The soft voice dwelt on the "Mr. Castoe" with ironical emphasis. The mobile upper lip, shadowed with a silken mustache, lifted along the teeth with a curious feline menace.
The man was hardly over his table before the door opened again. He turned abruptly, like a panther, but when he saw who stood in the door, he arose with a formal courtesy.
"You are a day early, Abner," he said. "Are the Virginia wagons in for their salt and iron?"
"They will arrive to-morrow," replied my uncle; "the roads are washed out with the rains."
The man looked at my uncle, his hat and his greatcoat splashed with mud.
"How did you come?" he asked.
"Along the river," replied my uncle, "I thought to find you on the Eldorado."
"On the Eldorado!" cried the man. "On such a night, when the Tavern of George the Third has a log fire and kegs in the cellar!"
My uncle entered, closed the door, took off his greatcoat and hat, and sat down by the hearth.
"The boat looked deserted," he said.
"To the last nigger," said the man. "I could not take the comforts of the tavern and deny them to the crew."
My uncle warmed his hands over the snapping fire.
"A considerate heart, Byrd," he said, with some deliberation, "is a fine quality in a man. But how