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10. In The Way Of Trade
Dr. Surtaine sat in Little George's best chair, beaming upon the world. By habit, the big
man was out of his seat with his dime and nickel in the bootblack's ready hand, almost
coincidently with the final clip-clap of the rhythmic process. But this morning he
lingered, contemplating with an unobtrusive scrutiny the occupant of the adjoining chair,
a small, angular, hard man, whose brick-red face was cut off in the segment of an abrupt
circle, formed by a low-jammed green hat. This individual had just briskly bidden his
bootblack "hurry it up" in a tone which meant precisely what it said. The youth was doing
"George," said Dr. Surtaine, to the proprietor of the stand.
"Yas, suh."
"Were you ever in St. Jo, Missouri?"
"Yas, suh, Doctah Suhtaine; oncet."
"For long?"
"No, suh."
"Didn't live there, did you?"
"No, suh."
"George," said his interlocutor impressively, "you're lucky."
"Yas, suh," agreed the negro with a noncommittal grin.
"While you can buy accommodations in a graveyard or break into a penitentiary, don't
you ever live in St. Jo Missouri, George."
The man in the adjacent seat half turned toward Dr. Surtaine and looked him up and
down, with a freezing regard.
"It's the sink-hole and sewer-pipe of creation, George. They once elected a chicken-thief
mayor, and he resigned because the town was too mean to live in. Ever know any folks
there, George?"
"Don't have no mem'ry for 'em, Doctah."
"You're lucky again. They're the orneriest, lowest-down, minchin', pinchin', pizen trash
that ever tainted the sweet air of Heaven by breathing it, George."