Andy’s face was impassive.
“Oh, you was fond of Benjy!” Uncle William spoke cheeringly. “You’ve kind o’ forgot, I guess. And I set a heap o’ store by him. He was jest about our age—twelve year the summer they moved away. I cried much as a week, off and on I should think. Couldn’t seem to get ust to not havin’ him around.”
“Reckon he’s dead by this time?” Andy spoke hopefully. A little green gleam had crept into his eye.
Uncle William leaned over, looking down at him reproachfully. “Now, what makes you say that, Andy? He don’t hev no more call to be dead’n we do. We was both fond of him.”
Andy stirred uneasily. “I liked him well enough, but it ain’t any use talkin’ about folks that’s moved away, or dead.”
“Do you feel that way, Andy? Now I don’t feel so.” Uncle William’s gaze was following a floating cloud. “I feel as if they was kind o’ near us; not touching close, but round somewheres. Now, I wouldn’t really say Benjy Bodet was in that cloud—”
Andy stared at it suspiciously.
“He ain’t really there, but it makes me feel the way he did. I used to get up kind o’ light in the mornin’, ‘cause I was goin’ to see Benjy. The’ wa’n’t ever anybody I was so fond of, except Jennie—and you, mebbe.”
Andy’s gaze was looking out to sea. “You was mighty thick with that painter chap,” he said gruffly.
“That wa’n’t the same,”—Uncle William spoke thoughtfully,—“not quite the same.”
The gloom in Andy’s face lifted.
“I’ve thought about that a good many times,” went on Uncle William. “It’s cur’us. You get to know folks that’s a good deal nicer than your own folks that you was born and brought up and have lived and quarreled with,—and you get to know ’em a good deal better some ways—but they ain’t the same as your own.”
Andy’s face had grown almost mild. “I guess that’s right,” he said. “Now there’s Harr’et—I’ve lived with Harr’et a good many year.”
Uncle William nodded. “She come from Digby way, didn’t she?”
“Northeast o’ Digby. And some days I feel as if I wa’n’t even acquainted with her.”
Uncle William chuckled.
Andy glanced at the sun. “I must be gettin’ home. It’s supper-time.” His gaze sought the ridge-pole. The few rows of bricks set above its line gleamed red and white in the sun. “You won’t get that done to-night.” The tone was not acrid. It was almost sympathetic—for Andy.
Uncle William glanced at it placidly. “I reckon I shall. There’s a moon, you know. And this is a pleasant place to set. It ought to be quite nice up here by moonlight.”
He set and watched Andy’s figure down the road. Then he took up the trowel once more, whistling. The floating cloud had sailed to the horizon. It grew rosy red and opened softly, spreading in little flames. The glow of color spread from north to south. A breeze had sprung up and ruffled the bay. Uncle William glanced at it and fell to work. “Andy’s right—it’s goin’ to change.”