Mrs Lansell's Lecture





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.





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