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A Tilt With Sir Redmond








From: Her Prairie Knight

Beatrice, standing on the top of a steep, grassy slope, was engaged in
the conventional pastime of enjoying the view. It was a fine view, but
it was not half as good to look upon as was Beatrice herself, in her
fresh white waist and brown skirt, with her brown hair fluffing softly
in the breeze which would grow to a respectable wind later in the day,
and with her cheeks pink from climbing.

She was up where she could see the river, a broad band of blue in the
surrounding green, winding away for miles through the hills. The far
bank stood a straight two hundred feet of gay-colored rock, chiseled, by
time and stress of changeful weather, into fanciful turrets and towers.
Above and beyond, where the green began, hundreds of moving dots told
where the cattle were feeding quietly. Far away to the south, heaps of
hazy blue and purple slept in the sunshine; Dick had told her those
were the Highwoods. And away to the west, a jagged line of blue-white
glimmered and stood upon tip-toes to touch the swimming clouds--touched
them and pushed above proudly; those were the Rockies. The Bear Paws
stood behind her; nearer they were--so near they lost the glamour of
mysterious blue shadows, and became merely a sprawling group of huge,
pine-covered hills, with ranches dotted here and there in sheltered
places, with squares of fresh, dark green that spoke of growing crops.

Ten days, and the metropolitan East had faded and become as hazy and
vague as the Highwoods. Ten days, and the witchery of the West leaped in
her blood and held her fast in its thralldom.

A sound of scrambling behind her was immediately followed by a smothered
epithet. Beatrice turned in time to see Sir Redmond pick himself up.

"These grass slopes are confounded slippery, don't you know," he
explained apologetically. "How did you manage that climb?"

"I didn't." Beatrice smiled. "I came around the end, where the ascent is
gradual; there's a good path."

"Oh!" Sir Redmond sat down upon a rock and puffed. "I saw you up
here--and a fellow doesn't think about taking a roundabout course to
reach his heart's--"

"Isn't it lovely?" Beatrice made haste to inquire.

"Lovely isn't half expressive enough," he told her. "You look--"

"The river is so very blue and dignified. I've been wondering if it has
forgotten how it must have danced through those hills, away off there.
When it gets down to the cities--this blue water--it will be muddy and
nasty looking. The 'muddy Missouri' certainly doesn't apply here. And
that farther shore is simply magnificent. I wish I might stay here
forever."

"The Lord forbid!" cried he, with considerable fervor. "There's a dear
nook in old England where I hope--"

"You did get that mud off your leggings, I see," Beatrice remarked
inconsequentially. "James must have worked half the time we've been
here. They certainly were in a mess the last time I saw them."

"Bother the leggings! But I take it that's a good sign, Miss
Lansell--your taking notice of such things."

Beatrice returned to the landscape. "I wonder who originated that
phrase, 'The cattle grazing on a thousand hills'? He must have stood
just here when he said it."

"Wasn't it one of your American poets? Longfellow, or--er--"

Beatrice simply looked at him a minute and said "Pshaw!"

"Well," he retorted, "you don't know yourself who it was."

"And to think," Beatrice went on, ignoring the subject, "some of those
grazing cows and bossy calves are mine--my very own. I never cared
before, or thought much about it, till I came out and saw where they
live, and Dick pointed to a cow and the sweetest little red and white
calf, and said: 'That's your cow and calf, Trix.' They were dreadfully
afraid of me, though--I'm afraid they didn't recognize me as their
mistress. I wanted to get down and pet the calf--it had the dearest
little snub nose but they bolted, and wouldn't let me near them."

"I fancy they were not accustomed to meeting angels unawares."

"Sir Redmond, I wish you wouldn't. You are so much nicer when you're not
trying to be nice."

"I'll act a perfect brute," he offered eagerly, "if that will make you
love me."

"It's hardly worth trying. I think you would make a very poor sort of
villain, Sir Redmond. You wouldn't even be picturesque."

Sir Redmond looked rather floored. He was a good fighter, was Sir
Redmond, but he was clumsy at repartee--or, perhaps, he was too much in
earnest to fence gracefully. Just now he looked particularly foolish.

"Don't you think my brand is pretty? You know what it is, don't you?"

"I'm afraid not," he owned. "I fancy I need a good bit of coaching in
the matter of brands."

"Yes," agreed Beatrice, "I fancy you do. My brand is a Triangle
Bar--like this." With a sharp pointed bit of rock she drew a more or
less exact diagram in the yellow soil. "There are ever so many different
brands belonging to the Northern Pool; Dick pointed them out to me, but
I can't remember them. But whenever you see a Triangle Bar you'll be
looking at my individual property. I think it was nice of Dick to give
me a brand all my own. Mr. Cameron has a pretty brand, too--a Maltese
Cross. The Maltese Cross was owned at one time by President Roosevelt.
Mr. Cameron bought it when he left college and went into the cattle
business. He 'plays a lone hand,' as he calls it; but his cattle range
with the Northern Pool, and he and Dick work together a great deal. I
think he has lovely eyes, don't you?" The eyes of Beatrice were intent
upon the Bear Paws when she said it--which brought her shoulder toward
Sir Redmond and hid her face from him.

"I can't say I ever observed Mr. Cameron's eyes," said Sir Redmond
stiffly.

Beatrice turned back to him, and smiled demurely. When Beatrice smiled
that very demure smile, of which she was capable, the weather-wise
generally edged toward their cyclone-cellars. Sir Redmond was not
weather-wise--he was too much in love with her--and he did not possess a
cyclone cellar; he therefore suffered much at the hands of Beatrice.

"But surely you must have noticed that deep, deep dimple in his chin?"
she questioned innocently. Keith Cameron, I may say, did not have a
dimple in his chin at all; there was, however, a deep crease in it.

"I did not." Sir Redmond rubbed his own chin, which was so far from
dimpling that is was rounded like half an apricot.

"Dear me! And you sat opposite to him at dinner yesterday, too! I
suppose, then, you did not observe that his teeth are the whitest,
evenest."

"They make them cheaply over here, I'm told," he retorted, setting his
heel emphatically down and annihilating a red and black caterpillar.

"Now, why did you do that? I must say you English are rather brutal?"

"I can't abide worms."

"Well, neither can I. And I think it would be foolish to quarrel about a
man's good looks," Beatrice said, with surprising sweetness.

Sir Redmond hunched his shoulders and retreated to the comfort of
his pipe. "A bally lot of good looks!" he sneered. "A woman is never
convinced, though."

"I am." Beatrice sat down upon a rock and rested her elbows on her knees
and her chin in her hands--and an adorable picture she made, I assure
you. "I'm thoroughly convinced of several things. One is Mr. Cameron's
good looks; another is that you're cross."

"Oh, come, now!" protested Sir Redmond feebly, and sucked furiously at
his pipe.

"Yes," reiterated Beatrice, examining his perturbed face judicially;
"you are downright ugly."

The face of Sir Redmond grew redder and more perturbed; just as Beatrice
meant that it should; she seemed to derive a keen pleasure from goading
this big, good-looking Englishman to the verge of apoplexy.

"I'm sure I never meant to be rude; but a fellow can't fall down and
worship every young farmer, don't you know--not even to please you!"

Beatrice smiled and threw a pebble down the slope, watching it bound and
skip to the bottom, where it rolled away and hid in the grass.

"I love this wide country," she observed, abandoning her torture with
a suddenness that was a characteristic of her nature. When Beatrice had
made a man look and act the fool she was ready to stop; one cannot say
that of every woman. "One can draw long, deep breaths without robbing
one's neighbor of oxygen. Everything is so big, and broad, and generous,
out here. One can ride for miles and miles through the grandest, wildest
places,--and--there aren't any cigar and baking-powder and liver-pill
signs plastered over the rocks, thank goodness! If man has traveled that
way before, you do not have the evidence of his passing staring you
in the face. You can make believe it is all your own--by right of
discovery. I'm afraid your England would seem rather little and crowded
after a month or two of this." She swept her hand toward the river, and
the grass-land beyond, and the mountains rimming the world.

"You should see the moors!" cried Sir Redmond, brightening under this
peaceful mood of hers. "I fancy you would not find trouble in drawing
long breaths there. Moor Cottage, where your sister and Wiltmar lived,
is surrounded by wide stretches of open--not like this, to be sure, but
not half-bad in its way, either."

"Dolly grew to love that place, though she did write homesick letters at
first. I was going over, after my coming out--and then came that awful
accident, when she and Wiltmar were both drowned--and, of course, there
was nothing to go for. I should have hated the place then, I think. But
I should like--" Her voice trailed off dreamily, her eyes on the hazy
Highwoods.

Sir Redmond watched her, his eyes a-shine; Beatrice in this mood was
something to worship. He was almost afraid to speak, for fear she would
snuff out the tiny flame of hope which her half-finished sentence had
kindled. He leaned forward, his face eager.

"Beatrice, only say you will go--with me, dear!"

Beatrice started; for the moment she had forgotten him. Her eyes kept to
the hills. "Go--to England? One trip at a time, Sir Redmond. I have
been here only ten days, and we came for three months. Three months of
freedom in this big, glorious place."

"And then?" His voice was husky.

"And then--freckle lotions by the quart, I expect."

Sir Redmond got upon his feet, and he was rather white around the mouth.

"We Englishmen are a stubborn lot, Miss Beatrice. We won't stop fighting
until we win."

"We Yankees," retorted she airily, "value our freedom above everything
else. We won't surrender it without fighting for it first."

He caught eagerly at the lack of finality in her tones. "I don't want to
take your freedom, Beatrice. I only want the right to love you."

"Oh, as for that, I suppose you may love me as much as you please--only
so you don't torment me to death talking about it."

Beatrice, not looking particularly tormented, waved answer to Dick, who
was shouting something up at her, and went blithely down the hill, with
Sir Redmond following gloomily, several paces behind.





Next: Beatrice Learns A New Language

Previous: A Handsome Cowboy To The Rescue



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