“The’ was a little money,” replied her brother, blowing out a cloud of smoke, “an’ a lot of unlikely chances, but nothin’ to live on.”
“An’ the’ wa’n’t nothin’ for ’t but he had to come up here?” she queried.
“He’d ‘a’ had to work on a salary somewhere, I reckon,” was the reply. “The’ was one thing,” added David thoughtfully after a moment, “that’ll mebbe come to somethin’ some time, but it may be a good while fust, an’ don’t you ever let on to him nor nobody else ‘t I ever said anythin’ about it.”
“I won’t open my head to a livin’ soul,” she declared. “What was it?”
“Wa’al, I don’t know ’s I ever told ye,” he said, “but a good many years ago I took some little hand in the oil bus’nis, but though I didn’t git in as deep as I wish now ’t I had, I’ve alwus kept up a kind of int’rist in what goes on in that line.”
“No, I guess you never told me,” she said. “Where you goin’?” as he got out of his chair.
“Goin’ to git my cap,” he answered. “Dum the dum things! I don’t believe the’s a fly in Freeland County that hain’t danced the wild kachuky on my head sence we set here. Be I much specked?” he asked, as he bent his bald poll for her inspection.
“Oh, go ’long!” she cried, as she gave him a laughing push.
“’Mongst other-things,” he resumed, when he had returned to his chair and relighted his cigar, “the’ was a piece of about ten or twelve hunderd acres of land down in Pennsylvany havin’ some coal on it, he told me he understood, but all the timber, ten inch an’ over, ’d ben sold off. He told me that his father’s head clerk told him that the old gentleman had tried fer a long time to dispose of it; but it called fer too much to develop it, I guess; ‘t any rate he couldn’t, an’ John’s got it to pay taxes on.”
“I shouldn’t think it was wuth anythin’ to him but jest a bill of expense,” observed Mrs. Bixbee.
“Tain’t now,” said David, “an’ mebbe won’t be fer a good while; still, it’s wuth somethin’, an’ I advised him to hold onto it on gen’ral princ’ples. I don’t know the pertic’ler prop’ty, of course,” he continued, “but I do know somethin’ of that section of country, fer I done a little prospectin’ ’round there myself once on a time. But it wa’n’t in the oil territory them days, or wa’n’t known to be, anyway.”
“But it’s eatin’ itself up with taxes, ain’t it?” objected Mrs. Bixbee.
“Wa’al,” he replied, “it’s free an’ clear, an’ the taxes ain’t so very much—though they do stick it to an outside owner down there—an’ the p’int is here: I’ve alwus thought they didn’t drill deep enough in that section. The’ was some little traces of oil the time I told ye of, an’ I’ve heard lately that the’s some talk of a move to test the territory agin, an’, if anythin’ was to be found, the young feller’s prop’ty might be wuth somethin’, but,” he added, “of course the’ ain’t no tellin’.”