“Nothing was said about the furniture, was there?” suavely inquired Van Kamp.
Uncle Billy leaned blankly back in his chair. Little by little the light dawned on the ex-horse-trader. The crow’s feet reappeared about his eyes, his mouth twitched, he smiled, he grinned, then he slapped his thigh and haw-hawed.
“No!” roared Uncle Billy. “No, there wasn’t, by gum!”
“Nothing but the house?”
“His very own words!” chuckled Uncle Billy. “‘Jis’ th’ mere house,’ says he, an’ he gits it. A bargain’s a bargain, an’ I allus stick to one I make.”
“How much for the furniture for the week?”
“Fifty dollars!” Mr. Tutt knew how to do business with this kind of people now, you bet.
Mr. Van Kamp promptly counted out the money.
“Drat it!” commented Uncle Billy to himself. “I could ‘a’ got more!”
“Now where can we make ourselves comfortable with this furniture?”
Uncle Billy chirked up. All was not yet lost.
“Waal,” he reflectively drawled, “there’s th’ new barn. It hain’t been used for nothin’ yit, senct I built it two years ago. I jis’ hadn’t th’ heart t’ put th’ critters in it as long as th’ ole one stood up.”
The other smiled at this flashlight on Uncle Billy’s character, and they went out to look at the barn.
Uncle Billy came back from the “Tutt House Annex,” as Mr. Van Kamp dubbed the barn, with enough more money to make him love all the world until he got used to having it. Uncle Billy belongs to a large family.
Mr. Van Kamp joined the women on the porch, and explained the attractively novel situation to them. They were chatting gaily when the Ellsworths came down the stairs. Mr. Ellsworth paused for a moment to exchange a word with Uncle Billy.
“Mr. Tutt,” said he, laughing, “if we go for a bit of exercise will you guarantee us the possession of our rooms when we come back?”
“Yes sir-ree!” Uncle Billy assured him. “They shan’t nobody take them rooms away from you fer money, marbles, ner chalk. A bargain’s a bargain, an’ I allus stick to one I make,” and he virtuously took a chew of tobacco while he inspected the afternoon sky with a clear conscience.
“I want to get some of those splendid autumn leaves to decorate our cozy apartments,” Mrs. Ellsworth told her husband as they passed in hearing of the Van Kamps. “Do you know those oldtime rag rugs are the most oddly decorative effects that I have ever seen. They are so rich in color and so exquisitely blended.”
There were reasons why this poisoned arrow failed to rankle, but the Van Kamps did not trouble to explain. They were waiting for Ralph to come out and join his parents. Ralph, it seemed, however, had decided not to take a walk. He had already fatigued himself, he had explained, and his mother had favored him with a significant look. She could readily believe him, she had assured him, and had then left him in scorn.