“‘I’ll come out all right,’ he says. ‘I’m goin’ to raise my whole schedule fifteen per cent.’
“‘The people won’t stand it—they can’t,’ says I. ’You’ll be drownin’ the miller. They’ll leave you.’
“’It won’t do ’em any good,’ says he. ‘Bill an’ Eph will make their prices agree with mine.’
“‘Folks will go back to the land, as I have,’ says I.
“‘They don’t know enough,’ says Sam. ‘Farmin’ is a lost art here in the East. You take my word for it—they’ll pay our prices—they’ll have to—an’ the rich folks, they don’t worry about prices. I pay a commission to every steward an’ butler in this neighborhood.’
“‘I won’t help you,’ says I. ’It’s wicked. You ought to have saved your money.’
“‘In a year from now I’ll have money to burn,’ he says. ’For one thing, my daughter’s education is finished, an’ that has cost heavy.’
“‘How much would it cost to unlearn it?’ I asked. ‘That’s goin’ to cost more than it did to get it, I’m ’fraid. In my opinion the first thing to do with her is to uneducate her.’
“That was like a red-hot iron to Sam. It kind o’ het him up.
“‘Why, sir, you don’t appreciate her,’ says he. ’That girl is far above us all here in Pointview. She’s a queen.’
“‘Well, Sam,’ I says, ’if there’s anything you don’t need just now it’s a queen. If I were you I wouldn’t graft that kind o’ fruit on the grocery-tree. Hams an’ coronets don’t flourish on the same bush. They have a different kind of a bouquet. They don’t harmonize. Then, Sam, what do you want of a girl that’s far above ye? Is it any comfort to you to be despised in your own home?’
“’Mr. Potter, I haven’t educated her for my own home or for this community, but for higher things,’ says Sam.
“‘You hairy old ass! The first you know,’ I says, ’they’ll have your skin off an’ layin’ on the front piaz’ for a door-mat.’
“Sam started for the open air. I hated to be ha’sh with him, but he needed some education himself, an’ it took a beetle an’ wedge to open his mind for it. He lifted his chin so high that the fat swelled out on the back of his neck an’ unbuttoned his collar. Then he turned an’ said: ’My daughter is too good for this town, an’ I don’t intend that she shall stay here. She has been asked to marry a man o’ fortune in the old country.’
“‘So I surmised, an’ I suppose you find that the price o’ husbands has gone up,’ I says.
“Sam didn’t answer me.
“‘They want you to settle some money on the girl—don’t they?’ I asked.
“‘My wife says it’s the custom in the old country,’ says Sam.
“‘Suppose he ain’t worth the price?’
“‘They say he’s a splendid fellow,’ says Sam.
“‘You let me investigate him,’ I says, ‘an’ if he’s really worth the price I’ll help ye to pay it.’
“Sam said that was fair, an’ thanked me for the offer, an’ gave me the young man’s address. He was a Russian by the name of Alexander Rolanoff, an’ Sam insisted that he belonged to a very old family of large means an’ noble blood, an’ said that the young man would be in Pointview that summer. I wrote to the mayor of the city in which he was said to live, but got no answer.