When the work was done the owner offered money.
Farr refused with curt decisiveness.
“Well, have a drink?” invited the debtor.
“I do not use liquor.”
The autoist emptied his cigar-case into his hand and offered the cigars to Farr, who had just tugged on his coat.
“I do not smoke, sir.”
It was not declination with humility; the manner of the man of the road contained a hint that anybody who drank or smoked was no better than he should be. The girl studied him with renewed interest.
“Don’t stand there and try to put anything over on me,” advised the man in gray, showing resentment. “What can I do for you?”
“You might thank the man, Richard,” declared the girl, tartly. She turned to Farr.
“He seems to have forgotten ‘thank you’ as he forgot ‘please.’ May I make amends? We thank you!”
“And now I am in your debt,” said the rover. He bowed and walked on.
When the car passed him the girl turned and gave him a long look. He waved his hand. The dust-cloud closed in between them.
“Kat Kilgour! That’s a tramp! I’m amazed!” said the elder woman, observing the look and the salute.
“Yes, this world is full of surprises,” agreed the girl, sweetly.
“But your own eyes told you that he was a tramp.”
“There isn’t any doubt of it, is there, if you used your eyes?” demanded their escort.
“We’ll consider that the eyes have it—and let the matter drop,” said the girl—and her tone was not sweet.
The man of the keen brown eyes and the faded garb fared on.
He plucked a rose from a wayside bush and carried the flower in his hand.
“Your sister just passed this way,” he informed the rose in whimsical fashion. “I don’t suppose you and I will ever catch up with her. I go very slowly, but you may journey along with me.”
A HOME-MADE KNIGHT-ERRANT
The wayfarer who called himself Farr came down the long hill and turned the corner of the highway where the alders crowded to the banks of the narrow brook; they whispered to one another as the breeze fluttered their leaves. He drank there, bending and scooping the water in his palm. He bathed the rose and stroked its wilted petals.
“Too bad, little one!” he said. “The long road is a killing proposition, and I’m afraid I had no business inviting you to go with me. Your sister must be a long way ahead of us.”
The rocks were cool where the alders cast shade, and he sat there for a little while, watching the drift of tiny flotsam down the eddying current and observing the skipper-bugs skating over the still shallows on their spraddled legs.
There was a pleasant hush all about. The bubbling ecstasy of a bobolink floated above the grasses of a meadow, and near at hand a wren hopped about in the alders and chirped dozy notes. Peace and restfulness brooded. The man at the brook leaned low and thrust his head into the water and then rose and shook the drops from his thick thatch of brown hair. He did it with a sort of canine wriggle and smiled at the thought which came to him.