Ben walks quite briskly, but Ed begins to slow up when they ain’t more than a hundred yards from the president’s car. Finally Ed stops short.
“The little foci is going to pull the fight here in the open!” thinks Ben; so he gets ready to do his best.
Then Ed says:
“Say, Ben, what’s the matter with you, anyway? Are you losing your mind? It ain’t so much on my account; I could make allowance for you. But here’s these officials of yours, and you want to make a good impression on ’em; instead of which you are making yourself the grandest bore that ever needed strangling for continuous talk on one subject.”
Ben didn’t get him yet. He says come on up the other side of them freight cars, where they can be more private for their consultation.
Ed says no; this is far enough to tell him for his own good not to be such a bore; an’ Ben says how is he a bore?
“A bore?” says Ed. “Why, for forty-eight hours you ain’t been able to talk about anything but that stale old accident of mine, and you got me so sick of it I could jump on you every time you begin. You got everybody in the party sick of it. Don’t you see how they all try to get away from you? For the Lord’s sake, can’t you think up something else to talk about now and then—at least for five minutes, just to give your silly chatter a little different flavour? I never been so sick of anything in my life as I am of this everlasting prattle of yours about something that was over and forgotten fifteen long years ago! What’s got into you to keep dragging that accident up out of the dead past that way? Anyway, you better cut it out. I have to listen because you’re my cousin; but these officials don’t. Your next pay check is liable to be your last on this road if you don’t think up some other kind of gossip. Darned if it don’t seem like you had been getting weak-minded in your old age!”
Ben had got his bearings by this time. He apologized warmly to Ed; he said it was true this magnificent catastrophe had lately taken possession of his mind, but now that he finds Ed is so sensitive about it he’ll try to keep it out of his talk, and he hopes Ed won’t cherish hard feelings against him.
Ed says no, he won’t cherish anything if Ben will only quit his loathsome gushing about the accident; and Ben says he will quit. And so they shook hands on it.
That’s the way the feud ended. The champion grudge hoarder of the universe had been dosed to a finish with his own medicine. It showed Ben has a weakness for diplomacy; kind of an iron hand in a velvet glove, or something.
Ed is still a nut, though. There was a piece in a Sunday paper not long ago about this new mining millionaire. He spoke some noble words to the youth of our land. He said young American manhood could still make its fortune in this glorious country of opportunity by strict attention to industry and good habits and honest dealing and native pluck—him that had had these mules forced on him in the first place, and then his interest in this claim forced on him for the mules, and then hadn’t been able to get shut of the claim. Ain’t it lovely how men will dig up a license to give themselves all credit for hog luck they couldn’t help!