And he would stand before them for minutes’ together, as though peering into the real quality of their substance.
On April 30 he had an appointment with Bosinney to go over the accounts, and five minutes before the proper time he entered the tent which the architect had pitched for himself close to the old oak tree.
The accounts were already prepared on a folding table, and with a nod Soames sat down to study them. It was some time before he raised his head.
“I can’t make them out,” he said at last; “they come to nearly seven hundred more than they ought”
After a glance at Bosinney’s face he went on quickly:
“If you only make a firm stand against these builder chaps you’ll get them down. They stick you with everything if you don’t look sharp.... Take ten per cent. off all round. I shan’t mind it’s coming out a hundred or so over the mark!”
Bosinney shook his head:
“I’ve taken off every farthing I can!”
Soames pushed back the table with a movement of anger, which sent the account sheets fluttering to the ground.
“Then all I can say is,” he flustered out, “you’ve made a pretty mess of it!”
“I’ve told you a dozen times,” Bosinney answered sharply, “that there’d be extras. I’ve pointed them out to you over and over again!”
“I know that,” growled Soames: “I shouldn’t have objected to a ten pound note here and there. How was I to know that by ‘extras’ you meant seven hundred pounds?”
The qualities of both men had contributed to this not-inconsiderable discrepancy. On the one hand, the architect’s devotion to his idea, to the image of a house which he had created and believed in—had made him nervous of being stopped, or forced to the use of makeshifts; on the other, Soames’ not less true and wholehearted devotion to the very best article that could be obtained for the money, had rendered him averse to believing that things worth thirteen shillings could not be bought with twelve.
“I wish I’d never undertaken your house,” said Bosinney suddenly. “You come down here worrying me out of my life. You want double the value for your money anybody else would, and now that you’ve got a house that for its size is not to be beaten in the county, you don’t want to pay for it. If you’re anxious to be off your bargain, I daresay I can find the balance above the estimates myself, but I’m d——d if I do another stroke of work for you!”
Soames regained his composure. Knowing that Bosinney had no capital, he regarded this as a wild suggestion. He saw, too, that he would be kept indefinitely out of this house on which he had set his heart, and just at the crucial point when the architect’s personal care made all the difference. In the meantime there was Irene to be thought of! She had been very queer lately. He really believed it was only because she had taken to Bosinney that she tolerated the idea of the house at all. It would not do to make an open breach with her.