Mavericks (Chapter 21, page 1 of 11)

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Chapter 21

Keller found convalescence under the superintendence of Miss Sanderson one of the great pleasures of his life. Her school was out for the summer and she was now at home all day. He had never before found time to be lazy, and what dreaming he had done had been in the stress of action. Now he might lie the livelong day and not too obviously watch her brave, frank youth as she moved before him or sat reading. For the first time in his life he was in love!

But as the nester grew better he perceived that she was withdrawing herself from him. He puzzled over the reason, not knowing that her brother, Phil, was troubling her with flings and accusations thrown out bitterly because his boyish concern for her good name could find no gentler way to express itself.

"They're saying you're in love with the fellow--and him headed straight for the pen," he charged.

"Who says it, Phil?" she asked quietly, but with flaming cheeks.

He smote his fist on the table. "It don't matter who says it. You keep away from him. Let Aunt Becky nurse him. You haven't any call to wait on him, anyhow. If he's got to be nursed by one of the family, I'll do it."

He tried to keep his word, and as a result of it the wounded man had to endure his sulky presence occasionally. Keller was man of the world enough to be amused at his attitude, and yet was interested enough in the lad's opinion of him to keep always an even mood of cheerful friendliness. There was a quantity of winsome camaraderie about him that won its way with Phil in spite of himself. Moreover, all the boy in him responded to the nester's gameness, the praises of which he heard on all sides.

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