Newspaper Page Text
"Jacko," she said, "do you know
the word that is most used lately in
connection with me? The word is
'ridiculous.' .... It's time I earned
a better reputation for myself."
"I don't understand," he said. "I
only understand one thing."
She looked at him gravely.
"And that one thing, Jacko, mustn't
"But I've said it every minute that
we've been together since we've
known'each other. It must be said."
"Every educated person," she an
swered, "passes at some time or other
through a phase of worship for the
antique. With one person it is old
snuff-boxes; with another It is old
books; with a third, Jacko, it is old
"Don't you think," he protested,
"that I'm old enough to know my
She laughed very frankly in his
face, and he didn't like it.
'Tm a good woman, Jacko, as wo
men go. ButJ know life, a little. I've
had to learn Do you know
there's only one episode in my life" of
which I am heartily ashamed?"
"There is none," he protested.
"There can't be. There mustn't be."
"Bless me," she said. 'It's nothing
dreadful. It's nothing that can't be
mended. . . ." She looked at him for
a long time, and said: "It's you. . ."
He rose to his feet, somewhat
"At least," said he, "give me the
satisfaction of knowing that I have
served to amuse you."
"You have amused me," she Baid
seriously and without offense, "to
such good purpose that I have come
very near playing the fool for you.
Let us thank God, Jacko, that there
is no longer any danger of that. A
woman can face scorn, drink, treach
ery, and childbirth and neglect. But
she can't face laughter."
He drew a deep breath of .resolu
tion, stepped awkwardly- but force
fully toward her, bent and caught her
in his arms. "You mustn't," she said. 1
"It comes off." This served to check
the ardor of his barbaric onslaught.
He drew back. "Comes off," she reit
erated, "and is said to be dangerous
If taken internally."
She rubbed her cheek with the tips
of her fingers, and then looked at the
tips; and then smiled steadily in the
young man's face.
"It's a good ending, Jacko," she
"With that he left her, and then
mounting his horse at the garden
gate, he rode with his anguish and
his humiliation at a gallop for the
The sky turned from clear to gray.
It was half-past one o'clock; and a
naturally healthy appetite had chang
ed the current of Ryder's thoughts.
He intended to remain friends with
blight and despair; but would have
liked nevertheless to have sat down
to a square meal with them. He had
urged his mare hither, by ways de
vious, Involved, circling and unknown
to him. There was no help in the
sky. He was lost.
Beyond the clearing, in a stand of
tall, long-needle pine, he came upon a
girl in riding clothes. She lay face
down upon the pine needles with her
head on her arm. By her hair, brown
with sunset flashes, he knew that she
.was Miss Vincent. "Little Vincent!"
and his heart stopped beating for a
moment, because he thought she
must be dreadfully injured, or even
But this was not the case. She had
dismounted to shorten one stirrup
leather, and her horse had chosen
that golden opportunity to snort, leap
gidewise, jerk the bridle from her
hand, and go home. She had walked
after him for half a mile maybe, had
discovered that riding-boots were not
made for thick sand, had sat down to
rest, lain down to think, and shut her
eyes because of the glare.
"We've got to make sort of an ef
fort to get you home," he said. "Your
horse will arrive without you and
frighten your family to death."
ft .,, iM1l.r .W 3.. M --