pointed out.