I have the hundred. Now I return it to you, Mr. I thank you. I apologize for taking up so much of your time. But I hope that the entertainment has been worth while.
BY the time John Pierson reached the front door of the Chalmers house, he was beginning to think that perhaps this little adventure might be worth all of four hundred dollars and even more. He was reasonably sure of it, when the district attorney followed him, and from the front porch shouted: "This is a damnable trick on your part, Pierson.
This is a trick, a low, deceiving trick, to appeal to my foolish and soft-hearted humanity. But I see through you, Pierson. I've always seen through you. You won't be able to make me a laughing stock through this, as now I demand your assistance to lay hands upon the worthless puppy who was your tool, in this matter. Pierson stood still, near the front gate of the yard. He was counting from his wallet, four hundred dollars into the hand of the boy.
And, as he finished, he turned with a chuckle:. People will learn from this just what a windy joke you are, and always have been!
This was language brought home with a smash, but Pierson's heart was still sore because of his political defeat. And he relished mightily this opportunity to get a little of his own back. So he went on laughing, while Chalmers began to roar again and again from the front porch. At last, Chase came out, and taking his friend by the arm, told him bluntly not to make a further fool of himself, and so got him back into the house. Already neighbors were opening doors and murmurs of interest came drifting through the air.
The lawyer at the front gate was saying to the boy: "Come along with me, Speedy. I've several things to say to you.
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I simply made a small cut behind the ball of each foot, where the skin's tender and the blood's near the surface. The movement of walking kept the drops of blood leaking out. It isn't painful, but, as you saw, it makes a good lot of blood. And a bit of sticking plaster on each cut will make it as sound as ever. You should have asked me to wash my feet. Then they could have seen through the sham. But people get excited and careless, at times like that.
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They're apt to believe their eyes, and eyes are almost never right, you know. John Pierson paused in thought. There was much in the last remark of this odd youth.
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Finally he said: "I want to see you again, Speedy. Shall I? I need an outfit. I was trimmed down almost to my guitar, when I luckily met you, and since then I've been thanking my stars.
I have some work in mind that will need the thickest skin in the world. It's not dishonest, but it's a gamble and a chance, and a good chance. I want to put it up to you. What do you say? I'll come in tomorrow at the end of the morning. So it was agreed. They shook hands, and Pierson went up the street, while the boy waited behind until the door of the Chalmers house opened, and Mr. Chase came down the front steps hastily, making rambling sounds in his throat.
It seemed certain that among other things, Mr.
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Chalmers had not cemented his friendship with Chase any more firmly on this night of nights! And you want nothing to do with me, if you know what's good for you. Not of you. I'm sorry you were there, because you're real, and he's only a sham. I couldn't make a joke of him; he's a joke already. Chase sputtered for a moment, and then he exclaimed: "By the jumping lord jackrabbit, if you ain't right. You got a brain in your head, young man.
It's all right, the way you pulled the wool over my eyes. I ain't one that pretends to sharp sight with men, anyway. I can see a hoss, a cow, or a sheep. But that lets me out. I take a sort of a likin' to you. And he said: "It's been worth more than me bein' made a fool of tonight—worth a lot more, because I've had a chance to see through one special kind of varmint. I'm gunna make a change in lawyers right pronto! He waved goodnight, and went with a firm, heavy stride up the street, a rather weaving step, such as one often sees in men who have spent most of their lives in the saddle.
The boy watched him for a moment; then he went to the smallest hotel in Durfee, down by the railroad track, and got a little room, and turned in. He was very tired. He simply wrapped himself in a blanket, and without taking off a stitch, he fell asleep as soon as he had closed his eyes. He slept smiling, as one whose conscience is absolutely whole; and when he wakened in the morning, he was singing in five minutes. Ragged and unkempt he went down to buy his breakfast. But when he had finished a busy morning, a very neat young man sat down to lunch, dressed in a natty brown suit, with a broad-brimmed hat of tan color, and a tie to match.
There was nothing showy about him, but he looked as though much money had flowed through his hands, and as though he expected the future to deal kindly with him, also. After lunch, he went to his room for a siesta. And then, fresh and wide awake, he found the office of the lawyer. It was in a small wooden shack; and the "shingle" of John Pierson was not in large letters.