"Why did you stay there so long?" asked Kate, after a little pause in which she man- aged to regain her waning courage.
"Bad luck. You never see a place with so many false leads. To-day you'd get a streak that looked big. To-morrow you'd find it a pocket. One night I'd go t' bed with my heart goin' like a race-horse. Next night it would be ploddin' along like a winded burro. Don't know what made me stick t' it. It was hot there, too! And cold! Always roastin' ur freezin'. It'd been different if I'd had any one t' help me stand it. But th' men were always findin' fault. They blamed me fur everythin'. I used t' lie awake at night an' hear 'em talkin' me over. It made me lonesome, I tell you! Thar wasn't no one! Mother used t' write. But I never told her th' truth. She ain't a suspicion of what I've been a-goin' through."
Kate sat and looked at him in silence. His face was seamed, though far from old. His body was awkward, but impressed her with a sense of magnificent strength.
"I couldn't ask no woman t' share my hard times," he resumed after a time. "I always said when I got a woman, it was goin' t' be t' make her happy. It wer'n't t' be t' ask her t' drudge."
There was another silence. This man out of the solitude seemed to be elated past expression at his new companionship. He looked with appreciation at the little pointed toes of Kate's slippers, as they glanced from below the skirt of her dainty organdie. He noted the band of pearls on her finger. His eyes rested long on the daisies at her waist. The wind tossed up little curls of her warm brown hair. Her eyes suffused with inter- est, her tender mouth seemed ready to lend itself to any emotion, and withal she was so small, so compact, so exquisite. The man wiped his forehead again, in mere exuberance.
"Here's my card," he said, very solemnly, as he drew an engraved bit of pasteboard from its leather case. Kate bowed and took it.
"Mr. Peter Roeder," she read. "I've no card," she said. "My name is Shelly. I'm here for my health, as I told you." She rose at this point, and held out her hand. "I must thank you once more for your kindness," she said.
His eyes fastened on hers with an appeal for a less formal word. There was something almost terrible in their silent eloquence.