“Keep your shirt on!” retorted Harding, “you won’t lick nobody.”
He looked curiously at the maddened farmer.
“Your name is Bishop, isn’t it?” he asked, and I wondered how he happened to know.
“Yes, my name’s Bishop,” was the sullen and defiant answer.
“Yes; Jim Bishop.”
Harding grinned good-naturedly.
“Don’t you know who I am?” he asked.
“No, I don’t, and I don’t give a damn!” replied Bishop, looking at him more closely, I thought.
“Did you know a young fellow named Harding when you were a boy?” asked Harding.
“Yes, Bob Harding!”
“Do you mean to tell me that you’re the Bob Harding who uster live on a farm near Buckfield, Maine?” asked Bishop, the anger dying from his voice.
“That’s what I am!” declared the millionaire, as Bishop came toward him, a curious smile on his tanned face. “How are you, Jim?”
“Well; I’ll be jiggered! How are you, Bob?” and they shook hands across the fence. For a moment neither spoke.
“It’s thirty years or more since I’ve seen you,” said Harding. “When did you move to this country?”
“Over twenty-five years ago,” said Bishop. “And what have you been doing with yourself all these years? I surely hope you’ve found something better to do than play this here fool game an’ knock people’s heads off.”
He tenderly rubbed the lump on his forehead.
“I just took this game up,” said Harding rather sheepishly. “I’ve been building railroads.”
“Are you Robert L. Harding, the railroad king that the papers talks so much erbout?” demanded Bishop.
“I guess I’m the fellow,” admitted Harding.
“Well; I never would er believed it!” gasped Bishop, and then they shook hands again.
They sat on a rock and talked about Buckfield and their boyhood days for an hour. It seems that they were born and raised on adjoining farms, and were chums until Harding’s father died, at which time Harding went West and found his fortune.
Not until the horses became restless and started to go home did Bishop note the passing of time. He cordially invited Harding and his daughter to come and call on him, and Harding did not hesitate in accepting the invitation.
Now that I think of it, none of us gave a thought to that ball, and I suppose it is out in the road yet. Harding said that was all the golf he wished that day, and so we went back to the club house.
“Talk about driving a ball six hundred yards, Smith,” he said, as we came to the eighteenth tee. “I knocked that ball so far that I hit a boy in Maine, and that’s hundreds of miles from here.”
DOWNFALL OF MR. HARDING
I do not know whether to be annoyed or amused over the result of my second golf game with Miss Harding. It was not in the least like my anticipations.