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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XXVI SAYING GOOD-BYE ALL AROUND
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 “He must be dreadfully lonesome over there,” said Tavia, with a sigh, staring out of the window.  
Dorothy was counting her handkerchiefs preparatory to storing away those she would not need on the return journey, in the tray of her trunk.
“Forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven——Tavia! I can’t find that forty-eighth handkerchief. I know I had four dozen when we started from North Birchlands. Where——”
“There were forty and seven that safely lay
In the shelter of the trunk,”
Tavia. “Maybe even you, my dear Doro, could mislay a handkerchief.”
“No. I most always never do. You know that, Tavia.”
Tavia’s interest in the missing handkerchief failed. “I wonder if he’s thinking of us,” she said.
 “I couldn’t have dropped it anywhere——”
“Why! if I had forty-seven handkerchiefs all at once—or even seven—I wouldn’t worry my head over a single, measly little one. Maybe one of the boys is keeping it for you, Doro.”
“For a keepsake, you know. Lance borrowed one of mine and I’ll never see it again, I s’pose.”
“Why, Tavia! don’t let Aunt Winnie hear of it.”
“Oh, pooh!” said the irresponsible girl, shrugging her shoulders. “What’s a handkerchief?”
“But mine were all good ones,” complained Dorothy.
“Good or cheap, I wouldn’t trouble my head about them.”
“That’s why you have so few,” accused Dorothy.
“Oh, fudge!” quoth Tavia, turning to the window again. “It must be terrible wearisome to be alone in the .”
“Whatever are you talking about?” snapped Dorothy, at last awaking to the fact that Tavia’s mind was engaged in a mysterious line of thought.
“Why—poor Lance,” replied Tavia, in a most soulful tone of voice.
“Tavia Travers!” Dorothy. “Won’t you ever let that poor fellow alone?”
“That’s exactly it,” said Tavia. “He is all, all alone, ’way up there in the woods, watching that river flow by. Isn’t it awful?”
“Do behave!” snapped Dorothy. “He’s well out of your way——”
“But he doesn’t think so, I am sure. Even his mother says I’m a ‘monstrous interesting .’”
For Mrs. Petterby had come over to the Hardin again by Mrs. White’s express invitation. The little old lady from Rand’s Falls, Massachusetts, was actually getting cured of her prejudices against the West.
“And Ophelia seems contented,” said she. “I got ter admit that there’s some things about Colorado I like. I never did eat sech melons. An’ the sky’s bluer than I ever see it before.
“My baby says I got ter stay out here and keep house for him—though he’s off in them hills now and his home might’s well be an Injun wigwam.”
Mrs. Petterby agreed, however, to be and caretaker of the ranch-house. Lance was going to stay on with the Hardin , and his mother was a spry old lady and was glad of the position Aunt Winnie offered her.
“For we shall be coming out here often,” declared Mrs. White. “I know my brother, Major Dale, will like it immensely, once he’s well enough to visit the ranch. And the young folk are quite crazy over it.”
241 Ned was to go into the cattle business and stock raising—when he was out of college.
“What’s the use of boning at books, then?” demanded Nat. “‘All Gaul is divided into three parts’ isn’t going to help you raise longhorns for the market.”
“How do you know?” asked his brother, coolly. “And the cattle business will be a sideline.”
When old Mrs. Petterby took hold of affairs at the big house Aunt Winnie began to have a better time. “Help” was hard to get in that region and Mrs. White and the girls had done all but the kitchen work since coming to the ranch.
Now she had time to ride with Dorothy and Tavia as far as Desert City, and meet the men who were going to make possible the great scene in that part of the desert that was to be with the water from Lost River.
Dorothy and Tavia enjoyed these immensely, too, but in between they had found time to ride up into the hills occasionally to see the tall young cowpuncher who guarded the river. Tavia would go, and Dorothy did not propose to let her go alone.
That was what Tavia was hinting at on the morning of the trunk packing incident. The following afternoon they were to ride into Dugonne, taking train next morning for the East.
 “Well, I’ll go,” said Dorothy, rather it must be confessed. “But I wish we’d never seen Lance Petterby—that I do!”
“Why, Dorothy Doolittle Doodlebug! how you talk,” cried the innocent-eyed Tavia. “And he’s been such fun! Why, without Lance my trip out here to the ‘wild and woolly’ would have been without a particle of . And I’m going to send him a necktie for a Christmas present. Going to knit it myself.”
“If Nat heard you say that, he would observe, ‘Yes, you are—nit!’” Dorothy. “And Lance never wears a necktie. A red handkerchief around his neck, and tied behind, is his limit.”
A little later, in their riding habits, the girls ran down to the corrals. The Mexican girl appeared from the to attend them.
“Flores is such a nice little thing,” Tavia said to Dorothy as Flores caught and the second . “Don’t you wish she was going back East with us?”
“Perhaps she wouldn’t be happy there,” replied Dorothy. “Mrs. Petterby is going to take her in hand and—so the old lady says—going to make a thorough New England housewife of her.”
“And I you put her up to it,” retorted Tavia. “Why is it, Doro, that you are forever thinking of other people, and doing things for them?”
“Nonsense!” said Dorothy, blushing. “Flores ought to have a better chance.”
“Oh, Mees!” cried the pretty, dark skinned girl, as she brought the second pony up to the gate. “I am so ver’ sorree dhat you go ’way. We shall be l-l-lonely here wit’out you. See! I soon dhe Ingleesh sp’ak nice—no?”
“It’s fine, Flores,” declared Tavia, laughing. “Who has taught you so much?”
The glowing eyes of the Mexican girl rested on Dorothy’s face. “She teach me, Mees. She is so good!”
For some reason Tavia grew suddenly serious. At least, she did not tell a joke or say a whimsical thing till they had ridden more than ten miles over the now well-beaten trail to Lost River.
“Doro Doodledum!” exclaimed the irrepressible, suddenly. “Do you know what you are?”
“Yes, Ma’am. American; white; single; age—not stated; no political preferences, although leaning toward the suffragettes; attend the Congregational church——”
“How smart! But you are something else,” declared Tavia, still quite serious of .
“Sure! A graduate of Glenwood School. Oh, Tavia! how I wish Ned Ebony, and Cologne, and244 half a dozen of the other girls, were here. Wouldn’t we have had fun?”
“Yes. But that is another story——”
“It’s the truth!”
“Ha! you do not know your Kipling,” cried Tavia. “But never mind. The point is, Doro, that I have come to the conclusion that you are something more than human.”
Dorothy looked at her in . “How you talk! What is the joke?”
“It is no joke. Seriously,” said Tavia. “You see, Doro, I have been thinking, and more deeply than you would believe.”
“Don’t do it,” laughed Dorothy. “It might grow upon you. Then you would no longer be Terrible Tavia, thoughtlessly threading her way through the thistles of this terrestrial life.”
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