The Prodigal Judge is a shabby outcast, a tavern hanger-on, a genial wayfarer who tarries longest where the inn is most hospitable, yet with that suavity, that distinctive politeness and that saving grace of humor peculiar to the American man. He has his own code of morals—very exalted ones—but honors them in the breach rather than in the observance.Clinging to the Judge closer than a brother, is Solomon Mahaffy—fallible and failing like the rest of us, but with a sublime capacity for friendship; and closer still, perhaps, clings little Hannibal, a boy about whose parentage nothing is known until the end of the story. Hannibal is charmed into tolerance of the Judge's picturesque vices, while Miss Betty, lovely and capricious, is charmed into placing all her affairs, both material and sentimental, in the hands of this delightful old vagabond.
"I make it a p'int to always stay and see the plumb finish of a thing," explained Yancy. "Otherwise you're frequently put out by hearing of what happened after you left; I can stand anything but disapp'intment of that kind."
They passed from room to room securing doors and windows, and at last stepped out upon the back porch.
"Hullo!" said Yancy, pointing.
There on a bench by the kitchen door was a small figure. It was Hannibal Wayne Hazard asleep, with his old spo'tin' rifle across his knees. His very existence had been forgotten.
"Well, I declare to goodness!" said Crenshaw.
"What are you going to do with him, Mr. John?"
This question nettled Crenshaw.
"I don't know as that is any particular affair of mine," he said. Now, Mr. Crenshaw, though an excellent man of business, with an unblinking eye on number one, was kindly, on the whole, but there was a Mrs. Crenshaw, to whom he rendered a strict account of all his deeds, and that sacred institution, the home, w