T l rikel, ly little ollice, built of red hrik, wxas set l ltsh with the street: tihe main sitreeL of the town of ,Ii ohe. Above it the mountai. Trade xin notl. II w is so still that ree, rec- inini in his chair, distinl ly heardI the clicki of the chip s in the granl t jury riln, where thu "court heuse yang" was playing poker.
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The rickety little office, built of red brick, was set flush with the street -- the main street of the town of Bethel. Bethel rested upon the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge. Above it the mountains were piled to the sky. Far below it the turbid Catawba gleamed yellow along its disconsolate valley. The June day was at its sultriest hour. Bethel dozed in the tepid shade. Trade was not. It was so still that Goree, reclining in his chair, distinctly heard the clicking of the chips in the grand-jury room, where the "court- house gang" was playing poker.
From the open back door of the office a well-worn path meandered across the grassy lot to the court-house. The treading out of that path had cost Goree all he ever had -- first inheritance of a few thousand dollars, next the old family home, and, latterly the last shreds of his self-respect and manhood.
The "gang" had cleaned him out. The broken gambler had turned drunkard and parasite; he had lived to see this day come when the men who had stripped him denied him a seat at the game. His word was no longer to be taken. The daily bouts at cards had arranged itself accordingly, and to him was assigned the ignoble part of the onlooker.
The sheriff, the county clerk, a sportive deputy, a gay attorney, and a chalk-faced man hailing "from the valley," sat at table, and the sheared one was thus tacitly advised to go and grow more wool. Soon wearying of his ostracism, Goree had departed for his office, muttering to himself as he unsteadily tra- versed the unlucky pathway.
After a drink of corn whiskey from a demijohn under the table, he had flung himself into the chair, staring, in a sort of maudlin apathy, out at the mountains immersed in the summer haze. The little white patch he saw away up on the side of Blackjack was Laurel, the village near which he had been born and bred.
There, also, was the birthplace of the feud between the Gorees and the Coltranes. Now no direct heir of the Gorees survived except this plucked and singed bird of misfortune.
The feud had been a typical one of the region; it had left a red record of hate, wrong and slaughter. But Yancey Goree was not thinking of feuds. His befuddled brain was hopelessly attacking the problem of the future maintenance of himself and his favourite follies. Of late, old friends of the family had seen to it that he had whereof to eat and a place to sleep -- but whiskey they would not buy for him, and he must have whiskey. His law business was extinct; no case had been intrusted to him in two years.
He had been a borrower and a sponge, and it seemed that if he fell no lower it would be from lack of opportunity. One more chance -- he was saying to himself -- if he had one more stake at the game, he thought he could win; but he had nothing left to sell, and his credit was more than exhausted.
He could not help smiling, even in his misery, as he thought of the man to whom, six months before, he had sold the old Goree homestead. They had neither dog nor children to mitigate the heavy silence of the hills. Pike Garvey was little known in the settlements, but all who had dealt with him pronounced him "crazy as a loon. Released, he popped back into his hole like an angry weasel. Pike lifted his squirrel rifle off the hooks and took a shot at them at long range on the chance of their being revenues.
Happily he missed, and the unconscious agents of good luck drew nearer, disclosing their innocence of anything resembling law or justice. Later on, they offered the Garveys an enormous quantity of ready, green, crisp money for their thirty-acre patch of cleared land, mentioning, as an excuse for such a mad action, some irrelevant and inadequate nonsense about a bed of mica underlying the said property.
When the Garveys became possessed of so many dol- lars that they faltered in computing them, the deficiencies of life on Blackjack began to grow prominent. Pike began to talk of new shoes, a hogshead of tobacco to set in the corner, a new lock to his rifle; and, leading Martella to a certain spot on the mountain-side, he pointed out to her how a small cannon -- doubtless a thing not beyond the scope of their fortune in price -- might be planted so as to command and defend the sole accessible trail to the cabin, to the confusion of revenues and meddling strangers forever.
But Adam reckoned without his Eve. These things represented to him the applied power of wealth, but there slumbered in his dingy cabin an ambition that soared far above his primitive wants. Somewhere in Mrs. For so long a time the sounds in her ears had been the scaly-barks dropping in the woods at noon, and the wolves singing among the rocks at night, and it was enough to have purged her of vanities.
She had grown fat and sad and yellow and dull. But when the means came, she felt a rekindled desire to assume the perquisites of her sex -- to sit at tea tables; to buy futile things; to whitewash the hideous veracity of life with a little form and ceremony.
And thus, at length, it was decided, and the thing done. The village of Laurel was their compromise between Mrs. Thus it happened that while the disreputable last of the Gorees sprawled in his disreputable office, at the end of his row, spurned by the cronies whom he had gorged, strangers dwelt in the halls of his fathers.
A cloud of dust was rolling, slowly up the parched street, with something travelling in the midst of it. A little breeze wafted the cloud to one side, and a new, brightly painted carryall, drawn by a slothful gray horse, became visible.
On the front seat sat a gaunt, tall man, dressed in black broadcloth, his rigid hands incarcerated in yellow kid gloves.
On the back seat was a lady who triumphed over the June heat. Her stout form was armoured in a skintight silk dress of the description known as "change- able," being a gorgeous combination of shifting hues. She sat erect, waving a much-omamented fan, with her eyes fixed stonily far down the street. He had carved her countenance to the image of emptiness and inanity; had imbued her with the stolidity of his crags, and the reserve of his hushed interiors.
She always seemed to hear, whatever her surroundings were, the scaly-barks falling and pattering down the mountain- side. She could always hear the awful silence of Black- jack sounding through the stillest of nights. Goree watched this solemn equipage, as it drove to his door, with only faint interest; but when the lank driver wrapped the reins about his whip, awkwardly descended, and stepped into the office, he rose unsteadily to receive him, recognizing Pike Garvey, the new, the transformed, the recently civilized.
The mountaineer took the chair Goree offered him. Pale-blue, unwinking round eyes without lashes added to the singularity of his gruesome visage. Goree was at a loss to account for the visit. The Rogerses, the Hapgoods, the Pratts and the Troys hev been to see Missis Garvey, and she hev et meals to most of thar houses. Goree, that sech things suits me -- fur me, give me them thar. I reckon you are mistaken about that.
We was pore as possums, and now we could hev folks to dinner every day. We been recognized, Missis Garvey says, by the best society. To speak of his feud to a feudist is a serious breach of the mountain etiquette. Missis Garvey hev studied all about feuds.
Quality people everywhar, says Missis Garvey, has feuds. Goree knew that the sheriff had just won a pot, for the subdued whoop with which he always greeted a victory floated across the sqquare upon the crinkly heat waves.
Stooping, he drew the wicker-covered demijohn from under the table, and filled a tumbler from it. Of course you are joking about what you spoke of? Prime, two-fifty to three. Feuds, slightly damaged -- two hundred, I believe you said, Mr. The mountaineer took the glass Goree handed him, and drank the whisky without a tremor of the lids of his staring eyes. The lawyer applauded the feat by a look of envious admiration. He poured his own drink, and took it like a drunkard, by gulps, and with shudders at the smell and taste.
He struck the table with his fist. One of the bills flipped over and touched his hand. He flinched as if something had stung him. He turned in an instant from an outraged gentleman to an anxious chafferer recom- mending his goods.
Shall I w-wrap it up for you, Mr. You air out of it, and it stands Coltrane and Garvey. The money was clutched in his moist hand. Everything else sud- denly seemed to grow trivial and light. Goree was standing near the window. There he goes, down the other side of the street.
Colonel Abner Coltrane, an erect, portly gentleman of about fifty, wearing the inevitable long, double-breasted frock coat of the Southern lawmaker, and an old high silk hat, was passing on the opposite sidewalk. As Garvey looked, Goree glanced at his face. If there be such a thing as a yellow wolf, here was its counterpart. Garvey snarled as his unhuman eyes followed the moving figure, disclosing long, amber-coloured fangs. Prices as low as the lowest.
He stretched out both hands toward the mountaineer, his fingers hooked and shaking. Even a Ch-Chinaman protects the g-graves of his ancestors -- go! While he was climbing over the wheel Goree was collecting, with feverish celerity, the money that had fallen from his hand to the floor. As the vehicle slowly turned about, the sheep, with a coat of newly grown wool, was hurrying, in indecent haste, along the path to the court-house. The sheriff, the sportive deputy, the county clerk, and the gay attorney carried him, the chalk-faced man "from the valley" acting as escort.
I wonder how much he dropped to-night. What I wonder is whar he got it. The next eye to gaze upon the miserable Goree was the orb of day. He peered through the uncurtained window, first deluging the sleeper in a flood of faint gold, but soon pouring upon the mottled red of his flesh a searching, white, summer heat. His movement dislodged a heavy law book, which crashed upon the floor.
A Blackjack Bargainer
The rickety little office, built of red brick, was set flush with the street -- the main street of the town of Bethel. Bethel rested upon the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge. Above it the mountains were piled to the sky. Far below it the turbid Catawba gleamed yellow along its disconsolate valley. The June day was at its sultriest hour. Bethel dozed in the tepid shade.
داستان کوتاه A Blackjack Bargainer
The rickety little office, built of red brick, was set flush with the street -- the main street of the town of Bethel. Bethel rested upon the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge. Above it the mountains were piled to the sky. Far below it the turbid Catawba gleamed yellow along its disconsolate valley. The June day was at its sultriest hour. Bethel dozed in the tepid shade. Trade was not.
A Blackjack Bargainer
A Blackjack Bargainer (Illustrated)