“What ails ye, son?” asked the trapper, breaking the silence.
“Ain’t feelin’ bad, be ye, Billy?” inquired the Clown with kindly apprehension.
Holcomb shook his head. Presently he said, still gazing straight before him:
“I’ve been wondering, boys, if Mr. Thayor is going to be satisfied.”
“Thar—I knowed it!” exclaimed the trapper. “Ye needn’t worry a mite, Billy.”
“If he hain’t satisfied I’ll eat my shirt!” declared the Clown, clenching his brawny fist with a gesture of conviction, as he jumped up simultaneously on his long legs. “Thar ain’t a man livin’ that could hev done a better job ’n you done for him,” he declared. “Jest look ’round ye! Look what it was when we fust come. Reg’lar ruin, warn’t it?”
“You’ve come pretty close to it, Freme,” confessed Holcomb.
“If it warn’t for the old brook roarin’ down thar,” remarked the trapper, “a feller wouldn’t know whar he was. Wall, sir, if it don’t beat all I ever see in the way of a camp! The old dog was a-tellin’ me only yisterday that he never see the beat nowhar, and he’s travelled some, I kin tell ye.”
“Jest so—jest so,” affirmed the Clown, his blue eyes beaming with enthusiasm as he resumed: “Wall, sir, you’d oughter seen Ed Munsey when he fust seen it. ‘Gol,’ says Ed; and his eyes stuck out like marbles. ‘Godfrey Mighty!’ says Ed; ‘wall, sir,’ says he, ’if it ain’t the slickest fixed up place I ever seen.’ Goll! Ed was tickled. ’Must ’er cost more ‘n forty cents,’ says he. ‘No,’ says I, ’thar warn’t no expense ‘bout it; we just throwed some odds and ends together,’” chuckled the Clown, as he sat down hard.
Holcomb was himself again. The Clown’s cheeriness was always contagious to him.
“I’ve done my best,” he said, smiling. “But then, we’ve spent a lot of money, boys,” he added thoughtfully.
Night settled and it was not long before the three rose, filed into the cabin and kindled a fire, a delicate attention which the old dog was grateful for. He had been prowling around by himself in the clearing and now that he scented smoke came stalking into the cabin, his nails clicking across the floor, and with a mournful yawn stretched himself comfortably before the blaze.
* * * * *
By the next twilight Sam Thayor had seen with his own eyes every detail of his forest domain. Only when this tour of inspection with Holcomb was over did he lead Billy back into the living hall of his new house. His manner, after the hearty greeting given him on his arrival, had lapsed into one of mute enthusiasm. His delight had more than convinced Billy of his approval. Now that they were alone in the living hall, he turned suddenly, faced his superintendent and held out both his hands to him.
“Thank you,” was all he could manage to say, wringing Billy’s hands heartily.
“Come, my boy, draw up a chair. That fire feels good—think of it—even in August. Oh, if you only knew how glad I am to get here!” He rubbed the palms of his hands together with satisfaction. “What a place it is, what a place, Billy! And to find everything far better than I ever dreamed it would be.”