Слике страница

"Why, Phyllis," he said, "you shouldn't be here alone, at night. Why are you here?"

'Because I like it. Please do not concern yourself about me. Go and take care of your Sally. Why should you care if anything did happen to me? you'd have Sally." Phyllis was completely conquered.

"Phyllis," Lamson said, throwing himself down beside her, "I hate golf. I hate it."

"What did you say?" the girl said, brightening.

"I hate golf."

"Do you really, really? And this morning-'

"I was bored to death.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Oh, were you ?" Phyllis was betraying herself in the very quality of her voice.

"And you?" Lamson said, "did you have a good time this morning?" Phyllis was back on familiar ground now, and she smiled and said innocently,

"Why, of course I did. Only, of course, the professor wasn't there to explain the bug I found." Lamson got up quickly.

"Phyllis, I will not stand this. You are carrying it too far." He drew from his pocket the little handkerchief. "Here is this. Good night." He turned and walked away. She let him go quite a distance, and then she called him back. She had to call only once. He turned abruptly and strode back to her. "What is it?" he said.

"Oh, nothing much, only-er, I wanted to show you what is in the handkerchief. Come here." He leaned down over her while she untied it and drew out the faded head of a wild daisy.

"What does it mean?" he asked.

"Oh," she said, "I shouldn't dare to touch a live bug, and so I used this. I suppose it was very wicked and deceitful, but— I hate bugs."

"Do you, Phyllis?" said Lamson, trying to control his voice. "And yesterday morning when I took you walking with the professor-"

"I was bored nearly to death."




Blue of the mountains' circling band,
Soft and far in the golden weather;
Smiling slope of the sunny land,-

And you and I on the brow together.

Wind on the wheat and wine in the air,
Song of the bobolinks flashing by;
God is good, and the world is fair,-

And we are together, you and I.

Only this, could I have my will,

Is all I would ask-that time might stay,
The breeze blow fresh, and the sun stand still,
And all of our life be the sweet to-day.

Shadows stealing across the land,

Flood of gold in the silent sky ;
Love, draw closer, and hand in hand
We'll follow the sunset, you and I.

It was a fresh, sweet morning, a balmy, breezy spring morning—the kind of day on which one feels it is good to be alive; but Billy Burns, sitting in his pleasant front room window in the farmhouse, scowled out across the meadows and cursed the hours as they flew. The quaint, old room he occupied was a mass of incongruities. Beneath the framed wreaths made of human hair (wonderful things, but they made Billy shiver) stood golf clubs, paddles, and a gun; the Bible on the table elbowed a flask, and a row of family photographs turned up their virtuous noses at the close proximity of a tobacco pouch. Billy had not hesitated to take

The Rustication of
Billy Burns

complete possession, it seemed, and he had brought all his dumb friends with him; but in spite of this, the days of his rustication were passing slowly. After a while, chasing a ball over rough ground all alone grows tiresome even to an inveterate golfiac whose capacity for being bored must needs be small, and paddling on the river or shooting at inoffensive birds loses its charm when no one is by to admire one's dexterity.


Billy put down his pipe with a discontented ejaculation, and picked up a cigar. This was not satisfactory either, and he soon tossed it out of the window. He drew out his watch. "Nine forty-five,-almost time for old Schenk's philosophy lectHe felt an unacknowledged pang of regret that he could not hear what Schenk was to say to-day. This is interesting as a touch of human nature. Had Billy been at college, he would undoubtedly have cut. Almost ten o'clock-well, he must pass the day somehow. Just then something outside drew his attention. A girl, wearing a short skirt, was coming down the road. Billy had had no idea there were any people thereabouts who were so highly civilized, and he immediately became interested. He leaned out of the window eagerly and watched her as she drew nearer. There was nothing distinctive about her that he could see yet,-short skirt, shirt waist, and a provokingly large sunbonnet which concealed her face as she came on. When she reached the house, however, she glanced up by chance and their eyes met. She looked away quickly enough, but Billy with the help of his accommodating imagination saw upon her face the same expression of surprised pleasure which he was sure was on his own. He watched her as she went on and finally turned in at a gate down the road. The destination of the sunbonnet being assured, he arose and proceeded to make a careful toilet. Billy was a man of action, and in this sort of a campaign he was thoroughly at home.

A few minutes later he strolled down the road, with his gun slung jauntily over his shoulder and his college cap perched fetchingly on the back of his head. He turned in at the gate of the farm-house which the girl had entered, and walked out to the barn.

"How are you to-day, Mr. Brown?" he said cheerfully to the man who was working about the stalls. "How's that colt of yours getting along? They tell me at the house that she's been giving you trouble lately."

The farmer responded with an account of the sorrows of the two-year-old, and Billy sat down on the loft stairs and listened. This tale of woe over, he managed by a little adroit questioning to learn that the new arrival was a relative of Mrs. Brown's who was staying at the farm while her parents were abroad.

"Must be kind of quiet for her here," Billy suggested with an air of paternal solicitude. "Perhaps I could help her to enjoy the place a bit," he continued with becoming modesty. "I have a canoe on the river."

"No, sir-ee," responded the farmer, with a shake of his head. "You young fellers are altogether too skittish in boats."

Billy hastened to amend his proposition, and soon induced the old man to consent to introduce him to the girl, whose name was Dorothy Gelden. Just at this moment the subject of their conversation appeared coming in from the garden, and Farmer Brown presented Billy. That young conqueror of hearts was preparing to do his prettiest when some one called "Dorothy!" from the house, and Miss Dorothy excused herself and went in. She did not reappear, and Billy, after a wait, decided to leave the ground for a while, and renew the siege in the afternoon. As he was going, however, he saw Miss Dorothy sitting on the side porch which commanded a full view of the valley. He sauntered boldly over and dropped down on the steps. She turned with a little start of surprise.

"This is a beautiful place to sit alone and meditate," he remarked easily.

"Yes," she responded demurely, "I was enjoying it."

Billy looked at her quickly and thought he caught a twinkle in her eye, but the sunbonnet cut off half of it, so he could not be sure.

After a short conversation about the view, Billy advanced. "Miss Gelden," he said, "don't you find it rather stupid here?"

"Well," she answered, "it is not so exciting that I should think one would come here unless he had to visit relatives or something of the kind."

This was pointed. Billy felt called upon to explain. "The reason I am here," he said solemnly, pulling at the honeysuckle which overhung the porch, "is because the professors up at college advise us fellows who grind a good deal to come off here once in a while where it is quiet, and rest, commune with

[ocr errors]

nature, you know, and all that. Then we go back to our work full of new vigor-higher ideas - nobler aims-" he stopped rhetorically and glanced up at her.

She was smiling under the sunbonnet. "They think it is good for man to be alone?" she asked mischievously.

Billy grinned appreciatively. A bit of repartee was pleasant after a week of his host's puns.

The acquaintance begun so auspiciously continued pleasantly through the next two weeks. Billy gave lessons in golf and target practice, and listened contentedly while Miss Dorothy read to him as they drifted in the canoe under the shadows of the trees. On these days Billy gloated in the thought that he was getting the best of the faculty and having a good time in spite of them. He found Miss Dorothy clever and interesting, and her opinions were, to his surprise, often worth listening to. She was in desperate need of companionship, as much so as Billy, and it did not take long for their intercourse to become established on an intimate, friendly basis; and they soon began to exchange theories of life and other deep matters on which young people are always particularly well informed. Through such conversations Billy learned that Miss Dorothy was a girl of ideas and ideals, and to his surprise it sometimes gave him a twinge to realize how far short he fell of her standard of manhood. Still, she was a girl who called out the best in a fellow somehow, and Billy often found himself discoursing in a lofty, serious manner which would have sent his college chums into convulsions of laughter, could they have heard.

As the days of his enforced vacation drew to a close, Billy began to feel sorry that he must say good-by to Miss Dorothy, and he wanted to tell her so. But all the pretty speeches one can make on such occasions seemed hackneyed to him, he had used them so often before when he did not mean a word he said. So now he found himself at loss for a new way of expressing a regret which was, for once, sincere. Therefore he did not say anything about it, until one day Miss Dorothy made an opening for him-at least he thought she was going to when she began.

"You're going back to-morrow, aren't you?"

"Yes," Billy sighed, getting ready to rise to the occasion. "Well," she continued, "I think you look much better than

« ПретходнаНастави »