For a long time it had been arranged they all should go to the Harvard and Yale game in Winthrop's car.It was perfectly well understood.Even Peabody, who pictured himself and Miss Forbes in the back of the car, with her brother and Winthrop in front, condescended to approve.It was necessary to invite Peabody because it was his great good fortune to be engaged to Miss Forbes.Her brother Sam had been invited, not only because he could act as chaperon for his sister, but because since they were at St.Paul's, Winthrop and he, either as participants or spectators, had never missed going together to the Yale-Harvard game.And Beatrice Forbes herself had been invited because she was herself.
When at nine o'clock on the morning of the game, Winthrop stopped the car in front of her door, he was in love with all the world.In the November air there was a sting like frost-bitten cider, in the sky there was a brilliant, beautiful sun, in the wind was the tingling touch of three ice-chilled rivers.And in the big house facing Central Park, outside of which his prancing steed of brass and scarlet chugged and protested and trembled with impatience, was the most wonderful girl in all the world.It was true she was engaged to be married, and not to him.But she was not yet married.And to-day it would be his privilege to carry her through the State of New York and the State of Connecticut, and he would snatch glimpses of her profile rising from the rough fur collar, of her wind-blown hair, of the long, lovely lashes under the gray veil.
"`Shall be together, breathe and ride, so, one day more am Ideified;'" whispered the young man in the Scarlet Car; "`who knows but the world may end to-night?'"As he waited at the curb, other great touring-cars, of every speed and shape, in the mad race for the Boston Post Road, and the town of New Haven, swept up Fifth Avenue.Some rolled and puffed like tugboats in a heavy seaway, others glided by noiseless and proud as private yachts.But each flew the colors of blue or crimson.
Winthrop's car, because her brother had gone to one college, and he had played right end for the other, was draped impartially.And so every other car mocked or cheered it, and in one a bare-headed youth stood up, and shouted to his fellows: "Look! there's Billy Winthrop! Three times three for old Billy Winthrop!" And they lashed the air with flags, and sent his name echoing over Central Park.
Winthrop grinned in embarrassment, and waved his hand.Abicycle cop, and Fred, the chauffeur, were equally impressed.
"Was they the Harvoids, sir?" asked Fred.
"They was," said Winthrop.
Her brother Sam came down the steps carrying sweaters and steamer-rugs.But he wore no holiday countenance.
"What do you think?" he demanded indignantly."Ernest Peabody's inside making trouble.His sister has a Pullman on one of the special trains, and he wants Beatrice to go with her."In spite of his furs, the young man in the car turned quite cold."Not with us?" he gasped.
Miss Forbes appeared at the house door, followed by Ernest Peabody.He wore an expression of disturbed dignity; she one of distressed amusement.That she also wore her automobile coat caused the heart of Winthrop to leap hopefully.
"Winthrop," said Peabody, "I am in rather an embarrassing position.My sister, Mrs.Taylor Holbrooke"--he spoke the name as though he were announcing it at the door of a drawing-room--"desires Miss Forbes to go with her.She feels accidents are apt to occur with motor cars--and there are no other ladies in your party--and the crowds----"Winthrop carefully avoided looking at Miss Forbes.
"I should be very sorry," he murmured.
"Ernest!" said Miss Forbes, "I explained it was impossible for me to go with your sister.We would be extremely rude to Mr.
Winthrop.How do you wish us to sit?" she asked.
She mounted to the rear seat, and made room opposite her for Peabody.
"Do I understand, Beatrice," began Peabody in a tone that instantly made every one extremely uncomfortable, "that I am to tell my sister you are not coming?""Ernest!" begged Miss Forbes.
Winthrop bent hastily over the oil valves.He read the speedometer, which was, as usual, out of order, with fascinated interest.
"Ernest," pleaded Miss Forbes,"Mr.Winthrop and Sam planned this trip for us a long time ago--to give us a little pleasure----""Then," said Peabody in a hollow voice, "you have decided?""Ernest," cried Miss Forbes, "don't look at me as though you meant to hurl the curse of Rome.I have.Jump in.Please!""I will bid you good-by," said Peabody; "I have only just time to catch our train."Miss Forbes rose and moved to the door of the car.
"I had better not go with any one," she said in a low voice.
"You will go with me," commanded her brother."Come on, Ernest.""Thank you, no," replied Peabody."I have promised my sister.""All right, then," exclaimed Sam briskly, "see you at the game.
Section H.Don't forget.Let her out, Billy."With a troubled countenance Winthrop bent forward and clasped the clutch.
"Better come, Peabody," he said.
"I thank you, no," repeated Peabody."I must go with my sister."As the car glided forward Brother Sam sighed heavily.
"My! but he's got a mean disposition," he said."He has quite spoiled MY day."He chuckled wickedly, but Winthrop pretended not to hear, and his sister maintained an expression of utter dejection.
Richard Harding Davis