That evening Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Pettybone, childhood friends, long separated by the feud, stopped to speak to Scattergood.
“Nobody knows how we appreciate what you done Minnie and me,” said Mrs. Pettybone.
“Blessed is the peacemaker,” said Mrs. Hooper.
“Thankee, ladies. I don’t mind bein’ a peacemaker any time—when I kin do it at a profit.”
“It’s always done at a profit, Mr. Baines, if you read the Good Book. This day you laid up a treasure in heaven.”
“Trouble with depositin’ profits in heaven,” said Scattergood, very soberly, “is that you got to wait so tarnation long to draw your int’rest.”
HE MAKES IT ROUND NUMBERS
“It’s a telegram from Johnnie Bones,” said Scattergood Baines to his wife, Mandy, as he tore open the yellow envelope and read the brief message it contained.
“Telegram!” said Mandy. “Why didn’t he write? Them telegrams come high.... Huh! Jest one word—’Come.’ Costs as much to send ten as it does one, don’t it?”
“Identical,” said Scattergood.
“Then,” said Mandy, sharply, “if he was bound to telegraph why didn’t he git his money’s worth?”
“I calc’late he thought he said a plenty,” Scattergood replied. “Johnnie he don’t like to put no more in writin’ that’s apt to pass from hand to hand than he’s obleeged to.... Mandy, looks like we better start for home.”
“What d’you s’pose it kin be?” Mandy asked, already busy laying clothing in their canvas telescope. “Mostly telegrams announces death or sickness.”
“I kin think of sixty-nine things it might be,” said Scattergood, “but I got a feelin’ it hain’t none of ’em.”
“We shouldn’t of come away on this vacation,” said Mandy. “Johnnie Bones is too young a boy to leave in charge.”
“Johnnie Bones is a dum good lawyer, Mandy, and a dum far-seein’ young man. I don’t calc’late Johnnie’s done us no harm. Hain’t no hurry, Mandy. We can’t git a train home for five hours.”
“We’ll be settin’ right in the depot waitin’ for it,” said Mandy, who declined to take chances. “Be sure you keep your money in the pants pocket on the side I’m walkin’ on. Pickpockets ’u’d have some difficulty gittin’ past me.”
“Only thing ag’in’ Johnnie Bones,” said Scattergood, “is that he hain’t a first-rate hardware clerk.”
Scattergood, in spite of the ownership of twenty-four miles of narrow-gauge railroad, of a hundred-odd thousand acres of spruce, and of a sawmill whose capacity was thirty thousand feet a day, persisted in regarding these things as side lines, and in looking upon his little hardware store in Coldriver as the vital business of his life. It was now ten years since Scattergood had walked up Coldriver Valley to the village of Coldriver. It was ten years since he had embarked on the conquest of that desirable valley, with a total working capital of forty dollars and some cents—and he not only controlled the valley’s business and timber and transportation, but generally supervised the politics of the state. He could have borne up manfully if all of it were taken away from him—excepting the hardware store. To have ill befall that would have been disaster, indeed.