John Gadgem, Agent.
The darky, evidently, was not in a normal condition, for after a moment’s nervous hesitation, his eyes over his shoulder as if fearing he was being followed, he squeezed in the rest of his body, closed the door softly behind him, and said in a hoarse whisper to the room at large:
“Dat’s de same man been here three times yisterday. He asked fust fer Marse Harry, an’ when I done tol’ him he warn’t home—you was ’sleep upstairs, Marse Harry, but I warn’t gwineter ’sturb ye—he say he come back dis mawnin’.”
“Well, but what does he want?” asked Harry, dropping a lump of sugar in his cup. He had been accumstomed to be annoyed by agents of all kinds who wanted to sell him one thing or another—and so he never allowed any one to get at him unless his business was stated beforehand. He had learned this from his father.
“I dun’no, sah.”
“What does he look like, Todd?” cried St. George, breaking the seal of another letter.
“Wall, he ain’t no gemman—he’s jus’ a pusson I reckon. I done tol’ him you warn’t out o’ bed yit, but he said he’d wait. I got him shet outside, but I can’t fool him no mo’. What’ll I do now?”
“Well, what do you think he wants, then?” Harry burst out impatiently.
“Well,” said Todd—“ef I was to tell ye God’s truf’, I reckon he wants money. He says he’s been to de big house—way out to de colonel’s, and dey th’owed him out—and now he’s gwineter sit down yere till somebody listens to him. It won’t do to fool wid him, Marse Harry—I see dat de fus’ time he come. He’s a he-one—and he’s got horns on him for sho’. What’ll I do?”
Both Harry and St. George roared.
“Why bring him in, of course—a ‘pusson’ with horns on him will be worth seeing.”
A shabby, wizened-faced man; bent-in-the-back, gimlet-eyed, wearing a musty brown coat, soiled black stock, unspeakable linen, and skin-tight trousers held to his rusty shoes by wide straps—showing not only the knuckles of his knees but the streaked thinness of his upper shanks—(Cruikshank could have drawn him to the life)—sidled into the room, mopping his head with a red cotton handkerchief which he took from his hat.
“My name is GADgem, gentleman—Mr. John GADgem of GADgem & Combes.
“I am looking for Mr. Harry Rutter, whom I am informed—I would not say POSitively—but I am inFORMED is stopping with you, Mr. Temple. You forget me, Mr. Temple, but I do not forget you, sir. That little foreclosure matter of Bucks vs. Temple—you remember when—”
“Sit down,” said St. George curtly, laying down his knife and fork. “Todd, hand Mr. Gadgem a chair.”
The gimlet-eyed man—and it was very active—waved his hand deprecatingly.
“No, I don’t think that is necessary. I can stand. I preFER to stand. I am acCUStomed to stand—I have been standing outside this gentleman’s father’s door now, off and on, for some weeks, and—”