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The other interview was longer, and took place days earlier, but it was no more of a delight to Archibald Wickersham.
Archibald Wickersham wished that he could have believed it impossible, for it would have given him courage and lent conviction to his stand. But he knew just how fast those few remaining miles of open roadbed would be spanned. His eyes were furtive; there was no body to his voice. "My men are on the banks," he blustered. "My first head of logs has started down.
Wickersham had been revolving in his mind what he should say to the old gentleman. He had about decided to speak very plainly to him on the folly of such narrowness. Something, however, in the General's air again deterred him: a thinning of the nostril; an unwonted firmness of the mouth.
He was worried as to the way George would turn out when he grew up. This particular trout-rod, however, had an attraction for Langshaw of long standing. He had examined it carefully more than once when in the shop with his neighbour, Wickersham; it wasn't a fifty-dollar rod, of course, but it seemed in some ways as good as if it were it was expensive enough for him!
Lancaster gave a shrug of impatience, and pushed a photograph on a small table farther away, as if it incommoded her. "Oh, Ferdy Wickersham! Ferdy Wickersham to that man is a heated room to the breath of hills and forests." She spoke with real warmth, and Mrs. Wentworth gazed at her curiously for a few seconds.
"My father'll come down here and show you old mossbacks a thing or two," he laughed. The old man turned his eyes on him slowly. Ferdy was not a favorite with him. For one thing, he played on the piano. But there were other reasons. "Who is your father, son?" The squire drew a long whiff from his pipe. "Aaron Wickersham of Wickersham & Company, who is setting up the chips for this railroad.
Then she was back, knee to knee, at his side. "That wasn't fair," she said. "That was most unfair, to me. You didn't think, did you, that I " His interruption surprised her. "If I shouldn't inquire," he asked, "will you please tell me so, and forget I asked the question? May I know when you you and Mr. Wickersham are to be " Barbara's face went slowly crimson, flushed to the nape of her neck.
She had refused, but had been over-persuaded, and she declared it was all a plot between Wickersham and her manager to ruin her. She would be even with them both, if she had to take a pistol to right her wrongs. Keith had little idea that the chief motive of her acceptance had been the hope that she might find him among the company.
"Mine was such a blow to me," she said, wiping her eyes; "such cruel things were said to me. I did not think any one but a woman would have said such biting things to a woman." "It was Ferdy Wickersham, I know," said Keith, his eyes contracting; "but what on earth could he have said? What could he have dared to say to wound you so?" "He said all the town was talking about me and Norman."
"Do you know the names of any of the owners?" he inquired. "I am familiar with some of the lands about there." Mr. Wickersham pondered. Keith was so ingenuous and eager that there could be no harm in coming to the point. "Why, yes; there is a man named Rawson that has some lands or some sort of interest in lands that adjoin ours. It might be well for us to control those properties."