He smiled sourly. “I didn’t raise them,” he replied. “That half-breed Indian that drives John Cardigan’s car brought them around about an hour ago, along with a card. There it is, beside your plate.”
She blushed ever so slightly. “I suppose Bryce Cardigan is vindicating himself,” she murmured as she withdrew the card from the envelope. As she had surmised, it was Bryce Cardigan’s. Colonel Pennington was the proprietor of a similar surmise.
“Fast work, Shirley,” he murmured banteringly. “I wonder what he’ll send you for luncheon. Some dill pickles, probably.”
She pretended to be very busy with the roses, and not to have heard him. Her uncle’s sneer was not lost on her, however; she resented it but chose to ignore it for the present; and when at length she had finished arranging the flowers, she changed the conversation adroitly by questioning her relative anent the opportunities for shopping in Sequoia. The Colonel, who could assimilate a hint quicker than most ordinary mortals, saw that he had annoyed her, and he promptly hastened to make amends by permitting himself to be led readily into this new conversational channel. As soon as he could do so, however, he excused himself on the plea of urgent business at the office, and left the room.
Shirley, left alone at the breakfast-table, picked idly at the preserved figs the owlish butler set before her. Vaguely she wondered at her uncle’s apparent hostility to the Cardigans; she was as vaguely troubled in the knowledge that until she should succeed in eradicating this hostility, it must inevitably act as a bar to the further progress of her friendship with Bryce Cardigan. And she told herself she did not want to lose that friendship. She wasn’t the least bit in love with him albeit she realized he was rather lovable. The delight which she had experienced in his society lay in the fact that he was absolutely different from any other man she had met. His simplicity, his utter lack of “swank,” his directness, his good nature, and dry sense of humour made him shine luminously in comparison with the worldly, rather artificial young men she had previously met—young men who said and did only those things which time, tradition, and hallowed memory assured them were done by the right sort of people. Shirley had a suspicion that Bryce Cardigan could—and would—swear like a pirate should his temper be aroused and the circumstances appear to warrant letting off steam. Also she liked him because he was imaginative—because he saw and sensed and properly understood without a diagram or a blueprint. And lastly, he was a good, devoted son and was susceptible of development into a congenial and wholly acceptable comrade to a young lady absolutely lacking in other means of amusement.
She finished her breakfast in thoughtful silence; then she went to the telephone and called up Bryce at his home. Mrs. Tully, all aflutter with curiosity, was quite insistent that Shirley should leave her name and telephone number, but failing to carry her point, consented to inform the latter that Mr. Bryce was at the office. She gave Shirley the telephone number.