“But Mrs. Levy was a widow,” interrupted Leah, seeing that the old man was coining his information as he went, for the purpose of his own exaltation. “Her husband has been dead these many years.”
Determined not to be baffled in this quiet way, Michael replied, “Well, this was another man, madam,” and fearing Leah might discredit his fabricated story, he added, “I swear by Erin it was another man.”
“Well, sir, can you tell me anything of the Mordecai family-Mr. Benjamin Mordecai?” said Leah, with a slightly tremulous voice.
The old man’s eye brightened up, and he slapped his fat hand upon his knee with renewed force and rapidity, and replied, with an inquisitive squint in his face, “Are you a Jew?”
“I am a Jewess, sir,” she said softly. “I feel an interest in my people. What can you tell me of the Mordecais.”
“Well, child, then listen to me again. I say emphatically madam, now. Well, old Ben Mordecai he was a mighty rich man, had a bank many, many years, and lots and piles of gold. In fact, he was my banker at one time in my life, and to-day he can testify as to whether Michael Moran was or wasn’t a thrifty man and the Good Cheer House a paying institution. Some years ago though, I moved my business to another bank, ahem!” Here the old man eyed Leah sharply, to see if these hints respecting his pecuniary status did not impress her profoundly. Then he continued, “Well, I was about stating-Well, where was I?” he said, with a puzzled look of regret, as though he had lost, or was about to lose, some cherished remark, so bewildering had been the thought in reference to his money matters, “where was I?”
“You were speaking of Mr. Mordecai’s having left the Queen City,” kindly suggested Leah, seeing the old man’s embarrassment.
“Oh yes; my head gets a little muddy sometimes,” said the inn-keeper apologetically, as he rubbed his rosy hand, this time briskly across the bald, sleek surface of his head. “Well, the Mordecais went away, and I am told a poor family moved into the old man’s house to protect it. But the other week, a shell came whizzing into the city and tore off one corner of his fine house. I tell you, madam, the old man had a fine house, sure. And, madam, old Mordecai had a fine guirl once, and a few years ago she ran away and married some fellow, and it well-nigh broke the old man’s heart. They ran away, and went somewhere; I think it was to the Island of Cuby. My banker told me this. You see, madam, my resources are yet such, that my banking business is quite burdensome to me. The Good Cheer House is a fine paying institution, sure, and—”
“But what of the unfortunate daughter?” inquired Leah faintly.
“Well, as I was about remarking, they went away to Cuby, and some months ago, perhaps a year or so, they caught the scamp out there, and smuggled him to this country, to be punished for a murder he committed some years ago, long before he was married.”