“Yes, a little.”
He ran to his room overhead and brought down a bottle which was two-thirds full. She tilted it up and took a drink. Her eyes sparkled with satisfaction, and she tucked the bottle under her shawl, saying, “It’s prime. I’ll take it along.”
Tom humbly held the door for her, and she marched out as grim and erect as a grenadier.
CHAPTER 9 — Tom Practices Sycophancy
Why is it that we
rejoice at a birth and grieve at a
funeral? It is because we are not the person involved. —
Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar
It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it. —Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar
Tom flung himself on the sofa, and put his throbbing head in his hands, and rested his elbows on his knees. He rocked himself back and forth and moaned.
“I’ve knelt to a nigger wench!” he muttered. “I thought I had struck the deepest depths of degradation before, but oh, dear, it was nothing to this. . . . Well, there is one consolation, such as it is—I’ve struck bottom this time; there’s nothing lower.”
But that was a hasty conclusion.
At ten that night he climbed the ladder in the haunted house, pale, weak, and wretched. Roxy was standing in the door of one of the rooms, waiting, for she had heard him.
This was a two-story log house which had acquired the reputation a few years ago of being haunted, and that was the end of its usefulness. Nobody would live in it afterward, or go near it by night, and most people even gave it a wide berth in the daytime. As it had no competition, it was called the haunted house. It was getting crazy and ruinous now, from long neglect. It stood three hundred yards beyond Pudd’nhead Wilson’s house, with nothing between but vacancy. It was the last house in the town at that end.
Tom followed Roxy into the room. She had a pile of clean straw in the corner for a bed, some cheap but well-kept clothing was hanging on the wall, there was a tin lantern freckling the floor with little spots of light, and there were various soap and candle boxes scattered about, which served for chairs. The two sat down. Roxy said:
“Now den, I’ll tell you straight off, en I’ll begin to k’leck de money later on; I ain’t in no hurry. What does you reckon I’s gwine to tell you?”
“Well, you—you—oh, Roxy, don’t make it too hard for me! Come right out and tell me you’ve found out somehow what a shape I’m in on account of dissipation and foolishness.”
“Disposition en foolishness! NO sir, dat ain’t it. Dat jist ain’t nothin’ at all, ‘longside o’ what I knows.”
Tom stared at her, and said: