Hawker had a writing friend named Hollanden. In New York Hollanden had announced his resolution to spend the summer at Hemlock Inn. "I don't like to see the world progressing," he had said; "I shall go to Sullivan County for a time."
In the morning Hawker took his painting equipment, and after manoeuvring in the fields until he had proved to himself that he had no desire to go toward the inn, he went toward it. The time was only nine o'clock, and he knew that he could not hope to see Hollanden before eleven, as it was only through rumour that Hollanden was aware that there was a sunrise and an early morning.
Hawker encamped in front of some fields of vivid yellow stubble on which trees made olive shadows, and which was overhung by a china-blue sky and sundry little white clouds. He fiddled away perfunctorily at it. A spectator would have believed, probably, that he was sketching the pines on the hill where shone the red porches of Hemlock Inn.
Finally, a white-flannel young man walked into the landscape. Hawker waved a brush. "Hi, Hollie, get out of the colour-scheme!"
At this cry the white-flannel young man looked down at his feet apprehensively. Finally he came forward grinning. "Why, hello, Hawker, old boy! Glad to find you here." He perched on a boulder and began to study Hawker's canvas and the vivid yellow stubble with the olive shadows. He wheeled his eyes from one to the other. "Say, Hawker," he said suddenly, "why don't you marry Miss Fanhall?"
Hawker had a brush in his mouth, but he took it quickly out, and said, "Marry Miss Fanhall? Who the devil is Miss Fanhall?"
Hollanden clasped both hands about his knee and looked thoughtfully away. "Oh, she's a girl."
"She is?" said Hawker.
"Yes. She came to the inn last night with her sister-in-law and a small tribe of young Fanhalls. There's six of them, I think."
"Two," said Hawker, "a boy and a girl."
"How do you--oh, you must have come up with them. Of course. Why, then you saw her."
"Was that her?" asked Hawker listlessly.
"Was that her?" cried Hollanden, with indignation. "Was that her?"
"Oh!" said Hawker.
Hollanden mused again. "She's got lots of money," he said. "Loads of it. And I think she would be fool enough to have sympathy for you in your work. They are a tremendously wealthy crowd, although they treat it simply. It would be a good thing for you. I believe--yes, I am sure she could be fool enough to have sympathy for you in your work. And now, if you weren't such a hopeless chump----"
"Oh, shut up, Hollie," said the painter.
For a time Hollanden did as he was bid, but at last he talked again. "Can't think why they came up here. Must be her sister-in-law's health. Something like that. She----"
"Great heavens," said Hawker, "you speak of nothing else!"
"Well, you saw her, didn't you?" demanded Hollanden. "What can you expect, then, from a man of my sense? You--you old stick--you----"
"It was quite dark," protested the painter.
"Quite dark," repeated Hollanden, in a wrathful voice. "What if it was?"
"Well, that is bound to make a difference in a man's opinion, you know."
"No, it isn't. It was light down at the railroad station, anyhow. If you had any sand--thunder, but I did get up early this morning! Say, do you play tennis?"
"After a fashion," said Hawker. "Why?"
"Oh, nothing," replied Hollanden sadly. "Only they are wearing me out at the game. I had to get up and play before breakfast this morning with the Worcester girls, and there is a lot more mad players who will be down on me before long. It's a terrible thing to be a tennis player."
"Why, you used to put yourself out so little for people," remarked Hawker.
"Yes, but up there"--Hollanden jerked his thumb in the direction of the inn--"they think I'm so amiable."
"Well, I'll come up and help you out."
"Do," Hollanden laughed; "you and Miss Fanhall can team it against the littlest Worcester girl and me." He regarded the landscape and meditated. Hawker struggled for a grip on the thought of the stubble.
"That colour of hair and eyes always knocks me kerplunk," observed Hollanden softly.
Hawker looked up irascibly. "What colour hair and eyes?" he demanded. "I believe you're crazy."
"What colour hair and eyes?" repeated Hollanden, with a savage gesture. "You've got no more appreciation than a post."
"They are good enough for me," muttered Hawker, turning again to his work. He scowled first at the canvas and then at the stubble. "Seems to me you had best take care of yourself, instead of planning for me," he said.
"Me!" cried Hollanden. "Me! Take care of myself! My boy, I've got a past of sorrow and gloom. I----"
"You're nothing but a kid," said Hawker, glaring at the other man.
"Oh, of course," said Hollanden, wagging his head with midnight wisdom. "Oh, of course."
"Well, Hollie," said Hawker, with sudden affability, "I didn't mean to be unpleasant, but then you are rather ridiculous, you know, sitting up there and howling about the colour of hair and eyes."
"I'm not ridiculous."
"Yes, you are, you know, Hollie."
The writer waved his hand despairingly. "And you rode in the train with her, and in the stage."
"I didn't see her in the train," said Hawker.
"Oh, then you saw her in the stage. Ha-ha, you old thief! I sat up here, and you sat down there and lied." He jumped from his perch and belaboured Hawker's shoulders.
"Stop that!" said the painter.
"Oh, you old thief, you lied to me! You lied---- Hold on--bless my life, here she comes now!"
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