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Sir Redmond Gets His Answer

From: Her Prairie Knight

"Before long, dear, we shall get on the great ship, and ride across the
large, large ocean, and be at home. You will be delighted to see Peggy,
and Rupert, and the dogs, won't you, dear?" Miss Hayes, her cheeks
actually getting some color into them at the thought of going home,
buttered a fluffy biscuit for her idol.

Dorman took two bites while he considered. "Rupert'll want my little
wheels, for my feet, what Mr. Cam'ron gave me--but he can't have 'em,
dough. I 'spect he'll be mad. I wonder what'll Peggy say bout my two
puppies. I've got to take my two puppies wis me. Will dey get sick
riding on de water, auntie? Say, will dey?"

"I--I think not, dear," ventured his auntie cautiously. His auntie was a
conscientious woman, and she knew very little about puppies.

"Be'trice will help me take care of dem if dey're sick," he remarked

Then something in his divinity's face startled his assurance. "You's
going wis us, isn't you, Be'trice? I want you to help take care of my
two puppies. Martha can't, 'cause she slaps dere ears. Is you going wis
us, Be'trice?"

This, at the dinner table, was, to say the least,
embarrassing--especially on this especial evening, when Beatrice was
trying to muster courage to give Sir Redmond the only answer it was
possible to give him now. It was an open secret that, in case she had
accepted him, the home-going of Miss Hayes would be delayed a bit, when
they would all go together. Beatrice had overheard her mother and Miss
Hayes discussing this possibility only the day before. She undertook the
impossible, and attempted to head Dorman off.

"Perhaps you'll see a whale, honey. The puppies never saw a whale, I'm
sure. What do you suppose they'd think?"

"Is you going?"

"You'd have to hold them up high, you know, so they could see, and show
them just where to look, and--"

"Is you going, Be'trice?"

Beatrice sent a quick, despairing glance around the table. Four pairs of
eyes were fixed upon her with varying degrees of interest and anxiety.
The fifth pair--Dick's--were trying to hide their unrighteous glee by
glaring down at the chicken wing on his plate. Beatrice felt a strong
impulse to throw something at him. She gulped and faced the inevitable.
It must come some time, she thought, and it might as well be now--though
it did seem a pity to spoil a good dinner for every one but Dick, who
was eating his with relish.

"No, honey"--her voice was clear and had the note of finality--"I'm not

Sir Redmond's teeth went together with a click, and he picked up the
pepper shaker mechanically and peppered his salad until it was perfectly
black, and Beatrice wondered how he ever expected to eat it. Mrs.
Lansell dropped her fork on the floor, and had to have a clean one
brought. Miss Hayes sent a frightened glance at her brother. Dick sat
and ate fried chicken.

"Why, Be'trice? I wants you to--and de puppies'll need you--and auntie,
and--" Dorman gathered himself for the last, crushing argument--"and
Uncle Redmon' wants you awf'lly!"

Beatrice took a sip of ice water, for she needed it.

"Why, Be'trice? Gran-mama'll let you go, guess. Can't she go,

It was Mrs. Lansell's turn to test the exquisite torture of that prickly
chill along the spine. Like Beatrice, she dodged.

"Little boys," she announced weakly, "should not speak until they're
spoken to."

Dick came near strangling on a shred of chicken.

"Can't she go, gran'mama? Say, can't she? Tell Be'trice to go home wis
us, gran'mama!"

"Beatrice"--Mrs. Lansell swallowed--"is not a little child any longer,
Dorman. She is a woman and can do as she likes. I"--she was speaking to
the whole group--"I can only advise her."

Dorman gave a squeal of triumph. "See? You can go, Be'trice! Gran'mama
says you can go. You will go, won't you, Be'trice? Say yes!"

"No!" said Beatrice, with desperate emphasis. "I won't."

"I want--Be'trice--to go-o!" Dorman slid down upon his shoulder blades,
gave a squeal which was not triumph, but temper, and kicked the table
till every dish on it danced.

"Dorman sit up!" commanded his auntie. "Dorman, stop, this instant! I'm
ashamed of you; where is my good little man? Redmond."

Sir Redmond seemed glad of the chance to do something besides sit
quietly in his place and look calm. He got up deliberately, and in two
minutes, or less, Dorman was in the woodshed with him, making sounds
that frightened his puppies dreadfully and put the coyotes to shame.

Beatrice left the table hurriedly to escape the angry eyes of her
mother. The sounds in the woodshed had died to a subdued sniffling, and
she retreated to the front porch, hoping to escape observation. There
she nearly ran against Sir Redmond, who was staring off into the dusk to
where the moon was peering redly over a black pinnacle of the Bear Paws.

She would have slipped back into the house, but he did not give her the
chance. He turned and faced her steadily, as he had more than once faced
the Boers, when he knew that before him was nothing but defeat.

"So you're not going to England ever?"

Pride had squeezed every shade of emotion from his voice.

"No." Beatrice gripped her fingers together tightly.

"Are you sure you won't be sorry--afterward?"

"Yes, I'm sure." Beatrice had never done anything she hated more.

Sir Redmond, looking into her eyes, wondered why those much-vaunted
sharpshooters, the Boers, had blundered and passed him by.

"I don't suppose it matters much now--but will you tell me why? I
believed you would decide differently." He was holding his voice down to
a dead level, and it was not easy.

"Because--" Beatrice faced the moon, which threw a soft glow upon her
face, and into her wonderful, deep eyes a golden light. "Oh, I'm sorry,
Sir Redmond! But you see, I didn't know. I--I just learned to-day what
it means to--to love. I--I am going to stay here. A new company--is
about to be formed, Sir Redmond. The Maltese Cross and the--Triangle
Bar--are going to cast their lot together." The golden glow deepened and
darkened, and blended with the red blood which flushed cheek and brow
and throat.

It took Sir Redmond a full minute to comprehend. When he did, he
breathed deep, shut his lips upon words that would have frightened her,
and went down the steps into the gloom.

Beatrice watched him stride away into the dusky silence, and her heart
ached with sympathy for him. Then she looked beyond, to where the lights
of the Cross ranch twinkled joyously, far down the coulee, and the sweet
egotism of happiness enfolded her, shutting him out. After that she
forgot him utterly. She looked up at the moon, sailing off to meet the
stars, smiled good-fellowship and then went in to face her mother.

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