Andy had not relinquished the letter. “I can read it for ye,” he volunteered.
“I can read it all right now, Andy, thank ye.” Uncle William reached out a hand for it.
Andy’s fingers relaxed on it grudgingly. He had once or twice been allowed to open and read the letters in the temporary absence of Uncle William’s spectacles. He found them more entertaining than when Uncle William read them. He privately suspected him of suppressing bits of news.
Uncle William looked up from the lines with pleased countenance. “Now, that’s good. He’s finished up five on ’em.”
“Picters,” responded Uncle William, spelling it out slowly. “There’s one of my house,”—lofty pride held the voice,—“and one of the cove down below, and two up by the end of old Bodet place, and one on the hill, this side of your place. Now, that’s quite a nice lot, ain’t it?”
“What’s he going to do with ’em,” asked Andy.
“There’s a kind of exhibit goin’ on.” Uncle William consulted the letter. “‘The Exhibition of American Artists’—suthin’ like a fair, I take it. And he’s goin’ to send ’em.”
“Thinks he’ll take a prize, I s’pose.” Andy’s tone held fine scepticism.
“Well, I dunno. He don’t say nuthin’ about a prize. He does kind o’ hint that he’ll be sendin’ me suthin’ pretty soon. I guess likely there’ll be prizes. He o’t to take one if there is. He made fust-rate picters, fust-rate—”
“The whole lot wa’n’t wuth the Jennie.” Andy spoke with sharp jealousy.
“Well, mebbe not—mebbe not. Want a game of checkers, Andy?”
“I don’t care,” sullenly. Uncle William brought out the board and arranged the pieces with stiff fingers.
Andy watched the movements, his eye callous to pleasure.
“It’s your move, Andy.”
Andy drew up to the table and reached out a hand. . . . The spirit of the game descended upon him. He pushed forward a man with quick fingers. “Go ahead.”
Uncle William took time. His fingers hovered here and there in loving calculation. At last he lifted the piece and moved it slowly forward.
“Same move you al’ays make,” said Andy, contemptuously.
“Sometimes I beat that way, don’t I?”
“And sometimes you don’t.” Andy shoved forward another piece. The quick movement expressed scorn of dawdlers.
Uncle William met it mildly. He set his man in place with slow care.
Andy paused. He snorted a little. He bent above the board, knitting his forehead. His hand reached out and drew back. The fingers reached out and drew back. The fingers drummed a little on the edge of the board.
Uncle William, leaning forward, a hand on either knee, beamed on him benignantly.
Andy shifted a little in his chair. “You’re going to get into trouble,” he said warningly, “if you move that way.”