Even the local politicians became excited, and both sides consulted Guzzy.
Finally, when Guzzy started for the State capital, and Helen Wyett, as people still called her, accompanied him, the people of Bowerton put on countenances of hopeless resignation, and of a mute expectation which nothing could astonish.
It might be an elopement—it might be that they were going as missionaries; but no one expressed a positive opinion, and every one expressed a perfect willingness to believe anything that was supported by even a shadow of proof.
Their mute agony was suddenly ended, for within forty-eight hours Guzzy and his traveling companion returned.
The latter seemed unusually happy for the wife of a convict, while the former went straight to Squire Jones and the constable’s.
Half an hour later all Bowerton knew that William Beigh, alias Bay Billy, alias Handsome, had received a full and free pardon from the Governor.
The next day Bowerton saw a tall, handsome stranger, with downcast eyes, walk rapidly through the principal street and disappear behind Mrs. Wyett’s gate.
A day later, and Bowerton was electrified by the intelligence that the ex-burglar had been installed as a clerk in Guzzy’s store.
People said that it was a shame—that nobody knew how soon Beigh might take to his old tricks again. Nevertheless, they crowded to Guzzy’s store, to look at him, until shrewd people began to wonder whether Guzzy hadn’t really taken Beigh as a sort of advertisement to draw trade.
A few months later, however, they changed their opinions, for the constable, after the expiration of his term of office, and while under the influence of a glass too much, related the whole history of the night of Beigh’s first arrival at Bowerton.
The Bowertonians were law-abiding people; but, somehow, Guzzy’s customers increased from that very day, and his prosperity did not decline even after “Guzzy & Beigh” was the sign over the door of the store which had been built and stocked with Mrs. Wyett’s money.
Happy Rest is a village whose name has never appeared in gazetteer or census report. This remark should not cause any depreciation of the faithfulness of public and private statisticians, for Happy Rest belonged to a class of settlements which sprang up about as suddenly as did Jonah’s Gourd, and, after a short existence, disappeared so quickly that the last inhabitant generally found himself alone before he knew that anything unusual was going on.
When the soil of Happy Rest supported nothing more artificial than a broken wagon wheel, left behind by some emigrants going overland to California, a deserter from a fort near by discovered that the soil was auriferous.
His statement to that effect, made in a bar-room in the first town he reached thereafter, led to his being invited to drink, which operation resulted in certain supplementary statements and drinks.