When the girl called the Cardigan Redwood Lumber Company, Bryce answered. He recognized her voice instantly and called her name before she had opportunity to announce her identity.
“Thank you so much for the beautiful roses, Mr. Cardigan,” she began.
“I’m glad you liked them. Nobody picks flowers out of our garden, you know. I used to, but I’ll be too busy hereafter to bother with the garden.”
“Very well. Then I am not to expect any more roses?”
“I’m a stupid clodhopper. Of course you may. By the way, Miss Sumner, does your uncle own a car?”
“I believe he does—a little old rattletrap which he drives himself.”
“Then I’ll send George over with the Napier this afternoon. You might care to take a spin out into the surrounding country. By the way, Miss Sumner, you are to consider George and that car as your personal property. I fear you’re going to find Sequoia a dull place; so whenever you wish to go for a ride, just call me up, and I’ll have George report to you.”
“But think of all the expensive gasoline and tires!”
“Oh, but you mustn’t look at things from that angle after you cross the Rocky Mountains on your way west. Moreover, mine is the only real car in the country, and I know you like it. What are you going to do this afternoon?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
“For some real sport I would suggest that you motor up to Laguna Grande. That’s Spanish for Big Lagoon, you know. Take a rod with you. There are some land-locked salmon in the lagoon—that is, there used to be; and if you hook one you’ll get a thrill.”
“But I haven’t any rod.”
“I’ll send you over a good one.”
“But I have nobody to teach me how to use it,” she hinted daringly.
“I appreciate that compliment,” he flashed back at her, “but unfortunately my holidays are over for a long, long time. I took my father’s place in the business this morning.”
“Yes. Things have been happening while I was away. However, speaking of fishing, George Sea Otter will prove an invaluable instructor. He is a good boy and you may trust him implicitly. On Thursday evening you can tell me what success you had with the salmon.”
“Oh, that reminds me, Mr. Cardigan. You can’t come Thursday evening, after all.” And she explained the reason.
“By Jove,” he replied, “I’m mighty glad you tipped me off about that. I couldn’t possibly remain at ease in the presence of a banker-particularly one who will not lend me money.”
“Suppose you come Wednesday night instead.”
“We’ll call that a bet. Thank you.”
She chuckled at his frank good humour. “Thank you, Mr Cardigan, for all your kindness and thoughtfulness; and if you will persist in being nice to me, you might send George Sea Otter and the car at one-thirty. I’ll be glad to avail myself of both until I can get a car of my own sent up from San Francisco. Till Wednesday night, then. Good-bye.”