“Come with me.” Master Wharton led them across a dusty street to a store fronted by a long verandah. “Caleb Reeves, I am back to do my trading. I left off two smoked hams, a side of bacon, a bushel of yams, five pounds of nails, and that bale of tobacco over there with your man on my way in this morning. I am ready to settle up and I’ll take one hundred pounds of flour, two pounds tea, a pound of salt, a pack of needles, six spools of blue thread, and twelve yards on of blue Linsey-Woolley. My goods ought to cover it, by my reckoning.”
“Master Wharton, that won’t cover all you ordered. I’ll take all the nails you can bring me. Your hams and tobacco are good. I don’t get that much call for bacon or yams, but I’ll take them as a favor to you, anyway. The way I figure it, I’ll need seven pounds of nails to settle your order.” Caleb Reeves studied Master Wharton expectantly.
Wharton stared him down. “Have you found another source for nails, then? I can get my price elsewhere if you don’t want to do business. There will probably be a ship in from England this summer with all the nails you need. You can pay the English price instead of mine.” Reeves winced. The law forbade manufacture of iron products in the colonies, so with the tariff, the English price was far too dear. It was good to have a source who was willing to take the risk.
“No need for that. You are beggaring me, but I’ll take your trade. Pearson, measure up his twelve yards of the blue. No, make it fourteen. I’ll not be known as a miser. ” Pearson carefully measured fourteen yards of the blue reserved for indentured servants, the same blue of his rough garments.
Master Wharton addressed Molly. “Woman, do you knit? If you are to have stockings, you’ll make them”
She addressed him. “I knit well, sir. I can make all the stockings the house needs.”
“That’s good. Reeves, give her enough black yarn for two pair for me and two pair of blue for them. That should outfit them as required.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Andrew told him.
“You needn’t thank me. It’s my duty and your due, no more and no less.” Turning to Reeves he instructed him without introducing the two men, “This is my new bondsman. If I send him with an order, fill it, but keep careful count. I’ll not be swindled by any man.”
“”I always take care in my accounts.” Reeves appeared offended.
Master Wharton addressed Andrew. “Load the flour behind my saddle. You will carry the rest. My farm is a half mile on the right. I’ll go ahead. You won’t be trying to escape. There’s nowhere to go. If you run, the Indians will get you if the swamps don’t ” With this, he urged his horse home, leaving the two to make their way with his parcels.