“Dave,” declared the widow, “if I could, an’ you ast for it, I’d give ye anythin’ on the face o’ this mortal globe!”
“Wa’al,” said David, nodding and smiling, “I thought that mebbe, long ’s you got the int’rist of that investment we ben talkin’ about, you’d let me keep what’s left of the princ’pal. Would ye like to see it?”
Mrs. Cullom looked at him with a puzzled expression without replying.
David took from his pocket a large wallet, secured by a strap, and, opening it, extracted something enveloped in much faded brown paper. Unfolding this, he displayed upon his broad fat palm an old silver dime black with age.
“There’s the cap’tal,” he said.
John walked to the front door with Mrs. Cullom, but she declined with such evident sincerity his offer to carry her bundle to the house that he let her out of the office and returned to the back room. David was sitting before the fire, leaning back in his chair with his hands thrust deep in his trousers pockets. He looked up as John entered and said, “Draw up a chair.”
John brought a chair and stood by the side of it while he said, “I want to thank you for the Christmas remembrance, which pleased and touched me very deeply; and,” he added diffidently, “I want to say how mortified I am—in fact, I want to apologize for—”
“Regrettin’?” interrupted David with a motion of his hand toward the chair and a smile of great amusement. “Sho, sho! Se’ down, se’ down. I’m glad you found somethin’ in your stockin’ if it pleased ye, an’ as fur’s that regret o’ your’n was concerned—wa’al—wa’al, I liked ye all the better for’t, I did fer a fact. He, he, he! Appearances was ruther agin me, wasn’t they, the way I told it.”
“Nevertheless,” said John, seating himself, “I ought not to have—that is to say, I ought to have known—”
“How could ye,” David broke in, “When I as good as told ye I was cal’latin’ to rob the old lady? He, he, he, he! Scat my ——! Your face was a picture when I told ye to write that note, though I reckon you didn’t know I noticed it.”
John laughed and said, “You have been very generous all through, Mr. Harum.”
“Nothin’ to brag on,” he replied, “nothin’ to brag on. Fur ‘s Mis’ Cullom’s matter was concerned, ‘t was as I said, jest payin’ off an old score; an’ as fur ‘s your stockin’, it’s really putty much the same. I’ll allow you’ve earned it, if it’ll set any easier on your stomach.”
“I can’t say that I have been overworked,” said John with a slight laugh.
“Mebbe not,” rejoined David, “but you hain’t ben overpaid neither, an’ I want ye to be satisfied. Fact is,” he continued, “my gettin’ you up here was putty consid’able of an experiment, but I ben watchin’ ye putty close, an’ I’m more’n satisfied. Mebbe Timson c’d beat ye at figurin’ an’ countin’ money when you fust come, an’