The man laughed out. He swung his eyeglasses boyishly from their chain. “Well, you’re not.”
“Me?” Uncle William looked down at his bulk. “More of me—bigger a little, sort o’, mebbe.”
The man nodded. “But just the same underneath.”
“Jest the same,” said Uncle William.
The man drew a deep breath. “I’ve traveled all over the world. There’s no place like this anywhere.”
“Nowheres,” said Uncle William, fervently.
“I shall spend my days here.”
“Right here,” assented Uncle William.
The man looked at him keenly. “Will you sell?”
Uncle William shook his head. “I’ll divide.”
The man held out his hand. “It’s a bargain.”
Uncle William took it and held it fast. His eyes twinkled. “I must go and tell Andy,” he said. “He’ll be reel pleased.”
“Andy?” The man’s face lighted. “You don’t mean Andy Halloran? Is he here yet?”
“Right on deck; jest slid down the rock here this minute,” said Uncle William.
The man’s eyes twinkled. “Remember the day he took my lobster-pot?”
“Borrowed it,” said Uncle William, dryly.
“Borrowed it,” assented the man. He chuckled a little. “He got his pay.”
Uncle William nodded. “He al’ays does. Andy’s borrowin’ lobster-pots now—same Andy—gets his pay every time. He’s great on gettin’ his pay, Andy is.”
“He ought to have made a mean man,” said the other, thoughtfully.
“Well, he hain’t, not so to speak,” said Uncle William, slowly. “There’s mean spots—rocks; you hev to steer some, but it’s sandy bottom if you know how to make it. I’ve anchored on him a good many year now and I never knew him to slip anchor. It may drift a little now and then. Any bottom will drift.”
The man laughed out. “So it will.” He took up his hat. “I must go and look up a place to stay,” he said.
Uncle William looked at him sternly. “Not a step. You don’t stir a step, Benjy Bodet.” He pointed to the red lounge.
The Frenchman paused, irresolute. “I’m going to stay some time, you know.” He glanced about the little room. “I shall be in the way.”
“You set right down,” said Uncle William.
The man looked at him with raised brows. “You want me?”
“Want you? Why shouldn’t I want you!” roared Uncle William. “I’ve been waitin’ for you sixty year and odd. Set down!”
The Frenchman sat down on the red lounge and crossed his legs.
A ball of gray fur descended upon them and fluffed itself, purring.
He peered at it uncertainly. He swung the glasses to place upon his nose, surveying it.
“Now, don’t that show?” demanded Uncle William. “She don’t take to strangers—never. Look at her.” She was kneading her paws in the thin knees, delicately, with treading softness.
The Frenchman’s eyes lighted. “She’s your cat?”