"Are both of you going to sit in there?" Floyd asked. "Somebody ought to be up here to help me in case these spirited horses get beyond my control."
Mrs. Bell was at once for changing her seat obediently, but her daughter laughed and held her back, saying, "Don't you see, Ma, he's only joking?"
Then Mrs. Tustin cried in her most genial voice,—
"My goodness, seein' that extry seat makes me feel almost like invitin' myself along."
Floyd pretended not to hear, flourished the whip and chirruped to the horses, and in another moment had left Mrs. Tustin standing in sour contemplation by her fence.
Up over the crest of the hills and away from the dirty river he laid his course, and before long the country cleared before them, unspoiled and unbegrimed. Woods of hickory, maple, and birch, all in the full glory of their autumn coloring, fringed the small farms and bordered the roadside.
"Oh, look, Mr. Halket, there goes a chipmunk with a nut in his mouth!" cried Letty; and Floyd touched up the horses and raced the squirrel, who went bounding along the top of the rail fence in wild affright.
"My, that's exciting!" said Mrs. Bell, when the horses had settled again to an easy trot. "I was afraid for a while, Mr. Halket, that they'd got away from you."
"Oh, I tell you," bragged Floyd, "there's nothing so good for the muscle as being an iron-worker."
"This is the first carriage ride I've had in—my goodness! I don't know how many years," mused Mrs. Bell aloud.
"I guess it is n't such a new thing to you, Miss Bell," hazarded Floyd.
"Why, I don't know. What makes you think that?" Letty asked.
"Does n't Hugh Farrell handle the reins now and then?"
Floyd winked perceptibly over his shoulder at Mrs. Bell.