داستان A Municipal Report صفحه 8
تعداد بازديد : 315
'It is within the city limits and well within them,' I argued. 'Don't think that you have picked up a greenhorn Yankee. Do you see those hills over there?' I went on, pointing toward the east (I could not see them, myself, for the drizzle); 'well, I was born and raised on their other side. You old fool nigger, can't you tell people from other people when you see em?'
The grim face of King Cetewayo softened. 'Is you from the South, suh? I reckon it was them shoes of yourn fooled me. There is somethin' sharp in the toes for a Southern gen'l'man to wear.' 'Then the charge is fifty cents, I suppose?' said I inexorably.
His former expression, a mingling of cupidity and hostility, returned, remained ten minutes, and vanished. 'Boss,' he said, 'fifty cents is right; but I needs two dollars, suh; I'm obleeged to have two dollars. I ain't demandin' it now, suh; after I knows whar you's from; I'm jus' sayin' that I has to have two dollars to-night, and business is mighty po'.'
Peace and confidence settled upon his heavy features. He had been luckier than he had hoped. Instead of having picked up a greenhorn, ignorant of rates, he had come upon an inheritance. 'You confounded old rascal,' I said, reaching down into my pocket, 'you ought to be turned over to the police.'
For the first time I saw him smile. He knew; he knew; HE KNEW. I gave him two one-dollar bills. As I handed them over I noticed that one of them had seen parlous times. Its upper right-hand corner was missing, and it had been torn through in the middle but joined again. A strip of blue tissue-paper, pasted over the split, preserved its negotiability.
Enough of the African bandit for the present: I left him happy, lifted the rope and opened the creaky gate. The house, as I said, was a shell. A paint-brush had not touched it in twenty years. I could not see why a strong wind should not have bowled it over like a house of cards until I looked again at the trees that hugged it close - the trees that saw the battle of Nashville and still drew their protecting branches around it against storm and enemy and cold.
Azalea Adair, fifty years old, white-haired, a descendant of the cavaliers, as thin and frail as the house she lived in, robed in the cheapest and cleanest dress I ever saw, with an air as simple as a queen's, received me.