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out for the other—they travel in pairs. I reckon there's no more, anyhow."
The mention of Peter not unnaturally directed the girls' glances to the place whence he had lately appeared. And now from there came Charles Roycroft, running headlong out of the woods as if on a life and death relay race. Such was his speed that his hair rayed backward from him, meteor fashion. No Greek lad in Olympian contest ever covered as much ground in less time.
“Now that's the grandest dash I ever saw,” commented Laurie, taking impartial joy in it. Her AngloAmerican sporting blood tingled through her veins in happy fire. "Mr. Charles Colin Roycroft is generally what your mother calls 'Come day, go day, God send Sunday.' Didn't know he had that much life in
! Her enjoyment was not permitted to feed itself, however, for young Hermes of the winged heels slackened his pace the moment that he perceived the safety of the two girls, and was soon haughtily stalking, doubtless fostering within himself those sensations of chagrin that rightfully belong to a man who has made a spectacle of himself for nothing. When he reached them there remained only his quick breathing, his becomingly mussed hair, and his glowing cheeks to remind them of his god-like spurt.
“I heard the shot and the scream, and thought you had been hurt,” he explained very coldly.
“And now are vexed to find we're not?” asked Laurie.
She felt cheated of a due, for he had been content to take one calm comprehensive view of the cooking reptile and then forget it. Never to insist upon an
explanation of the sufficiently obvious was one of his poor points as often as one of his good.
“Since I am here I will look over your grove with you, McAllister," he remarked, still panting, but not too breathless to be chaffed without paying back.
Excusing herself to Osceola, who now had gabbling Tallahassie and staring Lee around the novel bonfire, Laurie took the stalwart young citrus expert on a medical tour up and down the rows of her doctored grove. He felt its tongue and examined its pulse, so to speak, with silent care. There might have been two opinions about his sociability, but only one in regard to his thoroughness—what he undertook he finished.
“Cottony-cushion scale has appeared in the vicinity,” he observed at the end of the first ten minutes.
“Has it?” she asked, aware of no particular objection.
This artless ignorance and nothing is more dangerous in a fruit section than artless ignorance-kept him silent ten minutes more.
“That's what I'm looking for in these trees," he then remarked.
"Found it?" was her contribution at the end of the half hour.
“Then it can't be bad, for I have everything bad that's coming to me," she commented cheerfully, not to let him sink into silence again.
“Pardon me. It is a pernicious pest. I wish you to inspect your grove for it daily. If you discover it, report it to me and I will send you some lady beetles.” “Send me some
- ?” She opened her eyes wide for the rest.
“Australian lady beetles—the only thing known to conquer the scale.” “Then I hope I get some scale,” she said, yearningly. “I’d love to see the beetles.” Frigidly deciding not to hear this ribaldry, he continued his inspection of the grove. In his creaseless khaki outfit he was as yellow and sturdy as a sun-god. The cleanly health of him was good to see, suggesting a reserve fighting force that would be able to wage successful battle against any difficulty that life or love might see fit to send him. Laurie walked beside him with a soul that took a vacation from care and skimmed a while on wings. His capable presence lightened the very hardships that he pointed out. “You are storing up trouble for yourself unless you lay this grove with woodpiles from end to end,” he announced, pocketing his magnifying glass to intimate that the silent part of the review was over. “I told you to do so. Why did you not?” “After paying for the fertilizer and for the work of applying it I had no money left,” she answered, very meek because of feeling guilty of having neglected an assigned task. She felt nervous too, for her face was now the target for his keen clear eyes. For some reason or other she breathed easier when he looked at oranges. She wished he would look at oranges again. She knew herself to be in very unpicturesque disarray. Her workaday skirt was most brutally matted with sand-spurs. They grew knee-high in the grove, and they had skewered her garment together until it not any too dimly suggested trousers. They had even lodged their vicious prongs in her long bright braids, the ends of which she picked up and disconsolately played with. “I tried to drag the wood myself, but I couldn’t.” “And shouldn’t,” he supplemented severely. “But by now I know better than to offer you any helpwithout making the extremely manly request that you pay for it!” “I never heard the virtue of independence mentioned more shabbily,” she remarked, sucking a finger that a sand-spur had wounded. “I should think a man would be pleased to see an individual woman practicing the justness that he denies the sex as a whole.” She invariably presented him with an annoying platitude when she wished to free herself from his regard. He disliked evasiveness, and particularly so when it took the form of badinage. In the interest of common sense he went back to business matters. “Oranges are still soaring,” he said. “I cannot forgive that shark for taking advantage of you. Sixty cents a box! And they may touch three dollars!” “Yet once they brought only thirty-two cents, so you said. What makes them wiggle so?” She knew this was no word to please him, but for the life of her could not think of “fluctuate” till too late. “Anything. Nothing. Oranges go up and down like stock. Until bought and paid for they are a risk to the grower. Talking of paid for, has Herman Selig settled with you for the yams?” “Not yet,” she confessed. “You are still digging them?” “Yes.” “Do you think you are wise?” “I have to take a person’s word, Mr. Roycroft, and can’t afford to decline a chance—even a bare chance—of earning some money. That was why I was glad to sign away the fruit crop for sixty cents a box. He said I had four hundred boxes, and when I multiplied by sixty cents and got two hundred and forty dollars—in my head—it seemed a fortune—almost enough to keep grandpa and me for a year. “Two hundred and fifty dollars—not fifty pounds ——a year!” “It sounds impossible, but we do it—down here. Our expenses are only twenty dollars a month and we live like fighting cocks.” To herself she wondered what ill turn of the crank of Fate always made her say things like “fighting cocks” to this fastidiously frowning young aristocrat when she never said them otherwise, never even thought fighting cocks. She felt herself flush faintly under his intent scrutiny, even though that scrutiny was of a blankly ab– sorbed kind, such as a man might use who studied a problem in Euclid. “What's going on inside your mind now?” she asked, uneasily resentful. “An excerpt from a Scotch ballad,” he answered stiffly. “Excerpt it a little more and let me hear it,” she demanded in defiance of her knowledge that he hated