It seemed to me that the only thing I could do was to leave Parnassus and the animals where they were and retrace my steps as far as the Pratt farm. Undoubtedly Mr. Pratt would be glad to sell me a horse-shoe and send his hired man to do the job for me. I could not drive Peg as she was, with a sore foot and without a shoe. I judged Parnassus would be quite safe: the lane seemed to be a lonely one leading to a deserted quarry. I tied Bock to the steps to act as a guard, took my purse and the Professor’s cap with me, locked the door of the van, and set off along the back track. Bock whined and tugged violently when he saw me disappearing, but I could see no other course.
The lane rejoined the main road about half a mile back. I must have been asleep or I could never have made the mistake of turning off. I don’t see why Peg should have made the turn, unless her foot hurt and she judged the side track would be a good place to rest. She must have been well used to stopping overnight in the open.
I strode along pondering over my adventures, and resolved to buy a pistol when I got to Woodbridge. I remember thinking that I could write quite a book now myself. Already I began to feel quite a hardened pioneer. It doesn’t take an adaptable person long to accustom one’s self to a new way of life, and the humdrum routine of the farm certainly looked prosy compared to voyaging with Parnassus. When I had got beyond Woodbridge, and had crossed the river, I would begin to sell books in earnest. Also I would buy a notebook and jot down my experiences. I had heard of bookselling as a profession for women, but I thought that my taste of it was probably unique. I might even write a book that would rival Andrew’s—yes, and Mifflin’s. And that brought my thoughts to Barbarossa again.
Of all extraordinary people, I thought, he certainly takes the cake—and then, rounding a bend, I saw him sitting on a rail fence, with his head shining in the sunlight. My heart gave a sort of jump. I do believe I was getting fond of the Professor. He was examining something which he held in his hand.
“You’ll get sunstroke,” I said. “Here’s your cap.” And I pulled it out of my pocket and tossed it to him.
“Thanks,” he said, as cool as you please. “And here’s your horse-shoe. Fair exchange!”
I burst out laughing, and he looked disconcerted, as I hoped he would.
“I thought you’d be in Brooklyn by now,” I said, “at 600 Abingdon Avenue, laying out Chapter One. What do you mean by following me this way? You nearly frightened me to death last night. I felt like one of Fenimore Cooper’s heroines, shut up in the blockhouse while the redskins prowled about.”
He flushed and looked very uncomfortable.
“I owe you an apology,” he said. “I certainly never intended that you should see me. I bought a ticket for New York and checked my bag through. And then while I was waiting for the train it came over me that your brother was right, and that it was a darned risky thing for you to go jaunting about alone in Parnassus. I was afraid something might happen. I followed along the road behind you, keeping well out of sight.”