MR. SOLOMON PARSONS was a lawyer of sagacity and genius. He had beneath the polished dome of his pink head something of the qualities of a great general. There might be added to this catalogue of his qualities an instinct of equilibrium which assisted him, despite many temptations, to walk inside the true line which divides legitimate from questionable practice. This instinct of equilibrium enabled him to walk straightly even upon the line. Once he toppled to the wrong side, taking no harm, as it happened, except the demolition of every airy castle he had builded; but there was some excuse for him, for he had invested heavily upon a falling market, a form of insanity not uncommon in men of the learned professions, as any kerb-stone broker will tell you. He was not ruined. There was no need for embezzlement or the transference of his clients' assets, such as he controlled, to his own accounts. It just meant that he had to sell loan securities and write to his son, telling him that he must give up all idea of going into the army, come home, and work.
Mr. Solomn Parsons paid his differences like a respectable man, and was honest because honesty is the best policy. And then it was that old man Glenmere died and left to Solomon the proving of his eccentric will. Any will which contains a condition or request may be classified as "eccentric." Mr. Parsons spent one afternoon reading over the provisions which made the will remarkable, and then sat down and wrote for the second time to Miss Dorothy Trent.
His principal clerk came in whilst the letter was in process of completion.
"Oh, by the way," said Solomon, looking up, "I am writing to Miss Trent about her legacy."
"Do you want the letter copied, sir?" asked the clerk.
"No, no, it's not necessary," said his employer airily. "It's merely an informal note of congratulation."
"A very fortunate young woman," said the chief clerk, "she's worth nearly half a million. He's left a lot of holdings in Canada, hasn't he,—land and all that sort of thing?"
"Yes, yes," this time Mr. Parsons was impatient. "All right, Jackson, I'll attend to this matter. Ask Mr. Reginald to come in and see me."
Reginald made his glum appearance and dropped into a chair on the opposite side of his father's writing-table. He was a pallid, willowy, young man, with hair on his upper lip.
"How are you getting on, my boy?" asked Solomon benevolently, as he licked down the envelope of his letter to Miss Trent.
"I hate this place," grumbled his hope and pride. "Really, governor, it's pretty tough on me. I never dreamt that you were so hard up."
"My investments unfortunately went wrong," said Solomon smoothly. "Still," he went on, "I hope you're going to make yourself as comfortable as you can, Reggie. At the back of my head is an idea which may develop very favorably for you. A large fortune and a pretty wife, eh, my boy —how does that strike you?"
Mr. Reginald sniffed. "That sort of thing only happens in books," he said irritably.
"It happens in real life, believe me." His father nodded his head emphatically. "I am a much older man than you, and in my profession I have seen many strange happenings. Post this letter for me."
His son took the envelope and glanced at the address.
"Who is she?" he asked.
"She's the girl who came into old Glenmere's fortune. Half a million, my boy!" said his father archly.
His son looked up quickly.
"Is this the girl you're thinking about?"
Mr. Parsons nodded.
"Bosh!" said his ungrateful son. "What chance have I? She'll be simply surrounded by all sorts of fellows the moment it is known that she has money; and a girl like that who has been poor is pretty certain to jump at the first likely man who come along—and besides the will makes a quick marriage pretty easy for her."
Mr. Parsons smiled.
"Post the letter," said he, "and have a little faith in your father, my boy."
The quiet suburban household of Dorothy Trent and her mother had been prepared for the sensation which was coming. There had been no secret that Grandfather Trent, though he offered little assistance to his one relative whilst he was living, had made ample provision for her when he had passed beyond the responsibilities of the real estate business, and a brief note from the lawyer asking for authority to administer the estate, had announced the disposal of the old man's fortune, "with conditions."
"Which, of course, my dear," said the mild Mrs. Trent, "you will carry out."
"That entirely depends upon what they are, mother," said the girl quietly. "If it is one of those curious wills which directs me to marry the orphan child of his favorite butler, you may be sure that dear grandfather's money will go to the old ladies' home or The Society for Promoting International Discord or whatever the alternative is."
"I'm sure your dear grandfather—" began Mrs. Trent apologetically, and the girl laughed.
"My dear mother," she said, "you're not sure of anything in the world or anybody. I await the wicked lawyer's letter—I'm sure he's wicked; all lawyers are, who handle wills—with a great deal of interest. In the meantime I'm not going to the office—I feel I ought to get something out of this."
Mrs. Trent made her usual weak protest. She had spent her life protesting against the inevitable, in which category she placed her daughter's inflexibility of purpose. The Trents lived in a little house on the outskirts of the town. Dorothy was employed as stenographer in the City, and her horizon had been largely determined by the urban boundaries. Yet there was within her a surging desire to burst out into a large world, and now that it seemed that all her long-cherished dreams of travel were to be fulfilled, she felt that the "condition" must be unusually severe before she refused.
"Mother," she asked, "if—if this money did not come, would you be terribly disappointed?"
Mrs. Trent smiled, which Dorothy, reading the signs by long practice, knew meant that she hadn't given the matter a great deal of thought, and was busy making up her mind at that moment.
"It would mean a lot to me, Dorothy dear," said the older woman; "one always feels that one is living on the brink of a volcano."
It was a favourite expression of hers, and Dorothy, long inured and tired of speculating why her mother chose so tragic an illustration, said nothing, waiting for her to continue.
"Of course, dear, it would save you from work, and give you a very happy time," Mrs. Trent went on, gathering her arguments en route.
"Never mind about me, mother, I'm thinking of you. Would you be horribly disappointed?"
"I think I should," said Mrs. Trent, nodding her head, and employing a tone which suggested that she was surprised to find herself taking this decisive opinion. "I should be disappointed—but, my dear, there is no question of your not getting the money, is there"
"I'm thinking of the conditions," said the girl.
The garden gate clicked, and the girl turned her head to see the postman with a solitary letter.
"This must be from Solomon the Wise One," she said grimly.
She went to the door and took it in, and a glance at the superscription on the envelope verified her surmise. She sat down at the table, her mother peering anxiously at her over her glasses, and read the letter through carefully, then read it again.
"Humph!" said Dorothy.
"What is it, my dear?" asked Mrs. Trent tremulously.
"It's the condition, and really it isn't a terrible condition after all. Shall I read you the letter?"
Mrs. Trent nodded.
"Dear Miss Trent," began Dorothy, "I have already communicated to you that fact that your grandfather, James Trent, deceased, has left a will appointing me to be his sole executor and you his sole legatee save for a small sum which is left to me, his lawyer, as a token of his regard and affection." (Mr. Solomon Parsons might have written "very small" sum and underscored the qualification.) "Your grandfather, as you may know, married very late in life, and had strong views upon the postponement of matrimony. He desires that you should marry—"
Mrs. Trent all of a twitter sat up.
"Good gracious, Dorothy, who is the young gentleman?"
"There is no young gentleman," said Dorothy coldly, without looking up. "Listen. Desires that you should marry early in life. He stipulates that you shall inherit one-tenth of his legacy immediately, and the other nine-tenths upon your wedding day, and he directs that if you do not marry before your twenty-fourth birthday the remainder of his estate shall go to the Railway Benevolent Fund. Yours faithfully, etc."
The girl folded the letter and sat with her hands clasped on her lap, looking across to her mother. "Well, that's fairly reasonable," she said; "that means another"—she calculated quickly—"well, over a year of freedom."
"And in that time, my dear," said Mrs. Trent, "maybe you will discover somebody on whom your affections may rest as a house upon a rock."
"I'm afraid so," said the girl, and Mrs. Trent shook her head, for girls had changed sadly since her youth. As she often remarked.
A month later, Dorothy Trent, with the light of joy in her eyes, sat in Mr. Solomon Parsons' office. And Mr. Solomon Parsons was talking.
"I think it is necessary that you should see the property," he was saying, "and particularly if you are going to sell it, that you should be on the spot to sign the necessary documents—you have the administration of the estate, you know," he added, "until you fail definitely to fulfill the conditions of the will."
"Who wants to buy it?" asked the girl again.
"Sir John Storey. You see, he owns the greater part of the adjoining property, and why he wants yours, Heaven knows! Your grandfather's Canadian agent writes me that he already possesses about five hundred square miles of his own."
"Perhaps he wants to keep chickens," said Dorothy. "Does he live there?" asked the girl.
The lawyer nodded.
"That an English baronet should isolate himself from the amenities of society and bury himself in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies, I cannot understand," he said, "but, there the fact is, he's been living there for, six years. He has a vast estate and seems to be satisfied, so it is no business of ours."
Dorothy thought for a moment.
"I'd simply love to go," she said, "but I can't see how I can go alone."
Mr. Solomon Parsons smiled. "I'll arrange that, my dear lady," he said. "I am making up a party, my son and, myself. You've met my son in the outer office as you came through."
The girl shook her head.
"There was only an elderly gentleman, who I think is your clerk, and the office boy," she said.
Mr. Solomon Parsons bridled.
"The office boy, my dear Miss Trent," he said, with some acerbity, "was my son Reginald."
She murmured her apologies.
But the business was too important for Mr. Solomon Parsons to take very deep offence.
"As I was saying, we will go out with you, see you to Sir John's house—he has, by all accounts, a very beautiful house—and he wrote some time ago saying that he would make us very welcome if we came. By the way, there is a two or three-day journey across the—er—mountains and things, and I understand it's a rather difficult country. You don't mind that?"
"It will be lovely!" said Dorothy, her eyes shining.
So it came about that one chilly morning in early October, the lake steamer, The Nelson, set down three passengers at Little Pine Beach. To two of these, Little Pine Beach was a most inhospitable village of tin buildings, which promised little in the way of creature comfort. To the third, this shelf of land under the towering gray scarp of Mount Macgregor was a veritable fairyland. She had ceased to gurgle with joy at the sight of snow-capped mountains or vast wheat lands. Ship and train and boat had been vehicles of enchantment. She had lived for weeks in a sort of dumb wonder. The clean tang of mountain air; the fragrance of pine and balsam; the delicious incense of burning wood—she had stood on the observation platform of the car in the early mornings and sniffed them ecstatically. And she had seen the sun rise on virgin snows, and heard the thunder of milky torrents crashing furiously through deep ravines, and had lived with a God she knew and worshipped.
"It is precious chilly," grumbled Mr. Parsons, "and I suppose there won't be a thing here fit to eat."
He was looking around anxiously, and when a middle-aged man in mackinaw coat and top boots detached himself from a group at the door of one of the dwellings, he went toward him, and met the newcomer half-way.
"Your father arranged for somebody to be here to meet us, didn't he, Mr. Parsons?" said the girl.
"Reggie," murmured that gentleman; "why don't you learn to call me Reggie, Dorothy?"
"Because it would encourage you to call me Dorothy," said the girl tartly.
Mr. Reginald Parsons was the one blot upon an otherwise perfect trip. The lawyer she could tolerate, but this sleek youth and his half-hearted love-making was getting on her nerves.
"I wish you wouldn't be so unpleasant towards me," he said plaintively. "I really didn't think I'd like you when I heard I was coming on the trip, but at the first sight of you I was head over heels—"
"Will you tell me, is this the person your father expects to meet here?"
"No, it isn't," snapped Reggie. "He's a fellow who is going on a trip with us, a lawyer or something."
"Do we start from here?" asked the girl, interested.
"I hope so," said the gloomy youth, "and the sooner we start the better."
Mr. Parsons was coming back now with his companion.
"I want to introduce you to Judge Henesey," he said, "He's going to make the trip with us."
The stranger, a sober-looking man of fifty, shook hands solemnly with the party.
"Your horses and traps are ready for the journey," he said. "You know it is a three days' hike?"
"Is the journey a pretty one?" asked the girl. "Of course it is, it couldn't be anything else."
"Well," said the other cautiously, "I don't know whether it's pretty, but it's certainly interesting. The trail is a mighty difficult one to follow unless you know it. None of the boys round here ever go up. You reckoned on getting a guide here, didn't you?"
He addressed the lawyer, and Mr. Parsons nodded.
"A man named Harvey."
The Judge raised his eyebrows.
"Joe Harvey! Why, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. Harvey broke his leg a week ago and they sent him down to Nelson; but I dare say I'll find somebody, though nobody around here ever goes on to the fellow's estate."
He went back to his tin hut from whence he had come. The curious group about the door was now increased to half a dozen men, and with these he spoke.
"There's a man who came in last night, but I don't know whether you'll care to take him."
"Who is he?" asked Solomon.
"Well, we call him Kid Glove Harry. He's a trapper or something, though he never seems to have any pelts for sale. He turns up regular every six months, and some say he's a bad character, though I've never heard anything definitely against him."
Mr. Parsons hesitated.
"Why do they call him Kid Glove Harry?"
"Because he wears kid gloves, I guess," said the other dryly; "he ain't much to look at. You'd better see him."
He whistled and crooked his finger, and a man detached himself from the group. Judge Henesey had no more than told the truth when he described the newcomer as unattractive. His hair was long, he had a six months' stubbly growth of beard, and one eye was obscured by a dirty bandage. His clothes were stained and worn, and his rusty boots were gaping. A pack was swung over his back, and held by a bandolier of rope, and the general ferocity of his appearance was heightened by the Winchester he carried under his arm and the long-barrelled Colt which swung at his hip.
He did not speak, and made none of the gestures of humility which Mr. Solomon expected from all men he engaged for service, but stood surveying the party calmly out of his one undamaged eye.
"Does he know the trail?" asked Mr. Solomon doubtfully.
The man nodded.
"What is your name?"
The girl was staring at the wild man with glee. Somehow he matched the scene and satisfied her artistic requirements. In curiosity she looked at his hands as Mr. Parsons spoke, and sure enough they were encased in tight-fitting gloves which might have been kid and at one time were probably white.
"That'll do, Harry," said the lawyer, and the man without a word turned his back upon the party and strode away.
"You'll not get him to talk. In some of the camps they call him 'Dummy.' He hates talking."
"Does he hate shaving, too?" said Reggie. "Couldn't we get him trimmed up a bit"
The Judge bit off the end of his cigar and lit it.
"The only barber at Little Pine Beach has had delirium tremens for a week," he said deliberately.
"I suppose we'll have to take him," decided Mr. Solomon Parsons, "though I can't say that he impresses me very favorably."
To the girl, Kid Glove Harry was the one fascinating figure of the party. She rode behind him on the trail, and speculated upon the kind of life that this type of man would live. To her he was something out of a book, a figure from the land of fiction. She wondered if that revolver which flapped at his side as he jogged along had ever been used offensively; how he had got that injury to his eye. Between her speculations and the loveliness of the scene which burst into view as the little party climbed higher and higher toward Dead Horse Pass, she was so fully occupied that nightfall came too quickly.
The horses were unpacked and camp made for the night. Judge Henesey had a consultation with their guide, and came back to the party shaking his head.
"We shall have to pitch our own tents and cook our own food," he said. "He says he will cook for the young lady but nobody else."
"You can tell him from me," said Mr. Parsons, with dignity, "that if there's any cooking to be done, we'll cook for the young lady."
"And you can tell him from me," said the young lady in question, with some determination, "that I shall be most happy to test his powers as a chef."
Mr. Solomon Parsons said nothing, but looked significantly at his son.
Kid Glove Harry might be the greatest villain unhung, but he made an excellent soup and a no less excellent cup of coffee; and Mr. Solomon Parsons, who was a good trencherman, eyeing the remains of his canned beef meal, sniffed the fragrance of the soup and broke the tenth commandment.
The trail widened, and the girl was able to ride side by side with her wild man the next morning.
"Is your eye very bad?" she asked.
"Not very," replied the man gruffly. She wanted to ask how it had happened, but did not dare, and as though reading her thoughts he said,
"Back-fire from my rifle—shooting a lynx."
They rode on in silence which the girl again broke.
"This is wonderland to me. I suppose it is very ordinary to you, and you do not see the beauty as I see it."
He did not reply to her question, but after a while asked:
"Why are you going up to the Storey's?"
She told him frankly, and he listened without comment. She noted that his beard was shot with gray, nevertheless she found it difficult to tell his age. His skin was burnt brown, and there were wrinkles about his eyes—he might have been fifty or thirty. She was taking a surreptitious survey of him when he turned suddenly and looked her full in the face.
"You needn't have come out anyway," he said. "Lawyers could have signed those documents or whatever it is you have to sign."
"My lawyer said it was necessary," she said. She might have added that she did not question her lawyer's decision, and had leapt at the opportunity of seeing a new world. Suddenly she uttered an exclamation.
"Why, tomorrow's my birthday," she said. "I shall be twenty-three. It would be rather awkward if I was twenty-four."
He took no notice of her, and she was piqued. They rode for half a mile in silence, and then unexpectedly:
"Why not twenty-four, eh?"
"It is of no importance," she said coldly, and he did not urge her to any further confidence.
That night was a trying one for her. Reggie was unusually affectionate, and his father seemed to give his son every opportunity to be alone with his client. The climax came when Mr. Solomon Parsons strode off with the Judge to explore a wooded slope. The girl had finished her meal and was getting up when Reggie 's hand caught her arm.
"Don't go," he said, clearing his throat; "there is something I want to say to you, Dorothy."
His tone was so changed that she looked at him in astonishment.
"Dorothy, I love you," he said huskily—"I just love you like the devil!"
"I don't want to be loved like the devil!" she said calmly enough, though she was quaking. She sat with her hands on her lap looking at him, as Reggie described afterwards, as though he were some new kind of insect, and he grew desperate.
("Carry the citadel by force, my boy," his father had urged him that afternoon.)
"Dorothy," said the young man, gripping her by the hand, "I am not worthy of you."
"Thank Heaven we agree on something," she said, and tried to rise, then before she knew what had happened, she was in his arms, his lips pressed to hers. She struggled, but the strongest and most determined of girls would have been caught at a disadvantage. It was then that a finger and thumb pinched Reggie's right ear urgently, and he released his hold of the girl and looked up, white with passion.
"Damn you, what do you mean" he snarled.
He tried to leap to his feet, but since his rate of rising was governed largely by the will of the man who held his ear, his progress was slow and painful.
Kid Glove Harry released his grip, and with a slight push sent the young man reeling back. He said no word, but looked at Mr. Reginald Parsons, and there was something in that look which fired whatever red blood the young man possessed.
With an oath he tugged at his belt.
"Put that gun down," said Kid Glove Harry quietly, and the scowling youth obeyed.
"What is the matter?" It was Mr. Solomon Parsons, who came stumbling through the undergrowth at the sound of his son's angry voice.
The girl, breathless and a little frightened, stood aloof, and heard Reggie give his account of what had happened—an account by no means unflattering to himself. To her amazement, Mr. Parsons heard the story without exhibiting anger for the palpable boorishness of his son or apologies to the victim. Only Judge Henesey standing in the background looked a little puzzled.
The lawyer turned with a bland smile to the girl.
"My dear young lady, this is unfortunate, doubly unfortunate, because of a discovery of mine the day we left Nelson."
She said nothing, but a sudden sense of dismay filled her, for what reason she could not understand.
"There was a telegram there," said the lawyer, and he took a folded paper from his pocket.
"What was the telegram?" she asked steadily. "How does it affect me?"
"It affects you rather nearly," said Mr. Solomon Parsons slowly; "it appears that in my reading of your grandfather's will, I made a slight mistake. You are to be married," he spoke distinctly, "before your twenty- third birthday, not your twenty-fourth."
She gasped. "My twenty-third!" she said incredulously. "Surely you are wrong."
"I deeply regret the error, but it was your twenty-third birthday that the will stipulated. I wish now that I had shown it to yon," he said, with unctuous regret, "but there the matter stands."
The girl pressed her hand against her forehead and thought.
"Then you mean," she said slowly, "that unless I am married today —tonight—I forfeit the remainder of my grandfather's estate?"
He nodded, and smiled a little.
Kid Glove Harry, a silent spectator, saw the blood mount to the girl's cheeks.
"It was a plot!" she cried, her voice trembling a little; "that is why you wanted me to come to the wilds of Canada. I needn't have come here at all. You planned to have me here in the woods, here in the wilderness on the eve of my twenty-third birthday so that you could marry me to —that!"
She pointed to the scowling Reginald. She thought a little while, evidently trying to piece together the details of Mr. Parsons' strategy.
"And you're a lawyer, of course," she said, nodding to Judge Henesey, "and you could marry me."
"That was the idea, miss—I understood from this gentleman," Judge Henesey spat as he spoke, "that you wanted a wedding in the hills."
She looked round desperately. She knew now what that money meant to her, the freedom, the happiness it would give to her, the opportunity for travel—for life; and looking, she saw Kid Glove Harry, tangle-bearded, bandaged eyed, and poverty stricken, and her heart leapt. She walked toward him.
"May I speak to you for a moment?" she said, and led him aside.
She was red with embarrassment when she spoke.
"Are you married?" she asked jerkily.
He shook his head.
"If I gave you ten thousand dollars—a hundred thousand dollars," she said breathlessly, "to marry me, would you promise to leave me when you have brought me back to Pine Beach?"
He thought a while. "Yes; I would leave you when we came back to Pine Beach if you wished," he said.
She looked at him keenly, but his eyes never wavered.
"And you will marry me?" she said.
"I don't see why not," he drawled. "I'm doing nothing particular this evening."
She came back to the fire.
"You can marry me, Judge Henesey, can you not?"
"With or without a license?"
"Yes," he said.
She put her hand in Kid Glove Harry's.
"Marry me," she said.
Mr. Solomon Parsons sprang forward.
"You can't do it," he roared.
"You can't prevent it," said the girl.
"You bet you can't," said Kid Glove Harry. "Go right ahead, Judge..."
That night Dorothy slept in the tent of her husband, and Kid Glove Harry, rolled in a blanket, slept before her door.
It was a silent party that rode over the hills and down the slope to the big wooden mansion which was their destination.
Mr. Solomon Parsons spoke only once that morning when he asked the Judge:
"What's that fellow's name?"
"Torker or Morley, or something," said the Judge. "I didn't catch it correctly, but I'll get it when I give him the certificate today."
The girl rode ahead with her husband, and beyond an observation about the weather they, too, were silent. It was when they had come into view of the eccentric baronet's mansion that the girl asked:
"Have you ever met Sir John Storey?"
He shook his head.
She asked another question, and he replied with a nod; a further, and again he shook his head.
"You don't like talking very much, do you?" she asked.
"Not very much," he replied. "I'd just hate to say what was in my mind."
She looked at him in alarm.
"I guess I'll part with you when we get to the homestead," he said. "You won't want any Kid Glove Harrys hanging around."
"You promised to see me to Little Pine," she said, "and besides, I must find out where you live to send you that money."
"I don't want any money," he said.
"You promised," she said, and he made no reply.
The homestead was a revelation to her. As they grew nearer, she saw it was a dwelling which combined the architectural beauties of the colonial house with the ornate decoration of a Swiss chalet. And there were servants—real servants—in white starched dress frontswho helped the party to alight, and showed them into the great hall, the walls covered with skins and trophies.
There was a butler, a pompous stout man, who treated them with a courtesy and punctilio which, remembering the surroundings, would have seemed to the girl ridiculous but for the awe he inspired in her. She looked around for Kid Glove Harry, but he had disappeared.
Reggie, with a sneer on his face, saw the look and asked:
"Where's your husband. Mrs.—I don't know your name?"
The girl flushed. She turned to the butler.
"Will you see if Mr.—Mr.—if my husband is outside?" she said. She hated that smile on Reggie's face—hated it more bitterly when she realized that she, too, did not even know her own name.
The butler came back. "He will see you later, madam," he said deferentially.
"Is Sir John here?" asked the lawyer.
"No, sir, he is not in the house at present. I will let you know when he returns. I have sent your suit-cases to your bedrooms, gentlemen. Will you dress for dinner? Sir John invariably does."
The two men had brought their dress-suits. Judge Henesey had parted company at the door, and only stopping to fill the marriage certificate with Kid Glove Harry's name, was on his way back to Little Pine.
The girl did not meet her husband that afternoon. Once she saw him riding back from the trail, where he had left the Judge, and she noted with a little pang that he had made his way to the back of the house, where she guessed the servants' quarters were.
She dressed for dinner with more than usual care. There was a fun and a novelty of dressing here in the wilderness, and there was—
"Pshaw!" she said, and dismissed the idea. It was too absurd to be entertained. Why should she want to dress to please a brigand like the guide, who probably had no other thought in his head than a desire to get away to the nearest town and drink the money she would give him? And yet she looked forward with something like pleasure to his appearance.
She came down to dinner radiant, and into the dining-room with its shaded electric lamps (the eccentric baronet had a water-power plant, and generated his own electricity from a waterfall three miles away, she discovered), happy in the consciousness that she was not displeasing.
Reggie looked at her with a grin.
"Where's your husband?" he asked, and chuckled at her obvious exasperation.
The girl looked up to the butler, who stood by a chair at the end of the table.
"Will you tell my husband that dinner is served?" she asked a little huskily.
She would play the game out to the end, she thought.
"Kid Glove Harry is his name," added Mr. Reginald Parsons.
The butler bowed and went out. He came back in a few minutes, and standing by the door, his head erect, conscious of the importance of the occasion, announced:
"Kid Glove Harry."
And at the sight of the man who came in, Mr. Solomon Parsons gasped, and the girl rose from her chair wide-eyed.
It was a clean-shaven man with fine eyes (these she recognized), and he was dressed in the conventional smoking-jacket and starched shirt of civilization. He came forward with a little smile and a bow, and seated himself at the head of the table.
He surveyed the men with grim amusement, then he turned to the girl.
"I hope you're not shocked," he said, "but do you know I had been in the wilderness and haven't had a hair-cut or shave for six months."
He looked up at the butler.
"Mr. Tibbins," he said, "bring her ladyship some ice water."
Then Mr. Solomon Parsons recovered his power of speech. He asked in a hollow tone:
"Then you're Sir John Storey?"
"That is what I am called."
"But nobody knew you at Little Pine."
"I never go there in state," said Sir John, with a little smile. "I shoot at the back of that country, and sometimes go into the village. I happened to arrive there, the day before you came, in a very deplorable condition, Lady Storey," he said gravely, addressing the girl, and she colored. "They know me as Kid Glove Harry from an eccentricity of mine."
"Why do you wear kid gloves?" demanded the curious Mr. Solomon.
"To keep my hands clean," said the other calmly. "That's a curious reason, isn't it?"
That night, when the men had gone to bed, he walked with the girl along a long porch overlooking the moonlit valley. Fifty miles away, above white peaks of his lowly fellows, rose the hoary head of Macdonald.
"It's a wonderful place, this," said the girl.
It was the first time she had spoken to him that evening.
"I don't wonder that you hide yourself away, but isn't it very lonely?"
He flicked the ash from his cigarette before he spoke.
"It is very lonely," he said; and after an interval of silence, "It will be a thousand times more lonely after I have taken you to Little Pine Beach."
She laughed, a soft gurgling laugh, and leant over the rail of the porch.
"I think you're very quixotic," she said, "but I think, if you take me to Little Pine, you'll be—"
"What?" he asked.
She didn't make an immediate reply.
"I promised you I would take you to Little Pine," he said doggedly, "and I must keep my word.'"
"You also said, 'if you wish,'" she said softly.
"And do you wish?"
She was playing with the tendril of a vine that twined about one of the verandah supports, and what she said was in so low a tone that he did not hear her.
But he took a chance and caught her in his arms, and it seemed that he had just guessed right.