And it was true now as it was then, and then as now both knew it and both flushed. Jason turned abruptly away, for he knew more of Mavis’s secret than she of his, and it was partly for that reason that he had not yet opened his lips to her. He had seen no consciousness in Gray’s face, he resented the fact, somehow, that there was none, and his lulled suspicions began to stir again within him. In Marjorie’s face he had missed what Mavis had caught, a fleeting spirit of mischief, which stung the mountain girl with jealousy and a quick fierce desire to protect Jason, just as Jason, with the same motive, was making up his mind again to keep a close eye on Gray Pendleton. As for Marjorie, she, too, knew more of Mavis’s secret than Mavis knew of hers, and of the four, indeed, she was by far the wisest. During the years that Jason was in the hills she had read as on an open page the meaning of the mountain girl’s flush at any unexpected appearance of Gray, the dumb adoration for him in her dark eyes, and more than once, riding in the woods, she had come upon Mavis, seated at the foot of an oak, screened by a clump of elder-bushes and patiently waiting, as Marjorie knew, to watch Gray gallop by. She even knew how unconsciously Gray had been drawn by all this toward Mavis, but she had not bothered her head to think how much he was drawn until just before the opening of the college year, for, from the other side of the hill, she, too, had witnessed the meeting in the lane that Jason had seen, and had wondered about it just as much, though she, too, had kept still. That the two boys knew so little, that the two girls knew so much, and that each girl resented the other’s interest in her own cousin, was merely a distinction of sex, as was the fact that matters would have to be made very clear before Jason or Gray could see and understand. And for them matters were to become clearer, at least—very soon.
Already the coach had asked Jason to try foot-ball, but the boy had kept away from the field, for the truth was that he had but one suit of clothes and he couldn’t afford to have them soiled and torn. Gray suspected this, and told the coach, who explained to Jason that practice clothes would be furnished him, but still the boy did not come until one day when, out of curiosity, he wandered over to the field to see what the game was like. Soon his eyes brightened, his lips parted, and his face grew tense as the players swayed, clenched struggling, fell in a heap, and leaped to their feet again. And everywhere he saw Gray’s yellow head darting among them like a sun-ball, and he began to wonder, if he could not outrun and outwrestle his old enemy. He began to fidget in his seat and presently he could stand it no longer, and he ran out into the field and touched the coach on the shoulder.
“Can I git them clothes now?”
The coach looked at his excited face, nodded with a smile, and pointed to the gymnasium, and Jason was off in a run.