“One thirty-three!” bellers Peter. “One thirty-three! Oh, how can I look my grandmother’s picture in the face after this? One thirty-three—once! One thirty-three—twice! Third and last call! One—thirty—”
Then Eddie begun to raise his hand, but ’twas too late.
“One thirty-three and sold! To Mr. Milo Thompson for one hundred and thirty-three dollars!”
And just then come a shriek from the piazza; the Duchess and “Irene dear” had come out of the parlor.
Well! Talk about crowing! The way that Thompson crowd rubbed it in on the Smalls was enough to make you leave the dinner table. They had the servants take in them dishes, piece by piece, and every single article, down to the last butter plate, was steered straight by the Small crowd.
As for poor Eddie, when he come up to explain why he hadn’t kept on bidding, his wife put him out like he was a tin lamp.
“Don’t speak to me!” says she. “Don’t you dare speak to me.”
He didn’t dare. He just run up a storm sail and beat for harbor back of the barn. And from the piazza Milo cackled vainglorious.
Me and Cap’n Jonadab and Peter T. felt so sorry for Eddie, knowing what he had coming to him from the Duchess, that we went out to see him. He was setting on a wrecked hencoop, looking heart-broke but puzzled.
“’Twas that Saltmarsh made me lose my nerve,” he says. “I thought when he wouldn’t bid there was something wrong with the dishes. And there was something wrong, too. Now what was it?”
“Maybe the price was too high,” says I.
“No, ’twa’n’t that. I b’lieve yet he thought they were imitations. Oh, if they only were!”
And then, lo and behold you, around the corner comes Adoniram Rogers. I’d have bet large that whatever conscience Adoniram was born with had dried up and blown away years ago. But no; he’d resurrected a remnant.
“Mr. Small,” stammered Mr. Rogers, “I’m sorry you feel bad about not buying them dishes. I—I thought I’d ought to tell you—that is to say, I— Well, if you want another set, I cal’late I can get it for you—that is, if you won’t tell nobody.”
“Another set?” hollers Eddie, wide-eyed. “Anoth— Do you mean to say you’ve got more?”
“Why, I ain’t exactly got ’em now, but my nephew John keeps a furniture store in South Boston, and he has lots of sets like that. I bought that one off him.”
Peter T. Brown jumps to his feet.
“Why, you outrageous robber!” he hollers. “Didn’t you say those dishes were old?”
“I never said nothing, except that they were like the plate that feller had on the piazza. And they was, too. You folks said they was old, and I thought you’d ought to know, so—”
Eddie Small threw up both hands. “Fakes!” he hollers. “Fakes! And Thompson paid one hundred and thirty-three dollars for ’em! Boys, there’s times when life’s worth living. Have a drink.”