“That’s all right,” said the artist. “I want to see him.”
He found Uncle William sunning the kittens at the east of the house. He looked up with a nod as the artist appeared. “They’re doin’ fust-rate,” he said, adjusting the clam-basket a little. “They’ll be a credit to their raisin’. Set down.”
The artist seated himself on a rock near by. The sun fell warm on his back. Across the harbor a little breeze ran rippling. At the foot of the cliff Andy was making ready to lift anchor. The artist watched him a minute. “You’ve wasted a good deal of money on me,” he said soberly.
Uncle William looked at him. He dropped an eye to the Andrew Halloran. “He been talkin’ to ye?” he asked cheerfully.
“He told me you borrowed of him—”
“Now, don’t you mind that a mite. Andy don’t. He’s proud as Punch to hev me owe him suthin’. He reminds me of it every day or two. All I mind about is your frettin’ and takin’ on so. If you’d jest be easy in your mind, we’d have a reel comf’tabul time—with the kittens and all.” He replaced one that had sprawled over the edge. “The’ ‘s a lot o’ comfort in doin’ for dumb things,” he went on cheerfully. “They can’t find fault with the way you fix ’em.” He chuckled a little.
The artist smiled. “Look here, Uncle William, you can’t fool me any longer. You’re just pining for a boat. Look at that!” He waved his hand at the water dimpling below.
Uncle William’s gaze dwelt on it fondly for a minute.
“And you sit here dawdling over that basket of kittens!” Scorn and disgust struggled in the artist’s voice.
Uncle William laughed out. He stood up. “What is ’t you want me to do?” he asked.
The artist eyed him miserably. “That’s the worst of it—I don’t know.”
“Well, I’ll tell ye,” said Uncle William. “We’ll row down and get the mail, and after that we’ll plan about the boat. I ain’t quite so daft as I look,” he said half apologetically. “I’ve been turnin’ it over in my mind whilst I’ve been doin’ the kittens, and I’ve ’bout decided what to do. But fust, we’ll get the mail.”
There was a letter for the artist. It contained a check from the Frenchman. He had bought three of the pictures—the one of Uncle William’s house and the two of the old Bodet place.
“Did you know it?” demanded the artist. He was facing Uncle William in the boat as they rowed home.
“I didn’t know it,” said Uncle William, with a long, easy pull, “but I reckoned suthin’ ’d be along putty soon. If it hadn’t come to-day, I was goin’ to make Andy give us enough to begin on.”
“He wouldn’t have done it.”
“Oh, yes, he’d ‘a’ done it. He’d ‘a’ squirmed and twisted some, but he’d ‘a’ done it. He’d ‘a’ had to!”
The artist laughed out happily. “Well, now you can do as you like. We’ll have the best boat there is going.”