Beatrice Learns A New Language





"D'you want to see the boys work a bunch of cattle, Trix?" Dick said

to her, when she came down to where he was leaning against a high board

fence, waiting for her.



"'Deed I do, Dicky--only I've no idea what you mean."



"The boys are going to cut out some cattle we've contracted to the

government--for the Indians, you know. They're holding the bunch over in

Dry Coulee; it's only three or four miles. I've got to go over and see

the foreman, and I thought maybe you'd like to go along."



"There's nothing I can think of that I would like better. Won't it be

fine, Sir Redmond?"



Sir Redmond did not say whether he thought it would be fine or not. He

still had the white streak around his mouth, and he went through the

gate and on to the house without a word--which was undoubtedly a

rude thing to do. Sir Redmond was not often rude. Dick watched him

speculatively until he was beyond hearing them. Then, "What have you

done to milord, Trix?" he wanted to know.



"Nothing," said Beatrice.



"Well," Dick said, with decision, "he looks to me like a man that has

been turned down--hard. I can tell by the back of his neck."



This struck Beatrice, and she began to study the retreating neck of

her suitor. "I can't see any difference," she announced, after a brief

scrutiny.



"It's rather sunburned and thick."



"I'll gamble his mind is a jumble of good English oaths--with maybe a

sprinkling of Boer maledictions. What did you do?"



"Nothing--unless, perhaps, he objects to being disciplined a bit. But I

also object to being badgered into matrimony--even with Sir Redmond."



"Even with Sir Redmond!" Dick whistled. "He's 'It,' then, is he?"



Beatrice had nothing to say. She walked beside Dick and looked at the

ground before her.



"He doesn't seem a bad sort, sis, and the title will be nice to have

in the family, if one cares for such things. Mother does. She was

disappointed, I take it, that Wiltmar was a younger son."



"Yes, she was. She used to think that Sir Redmond might get killed down

there fighting the Boers, and then Wiltmar would be next in line. But he

didn't, and it was Wiltmar who went first. And now oh, it's humiliating,

Dick! To be thrown at a man's head--" Tears were not far from her voice

just then.



"I can see she wants you to nab the title. Well, sis, if you don't care

for the man--"



"I never said I didn't care for him. But I just can't treat him

decently, with mama dinning that title in my ears day and night. I wish

there wasn't any title. Oh, it's abominable! Things have come to that

point where an American girl with money is not supposed to care for

an Englishman, no matter how nice he may be, if he has a title, or the

prospect of one. Every one laughs and thinks it's the title she wants;

they'd think it of me, and they'd say it. They would say Beatrice

Lansell took her half-million and bought her a lord. And, after a while,

perhaps Sir Redmond himself would half-believe it--and I couldn't bear

that! And so I am--unbearably flippant and--I should think he'd hate

me!"



"So you reversed the natural order of things, and refused him on account

of the title?" Dick grinned surreptitiously.



"No, I didn't--not quite. I'm afraid he's dreadfully angry with me,

though. I do wish he wasn't such a dear."



"You're the same old Trix. You've got to be held back from the trail

you're supposed to take, or you won't travel it; you'll bolt the other

way. If everybody got together and fought the notion, you would probably

elope with milord inside a week. Mother means well, but she isn't on to

her job a little bit. She ought to turn up her nose at the title."



"No fear of that! I've had it before my eyes till I hate the very

thought of it. I--I wish I could hate him." Beatrice sighed deeply, and

gave her hand to Dorman, who scurried up to her.



"I'll have the horses saddled right away," said Dick, and left them.



"Where you going, Be'trice? You going to ride a horse? I want to,

awf'lly."



"I'm afraid you can't, honey; it's too far." Beatrice pushed a yellow

curl away from his eyes with tender, womanly solicitude.



"Auntie won't care, 'cause I'm a bother. Auntie says she's goin' to send

for Parks. I don't want Parks; 'sides, Parks is sick. I want a pony, and

some ledder towsers wis fringes down 'em, and I want some little wheels

on my feet. Mr. Cam'ron says I do need some little wheels, Be'trice."



"Did he, honey?"



"Yes, he did. I like Mr. Cam'ron, Be'trice; he let me ride his big, high

pony. He's a berry good pony. He shaked hands wis me, Be'trice--he truly

did."



"Did he, hon?" Beatrice, I am sorry to say, was not listening. She

was wondering if Sir Redmond was really angry with her--too angry, for

instance, to go over where the cattle were. He really ought to go, for

he had come West in the interest of the Eastern stockholders in the

Northern Pool, to investigate the actual details of the work. He surely

would not miss this opportunity, Beatrice thought. And she hoped he was

not angry.



"Yes, he truly did. Mr. Cam'ron interduced us, Be'trice. He said,

'Redcloud, dis is Master Dorman Hayes. Shake hands wis my frien'

Dorman.' And he put up his front hand, Be'trice, and nod his head, and

I shaked his hand. I dess love that big, high pony, Be'trice. Can I buy

him, Be'trice?"



"Maybe, kiddie."



"Can I buy him wis my six shiny pennies, Be'trice?"



"Maybe."



"Mr. Cam'ron lives right over that hill, Be'trice. He told me."



"Did he, hon?"



"Yes, he did. He 'vited me over, Be'trice. He's my friend, and I've got

to buy my big, high pony. I'll let you shake hands wis him, Be'trice.

I'll interduce him to you. And I'll let you ride on his back, Be'trice.

Do you want to ride on his back?"



"Yes, honey."



Before Beatrice had time to commit herself they reached the house, and

she let go Dorman's hand and hurried away to get into her riding-habit.



Dorman straightway went to find his six precious, shiny pennies, which

Beatrice had painstakingly scoured with silver polish one day to please

the little tyrant, and which increased their value many times--so many

times, in fact, that he hid them every night in fear of burglars. Since

he concealed them each time in a different place, he was obliged to

ransack his auntie's room every morning, to the great disturbance of

Martha, the maid, who was an order-loving person.



Martha appeared just when he had triumphantly pounced upon his treasure

rolled up in the strings of his aunt's chiffon opera-bonnet.



"Mercy upon us, Master Dorman! Whatever have you been doing?"



"I want my shiny pennies," said the young gentleman, composedly

unwinding the roll, "to buy my big, high pony."



"Naughty, naughty boy, to muss my lady's fine bonnet like that! Look at

things scattered over the floor, and my lady's fine handkerchiefs and

gloves--" Martha stopped and meditated whether she might dare to shake

him.



Dorman was laboriously counting his wealth, with much wrinkling of

stubby nose and lifting of eyebrows. Having satisfied himself that they

were really all there, he deigned to look around, with a fine masculine

disdain of woman's finery.



"Oh, dose old things!" he sniffed. "I always fordet where I put my shiny

pennies. Robbers might find them if I put them easy places. I'm going to

buy my big, high pony, and you can't shake his hand a bit, Martha."



"Well, I'm sure I don't want to!" Martha snapped back at him, and went

down on all fours to gather up the things he had thrown down. "Whatever

Parks was thinking of, to go and get fever, when she was the only one

that could manage you, I don't know! And me picking up after you till

I'm fair sick!"



"I'm glad you is sick," he retorted unfeelingly, and backed to the door.

"I hopes you get sicker so your stummit makes you hurt. You can't ride

on my big, high pony."



"Get along with you and your high pony!" cried the exasperated Martha,

threatening with a hairbrush. Dorman, his six shiny pennies held fast in

his damp little fist, fled down the stairs and out into the sunlight.



Dick and Beatrice were just ready to ride away from the porch. "I want

to go wis you, Uncle Dick." Dorman had followed the lead of Beatrice,

his divinity; he refused to say Richard, though grandmama did object to

nicknames.



"Up you go, son. You'll be a cow-puncher yourself one of these days.

I'll not let him fall, and this horse is gentle." This last to satisfy

Dorman's aunt, who wavered between anxiety and relief.



"You may ride to the gate, Dorman, and then you'll have to hop down

and run back to your auntie and grandma. We're going too far for you

to-day." Dick gave him the reins to hold, and let the horse walk to

prolong the joy of it.



Dorman held to the horn with one hand, to the reins with the other, and

let his small body swing forward and back with the motion of the horse,

in exaggerated imitation of his friend, Mr. Cameron. At the gate he

allowed himself to be set down without protest, smiled importantly

through the bars, and thrust his arm through as far as it would reach,

that he might wave good-by. And his divinity smiled back at him, and

threw him a kiss, which pleased him mightily.



"You must have hurt milord's feelings pretty bad," Dick remarked. "I

couldn't get him to come. He had to write a letter first, he said."



"I wish, Dick," Beatrice answered, a bit petulantly, "you would stop

calling him milord."



"Milord's a good name," Dick contended. "It's bad enough to 'Sir' him to

his face; I can't do it behind his back, Trix. We're not used to fancy

titles out here, and they don't fit the country, anyhow. I'm like

you--I'd think a lot more of him if he was just a plain, everyday

American, so I could get acquainted enough to call him 'Red Hayes.' I'd

like him a whole lot better."



Beatrice was in no mood for an argument--on that subject, at least.

She let Rex out and raced over the prairie at a gait which would have

greatly shocked her mother, who could not understand why Beatrice was

not content to drive sedately about in the carriage with the rest of

them.



When they reached the round-up Keith Cameron left the bunch and rode out

to meet them, and Dick promptly shuffled responsibility for his sister's

entertainment to the square shoulders of his neighbor.



"Trix wants to wise up on the cattle business, Keith. I'll just turn her

over to you for a-while, and let you answer her questions; I can't, half

the time. I want to look through the bunch a little."



Keith's face spoke gratitude, and spoke it plainly. The face of Beatrice

was frankly inattentive. She was watching the restless, moving mass of

red backs and glistening horns, with horsemen weaving in and out among

them in what looked to her a perfectly aimless fashion--until one would

wheel and dart out into the open, always with a fleeing animal lumbering

before. Other horsemen would meet him and take up the chase, and he

would turn and ride leisurely back into the haze and confusion. It was

like a kaleidoscope, for the scene shifted constantly and was never

quite the same.



Keith, secure in her absorption, slid sidewise in the saddle and studied

her face, knowing all the while that he was simply storing up trouble

for himself. But it is not given a man to flee human nature, and the

fellow who could sit calmly beside Beatrice and not stare at her if

the opportunity offered must certainly have the blood of a fish in his

veins. I will tell you why.



Beatrice was tall, and she was slim, and round, and tempting, with the

most tantalizing curves ever built to torment a man. Her hair was soft

and brown, and it waved up from the nape of her neck without those

short, straggling locks and thin growth at the edge which mar so many

feminine heads; and the sharp contrast of shimmery brown against ivory

white was simply irresistible. Had her face been less full of charm,

Keith might have been content to gaze and gaze at that lovely hair line.

As it was, his eyes wandered to her brows, also distinctly marked, as

though outlined first with a pencil in the fingers of an artist who

understood. And there were her lashes, dark and long, and curled up at

the ends; and her cheek, with its changing, come-and-go coloring; her

mouth, with its upper lip creased deeply in the middle--so deeply that a

bit more would have been a defect--and with an odd little dimple at one

corner; luckily, it was on the side toward him, so that he might look

at it all he wanted to for once; for it was always there, only growing

deeper and wickeder when she spoke or laughed. He could not see her

eyes, for they were turned away, but he knew quite well the color; he

had settled that point when he looked up from coiling his rope the day

she came. They were big, baffling, blue-brown eyes, the like of which he

had never seen before in his life--and he had thought he had seen

every color and every shade under the sun. Thinking of them and their

wonderful deeps and shadows, he got hungry for a sight of them. And

suddenly she turned to ask a question, and found him staring at her, and

surprised a look in his eyes he did not know was there.



For ten pulse-beats they stared, and the cheeks of Beatrice grew red as

healthy young blood could paint them; Keith's were the same, only that

his blood showed darkly through the tan. What question had been on her

tongue she forgot to ask. Indeed, for the time, I think she forgot

the whole English language, and every other--but the strange, wordless

language of Keith's clear eyes.



And then it was gone, and Keith was looking away, and chewing a

corner of his lip till it hurt. His horse backed restlessly from the

tight-gripped rein, and Keith was guilty of kicking him with his spur,

which did not better matters. Redcloud snorted and shook his outraged

head, and Keith came to himself and eased the rein, and spoke

remorseful, soothing words that somehow clung long in the memory of

Beatrice.



Just after that Dick galloped up, his elbows flapping like the wings of

a frightened hen.



"Well, I suppose you could run a cow outfit all by yourself, with the

knowledge you've got from Keith," he greeted, and two people became even

more embarrassed than before. If Dick noticed anything, he must have

been a wise young man, for he gave no sign.



But Beatrice had not queened it in her set, three seasons, for nothing,

even if she was capable of being confused by a sweet, new language in a

man's eyes. She answered Dick quietly.



"I've been so busy watching it all that I haven't had time to ask many

questions, as Mr. Cameron can testify. It's like a game, and it's very

fascinating--and dusty. I wonder if I might ride in among them, Dick?"



"Better not, sis. It isn't as much fun as it looks, and you can see more

out here. There comes milord; he must have changed his mind about the

letter."



Beatrice did not look around. To see her, you would swear she had set

herself the task of making an accurate count of noses in that seething

mass of raw beef below her. After a minute she ventured to glance

furtively at Keith, and, finding his eyes turned her way, blushed again

and called herself an idiot. After that, she straightened in the saddle,

and became the self-poised Miss Lansell, of New York.



Keith rode away to the far side of the herd, out of temptation; queer

a man never runs from a woman until it is too late to be a particle of

use. Keith simply changed his point of view, and watched his Heart's

Desire from afar.





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