The following Monday morning, an odd little caravan marched around the
Scottsville public square toward the First National Bank. Old “Stump”
Camp, in his black Sunday hat, and freshly shaven down to his lower
cheeks where his wide-spreading whiskers began, led the group. By his
side was Madame Zecatacas, the Gypsy Queen, her long earrings bobbing.
Behind them, walked “Jack Stanley,” her son-in-law, and his wife. Their
child was, at that moment, assisting Mother Camp to sugar doughnuts,
eight miles away at Camp’s Mill.
“Stump” Camp was not ignored at the First National Bank, and when he
escorted his followers into that austere financial institution and
asked to see President Elder, he was led into the latter’s private
office at once. What followed behind the closed door in the next twenty
minutes or so was a question that more than worried the bookkeeper,
cashier and clerk, Lafe Pennington, in the outside room.
“I don’t want to borry no money,” began Mr. Camp when President Elder
greeted him with the usual banker’s coolness. “Nor I ain’t come to pay
The banker made courteous offers of chairs to all.
“These air some ole friends o’ mine,” went on the mill owner, selecting
a chair near a cuspidor, “an’ they’re a goin’ to help me help some one
“Well, Camp, what can I do for you? Tradin’ horses again?”
The farmer-miller shook his head.
“Me an’ you knowed Bud Wilson’s father, Josiah.”
“Very well,” responded the banker. “And I’ve just come to know the boy.”
“So’ve I,” exclaimed Mr. Camp, drawing over and using the cuspidor.
“That’s the pint. An’ to keep to the pint, I got to tell you somepin’
mebbe ye don’t know. Bud’s father was a neighbor o’ mine, as ye might
say. An’ we farmers sort o’ keep clost watch o’ each other. When ye
knowed Mr. Wilson, he lived in town.”
“Then he bought a farm out your way–out about Little Town.”
“He did. An’ what’s curious, he paid for it–cash–four thousand eight
hundred dollars for eighty acres.”
The bank president seemed to be thinking.
“I suppose it’ll be Bud’s when the boy’s of age?” he suggested, at last.
“They ain’t no title to it,” remarked old Camp, with a judicial air.
“That’s what I was trying to recall,” said Mr. Elder. “Seems to me I’ve
heard Attorney Stockwell say so.”
“There ye air,” exclaimed the bewhiskered mill owner, rising and
striking the table. “Stockwell! There ye said it. He’s this boy’s
gardeen an’ ought to be lookin’ out fur him ef all’s on the square. Why
ain’t he cleared the title to that land? Why ain’t he, the old skin?
I’ll tell ye why, Mr. Elder. He don’t want to.”
“How’s that,” asked the bank president, leaning forward, with interest.
“Anybody goin’ to buy that land offen the boy when he gits it ’thouten
“I reckon not,” ventured Mr. Elder.
“There ye said it,” snapped Mr. Camp, his whiskers vibrating in
his excitement. “No one exceptin’ his gardeen mebbe fur little nor
“You mean that the boy’s guardian has neglected this to injure the
title to the property?”
“When the boy comes o’ age, the farm’ll be his. He ain’t no farmer,
nur don’t want to be. He’ll put the track up fur sale. Who’ll buy it?
Nobody–exceptin’ the gardeen–Mr. Lawyer Cyrus Stockwell, an’ at his
“Well,” asked Mr. Elder, leaning back into his chair, “what good will
it do him? Won’t be worth any more to him, will it?”
“Onless he turns around an’ finds the persons ’at kin give him a title.
But he won’t. Them folks is right here. They air a goin’ to make a deed
right here this mornin’, an’ it’ll run to Bud Wilson. They air a goin’
to sign the dockyment right here that’ll make Bud’s farm worth one
hundred and twenty-five dollars an acre o’ any man’s money.”
Then, while the interested banker followed old “Stump’s” explanation
eagerly, Mr. Camp told how Jack Stanley and his wife, the direct heirs
of William Reed and his wife, who had failed to properly transfer the
property to Bud’s father, were ready and even eager to see justice
done. They were prepared to sign a deed at once.
The keen, business man drew a long breath, and looked long and hard at
the silent gypsies.
“Camp,” he said at last, “how’d you work this out?”
“Jack Stanley” spoke, for the first time.
In his rough way he told of his brief acquaintance with Bud from the
time the boy came to him at midnight for coffee; how Bud had interfered
to protect his mother-in-law from insult; how the boy had treated them
as “white people,” and finally recalled to the bank officer and fair
director how Bud had come to the rescue of himself and old Madame
Zecatacas when they had been so unjustly arrested.
“That’s right,” mused Mr. Elder, “we couldn’t do a thing with him till
we got you out. He’d work for us for nothin’, but not till we got you
out of jail.”
“Didn’t I tell you,” exclaimed Jack to old Zecatacas. “Ain’t he on the
square for fair? Dat’s why, mister.”
The wrinkled Gypsy Queen smiled.
“He is our friend,” she added in a broken voice. “To his friend, the
gypsy gives all.”
“I ain’t no Romney,” added the man, shaking his head, “but the kid’s
all right. It’s comin’ to him, and we’re goin’ to see he gets a square
President Elder sat silent for a few moments, and then drew Mr. Camp
to the far side of the room.
“Camp,” he began, curiously, “what’s your interest in this boy?”
It was Mr. Camp’s chance. While the tobacco-chewing and illiterate mill
owner rapidly related the story of the last two days, the dignified
bank president chuckled, grinned, and finally burst into loud guffaws.
“And the joke of it is,” he said, when Mr. Camp had finished, “that
Bud’s fright on the last day was altogether unnecessary. The machine
is ours. The company accepted our offer by telegraph, waived their
representative’s fee and called him off.”
“But Bud seen him waitin’ with the deputy,” insisted the mill owner.
“And I had the telegram to call him off in my pocket,” explained Mr.
“Then he wa’n’t goin’ to be arrested?”
Mr. Elder shook his head, and laughed again.
“Well,” said Mr. Camp dolefully, “ye might as well kill a feller as
skeer him to death.”
Mr. Elder paced the floor a few moments. Then he asked:
“Where is Bud?”
“I’d a brung him, but we was scart he’d be put in jail. He’s down to
the livery stable.”
“Can’t you all come back here in an hour,” asked Mr. Elder after
another pause, “and bring Bud with you?”
“That’s our business to-day,” chuckled Mr. Camp.
When they had gone, the bank president sat back in his chair as if in
deep thought for some minutes. Then he took his hat and walked hastily
out of his room and through the bank. Mr. Elder went directly to the
county courthouse. There, after using the telephone, he was joined by a
lawyer–but not Attorney Cyrus Stockwell. Then the two men hastened to
the private office of the judge of the county court, after which they
went to the office of the attorney who had been summoned by telephone.
From this office, another telephone message was sent out, and in
response to that, Attorney Cyrus Stockwell was soon hastening toward
Mr. Elder’s lawyer’s office. Here there was apparently an animated
conference. When President Elder finally made his way back to his own
office, it was fifteen minutes after the appointed time. “Stump” Camp,
Bud and their gypsy friends were waiting patiently under the bank
With only a hasty grip of Bud’s hand, Mr. Elder led the party into
the private office once more. He motioned them to chairs, and then,
with a quick business air, drew out a deed, legally describing the
Reed-Wilson farm and arranged it for the Stanleys to sign. They did it
with apparent pleasure. Then he read it aloud. The consideration named
was one hundred and fifty dollars. Bud pricked up his ears.
“Mr. Stanley,” explained the banker, “your friend Bud has some peculiar
business ideas. He has just saved our fair association a good deal
of trouble. He didn’t save us any money, but we’ve concluded that he
saved our pride, and we agreed Saturday night to pay him three hundred
dollars for what he’d done.”
Bud tried to speak.
“’Tain’t your time, yet, young man,” interrupted the banker. “I’m goin’
to pay these honest people one hundred and fifty dollars for their
trouble in comin’ in here.”
Mr. Elder stepped out into the banking room, and a moment later
returned with two packages of one hundred and fifty dollars each. One
he handed to “Jack Stanley.”
“And now,” he added to the gypsies, “if you folks would like to do a
little shoppin’ before you start back to the country, I’d like a few
minutes’ talk with Bud and Mr. Camp.”
Stanley hesitated and looked at his mother-in-law, Madame Zecatacas.
The latter turned toward Bud. The boy, hardly knowing what to do,
paused a moment, and then, holding out his hand, pointed to his “good
luck” ring, which he still wore. Stepping to Stanley, Bud took the
package of money and pressed it into Madame Zecatacas’ hand.
“Here, Mrs. Zecatacas, I don’t hardly know what this all means, but
this is from me to you. And ‘good luck’ with it.”
With dignity, the three gypsies slowly left the room.
For a moment, President Elder sat and drummed on the table with his
“Bud,” he said at last, “you seem to have the sudden faculty of making
good friends. These good people–including my old friend Camp here–are
no better friends of yours than I am. When I see any one gettin’ the
worst of it, I want to give ’em a lift. That right ‘Stump’?”
“That’s my motto.”
“Well,” went on the banker, “you’ve been gettin’ the worst of it, Bud.
You’re eighteen years old, and you’ve got the stuff in you to do
things. But you’ve got to get an education.”
Bud smiled and shook his head doubtfully.
“Mr. Camp tells me Mr. Stockwell has put you out of his house, and that
you are going to live with him.”
“If he’ll let me,” said Bud. “But he can’t keep me for nothing. I’ll
have to work, and while I’m workin’ I can’t go to school.”
“Are you through the grammar school?”
“That’s all,” confessed Bud, his face reddening. “I never seemed to get
ahead. I was always in trouble, and whenever I seemed to be gettin’ a
start, Mr. Stockwell would take me out an’ put me to work a spell. Even
ef I had the money, I ain’t never goin’ to the high school here. I’m
“What would you like to do?”
“I could go to the normal school, over to Green County, in the winter
an’ work for Mr. Camp in the summer.”
“What’d that cost you?”
“Cost him ’bout eight dollars a week. Josh figured on it,” answered Mr.
“Well,” said Mr. Elder, throwing himself back into his chair, “you can
“I been doin’ a little hasty investigatin’ while I was out. What I
found out I got to look into further, but it’s nigh enough right I
reckon to make it worth tellin’. Mr. Stockwell, as your guardian and
the executor of your father’s estate, ain’t made but one report to
the court in ten years. Two years after your father died, he reported
that he’d been rentin’ the farm at six dollars an acre, cash rent.
That meant four hundred, and eighty dollars a year, or nine hundred
and sixty dollars for the two years. Agin that, he offset one hundred
and twenty dollars for taxes, five hundred and twenty dollars for
your board and clothes, and two hundred and forty dollars ‘for fences
an’ repairs.’ The court allowed it. Since that time, he ain’t made no
Bud wrinkled his brow in an effort to comprehend. But old “Stump” Camp
understood and chuckled.
“The fences don’t need rebuildin’ very often,” went on Mr. Elder, “and,
allowin’ the same amount for your board an’ clothes, I figure that Mr.
Stockwell must owe you considerable more than one thousand dollars.”
“He hasn’t got it to pay,” exclaimed Bud at once thinking of Mrs.
Stockwell. “An’, besides, I don’t want it. He wasn’t very bad to me.”
“That’s for the Court to say,” continued Mr. Elder. “At least, since
you’re not living with him now, there’s anyway over five hundred
dollars a year comin’ to you from that land from now on.”
“And,” added Mr. Camp, crossing the room to the cuspidor, and parting
his flowing beard, “in three years, when you git yer edication,
there’ll be the eighty acres. I’ll give you ten thousand dollars fur
“Mr. Elder,” said Bud at last, his voice choking, “I told you one day
last week I wanted to do something in this town because I wanted to
The pleased and smiling banker looked at him. Then he pointed to the
package of one hundred and fifty dollars on the table.
“That shows you made good with us,” he said, as Bud stood looking at
“I didn’t mean that,” Bud exclaimed with feeling. “I wanted to ‘make
good’ with some one that counted. If I ‘made good’ with you and with
Mr. Camp, I’m satisfied–I’m happy.”
“Let’s all go down to my house for dinner,” said Mr. Elder, turning
away abruptly as if to change the subject.
“I can’t,” answered Bud, picking up the package of bills. “I want to go
right out and give this to Mrs. Stockwell. Mr. Camp,” he added, as he
grasped the old man’s hand, “I’ll be waitin’ at the livery stable fur
you as soon as I kin git back.”