« PreviousContinue »
cheerful silence. He stopped for a mo- "Suppose," said Roddy, rising on his elment to cram his soft hat into a pocket bow, "we begin with friendship.' of the coat which he was already carrying. “Friendship?” asked Minnie Bee in an
Minnie Bee, high up among unfamiliar odd tone, almost as if she had never heard hills, looked critically about her and said of such a thing. that she had never been up there.
“Friendship,” said Roddy, “is the most They went on, Roddy slightly in the wonderful relation in the world. You lead, his eyes shining with the surprise can't always depend on your lover or your he had in store for Minnie Bee. A riot- brother, but you can always depend on ous wind was whipping his roomy shirt about his beautiful slant of back and “I never had one," said Minnie Bee. shoulder. His head made a dusky glory She was thinking of the girls whom she in the blue day. Now and again he looked had known in a way all her life, of the back at Minnie Bee with a smile, appre- lovely, sweet girls in the town down there ciative of her prowess thus far, and en- with whom she had gone to church and to couraging her to further feats. Minnie school, but among whom she had never Bee, who felt lifted on wings of lightness, had a friend. always smiled back. She was a hovering "You can have one now," said Roddy, radiance in his wake. At the edge of the deliberately, "if you want him." highest hill Roddy said in a quiet tone of "You!" cried Minnie Bee. It was the triumph:
strangest exclamation. "Now."
Roddy colored furiously. They stepped over the crest. Far, far "I beg your pardon," he flashed in below, in a deep, wide cup, compacted of clean-cut words. His quick thought was the colors of the fall, lay a green valley. that Minnie Bee had heard of a thing of In it a white town shone by a river of which it was altogether unlikely she gold. The cup was brimmed with sun- should have heard, a long-ago action of shine and patterned with cloud shadow's. his, repented in full, paid for in full, done It offered up beauty forever.
with forever, he had hoped, save as one "I came on all this of a sudden one day never is done with anything. last fall,” said Roddy, his eyes alight. Minnie Bee put an impulsive hand on Minnie Bee understood. He had wished his rigid arm. her, too, to see it suddenly, like that, be
"You see, I happened just to be thinkcause it had been wonderful to him. ing of girl friends," said Minnie Bee,
He spread his coat for her beneath a somewhat shakily. “Why, I–I d love slender locust, and threw himself down to be friends with you." near, among the thin, pointed little golden He searched her with his gaze. She leaves, already scattered in the just seared offered him her hand in the sweetest mangrasses.
ner to seal their pact. Its firm, generous Minnie Bee looked at the white town. pressure reassured Roddy wholly. It was very far away, so far away that it “I 'm glad,” he said, still holding the was spanned by a spray of goldenrod. She convincing hand, “because, when I met hummed:
you last evening, it was what you might "Lo! there hath been dawning
call friendship at first sight with me." Another blue day.”
Minnie Bee, still smiling beautifully at
Roddy, took back her hand. She did not She did not know when she had ever say what it had been at first sight with felt so happy.
her. "Now," said Roddy, "let us talk about everything in the world."
Once more Minnie Bee and Roddy wan"What must we begin with?” asked dered on the sheer rim of the wide cup Minnie Bee.
of the hills. Fire haze of Indian summer
obscured the land and blotted the sky. It stantly a fifth serpent hurled itself on the turned the sun to the round red-paper sun tail of the fourth. of an astrologer's weird garment. It "He's mad," laughed Roddy, who had brimmed the cup of the hills with a uni- just sent his answer. verse of bluish, faintly irradiated parti- The unknown's serpent suffered from cles. Minnie Bee and Roddy were as no default of magic this time. The two solitary as two persons in a dream. They met in mid-air, and strove for supremacy. were closed in by a dimness that might, It was toss up between them straight for aught they could see to the contrary, above Minnie Bee's upturned face when stretch away to the farthest reaches of they incredibly touched and fell slowly tospace and time. Wandering thus, as in an gether, like enemies who had warily made enchantment, they came on
a forest of
“Bravo!” shouted Roddy in his ferry"Did you ever," asked Roddy, "do call tremolo. this?"
A return call echoed faintly, and was He broke a lance of stickweed stalk, drowned, as
had been nicked it just so far from one end, broke drowned, in blue haze. another slighter lance, and fitted an end "Wonder who that was," said Roddy. of that into the nick. Holding these two "Show me how !" pleaded Minnie Bee. lances high in air, he bent together their She did not learn the trick readily. Her free ends, and with some adroit turn of stickweed lance remained a stickweed wrist swiftly hurled the slighter one from lance, falling stiffy close by, and never him.
turning into a magic serpent at all. Minnie Bee exclaimed in delight and "You have to begin doing it when you astonishment. It seemed impossible that are a little tad," said Roddy, exploring a the serpent of velvet black simulating Ho- pocket. "Here, I 'll show where I learned garth's line of beauty far above them could to throw stickweed.” He took out a pack be the stickweed stalk hurled by Roddy of kodak pictures. “Let us sit down.” the second before. It darted higher still. He made a place for her in the edge of It did not turn in descent until it had the stickweed forest, and stood for a moflung itself, blazing, across the unreal face ment gazing at her. Pale brown of Noof the sun.
It fell very slowly, while vember grasses, vague blue of forest smoke, Minnie Bee held her breath. It was lost dim gold of withering, but still flaunting, in the haze-brimmed cup of the hills. autumn weeds, were all about them. With
“Look! look !" cried Minnie Bee in a these Minnie Bee's vaguely blue dress and joyous tone.
shining head made a harmony which even A second serpent was hurling itself an untrained eye could appreciate. from the rim of the opposite hill. It strove He flung himself beside her, resting on to outdo Roddy's serpent. It outdid it. his elbow, and arranging the pictures in
"I'll not take that," said Roddy. order on the grass. He indicated one.
He flung a second lance. The serpent “On those old hills there,” said Roddy, it immediately became darted viciously to- “right along the river. Mary and I used ward the zenith, far, far above the unreal to see how far down it we could throw." face of the sun. Minnie Bee's eyes spar- "Mary?" kled. She might have fancied herself a “My sister; her name is Mary, too." legendary princess beholding the en- He pronounced it "Murry." He smiled counter of rival magicians. Evidently the on Minnie Bee, “I 'd like you two to unseen magician was not going to stand meet." that either. A fourth serpent rose; but
Minnie Bee asked hurriedly: through some default of magic sank igno- “And who 's this?” miniously into the deeper blue haze that “My father,” Roddy told her, pride in marked the hills along the horizon. In- his voice.
"He looks clever and kind," said Minnie Bee.
Roddy nodded agreement.
"And what do you think of this pretty girl?"
The pretty girl laughed out at Minnie Bee from a loophole in a vine-hung lattice. Minnie Bee kept on looking until she discovered the girl to be rather mature, after all.
"It's your mother," she guessed at a
"Right-o," applauded Roddy. He looked at the picture for a good while himself. "You 'd love her," said Roddy, at last.
"And this?" asked Minnie Bee, again rather hurriedly.
"Oh, that is Bina, my cousin who is to be a trained nurse. I'll tell you all about Bina some day."
"And this beautiful, beautiful creature?"
"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 at 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'?"