“Al’ays could.” Uncle William held out his hand again for the glass. “I don’t make her out a schooner, though.”
“Yes.” Uncle William’s eye was glued to the glass. “But she’s lighter built, trimmer. Some pleasure-craft, like enough. You can see her walk—same as if she was a lady—a-bowin’ and bobbin’.” He laid down the glass, a look of pleasure in his face. “She’s comin’ right in, whoever she is. She’ll drop anchor by noon-time.” He glanced at the easel. “You been paintin’?”
“‘Bout a thousand dollars’ wuth, I s’pose?”
“Not ten cents’ worth.”
“Sho, now! Is that so?” He got up and looked down at the canvas, bending above it like some genial giraffe. He straightened himself, smiling. “‘Tis kind o’ dobby,” he admitted. “Mebbe you’ll do better to-morrow.”
“Maybe. Was there a letter for me?”
The old man shook his head. “Nary letter.—I reckon ’t ain’t time yet,” he added consolingly.
The young man looked gloomily at the water. “She must be ill.”
“Busy, more likely,” said Uncle William.
“It’s been six weeks.”
“You’re feelin’ putty well,” said Uncle William.
“I shall go down to-morrow,” said the young man. He had begun to gather up his brushes. The hands that lifted them were firm and strong. A clear color ran beneath the tan of his face.
Uncle William watched him with a little smile. “I dunno’s I’d go to-morrow. You could go next week if you don’t hear nuthin’.”
“I shall go to-morrow. I’ve been a fool to wait so long.”
Uncle William’s eye twinkled. “You’ve been gettin’ well,” he said.
“I’m well now.”
“Yes, you’re—Hello, there’s Andy.” He leaned over the edge of the cliff. “What d’ye make her?” he called down.
Andy squinted at the distance. “Coaster,” he announced.
“Come up here and take a look at her.”
Andy climbed slowly up the cliff. “Got your glass?” He took it and fixed the moving speck. “’T ain’t a coaster,” he muttered. “What you folks been doin’ all the mornin’?”
“Well, I’ve been for the mail and some things, and Mr. Woodworth here he’s been paintin’.”
Andy cast a side glance at the easel. Then he
gazed fixedly at the bay.
He seated himself on a rock. “It’s time for me to go home,” he said.
No one paid any attention to it—Andy least of all. He sat with one leg swinging over the other, chewing a bit of grass and staring gloomily out to sea. The look of baffled humility in his face made it almost tragic. The artist fell to sketching it under cover of his hand. Uncle William studied the approaching boat. “She’s never been in these waters afore,” he announced. “She’s comin’ in keerful.” No one replied. Andy stared at fate and the artist worked fast. Uncle William reached out for the glass. He took a long look. He dropped it hastily and glanced at the young man, who was working with serene touch—oblivious to the bay. Uncle William looked through the glass again—a long, slow look. Then he slipped it into his pocket and got up, decision in his face. “Comin’ in to dinner, Andy?”