Uncle William got to his feet. “I s’pose ye told him about Alan and about my place.”
She stopped short, looking at him reproachfully. “Not a word,” she said—“not a single word!”
Uncle William’s countenance fell. “Wa’n’t that what you went out for?”
“No; and you must not mention it. I only told him that you liked them.”
“Can’t I even say that’s my house out there?” He waved his hand.
“Never!” It was energetic. “You would spoil it all.”
“Will it hurt it any to be my house?” he asked, a little sore.
“You know it is not that.” She laid her hand on his arm affectionately. “We shall tell him all about it some day; but now, just now, while he is making up his mind, it would distract him. He wants to look at them as art.”
Uncle William sighed gently. “Well, I’ll do my best, but it’s goin’ agen’ nature not to bust right out with it.” They passed into the larger room. On the opposite side the man was standing, his eyeglasses on his nose, looking expectantly toward the door.
When he saw them, he smiled and moved forward with suave grace.
They met midway in the room. The two tall men stood facing each other, overtopping the crowd. The Frenchman held out his hand. “I am glad to meet you,” he said.
Uncle William took the thin hand in his hearty one. “I am glad to meet you,” he responded. “Sergia’s been tellin’ me about you. She said you liked the picter over yonder.” Uncle William’s thumb described the arc of a circle.
The Frenchman’s eye followed it. “I do,” he said, cordially. “Don’t you?”
“Well, it’s middlin’ good.” Uncle William spoke craftily. They were moving toward it.
“It’s great!” said the Frenchman. He swung his eyeglasses to his nose and gazed at it. They came to a standstill a little distance away.
“The house ain’t much to boast on,” said Uncle William, modestly.
“The house?” The Frenchman stared at him politely.
Uncle William motioned with his hand. “It’s a kind o’ ramshackle ol’ thing—no chimbley to speak of—”
The man’s face cleared. “Oh, the house—a mere hut!” He dismissed it with a wave.
Uncle William’s face wore a subdued look. “It might be comf’tabul inside,” he hazarded after a silence.
The Frenchman stared again. “Comfortable? Oh, without doubt.” He granted the point in passing. “But the color in the rocks—do you see?—and the clear light and the sky—you see how it lifts itself!” His long finger made swift stabs here and there at the canvas. A little crowd had gathered near.
Uncle William pushed his spectacles farther up on the tufts. His face glowed. “The sky is all right,” he said, “if ye know how to take it; but ye wouldn’t trust a sky like that, would ye?”
The Frenchman turned to him, blinking a little. His glasses had slipped from his nose. They hung dangling from the end of the long chain. “Trust it?” he said vaguely. “It’s the real thing!”