"I don't know," says Mr. Crewe, "but I do know I've done something for this town, and I hope you'll take it into consideration. Come and see me when you go to the village. I'll give you a good cigar, and that pamphlet, and we'll talk matters over."
"Never would have thought to see one of them things in my orchard," says Mr. Jenney. "How much do they cost? Much as a locomotive, don't they?"
It would not be exact to say that, after some weeks of this sort of campaigning, Mr. Crewe was discouraged, for such writhe vitality with which nature had charged him that he did not know the meaning of the word. He was merely puzzled, as a June-bug is puzzled when it bumps up against a wire window-screen. He had pledged to him his own gardener, Mrs. Pomfret's, the hired men of three of his neighbours, a few modest souls who habitually took off their hats to him, and Mr. Ball, of the village, who sold groceries to Wedderburn and was a general handy man for the summer people. Mr. Ball was an agitator by temperament and a promoter by preference. If you were a summer resident of importance and needed anything from a sewing-machine to a Holstein heifer, Mr. Ball, the grocer, would accommodate you. When Mrs. Pomfret's cook became inebriate and refractory, Mr. Ball was sent for, and enticed her to the station and on board of a train; when the Chillinghams' tank overflowed, Mr. Ball found the proper valve and saved the house from being washed away. And it was he who, after Mrs. Pomfret, took the keenest interest in Mr. Crewe's campaign. At length came one day when Mr. Crewe pulled up in front of the grocery store and called, as his custom was, loudly for Mr. Ball. The fact that Mr. Ball was waiting on customers made no difference, and presently that gentleman appeared, rubbing his hands together.
"How do you do, Mr. Crewe?" he said, "automobile going all right?"
"What's the matter with these fellers?" said Mr. Crewe. "Haven't I done enough for the town? Didn't I get 'em rural free delivery? Didn't I subscribe to the meeting-house and library, and don't I pay more taxes than anybody else?"
"Certain," assented Mr. Ball, eagerly, "certain you do." It did not seem to occur to him that it was unfair to make him responsible for the scurvy ingratitude of his townsmen. He stepped gingerly down into the dust and climbed up on the tool box.
"Look out," said Mr. Crewe, "don't scratch the varnish. What is it?"
Mr. Ball shifted obediently to the rubber-covered step, and bent his face to his patron's ear.