“You come to the wrong shop, then, Mr. Bartram,” said the cobbler. “When a man’s been livin’ wrong all his life an’ has had somethin’ put into him to make him feel like turnin’ round an’ livin’ right, the change that’s gone on in him is so big that it’ll take him about half a lifetime to get to where he can think about anythin’ else.”
“Pshaw!” said the lawyer.
“You said you wanted these shoes made out of soft leather an’ with pretty thin soles, Mr. Bartram?”
“Yes, yes; make them any way you please.”
Then the lawyer left the room and closed the door with a crash that caused the new cobbler to look up apprehensively.
Little by little the Kimper family was made more comfortable and put in better condition for the coming winter. Broken window-panes were mended, though frequently only with bits of board closely wedged, cracks in the wall were stuffed with dried grass and plastered with mud, and clean straw replaced the dirty substitutes for beds and mattresses. The head of the family worked hard at the cobbler’s shop, yet did not cease working when he reached home.
Yet week by week Sam looked better than in old times. Conrad Weitz, the manager of the most popular drinking-place in the town, predicted that there would soon have to be a change for the worse.
“He ain’t drinkin’ noding,” said Conrad; “and a feller dat’s been drinkin’ all his life can’t get along midout it afterwards.”
The vender of stimulants said this to Deacon Quickset, for the two men were incessantly arguing over the liquor question, and never lost an opportunity of bringing up a new point about it when they met by any chance. Weitz was a public-spirited and intelligent citizen, and the deacon believed that if his opinions about the moral nature of his business could be changed there would be a great gain for the temperance cause in Bruceton. Besides, Weitz was a well-to-do man and saved a great deal of money, some of which the deacon had invested for him, and all of which the deacon desired to handle, for he was a man of many enterprises, and, like most other men of the kind, always had more ways than money.
“You’re all wrong about that, Weitz,” said the deacon, sitting upon an empty beer-barrel in front of the liquor-store. The deacon was accustomed to say, with a grim smile, that he was one of the very few men in business whose reputation would allow him to sit upon a beer-barrel without giving rise to any suspicions.
“Deacon,” said the liquor-dealer, “you hadn’t ought to talk about vat you don’t understand. How long since you stopped drinkin’?”
“Now, see here, Weitz, what do you mean, to ask me a question like that? You ought to know well enough that I never drank in my life. If I haven’t told you so again and again, I should think other people could have done it.”