“Perhaps I acted rather hastily,” said John, laughing a little from contagion.
“Wa’al,” said Dick, “Dave’s got ways of his own. I’ve summered an’ wintered with him now for a good many years, an’ I ain’t got to the bottom of him yet, an’,” he added, “I don’t know nobody that has.”
Although, as time went on and John had come to a better insight of the character of the eccentric person whom Dick had failed to fathom, his half-formed prejudices had fallen away, it must be admitted that he ofttimes found him a good deal of a puzzle. The domains of the serious and the facetious in David’s mind seemed to have no very well defined boundaries.
The talk had drifted back to the people and gossip of Homeville, but, sooth to say, it had not on this occasion got far away from those topics.
“Yes,” said Mr. Harum, “Alf Verjoos is on the hull the best off of any of the lot. As I told ye, he made money on top of what the old man left him, an’ he married money. The fam’ly—some on ’em—comes here in the summer, an’ he’s here part o’ the time gen’ally, but the women folks won’t stay here winters, an’ the house is left in care of Alf’s sister who never got married. He don’t care a hill o’ white beans fer anything in Homeville but the old place, and he don’t cal’late to have nobody on his grass, not if he knows it. Him an’ me are on putty friendly terms, but the fact is,” said David, in a semi-confidential tone, “he’s about an even combine of pykery an’ viniger, an’ about as pop’lar in gen’ral ‘round here as a skunk in a hen-house; but Mis’ Verjoos is putty well liked; an’ one o’ the girls, Claricy is her name, is a good deal of a fav’rit. Juliet, the other one, don’t mix with the village folks much, an’ sometimes don’t come with the fam’ly at all. She favors her father,” remarked the historian.
“Inherits his popularity, I conclude,” remarked John, smiling.
“She does favor him to some extent in that respect,” was the reply; “an’ she’s dark complected like him, but she’s a mighty han’some girl, notwithstandin’. Both on ’em is han’some girls,” observed Mr. Harum, “an’ great fer hosses, an’ that’s the way I got ’quainted with ’em. They’re all fer ridin’ hossback when they’re up here. Did you ever ride a hoss?” he asked.
“Oh, yes,” said John, “I have ridden a good deal one time and another.”
“Never c’d see the sense on’t,” declared David. “I c’n imagine gettin’ on to a hoss’s back when ‘t was either that or walkin’, but to do it fer the fun o’ the thing ’s more ’n I c’n understand. There you be,” he continued, “stuck up four five feet up in the air like a clo’espin, havin’ your backbone chucked up into your skull, an’ takin’ the skin off in spots an’ places, expectin’ ev’ry next minute the critter’ll git out f’m under ye—no, sir,” he protested, “if it come to be that it was either to ride a hossback fer the fun o’ the thing or have somebody kick me, an’ kick me hard, I’d say, ‘Kick away.’ It comes to the same thing fur ’s enjoyment goes, and it’s a dum sight safer.”