“Where ye want him took?” demanded Jem, scratching a bristling shock of hair which glimmered through the dawn like a thicket of spikes.
“Well,” said Mr. Poynter indifferently, “where are you going?”
Jem named a town many miles away. The mule-driver looked hard again at Philip.
“Gawd, young feller,” he admired, “you’re a cool un all right!”
“Take him there,” said Philip with the utmost composure. “Deliver him somewhere a reasonable distance off for repairs and I’ll pay you fifty dollars.”
“See here,” broke in Jem, somewhat staggered by the careless manner in which Mr. Poynter handled fortunes, “hain’t no foul play about this here, eh? Asher says he’s mussed up considerable.”
“Asher’s right,” admitted Mr. Poynter modestly. “I did the best I could, of course. Come up and look him over. He’s decorated mournfully with fist marks, but nothing worse. There’s his knife.”
After a somewhat cautious inspection, Themar was hoisted aboard the scow and harnessed discreetly with ropes. Jem shared his companion’s distrust of black-and-tans. With a tinkle of mule-bells the cortege faded away into the gray of dawn.
Later, Mr. Poynter discovered an abandoned motorcycle by the roadside, which with some little malice he had crated at the nearest town and dispatched to Baron Tregar.
Thereafter, after a warning talk with Johnny, Philip slept by day and watched by night.
Southward wound the green and white van; southward the hay-camp with infrequent scurries to inn and barn for shelter; southward, his health still improving, went the musical nomad, unwinding his musical hullabaloo for the torture of musical crowds.
Now the world was a-riot with the life and color of midsummer. Sleepy cows browsed about in fields dotted with orange daisies, horses switched their tails against the cloudless sky on distant hillsides, sheep freckled the sunny pastures, and here and there beneath an apple tree heavy with fruit, lumbered a mother-sow with her litter of pigs. Sun-bleached dust clouded the highway and the swaying fields of corn were slim and tall.
The shuttle of Fate clicked and clicked as she wove and crossed and tangled the threads of these wandering, sun-brown nomads. How frequently the path of the music machine crossed the path of the van, no one knew so well perhaps as Philip, but Philip at times was tantalizing and mysterious and only evidenced his knowledge in peculiar and singularly aggravating ways.