A listless clerk at the Consolidated office gave him a ticket to be delivered to the foreman of construction—the foreman sent him out with other men on a rattling jigger-wagon. By being very humble, and with the aid of his smile, he succeeded in begging a corned-beef sandwich for his breakfast from a workman on the jigger who was carrying his lunch to work. He ate it very slowly so as to make the most of it.
The new trench was in a suburban plot which had just been opened up by a real-estate syndicate. It was a bare tract, flat and dusty, and the only trees were newly planted saplings that were about as large as fishing-poles. How the sun did beat into that trench! But Walker Farr threw off his coat and used again his ready asset—his smile. He smiled at the boss who sneered at the style of “fiddler’s hair” worn by a dirt-flinger—smiled so sweetly that the boss came over later and hit him a friendly clap on the shoulder and said, “Well, old scout, here’s hoping that times will be better!”
“I’ll take her out on the bank of the canal this evening before bedtime and we’ll have a lark,” reflected Walker Farr as he toiled in the hot trench. And he stopped quizzing himself as to the whys of this sudden devotion to a freakish notion. He seemed to know at last.
THE GIRL FROM TADOUSAC
When the noon hour came Farr went and sat under a spindling tree and began to read in one of his little books, dismissing thoughts of hunger with the resoluteness of a man who had suffered hollow yearning of the stomach and knew how to conquer it.
But he could not escape the keen eyes and kindly generosity of the fraternity of toilers.
“A topper down on his luck a bit—see his clothes,” said the foreman, and he took tithes from willing men who were eating from pails that were pinched between their knees; he carried the food to the young man.
Farr accepted with gratitude, ate with thrifty moderation, and hid what remained in the pockets of his coat; it would serve for his supper.
He ate that supper after his day’s work was done and after he had laved his face and hands in the overflow from a public fountain in a little square.
Then he hurried to the house of the good woman.
She was busy with her dishes in the kitchen and Rosemarie was on the knees of a young woman who sat and rocked in one of the sitting-room chairs.
Farr entered by the kitchen door and stood there, looking in with some confusion on the girl and child.
“It is only Zelie Dionne; she is my boarder,” the woman informed him. “She is a good girl and she has the very nice job in the cloth-hall of the big Haxton mill. She lives with me because I was neighbor of her good folks in the Tadousac country, so far away from here in our Canada. Come! I make you acquaint. You shall see. She is a good girl!”