Waysiders eBook

Seumas O'Kelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 119 pages of information about Waysiders.
for their wakes that the great pencil, with one mighty stroke of terrible finality, ran like a sword through their names, wiping their very memories from the hillsides.  All purchases were entered up in Festus Clasby’s mighty record without vulgar discussions as to price.  The business of the establishment was conducted on the basis of a belief in the man who sold and acquiescence in that belief on the part of the man who purchased.  The customers of Festus Clasby would as soon have thought of questioning his prices as they would of questioning the right of the earth to revolve round the sun.  Festus Clasby was the planet around which this constellation of small farmers, herds, and hardy little dark mountainy men revolved; from his shop they drew the light and heat and food which kept them going.  Their very emotions were registered at his counter.  To the man with a religious turn he was able, at a price, to hand down from his shelves the Key of Heaven; the other side of the box he comforted the man who came panting to his taps to drown the memory of some chronic impertinence.  He gave a very long credit, and a very long credit, in his philosophy, justified a very, very long profit.  As to security, if Festus Clasby’s customers had not a great deal of money they had grass which grew every year, and the beasts which Festus Clasby fattened and sold at the fairs had sometimes to eat his debtors out of his book.  If his bullocks were not able to do even this, then Festus Clasby talked to the small farmer about a mortgage on the land, so that now and again small farmers became herds for Festus Clasby.  In this way was he able to maintain his position with his back to the hills and his toes in the valley, striding his territory like a Colossus.  When you saw his name on the signboard standing stark from the landscape, and when you saw Festus Clasby behind his counter, you knew instinctively that both had always stood for at least twenty shillings in the pound.

II

Now, it came to pass that on a certain day Festus Clasby was passing through the outskirts of the nearest country town on his homeward journey, his cart laden with provisions.  At the same moment the spare figure of a tinker whose name was Mac-an-Ward, the Son of the Bard, veered around the corner of a street with a new tin can under his arm.  It was the Can with the Diamond Notch.

Mac-an-Ward approached Festus Clasby, who pulled up his cart.

“Well, my good man?” queried Festus Clasby, a phrase usually addressed across his counter, his hands outspread, to longstanding customers.

“The last of a rare lot,” said Mac-an-Ward, deftly poising the tin can on the top of his fingers, so that it stood level with Festus Clasby’s great face.  Festus Clasby took this as a business proposition, and the soul of the trader revolved within him.  Why not buy the tin can from this tinker and sell it at a profit across his counter, even as he would sell the flitches of bacon that were wrapped in sacking upon his cart?  He was in mellow mood, and laid down the reins in the cart beside him.

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Project Gutenberg
Waysiders from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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