The Damnation of Theron Ware eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Damnation of Theron Ware.
instead, as if feeling that they were only there at all from plain necessity, and ought not to be taken into account.  Mr. Pierce’s face did not know how to smile—­what was the use of smiles?—­but its whole surface radiated secretiveness.  Portrayed on canvas by a master brush, with a ruff or a red robe for masquerade, generations of imaginative amateurs would have seen in it vast reaching plots, the skeletons of a dozen dynastic cupboards, the guarded mysteries of half a century’s international diplomacy.  The amateurs would have been wrong again.  There was nothing behind Mr. Pierce’s juiceless countenance more weighty than a general determination to exact seven per cent for his money, and some specific notions about capturing certain brickyards which were interfering with his quarry-sales.  But Octavius watched him shamble along its sidewalks quite as the Vienna of dead and forgotten yesterday might have watched Metternich.

Erastus Winch was of a breezier sort—­a florid, stout, and sandy man, who spent most of his life driving over evil country roads in a buggy, securing orders for dairy furniture and certain allied lines of farm utensils.  This practice had given him a loud voice and a deceptively hearty manner, to which the other avocation of cheese-buyer, which he pursued at the Board of Trade meetings every Monday afternoon, had added a considerable command of persuasive yet non-committal language.  To look at him, still more to hear him, one would have sworn he was a good fellow, a trifle rough and noisy, perhaps, but all right at bottom.  But the County Clerk of Dearborn County could have told you of agriculturists who knew Erastus from long and unhappy experience, and who held him to be even a tighter man than Loren Pierce in the matter of a mortgage.

The third trustee, Levi Gorringe, set one wondering at the very first glance what on earth he was doing in that company.  Those who had known him longest had the least notion; but it may be added that no one knew him well.  He was a lawyer, and had lived in Octavius for upwards of ten years; that is to say, since early manhood.  He had an office on the main street, just under the principal photograph gallery.  Doubtless he was sometimes in this office; but his fellow-townsmen saw him more often in the street doorway, with the stairs behind him, and the flaring show-cases of the photographer on either side, standing with his hands in his pockets and an unlighted cigar in his mouth, looking at nothing in particular.  About every other day he went off after breakfast into the country roundabout, sometimes with a rod, sometimes with a gun, but always alone.  He was a bachelor, and slept in a room at the back of his office, cooking some of his meals himself, getting others at a restaurant close by.  Though he had little visible practice, he was understood to be well-to-do and even more, and people tacitly inferred that he “shaved notes.”  The Methodists of Octavius looked

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The Damnation of Theron Ware from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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