“I didn’t say there was fourteen or fifteen rooms. I said I didn’t count the rooms; I didn’t either. I never heard of anybody counting one room. Did you, Pink?”
“No,” Pink agreed, “I never did!”
Sandy became suddenly convulsed. “Oh, but the funniest thing was the ancient pottery,” he gasped, the tears standing in his eyes. “That old Dutch oven was bad enough; but when one uh the girls—that one that collects old dishes—happened across an old mackerel can and picked it up and saw the fish on the label, she was the maddest female person I ever saw in my life, barring none. If you’d been in reach about that time, she’d just about clawed your eyes out, Andy Green. Oh me, oh my!” Sandy slapped his thigh and had another spasm.
Sounds indicated that the wave of recrimination was rolling nearer. Andy turned to find himself within arm’s length of Uncle Pete.
“Maybe this is your idea of a practical joke, Green,” he said to Andy. “But anyway, it will cost you your job. I ought to charge you up with the time my outfit has spent gallivanting around the country on the strength of your wild yarn. The quicker you hit the trail, the better it will suit me. By the way, what’s your first name?” He asked, pulling out a check-book.
“Andy,” answered the unrepentant one.
“Andy,” Uncle Peter paused with a fountain pen between his fingers. He looked Andy up and down, and the frown left his face. He proceeded to write out the check, and when it was done he handed it over with a pleased smile.
“What did you do it for, Green?” he queried in a friendlier tone.
“Self-defence,” Andy told him laconically, and turned away.
Half an hour later, Andy and Pink trailed out of the coulee that sheltered the Rocking R. When they were out and away from the fence, and Pink’s horses, knowing instinctively that they were homeward bound, were jogging straight west without need of guidance, Andy felt in his pocket for cigarette material. His fingers came in contact with the check Uncle Peter had given him, and he drew it forth and looked it over again.
“Well, by gracious!” he said to himself. “Uncle Peter thinks we’re even, I guess.”
He handed the check to Pink and rolled his cigarette; and Pink, after one comprehending look at the slip of paper, doubled up over his saddle-horn and shouted with glee—for the check was written: “Pay to the order of Ananias Green.”
“And I’ve got to sign myself a liar, or I don’t collect no money,” sighed Andy. “That’s what I call tough luck, by gracious!”
* * * * *