Puslapio vaizdai
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

nie Bee a short farewell, had a glimpse of her stout Aunt Annie ascending the stairway, heavily tired after the long day, an institution flourishing elsewhere than in great cities. Minnie Bee's stout Uncle Joe, owner of a small harness shop much patronized by college men who kept horses, came to stand for a moment in the door, pipe in mouth.

"Good evening, young gentlemen," he said.

Through an open window Roddy took in a small, bright parlor, its one rock of refuge Minnie Bee's piano, about which swirled waves of flimsiness.

"Well," said Wirt.

They went bareheaded down the steps, turning for a final glance at the awfully pretty picture of Minnie Bee with her golden hair streaming in the moonlight.

A few yards down the street they met another crowd bound for Minnie Bee's front porch. Wirt indicated the silent Roddy to them.

"Just had him to Minnie Bee's. First time. Don't speak to him. It 's dangerous to waken them suddenly."

They pretended sympathetic understanding, and passed, tiptoeing with exaggerated caution. Their laughter broke behind the two. Beneath a street light Roddy stopped and regarded Wirt.

"You must n't misunderstand, you know," said Wirt in a careless tone.

"I'm not misunderstanding the darned insolent way you fellows have with her," said Roddy, scornfully. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel!' I like your nerve.

"So does Minnie Bee," said Wirt. "Why, confound you, Rod, she's a regular pet with us all. She's had a crowd of boys on that front porch ever since she was fifteen. Every one of them adored her. I adore her. So do you-what?" "And that fellow, Seaton?"

"Say," said Wirt, going on, "it's a queer thing, but, do you know, I believe Seaton's working himself up to the point of asking Minnie Bee to marry him." "That brute!" said Roddy, shortly and hotly.

At Roddy's tone Wirt began to laugh

[ocr errors]

immoderately, steering him the while. toward a tree-pillared lawn. Beyond the columns of the tree-trunks appeared the columns of the porch, rising as tall as trees to the mansion's roof. Withdrawn in the seclusion offered by these sat a placid group composed of Miss Page Presley, her mama, and her little sister Virginia.

Other boys dropped in. Miss Presley's hair was long and black, and would have been almost startlingly effective streaming. around her against the glimmering white background of house front, but no one said, "Snow White, Snow White, let down your hair."

The sturdy, graying professor of Greek, her father, came to stand for a moment in the door, cigar in hand.

"Good evening, young gentlemen," he said.

As they bade the family good night Roddy glimpsed a familiar type of interior, spacious, cool, set discreetly about with old, valuable, rather terribly permanent possessions.

"Nice girl, Page," commented Wirt as they strolled off across the sparsely lighted campus, "but slow," he added, yawning.

On the porch of Roddy's temporary home sat the remainder of his temporary family: Cousin Andrew Morrison, professor of Latin, peacefully asleep in his long chair; Cousin Sally, his wife; and Roberta, their daughter.

Berta was one of those girls who never look girlish because they weigh ten pounds too much and have Roman noses. There was a kind fiction among her girl friends. to the effect that Berta disliked boys.

She considered her brother Wirt and her cousin Roddy with suspicion which might be characterized as serial. It was always likely that they had been up to something of which she would disapprove could she find them out.

"Well, Rod 's been initiated at last," announced Wirt, out of a mere impish desire to start something.

He gave Roddy his laughing, narrowed look, and settled himself comfortably on the railing. Roddy took the porch swing near Berta.

"That girl!" said Berta.

"If you mean Minnie Bee," murmured Wirt.

"Why, Berta, I 'm sure Minnie Bee is a very nice, sweet, young girl," put in Cousin Sally, indescribably mingling patronage of Minnie Bee with ladylike disapproval of Berta's too violent emphasis.

"And I warn you right now, Roddy Ivor," continued Berta, "that if I meet you out walking with her you need n't expect me to speak to you. I don't speak to my own brother in those circumstances.' A tolerant smile grew on Roddy's lips. "Women," said Wirt. It seemed to cover the ground for him.


"I presume," said Berta, "that you 'd like me to call on Minnie Bee?"

Wirt addressed Roddy:

"That lovely, refined, talented girl is n't good enough for Berta, here, to visit."

"Her cousins are 'n't lovely and refined and talented, and you know perfectly well, Wirt Morrison, that, while Minnie Bee may be all you say, we girls can't possibly take her up. Heaven knows I'm not snobbish," said Berta; "no one can accuse me of that. I dare say Minnie Bee is much better looking and far cleverer than I am; but my relatives are at least presentable, and I know who my ancestors were.”

A faint frown developed between Roddy's fine brows. Minnie Bee's cousins had been pointed out to him, vivid little girls with big, bold eyes and noisy voices. No harm in them, but not the girls you 'd want your sister to be seen with; yet Minnie Bee had to be seen with them. Beyond doubt Minnie Bee's cousins were regrettable.

"Think I'll go on up," said Roddy, rising.

"Me, too," said Wirt.

He came on into Roddy's room. "Confound such a town as this, anyhow!" said Wirt.

[blocks in formation]

He sat down on the foot of Roddy's bed and lighted up.

"Clear out, I tell you!" said Roddy, who wished to think about Minnie Bee in peace.

"First," said Wirt, "there's the military gang."

"I'll put you out," promised Roddy. "The military gang," repeated Wirt, wafting a smoke ring perfect enough to be a fairy's bracelet, "which considers itself just a little bit better than anything else on earth because it has to do with the art of bossing the earth about."

"Tell me something I don't know," begged Roddy.

"And the college men are nearly as bad. Any doddering old professor of the deadest language there is thinks himself the superior of the cleverest business man in town."

"I told you I would," said Roddy, now in pajamas. He started for Wirt, who fended him off, laughing.

"And the larger merchants lord it over the smaller chaps, like Minnie Bee's uncle. Everybody's got some one to look down on until at length we arrive at,-" he nodded toward the stately colored gentleman who was bringing in a carafe of drinking water,-"and even there-" he broke off abruptly. "Sam," he said, "did you see Dan Medley about hunting me up a dog for Miss Minnie Bee?"

"Now, Mr. Wirt," said Sam, "yo' do not want t' 'ave no doin's at all wid dat po' white trash of a Dan Medlar. I'll fin' yo' a pup fo' de young lady fus day I takes off."

He went out grandly, having settled the


"What did I tell you?" demanded Wirt. "Talk about India."

"Not to me," said Roddy, removing the slenderer Wirt by main strength from the bed, and shoving him doorward. "You 're worse than any of them. You were quite surprised a while back because that surly brute of a Seaton might actually ask a beautiful girl a thousand times too good for him actually to marry him, damn him!"



"Suppose,' said Roddy, rising on his elbow, 'we begin with friendship” "


Almost incoherently did Roddy thus as- gaged in trying on the dress. It was all sist the shamelessly laughing Wirt into concluded except the neck. She was not the hall. He retreated alone into his satisfied with the neck. She had made a room, holding the door ajar a moment to fichu for it. Then she had decided against add, And you."

the fichu. She would have the neck cut He closed the door on Wirt, drew up square.

It might be more becoming cut his one arm-chair until it faced the win- square. So she turned it in square. dow, and lay back in it in all the luxury This indecision of Minnie Bee's may of pajamas and a good conscience. His

seem strange to writing men whose heroslippered feet on the window-sill tipped ines always know to a shade their most him back delightfully. His clasped hands becoming color, to a line their most enmade an absolutely comfortable pillow for hancing style; but the reader may as well his head. His eyes dwelt dreamily on a know the truth, which is that a girl goes confused welter of small, moon-gilded through youth in an agony of indecision. clouds as he listened to his Cousin An- What if she loses her complexion and gets drew putting the house off to bed down- gray, before ever chancing on the color stairs. There ensued a deep silence. and style created for her alone? Did the Roddy, basking in it, began at last to fichu look better, after all? Vinnie Bee think intelligently about Minnie Bee. He kept her caller waiting while she tried it concluded that what she really needed was on again. She twitched it off in a despaira friend.

ing mood, and went down with the neck Now, Roddy had given this matter of square. friendship deep thought since a certain "Did I come too soon?" asked Roddi. disillusioning love-affair of his the pre- fancying surprise in her greeting : but that vious year, and he had reached the conclu- was only because she had supposed it to be sion that friendship with a girl whose na- Seaton. “I thought maybe you'd play ture was at once strong and yielding, tonic for me if there was n't a crowd,” wheedled and sweet, might be an almost ideal rela- Roddy. tion. Of course one would prefer a beau- It does n't matter what Minnie Bee tiful girl. It was apparent to the most played. It was beautiful and sad, and as casual observer that Minnie Bee had an she played it her face was rapt away from excess of adulation. It seemed clear to little things. Roddy, leaning there, lisRoddy that he had been told off by des- tening, had a resentful feeling for Minnie tiny to disclose to her the soberer charms Bee, as for one on whom fate had played of friendship

blundering tricks. She met his eves nerIn pursuance of this purpose he called vously. at Minnie Bee's the following afternoon. “Do

Pou really like music?" asked VinHe had to cut math to do this; but Roddy nie Bee. was not one of those who ascribe undue Roddy answered her with a musing importance to the academic aspect of a

sinile. college career. It did not weigh upon his "Then please go sit down," said Minconscience in the least; but it would have nie Bee. vexed him could he have guessed the inop- Roddy went to sit in the window-seat. portuneness of his call, in the early after- Minnie Bee was a lovely profile now.

Her noon, to a busy young woman.

white throat pulsed with song, The When the bell rang Minnie Bee was, September breezes made serious love to in fact, nearly worn out with the difficulty her hair. In the filmy white dress with of deciding a question of much impor- the neck cut square she looked as angelic tance. All morning she had been sitting as the guardian saint of melody. on the edge of her bed surrounded by Her hands fluttered slowly into quiet lengths of filmy white stuff which she was on the keys. A movement of Roddy's converting into a dress. She was now en- made her glance around. He was stand


[ocr errors]

ing up, as if to go, and smiling gravely said pettishly: "Another Ivor boy! No, down on her.

thank you." Nor was she going to tell “Thank you for the music," said Roddy. him that he had been brought now only “Do you mind my saying that you looked because she could n't very well have reexactly like an angel, with all that white fused his own cousin ; but how could she stuff floating around you, and the sun in have imagined this Ivor boy to be so difyour hair, while you were singing?" ferent from his brothers, who were noto

NIinnie Bee looked down at the white rious. stuff. An impulse had its mad way with She said, rather flustered: her.

“I must have known your brothers," "Wait a minute," she said. In a twin- which was not at all what she wished to kling she was running up-stairs. In an

say. other she was running back, trailing a Roddy's lips twitched. He saw at once white triangle covered with infinitesimal that that explained it, though inadverruffles. She tossed this over one shoulder, tently. reached back, and coaxed it over the other. "Come for a walk,” he said suddenly,

"Now," said Minnie Bee, “I want an after a reflective pause. He had not meant unbiased opinion.”

to cut Greek, too. "It sounds technical,” said Roddy, “but "In this?” asked Minnie Bee. I 'll do my best."

Even a boy could see that the white ruf"I can't decide about the neck of this Ales might not survive the climb Roddy dress," said Minnie Bee. “Does it look was contemplating. He looked vividly better this way or”- she twitched off the

put out. fichu-"this.

"But if you would n't mind waiting?" “Ruffles,” said Roddy, instantly, "and "Certainly not. Run along," said a rose."

Roddy, much relieved. One was peering in. He rewarded its She ran along, and he looked after her curiosity by presenting it to Minnie Bee, approvingly. What a sensible girl now! who had donned the fichu again. She When Minnie Bee came back, unbeplaced the rose where it belonged, and en- lievably soon, Roddy thought her less an deavored to survey herself in a tiny oval angel, perhaps, but the prettiest thing he of purely ornamental mirror hanging be- had ever seen in his life. Yet she had on tween the windows. Roddy felt that it her oldest serge skirt, a far from new should have been a pier-glass. He would blue-silk middy, and a shabby cap of Conhave liked two full-lengths of Minnie Bee federate gray that one of the cadets had just then. He looked at his hat again, given her when she was a small girl. Her smiling slightly. Perhaps he was thinking feet in their little brown shoes literally that this again was something which could danced along. · Something was singing itnever have happened at Pagie Presley's. self in her golden head. Minnie Bee

"Oh, don't go yet,” said Minnie Bee. hummed it: She sat down in the window-seat and

"Lo! there hath been dawning patted the cushion beside her.

Another blue day.” Roddy, however, took a chair, which he drew up facing her. He leaned forward She did n't remember any more of it; in it, his clasped hands dropped between just that much was all she needed. She his knees.

continued to hum it as they went out in “This is


here," said the blue day. She did n't ask where they Roddy. “How queer that no

were going; even when it seemed a long brought me to see you before.”

[ocr errors]


way she did n't ask. Even when they beMinnie Bee was n't going to tell gan to climb and climb she did n't ask. Roddy that some one had asked to bring “I don't know whether you've ever him two years before, and that she had been up here,” said Roddy, breaking a

one ever

« AnkstesnisTęsti »