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- Graustark - 6/57 -
horses began to slacken their speed, a moment later coming to a standstill. The awful ride was over.
"The train! the train!" she cried, in ecstacy. "Here, on the other side. Thank heaven!"
He could not speak for the joyful pride that distended his heart almost to bursting. The coach door flew open, and Light-horse Jerry yelled:
"Here y'are! I made her!"
"I should say you did!" exclaimed Grenfall, climbing out and drawing her after him gently. "Here's your ten."
"I must send you something, too, my good fellow," cried the lady. "What is your address--quick?"
"William Perkins, O----, West Virginny, ma'am."
Lorry was dragging her toward the cars as the driver completed the sentence. Several persons were running down the platform, dimly lighted from the string of car windows She found time to pant as they sped along:
"He was not Light-horse Jerry, at all!"
He laughed, looking down into her serious upturned face. A brief smile of understanding flitted across her lips as she broke away from him and threw herself into the arms of tall, excited Uncle Caspar. The conductor, several trainmen and a few eager passengers came up, the former crusty and snappish.
"Well, get aboard!" he growled. "We can't wait all night."
The young lady looked up quickly, her sensitive face cringing beneath the rough command. Lorry stepped instantly to the conductor's side, shook his finger vigorously under his nose, and exclaimed in no uncertain tones:
"Now, that's enough from you! If I hear another word out of you, I'll make you sweat blood before tomorrow morning. Understand, my friend."
"Aw, who are you?" demanded the conductor, belligerently.
"You'll learn that soon enough. After this you'll have sense enough to find out whom you are talking to before you open that mouth of yours. Not another word!" Mr. Grenfall Lorry was not president of the road, nor was he in any way connected with it, but his well assumed air of authority caused the trainman's ire to dissolve at once.
"Excuse me, sir. I've been worried to death on this run. I meant no offence. That old gentleman has threatened to kill me. Just now he took out his watch and said if I did not run back for his niece in two minutes he'd call me out and run me through. I've been nearly crazy here. For the life of me, I don't see how you happened to be--"
"Oh, that's all right. Let's be off," cried Lorry, who had fallen some distance behind his late companion and her uncle. Hurrying after them, he reached her side in time to assist her in mounting the car steps.
"Thank you," smiling down upon him bewitchingly. At the top of the steps she was met by her aunt, behind whom stood the anxious man-servant and the maid. Into the coach she was drawn by the relieved old lady, who was critically inspecting her personal appearance when Lorry and the foreigner entered.
"Ach, it was so wild and exhilarating, Aunt Yvonne," the girl was saying, her eyes sparkling. She stood straight and firm, her chin in the air, her hands in those of her aunt. The little traveling cap was on the side of her head, her hair was loose and very much awry, strands straying here, curls blowing there in utter confusion. Lorry fairly gasped with admiration for the loveliness that would not be vanquished.
"We came like the wind! I shall never, never forge: it," she said.
"But how could you have remained there, child? Tell me how it happened. We have been frantic," said her aunt, half in English, half in German.
"Not now, dear Aunt Yvonne. See my hair! What a fright I must be! Fortunate man, your hair cannot be so unruly as mine. Oh!" The exclamation was one of alarm. In an instant she was at his side, peering with terrified eyes at the bloodstains on his neck and face. "It is blood! You are hurt! Uncle Caspar, Hedrick --quick! Attend him! Come to my room at once. You are suffering. Minna, find bandages!"
She dragged him to the door of her section before he could interpose a remonstrance.
"It is nothing--a mere scratch. Bumped my head against the side of the coach. Please don't worry about it; I can care for myself. Really, it doesn't--"
"But it does! It has bled terribly. Sit there! Now, Hedrick, some water."
Hedrick rushed off and was back in a moment with a basin of water, a sponge and a towel, and before Grenfall fully knew what was happening, the man-servant was bathing his head, the others looking on anxiously, the young lady apprehensively, her hands clasped before her as she bent over to inspect the wound above his ear.
"It is quite an ugly cut," said Uncle Caspar, critically. "Does it pain you, sir?"
"Oh, not a great deal," answered Lorry, closing his eyes comfortably. It was all very pleasant, he thought.
"Should it not have stitches, Uncle Caspar?" asked the sweet, eager voice.
"I think not. The flow is staunched. If the gentleman will allow Hedrick to trim the hair away for a plaster and then bandage it I think the wound will give him no trouble." The old man spoke slowly and in very good English.
"Really, Uncle, is it not serious?"
"No, no," interposed Grenfall Lorry. "I knew it was a trifle. You cannot break an American's head. Let me go to my own section and I'll be ready to present myself, as good as new, in ten minutes."
"You must let Hedrick bandage your head," she insisted. "Go with him, Hedrick."
Grenfall arose and started toward his section, followed by Hedrick.
"I trust you were not hurt during that reckless ride," he said, more as a question, stopping in the aisle to look back at her.
"I should have been a mass of bruises, gashes and lumps had it not been for one thing," she said, a faint flush coming to her cheek, although her eyes looked unfalteringly into his. "Will you join us in the dining car? I will have a place prepared for you at our table."
"Thank you. You are very good. I shall join you as soon as I am presentable."
"We are to be honored, sir," said the old gentleman, but in such a way that Grenfall had a distinct feeling that it was he who was to be honored. Aunt Yvonne smiled graciously, and he took his departure. While Hedrick was dressing the jagged little cut, Grenfall complacently surveyed the patient in the mirror opposite, and said to himself a hundred times: "You lucky dog! It was worth forty gashes like this. By Jove, she's divine!"
In a fever of eager haste he bathed and attired himself for dinner, the imperturbable Hedrick assisting. One query filled the American's mind: "I wonder if I am to sit beside her." And then: "I have sat beside her! There can never again be such delight!"
It was seven o'clock before his rather unusual toilet was completed. "See if they have gone to the diner, Hedrick," he said to the man-servant, who departed ceremoniously.
"I don't know why he should be so damned polite," observed Lorry, gazing wonderingly after him. "I'm not a king. That reminds me. I must introduce myself. She doesn't know me from Adam."
Hedrick returned and announced that they had just gone to the dining car and were awaiting him there. He hurried to the diner and made his way to their table. Uncle Caspar and his niece were facing him as he came up between the tables, and he saw, with no little regret, that he was to sit beside the aunt--directly opposite the girl, however. She smiled up at him as he stood before them, bowing. He saw the expression of inquiry in those deep, liquid eyes of violet as their gaze wandered over his hair.
"Your head? I see no bandage," she said, reproachfully.
"There is a small plaster and that is all. Only heroes may have dangerous wounds," he said, laughingly.
"Is heroism in America measured by the number of stitches or the size of the plaster?" she asked, pointedly. "In my country it is a joy, and not a calamity. Wounds are the misfortune of valor. Pray, be seated, Mr. Lorry is it not?" she said, pronouncing it quaintly.
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