THE REGRETTABLE WEDNESDAY
“What a very singular thing,” said the Mayor, meeting the witch towards three o’clock in the afternoon, as she came down the Broad Walk towards Kensington, having slept invisibly among the daffodils for nearly twelve hours. “A really very singular thing. ’Tisn’t once in five years I visit these parts, and now I’m here I meet the very person I was thinkin’ about.” He winked.
“It’s almost like magic, isn’t it,” said the witch, winking busily in return.
“Well, I’ve done what you told me to,” said the Mayor.
“What was that?”
“You will ’ave your joke,” he retorted indulgently. “Pretending not to know, indeed. I’ve done what you told me the other day when you came to that committee with your cat. I thought it over—I’m not a proud man, never above takin’ a hint,—and I admitted to meself that what you said was fair about makin’ money. Some’ow I never thought but what money was the first thing to make in business. To tell you the truth, I always thought it rather a feather in my cap that I never took advantage of Brown Borough customers in selling adulterated goods, for—Lawdy—they’d swallow anythink. It’s different with your business, bein’ in an ’igher-class locality. ’Igh prices, I thought, was only natural. Make ’ay while the sun shines was my motter, and I says to meself there was no reason why this war should make everyone un’appy. As for lookin’ at the grocery business as a trust from God, like you said, I never dremp of such a thing, although I’ve bin to Chapel regular for ten years. But I see now there was a lot in what you said, and when I come to think of it, there was no need to make such a terrible lot of extra hay, ’owever much the sun might be shinin’. When you put it like that, I couldn’t say why I was so set on more money, ’aving quite enough. Well, I says to meself, after shutting meself up to think it out, like you said, ’ere am I giving up all my life an’ all my jolly days an’ ‘olidays, an’ I’m damned if I know what for. For money,—just money stewin’ in its own juice in a bank,—not money I can use. Well, everybody’s trained so, I’m thinkin’. Anyway I took it friendly of you to put it so delicate, so fanciful as you did, so as them charity ladies didn’t smell a rat. I appreciated that, an’ thought the more of what you said. I’m not a proud man.”
“You’re just proud enough,” said the witch. “You’re a darling. If ever I can help you in a business way, let me know. If you want to start a side line, for instance, in Happiness, I can give you a tip where to get it wholesale, within limits. It’d go like wildfire in the Brown Borough, if you put in an ounce or two, gratis of course, with every order.”
“You will ’ave your joke,” murmured the Mayor. “But I like it in you. I’m a man that never takes a joke amiss. Let’s go for a walk together.”