and white pants; says he is twenty-three years of age,
"What made you go in there?" came of its own accord from his lips. "That's no place for a girl."
"It's Johnny Croft!" she gasped just above her breath. "How--did it happen, Lite?"
"I don't know," said Lite slowly, looking down and still patting her hand. "Your father and I have both been gone all day. I just got back a few minutes ago and found out about it." His tone, his manner and his words impressed upon Jean the point he wanted her to get,--that her father had not yet returned, and so knew nothing of the crime.
He led her back to where Pard stood, and told her to get on. Without asking him why, Jean obeyed him, with a shudder when her wide eyes strayed fascinated to the open door and to what lay just within. Lite went up and pulled the door shut, and then, walking beside her with an arm over Pard's neck, he led the way down to the stable, and mounted Ranger.
"You can't stay here," he explained, when she looked at him inquiringly. "Do you want to go over and stay at Carl's, or would you rather go back to town?" He rode down toward the gate, and Jean kept beside him.
"I'm going to stay with dad," she told him shakily. "If he stays, I'll--I'll stay."
"You'll not stay," he contradicted her bluntly. "You can't. It wouldn't be right." And he added self-reproachfully: "I never thought of your cutting across the bench and riding down the trail back of the house. I meant to head you off--"
"It's shorter," said Jean briefly. "I--if I can't stay, I'd rather go to town, Lite. I don't like to stay over at Uncle Carl's."