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She did not attempt to conceal it from
herself now. The charm of those rides with her uncle was the chance of
seeing Arthur. The sweet, never-wearying charm that made this summer one
of perfect happiness, that had made her almost forget her city ways and
friends, that had made her brown and strong with the soil and wind, was
daily contact with a robust and wholesome young man, a sturdy figure
with brown throat and bare, strong arms.

She went off at this point into a retrospective journey along the
pathways of her summer outing. At this place he stood at the watering
trough, leaning upon his great gray horse. Here he was walking behind
his plow; he was lifting his hat--the clear sunshine fell over his face.
She saw again the splendid flex of his side and powerful thigh. Here he
was in the hayfield, and she saw the fork-handle bend like a willow twig
under his smiling effort, the muscles on his brown arms rolling like
some perfect machinery. She idealized all he did, and the entire summer
and the wide landscape seemed filled with prismatic colors.

Then her self-accusations came back. She had gone down into the field to
see him; perhaps the very man who was with him then was one of those who
had jested of her and whom he had punished. Her little hands clutched.

"I'll never go out there again! I'll never see him again--never!" she
said, with her teeth shut tight.

Mrs. Thayer did not take any very great interest in the matter until
Mrs. Saulisbury held a session with her. Then she sputtered in deep
indignation.

"Why, how dare he make love to my niece? Why, the presumptuous thing!
Why, the idea! He's a workingman!"

Mrs. Saulisbury remained calm and smiling. She was the only person who
could manage Mrs. Thayer.

"Yes, that's true. But he's a college-bred man, and----"

"College-bred! These nasty little Western colleges--what do they amount
to? Why, he curries our horses."

Mrs. Saulisbury was amused.

"I know that is an enormity, but I heard the Major tell of currying
horses once."

"That was in the army--anyhow, it doesn't matter. Edith can simply
ignore the whole thing."

"I hope she can, but I doubt it very much."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that Edith is interested in him."

"I don't believe it! Why, it is impossible! You're crazy, Jeannette!"

"He's very handsome in a way."

"He's red and big-jointed, and he's a common plowboy." Mrs. Thayer
gasped, returning to her original charge.

Mrs. Saulisbury laughed, being malevolent enough to enjoy the whole
situation.

"He appears to me to be a very uncommon plowboy. Well, I wouldn't try to
do anything about it, Charlotte," she added. "You remember the fate of
the Brookses, who tried to force Maud to give up her clerk. If this is a
case of true love, you might as well surrender gracefully."

"But I can't do that. I'm responsible for her to her father. I'll go
right straight and ask her."

"Charlotte," Mrs. Saulisbury's voice rang with a stern note, "don't you
_presume_ to do such a thing! You will precipitate everything. The girl
don't know her own mind, and if you go up there and attack this young
man, you'll tip the whole dish over. Don't you know you can't safely
abuse that young fellow in her hearing? Sit down now and be reasonable.
Leave her alone for a while. Let her think it over alone."

This good counsel prevailed, and the other woman settled into a calmer
state.

"Well, it's a dreadful thing, anyhow."

"Perfectly dreadful! But you mustn't take a conventional view of it. You
must remember, a good, handsome, healthy man should come first as a
husband, and this young man is very attractive, and I must admit he
seems a gentleman, so far as I can see. Besides, you can't do anything
by storming up to that poor girl. Let her alone for a few days."

Following this suggestion, no one alluded to the fight, or appeared to
notice Edith's changed moods, but Mrs. Saulisbury could not forbear
giving her an occasional squeeze of wordless sympathy, as she passed
her.

It was pitiful to see the tumult and fear and responsibility of the
world coming upon this dainty, simple-hearted girl. Life had been so
straightforward before. No toil, no problems, no choosing of things for
one's self. Now suddenly here was the greatest problem of all coming at
the end of a summer-time outing.

Meanwhile Arthur was longing to see Edith once more, and wondering why
she had stopped coming.

The Major came up on Friday and Saturday, but came alone, and that left
only the hope of seeing Edith at church, and the young fellow worked on
with that to nerve his arm.

The family respected his departure on Sunday. They plainly felt his
depression, and sympathized with it.

"Walk home with her. I would," said Mrs. Richards, as he went through
the kitchen.

"So would I. Dang me if I'd stand off," Richards started to say, but
Arthur did not stop to listen.

As he rode down to the city, he recovered, naturally, a little of his
buoyancy. Sleep had rested his body and cleared his mind for action.

He sat in his usual place at the back of the church, and his heart
throbbed painfully as he saw her moving up the aisle, a miracle of lace
and coolness, with fragrant linen enveloping her lovely young form, so
erect and graceful and slender.

Then his heart bowed down before her, not because she was above him in a
social class--he did not admit that--but because he was a lover, and
she was his ideal. He was cast down as suddenly as he had been exalted
by her timid look around, as was her custom, in order to bow to him.

He stood at the door as they came out, though he felt foolish and boyish
in doing so. She approached him with eyes turned away; but as she passed
him she flashed an appealing, mystical look at him, and, flushing a
radiant pink, slipped out of the side door, leaving him stunned and
smarting for a moment.

As he mounted his horse and rode away toward the ranch, his thoughts
were busy with that strange look of hers. He came to understand and to
believe at last that she appealed to him and trusted in him and waited
for him.

Then something strong and masterful rose in him. He lifted his big brown
fist in the air in a resolution which was like that of Napoleon when he
entered Russia. He turned and rode furiously back toward the town.

As he walked up the gravel path to the Thayer house it seemed like a
castle to him. The great granite portico, the curving flight of steps,
the splendor of the glass above the door, all impressed him with the
terrible gulf between his fortune and hers.

He was met at the door by the girl from the table. He greeted her as his
equal, and said:

"Is Miss Newell at home?"

The girl smiled with perfect knowledge and sympathy. She was on his
side; and she knew, besides, how much it meant to have the hired man
come in at the front door.

"Yes, she's at dinner. Won't you come in, Mr. Ramsey?"

He entered without further words, and followed her into the reception
room, which was the most splendid room he had ever seen. He stood with
his feet upon a rug which was worth more than his year's pay, and he
knew it.

"Just take a seat here, and I'll announce you," said the girl, who was
almost trembling with eagerness to explode her torpedo of news.

"Don't disturb them. I'll wait."

But she had whisked out of the room, having plans of her own; perhaps
revenges of her own.

Arthur listened. He could not help it. He heard the girl's clear,
distinct voice; the open doorways conveyed every word to him.

"It's Mr. Ramsey, ma'am, to see Miss Newell."

The young man's strained ears heard the sudden pause in the click of
knives and plates. He divined the gasps of astonishment with which Mrs.
Thayer's utterance began.

"Well, I declare! Now, Major, you see what I told you?"

"The plucky young dog!" said Saulisbury, in sincere admiration.

Mrs. Thayer went on:

"Now, Mr. Thayer, this is the result of treating your servants as
equals."

The Major laughed.

"My dear, you're a little precipitate. It may be a mistake. The young
man may be here to tell me one of the colts is sick."

"You don't believe any such thing! You heard what the girl said--Oh,
look at Edith!"

There was a sudden pushing and scraping of chairs. Arthur rose, tense,
terrified. A little flurry of voices followed.

"Here, give her some wine! The poor thing! No wonder----"

Then a slight pause.

"She's all right," said the Major in a relieved tone. "Just a little
surprised, that's all."

There came a little inarticulate murmur from the girl, and then another
pause.

"By Jove! this is getting dramatic!" said Saulisbury.

"Be quiet, Sam," said his wife. "I won't have any of your scoffing. I'm
glad there is some sincerity of emotion left in our city girls."

Mrs. Thayer broke in:

"Major, you go right out there and send that impudent creature away.
It's disgraceful!"

Arthur turned cold and hard as granite. His heart rose with a murderous,
slow swell. He held his breath, while the calm, amused voice of the
Major replied:

"But, see here, my dear, it's none of my business. Mr. Ramsey is an
American citizen--I like him--he has a perfect right to call----"

"H'yah, h'yah!" called Saulisbury in a chuckle.

"He's a man of parts, and besides, I rather imagine Edith has given him
the right to call."

The anger died out of Arthur's heart, and the warm blood rushed once
more through his tingling body. Tears came to his eyes, and he could
have embraced his defender.

"Nothing like consistency, Majah," said Saulisbury.

"Sam, will you be quiet?"

The Major went on:

"I imagine the whole matter is for Edith to decide. It's really very
simple. Let her send word to him that she does not care to see him, and
he'll go away--no doubt of it."

"Why, of course," said Mrs. Thayer. "Edith, just tell Mary to say to Mr.
What's-his-name----"

Again that creeping thrill came into the young man's hair. His world
seemed balanced on a needle's point.

Then a chair was pushed back slowly. There was another little flurry.
Again the blood poured over him like a splash of warm water, leaving him
cold and wet.

"Edith!" called the astonished, startled voice of Mrs.



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