“Lem’s been waitin’ for Flea for over three years, and I said as how ye’d have to buy him off, too.”
“That’s easy. Where is he?”
“Gone to Ithaca. He’s went up to bring down his scow. It’s gettin’ ’long to be spring, and it’s easier to lug the kids back by water, and we know that way, and it don’t cost so much. I telled him when he went away that he could have the gal as soon as we got back to the settlement. Lem won’t reason for a little bit of money.”
“Money doesn’t count in this,” assured Everett. “Now, then, if I take this case, put it through without cost to you, and give you both a good sum, will you give me the girl?”
“If ye promise me ye won’t marry her.”
Everett laughed, his white teeth gleaming through his lips.
“Don’t let that worry you, Mr. Cronk. I have no desire to place at the head of my home a girl like yours. I told you that I was going to marry Miss Shellington—and not even that damned brother of hers can prevent it!”
For a long time after Everett had left the hut Lon sat meditating over what he had heard. He wondered if Everett really loved Ann, and, if he did, how he could wish for Flea. How another woman could erase from any man’s mind the picture of a loved woman, Lon with his loyal heart could not understand. He sat for an hour with his head on the old wooden table, and planned what he should do with Flukey, leaving it to the brilliant-eyed lawyer to dicker with Lem for Flea.
Horace Shellington took a long breath as he entered his office one morning in the latter part of March. The blustering wind that had raged all night had almost subsided, and he felt glad for Floyd’s sake; for, no matter how warm they kept the little lad, the sound of the wind through the trees and the dismal wail of the branches at night made him shiver and fret with nervous pain. Horace had scarcely seated himself when Everett Brimbecomb entered the room.
“Hello, Horace!” said the latter jovially. “I was going to come in yesterday, but was not quite ready to see you. Haven’t been able to get a word with you in several days.”
Horace offered a chair, and Everett sank into it.
“You are always so busy when I run in to see Ann,” Brimbecomb went on, “that one would think you were not an inmate of that house.”
“Yes,” said Horace, “I’ve been studying up on an interesting case I expect to handle very soon.”
“So have I,” he said, narrowing his lids and looking at Shellington.
“When one is connected with offices as we are, Everett,” remarked Horace uninterestedly, “there is little time for visiting.”
“I find that, too,” replied Everett.
During the last few weeks Horace had seen little of his sister’s fiance; in fact, since their quarrel he had drawn away from the young man as a companion; but above everything else he desired his gentle sister to be happy, and the man before him was the only one to make her so. He thought of this, and smiled a little more cordially as he said: