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"That," said Roddy, in a thoughtful, but matter-of-fact, tone-"that 's Susy. Breck's wife, you know." He looked reflectively at the ground before him for a brief moment. "I dare say Wirt has told you a lot of nonsense?" He put it to her suddenly. She colored, and Roddy went on: "I was fearfully in love with Susy more than a year back, but old Breck came home and cut me out. They ran away together this summer and got married. Now they live at Cedarcliff with the rest of us. I'm very fond of Susy, but I'm not the least in love with her any more, of course. I'm not in love with any one. Being friends is good enough for me," said Roddy. "And, by the way, I've a poem about being friends which I 've been saving up in my head for you."
He began to recite, sitting up and clasping his knees, his eyes on the absurd red-paper sun.
"The one thing changes do not change, The one thing mine quite to the end, Time may not alter or estrange
Your heart, my little friend."
He gave her a calm, affectionate glance. and continued:
"We do not love as lovers may;
Someway one gets diviner good From this serene companionship And surety of mood.
"That says it," commented Roddy, with superb certitude.
Minnie Bee had a quaint, tender feeling for Roddy just then. She thought there could n't be much to a girl, however beautiful, who could give up a splendid boy like Roddy for that slight, sneering, gambling, drinking Breck Ivor. She cast her scornfully face down, and turned to Roddy, who had taken up another picture. It was a lovely view of Cedarcliff, and it was the house and grounds of Minnie Bee's despairing dreams. She could not keep the slow tears of longing from welling. It looked so old and quiet and big and lived in and loved! She contemplated it so long that Roddy glanced at her curiously.
"Why, Minnie Bee!" he cried in
"I want to be born and grow up in a house like that," said Minnie Bee, ridiculously. "I hate little houses. I hate little yards. I hate little towns."
"Why, honey," said Roddy, "what 's it all about?"
His tone was distressed and thoughtful and more. It confessed to Minnie Bee's attuned ear that Roddy knew very well what it was all about.
"Is n't that a persimmon-tree, over there?" she asked, blinking her tears away.
"Looks as if it might be," said Roddy, cautiously following her lead.
"Please see," said Minnie Bee, calmly, as if she had not been making an idiot of herself a moment earlier. "I'm very fond of persimmons-once a year."
"And surety of mood,'" quoted Roddy all to himself, going off to throw sticks at dangling, amber bunches of fruit. The persimmons came tapping down on the dry, brown grasses.
"Poor little kid!" murmured Roddy. tenderly.
Not many had fallen, so he flung more sticks. A lavish shower resulted, and,
turning to go back to Minnie Bee, he “This Heathcliffe makes found her by his side. He filled her tired,” said Roddy. He read a line aloud: cupped hands.
“The winter lies before like an endless "I don't believe they 've had their three frosts yet," said Minnie Bee. She made a childish face over a persimmon, and “Like fun it does," said Roddy. He tossed away the rest. They sank like
They sank like glanced at Minnie Bee, expecting complete bright-colored stones in the blue haze
Minnie Bee, however, was which filled the cup of the hills.
eying him queerly from her window-seat. Continuing around the crest they en- "Roddy," said Minnie Bee, "do you countered a remotely gazing figure. really mean that you are in your third was Seaton, also making a round of the year here without knowing that I am hilltops. He glanced at Roddy.
Heathcliffe?" "Was it your stickweed?” he asked. "You?" said Roddy. He stared at
Roddy made a gesture of assent, and Minnie Bee, and saw that she was in Seaton turned to Minnie Bee, who stood earnest. “Are n't you ashamed of yourlooking off into the distance with a de- self?" asked Roddy. tached air.
"Why?" cried Minnie Bee, with a "Well," said Seaton, smiling down on quick flare of the artistic temperament. her, "it did n't get the better of mine, did "Oh," conceded Roddy, "it's good it?"
enough; but that only makes it worse of He lifted his hat to Minnie Bee, and
you.” lounged off into the ubiquitous haze.
“Makes what worse of me?" Roddy watched him from sight.
“The winter lies before like an endless “He looks rather old to be here,” he said, turning to Minnie Bee.
sorrow," She answered carelessly:
quoted Roddy again. "And I came to “Oh, he finished here ages ago.
He take you sleigh-riding this morning. Here, came back to take a graduate course in I 'll have this out with you presently. Go civil law, so as to be able to manage his get on your things, and wrap up well.” property intelligently, he says. His fa- When she came back, though well ther left him a sugar plantation in Louisi- wrapped up, she did n't seem to suit him.
"Where are your furs?" asked Roddy. “And you can see,” said Roddy, "that "Oh, I don't need furs," said Minnie he looks down on everybody except Adam Bee. Gradually faint color overspread and Beauregard. What 's wrong?" her face from brow to chin in a warm
“This thorn vine; it 's got my hem.” pinkness. How was she to tell him that
"We 'll make it let go, then,” said if she could n't have good furs she would Roddy, getting to a knee.
n't have any ? "This," added Minnie But it was a tenacious wretch of a Bee, flippantly, "is the South, Roddy, thorn vine, and held to Minnie Bee's hem where we pick flowers the year round.” so effectually that the soft fabric was Roddy smiled back at her. pulled and slightly rent before the vine “I
guess the snow made me forget. was cut and coaxed away.
Stupid of me." He forgave himself many "I'm afraid I 've been a clumsy duffer more serious blunders, but he never forover it," said Roddy, straightening up. gave himself for asking Minnie Bee why
"It 's not your fault,” said Minnie Bee; she did not wear her furs on that nipping "you did the best you could.”
“How," he asked as they drove under Roddy stood by Minnie Bee's bookcase, an arch of enchantingly improbable white looking over a recent number of “The boughs, "did you ever come to write for Fixed Star," their college magazine.
"The Fixed Star'?"
"Why," said Minnie Bee, “I was al- card as large as life. Above them an azure ways good in English in high school. The sky soared in purest radiance. A snowy boys knew it. I began giving them stuff road sparkled beneath them. On each for the 'Star' ages ago.” She laughed. hand were white hills, crusted with snow "Sometimes I used to write nearly all of as a birthday cake is crusted with frostit except the ball news, and I could have ing, and trimmed with diamond-dusted written that."
pines. It did seem rather silly out there. “I like their nerve,” said Roddy in
"I'd 'let "The Fixed Star' go hang," tones of the deepest disgust. “A lot of said Roddy, relentlessly. “If I had your lazy loafers letting a girl do all the work, talent, I 'd write for something worth and the college get all the credit.”
while. And while we're deep in, I 'll just "I did n't know you thought there was go on and say that I think precious little any,” mocked Minnie Bee.
of those books I look into sometimes while "I did n't say it was n't good enough; I 'm waiting on you to decide whether but your Heathcliffe is a perfect demon you want it v or square. I could n't think at a feast of woe. You 'd think he lived where you got hold of such a lot of atonic in a cage, and had all the pleasures of life I
that word out of a preface to one spread before him and could n't get at of them-stuff. I suppose the fellows any of them. And here are you, a beauti- who call themselves literary editors unful girl whom every one loves, daring to load it on you when they finally deprive tell me that you are Heathcliffe, confound the town of the honor of their presence, him! Why, honestly, Minnie Bee, every eh?” time I read a 'Fixed Star'- and it seems Minnie Bee admitted this to be a good to me the least a fellow can do is to take bit of deductive work. that much interest in his magazine-I "I 'll tell you what you need, Minnie have a fit of the blues. I have to come to Bee,” said Roddy; "you need a set of see you before I can feel that anything is Louisa M. Alcott." worth going on with. Think of that, if A wistful look came to Minnie Bee's you please."
face. Laurie had been her earliest love. Minnie Bee threw back her delightful "I did n't know she wrote anything golden head, and laughed as if she would else," said Minnie Bee. never stop.
Roddy seemed to understand. He said, "Oh, Roddy, Roddy,” she gurgled, smiling at this odd ignorance in one whose ‘some day I 'll put you in a story for 'The shelves showed many recondite names : Fixed Star.'"
"Why, yes, a whole row.” He held his "Me?” said Roddy. He considered hands apart to show her. over it, seeing at once, as nearly every one At this careless trick the hired team does see, what an interesting and original shied sharply. character he would make. But he shook "Watch out there!” called a roadside his head regretfully. "I'd be no good to wayfarer. you. I'm too cheerful.” Then he added, Roddy, looking thoroughly vexed with “But you have n't told me yet why you himself, touched his hat-brim as they sped do it."
by, and Minnie Bee Aashed a radiant “Oh," said Minnie Bee, casually, "ac- smile. cording to you, I put all my blues in 'The "That was a fool break of mine," said Fixed Star.'"
Roddy, turning his attention to a small A light stole in on Roddy.
boy riding straight into them on a home"Still," said he, reflectively, "does n't it made sled, red scarf-ends flying. all seem rather silly-out here?"
"Right of way," said Roddy. He gave using the candor of the true friend. it good-humoredly.
Vingie Bee looked about her. They “I'd like to be a boy,” said Minnie Bee. were sliding through a Christmas post Roddy did not ask why. Any girl
worth her salt always wished to be a boy. wonderful girl. Do you know that you He glanced at her sympathetically as he really are a wonderful girl? You can do turned the team about. They tore down anything you like." the four-mile descent like a streak, never Minnie Bee smiled at her good friend. pausing until they drew up, breathless, at "Not anything," said Minnie Bee. Minnie Bee's home, looking small and Laughing voices hailed them from the dreary, bereft of its gracing vines and porch. The noisy little cousins had walked summer boughs.
over from the other end of town. They "Why" asked Roddy, belatedly and came running in and encircled Minnie teasingly, "did you wish to be a boy?” Bee with embraces. She smiled at them He asked it, hat off, at her door.
affectionately, but it was evident to Roddy Minnie Bee flashed him a look. She that she was a creature of finer clay, that was dazzling with the color the wind had these embraces were in the nature of a whipped into her checks and the mad sacrilege. things it had done to her golden hair.
He stopped by the book-store on his way “Oh, I don't know,” said Minnie Bee, home to get a frame for his picture. He daringly, "I suppose I wished to be a boy was standing by his desk fitting the sketch so that I could make love to beautiful into this frame when Wirt sauntered in girls, Roddy." She ran into the house, and sat on the edge of the desk, watching. laughing back at him.
"Are you and Minnie Bee just friends?" "Minnie Bee," called Roddy up the asked Wirt, eying Roddy curiously. stairs after her, "you are a rascal, that 's "Wirt," said Roddy,--he paused while what you are."
he straightened a tack, -"I'm quite over
the vanity of imagining beautiful ladies in "What have you been doing with your- love with me.
We are just friends." self this nice spring day?" asked Roddy. “I think she likes you a lot," insisted
"Why,” said Minnie Bee, “I 've taken Wirt. to sketching again since you made me give "I hope so,” said Roddy, calmly. up writing for "The Fixed Star. I was Wirt shrugged his shoulders. "She 'll
" out all morning. February is like spring marry Seaton if he asks her.” to-day, is n't it?
Let me show you my "She 's not in love with Seaton, you picture."
chump." Roddy assented carelessly, and Minnie “But she 'll marry him all right, all Bee showed it to him carelessly. His right, and I don't blame her, bless her expression changed to one of astonished heart! If I were in her place I'd marry interest.
any man who would take me away from "Why, you can draw !” he exclaimed. this humbug-ridden town.” He held it off. “Why, Vinnie Bee, you Roddy lay awake that night thinking are an artist !"
about Seaton and linnie Bee for a long He continued to gaze delightedly at the time. Could it be that Wirt knew Minsketch. It was a slight thing, a lift of far nie Bee better than he, Roddy, knew her? mountain, a stretch of near meadow, and Would she marry Seaton just to get a dash of dark woodland between ; but the away? Was she not of finer stuff than marsh-grass of the meadow was stirred as that? But one thing came clear to him. if by a soft spring wind, and little clouds. He believed if Minnie Bee had the sort of of springtime seemed flying across the sky. friends she yearned for she would not be
“Take it home with you,” said Minnie so averse to remaining in the town or so Bee, amused.
tempted to make a loveless marriage. It “May I ?” asked Roddy, eagerly. Min- shows how young Roddy really was when nie Bee could see that she had offered him he decided to get his sister Mary up to a treasure.
town and spring Minnie Bee on her un“Minnie Bee,” said Roddy; "you are a awares.