“Like enough, like enough. I gen’ally do. Is it my move?”
“No,” growled Andy. He returned to the board. The game was on in earnest. Now and then Andy grunted or moved a leg, and once or twice Uncle William arose to put more wood into the glowing stove. But he did it with the gaze of a sleep-walker. Outside the wind had risen and dashed fiercely against the little house. Neither man lifted his head to listen. Their hands reached mechanically to the pieces. They jumped men and placed them one side with impassive faces. The board was clearing fast. Only seven men remained. Andy moved forward a piece with a swift flourish. He gave a little growl of triumph.
Uncle William studied the board. At last, with a heavy sigh, he lifted a piece and moved it cautiously.
Andy made the counter move in triumphant haste. “King,” he announced.
Uncle William covered the man, a little smile dawning in his eye. He looked at the pieces affectionately. A chuckle sounded somewhere in the room.
Andy looked up quickly. He glanced again at the board. Wrath froze his gaze.
Uncle William leaned back, nodding at him with genial meaning. A little conscious triumph flavored the nod.
Andy shoved back from the board. “Well, why don’t you take it? Take it if you’re goin’ to, and don’t set there cackling!”
“Why, Andy!” Uncle William moved the man mildly.
Andy shoved the counter in place with scornful touch.
Uncle William moved again.
Andy got up, looking sternly for his hat.
“Can’t you stay to dinner, Andy?”
“I was goin’ to have a little meat.”
“It’s stormin’ putty hard.”
“I don’t care!” He moved toward the door.
Uncle William took down an oil-skin coat from its peg. “You better put this on if ye can’t stay. No use in gettin’ wet through.”
Andy put it on and buttoned it up in fierce silence.
Uncle William watched him benignly. “If ’t was so ’s ’t you could stay, we could play another after dinner—play the rubber. You beat me last time, you know.” He took off the stove-lid and peered in.
Andy’s eye had relaxed a little under its gloom. “When you goin’ to have dinner?” he asked.
“I was thinkin’ of havin’ it putty soon. I can have it right off if you’ll stay—must be ’most time.” He pulled a great watch from its fob pocket and looked at it with absent eye. His gaze deepened. He looked up slowly. Then he smiled—a cheerful smile that took in Andy, the board with its scattered checkers, Juno on the lounge, and the whole red room.
“Well, what time is it?” said Andy.
“It’s five minutes to three, Andy. Guess you’d better stay,” said Uncle William.