“‘I mean this,’ I says, ’that the fust six months the widder couldn’t pay she gin you ten dollars to hold off, an’ the next time she gin you fifteen, an’ that you’ve bled her fer shaves to the tune of sixty odd dollars in three years, an’ then got your int’rist in full.’
“That riz him clean out of his chair,” said David. “’She can’t prove it,’ he says, shakin’ his fist in the air.
“‘Oh, ho! ho!’ I says, tippin’ my chair back agin the wall. ‘If Mis’ Cullom was to swear how an’ where she paid you the money, givin’ chapter an’ verse, and showin’ her own mem’randums even, an’ I was to swear that when I twitted you with gittin’ it you didn’t deny it, but only said that she couldn’t prove it, how long do you think it ’ould take a Freeland County jury to find agin ye? I allow, ‘Zeke Swinney,’ I says, ’that you wa’n’t born yestyd’y, but you ain’t so old as you look, not by a dum sight!’ an’ then how I did laugh!
“Wa’al,” said David, as he got down off the stool and stretched himself, yawning, “I guess I’ve yarned it enough fer one day. Don’t fergit to send Mis’ Cullom that notice, an’ make it up an’ up. I’m goin’ to git the thing off my mind this trip.”
“Very well, sir,” said John, “but let me ask, did Swinney assign the mortgage without any trouble?”
“O Lord! yes,” was the reply. “The’ wa’n’t nothin’ else fer him to do. I had another twist on him that I hain’t mentioned. But he put up a great show of doin’ it to obleege me. Wa’al, I thanked him an’ so on, an’ when we’d got through I ast him if he wouldn’t step over to the ‘Eagil’ an’ take somethin’, an’ he looked kind o’ shocked an’ said he never drinked nothin’. It was ’gin his princ’ples, he said. Ho, ho, ho, ho! Scat my ——! Princ’ples!” and John heard him chuckling to himself all the way out of the office.
Considering John’s relations with David Harum, it was natural that he should wish to think as well of him as possible, and he had not (or thought he had not) allowed his mind to be influenced by the disparaging remarks and insinuations which had been made to him, or in his presence, concerning his employer. He had made up his mind to form his opinion upon his own experience with the man, and so far it had not only been pleasant but favorable, and far from justifying the half-jeering, half-malicious talk that had come to his ears. It had been made manifest to him, it was true, that David was capable of a sharp bargain in certain lines, but it seemed to him that it was more for the pleasure of matching his wits against another’s than for any gain involved. Mr. Harum was an experienced and expert horseman, who delighted above all things in dealing in and trading horses, and John soon discovered that, in that community at least, to get the best of a “hoss-trade” by almost any means was considered a venial sin, if a sin at all, and the standards of ordinary business probity were not expected to govern those transactions.