“By the Lord Harry, Jack, this is the third time you’ve thrown away an honor!” the Squire roared out, finally. “Is it the punch that’s gone to your head?”
“No, Eben,” replied the Colonel, in a hoarse voice, with solemn and oratorical cadences, as if he rose to address a meeting. “It is not the punch. I am used to punch. It is money. I’ve just had word that—that old mining stock I bought when I was in the service, and haven’t thought worth more than a New England sheep farm, has been sold for sixty-five thousand dollars.”
The next week Colonel Lamson went to Boston, and took his friend John Jennings with him. Whether the trip was purely a business one, or was to be regarded in the light of a celebration of the Colonel’s good fortune, never transpired.
Upham people exchanged wishes to the effect that John Jennings and Colonel Lamson might not take, in their old age, to sowing again the wild oats of their youth. “John Jennings drank himself most into his grave; an’ as for Colonel Lamson, it’s easy enough to see that he’s always had his dram, when he felt like it. If they get home sober an’ alive with all that money, they’re lucky,” people said. It was the general impression in Upham that the Colonel had gone to Boston with his sixty-five thousand dollars in his pocket. Lawyer Means’s ancient relative, who served as house-keeper, was reported to have confessed that she was on tenter-hooks about it.
However, in a week the Colonel and his friend returned, and the most anxious could find nothing in their appearance to justify their gloomy fears. They had never looked so spick and span and prosperous within the memory of Upham, for both of them were clad in glossiest new broadcloth, of city cut, and both wore silk bell-hats, which gave them the air of London dandies. Jennings, moreover, displayed in his fine shirt-front a new diamond pin, and the Colonel stepped out with stately flourishes of a magnificent gold-headed cane.
Soon it was told on good authority that the lawyer’s house-keeper, and John Jennings’s also, had a present from the Colonel of a rich black satin gown, that the lawyer had a gold-headed cane—which he was, indeed, seen to carry, holding it stiff and straight, like a roll of parchment, with never a flourish—and the Squire a gun mounted in silver, and such a fishing-rod as had never been seen in the village. When Lucina Merritt came to meeting the Sunday after the Colonel’s return, there glistened in her little ears, between her curls, some diamond ear-drops, and Abigail wore a shawl which had never been seen in Upham before.
Lawyer Means’s female relative, and Jennings’s house-keeper, said, emphatically, that they didn’t believe that either of them drank a drop of anything stronger than water all the time they were gone.