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Mrs Lansell's Lecture








From: Her Prairie Knight

When the excitement had somewhat abated, and Miss Hayes was convinced
that her idol was really there, safe, and with his usual healthy
appetite, and when a messenger had been started out to recall the
searchers, Dorman was placed upon a chair before a select and attentive
audience, and invited to explain, which he did.

He had decided to borrow some little wheels from the bunkhouse, so he
could ride his big, high pony home. Mr. Cameron had little wheels on
his feet, and so did Uncle Dick, and all the mens. (The audience gravely
nodded assent.) Well, and the knob wasn't too high when he went in, but
when he tried to open the door to go out, it was away up there! (Dorman
measured with his arm.) And he fell down, and all his shiny pennies
rolled and rolled. And he looked and looked where they rolled, and when
he counted, one was gone. So he looked and looked for the one shiny
penny till he was tired to death. And so he climbed up high, into a
funny bed on a shelf, and rested. And when he was rested he couldn't
open the door, and he kicked and kicked, and then Be'trice came, and Mr.
Cam'ron.

"And you said you'd help me find my one penny," he reminded Keith,
blinking solemnly at him from the chair. "And I want to shake hands wis
your big, high pony. I'm going to buy him wis my six pennies. Be'trice
said I could."

Beatrice blushed, and Keith forgot where he was, for a minute, looking
at her.

"Come and find my one shiny penny," Dorman commanded, climbing down.
"And I want Be'trice to come. Be'trice can always find things."

"Beatrice cannot go," said his grandmother, who didn't much like the
way Keith hovered near Beatrice, nor the look in his eyes. "Beatrice is
tired."

"I want Be'trice!" Dorman set up his everyday howl, which started the
dogs barking outside. His guardian angel attempted to soothe him, but he
would have none of her; he only howled the louder, and kicked.

"There, there, honey, I'll go. Where's your hat?"

"Beatrice, you had better stay in the house; you have done quite enough
for one day." The tone of the mother suggested things.

"It is imperative," said Beatrice, "for the peace and the well-being of
this household, that Dorman find his penny without delay." When
Beatrice adopted that lofty tone her mother was in the habit of saying
nothing--and biding her time. Beatrice was so apt, if mere loftiness did
not carry the day, to go a step further and flatly refuse to obey. Mrs.
Lansell preferred to yield, rather than be openly defied.

So the three went off to find the shiny penny--and in exactly
thirty-five minutes they found it. I will not say that they could not
have found it sooner, but, at any rate, they didn't, and they reached
the house about two minutes behind Dick and Sir Redmond, which did not
improve Sir Redmond's temper to speak of.

After that, Keith did not need much urging from Dick to spend the rest
of the afternoon at the "Pool" ranch. When he wanted to, Keith could be
very nice indeed to people; he went a long way, that afternoon, toward
making a friend of Miss Hayes; but Mrs. Lansell, who was one of those
women who adhere to the theory of First Impressions, in capitals,
continued to regard him as an incipient outlaw, who would, in time and
under favorable conditions, reveal his true character, and vindicate her
keen insight into human nature. There was one thing which Mrs. Lansell
never forgave Keith Cameron, and that was the ruin of her watch, which
refused to run while she was in Montana.

That night, when Beatrice was just snuggling down into the delicious
coolness of her pillow, she heard someone rap softly, but none the less
imperatively, on her door. She opened one eye stealthily, to see her
mother's pudgy form outlined in the feeble moonlight.

"Beatrice, are you asleep?"

Beatrice did not say yes, but she let her breath out carefully in a
slumbrous sigh. It certainly sounded as if she were asleep.

"Be-atrice!" The tone, though guarded, was insistent.

The head of Beatrice moved slightly, and settled back into its little
nest, for all the world like a dreaming, innocent baby.

If she had not been the mother of Beatrice, Mrs. Lansell would probably
have gone back to her room, and continued to bide her time; but the
mother of Beatrice had learned a few things about the ways of a wilful
girl. She went in, and closed the door carefully behind her. She did not
wish to keep the whole house awake. Then she went straight to the bed,
laid hand upon a white shoulder that gleamed in the moonlight, and gave
a shake.

"Beatrice, I want you to answer me when I speak."

"M-m--did you--m-m--speak, mama?" Beatrice opened her eyes and closed
them, opened them again for a minute longer, yawned daintily, and by
these signs and tokens wandered back from dreamland obediently.

Her mother sat down upon the edge of the bed, and the bed creaked. Also,
Beatrice groaned inwardly; the time of reckoning was verily drawing
near. She promptly closed her eyes again, and gave a sleepy sigh.

"Beatrice, did you refuse Sir Redmond again?"

"M-m--were you speaking--mama?"

Mrs. Lansell, endeavoring to keep her temper, repeated the question.

Beatrice began to feel that she was an abused girl. She lifted herself
to her elbow, and thumped the pillow spitefully.

"Again? Dear me, mama! I've never refused him once!"

"You haven't accepted him once, either," her mother retorted; and
Beatrice lay down again.

"I do wish, Beatrice, you would look at the matter in a sensible light
I'm sure I never would ask you to marry a man you could not care for.
But Sir Redmond is young, and good-looking, and has birth and breeding,
and money--no one can accuse him of being a fortune-hunter, I'm sure.
I was asking Richard to-day, and he says Sir Redmond holds a large
interest in the Northern Pool, and other English investors pay him a
salary, besides, to look after their interests. I wouldn't be surprised
if the holdings of both of you would be sufficient to control the
business."

Beatrice, not caring anything for business anyway, said nothing.

"Any one can see the man's crazy for you. His sister says he never cared
for a woman before in his life."

"Of course," put in Beatrice sarcastically. "His sister followed him
down to South Africa, and all around, and is in a position to know."

"Any one can see he isn't a lady's man."

"No--" Beatrice smiled reminiscently; "he certainly isn't."

"And so he's in deadly earnest. And I'm positive he will make you a
model husband."

"Only think of having to live, all one's life, with a model husband!"
shuddered Beatrice hypocritically.

"Be-atrice! And then, it's something to marry a title."

"That's the worst of it," remarked Beatrice.

"Any other girl in America would jump at the chance. I do believe,
Beatrice, you are hanging back just to be aggravating. And there's
another thing, Beatrice. I don't approve of the way this Keith Cameron
hangs around you."

"He doesn't!" denied Beatrice, in an altogether different tone. "Why,
mama!"

"I don't approve of flirting, Beatrice, and you know it. The way
you gadded around over the hills with him--a perfect stranger--was
disgraceful; perfectly disgraceful. You don't know any thing about the
fellow, whether he's a fit companion or not--a wild, uncouth cowboy--"

"He graduated from Yale, a year after Dick. And he was halfback, too."

"That doesn't signify," said her mother, "a particle. I know Miss Hayes
was dreadfully shocked to see you come riding up with him, and Sir
Redmond forced to go with Richard, or ride alone."

"Dick is good company," said Beatrice. "And it was his own fault.
I asked him to go with us, when Dick and I left the cattle, and he
wouldn't. Dick will tell you the same. And after that I did not see
him until just before we--I came home, Really, mama, I can't have a
leading-string on Sir Redmond. If he refuses to come with me, I can
hardly insist."

"Well, you must have done something. You said something, or did
something, to make him very angry. He has not been himself all day. What
did you say?"

"Dear me, mama, I am not responsible for all Sir Redmond's ill-humor."

"I did not ask you that, Beatrice."

Beatrice thumped her pillow again. "I don't remember anything very
dreadful, mama. I--I think he has indigestion."

"Be-atrice! I do wish you would try to conquer that habit of flippancy.
It is not ladylike. And I warn you, Sir Redmond is not the man to dangle
after you forever. He will lose patience, and go back to England without
you--and serve you right! I am only talking for your own good, Beatrice.
I am not at all sure that you want him to leave you alone."

Beatrice was not at all sure, either. She lay still, and wished her
mother would stop talking for her good. Talking for her good had meant,
as far back as Beatrice could remember, saying disagreeable things in a
disagreeable manner.

"And remember, Beatrice, I want this flirting stopped."

"Flirting, mama?" To hear the girl, you would think she had never heard
the word before.

"That's what I said, Beatrice. I shall speak to Richard in the morning
about this fellow Cameron. He must put a stop to his being here
two-thirds of the time. It is unendurable."

"He and Dick are chums, mama, and have been for years. And to-morrow we
are going to Lost Canyon, you know, and Mr. Cameron is to go along. And
there are several other trips, mama, to which he is already invited.
Dick cannot recall those invitations."

"Well, it must end there. Richard must do something. I cannot see
what he finds about the fellow to like--or you, either, Beatrice. Just
because he rides like a--a wild Indian, and has a certain daredevil
way--"

"I never said I liked him, mama," Beatrice protested, somewhat hastily.
"I--of course, I try to treat him well--"

"I should say you did!" exploded her mother angrily. "You would be
much better employed in trying to treat Sir Redmond half as well. It is
positively disgraceful, the way you behave toward him--as fine a man as
I ever met in my life. I warn you, Beatrice, you must have more regard
for propriety, or I shall take you back to New York at once. I certainly
shall."

With that threat, which she shrewdly guessed would go far toward
bringing this wayward girl to time, Mrs. Lansell got up off the bed,
which creaked its relief, and groped her way to her own room.

The pillow of Beatrice received considerable thumping during the next
hour--a great deal more, in fact, than it needed. Two thoughts troubled
her more than she liked. What if her mother was right, and Sir Redmond
lost patience with her and went home? That possibility was unpleasant,
to say the least. Again, would he give her up altogether if she showed
Dick she was not afraid of Keith Cameron, for all his good looks, and at
the same time taught that young man a much-needed lesson? The way he had
stared at her was nothing less than a challenge and Beatrice was sorely
tempted.





Next: Beatrice's Wild Ride

Previous: The Search For Dorman



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