Instantly the other lad made as though he would jump from his pony, but a cry of protest stopped him, and for a moment he glared his hot resentment of the insult; then he dug his heels into his pony’s sides.
“Come on, Marjorie,” he said, and with dignity the two little “furriners” rode on, never looking back even when they passed over the hill.
“He didn’t mean nothin’,” said Mavis, “an’ you oughtn’t—”
Jason turned on her in a fury.
“I seed you a-lookin’ at him!”
“‘Tain’t so! I seed you a-lookin’ at her!” she retorted, but her eyes fell before his accusing gaze, and she began worming a bare toe into the sand.
“Air ye goin’ home now?” she asked, presently.
“No,” he said shortly, “I’m a-goin’ atter him. You go on home.”
The boy started up the hill, and in a moment the girl was trotting after him. He turned when he heard the patter of her feet.
“Huh!” he grunted contemptuously, and kept on. At the top of the hill he saw several men on horseback in the bend of the road below, and he turned into the bushes.
“They mought tell on us,” explained Jason, and hiding bow and arrow and fishing-pole, they slipped along the flank of the spur until they stood on a point that commanded the broad river-bottom at the mouth of the creek.
By the roadside down there, was the ancestral home of the Hawns with an orchard about it, a big garden, a stable huge for that part of the world, and a meat-house where for three-quarters of a century there had always been things “hung up.” The old log house in which Jason and Mavis’s great-great-grandfather had spent his pioneer days had been weather-boarded and was invisible somewhere in the big frame house that, trimmed with green and porticoed with startling colors, glared white in the afternoon sun. They could see the two ponies hitched at the front gate. Two horsemen were hurrying along the river road beneath them, and Jason recognized one as his uncle, Arch Hawn, who lived in the county-seat, who bought “wild” lands and was always bringing in “furriners,” to whom he sold them again. The man with him was a stranger, and Jason understood better now what was going on. Arch Hawn was responsible for the presence of the man and of the girl and that boy in the “gal’s stockings,” and all of them would probably spend the night at his grandfather’s house. A farm-hand was leading the ponies to the barn now, and Jason and Mavis saw Arch and the man with him throw themselves hurriedly from their horses, for the sun had disappeared in a black cloud and a mist of heavy rain was sweeping up the river. It was coming fast, and the boy sprang through the bushes and, followed by Mavis, flew down the road. The storm caught them, and in a few moments the stranger boy and girl looking through the front door at the sweeping gusts, saw two drenched and bedraggled figures slip shyly through the front gate and around the corner to the back of the house.