“The ladies looked after Brother Lu as he staggered away, as if they hardly knew what to think. But it happened, Hugh, that I could watch the man from where I was snuggled down, and would you believe me, he had no sooner got behind the little building they use for a woodshed than he started to dance a regular old hoe-down, snapping his fingers, and looking particularly merry. I tell you I could hardly hold in, I was so downright mad; I wanted to rush out and denounce him for an old fraud of the first water. But on considering how useless that would be, besides giving it away that I suspected. him, and was spying on his actions, I managed to get a grip on myself again.
“After things had sizzled out, Hugh, I came away, and ran nearly all the distance between the Hosmer cottage and your house, I was that eager to tell you how the land lay. And now, once for all, what can we do to bounce that fraud, and free poor Matilda from the three-big-meals-a-day brother who’s fastened on her like a leech?”
Hugh nodded his head as though he had been thinking while his chum continued to tell of his experiences. From his manner Thad jumped to the conclusion that Hugh might have something interesting to say, and in this he proved to be right.
A BAD OUTLOOK FOR BROTHER LU
“Now that you’ve told me such an interesting thing about this queer tramp we ran across the other day, and who turns out to be Mrs. Hosmer’s only brother,” Hugh was saying, “I want to return the compliment, and explain that I’ve been doing a little missionary work or scouting on my own hook.”
Thad showed signs of intense interest.
“I sort of thought you’d be wanting to cultivate his acquaintance so as to study the chap at closer range, Hugh,” he hastened to say. “Well, did he entertain you with some accounts of his adventures in different parts of the world, as he promised he’d do if we’d drop around at his new home and see him?”
“He certainly can talk a blue streak, once he gets started,” admitted Hugh, with a little whistle. “Why, that man would have made a splendid lawyer, if he’d ever had the ambition to try; and as a promoter for land schemes he’d take the cake. But he says he was born with the wanderlust in his veins that would not let him rest anywhere for a decent length of time. No sooner would he get settled nicely, and perhaps own some big piece of land, down in Brazil once, or it may have been out in our own West, than along would come that awful yearning to be on the move again; and so, unable to resist, he would sacrifice his property, and get on the jump again.”
“If you could only rely on all he says, Hugh,” admitted the deeply interested Thad, “he’d be a mighty interesting character; but for one, I firmly believe it’s a great big lie; he’s never been anywhere but around this country, and that traveling on freight-car beams, and walking the ties.”