PEOPLE said that religion was responsible for Eli Saunders’ undoing. Eli’s idea of being good was to be good and easy, consequently much of his world’s goods had been lost to him through his simple and great heartedness. Eli had always one speech to meet well meant advice.
"If a man trusts in God he’s gotter trust in man likewise, that is, if he’s a Christian. I trust my feller man, and if I’m fleeced it’s my own lookout. I'm willin’ to be called a fool and much more so long’s my own conscience is clear, fact is I ain’t got much but conscience left, ’cept Liza and the children, but that’s some, I take it, please God.”
Deacon Ringold, the crafty and far-seeing, remonstrated with him at some length the morning succeeding New Year’s day. Eli had that morning swapped a brood mare with a horse dealer by the name of Steele for a brindle calf with only one eye. When the deacon was through Eli drew his six-foot-two up with dignity and said :
“Ringold, the fust duty of a Godfearer is to see that his neebor be given a chanct to live. Steele makes his livin’ by hoss-dealin’. It ain’t fer th’ likes of me to keep bread and butter from his children. He had a brindle calf as he couldn’t well dispose of and I had the brood mare as he kin make somethin’s out of. I swapped with him, because I have th’ real Christian spirit. Without insinuatin’ as you haven’t got th’ same, Ringold, as the case stands you’ve got two hundred acres to my sixty and you’ve got three span of hosses. You wouldn’t swap with Steele. I’m doubtin’ if you love your feller-man sufficient, Deacon.”
In vain did the Deacon try some lofty reason with Saunders. The big man had but one reply to all his arguments. “I’ll do my duty towards my feller-man, I will.”
“But Eli, you’re not doing your duty by your fellow-man when you allow him to deliberately cheat you, can’t you understand that?” “If I know he’s cheated me I have th’ satisfaction of knowin’ also as I hav’nt cheated him, Deacon.”
The Deacon sighed and plowed his way through the snowdrifts over to the “Cross Roads Grocery.”
He was really very much put out with Saunders for allowing somebody else to fleece him out of his mare, the fact was the Deacon wanted that mare himself. He felt that there was such a thing as carrying religion too far. A man, he told himself, as he kicked the light snow-lumps viciously from his path, could be a good man without being a “dupe,” and Eli was a dupe, always had been ever since Rathburn, the evangelist, had converted him, five years ago. By the time the Deacon had reached the corners, his face was purple-red with pent-up feeling and his frost-coated goatee was shaking ominously. As he rounded the corner he came upon Steele, the horse-dealer. Steele was tucking a warm blanket about the bottom of his sleigh and was whistling merrily.
"Well,” said the Deacon shortly, "You seem to be startin’ th’s New Year with a happy heart, Steele, things must be comin’ your way.” He scowled under his heavy eyebrows at the tall, weasel-faced horse-dealer, and his eyes darted from that face to the old mare hitched to the cutter.
Steele unbuttoned his mangy fur coat, dipped a long arm in a deep trousers pocket and grinned.
"Big Eli an’ me we made a swap yesterday,” he answered, his little black orbs following the Deacon’s. “She’s a good old mare, that, Deacon; Simpson offered me eighty dollars fer her, ’bout half an hour ago. Ain’t goin’ up th’ road, I spose, be you?”
"Jim Steele,” said the Deacon, slowly, "If I was goin’ up the road I’d rather walk than ride behind a stole hoss.”
Steele bit the corner off the plug of tobacco he was fumbling, rolled it about a little in his spacious mouth, as though to make it feel at home; then he grinned again.
"That brindle calf,” he commenced, and the Deacon snorted.
"Wasn’t wuth six dollars. I saw the calf and I know th’ mare.”
"You deliberately stole her from Eli, and you know it. I’m an outspoken sort o’ chap, and I say what I think.”
“Yes you do, Deacon, you sure do,” agreed Steele, "but Deacon, stealin’ a hoss ain’t any worse than stealin’ a farm, is it? an’ everybody knows you stole a farm from Saunders.”
“What,” cried the Deacon, taking a step forward, "do you mean to tell me—”
"Well, you lent him money on a mortgage that winter him and his family was sick and you didn’t give him no show; simply foreclosed and took over the land. I suppose it cost you somewhere about seven or eight dollars an acre when it’s wuth ninety. I don’t suppose a deacon in th’ church would call that stealin’ but its just as close to it as tradin’ a brindle calf fer a brood-mare, I guess.”
The fire in the Deacon’s eyes was melting the icicles on his goatee.
“Your base insinuation is without truth,” he said with dignity, "and no one would listen to such an accusation from you, Jim Steele. You have a bad reputation, a very bad reputation. You are not a credit to this community, sir, and you know it.” Steele untied the old mare and threw the rope halter in the sleigh.
"That’s just it, Deacon,” he said easily, "I make a business of gettin’ th’ best of a bargain, I make my livin’ that way, not a very good way maybe, but then you see people know they have to watch me. Th’ fact is, if I hadn’t got this old mare out of Eli you er Bill Jones er Tom Pepper, both of em church men, like yourself, would have nailed her sooner or later, and Eli maybe wouldn’t have had even a brindle calf to call his own.”
The Deacon jumped up and down in fury.
“See here,” he cried, "Do you mean to say that I had an eye on that old mare of Saunders’?”
"On this old mare of mine—when Saunders owned here. Yes, I mean just that, Deacon. How do I know? Why Eli told me. You went over to his place and wanted to deal him an old binder for her, an old, useless harvester that was of no use to you and not wuth a cent a pound as scrap iron. Still you would have took Eli’s last hoss and put that old machine over on him. What did you suppose he’d do with it, Deacon, haul it about his little garden-farm by hand?”
Steele laughed quietly and the Deacon’s jaw fell. “It’s not such a bad binder,” he said lamely.
"I should think you might get Jones and Pepper to each buy a third share in it, Deacon,” grinned Steele, as he climbed into his sleigh. "Between you three you’ve got all the land about, poor old Eli ever owned. I should think you’d want to keep all your farm machinery.”
“I’m going to tell Jones and Pepper just what you have told me,” cried the Deacon, “we’ll make it hot for you, Jim Steele.” Steele tightened his lines and rolled his chew about in his mouth reflectively.
“Well, it might jest be a good idea if you would tell ’em” he said. “They air both in the store there and I have jest told ’em myself. They didn’t seem to only about half believe me though, and maybe the word of an upright Christian man—”
But the Deacon had crammed his hands in his pockets and was wading through the drifts toward the little store. With a deep chuckle, Steele shook the reins and the old mare swung up the road, through the falling dusk.
Along the way, every now and again, Steele’s happy chuckle broke out into tune with the bells. “If that evangelist feller is thar as he promised he’d be,” he muttered, “and he kin change Eli’s senses, as I think he kin—there’ll be some fun.” The old mare pricked up her ears and plowed through the drifts like a charger. When the concession was reached she lifted her head and whinnied joyfully. Far down the road a dog barked and she whinnied again.
“We’ll make th’ station fust, gal, and then—”
The mare laid back her ears. She was disappointed, but Steele’s promise was something. They swung to the left and soon drew up beside the forlorn station with its green and red lights blinking derisively at a big white Canadian world. The tail lights of the mailtrain were fading to pale sparks away down the track. On the platform stood a tall man.
Steele threw the robes from him and landed on the platform with a glad whoop.
“Mr. Rathburn,” he cried, running forward, “so you did come?”
The man waiting laughed and held out his hand.
“I got your letter and of course hurried down, Mr. Steele,” he said. “You say there is a matter of grave importance, and only I can—”
“There is, there sure is. It’s poor Eli Saunders, sir. You have hypnotized him—beggin’ your pardon, but hypnotized, is the word. He’s got some wrong ideas of religion. He’s goin’ to the devil, beg your pardon again, sir, I mean financially, and all through thinkin’ it’s his duty to God to allow his feller-man to rob him.”
Steele panted. It was a long speech for him and he had rehearsed it over and over again. He was satisfied with the result. The evangelist stood a moment thinking it all out, then he sat down in the sleigh and laughed; laughed so hard that Steele began to grow a little uneasy.
“It’s a fact, Mr. Rathburn,” he asserted.
“Well, well, and I’m to put him right. I guess I understand how it is and I’ll do my best.”
Twenty minutes later the old mare stood unharnessed in her own home stall, with the shaggy collie dog curled up at her feet. Inside, Steele, Mrs. Saunders and the young folk were unwrapping parcel after parcel of good things which Steele had purchased at the corner grocery. Over in a corner of the room Mr. Rathburn and Eli Saunders were conversing in low tones.
“That turkey now,” Steele said, holding a twenty-pounder aloft, “why I got him fer a song. Pays to wait until the hollerdays air over before buying turkeys and presents. Same with all this stuff; shaw! Missus Saunders, it all together didn’t cost me but a mere nuthin’ and we’ll have a mighty big time to-night, I guess, eh children?”
“Yes, yes,” answered half a dozen glad voices.
“They wasn’t expectin’ no Santa Claus,” said the woman, wiping her eyes. “We can’t thank you, Jim, only in words that is.”
“Listen!” grinned Jim, pointing to the corner.
Eli was speaking.
“Well, I’m glad to know that God won’t think it a shady trick in me to get back what is mine by rights. I've made a mistake and you say it’s for me to rectify it. Well I’m goin’ to do it. I believe you know what is right, Mr. Rathburn. How am I to set about it—that’s the question?”
“I don’t think you would be doing wrong, in adopting the same tactics that the people who robbed you used in doing it, Mr. Saunders,” urged the evangelist.
“Smoked herrin’! but don’t you ’now?” cried Eli, sitting erect.
“No, I don’t.”
“Then I reckon I’ll get some of my belongings back. You see I ain’t easy, really by natur’. It’s acquired, that’s what it is and it’s been a pretty bitter dose fer me to swaller all these years to have my neebors think me a man without any brain and no good sense worth speakin’ of. Why I’ve earned the name of Simple Eli, in this Ontario neeborhood. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I be sure goin’ to spile that impression, now I know it’s no sin to do it.”
“Mr. Saunders,” spoke the evangelist earnestly, “in allowing yourself to be deprived of what is justly yours, you have unwittingly committed a sin not only against yourself and yours, but against the ones who have been allowed to cheat you as well. It is the work of a Christian to prevent, whenever possible, crime of any description. Instead of so doing you have been an accessory to it.”
Eli’s head drooped. “I guess I have,” he nodded, “ I guess maybe I have. What can I do to even things, sir? Just tell me and I’ll do it.”
“Your first duty is toward your family,” said the evangelist.
“If possible you must get back the land and chattels you have been cheated out of. I don’t know who did the cheating; I don’t want to know. Personally, I feel somewhat responsible for your losses and I wish to speak very plainly to you. God must have endowed you with the powers that all men born to have and to hold, must possess. Those have been sleeping too long. If you know of any way of outwitting the men who have cheated you, do it. I’ll shoulder the responsibility.”
“Thar’s the right sort of a man, Missus,” whispered Steele, and, Mrs. Saunders, picking up the turkey, hurried away to the kitchen.
Midnight saw a great supper at Saunders’ place.
At three in the morning, Steele and Saunders drove the evangelist over to the station. He had to return to the city and his last words were, as he shook hands, “Luck to you, Mr. Saunders.”
Eli and his friend watched the train vanish in the still star-light night, then they turned and looked at each other.
Then Steele chuckled, took a bite of black tobacco, and untied the mare. All the way home he kept chuckling and it was after the horse had been snugly stabled and he and Saunders sat beside the glowing stove, smoking a before-bed pipe, that he spoke, “Now that your views of Christianity have been changed somewhat, how be you goin’ to act, Eli?”
“Deacon Ringold has sixty acres of my land planted out into a fine orchard,” said Saunders absently. “With God’s help, supposin’ I get back that sixty and let him keep the other forty fer what I owe him.” He spoke reverently; he meant what he said.
“To be sure, to be sure,” nodded Steele, “If you know how—why get it, I say.”
“Tom Pepper, he has thirty acres of my land. Guess I’d best get it back right away, too, eh Jim?”
Again Jim nodded, a pitying sort of approving nod. He had a deep sympathy for his friend’s troubles and a grave doubt as to his sanity just at that particular moment.
“Bill Jones,” went on Saunders, “Bill jest as well as stole that black team Trebble drives on his hearse, from me, promised to pay me when he thrashed that year’s crop of beans, but, never did, knowin’ I’d never sue for the money.”
“Yes, I know,” said Jim, pityingly-
Saunders knocked the ashes from his pipe and stood up. He took off his coat and vest and hung them on the back of a chair. Then he unbuttoned his shirt sleeve and rolled it up above the elbow. “Jim,” he said gravely, “What you suppose God ever gave me two men’s strength fer? I’ll tell you what fer. It was to protect me an’ mine with, and here I’ve been lettin’ this neeborhood think me a physical as well as a moral coward. Let me tell you somethin’, Jim Steele. I’m goin’ to try and show the people who have fleeced me somethin’. I’ll try headwork fust an’ if I fail, I’ll try these here.”
Steele sat, his mouth half open, blinking his respect at the huge fists poised above him.
“Eli,” he said, “Judgin’ from my own feelin’s I would say that there ain’t no man in Canada, outside the lunatic asylum, goin to run foul of them crushers.”
“I’m simply goin’ to do what I think is right, Jim,” smiled Eli, putting on his coat. “All I’m wantin’ to do is to rectify the mistakes I’ve made. Tomorrow I begin, an’ as I start in early suppose we read jest a little chapter from the good book, an’ then we’ll turn in.”
Steele shuffled uneasily. “Sure,” he said, cheerfully.”
Inwardly he said, “I ain’t going to flunk now, seein’s I’ve made up my mind to stan’ by Eli.”
“Speakin’ of dried apples,” said Tom Pepper, taking another handful from the barrel and keeping his eye on the checker-board between Deacon Ringold and Bill Jones, “reminds me that a feller, Professor somebody er other, was down to my place th’ other day and he says there ain’t goin’ to be any apple crop to speak of this comin’ season.”
“Never see two decent crops two seasons hand runnin’,” agreed the Deacon, scratching his goatee reflectively, and frowning at Bill’s two kings. “Bet my orchard won’t yield twenty barrels.”
“Wish somebody would happen along an’ offer t’ buy my next season’s crop,” laughed Jones, taking three of the Deacon’s men at a jump.
“By sorgum,” gritted the Deacon, “that was a good move an no mistake. No, there ain’t goin’ to be no apple crop this year, I ain’t countin’ on none. Crown that filler, Tom.”
The door opened and in walked big Eli Saunders, a flurry of powdery snow preceding him.
“Mornin’ gents,” he smiled, “cold mornin’.”
“Mornin’ Eli,” spoke Williams, the genial little grocer. “Anythin’ new?”
“Not much, Jack, no mithin’ to speak of,” answered Saunders, his bright blue eyes glancing toward the checker-board. “Never could understand how a feller could figger that game' out, I never could.
“It takes brains, Eli,” laughed Pepper, kicking the Deacon under the table.
The Deacon snickered and Jones took two more of his men.
“Too much head-work in this game fer you, Eli,” grinned Jones.
“I reckon that’s right,” sighed Saunders. “Never could get by anythin’ needed head-work. Always was a numbskull when a boy and always have been one, I guess. Oh, well, it wouldn’t do for everybody to be sharp and clever.”
The grocer laughed and the three friends turned by common impulse and looked at Eli sharply.
But the big man’s face wore such a look of innocence that they turned back satisfied.
For a little time the game progressed in silence and it was not until Saunders wrapped his muffler about his throat that Jones ventured a remark.
“What you killin’ yourself at these days, Eli?” he asked. “O, jest chorin’ aroun’ and cuttin’ a little wood now an’ then,” answered Saunders. “Got to go down to Joel Wilson’s place this mornin’, I hear Joel’ll sell his next apple crop right.”
The Deacon swung about so sharply that he upset the checkerboard and broke up the game.
“You ain’t in the apple-buyin’ business air you, Eli?” he asked carelessly.
“Oh, no. Jest goin’ to speculate a little,” grinned Eli. “Thort if I could buy an orchard or two right, I might invest a little money I got from an uncle of mine, that’s all. Ain’t sure that I’ll do it, but thort I might.”
Pepper and the Deacon exchanged glances; then the Deacon and Jones, then Jones and Pepper.
“How’d you like to buy my orchard, Eli,” gasped the Deacon, before his friends could frame the words of a similar thought.
“I didn’t suppose you’d be wantin’ to sell, Deacon,” replied Saunders. “Guess I ain’t got enough money to buy your orchard though, I’ll own, I’d much like to have it. Seems like I might make a little money this year, if I get in the apple-buyin’ field early enough. Maybe, too,” he added wistfully, “I’ll lose on the speculation. Apples may not be much of a crop next fall, and if they ain’t I stand to lose if I buy an orchard now, besides, the Old Country market may not be open for Canadian fruit next fall.”
“Pshaw! Eli, apples be goin’ to be a big crop next fall,” chided the Deacon. “My orchard should yield between three hundred and three and fifty barrels of Spies, Baldwins and Greenings, besides what Snows, Kings and Russets there’ll be—I say it orter yield that many barrels next fall. Tell you what I’ll do, Eli, seein’s you’re a neebor, I’ll take two hundred dollars fer the orchard and run chances on losin’.”
Saunders shuffled uneasily, and looked through the door window at the whirling snows. “It do seem foolish to tramp way down to Wilson’s place, when I kin buy up an orchard right here,” he mused half aloud.
“I guess maybe I’ll take your offer Deacon,” he said, turning and walking over to the counter. The Deacon, Pepper and Jones got up from their seats and ranged themselves along side him. Saunders, produced from an inner pocket a lump of green backs. “I thort as I would use all this in speculatin’ in apples,” he said. “Still if I buy an orchard er two and there ben’t any apples, I lose. I sure lose,” he repeated slowly.
He shook his head and put the money back in his pocket.
Deacon Ringold’s goatee was trembling with excitement.
“There’s bound to be a big apple crop next fall,” he urged. “I’ll leave it to Jones and Pepper thar, if there ain’t.”
“Professor Milton, from the Agricultural School, he says there’ll be a bumper crop,” lied Jones easily.
“Why! thar’s sure to be a big apple crop,” substantiated Pepper. “Tell you what I’ll do, Eli,” confided the Deacon, drawing Saunders aside, “and I wouldn’t do it fer anybody else but you—nobody. I’ll sell you my orchard for one hundred and fifty and give you a chance to clean up a big bunch of money, what d’ye say?”
Saunders unbuttoned his coat slowly, hesitated, then spoke, his eyes gazing thoughtfully through the smoky window at the storm.
“I can’t see my way clear to give you more’n a hundred cash down fer your orchard, Deacon, take it er leave it, I’ve had my say.”
"Eli,” spoke the Deacon quickly, “count out the hundred.”
Saunders slowdy reproduced the bank notes and Pepper nudged Jones quietly and winked.
“Jest fer form’s sake I’ll ast you t’ sign a little agreement,” said Saunders. “I have some ready.” He produced a small bundle of printed forms with red seals upon them and the Deacon frowned.
“No written agreements ’tween old neebors is necessary, surely,” he protested.
“All right, maybe not,” said Saunders, putting the bills he was counting out, back in the roll, “but arter this I’ll do business only by written agreement, particularly” —he emphasized the word “particularly, when I’m doin’ it with a neebor, Deacon.”
“I’ll sign it,” cried the Deacon, excitedly.
“Here’s a pen and ink,” proffered Williams.
The Deacon picked up the paper with its adornment of seals and felt in his pocket for his glasses. Then chancing to glance at Saunders’ face, he spread the form hastily on the counter and picked up the pen.
Saunders put a big finger on the dotted line. “Right thar,” he said, “and you’d best hurry, cause I feel my feeble, uneducated mind changin’ already.”
“There you be, Eli,” cried the Deacon.
“And here’s your money,” said Eli, handing him two fifty-dollar bills.
“How’d you like to buy my orchard, Eli?” asked Pepper, edging up. “Twenty-six acres of as fine Baldwins and Spies as ever showed bloom.”
“How much?” asked big Saunders, recklessly.
“Well thar’ll likely be over two—”
“How much?” thundered Saunders.
“Oh, say a hundred even.”
“Say seventy-five dollars and I’ll take it, win or lose,” frowned Saunders.
“Done,” cried the delighted Pepper, “where’s your paper?”
“Sign right thar,” said Eli once again, placing a big finger on the dotted line. “Mr. Williams will witness this same’s he did the other, won’t you Mr. Williams?”
“Sure,” smiled the obliging Williams, executing his crumpled hand in the witness’ blank.
Saunders counted out the money, placed it gently in Pepper’s eager, outstretched hand, folded the documents, and with a peculiar smile, placed them in his pocket.
“Now I’d best go and file these away,” he said, turning toward the door.
“Ain’t you goin' to buy my orchard, too, Eli?" enquired Jones, upsetting a keg of assorted biscuits in his eagerness to reach the door, before Saunders. “Ain't vou goin’ to make me an offer fer my orchard?”
“Want to sell yours, too?” asked Eli, with a grin.
“Sure I do.”
“Well, if you're real sure you do, how much cash will buy it ? Speak quick.”
“There’s thirty acres of Kings, Baldwins, Spies—”
“I asked you how much cash down will it take to buy yur orchard?” said Saunders quietly.
“I’ll take an even hundred, and it’s cheap, dirt cheap at that, Eli.”
“Wouldn’t care to cut that price in two, I suppose?" enquired Saunders, his hand on the door latch.
“Yes, I’ll cut it right spack-bang in two. Give me the money.”
“Well now, I sure am doin’ some business right in Troy, Ontario, at the commencement of the New Year,” nodded Saunders as he handed the fifty dollars to Jones and placed the signed document in an inner pocket with the others.
“I can’t understand why you found written documents at all necessary,” said the Deacon anxiously.
“Well now,” chuckled Saunders, wrapping his muffler once more about his throat, “I reckon it’s the only way of doin’ business. I’ve signed 'em, signed one fer you, Deacon one time and fer you, Pepper, another time, and you both held me right to the line on ’em, you see I made th’ mistake of not readin’ what I was signin’.”
Consternation rested on the three faces before him, consternation deep and heavy.
The big man by the door smiled blandly, Williams, the grocer, rubbed his hands together gleefully.
The back door opened and Jim Steele, the horse-dealer, entered, his weasel-like face shining and happy.
The grocer shook his head at him warningly and Steele sat down in the rear of the store.
The Deacon's face had turned to an apoplectic purple. His chinwhiskers were trembling like a bunch of prairie grass in a blizzard.
“What does all this mean, Saunders?” he asked, fearfully.
“Nuthin’ ’cept I have bought three orchards,” answered Saunders.
“I demand to see those agreements,” thundered the Deacon.
“And me, too,” cried Pepper.
“And you also, I suppose?” enquired Saunders, addressing the uneasy Jones.
Jones swallowed hard, but said nothing.
“Well, gentlemen, if you wanter see these agreements,” beamed Saunders, “Jacques, my lawyer, will supply you each with a copy. They are regular agreements, of sale and deeds of property all in one.
“You see, gents, it’s like this: The Deacon thar he cheated me out of one hundred acres of land five years ago. I bought sixty acres of it back today fer the small price of one hundred and fifty bucks. Pepper thar, he done me out of thirty acres. He’s relented and has just about give it back to me, too. Jones thar can have his deed back as soon as he sees fit to fetch back that span of black colts er pay me four hundred and fifty dollars, cash. I don’t care which.”
“Thief,” thundered the Deacon, dancing wildly about the floor.
Pepper advanced toward Saunders threateningly.
“I’m goin’ to take the law in my own hands and show you whar you’re gettin’, off at,” he said.
“Are you,” returned Saunders, quietly, ducking the blow aimed at him and reaching for his assaulter’s adam’s apple.
There was a sound of cracking wood and splintering glass and a burst of wind and snow entered the warm store like an angry spirit.
Williams and Steele went out and assisted the discomfited and dazed Pepper from his hole in the deep drift.
“God give man a head to reason with and he give him two fists to back up his same arguments with,” philosophized big Saunders taking the trembling Deacon by the shoulders. “I’ve jest larned these two things and I’m going to profit henceforth by what I’ve learned. You ner Pepper, ner Jones, ner any man in Ontario is goin’ to get th’ best of me from this out because if you try crooked deals you’ll find I’ve got jest as much craftiness as any of you gents has and I’ve got the advantage of havin’ mine stored up, where you fellers have been usin’ of yours wherever the opportunity offered. I believe in playin’ square and I’m goin’ to and I’m goin’ to see you three bleeders do so, too. I’ve got my land back ’and that’ll do jest now. Don’t you ner Pepper try any more shananiganin’ Deacon. Jones, did I hear you murmur anythin’ sir?”
“I’ll have the four hundred and fifty at your place by noon,” gasped the thoroughly frightened Jones.
“Then fer th’ time bein’ court is adjourned,” said Saunders. “I say, Steele, he called, “untie the old bay mare and let’s get goin’. I want to fix things up at my lawyer’s.”