He was not long in reaching the camp, though it was getting dark when he started, the straight road of macadam showing white among the gloom of the trees.
When he arrived hardly a detail of the new camp escaped his shifty glance. Once in the good graces of the millionaire, he said to himself, he would stick to him like a leech.
Holcomb’s expression, when he greeted him, showed plainly a feeling of distrust and dislike. He received him courteously because of a letter from Thayor which reached camp the day before, telling him to take care of a man of his name from Montreal, if he came—he having heard that he had some excellent horses for sale—and as Billy had needed a pair this was his opportunity. As Holcomb looked at him he felt that if Thayor had ever seen the man he would not have sent him to Big Shanty at this or any other time. There was a glitter in those small, black eyes that the young man did not like. Neither was the Clown’s nor the trapper’s opinion of him any more flattering. As for the old dog, he showed his dislike by discreetly keeping away from him.
Though Bergstein left Big Shanty at a quarter before eight in the morning with the order for the horses in his pocket, it was noon by the sawmill whistle before he reached Morrison’s. There he engaged a single rig to take him out to the railroad.
What he had done, or where he had been in the meantime, no one knew.
Early in August Big Shanty was ready for its owner; ready, too, when it had been promised. Thayor was expected within a few days. He had written Holcomb that he would come alone; Mrs. Thayor and Margaret were to arrive a week later, accompanied by Blakeman and Annette; the rest of the servants being already in camp under charge of the housekeeper.
Now that only a few days intervened before Thayor’s arrival, Holcomb, for the first time in his active life, experienced a feeling of genuine nervous anxiety. Would the man who had entrusted all to him be satisfied? he wondered. The thought made him strangely silent. The trapper was the first to mention it as he and the Clown sat smoking with Billy in the dusk outside the latter’s cabin the evening before Thayor’s arrival. Holcomb, squatting on the ground, had been whittling a twig to a fine point—now he leaned forward and drove it out of sight in the cool earth with his heel. Then, closing his jack-knife, he gazed across the tidy clearing at the big camp, and the line of low-roofed cabins showing dimly in the twilight against the trees. But two lights were visible—one in the servant’s quarters opposite and one through the window of the men’s shanty at the lower end of the clearing.