Monstrous! He had seen the open door and deliberately slammed it in her face. Luckily for them both she had heard, all unsuspected by him as he slowly hung the receiver on the hook, the soliloquy wherein he gave her a pointed hint of the distress with which he abdicated— which knowledge was all that deterred her from despising him with the fervour of a woman scorned.
Resolutely Shirley set herself to the task of forgetting Bryce when, after the passage of a few weeks, she realized that he was quite sincere in his determination to forget her. Frequent glimpses of him on the streets of Sequoia, the occasional mention of his name in the Sequoia Sentinel, the very whistle of Cardigan’s mill, made her task a difficult one; and presently in desperation she packed up and departed for an indefinite stay in the southern part of the State. At the end of six weeks, however, she discovered that absence had had the traditional effect upon her heart and found herself possessed of a great curiosity to study the villain at short range and discover, if possible, what new rascality he might be meditating. About this time, a providential attack of that aristocratic ailment, gout, having laid Colonel Pennington low, she told herself her duty lay in Sequoia, that she had Shirley Sumner in hand at last and that the danger was over. In consequence, she returned to Sequoia.
The fascination which a lighted candle holds for a moth is too well known to require further elucidation here. In yielding one day to a desire to visit the Valley of the Giants, Shirley told herself that she was going there to gather wild blackberries. She had been thinking of a certain blackberry pie, which thought naturally induced reflection on Bryce Cardigan and reminded Shirley of her first visit to the Giants under the escort of a boy in knickerbockers. She had a very vivid remembrance of that little amphitheatre with the sunbeams falling like a halo on the plain tombstone; she wondered if the years had changed it all and decided that there could not possibly be any harm in indulging a very natural curiosity to visit and investigate.
Her meeting with Moira McTavish that day, and the subsequent friendship formed with the woods-boss’s daughter, renewed all her old apprehensions. On the assumption that Shirley and Bryce were practically strangers to each other (an assumption which Shirley, for obvious reasons, did not attempt to dissipate), Moira did not hesitate to mention Bryce very frequently. To her he was the one human being in the world utterly worth while, and it is natural for women to discuss, frequently and at great length, the subject nearest their hearts. In the three stock subjects of the admirable sex—man, dress, and the ills that flesh is heir to—man readily holds the ascendancy; and by degrees Moira—discovering that Shirley, having all the dresses she required (several dozen more, in fact) and being neither subnormal mentally nor fragile physically, gave the last two