“They say the man the girl’s goin’ to marry is rich. Maybe he’ll foot the bills,” said Drake.
“Mebbe he is,” assented Amidon. Then he went out in earnest, and the postmaster with him.
“Look at here,” said Amidon, mysteriously, as the two men separated on the next corner. “I’ll tell you something, if you want to know.”
“I believe Drake trusts those Carrolls a little.”
There was in Banbridge, at this date, almost universal distrust of Carroll, but very little of it was expressed, for the reason, common to the greater proportion of humanity: the victims in proclaiming their distrust would have proclaimed at the same time their victimization. It was quite safe to assume that the open detractors of Carroll had not been duped by him; it was also quite safe to assume that many of those who either remained silent or declared their belief in him had suffered more or less. The latter were those who made it possible for the Carrolls to remain in Banbridge at all. There were many who had a lingering hope of securing something in the end, who did not wish Carroll to depart, and who were even uneasy at his absence, although the fact of his family remaining and of the wedding preparations for his daughter going on seemed sufficient to allay suspicions. It is generally true that partisanship, even of the few, counts for more than disparagement of the many, with all right-intentioned people who have a reasonable amount of love for their fellow-men. Somehow partisanship, up to a certain limit, beyond which the partisan appears a fool to all who listen to him, seems to give credit to the believer in it. At all events, while the number of Arthur Carroll’s detractors was greatly in advance of his adherents, the moral atmosphere of Banbridge, while lowering, was still very far from cyclonic for him. He got little credit, yet still friendly, admiring, and even obsequious recognition.
The invitations to his daughter’s wedding had been eagerly accepted. The speculations as to whether the bills would be paid or not added to the interest. In those days the florist and the dressmaker were quite local celebrities. They looked anxious, yet rather pleasantly self-conscious. The dressmaker bragged by day and lay awake by night. Every time the florist felt uneasy, he slipped across to the nearest saloon and got a drink of beer. After that, when asked if he did not feel afraid he would lose money through the Carroll wedding, he said something about the general esteem in which people should be held who patronized local industries, in his thick German-English, grinned, and shambled back, his fat hips shaking like a woman’s, to his hot-houses, and pottered around his geraniums and decorative palms.
On the Sunday morning before the wedding there were an unusual number of men in the barber-shop—old Eastman, Frank’s father, who generally shaved himself, besides Amidon, Drake, the postmaster, Tappan the milkman, and a number of others. Amidon was in the chair, and spoke whenever it did not seem too hazardous. He had just had his hair cut also, as a delicate concession to the barber on the part of a free customer on a busy morning, and his rather large head glistened like a silver ball.