Page:Leon Wilson - Ruggles of Red Gap.djvu/163

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"After all I've tried to do for him!" she moaned. "I thought he had something in him."

"Darn it all, I like to be friendly with my friends," he bluntly persisted. "I call a man anything that suits me. And I ain't ever apologized yet because I was afraid. I want all parties here to get that."

"Say no more, please, It's quite understood," said Belknap-Jackson hastily. The other subsided into low mutterings.

"I trust you fully understand the situation, Ruggles—Colonel Ruggles," he continued to me.

"It's preposterous, but plain as a pillar-box," I answered. "I can only regret it as keenly as any right-minded person should. It's not at all what I've been accustomed to."

"Very well. Then I suggest that you accompany me for a drive this afternoon. I'll call for you with the trap, say at three."

"Perhaps," suggested his wife, "it might be as well if Colonel Ruggles were to come to us as a guest." She was regarding me with a gaze that was frankly speculative.

"Oh, not at all, not at all!" retorted Mrs. Effie crisply. "Having been announced as our house guest—never do in the world for him to go to you so soon. We must be careful in this. Later, perhaps, my dear."

Briefly the ladies measured each other with a glance. Could it be, I asked myself, that they were sparring for the possession of me?

"Naturally he will be asked about everywhere, and there'll be loads of entertaining to do in return."

"Of course," returned Mrs. Effie, "and I'd never think