“Here’s his dollar, Sim,” said Mr. Fluker, throwing it out of the window. “Nervy say make him take it.”
The vanquished, not daring to refuse, pocketed the coin, and slunk away amid the jeers of a score of villagers who had been drawn to the scene.
In all human probability the late omission of the shaking of Sim’s and Marann’s hands was compensated at their parting that afternoon. I am more confident on this point because at the end of the year those hands were joined inseparably by the preacher. But this was when they had all gone back to their old home; for if Mr. Fluker did not become fully convinced that his mathematical education was not advanced quite enough for all the exigencies of hotel-keeping, his wife declared that she had had enough of it, and that she and Marann were going home. Mr. Fluker may be said, therefore, to have followed, rather than led, his family on the return.
As for the deputy, finding that if he did not leave it voluntarily he would be drummed out of the village, he departed, whither I do not remember if anybody ever knew.
By Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855-1896)
[From Puck, July 30, 1890. Republished in the volume, Short Sixes: Stories to Be Read While the Candle Burns (1891), by Henry Cuyler Bunner; copyright, 1890, by Alice Larned Bunner; reprinted by permission of the publishers, Charles Scribner’a Sons.]
“They certainly are nice people,” I assented to my wife’s observation, using the colloquial phrase with a consciousness that it was anything but “nice” English, “and I’ll bet that their three children are better brought up than most of——”
“Two children,” corrected my wife.
“Three, he told me.”
“My dear, she said there were two.”
“He said three.”
“You’ve simply forgotten. I’m sure she told me they had only two—a boy and a girl.”
“Well, I didn’t enter into particulars.”
“No, dear, and you couldn’t have understood him. Two children.”
“All right,” I said; but I did not think it was all right. As a near-sighted man learns by enforced observation to recognize persons at a distance when the face is not visible to the normal eye, so the man with a bad memory learns, almost unconsciously, to listen carefully and report accurately. My memory is bad; but I had not had time to forget that Mr. Brewster Brede had told me that afternoon that he had three children, at present left in the care of his mother-in-law, while he and Mrs. Brede took their summer vacation.
“Two children,” repeated my wife; “and they are staying with his aunt Jenny.”
“He told me with his mother-in-law,” I put in. My wife looked at me with a serious expression. Men may not remember much of what they are told about children; but any man knows the difference between an aunt and a mother-in-law.