Page:Poor White.djvu/102

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gate. One by one they went along Hamilton Street to Zebe Wilson's shop and stepped inside to repeat Steve Hunter's salutation. " Well, good afternoon, Mr. Wilson," they said, " and how is the quality of leather you are getting from the tanneries now?" Ed Hall, the last of the five who went into the shop to repeat the formal and polite inquiry, barely escaped with his life. Zebe Wilson threw a shoemaker's ham- mer at him and it went through the glass in the upper part of the shop door. Once when Tom Butterworth and John Clark the banker were talking of the new air of importance he was assuming, and half indignantly speculated on what he meant by his whispered suggestion of something significant about to happen, Steve came along Main Street past the front door of the bank. John Clark called him in. The three men confronted each other and the jeweler's son sensed the fact that the banker and the rich farmer were amused by his pretensions. At once he proved himself to be what all Bidwell later acknowledged him to be, a man who could handle men and affairs. Having at that time nothing to support his pretensions he decided to put up a bluff. With a wave of his hand and an air of knowing just what he was about, he led the two men into the back room of the bank and shut the door leading into the large room to which the general public was admitted. ' You would have thought he owned the place," John Clark afterward said with a note of admiration in his voice to young Gordon Hart when he described what took place in the back room. Steve plunged at once into what he had to say to the two solid moneyed citizens of his town. " Well, now,