Down at the hotel ballroom Gray and Marjorie waited, Gray anxious, worried, and angry, and Marjorie with shining eyes and a pale but determined face. And she shot a triumphant glance toward Gray when she saw the figure of the young mountaineer framed at last in the doorway of the ballroom. There Jason stood a moment, uncouth and stock-still. His eyes moved only until he caught sight of Marjorie, and then, with them fixed steadily on her, he solemnly walked through the sudden silence that swiftly spread through the room straight for her. He stood cool, calm, and with a curious dignity before her, and the only sign of his emotion was in a reckless lapse into his mountain speech.
“I’ve come to tell ye I can’t dance with ye. Nobody can keep me from goin’ whar I’ve got a right to go, but I won’t stay nowhar I’m not wanted.”
And, without waiting for her answer, he turned and stalked solemnly out again.
The miracle had happened, and just how nobody could ever say. The boy had appeared in the door-way and had paused there full in the light. No revolver was visible—it could hardly have been concealed in the much-too-small clothes that he wore—and his eyes flashed no challenge. But he stood there an instant, with face set and stern, and then he walked slowly to the old rattletrap vehicle, and, unchallenged, drove away, as, unchallenged, he walked quietly back to his room again. That defiance alone would have marked him with no little dignity. It gave John Burnham a great deal of carefully concealed joy, it dumfounded Gray, and, while Mavis took it as a matter of course, it thrilled Marjorie, saddened her, and made her a little ashamed. Nor did it end there. Some change was quickly apparent to Jason in Mavis. She turned brooding and sullen, and one day when she and Jason met Gray in the college yard, she averted her eyes when the latter lifted his cap, and pretended not to see him. Jason saw an uneasy look in Gray’s eyes, and when he turned questioningly to Mavis, her face was pale with anger. That night he went home with her to see his mother, and when the two sat on the porch in the dim starlight after supper, he bluntly asked her what the matter was, and bluntly she told him. Only once before had he ever spoken of Gray to Mavis, and that was about the meeting in the lane, and then she scorned to tell him whether or not the meeting was accidental, and Jason knew thereby that it was. Unfortunately he had not stopped there.
“I saw him try to kiss ye,” he said indignantly.
“Have you never tried to kiss a girl?” Mavis had asked quietly, and Jason reddened.
“Yes,” he admitted reluctantly.
“And did she always let ye?”
“Very well, then,” Mavis snapped, and she flaunted away.
It was different now, the matter was more serious, and now they were cousins and Hawns. Blood spoke to blood and answered to blood, and when at the end Mavis broke into a fit of shame and tears, a burst of light opened in Jason’s brain and his heart raged not only for Mavis, but for himself. Gray had been ashamed to go to that dance with Mavis, and Marjorie had been ashamed to go with him—there was a chasm, and with every word that Mavis spoke the wider that chasm yawned.