Whatever might have been John’s repugnance to making a confidant of the man whom he had known but for half an hour, he acknowledged to himself that the other’s curiosity was not only natural but proper. He could not but know that in appearance and manner he was in marked contrast with those whom the man had so far seen. He divined the fact that his coming from a great city to settle down in a village town would furnish matter for surprise and conjecture, and felt that it would be to his advantage with the man who was to be his employer that he should be perfectly and obviously frank upon all matters of his own which might be properly mentioned. He had an instinctive feeling that Harum combined acuteness and suspiciousness to a very large degree, and he had also a feeling that the old man’s confidence, once gained, would not be easily shaken. So he told his hearer so much of his history as he thought pertinent, and David listened without interruption or comment, save an occasional “E-um’m.”
“And here I am,” John remarked in conclusion.
“Here you be, fer a fact,” said David. “Wa’al, the’s worse places ’n Homeville—after you git used to it,” he added in qualification. “I ben back here a matter o’ thirteen or fourteen year now, an’ am gettin’ to feel my way ‘round putty well; but not havin’ ben in these parts fer putty nigh thirty year, I found it ruther lonesome to start with, an’ I guess if it hadn’t ‘a’ ben fer Polly I wouldn’t ‘a’ stood it. But up to the time I come back she hadn’t never ben ten mile away f’m here in her hull life, an’ I couldn’t budge her. But then,” he remarked, “while Homeville aint a metrop’lis, it’s some a diff’rent place f’m what it used to be—in some ways. Polly’s my sister,” he added by way of explanation.
“Well,” said John, with rather a rueful laugh, “if it has taken you all that time to get used to it the outlook for me is not very encouraging, I’m afraid.”
“Wa’al,” remarked Mr. Harum, “I’m apt to speak in par’bles sometimes. I guess you’ll git along after a spell, though it mayn’t set fust rate on your stomech till you git used to the diet. Say,” he said after a moment, “if you’d had a couple o’ thousan’ more, do you think you’d ‘a’ stuck to the law bus’nis?”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” replied John, “but I am inclined to think not. General Wolsey told me that if I were very anxious to go on with it he would help me, but after what I told him he advised me to write to you.”
“He did, did he?”
“Yes,” said John, “and after what I had gone through I was not altogether sorry to come away.”
“Wa’al,” said Mr. Harum thoughtfully, “if I was to lose what little I’ve got, an’ had to give up livin’ in the way I was used to, an’ couldn’t even keep a hoss, I c’n allow ‘t I might be willin’ fer a change of scene to make a fresh start in. Yes, sir, I guess I would. Wa’al,” looking at his watch, “I’ve got to go now, an’ I’ll see ye later, mebbe. You feel like takin’ holt to-day?”