Of course, this was the reasonable view of the matter; but there were some who sided with the Irishman, among others the Kentuckian, and he volunteered to go as a committee of one to Dewey, and represent to him the sentiments of the camp.
Accordingly he walked over to where Dewey and his apprentice were working.
“Look here, Dewey,” he began, “me and some of the rest of the boys have takin’ over this yere matter of your givin’ work to this Chinaman, and we don’t like it.”
“Why not?” asked Dewey coolly.
“We don’t feel no call to associate with sich as he.”
“You needn’t; I don’t ask you to,” said Dewey quietly. “I am the only one who associates with him.”
“But we don’t want him in camp.”
“He won’t trouble any of you. I will take charge of him.”
“Look here, Dewey, you’ve got to respect public sentiment, and public sentiment is agin’ this thing.”
“Whose public sentiment—O’Reilly’s?”
“Well, O’Reilly don’t like it, for one.”
“I thought so.”
“Nor I for another.”
“It strikes me, Hodgson, that I’ve got some rights as well as O’Reilly. Suppose I should say I didn’t choose to work in the same camp with an Irishman?”
“Why is it different?”
“Well, you see, an Irishman isn’t a yeller heathen.”
“He may be a heathen, though not a yellow one,” he said.
“Well, Dewey, what answer shall I take back to the boys?”
“You can say that I never intended to employ the Chinaman for any length of time; but I shall not send him off till I get ready.”
“I’m afraid the boys won’t like it, Dewey.”
“Probably O’Reilly won’t. As for you, you are too intelligent a man to be influenced by such a man as he.”
All men are sensible to flattery, and Hodgson was won over by this politic speech.
“I won’t say you’re altogether wrong, Dewey,” he said; “but I wouldn’t keep him too long.”
“I don’t mean to.”
Hodgson returning reported that Dewey would soon dismiss the Chinaman, and omitted the independent tone which the latter had assumed. The message was considered conciliatory, and pronounced satisfactory; but O’Reilly was not appeased. He still murmured, but his words produced little effect. Seeing this, he devised a private scheme of annoyance.
A midnight visit.
This conversation set Dewey to thinking. Though he was independent, he was not foolishly so, and he was not willing, out of a spirit of opposition, to expose his new acquaintance to annoyance, perhaps to injury. He did not care to retain Ki Sing in his employment for any length of time, and made up his mind to dismiss him early the next mornng, say, at four o’clock, before the miners had thrown off the chains of sleep.