“I see by the paper,” he remarked, “that the’ was a man died in Pheladelphy one day last week,” which piece of barefaced irrelevancy elicited no notice from Mrs. Bixbee.
“What more did he say?” she demanded.
“Wa’al,” responded Mr. Harum with a laugh, “he said that he didn’t see why I should be a loser by his mistakes, an’ that as fur as the bills was concerned they belonged to him, an’ with that,” said the narrator, “Mister Man gits ’em out of the draw an’ jest marches into the back room an’ puts the dum things int’ the fire.”
“He done jest right,” declared Aunt Polly, “an’ you know it, don’t ye now?”
“Wa’al,” said David, “f’m his standpoint—f’m his standpoint, I guess he did, an’,” rubbing his chin with two fingers of his left hand, “it’s a putty dum good standpoint too. I’ve ben lookin’,” he added reflectively, “fer an honest man fer quite a number o’ years, an’ I guess I’ve found him; yes’m, I guess I’ve found him.”
“An’ be you goin’ to let him lose that fifteen dollars?” asked the practical Polly, fixing her brother with her eyes.
“Wa’al,” said David, with a short laugh, “what c’n I do with such an obst’nit critter ‘s he is? He jest backed into the britchin’, an’ I couldn’t do nothin’ with him.” Aunt Polly sat over her sewing for a minute or two without taking a stitch.
“I’m sorry you done it,” she said at last.
“I dunno but I did make ruther a mess of it,” admitted Mr. Harum.
It was the 23d of December, and shortly after the closing hour. Peleg had departed and our friend had just locked the vault when David came into the office and around behind the counter.
“Be you in any hurry?” he asked.
John said he was not, whereupon Mr. Harum hitched himself up onto a high office stool, with his heels on the spindle, and leaned sideways upon the desk, while John stood facing him with his left arm upon the desk.
“John,” said David, “do ye know the Widdo’ Cullom?”
“No” said John, “but I know who she is—a tall, thin woman, who walks with a slight stoop and limp. I noticed her and asked her name because there was something about her looks that attracted my attention—as though at some time she might have seen better days.”
“That’s the party,” said David. “She has seen better days, but she’s eat an’ drunk sorro’ mostly fer goin’ on thirty year, an’ darned little else good share o’ the time, I reckon.”
“She has that appearance certainly,” said John.
“Yes sir,” said David, “she’s had a putty tough time, the widdo’ has, an’ yet,” he proceeded after a momentary pause, “the’ was a time when the Culloms was some o’ the king-pins o’ this hull region. They used to own quarter o’ the county, an’ they lived in the big house up on the hill where Doc Hays lives now. That was considered to be the finest