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ENTER, THE HERO

BY RUTH COMFORT MITCHELL

DOWN through the endless miles of maguey fields, gray-green and dusty under the glare of the hard turquoise sky, past huddled brown villages, leaving the Pyramids behind and picking up the faint silhouette of Mt. Orizaba on the horizon, swaying, lurching, the Vera Cruz train sped eastward, Mr. Gelbhauser's new private car "Dianthe" playing "snap-the-whip" on the end.

Young Tommy Jerrolds, who had been asked only to play with the Levering girls, and hadn't said ten words to them since they left Los Angeles, held his usual point of vantage beside Miss Millard, reveling alike in her favor and the scowls of Herman Gelbhauser, Jr., who regarded him wrathfully from across the aisle. The boy stooped to rescue the book which slipped from her lap to the floor. " That's five times in half an horn! Must be studying hard!"

Miss Millard nodded her thanks without turning her gaze from the window. "I'm too busy, Tommy."

"Heavens!" he protested, "What can you see in this endless pulque-patch? Miles upon miles of smiles, acres of mornings after——"

She shook her head impatiently. "Oh, not this, especially, but all of it—the country—the people—the air—I can't explain it!"

Her host leaned toward her, his broad face beaming. "I'm delighted that you are enjoying yourself, Miss Millard. There is, indeed, much of interest—to one capable of appreciating it."

"Whew, I guess that cut!" said young Tommy cheerfully. " But leave your sceneless scenery long anough to do your Spanish, Miss Di! Come on—we'd gone as far as 'What does Your Honor's Papa want?' 'He wants the soap,' and 'The young lady needs the silk handkerchief of the Frenchman'—(careless young lady!) Now then; 'Qué necesita la——"

"Mr. Gelbhauser, you'll have to come and play the rubber with me!" called a cross voice from the other end of the car. "Jim's asleep again!"

Herman Gelbhauser rose reluctantly, and Miss Millard turned to the boy with a quick whisper. "Tommy, you mustn't!"

"Well, you know you don't want——" he began defensively, but she cut him short.

"Sh! Do go and talk to the girls!"

"Oh, they're busy!" He looked over his shoulder to where the Misses Levering lolled in their chairs and jabbed vicious eyelets in their embroidery. "Look here, it's none of my business, but I know you're not strong for Hermie! You can't be!" His freckled face flushed hotly. "You're so beautiful and keen, you're there a million; and what's he, besides the old codger's son?" he nodded to the farthest corner of the car where a little old man with a handkerchief over his head snored gently.

Miss Millard's lip curled. "Vulgarly speaking, Tommy, he's 'there a million'— several of them."

"Don't!" said the boy sharply. "It isn't like you."

She squared herself to the window, her elbows on the sill, and watched the sliding picture with somber eyes. "I don't see why you think anything that's sordid and calculating and mean is unlike me. It's all I've known."

"Well, it's not!" doggedly. "And it makes me hot to have that bunch down there talking you over, saying you'll make up your mind on this trip whether it's to be Hermie or Chase!"

A slow blush spread over Diana Millard's beautiful face from chin to brow. "I don't know why I let you talk to me like this."

Young Tommy moved closer. "I'll tell you. Because you know I'm only a kid, and out of the running,...

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