There was a general laugh and a pushing back of chairs, and the whole company arose and went in various directions to their afternoon work. Professor Strout went into the front entry, for he always entered and left the house by the front door. Quincy followed him, and closing the door that led into the dining-room, said, “Mr. Strout, I would like to see you in my room for half an hour on important business.”
“I guess ’tain’t as important as some business of my own I’ve got to attend to this arternoon. I’m goin’ over to the Centre to fix up my accounts as tax collector with the town treasurer.”
“I think my business is fully as important as that,” said Quincy, “it relates to your appointment as postmaster.”
“Oh, you’ve got a hand in that, have yer?” asked Strout, an angry flush suffusing his face.
“I have both hands in it,” replied Quincy imperturbably, “and it rests with you entirely whether I keep hold or let go.”
“Wall,” said Strout, looking at his watch, “I kin spare you half an hour, if it will be as great an accommodation to yer as yer seem to think it will.”
And he followed Quincy upstairs to the latter’s room.
When they entered the room Quincy motioned Strout to a chair, which he took. He then closed the door and, taking a cigar case from his pocket, offered a cigar to Strout, which the latter refused. Quincy then lighted a cigar and, throwing himself into an armchair in a comfortable position, looked straight at the Professor, who returned his gaze defiantly, and said:
“Mr. Strout, there is an open account of some two month’s standing between us, and I have asked you to come up here to-day, because I think it is time for a settlement”
“I don’t owe you nuthin’,” said Strout, doggedly.
“I think you owe me better treatment than you have given me the past two months,” remarked Quincy, “but we’ll settle that point later.”
“I guess I’ve treated you as well as you have me,” retorted Strout, with a sneer.
“But you began it,” said Quincy, “and had it all your own way for two months; I waited patiently for you to stop, but you wouldn’t, so the last week I’ve been squaring up matters, and there is only one point that hasn’t been settled. From what I have heard,” continued Quincy, “I am satisfied that Miss Mason has received full reparation for any slanderous remarks that may have been started or circulated by you concerning herself.”