Wherein A Woman Lies
From: 'firebrand' Trevison
"Aren't you going to welcome me, dearie?"
From the porch of the Bar B ranchhouse Rosalind had watched the rapid
approach of the buckboard, and she now stood at the edge of the step
leading to the porch, not more than ten or fifteen feet distant from the
vehicle, shocked into dumb amazement.
"Why, yes--of course. That is--Why, what on earth brought you out here?"
"A perfectly good train--as far as your awfully crude town of Manti; and
this--er--spring-legged thing, the rest of the way," laughed Hester
Harvey. She had stepped down, a trifle flushed, inwardly amused, outwardly
embarrassed--which was very good acting; but looking very attractive and
girlish in the simple dress she had donned for the occasion--and for the
purpose of making a good impression. So attractive was she that the
contemplation of her brought a sinking sensation to Rosalind that drooped
her shoulders, and caused her to look around, involuntarily, for something
to lean upon. For there flashed into her mind at this instant the
conviction that she had herself to blame for this visitation--she had
written to Ruth Gresham, and Ruth very likely had disseminated the news,
after the manner of all secrets, and Hester had heard it. And of course
the attraction was "Brand" Trevison! A new emotion surged through Rosalind
at this thought, an emotion so strong that it made her gasp--jealousy!
She got through the ordeal somehow--with an appearance of pleasure--though
it was hard for her to play the hypocrite! But so soon as she decently
could, without cutting short the inevitable inconsequential chatter which
fills the first moments of renewed friendships, she hurried Hester to a
room and during her absence sat immovable in her chair on the porch
staring stonily out at the plains.
It was not until half an hour later, when they were sitting on the porch,
that Hester delivered the stroke that caused Rosalind's hands to fall
nervelessly into her lap, her lips to quiver and her eyes to fill with a
reflection of a pain that gripped her hard, somewhere inside. For Hester
had devised her method, as suggested by Corrigan.
"It may seem odd to you--if you know anything of the manner of my breaking
off with Trevison Brandon--but he wrote me about a month ago, asking me to
come out here. I didn't accept the invitation at once--because I didn't
want him to be too sure, you know, dearie. Men are always presuming and
"Then you didn't hear of Trevison's whereabouts from Ruth Gresham?"
"Why, no, dearie! He wrote directly to me."
Rosalind hadn't that to reproach herself with, at any rate!
"Of course, I couldn't go to his ranch--the Diamond K, isn't it?--so,
noting from one of the newspapers that you had come here, I decided to
take advantage of your hospitality. I'm just wild to see the dear boy!
Is his ranch far? For you know," she added, with a malicious look at the
girl's pale face; "I must not keep him waiting, now that I am here."
"You won't find him prosperous." It hurt Rosalind to say that, but the
hurt was slightly offset by a savage resentment that gripped her when she
thought of how quickly Hester had thrown Trevison over when she had
discovered that he was penniless. And she had a desperate hope that the
dismal aspect of Trevison's future would appall Hester--as it would were
the woman still the mercenary creature she had been ten years before. But
Hester looked at her with grave imperturbability.
"I heard something about his trouble. About some land, isn't it? I didn't
learn the particulars. Tell me about it--won't you, dearie?"
Rosalind's story of Trevison's difficulties did not have the effect that
"The poor, dear boy!" said Hester--and she seemed genuinely moved.
Rosalind gulped hard over the shattered ruins of this last hope and got
up, fighting against an inhospitable impulse to order Hester away. She
made some slight excuse and slipped to her room, where she stayed long,
elemental passions battling riotously within her.
She realized now how completely she had yielded to the spell that the
magnetic and impetuous exile had woven about her; she knew now that had he
pressed her that day when he had told her of his love for her she must
have surrendered. She thought, darkly, of his fiery manner that day, of
his burning looks, his hot, impulsive words, of his confidences. Hypocrisy
all! For while they had been together he must have been thinking of
sending for Hester! He had been trifling with her! Faith in an ideal is a
sacred thing, and shattered, it lights the fires of hate and scorn, and
the emotions that seethed through Rosalind's veins as in her room she
considered Trevison's unworthiness, finally developed into a furious
vindictiveness. She wished dire, frightful calamities upon him, and then,
swiftly reacting, her sympathetical womanliness forced the dark passions
back, and she threw herself on the bed, sobbing, murmuring: "Forgive me!"
Later, when she had made herself presentable, she went downstairs again,
concealing her misery behind a steady courtesy and a smile that sometimes
was a little forced and bitter, to entertain her guest. It was a long,
tiresome day, made almost unbearable by Hester's small talk. But she got
through it. And when, rather late in the afternoon, Hester inquired the
way to the Diamond K, announcing her intention of visiting Trevison
immediately, she gave no evidence of the shocked surprise that seized her.
She coolly helped Hester prepare for the trip, and when she drove away in
the buckboard, stood on the ground at the edge of the porch, watching as
the buckboard and its occupant faded into the shimmering haze of the
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