Gregory came round the corner of the building from the dining-room, and the big girl who was crouching before Clementina, and who boasted that she was not afraid of the student, called saucily to him, “Come here, a minute, Mr. Gregory,” and as he approached, she tilted aside, to let him see Clementina’s slippers.
Clementina beamed up at him with all her happiness in her eyes, but after a faltering instant, his face reddened through its freckles, and he gave her a rebuking frown and passed on.
“Well, I decla’e!” said the big girl. Fane turned uneasily, and said with a sigh, he guessed he must be going, now.
A blight fell upon the gay spirits of the group, and the shoeman asked with an ironical glance after Gregory’s retreating figure, “Owna of this propaty?”
“No, just the ea’th,” said the big girl, angrily.
The voice of Clementina made itself heard with a cheerfulness which had apparently suffered no chill, but was really a rising rebellion. “How much ah’ the slippas?”
“Three dollas,” said the shoeman in a surprise which he could not conceal at Clementina’s courage.
She laughed, and stooped to untie the slippers. “That’s too much for me.”
“Let me untie ’em, Clem,” said the big girl. “It’s a shame for you eva to take ’em off.”
“That’s right, lady,” said the shoeman. “And you don’t eva need to,” he added, to Clementina, “unless you object to sleepin’ in ’em. You pay me what you want to now, and the rest when I come around the latta paht of August.”
“Oh keep ’em, Clem!” the big girl urged, passionately, and the rest joined her with their entreaties.
“I guess I betta not,” said Clementina, and she completed the work of taking off the slippers in which the big girl could lend her no further aid, such was her affliction of spirit.
“All right, lady,” said the shoeman. “Them’s youa slippas, and I’ll just keep ’em for you till the latta paht of August.”
He drove away, and in the woods which he had to pass through on the road to another hotel he overtook the figure of a man pacing rapidly. He easily recognized Gregory, but he bore him no malice. “Like a lift?” he asked, slowing up beside him.
“No, thank you,” said Gregory. “I’m out for the walk.” He looked round furtively, and then put his hand on the side of the wagon, mechanically, as if to detain it, while he walked on.
“Did you sell the slippers to the young lady?”
“Well, not as you may say sell, exactly,” returned the shoeman, cautiously.
“Have you-got them yet?” asked the student.
“Guess so,” said the man. “Like to see ’em?”
He pulled up his horse.
Gregory faltered a moment. Then he said, “I’d like to buy them. Quick!”
He looked guiltily about, while the shoeman alertly obeyed, with some delay for a box to put them in. “How much are they?”