Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/128

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“I told him in reply, that it was rather remarkable—about as uncivilized as anything I had ever seen—and was on the point of asking some uncomfortable questions when, noting my disapproval, he switched off by explaining that it was the only way he could make a penny, and again turned the conversation by exclaiming abruptly:

“‘Saw my wives, didn’t you?-every one of them the daughter of a chief. You see, I buy the girl, and so get even with her father, am made High Pan-Jam with the red button and feather, or next of kin to the chief by blood-letting—anything they want. I’m scarred all up now mixing my precious ancestral fluid with that of these blacklegs, and am first cousin to half the cutthroats on the river. Next I start on the carriers, pick ’em out myself, and send ’em down to the agent. The home company is getting ugly, so I hear, and wonder why they owe me so much for the carriers I’ve sent them—pretty near six hundred pounds sterling, now. They think there is something crooked about it, but I’m keeping it up. I’m going down when the row is over and present my bill, and they’ve got to pay it or I’ll know the reason why. Now we’ll have tiffin.’

“I watched his women crowd about him.