“Four and a half,” said Andy, grudgingly.
“Four and a half. Well, you see, I give you six. So there’s a dollar and a half clear gain.”
Andrew’s eyes narrowed to the dollar and a half and fed on it awhile. “I shall hev to ask Harr’et,” he said.
“Now, I wouldn’t ask Harriet.” Uncle William spoke soothingly. “She don’t agree with you and me a good many times—Harriet don’t.”
Andrew admitted it. He chewed awhile in silence. “You’ll give me a mortgage?” he said at last. The tone was crafty.
“On my place!” Uncle William was roused. “No, sir, I don’t give mortgages to nobody.”
“Then I don’t see as I can let you hev it,” said Andy. “It’s fair to ask for a mortgage. What if anything should happen to ye—down there in New York? Where’d I be?” He looked at him reproachfully.
“You would miss me, Andy, and I know it. I’m goin’ to be careful. I shan’t take no more resks ’n I have to.”
“Nor me, neither,” said Andy.
“That’s right, Andy, you be careful, too, while I’m gone. Why, ’t wouldn’t ever be like home—to come back and not find you here.”
Andy’s eyes widened. “What you talkin’ ’bout?” he said.
Uncle William’s gaze was on him affectionately. He looked a little puzzled. “I dunno jest what I did start to say,” he said apologetically. “I was thinkin’ what a store I set by you, Andy.”
Andy’s face softened a trifle. “Now, look here, Willum, a mortgage is fair. It wouldn’t hurt you none, nor your place—”
William shook his head. “I couldn’t do it, Andy. I wouldn’t reely trust you with a mortgage. You might get scared and foreclose some day if I couldn’t pay the interest, and you’d be ashamed enough—doin’ a thing like that.”
The next day Andy drew the hundred from the bank and turned it over to William without even a note to guard his sacred rights. Andy had tried in the night watches to formulate a note. He had selected the best, from a row of crafty suggestions, about four o’clock. But later, as he and William went up the road, the note dropped by the way.
Uncle William stowed the money in his pocket with a comfortable smile. “You’ve done the right thing, Andy, and I shall pay you back when I can. You’ll get your interest reg’lar—six per cent.”
Andy’s face held a kind of subdued gloom. He mourned not as those without hope, but with a chastened expectancy. To lend William money had almost the fine flavor of gambling.
He saw him off the following morning, with a sense of widened interests. He carried, moreover, an additional burden. “Remember, Andy,” Uncle William called to him as the boat moved away, “she don’t like potato, and she won’t touch a mite of fish—’ceptin’ herrin’.” Juno had been intrusted to him.