As soon as the eyes of Charlton and Beaudry met there was born between them an antagonism. Jealousy sharpened the suspicions of the young rancher. He was the sort of man that cannot brook rivalry. That the newcomer had been of assistance to Miss Rutherford was enough in itself to stir his doubts.
He set himself to verify them.
Jess Tighe Spins a Web
“Then you left Denver, did you?” asked Charlton suavely.
Roy laughed. “Yes, then I left Denver and went to college and shouted, ‘Rah, rah, rah, Cornell.’ In time I became a man and put away childish things. Can I sell you a windmill, Mr. Charlton, warranted to raise more water with less air pressure than any other in the market?”
“Been selling windmills long?” the rancher asked casually.
It was his ninth question in fifteen minutes. Beaudry knew that he was being cross-examined and his study of law had taught him that he had better stick to the truth so far as possible. He turned to Miss Rutherford.
“Your friend is bawling me out,” he gayly pretended to whisper. “I never sold a windmill in my life. But I’m on my uppers. I’ve got a good proposition. This country needs the Dynamo Aermotor and I need the money. So I took the agency. I have learned a fifteen minutes’ spiel. It gives seven reasons why Mr. Charlton will miss half the joy of life until he buys a Dynamo. Do you think he is a good prospect, Miss Rutherford?”
“Dad has been talking windmill,” she said. “Sell him one.”
“So has Jess Tighe,” Charlton added. He turned to Jeff Rutherford. “Couldn’t you take Mr. Street over to see Jess to-morrow morning?”
Jeff started promptly to decline, but as his friend’s eyes met his he changed his mind. “I guess I could, maybe.”
“I don’t want to trouble you, Mr. Rutherford,” objected Roy.
Something in the manner of Charlton annoyed Beulah. This young man was her guest. She did not see any reason why Brad should bombard him with questions.
“If Jeff is too busy I’ll take you myself,” she told Beaudry.
“Oh, Jeff won’t be too busy. He can take a half-day off,” put in his father.
When Charlton left, Beulah followed him as far as the porch.
“Do you think Mr. Street is a horse-thief that you ask him so many questions?” she demanded indignantly.
He looked straight at her. “I don’t know what he is, Beulah, but I’m going to find out.”
“Isn’t it possible that he is what he says he is?”
“Sure it’s possible, but I don’t believe it.”
“Of course, I know you like to think the worst of a man, but when you meet him in my house I’ll thank you to treat him properly. I vouch for him.”
“You never met him before this afternoon.”
“That’s my business. It ought to be enough for you that he is my guest.”