“I wish you would stay to dinner, Mr. Shoop.”
“So I’ll set and talk my fool notions—and you with a writin’ machine handy? Thanks, but I reckon I’ll light a shuck for Jason. See my piano?”
“Yes, indeed. Dorothy was trying it a few nights ago.”
“Then she can play. Missy,” and he called to Dorothy, who was having an extravagant romp with Bondsman, “could you play a tune for your Uncle Bud?”
“Of course.” And she came to them.
They walked to the cabin. Bondsman did not follow. He had had a hard play, and was willing to rest.
Dorothy drew up the piano stool and touched the keys. Bud sank into his big chair. Bronson stood in the doorway. By some happy chance Dorothy played Bud’s beloved “Annie Laurie.”
When she had finished, Bud blew his nose sonorously. “I know that tune,” he said, gazing at Dorothy in a sort of huge wonderment. “But I never knowed all that you made it say.”
He rose and shuffled to the doorway, stopping abruptly as he saw Bondsman. Could it be possible that Bondsman had not recognized his own tune? Bud shook his head. There was something wrong somewhere. Bondsman had not offered to come in and accompany the pianist. He must have been asleep. But Bondsman had not been asleep. He rose and padded to Shoop’s horse, where he stood, a statue of rugged patience, waiting for Shoop to start back toward home.
“Now, look at that!” exclaimed Bud. “He’s tellin’ me if I want to get back to Jason in time to catch the stage to-morrow mornin’ I got to hustle. That there dog bosses me around somethin’ scandalous.”
When Shoop had gone, Dorothy turned to her father. “Mr. Shoop didn’t ask me to play very much. He seemed in a hurry.”
“That’s all right, Peter Pan. He liked your playing. But he has a very important matter to attend to.”
“He’s really just delicious, isn’t he?”
“If you like that word, Peter. He is big and sincere and kind.”
“Oh, so were some of the saints for that matter,” said Dorothy, making a humorous mouth at her father.
Like One Who Sleeps
Bondsman sat in the doorway of the supervisor’s office, gazing dejectedly at the store across the street. He knew that his master had gone to St. Johns and would go to Stacey. He had been told all about that, and had followed Shoop to the automobile stage, where it stood, sand-scarred, muddy, and ragged as to tires, in front of the post-office. Bondsman had watched the driver rope the lean mail bags to the running-board, crank up the sturdy old road warrior of the desert, and step in beside the supervisor. There had been no other passengers. And while Shoop had told Bondsman that he would be away some little time, Bondsman would have known it without the telling. His master had worn a coat—a black coat—and a new black Stetson. Moreover, he had donned a white shirt and a narrow hint of a collar with a black “shoe-string” necktie. If Bondsman had lacked any further proof of his master’s intention to journey far, the canvas telescope suitcase would have been conclusive evidence.