Betty Gordon at Boarding School/Chapter 4
"They'll feel better presently," he remarked, rejoining Bob and Betty on the platform. "I know the boarding house they've chosen is fine in every way and they're going to have a delightful winter."
The train started slowly, and the black silk gloves of the aunts waved dolorously from the window. They were embarked on their adventure.
"Don't look so solemm, Betty," teased her uncle. "If I'm not mistaken that's the smoke from my train. I don't want any one to weep over my departure."
"I could, but I won't," Betty assured him bravely. "You won't get sick or anything, will you, Uncle Dick? And you'll write to me every week?"
"Like a clock," he promised her. "There goes the agent with my bags—this is the local, all right. Good-bye, Bob. Remember what I've asked of you."
Mr. Gordon wrung Bob's hand and smiled down into the blue eyes lifted so fervently to his.
"You're my boy, too," he said clearly. "Don't forget, lad, if you need me."
Then he swept Betty into his arms.
"Be a good girl, Sweetheart," he murmured, kissing her.
They watched him climb up the steps of the snorting, smoky local, saw his bags tossed into the baggage car, and then, with a shrill grinding of wheels, the training resumed its way. As long as they could see, the tall figure in the gray suit stood on the platform and waved a white handkerchief to them.
"Oh, Bob, don't let me cry," begged Betty, in a sudden panic. "Everybody's watching us. Let's go somewhere, quick."
"All right, we will," promised Bob. "We'll take the car to Doctor Morrison. Hop in, Betsey, and dry your eyes. You're going traveling yourself day after to-morrow."
"I wasn't really crying," explained Betty as she settled herself in the shabby car that had belonged to her uncle; he had sold it to the town physician. "But doesn't it give you a lonesome feeling to be the one that's left? I hate to say good-bye, anyway."
Bob's experience with motors was rather limited, and what slight knowledge he possessed had been gained In a few lessons taken while riding with Mr. Gordon. However, the boy was sure that he could drive the car the brief distance to the doctor's house, and Betty shared his confidence. From the Morrison house it was only a short walk to the Watterby farm, where they were to stay until they left for the East.
Betty forgot to cry as Bob started the car so suddenly that it shot forward like a live thing. He jammed on the brake and brought it to a standstill so abruptly that Betty came very near pitching through the windshield.
"Couldn't you do it—er—more gently?" she hinted delicately.
"Hold fast and I'll try," grinned Bob. "As a chauffeur I'd be a good iceman."
The second time he managed better, and the battered little car moved off with less disturbing results.
In a very few minutes thev had reached Doctor Morrison's garage.
The doctor urged Bob and Betty strongly to stay to supper with him and promised beaten biscuit and honey, but although they knew the skill of his old Southern cook very well, they had promised Grandma Watterby to be there for supper and such a promise could not be disregarded.
"Well, anyway," said Betty soothingly, as they walked on toward the Watterby farm, "when we ride Clover and Reuben up to the fields we won't have to worry about how to make them go."
"No, that's so," agreed Bob. "But, Betty, I hate to think of giving up Reuben. He isn't much to look at, but he has been a mighty good horse."
"I'd feel worse," declared Betty, "if we had to sell them to strangers. We wouldn't know how they would be treated then. Now we are sure they will be cared for and petted and they won't miss us."
Reuben and Clover, Mr. Gordon had said, were to be disposed of as Betty and Bob chose. The horses were theirs to give away or sell as they preferred. Bob had instantly decided to give his mount to Dave Thorne, the section foreman, who had shown him many kindnesses and who was delighted to get a trained saddle horse. Horses were very scarce in that section of the country, and Mr. Gordon had gone to considerable trouble to get these.
Betty had elected to give Clover to the new superintendent's daughter, the girl who was to move with her parents into the old Saunders farmhouse. Betty had never seen her, but knew she was about fourteen or fifteen and eager to learn to ride.
The day before they were to start for Washington, Bob and Betty rode the horses up to the oil fields and gave them into the charge of Dave Thorne. The superintendent was already on the ground but his family and furniture were not due for a week.
Clover and Reuben bore the parting better than their young mistress and master, and Betty was glad when all the good-byes had been said and they stepped into the Watterby car which Mrs. Watterby had driven up for them. The fields were about eight miles from her house.
"You'll be happier when once you're on the train, Betty," said good Mrs. Watterby, glancing swiftly at Betty's clouded face. "This going around saying good-bye to people and things is enough to break anybody up. Now to-morrow me and mother won't weep a tear over you—you'll see. We're glad you're going to school to have a good time with all those young folks. Now what's that Chinaman want?"
Lee Chang came running from the bunk house, waving something tied in white paper.
"Apple tart, Miss Betty!" he called imploringly. "Velly nice apple tart—maybe the cook at that school no make good tarts."
Betty took the package and thanked him warmly and they drove on.
"People are so good to me," choked the girl. "I never knew I had so many friends."
"Well, that's nothing to cry over," advised Bob philosophically. "You ought to be glad. Do I get a crumb of the tart, Betsey?"
He spoke with a purpose and was rewarded by seeing Betty's own sunny smile come out.
"You always do," she told him. "But wait till we get home. I want Ki to have a piece, too."
Ki, it developed, when they reached the Watterby farm, had been busy with farewell plans of his own.
"For you," he announced gravely to Bob, handing him an immense hunting knife as he stepped out of the car.
"For you," he informed Betty with equal gravity, presenting her a little silver nugget.
They both thanked him repeatedly, and he stalked off, carrying his piece of the apple tart and apparently assured of their sincerity.
"Though what he expects me to do with a hunting knife is more than I can guess," laughed Bob.