Offitt’s face turned livid. He growled:
“Of all Andylusian jacks, you’re the beat. I ain’t agoin’ to hurt you nor your friend Farnham. I’ve got all the p’ints I want for my story, and devilish little thanks to you, neither. And say, tell me, ain’t there a back way out? I don’t want to go by the dinin’-room door. There’s ladies there, and I ain’t dressed to see company. Why, yes, this fits me like my sins,” and he opened the French window, and stepped lightly to the gravel walk below, and was gone.
Sleeny resumed his work, ill content with himself and his friend. “Andy is a smart fellow,” he thought; “but he had no right to come snoopin’ around where I was at work, jist to get points to worry Mr. Farnham with.”
The little party in the drawing-room was breaking up. He heard their pleasant last words, as the ladies resumed their wraps and Farnham accompanied them to the door. Mrs. Belding asked him to dinner, “with nobody but ourselves,” and he accepted with a pleased eagerness. Sleeny got one more glimpse of the beautiful face under the gray hat and feather, and blessed it as it vanished out of the door. As Farnham came back to the library, he stood for a moment by Sam, and examined what he had done.
“That’s a good job. I like your work on the green-house, too. I know good work when I see it. I worked one winter as a boss carpenter myself.”
It seemed to Sleeny like the voice of a brother speaking to him. He thought the presence of the young lady had made everything in the house soft and gentle.
“Where was you ever in that business?” he asked.
“In the Black Hills. I sawed a million feet of lumber and built houses for two hundred soldiers. I had no carpenters; so I had to make some. I knew more about it when I got through than when I began.”
Sleeny laughed—a cordial laugh that wagged his golden beard and made his white teeth glisten.
“I’ll bet you did!” he replied.
The two men talked a few minutes like old acquaintances; then Sleeny gathered up his tools and slung them over his shoulder, and as he turned to go both put out their hands at the same instant, with an impulse that surprised each of them, and said “Good-morning.”
A man whose intelligence is so limited as that of Sam Sleeny is always too rapid and rash in his inferences. Because he had seen Farnham give Maud a handful of roses, he was ready to believe things about their relations that had filled him with fury; and now, because he had seen the same man talking with a beautiful girl and her mother, the conviction was fixed in his mind that Farnham’s affections were placed in that direction, and that he was therefore no longer to be dreaded as a rival. He went home happier, in this belief, than he had been for many a day; and so prompt was his progress in the work of deceiving