CHAPTER II: MR. VERINDER COMPLAINS
JACK KILMENY FOLLOWED THE PATHWAY which wound through the woods along the bank of the river. Occasionally he pushed through a thick growth of young willows or ducked beneath the top strand of a neglected wire fence.
Beyond the trees lay a clearing. At the back of this, facing the river, was a large fishing lodge built of logs and finished artistically in rustic style. It was a two-story building spread over a good deal of ground space. A wide porch ran round the front and both sides. Upon the porch were a man in an armchair and a girl seated on the top step with her head against the corner post.
A voice hailed Kilmeny. "I say, my man."
The fisherman turned, discovered that he was the party addressed, and waited.
"Come here, you!" The man in the armchair had taken the cigar from his mouth and was beckoning to him.
"Meaning me?" inquired Kilmeny.
"Of course I mean you. Who else could I mean?"
The fisherman drew near. In his eyes sparkled a light that belied his acquiescence.
"Do you belong to the party camped below?" inquired he of the rocking chair, one eyeglass fixed in the complacent face.
The guilty man confessed.
"Then I want to know what the deuce you meant by kicking up such an infernal row last night. I couldn't sleep a wink for hours-not for hours, dash it. It's an outrage-a beastly outrage. What!"
The man with the monocle was smug with the self-satisfaction of his tribe. His thin hair was parted in the middle and a faint straw-colored mustache decorated his upper lip. Altogether, he might measure five feet five in his boots. The miner looked at him gravely. No faintest hint of humor came into the sea-blue eyes. They took in the dapper Britisher as if he had been a natural history specimen.
"So kindly tell them not to do it again," Dobyans Verinder ordered in conclusion.
"If you please, sir," added the young woman quietly.
Kilmeny's steady gaze passed for the first time to her. He saw a slight dark girl with amazingly live eyes and a lift to the piquant chin that was arresting. His hat came off promptly.
"We didn't know anybody was at the Lodge," he explained.
"You wouldn't, of course," she nodded, and by way of explanation: "Lady Farquhar is rather nervous. Of course we don't want to interfere with your fun, but--"
"There will be no more fireworks at night. One of the boys had a birthday and we were ventilating our enthusiasm. If we had known--"
"Kindly make sure it doesn't happen again, my good fellow," cut in Verinder.
Kilmeny looked at him, then back at the girl. The dapper little man had been weighed and found wanting. Henceforth, Verinder was not on the map.
"Did you think we were wild Utes broke loose from the reservation? I reckon we were some noisy. When the boys get to going good they don't quite know when to stop."
The eyes of the young woman sparkled. The fisherman thought he had never seen a face more vivid. Such charm as it held was too irregular for beauty, but the spirit that broke through interested by reason of its hint of freedom. She might be a caged bird, but her wings beat for the open spaces.
"Were they going good last night?" she mocked prettily.
"Not real good, ma'am. You see, we had no town to shoot up, so we just punctured the scenery. If we had known you were here--"
"You would have come and shot us up," she charged gayly.
Kilmeny laughed. "You're a good one, neighbor. But you don't need to worry." He let his eyes admire her lazily. "Young ladies are too seldom in this neck of the woods for the boys to hurt any. Give them a chance and they would be real good to you, ma'am."
His audacity delighted Moya Dwight. "Do you think they would?"
"In our own barbaric way, of course."
"Do you ever scalp people?" s