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The Mission of Mr. Scatters
by [?]

“I ain’t got nothin’ to say.”

“He ain’t never tol’ you ’bout havin’ nothin’ but Cubian money on him?”

Isaac started.

“I see he have. He tol’ me de same thing.”

The two men sat staring suspiciously into each other’s faces.

“He got a hun’ed an’ fifty dollahs f’om me,” said Dunkin.

“I let him have fifty,” added Jackson weakly.

“He got a hun’ed an’ fifty dollahs f’om thews. Dat’s how I come to git ‘spicious. He tol’ him de same sto’y.”

Again that pregnant look flashed between them, and they both rose and went out of the house.

They hurried down to Matthews’ grocery. The owner was waiting for them there. There was solemnity, but no hesitation, in the manner with which they now went to the safe. They took out the package hastily and with ruthless hands. This was no ceremonial now. The seal had no longer any fears for them. They tore it off. They tore the wrappers. Then paper. Neatly folded paper. More wrapping paper. Newspapers. Nothing more. Of bills or bonds–nothing. With the debris of the mysterious parcel scattered about their feet, they stood up and looked at each other.

“I nevah did believe in furriners nohow,” said Mr. Dunkin sadly.

“But he knowed all about my brothah John.”

“An’ he sho’ly did make mighty fine speeches. Maybe we’s missed de money.” This from the grocer.

Together they went over the papers again, with the same result.

“Do you know where he went to-night, Ike?”


“Den I reckon we’s seed de las’ o’ him.”

“But he lef’ his valise.”

“Yes, an’ he lef’ dis,” said Dunkin sternly, pointing to the paper on the floor. “He sho’ly is mighty keerless of his valybles.”

“Let’s go git de constable,” said the practical Matthews.

They did, though they felt that it would be unavailing.

The constable came and waited at Jackson’s house. They had been there about half an hour, talking the matter over, when what was their surprise to hear Mr. Scatters’ step coming jauntily up the walk. A sudden panic of terror and shame seized them. It was as if they had wronged him. Suppose, after all, everything should come right and he should be able to explain? They sat and trembled until he entered. Then the constable told him his mission.

Mr. Scatters was surprised. He was hurt. Indeed, he was distinctly grieved that his friends had had so little confidence in him. Had he been to them anything but a gentleman, a friend, and an honest man? Had he not come a long distance from his home to do one of them a favour? They hung their heads. Martha Ann, who was listening at the door, was sobbing audibly. What had he done thus to be humiliated? He saw the effect of his words and pursued it. Had he not left in the care of one of their own number security for his integrity in the shape of the bonds?

The effect of his words was magical. Every head went up and three pairs of flashing eyes were bent upon him. He saw and knew that they knew. He had not thought that they would dare to violate the seal around which he had woven such a halo. He saw that all was over, and, throwing up his hands with a despairing gesture, he bowed graciously and left the room with the constable.

All Miltonville had the story next day, and waited no less eagerly than before for the “settin’ of co’t.”

To the anger and chagrin of Miltonvillians, Fox Run had the honour and distinction of being the county seat, and thither they must go to the sessions; but never did they so forget their animosities as on the day set for the trial of Scatters. They overlooked the pride of the Fox Runners, their cupidity and their vaunting arrogance. They ignored the indignity of showing interest in anything that took place in that village, and went in force, eager, anxious, and curious. Ahorse, afoot, by oxcart, by mule-wagon, white, black, high, low, old, and young of both sexes invaded Fox Run and swelled the crowd of onlookers until, with pity for the very anxiety of the people, the humane judge decided to discard the now inadequate court-room and hold the sessions on the village green. Here an impromptu bar was set up, and over against it were ranged the benches, chairs, and camp-stools of the spectators.