THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 32: DOWLEY'S HUMILIATION
I paid no more heed than if it were the idle breeze, but, with an
air of indifference amounting almost to weariness, got out my money
and tossed four dollars on to the table. Ah, you should have seen
The clerk was astonished and charmed. He asked me to retain
one of the dollars as security, until he could go to town and--
"What, and fetch back nine cents? Nonsense! Take the whole.
Keep the change."
There was an amazed murmur to this effect:
"Verily this being is made of money! He throweth it away even
as if it were dirt."
The blacksmith was a crushed man.
The clerk took his money and reeled away drunk with fortune. I said
to Marco and his wife:
"Good folk, here is a little trifle for you"--handing the miller-guns
as if it were a matter of no consequence, though each of them
contained fifteen cents in solid cash; and while the poor creatures
went to pieces with astonishment and gratitude, I turned to the
others and said as calmly as one would ask the time of day:
"Well, if we are all ready, I judge the dinner is. Come, fall to."
Ah, well, it was immense; yes, it was a daisy. I don't know that
I ever put a situation together better, or got happier spectacular
effects out of the materials available. The blacksmith--well, he
was simply mashed. Land! I wouldn't have felt what that man was
feeling, for anything in the world. Here he had been blowing and
bragging about his grand meat-feast twice a year, and his fresh
meat twice a month, and his salt meat twice a week, and his white
bread every Sunday the year round--all for a family of three; the
entire cost for the year not above 69.2.6 (sixty-nine cents, two
mills and six milrays), and all of a sudden here comes along a man
who slashes out nearly four dollars on a single blow-out; and not
only that, but acts as if it made him tired to handle such small
sums. Yes, Dowley was a good deal wilted, and shrunk-up and
collapsed; he had the aspect of a bladder-balloon that's been
stepped on by a cow.