The rest of the evening she spent on the rock beside Hawkins while the two young swains made merry with the other girls and Miss Penny simpered and Miss Ardle was correspondingly caustic. Joe sat back with his head against a tree and a hard, tired smile about his mouth, and a restlessness in the pit of his stomach. He tried not to look at Myrtle and Hawkins.
She was paying no attention to Hawkins whatever. Had he been talking too much with Miss Ardle or the coy Miss Penny? Perhaps all she needed was waking up. They had demolished the lunch and were sitting about the wreckage in mournful speculation of its vanished glories; Myrtle was seated between the two comedians; Joe between the two ladies; Hawkins some distance in the background, on a rock.
I shall always remember the evening when I found the white heather on the moorland above Glen Ericht. Ericht Water is formed by the marriage of two streams, one flowing out of Strath Ardle and the other descending from Cairn Gowar through the long, lonely Pass of Glenshee.
It ended by Miss Ardle coming around and sitting in the front seat to the rapturous discomfort of Miss Penny, whose fat leg was thereby squeezed against the gear-shifting lever where it was in Joe's way for the remainder of the trip. Just before they started, Mrs. Macomber came out of the house carrying a small package which she brought round and entrusted to Joe's care.
At any rate, Miss Penny pursed her lips and looked at Joe and then significantly at Miss Ardle, and ever after that made highly cryptic remarks half aloud, to herself, to the general effect that some folks' families always were so good to them and how unhappy it was to be an orphan.
The three on the back seat had lapsed into a strange silence that seemed out of place, like death in a boiler shop, and when they finally reached the city limits and passed beneath the glare of the first corner light, he took a look behind him and caught Miss Ardle kissing the imperious Glotch. He turned and looked at Miss Penny. She sat with her hands in her lap, looking demurely at them.
They hailed Joe with acclaim, slapped Miss Penny on the bare neck, coyly, with little flips of the fingers, and when the slim, sour-faced girl who was a Miss Ardle with her slicked black hair, climbed in between them, they fell on her neck in ecstasies of greeting and threatened to kiss her and were slapped roundly for their pains amid loud guffaws.