The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding, Chapter 7: Spanish Lessons

THE LITTLE COLONEL's KNIGHT COMES RIDING
by Annie Fellows Johnston (1863-1931)
Published 1907

Illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry

Table Of Contents

CHAPTER VII.
SPANISH LESSONS

THE Harcourt carriage swung rapidly along the road, for the Little Colonel held the reins, and was testing the speed of the new horses, just sent down from Lexington.

"Isn't it glorious?" she cried, with a quick glance over her shoulder at Gay and Miss Marks on the back seat. "It's like flying, the way they take us through the air, and they're the best matched team in the country."

Leland, on the seat beside her, watched with growing admiration her expert handling of the horses, and Gay watched him. Swathed in a white chiffon veil, she was paying the penalty for being so obliging the day before. She had lain so long on the rocks in her pose of the drowned fisher-maiden, that her face was burned to a blister, and she could not touch it without groaning. But she would willingly go through the ordeal again, she told herself, in order to bring about the present desirable state of affairs.

"Now which way?" asked Lloyd as they came to a turn. "I feel like a Columbus on an unsailed sea. I thought I knew every gah'den around heah within a radius of five miles, but I've nevah seen any that fits the description of the one you're taking us to."

"Turn to the right," Leland directed. "Then it's just a short way down a woodland road. You'll come to an old-fashioned wicket gate and a straight, box-bordered walk leading up to the back of such a quaint vine-covered old house with a red door, that you'll expect to see a thatched roof and hear an English skylark."

"Well, of all things," laughed Lloyd, "why didn't you say little red doah in the first place. That would have located it for me. You've simply discovahed the back premises of Old Doctah Shelby's place, and yoah wondahful English gah'den is their kitchen gah'den. We could have reached their front gate in ten minutes from our house, and heah you have led us all around Robin Hood's bahn to find it. That loop around Rollington took us a good two miles out of the way."

"Well, that's the only way I knew how to reach it," he answered, with the flashing smile she had learned to look for. "I hope that you don't feel that it has been time wasted. I don't."

"Not behind hawses like these," she answered. "We'll forgive you for the sake of the ride. I nevah get tiahed of driving when I can go this fast."

She turned into a narrow lane leading around to the front of the house, and waited for Leland to open the gate.

"How natural everything looks," she exclaimed. "I haven't been heah for yeahs, and when I was a little thing of six or seven I used to be a weekly visitah. I'd bring my dawg Fritz, and stay from breakfast till bedtime. I called Doctah Shelby 'Mistah-my-doctah' and his wife 'Aunt Alicia,'" she went on as Leland resumed his seat in the carriage. "They said that I reminded them of their only daughtah, who was dead, and they used to borrow me by the day. They spoiled me so that it was perfectly scandalous the way I acted sometimes."

"Why did you stop coming?" asked Gay.

"Mrs. Shelby had a fall that made an invalid of her, and she has been away at sanitariums and hospitals most of the time since. I've seen her often, of co'se, but not heah. It's only lately that they've opened up the house and come home to live."

Places exercised a strong influence over Lloyd. Just as she felt the challenge of the locust-trees in the avenue at home, and could not pass those old family sentinels without an unconscious lifting of the head and that pride of bearing which they seemed to expect from all the Lloyds, so this old homestead had its peculiar effect upon her. As she went up the path she had the same feeling of absolute sovereignty that she had had a dozen years before when her slightest wish was law in this adoring household, and where every act of hers, no matter how outbreaking, passed unchided. If she chose to empty the sugar into the middle of the garden walk and fill the bowl with pebbles, "Aunt Alicia" took her afternoon tea unsweetened, rather than ring for more, and thus call Mom Beck's attention to the naughtiness of her little charge.

Once, some babyish whim prompting her to order every picture turned to the wall, the doctor meekly obeyed, and when some chance caller remonstrated, he protested that it was a very small thing to do to give a child pleasure, and that there was no reason why she shouldn't have them upside down if she wished. So strong was the old spell now, that as she stepped up on the porch and saw the same ugly little Chinese idol sitting against the front door to prop it open, that had sat there on all her former visits, she stooped and stood it on its head.

"Why on earth did you do that?" gasped Gay.

"Simply fo'ce of habit," laughed Lloyd. "I used to hate it so because it was such an ugly old thing that I always stood it on its head to punish it for staring at me. I did it this time without thinking."

Leland laughed. Never in the short time he had known her had she seemed quite so adorable as she did at this moment, relapsing into the childish imperiousness of her Little Colonel ways. While they waited for Mrs. Shelby to come down he watched her going around the room, renewing her acquaintance with all the old objects that had once held a fascination for her. She called his attention to the tapestry on the wall, a shepherd and shepherdess beside a trellis on which hung roses as big as cabbages, and told him the quaint fancies she had once had about the romantic figures. The stuffed birds under the glass case on the mantel each had a name she had given it. She remembered them all, from the yellow canary, to the mite of a hummingbird, poised at the top.

Stopping before a queer old whatnot, filled with bric-a-brac and shells, she caught up a round china box. A gilt eagle, hovering over a nest of little eaglets formed the lid, and her face began to dimple as she lifted the china bird by its imposing beak.

"There ought to be peppahmints inside," she said. "There always used to be, because I'd howl if there wasn't, and they couldn't beah to have me disappointed. Well, I wish you'd look! Deah old Aunt Alicia! She's remembahed all these yeahs and kept it ready for me."

She held the box out towards him, and he saw that it had been freshly filled with delectable little striped drops.

"It hurts my conscience," she said, looking up wistfully, as the familiar odour of the peppermint greeted her, "to think how I have neglected her. Heah I have been going to picnics and pahties and all sawts of things evah since I came home from school, and have nevah been neah her. I'm going to find her this minute, and not wait for her to come down as if I were some strangah."

The quaintly furnished old room straightway lost its charm for Leland when she left it, but Gay, pushing aside her veil to taste the contents of the eagle's nest, which Lloyd had deposited in her lap, scrutinized everything with interest. This was Alex's home now, and she wondered how he would look in the midst of such surroundings. She couldn't imagine him with such an antiquated background. Miss Marks picked up a basket of daguerreotypes from the marble-topped table, and began examining them.

They could hear Lloyd calling at the top of the stairs, "Aunt Alicia," and then Mrs. Shelby's voice, tremulous with pleased surprise: "Why it's the Little Colonel! Oh, my dear! My dear! what a joy it is to have you here again! "Then they heard Lloyd laughingly explaining their mission, and after that they seemed to pass into another room, for a low hum of voices was all that could be distinguished.

Presently Mrs. Shelby came down alone. She was a gentle little old lady, with faded blue eyes, and a sweet patient face. She wore a bunch of gray curls over each ear in the fashion of her girlhood. There was a lingering charm of youth about her, just as there was a faint suggestion of lavender still clinging to the fine old lace that fell over her little hands. Almost as soon as she had finished welcoming them an old coloured man followed her into the room, bearing a huge tray with tinkling glasses, a decanter of raspberry shrub, and a plate of little nut-cakes. While he served the guests she explained Lloyd's delay with almost girlish eagerness.

"I have taken a great liberty with your model, Miss Marks, but Lloyd assured me you would be perfectly willing. This last day of June is a very happy anniversary of mine and the doctor's. I have been thinking of it all morning, and when Lloyd came up the stairs just now, so glowing and bright, it seemed to me I saw my own lost youth rising up before me, and I asked her to put on a gown I have treasured many years, and be photographed in that.

"It is the one I had on when Richard proposed to me," she explained, a faint pink tingeing her soft old cheeks. "Fifty years ago to-day, in that same old garden. This was my grandm'other's place then. Richard bought it afterwards. And a year from to-day if we live, we will keep our golden wedding. If you can use the gown in the photograph it will make me very happy, for it is falling to pieces, despite my care of it. Lloyd thought it very picturesque and appropriate."

While Miss Marks was expressing her delight over the privilege, for the unearthing of old costumes was one of her pet diversions, Lloyd came down the stairs and stopped shyly in the doorway. She had tucked up her shining hair with a tall ivory comb, and it hung in soft curls on each side of her glowing face, in the old fashion of Mrs. Shelby's girlhood. The thin, clinging dress enveloped her like a pale blue cloud, and a flat, wide-brimmed garden hat swung from her arm by its blue ribbons. With the donning of the ancient dress she seemed to have put on the sweet shy manner that had been the charm of its first wearer.

A long-drawn "oh!" of admiration from Gay and Miss Marks greeted her appearance, and she turned a timid glance towards Leland, who had risen quickly. His glance and his silence were more eloquent than their words, for she turned away blushing.

"Now if I may have a bit of paper to make a moth to pin on the milk-white phlox," began Miss Marks, but Mrs. Shelby stopped her eagerly.

"Oh, my dear, we will have the picture perfect in every way. Richard has a case of butterflies and moths in his office. I shall send a servant to bring it and to call him over, for he will want to see Lloyd in that gown I am sure. How I wish Alex were here to be photographed with her. He is so broad shouldered and erect he reminds me daily of what his uncle was at his age."

"Maybe he will come before we are through," suggested Miss Marks. At the mere thought of his coming, Gay pulled her veil down hastily over her blistered face. Behind its protecting screen she watched the old couple keenly, when the doctor arrived. They had eyes for nothing but Lloyd, and their gaze followed her tenderly wherever she went.

"They're just daffy about her," thought Gay. "It's plain to be seen they'd give anything in the world to get her into the family. I hope Doctor Alex won't come in time to be photographed with her. If he'd never fallen in love with her before he'd have to do it now. He couldn't help himself when she looks like that, and then where would all my plans be for poor Leland? "

But Leland was taking care of his own interests. As soon as Miss Marks had taken enough plates to satisfy herself he led Lloyd off to the end of the garden to show her a flower which he had found with a soft meandering Spanish name.

"We'll begin the lessons to-morrow," he said, as if it were all settled. The masterfulness of his tone had pleased her the day before, but here in the place where she had done all the dictating and others had obeyed, it aroused a feeling that Mom Beck would have labelled "the Lloyd stubbo'ness." She didn't want to consent, simply because he had taken it for granted that she would, so she laughingly contradicted him.

"We'll begin to-morrow," he repeated, smiling down at her so insistently that she dropped her eyes before his. Then to her surprise she found that her opposition had completely vanished. She felt that it would be one of the pleasantest pastimes that could be devised, to study such a musical language under such a teacher. But she had no intention of letting him know how she felt about it for a long while, so she was thankful for the interruption which came just then.

Miss Marks, who was exploring the rest of the premises in search of further possibilities, sent Gay to summon her to the front of the house.

"She says to 'come into the garden, Maud.' She is going to add a Tennysonian pose to her series of Fancies, and she's found a place where there's a bit of terrace for you to come tripping down, a la Maud, to the tune of 'She is coming, my own, my sweet!'"

Catching up her long filmy blue skirt, Lloyd hurried away, leaving Gay and Leland to follow as they chose. Leland finished the verse in a clear tenor voice as if singing to himself, but it followed Lloyd down the walk as if meant for her alone

''She is coming, my own, my sweet! 
Were it ever so airy a tread 
My heart would hear her and beat 
Though 'twere earth in an earthy bed. 
Would start and tremble under her feet 
And blossom in purple and red.'"

Then he hummed it almost under his breath, the entire verse again, forgetful of Gay at his elbow until she spoke.

"Wouldn't Kitty have looked adorable in that darling old hat tied under her chin? It's too bad she couldn't have been here to pose as Maud."

"Oh, I don't know," he answered absently. "She's too dark for the part. Miss Lloyd looks it to perfection."

Gay's eyes shone delightedly behind the white veil, and for a few steps she could not help skipping, as she blessed the Martinsville Springs, which had taken Kitty off in the nick of time to save her for a different fate. By the time Maud's picture was taken Alex arrived, and Miss Marks was promptly seized with an inspiration.

"I am going to have two pictures of Darby and Joan," she exclaimed, " to add to the series. Alex, you take Lloyd down into the garden again beside the phlox, and turn so that I'll get your profile. It is so like your uncle's. I'll call that one 'Hand in hand when our life was May.' Then I'll take Mrs. Shelby and the doctor in exactly the same position as a companion piece, and call that 'Hand in hand when our hair is gray.'"

They made a joke of it, the two old people, and obligingly took the places that Lloyd and Alex left, but a mist sprang to Lloyd's eyes a moment later, watching the devoted old couple who for fifty years had been lovers and for forty-nine years had been wed. Marriage like that seemed a beautiful thing; she wondered if such an experience would ever be hers. She wished Mammy Easter had found a better fortune for her than the one she told over her tea-cup.

It was noon by the time the pictures were all taken, and Leland took Miss Marks home in the carriage while Lloyd went up-stairs to change her dress. She wanted Gay and Leland to stop at The Locusts for lunch, but Gay refused because she couldn't go to the table in a veil and under the circumstances she couldn't go without one. She got out of the carriage, however, and sat on the porchwhile Leland took the old Colonel for a short spin down the road, to try the new horses.

"It's been a mighty nice morning," she said. "I wish Lucy could have been with us. She adores discovering old places like that and doing unexpected things. It almost spoiled my good times thinking of the wistful way she looked after us when we drove off."

"But she's married!" exclaimed Lloyd. "I shouldn't think she'd care for those things in quite the same way as she did before. I should think she'd rather stay with her husband."

"Bosh!" said Gay. "Being married doesn't change a person's disposition and make tame old hens out of lively little humming-birds. That's just what Lucy was, a dear little humming-bird, always in a flutter of doing and going; and you needn't tell me that she enjoys poking there at home with nobody but Jameson, as much as she would enjoy going out with us and doing things."

"But he's her husband!" insisted Lloyd, as if that term covered all that could be desired of human companionship. Then she hummed meaningly

"'Hand in hand when our life was May,
Hand in hand when our hair is gray!"'

Gay shrugged her shoulders impatiently. "Oh, that Darby and Joan business is all right when your hair is gray, But Lucy is only a year older than I am, and Jameson doesn't interest himself in a single thing that she likes.  He's devoted to her, so devoted he doesn't want her out of his sight; but it's the kind of devotion that has taught me a lesson. If ever I tie myself up that way it will not be while life is May. I'll have a good time first." 

Lloyd had no answer for such heresy. She was going over in her mind the list of people from whom she she had unconsciously taken her exalted impressions of married life: her mother and Papa Jack, the old Colonel and Amanthis, Doctor Shelby and Aunt Alicia, Rob's father and mother. She felt that Gay was mistaken. To be sure there were Mr. and Mrs. Apwall, who quarrelled like cats and dogs, but somehow even they had given her the impression that they enjoyed their little encounters, and quarrelled to pass the time, rather than because they bore each other any ill-will. Then she reflected that these were all people of an older generation than Lucy, and maybe there was a difference in the times. Surely Gay must have good reason for speaking so feelingly. This was not the first time that she had spoken of Lucy with tears in her eyes, and when she did that, Lloyd recalling Mammy Easter's tea-cups, was vaguely glad that it had been foretold that hers would be empty.

The old Colonel came back in a few minutes loud in his praise of the new horses, and to Lloyd's surprise, in high good humour with their owner.  Evidently Leland had improved his opportunity and had exerted himself to make friends with the old Colonel, for to Lloyd's amazement he cordially insisted on Leland's considering The Locusts a second home as long as he should be in the Valley, and to come at any hour he chose. The latch-string would be out for him.

 "I shall certainly avail myself of the privilege very soon," he responded, "for to-morrow I have the honour to begin giving Miss Lloyd lessons in Spanish. So few young ladies nowadays play the harp, that when one has the ability she owes it to the world to learn the Spanish songs. Don't you  think so?"

 Lloyd opened her mouth to protest that she had not yet given her consent, but closed it again as the old Colonel began expressing his pleasure at such an arrangement. She felt trapped. It was to please him that she had learned to play on her grandmother's harp. Any reference to it always put him in a gentle humour. She wanted him to be cordial and friendly with Leland, and was glad that he was no longer prejudiced against him, so she held her peace; but it exasperated her to have her consent taken for granted in such a high-handed way. He had ridden over her objection as regardlessly as if she had never made any.

She had boasted to herself, "He needn't put on any of his lordly ways with me!" and here she was submitting meekly, without a word. It worried her after they had driven away. All the time she was up in her room, getting ready for lunch, she kept thinking about it.

"I'll just give him to undahstand that it was on grandfathah's account," she decided finally. "Instead of my influencing him as Gay expected, it looks as if he were winding me around his fingah. But he isn't! He sha'n't ! I'll take the lessons, but I'll have no foolishness about it. I'll surprise him by sticking strictly to business, and I'll set him a good example of the way to live up to his own family motto."

Mrs. Sherman, who made no objection to the lessons since the old Colonel approved of them so heartily, was on the front porch with her embroidery when Leland came up the next morning, the first of July, to give the first lesson. She smiled to see how energetically Lloyd threw herself into it, thinking it was a matter of pride with her to show him what rapid progress she could make.

It certainly was a matter of pride with the Colonel, who enjoyed being waylaid to hear how beautifully she could count to one hundred or name the months of the year. It became his habit to take the book, while, perched on the arm of his chair, she rattled off the vocabulary for the day's lesson, and reviewed all the others.

"That's right! That's right!" he would say encouragingly. "At this rate you'll soon be ready for a trip to the Alhambra, and I'm blessed if I don't take you some of these days. I've always wanted to go."

When Kitty came home from the springs Lloyd insisted on her joining the class, but she declared she was too far behind to attempt catching up. Besides she was in charge of affairs at home now, and Elise was to have a house-party soon. There were half a dozen good reasons why she could not take the time. The principal one, which she did not give however, was that it was plain to be seen that Leland was more interested in studying Lloyd than in teaching her a language, and under such circumstances, Kitty preferred not to make the third party.

So while Kitty's mornings were filled with her housekeeping duties, Betty's with her writing and Gay's with her music and plans to keep Lucy occupied, it gradually came about that Leland spent more and more of his time at The Locusts. The lessons lasted only an hour, but after that he usually found some excuse to stay: there was a new song that he wanted to hear, or a game of tennis, or a stroll down to the post-office. Sometimes when he had no excuse at all he lingered anyhow, lounging on the shady porch, and talking of anything that happened to come uppermost. Then at night he was often there again, either because The Locusts was the gathering place of the Clan, and a frolic was afoot, or he went to escort Lloyd and Betty to the Cabin or The Beeches to some entertainment the other girls had planned.

"My oh! What a buttahfly I'm getting to be!" laughed Lloyd one evening as she went into her mother's room to have her dress buttoned. "A hawse-back ride this mawning, a picnic this aftahnoon, and now the rustic dance in the Mallards' barn to-night. But nevah mind, little mothah," she added with a hug, as she caught a wistful look on Mrs. Sherman's face. "It'll all be ovah soon. This is the last summah of my teens. When I am old and twenty I'll nevah leave yoah side. 'I'll sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam' and take all the housekeeping cares off yoah shouldahs as a dutiful daughtah should."

Mrs. Sherman gave her shoulder a caressing pat as she fastened the last button. " I'm glad to have you go, dear," she answered, "especially to all the out-door merry-makings. They keep you young and well. Papa Jack and I will walk over after awhile and look on."

"The Mallard barn dances are always so much fun," said Lloyd, lingering to give a final touch to her mother's toilet. "Wait! Yoah side combs are in too high, and yoah collah isn't pinned straight in the back. How did you evah manage to dress yoahself right befoah I grew up to tend to you?"

As she made the changes with all a young girl's particularity about trifles, she went on, "That last one they had three yeahs ago was lovely. Will you evah forget the way Rob cake-walked with Mrs. Bisbee? It makes me laugh to this day, whenevah I think of it."

"I suppose Rob will hardly be there to-night," said Mrs. Sherman, smiling as she recalled the ridiculous appearance he had made. His cake-walk had been the feature of the evening.

"No, indeed," answered Lloyd. "He's no moah likely to be there than the man in the moon. I wish he would though. He used to be the life of everything. We saw him this evening as we drove home from the picnic. He had just come out from town, and he looked so hot and dusty and ti'ahed it made me feel bad. He's like a strangah now, didn't stop to speak, only lifted his hat and turned in at the gate at Oaklea, as if he hadn't gone on a thousand drives with us. He ought to have been interested in what we were doing for old times' sake."

Lloyd had not thought of Rob for days, but she was reminded of him many times that evening, the affair at the Mallards' barn was so much like the one to which he had taken her three years before. The same old negro fiddlers furnished the music. The same flickering lantern light made weird shadows on the rough walls, and the same sweet smell of new hay filled the place. As the music of the Virginia reel began she thought of the way Rob had romped through it that other time, and wished she could see him once more as jolly and care-free as he was then.

"Why can one nevah have two good times exactly alike?" she wondered wistfully. She was standing near the wide double doors, looking out across the fields as she thought about it later, recalling how many things were alike on the two occasions, even the colour of the dress she wore. She remembered that because Rob had said she looked like an apple-blossom, and it was rare indeed for him to make such complimentary speeches. It wasn't best for girls to hear nice things about themselves often, he said. It made them hard to get along with, too uppity.

The music stopped and Leland Harcourt came to find her. She was looking so pensively past the gay scene that he bent over her, humming in a low tone

"'What's this dull town to me?
Robin Adair?
What was 't 1 wished to see?
What wished to hear?"'

She started with a little laugh, blushing slightly because he seemed to have read her thoughts. "Robin Adair" was one of Mrs. Moore's old names for Rob, and she had been wishing for him.

Over at Oaklea, Rob sat scowling at a book spread out before him on the library table, He was thinking of Harcourt as he had seen him on the front seat beside Lloyd, in his cool-looking white flannels, the very embodiment of gentleManley leisure. No doubt she noticed the contrast between them, he all dusty and dishevelled from his day's work and the trip home on the hot car. Not that he would change places, not that he regretted for an instant the part he had to take in the grimy working world. But the chance encounter had suddenly opened his eyes to all that he had had to sacrifice for that work. Until now it had not even left him time to realize how much he had given up. Now to find this stranger enjoying all that was once his, stung him to envy. He smiled grimly as he recognized it as envy. He had thought himself free from such a childish trait. But he could not smile away the feeling. It persisted till it accomplished more than the old judge's advice and his mother's pleadings, that all work and no play was bad for him. Closing his book he announced his intention of walking over to The Locusts.

As he went up the avenue he heard the distant scraping of fiddles and the rhythmic beating of feet in the Mallard barn. He had forgotten that it was the night of the rustic dance.

He was disappointed at finding no one at home but the old Colonel. But his welcome was so cordial that he stayed even longer than he had intended. The Colonel always had the latest news of every one, but to-night he had to talk first of the wonderful progress Lloyd was making in Spanish, and what a fine fellow that young Harcourt was.

"Didn't like the chap at all at first," he confided. "Thought he was too much of a confounded foreigner; but I'm a big enough man I hope to acknowledge a mistake, and I own up I was prejudiced."

When Rob finally rose to start home, the Colonel would not let him go until he had promised to come again the next night, when Lloyd and Betty should be at home. Afterwards he regretted having made the promise. Although he went early Harcourt was already there, seemingly as much at home as if he were a member of the family. It made Rob feel like a stranger to see this newcomer usurping the place that he had always filled in the Sherman household.

It grated on him also to hear Lloyd saying, "Si, señor " and "gracias" when she addressed Harcourt, and grated still more for Harcourt to turn to her as he did continually with some aside in Spanish. Never more than a phrase or a word, and "just for practice," they laughingly explained, but it seemed to emphasize a tie that had drawn them together, and --- Rob's remoteness.

He left early. Walking slowly down the avenue he thought of the hundreds of times he had passed under those old locust-trees on sweet starlighted summer nights like this. What a goodly company of old friends they were! The kind that never change. He looked up, vaguely grateful for the soft lisping of leaves above him. They seemed to understand why he was going, why he could not stay.

Half-way down the avenue he heard the tinkle of Lloyd's harp, and then her voice beginning to sing. The seat beside the measuring tree was just ahead and he made his way to it, quietly, on tip-toe almost, that he might lose no note. But it was an unknown tongue she was singing, a song that Harcourt had taught her, and Rob could not understand a word. It was so symbolical of the change that had come between them that a fierce impulse seized him to rush back to the house and throw the interloper out of the window. Then he smiled bitterly at his own vehemence. What right had he to be so savage over her friendship? He was her big brother only, and even that merely in name, because she had chosen to call him so in those years that they had been such loyal good chums. It was little and mean and selfish of him to begrudge her the slightest thing that would give her pleasure. This man with his fortune, his accomplishments, his rare social gifts had everything to offer, while he, --- he had not even time to put at her disposal. Time to find bypaths to happiness for her---

 The sweet clear voice sang on, the old locusts rustled softly as the night wind stirred them. Then the song stopped, and for a long time he sat staring ahead of him with unseeing eyes. At last he rose, and taking a step towards the tree beside the bench, passed his hand over the bark, groping for the notches he knew were there but could not see.

He paused at the one a little higher than his shoulder, and then his fingers found the four leaf clover he had carved beside it, the last time Lloyd had stood up to be measured. He could almost see her standing there again like Elaine, the lily-maid, fair-haired and smiling while he repeated the charm of the four leaf clover:

"' Love be true to her---
 joy draw near to her---
Fortune find what your 
Gifts can do for her---"'

He had forgotten how the lines went but it made no difference. Anyhow they voiced what had always been his dearest wish for her, and standing there in the dark he vowed savagely that any man who stood in the way of the old charm's coming true, should have him to reckon with.

When he swung off down the path, taking the short cut to Oaklea, his hat was pulled grimly down over his eyes, and his mouth was set in a firm hard line. He did not open his books again that night. Lying on the couch by his open window, he watched the lights at The Locusts shining through the trees, till the last one went out, and he knew that Harcourt had gone.

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