Can she make a punkin pie, charming Billy?
when he opened the door to throw out the dishwater, and narrowly escaped landing it full upon the fur-coated form of his foreman.
The foreman came in, blinking at the sudden change from bright light to half twilight, and Charming Billy took the opportunity to kick a sardine can of stove-blacking under the stove where it would not be seen. Some predecessor with domestic instincts had left behind him half a package of “Rising Sun,” and Billy had found it and was intending to blacken the stove just as soon as he finished the dishes. That he had left it as a crowning embellishment, rather than making it the foundation of his house-cleaning, only proved his inexperience in that line. Billy had “bached” a great deal, but he had never blacked a stove in his life.
The foreman passed gloved fingers over his eyes, held them there a moment, took them away and gazed in amazement; since he had been foreman of the Double-Crank—and the years were many—Charming Billy Boyle had been one of its “top-hands,” and he had never before caught him in the throes of “digging out.”
“Fundamental furies!” swore he, in the unorthodox way he had. “Looks like the Pilgrim was right—there’s a lady took charge here.”
Charming Billy turned red with embarrassment, and then quite pale with rage. “The Pilgrim lied!” he denied sweepingly.
The foreman picked his way over the wet floor, in deference to its comparative cleanliness stepping long so that he might leave as few disfiguring tracks as possible, and unbuttoned his fur coat before the heat of the stove.
“Well, maybe he did,” he assented generously, gleaning a box from the pile on the bunk and sitting down, “but it sure looks like corroborative evidence, in here. How about it, Bill?”
“How about what?” countered Billy, his teeth close together.
“The girl, and the dawg, and the fight—but more especially the girl. The Pilgrim—”
“Damn the Pilgrim! I wisht I’d a-killed the lying —— The girl’s a lady, and he ain’t fit to speak her name. She come here last night because her hoss fell and got crippled, and there wasn’t a hoss I’d trust at night with her, it was storming so hard, and slippery—and at daylight I put her on the gentlest one we had, and took her home. That’s all there is to it. There’s nothing to gabble about, and if the Pilgrim goes around shooting off his face—” Billy clicked his teeth ominously.
“Well, that ain’t just the way he told it,” commented the foreman, stooping to expectorate into the hearth and stopping to regard surprisedly its unwonted emptiness. “He said—”
“I don’t give a damn what he said,” snapped Billy. “He lied, the low-down cur.”
“Uh-huh—he said something about you shooting that dawg of his. I saw the carcass out there in the snow.” The foreman spoke with careful neutrality.