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Title: Fair Harbor
Author: Lincoln, Joseph Crosby, 1870-1944
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fair Harbor" ***

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FAIR HARBOR


      *      *      *      *      *      *


By JOSEPH C. LINCOLN

   FAIR HARBOR
   GALUSHA THE MAGNIFICENT
   THE PORTYGEE
   "SHAVINGS"
   MARY-'GUSTA
   CAP'N DAN'S DAUGHTER
   THE RISE OF ROSCOE PAINE
   THE POSTMASTER
   THE WOMAN HATERS
   KEZIAH COFFIN
   CY WHITTAKER'S PLACE
   CAP'N ERI
   EXTRICATING OBADIAH
   THANKFUL'S INHERITANCE
   MR. PRATT
   MR. PRATT'S PATIENTS
   KENT KNOWLES: "QUAHAUG"
   CAP'N WARREN'S WARDS
   THE DEPOT MASTER
   OUR VILLAGE
   PARTNERS OF THE TIDE
   THE OLD HOME HOUSE
   CAPE COD BALLADS


      *      *      *      *      *      *


FAIR HARBOR

A Novel

by

JOSEPH C. LINCOLN

Author of "Galusha the Magnificent," "Shavings," "Mary 'Gusta,"
"Mr. Pratt," "Cap'n Eri," Etc.



D. Appleton and Company
New York :: 1922 :: London

Copyright, 1922, by D. Appleton Company
Copyright, 1922, by the Curtis Publishing Company

Printed in the United States of America



FAIR HARBOR

CHAPTER I


"Hi hum," observed Mr. Joel Macomber, putting down his knife and fork
with obvious reluctance and tilting back his chair. "Hi hum-a-day! Man,
born of woman, is of few days and full of--of somethin', I forget
what--George, what is it a man born of woman is full of?"

George Kent, putting down his knife and fork, smiled and replied that he
didn't know. Mr. Macomber seemed shocked.

"_Don't know?_" he repeated. "Tut, tut! Dear me, dear me! A young feller
that goes to prayer meetin' every Friday night--or at least waits
outside the meetin'-house door every Friday night--and yet he don't
remember his Scriptur' well enough to know what man born of woman is
full of? My soul and body! What's the world comin' to?"

Nobody answered. The six Macomber children, Lemuel, Edgar, Sarah-Mary,
Bemis, Aldora and Joey, ages ranging from fourteen to two and a half,
kept on eating in silence--or, if not quite in silence, at least without
speaking. They had been taught not to talk at table; their mother had
taught them, their father playing the part of horrible example. Mrs.
Macomber, too, was silent. She was busy stacking plates and cups and
saucers preparatory to clearing away. When the clearing away was
finished she would be busy washing dishes and after that at some other
household duty. She was always busy and always behind with her work.

Her husband turned to the only other person at the crowded table.

"Cap'n Sears," he demanded, "you know 'most everything. What is it man
born of woman is full of besides a few days?"

Sears Kendrick thoughtfully folded his napkin. There was a hole in the
napkin--holes were characteristic of the Macomber linen--but the napkin
was clean; this was characteristic, too.

"Meanin' yourself, Joel?" he asked, bringing the napkin edges into line.

"Not necessarily. Meanin' any man born of woman, I presume likely."

"Humph! Know many that wasn't born that way?"

Mr. Macomber's not too intellectual face creased into many wrinkles and
the low ceiling echoed with his laugh. "Not many, I don't cal'late," he
said, "that's a fact. But you ain't answered my question, Cap'n. What is
man born of woman full of?"

Captain Kendrick placed the folded napkin carefully beside his plate.

"Breakfast, just now, I presume likely," he said. "At least, I know two
or three that ought to be, judgin' by the amount of cargo I've seen 'em
stow aboard in the last half hour." Then, turning to Mrs. Macomber, he
added, "I'm goin' to help you with the dishes this mornin', Sarah."

The lady of the house had her own ideas on that subject.

"Indeed you won't do anything of the sort," she declared. "The idea! And
you just out of a crippled bed, as you might say."

This remark seemed to amuse her husband hugely. "Ho, ho!" he shouted.
"That's a good one! I didn't know the bed was crippled, Sarah. What's
the matter with it; got a pain in the slats?"

Sarah Macomber seldom indulged in retort. Usually she was too busy to
waste the time. But she allowed herself the luxury of a half minute on
this occasion.

"No," she snapped, "but it's had one leg propped up on half a brick for
over a year. And at least once a week in all that time you've been
promisin' to bring home a new caster and fix it. If that bed ain't a
cripple I don't know what is."

Joel looked a trifle taken aback. His laugh this time was not quite as
uproarious.

"Guess you spoke the truth that time, Sarah, without knowin' it. Who is
it they say always speaks the truth? Children and fools, ain't it? Well,
you ain't a child scarcely, Sarah. Hope you ain't the other thing. Eh?
Ho, ho!"

Mrs. Macomber was halfway to the kitchen door, a pile of plates upon her
arm. She did not stop nor turn, but she did speak.

"Well," she observed, "I don't know. I was one once in my life, there's
precious little doubt about that."

She left the room. Young Kent and Captain Kendrick exchanged glances.
Mr. Macomber swallowed, opened his mouth, closed it and swallowed again.
Lemuel and Sarah-Mary, the two older children, giggled. The clock on the
mantel struck seven times. The sound came, to the adults, as a timely
relief from embarrassment.

Captain Kendrick looked at his watch.

"What's that?" he exclaimed. "Six bells already? So 'tis. I declare I
didn't think 'twas so late."

Joel rose to his feet, moving--for him--with marked rapidity.

"Seven o'clock!" he cried. "My, my! We've got to get under way, George,
if we want to make port at the store afore 'Liphalet does. Come on,
George, hurry up."

Kent lingered for a moment to speak to Sears Kendrick. Then he emerged
from the house and he and Joel walked rapidly off together. They were
employed, one as clerk and bookkeeper and the other as driver of the
delivery wagon, at Eliphalet Bassett's Grocery, Dry Goods, Boots and
Shoes and Notion Store at the corner of the main road and the depot
road. Joel's position there was fixed for eternity, at least he
considered it so, having driven that same delivery wagon at the same
wage for twenty-two years. "Me and that grocery cart," Mr. Macomber was
wont to observe, "have been doin' 'Liphalet's errands so long we've come
to be permanent fixtures. Yes, sir, permanent fixtures." When this was
repeated to Mr. Bassett the latter affirmed that it was true. "Every
time the dum fool goes out takin' orders," said Eliphalet, "he stays so
long that I begin to think he's turned _into_ a permanent fixture. Takes
an order for a quarter pound of tea and a spool of cotton and then hangs
'round and talks steady for half an hour. Permanent fixture! Permanent
gas fixture, that's what _he_ is."

George Kent did not consider himself a permanent fixture at Bassett's.
He had been employed there for three years, or ever since the death of
his father, Captain Sylvester Kent, who had died at sea aboard his ship,
the _Ocean Ranger_, on the voyage home from Java to Philadelphia. George
remained in Bayport to study law with Judge Knowles, who was interested
in the young man and, being a lawyer of prominence on the Cape, was an
influential friend worth having. The law occupied young Kent's attention
in the evenings; he kept Mr. Bassett's books and sold Mr. Bassett's
brown sugar, calico and notions during the days, not because he loved
the work, the place, or its proprietor, but because the twelve dollars
paid him each Saturday enabled him to live. And, in order to live so
cheaply that he might save a bit toward the purchase of clothes, law
books and sundries, he boarded at Joel Macomber's. Sarah Macomber took
him to board, not because she needed company--six children and a husband
supplied a sufficiency of that--but because three dollars more a week
was three dollars more.

Joel and George having tramped off to business and the very last crumb
of the Macomber breakfast having vanished, the Macomber children
proceeded to go through their usual morning routine. Lemuel, who did
chores for grumpy old Captain Elijah Samuels at the latter's big place
on the depot road, departed to rake hay and be sworn at. Sarah-Mary went
upstairs to make beds; when the bed-making was over she and Edgar and
Bemis would go to school. Aldora and Joey, the two youngest, went
outdoors to play. And Captain Sears Kendrick, late master of the ship
_Hawkeye_, and before that of the _Fair Wind_ and the _Far Seas_ and
goodness knows how many others, who ran away to ship as cabin boy when
he was thirteen, who fought the Malay pirates when he was eighteen, and
outwitted Semmes by outmaneuvering the _Alabama_ when he was
twenty-eight, a man once so strong and bronzed and confident, but now so
weak and shaken--Captain Sears Kendrick rose painfully and with effort
from his chair, took his cane from the corner and hobbled to the
kitchen.

"Sarah," he said, "I'm goin' to help you with those dishes this
mornin'."

"Sears," said Mrs. Macomber, taking the kettle of boiling dish-water
from the top of the stove, "you'll do nothin' of the kind. You'll go
outdoors and get a little sunshine this lovely day. It's the first real
good day you've had since you got up from bed, and outdoors 'll help you
more than anything else. Now you go!"

"But look here, Sarah, for Heaven's sake----"

"Be still, Sears, and don't be foolish. There ain't dishes enough to
worry about. I'll have 'em done in half a shake. Go outdoors, I tell
you. But don't you walk on those legs of yours. You hear me."

Her brother--Sarah Macomber was a Kendrick before she married
Joel--smiled slightly. "How do you want me to walk, Sarah, on my hands?"
he inquired. "Never mind my legs. They're better this mornin' than they
have been since that fat woman and a train of cars fell on 'em.... Ah
hum!" with a change of tone, "it's a pity they didn't fall on my neck
and make a clean job of it, isn't it?"

"Sears!" reproachfully. "How can you talk so? And especially now, when
the doctor says if you take care of yourself, you'll 'most likely be as
well as ever in--in a little while."

"A little while! In a year or two was what he said. In ten years was
probably what he meant, and you'll notice he put in the 'most likely'
even at that. If you were to lash him in the fore-riggin' and keep him
there till he told the truth, he'd probably end by sayin' that I would
always be a good for nothin' hulk same as I am now."

"Sears, don't--please don't. I hate to hear you speak so bitter. It
doesn't sound like you."

"It's the way I feel, Sarah. Haven't I had enough to make me bitter?"

His sister shook her head. "Yes, Sears," she admitted, "I guess likely
you have, but I don't know as that is a very good excuse. Some of the
rest of us," with a sigh, "haven't found it real smooth sailin' either;
but----"

She did not finish the sentence, and there was no need. He understood
and turned quickly.

"I'm sorry, Sarah," he said. "I ought to be hove overboard and towed
astern. The Almighty knows you've had more to put up with than ever I
had and you don't spend your time growlin' about it, either. I declare
I'm ashamed of myself, but--but--well, you know how it is with me. I've
never been used to bein' a loafer, spongin' on my relations."

"Don't, Sears. You know you ain't spongin', as you call it. You've paid
your board ever since you've been here."

"Yes, I have. But how much? Next to half of nothin' a week and you
wouldn't have let me pay that if I hadn't put my foot down. Or said I
was goin' to try to put it down," he added with a grim smile. "You're a
good woman, Sarah, a good woman, with more trials than your share. And
what makes me feel worst of all, I do believe, is that I should be
pitched in on you--to be the biggest trial of all. Well, that part's
about over, anyhow. No matter whether I can walk or not I shan't stay
and sponge on you. If I can't do anything else I'll hire a fish shanty
and open clams for a livin'."

He smiled again and she smiled in sympathy, but there were tears in her
eyes. She was seven years older than her brother, and he had always been
her pride. When she was a young woman, helping with the housework in the
old home there in Bayport, before her father's death and the sale of
that home, she had watched with immense gratification his success in
school. When he ran away to sea she had defended him when others
condemned. Later, when tales of his "smartness," as sailor or mate, or
by and by, a full rated captain, began to drift back, she had gloried in
them. He came to see her semi-occasionally when his ship was in port,
and his yarns of foreign lands and strange people were, to her, far more
wonderful than anything she had ever found in the few books which had
come in her way. Each present he brought her she had kept and cherished.
And there was never a trace of jealousy in her certain knowledge that he
had gone on growing while she had stopped, that he was a strong, capable
man of the world--the big world--whereas she was, and would always be,
the wife and household drudge of Joel Macomber.

Now, as she looked at him, pale, haggard and leaning on his cane,
stooping a little when he had been so erect and sturdy, the pity which
she had felt for him ever since they brought him into her sitting-room
on the day of the railway accident became keener than ever and with it
came an additional flash of insight. She realized more clearly than she
had before that it was not his bodily injuries which hurt most and were
the hardest to bear; it was his self-respect and the pride which were
wounded sorest. That he--_he_--Sears Kendrick, the independent autocrat
of the quarter deck, should be reduced to this! That it was wringing
his soul she knew. He had never complained except to her, and even to
her very, very seldom, but she knew. And she ventured to ask the
question she had wanted to ask ever since he had sufficiently recovered
to listen to conversation.

"Sears," she said "I haven't said a word before, and you needn't tell me
now if you don't want to--it isn't any of my business--but is it true
that you've lost a whole lot of money? It isn't true, is it?"

He had been standing by the open door, looking out into the yard. Now he
turned to look at her.

"What isn't true, Sarah?" he asked.

"That you've lost a lot of money in--in that--that business you went
into. It isn't true, is it, Sears? Oh, I hope it isn't! They say--why,
some of 'em say you've lost all the money you had put by. An awful sight
of money, they say. Sears, tell me it isn't true--please."

He regarded her in silence for a moment. Then he shook his head.

"Part of it isn't true, Sarah," he answered, with a slight smile. "I
haven't lost a big lot of money."

"Oh, I'm _so_ glad. Now I can tell 'em a few things, I guess."

"I wouldn't tell 'em too much, because the other part _is_ true. I have
lost about all I had put by."

"Oh, Sears!"

"Um--hm. And served me right, of course. You can't make a silk ear out
of a sow's purse, as old Cap'n Sam Doane used to love to say. You can't,
no matter how good a purse--or--ear--it is. I was a pretty good sea
cap'n if I do say it, but that wasn't any reason why I should have
figured I was a good enough business man to back as slippery an eel as
Jim Carpenter in the ship chandlery game ashore."

"But--you----" Mrs. Macomber hesitated to utter the disgraceful word,
"you didn't fail up, did you, Sears?" she faltered. "You know that's
what they say you did."

"Well, they say wrong. Carpenter failed, I didn't. I paid dollar for
dollar. That's why I've got next to no dollars now."

"But you--you've got _some_, Sears. You must have," hopefully, "because
you've been paying me board. So you must have _some_ left."

The triumph in her face was pathetic. He hated to disturb her faith.

"Yes," he said dryly, "I have some left. Maybe seven hundred dollars or
some such matter. If I had my legs left it would be enough, or more than
enough. I wouldn't ask odds of anybody if I was the way I was before
that train went off the track. I'd lost every shot I had in the locker,
but I'm not very old yet--some years to leeward of forty--there was more
money to be had where that came from and I meant to have it. And
then--well, then this happened to me."

"I know. And to think that you was comin' down here on purpose to see me
when it did happen. Seems almost as if I was to blame, somehow."

"Nonsense! Nobody was to blame but the engineer that wrecked the train
and the three hundred pound woman that fell on my legs. And the engineer
was killed, poor fellow, and the woman was--well, she carried her own
punishment with her, I guess likely. Anyhow, I should call it a
punishment if I had to carry it. There, there, Sarah! Let's talk about
somethin' else. You do your dishes and, long as you won't let me help
you, I'll hop-and-go-fetch-it out to that settee in the front yard and
look at the scenery. Just think! I've been in Bayport almost four months
and haven't been as far as that gate yet--except when they lugged me in
past it, of course. And I don't recall much about that."

"I guess not, you poor boy. And I saw them bringin' you in, all
stretched out, with your eyes shut, and as white as---- Oh, my soul and
body! I don't want to think about it, let alone talk about it."

"Neither do I, Sarah, so we won't. Do you realize how little I know of
what's been goin' on in Bayport since I was here last? And do you
realize how long it has been since I _was_ here?"

"Why, yes, I do, Sears. It's been almost six years; it will be just six
on the tenth of next September."

The speech was illuminating. He looked at her curiously.

"You do keep account of my goin's and comin's, don't you, old girl?" he
said. "Better than I do myself."

"Oh, it means more to me than it does to you. You live such a busy life,
Sears, all over the world, meetin' everybody in all kinds of places. For
me, with nothin' to do but be stuck down here in Bayport--well, it's
different with me--I have to remember. Rememberin' and lookin' ahead is
about all I have to keep me interested."

He was silent for a moment. Then he said: "It looks as if rememberin'
was all I will be likely to have. Think of it, Sarah! Four months in
Bayport and I haven't been to the post-office. That'll stand as a town
record, I'll bet."

"And--and you'll keep up your courage, Sears? You won't let yourself get
blue and discouraged, for my sake if nobody else's?"

He nodded. "I couldn't, Sarah," he said earnestly. "With you around I'd
be ashamed to."

She ran to help him down the step, but he waved her away, and, leaning
upon the cane and clinging fast to the lattice with the other hand, he
managed to make the descent safely. Once on the flat level of the walk
he moved more rapidly and, so it seemed to his sister, more easily than
he had since his accident. The forty odd feet of walk he navigated in
fair time and came to anchor, as he would have expressed it, upon the
battered old bench by the Macomber gate. The gate, like the picket
fence, of which it was a part, needed paint and the bench needed slats
in its back. Almost anything which Joel Macomber owned needed something
and his wife and family needed most of all.

An ancient cherry tree, its foliage now thickly spotted with green fruit,
for the month was June, cast a shadow upon the occupant of the bench. At
his feet grew a bed of daffodils and jonquils which Sarah Macomber had
planted when she came, a hopeful bride, to that house. Each year they
sprouted and bloomed and now, long after Sarah's hopes had ceased to
sprout, they continued to flourish. Beside the cherry tree grew a lilac
bush. Beyond the picket fence was the dusty sidewalk and beyond that the
dustier, rutted road. And beyond the road and along it upon both sides
were the houses and barns and the few shops of Bayport village, Bayport
as it was, and as some of us remember it, in the early '70's.

In some respects it was much like the Bayport of to-day. The houses
themselves have changed but little. Then, as now, they were trim and
white and green-shuttered. Then, as now, the roses climbed upon their
lattices and the silver-leaf poplars and elms and mulberry trees waved
above them. But the fences which enclosed their trim lawns and yards
have disappeared, and the hitching posts and carriage blocks by their
front gates have gone also. Gone, too, are the horses and buggies and
carryalls which used to stand by these gates or within those barns. They
are gone, just as the ruts and dust of the roads have vanished. When
Mrs. Captain Hammond, of the lower road, used to call upon Mrs. Ryder at
West Bayport, she was wont to be driven to her destination in the
intensely respectable Hammond buggy drawn by the equally respectable
Hammond horse and piloted by the even more respectable--not to say
venerable--Hammond coachman, who was also gardener and "hired man." And
they made the little journey in the very respectable time of thirty-five
minutes. Now when Mrs. Captain Hammond's granddaughter, who winters in
Boston but summers at the old home, wishes to go to West Bayport she
skims over the hard, oiled macadam in her five thousand dollar runabout
and she finishes the skimming in eight minutes or less.

And although the dwellings along the Bayport roads are much as they
were that morning when Captain Sears Kendrick sat upon the bench in the
Macomber yard and gazed gloomily at the section of road which lay
between the Macomber gate and the curve beyond the Orthodox
meeting-house--although the houses were much the same in external
appearance, those who occupy them at the present day are vastly
different from those who owned and lived in them then. Here is the
greatest change which time has brought to old Bayport. Now those
houses--the majority of them--are open only in summer; then they were
open all the year. They who come to them now regard them as playthings,
good-time centers for twelve or fourteen weeks. Then they were the homes
of men and women who were proud of them, loved them, meant to live in
them--while on land--as long as life was theirs; to die in them if
fortunate enough to be found by death while ashore; and at last to be
buried near them, under the pines of the Bayport cemetery. Now these
homes are used by business men or lawyers or doctors, whose real homes
are in Boston, New York, Chicago, or other cities. Then practically
every house was owned or occupied either by a sea captain, active or
retired, or by a captain's widow or near relative.

For example, as Captain Kendrick sat in his brother-in-law's yard on
that June morning of that year in the early '70's, within his sight,
that is within the half mile from curve to curve of the lower road, were
no less than nine houses in which dwelt--or had dwelt--men who gained a
living upon a vessel's quarter deck. Directly across the road was the
large, cupola-crowned house of Captain Solomon Snow. Captain Sol was at
present somewhere between Surinam and New York, bound home. His wife was
with him, so was his youngest child. The older children were at home, in
the big house; their aunt, Captain Sol's sister, herself a captain's
widow, was with them.

Next to Captain Solomon's was the Crowell place. Captain Bethuel Crowell
was in Hong Kong, but, so his wife reported at sewing circle, had
expected to sail from there "any day about now" bound for Melbourne.
Next to Captain Bethuel lived Mrs. Patience Foster, called "Mary Pashy"
by the townspeople to distinguish her from another Mary Foster in East
Bayport. Her husband had been drowned at sea, or at least so it was
supposed. His ship left Philadelphia eight years before and had never
been spoken or heard from since that time. Next to Mary-Pashy's was the
imposing, if ugly, residence of Captain Elkanah Wingate. Captain Elkanah
was retired, wealthy, a member of the school-committee, a selectman, an
aristocrat and an autocrat. And beyond Captain Elkanah lived Captain
Godfrey Peasley--who was not quite of the aristocracy as he commanded a
schooner instead of a square-rigger, and beyond him Mrs. Tabitha Crosby,
whose husband had died of yellow fever while aboard his ship in New
Orleans; and beyond Mrs. Crosby's was--well, the next building was the
Orthodox meeting-house, where the Reverend David Dishup preached.
Nowadays people call it the Congregationalist church. On the same side
of the road as the Macomber cottage were the homes of Captain Sylvanus
Baker and Captain Noah Baker and of Captain Orrin Eldridge.

Bayport, in that day, was not only by the sea, it was of the sea. The
sea winds blew over it, the sea air smelled salty in its highways and
byways, its male citizens--most of them--walked with a sea roll, and
upon the tables and whatnots of their closed and shuttered "front
parlors" or in their cupboards or closets were laquered cabinets, and
whales' teeth, and alabaster images, and carved chessmen and curious
shells and scented fans and heaven knows what, brought from heaven knows
where, but all brought in sailing ships over one or more of the seas of
the world. The average better class house in Bayport was an odd
combination of home and museum, the rear two-thirds the home section and
the remaining third, that nearest the road, the museum. Bayport front
parlors looked like museums, and generally smelled like them.

To a stranger from, let us say, the middle west, the village then must
have seemed a queer little community dozing upon its rolling hills and
by its white beaches, a community where the women had, most of them,
traveled far and seen many strange things and places, but who seldom
talked of them, preferring to chat concerning the minister's wife's new
bonnet; and whose men folk, appearing at long intervals from remote
parts of the world, spoke of the port side of a cow and compared the
three-sided clock tower of the new town hall with the peak of Teneriffe
on a foggy morning.

All this, odd as it may have seemed to visitors from inland, were but
matters of course to Sears Kendrick. To him there was nothing strange in
the deep sea atmosphere of his native town. It had been there ever since
he knew it, he fondly imagined--being as poor a prophet as most of
us--that it would always be. And, as he sat there in the Macomber yard,
his thoughts were busy, not with Bayport's past or future, but with his
own, and neither retrospect nor forecast was cheerful. He could see
little behind him except the mistakes he had made, and before him--not
even the opportunity to make more.

Overhead, amid the cherry branches, the bees buzzed and the robins
chirped. From the kitchen window came the click of dishes as Mrs.
Macomber washed and wiped them. Around the curve of the road by the
meeting-house came Dr. Sheldon's old horse, drawing Dr. Sheldon's
antiquated chaise, with the doctor himself leaning back comfortably upon
its worn cushions. Captain Kendrick, not being in the mood for a chat
just then even with as good a friend as his physician, made no move, and
the old chaise and its occupant passed by and disappeared around the
next curve. Sarah-Mary and Edgar and Bemis noisily trooped out of the
house and started for school. Edgar was enthusiastically carolling a
ditty which was then popular among Bayport juvenility. It was
reminiscent of a recent presidential campaign.

    "Grant and Greely were fightin' for flies,
    Grant gave Greely a pair of black eyes--"

The children, like Doctor Sheldon and the chaise, passed out of sight
around the bend of the road. Edgar's voice, more or less tunefully,
drifted back:

    "Grant said, 'Do you want any more?'
    Greely said, 'No, for my eyes are too sore.'"

Sears Kendrick crossed his knees and changed position upon the bench.
Obviously he could not hope to go to sea again for months at the very
earliest. Obviously he could not live during those months at his
sister's. She would be only too delighted to have him do so, but on that
point his mind was made up. And, quite as obviously, he could not long
exist, and pay an adequate price for the privilege of existing, with the
small sum which was left after his disastrous voyage upon the sea of
business. His immediate problems then were two: First, to find a
boarding place which was very, very cheap. Second, if possible, to find
a means of earning a little money. The first of these he might, perhaps,
solve after a fashion, but the second--and he a cripple! He groaned
aloud.

Then he gradually became aware of a new set of sounds, sounds
approaching along the road from the direction in which the children and
the doctor's equipage had disappeared. The sounds, at first rather
confused, gradually separated themselves into two varieties, one the
sharp, irregular rattle of a springless cart, the second a hoarse
unmusical voice which, like Edgar's, was raised in song. But in this
case the rattle of the cart caused the song to be broken unexpectedly
into jerky spasms, so to speak. Nevertheless, the singer kept manfully
at his task.

    "Now the _Dreadnought's_ a-bowlin' (_Bump! Rattle_)
        down the wild Irish sea
    Where the pass (_Bump!_) engers are merry
        with hearts full of glee,
    While the sailors like lions (_Gid-dap!
        What's the matter with ye_) walk the decks to and fro,
    She's the Liverpool packet (_Bump! Bang! Crack!_)
        Good Lord, let her go!"

Sears Kendrick sat upright on the settee. Of course he recognized the
song, every man who had ever sailed salt water knew the old
_Dreadnought_ chantey, but much more than that, he believed he
recognized the voice of the singer. Leaning forward, he watched for the
latter to appear.

Then, around the clump of lilacs which leaned over Captain Sol Snow's
fence at the corner, came an old white horse drawing an old
"truck-wagon," the wagon painted, as all Cape Cod truck-wagons then were
and are yet, a bright blue; and upon the high seat of the wagon sat a
chunky figure, a figure which rocked back and forth and sang:

    "Now the _Dreadnought's_ a sailin' the (_Bang! Bump!_)
        Atlantic so wide,
    While the (_Thump! Bump!_) dark heavy seas roll
        along her black side,
    With the sails neatly spread (_Crump! Jingle!_)
        and the red cross to show,
    She's the Liverpool packet; Good Lord, let----"

Captain Kendrick interrupted here.

"Ahoy, the _Dreadnought_!" he hailed. "_Dreadnought_ ahoy!"

"Good Lord, let 'er go!" roared the man on the seat of the truck-wagon,
finishing the stanza of his chantey. Then he added "Whoa!" in a mighty
bellow. The white horse stopped in his tracks, as if he had one ear
tipped backward awaiting the invitation. His driver leaned down and
peered into the shadow of the lilac bush.

"Who--?" he began. "Eh? _What?_ Limpin', creepin', crawlin', jumpin'
Moses and the prophets! It ain't Cap'n Sears Kendrick, is it? It is, by
Henry! Well, well, _well_, WELL, _WELL_!"

Each succeeding "well" was louder and more emphatic than its
predecessor. They were uttered as the speaker rolled, rather than
climbed, down from the high seat. Alighting upon a pair of enormous feet
shod in heavy rubber boots, the tops of which were turned down, he
thumped up the little slope from the road to the sidewalk. Then,
thrusting over the fence pickets a red and hairy hand, the size of which
corresponded to that of the feet, he roared another string of delighted
exclamations.

"Cap'n Sears Kendrick, on deck and all taut again! Well, by the jumpin',
creepin'! If this ain't--Cap'n Sears, sir, how be you?"

His broad-brimmed, battered straw hat had fallen off in his descent from
the wagon seat, uncovering a partially bald head and a round, extremely
red face, two-thirds of which was hidden by a tremendously thick and
bristly tangle of short gray whiskers. The whiskers were now bisected by
a broad grin, a grin so broad and so ecstatic that its wrinkles extended
to the bulbous nose and the apple cheeks above.

"Cap'n Sears, sir," repeated the driver of the truck-wagon, "I'm proud
to see you on deck again, sir. Darned if I ain't!"

The captain leaned forward and shook the big red hand extended across
the fence pickets.

"Judah Cahoon, you old salt herrin'," he cried heartily, "I'm just as
glad to see you! But _what_ in the world are you doin' here in
Bayport?"



CHAPTER II


Mr. Cahoon's grin vanished and the expression of his face above the
whiskers indicated extreme surprise.

"What am I doin' here?" he repeated. "Didn't you know I was here, Cap'n
Sears?"

"Of course I didn't. The last I heard of you you had shipped as cook
aboard the _Gallant Rover_ and was bound for Calcutta, or Singapore or
somewhere in those latitudes. And that was only a year ago. What are you
doin' on the Cape and pilotin' that kind of a craft?" indicating the
truck wagon.

The question was ignored. "Didn't they never tell you I was here?"
demanded Judah. "Didn't that Joel Macomber tell you I been hailin' him
every time he crossed my bows, askin' about you every day since you run
on the rocks? Didn't he tell you that?"

"No."

"Never give you my respects nor--nor kind rememberances, nor nawthin'?"

"Not a word. Never so much as mentioned your name."

"The red-headed shark!"

"There! There! Sshh! Never mind him. Come in here and sit down a minute,
can't you? Or are you in a hurry?"

"Eh? No-o, I ain't in no 'special hurry. Just got a deck load of seaweed
aboard carting it up home, that's all."

"Home? What home?"

"Why, where I'm livin'. I call it home; anyhow it's all the home I got.
Eh? Why, Cap'n Sears, ain't they never told you that I'm livin' at the
Minot place?"

"The Minot place! Why--why, man alive, you don't mean the General Minot
place, do you?"

"Um-hm. That's what folks down here call it. There ain't no Generals
there though."

"And _you_ are livin' in the General Minot house? Look here, Judah, are
you trying to make a fool of me?"

Mr. Cahoon's countenance--that portion of it above the whisker tidemark,
of course--registered horror at the thought. He had been cook and
steward aboard Captain Kendrick's ships for many voyages and his feeling
for his former skipper was close kin to idolatry.

"Eh?" he gasped. "Me try to make a fool out of _you_, Cap'n Sears? _Me?_
No, no, I got _some_ sense left, I hope."

Kendrick smiled. "Oh, the thing isn't impossible, Judah," he observed
dryly. "It has been done. I have been made a fool of and more than
once.... But there, never mind that. I want to know what you are doin'
at the General Minot place. Come aboard here and tell me about it. You
can leave your horse, can't you? He doesn't look as if he was liable to
run away."

"Run away! Him?" Judah snorted disgust. "Limpin' Moses! He won't run away
for the same reason old Cap'n Eben Gould didn't say his prayers--he's
forgot how. I was out with that horse on the flats last week and the
tide pretty nigh caught us. The water in the main channel was so deep
that it was clean up to the critter's garboard strake, and still, by the
creepin', I couldn't get him out of a walk. I thought there one spell he
might _drift_ away, but I knew dum well he'd never run.... Whoa!
you--you hipponoceros you!" addressing the ancient animal, who was
placidly gnawing at the Macomber hitching post. "'Vast heavin' on that
post! _Look_ at the blasted idiot!" with huge disgust. "To home, by the
creepin', he'll turn up his nose at good hay and then he'll cruise out
here and start to swaller a wood fence. Whoa! Back! Back, or I'll--I'll
bore a hole in you and scuttle you."

The old horse condescended to back for perhaps two feet, a proceeding
which elicited a grunt of grudging approval from Mr. Cahoon. The latter
then settled himself with a thump upon the settee beside Captain
Kendrick.

"How's the spars splicin'?" he inquired, with a jerk of his thumb toward
the captain's legs. "Gettin' so you can navigate with 'em? Stand up
under sail, will they?"

"Not for much of a cruise," replied Sears, using the same nautical
phraseology. "I shan't be able to run under anything but a jury rig for
a good while, I'm afraid. But never mind the spars. I want to know how
you happen to be down here in Bayport, and especially what on earth you
are doin' at the Minot place? Somebody died and left you a million?"

Mr. Cahoon's whiskers were split again by his wide grin.

"If I was left a million _I'd_ die," he observed with emphasis. "No, no,
nothin' like that, Cap'n. I'm there along of ... humph! You know young
Ogden Minot, don't you?"

"No, I guess I don't. I don't seem to remember him. Ogden Minot, you
say?"

"Sartin. Why, you must have run afoul of him, Cap'n Sears. He has a--a
sort of home moorin's at a desk in Barstow Brothers' shippin' office up
on State Street. Has some kind of berth with the firm, they tell me,
partner or somethin'. You must have seen him there."

"Well, if I have I.... Hold on a minute! Seems to me I do remember him.
Tall fellow, dresses like a tailor's picture; speaks as if--"

"As if the last half of every word was comin' on the next boat. That's
him. Light complected, wears his whiskers wing and wing, like a schooner
runnin' afore the wind. Same kind of side whiskers old Cap'n Spencer of
the _Farewell_ used to carry that voyage when I fust run afoul of you.
You was second mate and I was cook, remember. You recollect the
skipper's side whiskers, Cap'n Sears? Course you do! Stuck out each side
of his face pretty nigh big as old-fashioned studdin' sails. Fo'mast
hands used to call 'em the old man's 'homeward-bounders.' Ho, ho! Why,
I've seen them whiskers blowin'--"

Kendrick interrupted.

"Never mind Cap'n Spencer's whiskers," he said. "Stick to your course,
Judah. What about this Ogden Minot?"

"Everythin' bout him. If 'twan't for him I wouldn't be here now. No
sir-ee, 'stead of settin' here swappin' yarns with you, Cap'n Sears, I'd
be somewheres off Cape Horn, cookin' lobscouse and doughboy over a
red-hot galley stove. Yes sir, that's where I'd be. And I'd just as soon
be here, and a dum sight juster, as the feller said. Ho, ho! Tut, tut,
tut! You can't never tell, can you? How many times I've stood in my
galley with a gale of wind blowin', and my feet braced so's I wouldn't
pitch into the salt-horse kittle every time she rolled, and thinkin'--"

"There, there, Judah! Bring her up, bring her up. You're three points
off again."

"Eh? So I be, so I be. I'll try and hold her nose in the notch from now
on. Well, 'twas last October, a year ago, when I'd about made up my mind
to go cook in the _Gallant Rover_, same as you said. I hadn't signed
articles, you understand, but I was cal'latin' to, and I was down on
Long Wharf where the _Rover_ was takin' cargo, and her skipper, Cap'n
Gustavus Philbrick, 'twas--he was a Cape man, one of the Ostable
Philbricks--he asked me if I wouldn't cruise up to the Barstow Brothers'
office and fetch down some papers that was there for him. So I didn't
have nawthin' to do 'special, and 'twas about time for my eleven
o'clock--when I'm in Boston I always cal'late to hist aboard one eleven
o'clock, rum and sweetenen' 'tis generally, at Jerry Crockett's saloon
on India Street and.... Aye, aye, sir! All right, all right, Cap'n
Sears. I'll keep her in the notch, don't worry. Well--er--er--what was I
sayin'? Oh, yes! Well, I had my eleven o'clock and then I cruised up to
the Barstow place, and the fust mate there, young Crosby Barstow 'twas,
he was talkin' with this Ogden Minot. And when I hove in sight young
Barstow, he sings out: 'And here's another Cape Codder, Ogden,' he says.
'You two ought to know each other. Cahoon,' says he, 'this is Mr. Ogden
Minot; his folks hailed from Bayport. That's down your way, ain't it?'

"'You bet!' says I. 'My home port's Harniss, and that's right next door.
Minot? Minot?' I says, tryin' to recollect, you understand. 'Seems to me
I used to know a Minot down that way. Why, yes, course I did! You any
relation to old Ichabod Minot, that skippered the _Gypsy Maid_ fishin'
to the Banks? Ichabod hailed from--from--Denboro, seems to me 'twas.'

"He said no pretty sharp. Barstow, he laughed like fury and wanted to
know if this Ogden Minot looked like Ichabod. 'Is there a family
resemblance?' he says. I told him I guessed not. 'Anyhow,' says I, 'I
couldn't tell very well. I only seen Ichabod when he was drunk.' That
tickled Barstow most to death. 'You never saw him but that once, then?'
he wanted to know. 'Oh, yes,' says I, 'I seen him about every time he
was on shore after a fishin' trip.'

"That seemed to make him laugh more'n ever and even young Ogden laughed
some. Anyhow, we got to talkin' and I told Barstow how I was cal'latin'
to go cook on the _Gallant Rover_. 'And I'm sick of it,' I says. 'I'd
like a nice snug berth ashore.' 'You would?' says Barstow. Then he says,
'Humph!' and looks at Minot. And Minot, he says, 'Humph!' and looked at
him. And then they both says, 'Humph!' and looked at me. And afore I set
sail from that office to carry Cap'n Philbrick's papers back to him I'd
agreed not to sign on for that v'yage as cook until I'd cruised down
here to Bayport along of young Ogden Minot to see how I'd like to be
sort of--of general caretaker and stevedore, as you might call it, at
the General Minot place. You see, young Ogden was the General's grandson
and he'd had the property left him. And 'twas part of the sailin'
orders--in the old General's will, you understand--that it couldn't be
sold, but must always be took care of and kept up. Ogden could rent it
out but he couldn't sell it; that was the pickle _he_ was in.
Understand, don't you, Cap'n Sears?"

Kendrick nodded. "Why--yes, I guess likely I do," he said. "But this
Minot boy could live in it himself, couldn't he? Why doesn't he do that?
As I remember it, it was considerable of a house. I should think he
would come here himself and live."

Judah nodded. "You would think so, wouldn't you?" he agreed. "But _he_
don't think so, and what's a mighty sight more account, his wife don't
think so. She's one of them kind of women that--that--well, when she
gets to heaven--course I ain't layin' no bets on her gettin' there, but
_if_ she does--the fust thing she'll do after she fetches port is to
find out which one of them golden streets has got the highest-toned gang
livin' on it and then start in tryin' to tie up to the wharf there
herself. _She_ wouldn't live in no Bayport. No sir--ee! She's got winter
moorin's up in one of them streets back of the Common, and summer times
she's down to a place called--er--er--Nahum--Nehimiah--No--jumpin'
prophets! What's the name of that place out on the rocks abaft Lynn?"

"Nahant?" suggested his companion.

"That's it. She and him is to Nahant summers. And what for _I_ don't
know, when right here in Bayport is a great, big, fine house and land
around it and--and flower tubs in the front yard and--and marble top
tables--and--and haircloth chairs and sofys, and--and a Rogers' statoo
in the parlor and--and.... Why, say, Cap'n Sears, you ought to _see_
that house and the things in it. They've spent money on that house same
as if a five dollar bill wan't nawthin'. Wasted it, I call it. The
second day I was there I wanted to brush off some dust that was on the
chair seats and I was huntin' round from bow to stern lookin' for one of
them little brush brooms, you know, same as you brush clothes with.
Well, sir, I'd about give up lookin' when I happened to look on the wall
of the settin'-room and there was one hangin' up. And, say, Cap'n Sears,
I wisht you could have seen it! 'Twas triced up in a--a kind of becket,
as you might say, made out of velvet--yes, sir, by creepin', velvet! And
the velvet had posies and grass painted on it. And, I don't know as
you'll believe it, but it's a fact, the handle of that brush broom was
gilded! Yes sir, by Henry, _gilded_! 'Well,' thinks I to myself, 'if
this ain't then I don't know what is!' I did cal'late that I was
gettin' used to style, and high-toned money-slingin', but when it comes
to puttin' gold handles onto brush-brooms, that had me on my beam ends,
that did. And ain't it a sinful waste, Cap'n Sears, I ask you? Now ain't
it? And what in time is the _good_ of it? A brush-broom is just a broom,
no matter if----"

Again the captain interrupted. "Yes, yes, of course, Judah," he agreed,
laughing; "but what do you do up there all by yourself? In that big
house?"

"Oh, I don't live in the whole house. I could if I wanted to. Ogden, he
don't care where I live or what I do. All he wants of me, he says, is to
keep the place lookin' good, and the grass cut and one thing or 'nother.
He keeps hopin' he's goin' to rent it, you know, but they won't nobody
hire it. The only thing a place big as that would be good for is to keep
tavern. And we've got one tavern here in Bayport already."

Kendrick seemed to be thinking. He pulled his beard. Of course he wore a
beard; in those days he would have been thought queer if he had not.
Even the Harvard students who came to Bayport occasionally on summer
tramping trips wore beards or sidewhiskers; the very callowest Freshman
sported and nourished a moustache.

"So you don't occupy the whole house, Judah?" asked the captain.

"No, no," replied Mr. Cahoon. "I live out in the back part. There's the
kitchen and woodshed and dinin'-room out there and a couple of bedrooms.
That's all _I_ want. There's nine more bedrooms in that house, Cap'n,"
he declared solemnly. "That makes eleven altogether. Now what in tunket
do you cal'late anybody'd ever do with eleven bedrooms?"

Kendrick shook his head. "Give it up, Judah," he said. "For the matter
of that, I don't see what you do with two. Do you sleep in one week
nights and the other on Sundays?"

Judah grinned. "No, no, Cap'n," he said. "I don't know myself why I keep
that other bedroom fixed up. Cal'late I do it just for fun, kind of
makin' believe I'm going to have company, I guess. It gets kind of
lonesome there sometimes, 'specially meal times and evenin's. There I
set at mess, you know, grand as the skipper of the _Great Republic_,
cloth on the table, silver knife and fork, silver castor with blue glass
vinegar and pepper-sass bottles, great, big, elegant mustache cup with
'Forget Me Not' printed out on it in gold letters--everything so fine it
couldn't be no finer--but by creepin', sometimes I can't help feelin'
lonesome! Seems foolish, don't it, but I be."

Captain Kendrick did not speak. He pulled at his beard with more
deliberation and the look in his eye was that of one watching the
brightening dawn of an idea.

"I told Ogden so last time he was down," continued Mr. Cahoon. "He asked
me if I was comf'table and if I wanted anything more and I told him I
didn't. 'Only thing that ails me,' I says, 'is that I get kind of
lonesome bein' by myself so much. Sometimes I wisht I had comp'ny.'
'Well, why don't you _have_ comp'ny?' says he. 'You've got room enough,
lord knows.' 'Yes,' I says, 'but who'll I have?' He laughed. 'That's
your lookout,' says he. 'You can't expect me to hire a companion for
you.'"

"Humph!" Kendrick regarded him thoughtfully. "So you would like company,
would you, Judah?"

"Sartin sure I would, if 'twas the right kind. I got a cat and that
helps a little mite. And Cap'n Shubal Hammond's wife told me yesterday
she'd give me a young pig if I wanted one. That's what I'm cartin' home
this little mite of seaweed for, to bed down the pig sty. But cats and
hogs, they're all right enough, but they ain't human."

"Do you keep hens?"

This apparently harmless question seemed to arouse Mr. Cahoon's ire. His
whiskers bristled and his nose flamed.

"Hens!" he repeated. "Don't talk to me about hens! No, sir, by the
prophets, I don't keep hens! But them everlastin' Fair Harborers keep
'em and if they'd keep 'em to home I wouldn't say a word. But they
don't. Half the time they're over my side of the fence raisin' blue hob
with my garden. Hens! Don't talk to me about 'em! I hate the sight of
the critters."

Kendrick smiled. "And after all," he observed, "hens aren't human,
either."

Judah snorted. "Some are," he declared, "and them's the worst kind."

There was, doubtless, a hidden meaning in this speech, but if so Sears
Kendrick did not seek to find it. Laying a hand upon the broad shoulder
of his former sea-cook he lifted himself to his feet.

"Judah," he asked, briskly, "is that seaweed in your cart there dry?"

"Eh? Dry? Yes, yes, dry as a cat's back. Been layin' on the beach above
tide mark ever since last winter. Why?"

"Do you suppose you could help me hoist myself aboard?"

"Aboard? Aboard that truck-wagon? For the land sakes, what for?"

"Because I want a ride. I've been in drydock here till I'm pretty nearly
crazy. I want to go on a cruise, even if it isn't but a half mile one.
Don't you want to cart me down to your anchorage and let me see how you
and General Minot and the gilt whisk broom get along? I can sprawl on
that seaweed and be as comfortable as a gull on a clam flat. Come on
now! Heave ahead! Give us a hand up!"

"But--limpin' prophets, Cap'n Sears, I couldn't cart you up the main
road of Bayport in a seaweed cart. You, of all men! What do you cal'late
folks would say if they see me doin' it? Course I'd love to have you
ride down and see how I'm livin'. If you'd set up on the thawt there,"
indicating the high seat of the truck-wagon, "I'd be proud to have you.
But to haul you along on a load of seaweed that's goin' to bed down a
hog! Cap'n, you _know_ 'twouldn't be fittin'! Course you do."

His horror at the sacrilege was so ludicrous that Kendrick laughed
aloud. However, he insisted that there was nothing unfitting in the
idea; it was a good idea and founded upon common-sense.

"How long do you think these sprung sticks of mine would last," he
said, referring to his legs, "if they were jouncin' up and down on that
seat aloft there? And I couldn't climb up even if I wanted to. But, you
and I between us, Judah, can get me in on that seaweed, and that's what
we're goin' to do. Come, come! Tumble up! All hands on deck now!
Lively!"

The familiar order, given with a touch of the old familiar crispness and
authority, had its effect. Mr. Cahoon argued no more. Instead he sprang
to attention, figuratively speaking.

"Aye, aye, sir!" he said. "Here she goes. Take it easy, Cap'n; don't
hurry. Ease yourself down that bankin'. If we was to let go and you come
down with a run there'd be the divil and all to pay, wouldn't there? So
... so.... Here we be, alongside. Now---- Aloft with ye."

They had reached the road by the tailboard of the wagon. And now Judah
stooped, picked up his former skipper in his arms and swung him in upon
the load of dry seaweed as if he were a two year old boy instead of a
full-grown, and very much grown, man.

"Well," he asked, as he climbed to the seat, "all ready to make sail, be
we? Any message you want to leave along with Sary? She won't know what
end you've made, will she?"

"Oh, she'll guess I've gone buggy-ridin' with the doctor. He's been
threatenin' to take me with him 'most any day now. Sarah'll be all
right. Get under way, Judah."

"Aye, aye, sir. Git dap! Git dap! Limpin', creepin', crawlin', hoppin',
jumpin'.... Starboard! _starboard_, you son of a Chinee! Need a tug to
haul this critter into the channel, I swan you do! Git dap! All
shipshape aft there, Cap'n Sears? Good enough! let her run."

The old white horse--like the whisk broom and the Rogers group, a part
of the furniture of the General Minot place--plodded along the dusty
road and the blue truck-wagon rolled and rattled behind him. Captain
Kendrick, settling his invalid limbs in the most comfortable fashion,
lay back upon the seaweed and stared at the sky seen through the
branches of elms and silver-leaf poplars which arched above. He made no
attempt to look over the sides of the cart. Raising himself upon an
elbow to do so entailed a good deal of exertion and this was his first
trip abroad since his accident. Besides, seeing would probably mean
being seen and he was not in the mood to answer the questions of
curious, even if sympathetic, townsfolk. Judah made several attempts at
conversation, but the replies were not satisfactory, so he gave it up
after a little and, as was his habit, once more broke forth in song.
Judah Cahoon, besides being sea cook on many, many voyages, had been
"chantey man" on almost as many. His repertoire was, therefore,
extensive and at times astonishing. Now, as he rocked back and forth
upon the wagon seat, he caroled, not the _Dreadnought_ chantey, but
another, which told of a Yankee ship sailing down the Congo River,
evidently in the old days of the slave trade.

    "'Who do you think is the cap'n of her?
      Blow, boys, blow!
    Old Holy Joe, the darky lover,
      Blow, my bully boys, blow!

    'What do you think they've got for dinner?
      Blow, boys, blow!
    Hot water soup, but a dum sight thinner,
      Blow, my bully boys, blow!

    'Oh, blow to-day and blow to-morrer,
      Blow, boys, blow!
    And blow for all old salts in sorrer,
      Blow, my bully----'

"Oh, say, Cap'n Sears!"

"Yes, Judah?"

"They've put up the name sign on the Fair Harbor since you was in
Bayport afore, ain't they? We're right off abreast of it now. Can't you
hist yourself up and look over the side? It's some consider'ble of a
sign, that is. Lobelia she left word to have that sign painted and set
up last time she was here. She's over acrost in one of them Eyetalian
ports now, so I understand, her and that feller she married. Eh? Ain't
that quite a sign, now, Cap'n?"

Kendrick, because his driver seemed to be so eager, sat up and looked
over the sideboard of the truck-wagon. The vehicle was just passing a
long stretch of ornate black iron fence in the center of which was a
still more ornate gate with an iron arch above it. In the curve of the
arch swung a black sign, its edges gilded, and with this legend printed
upon it in gilt letters:

                           FAIR HARBOR

                       For Mariners' Women

                 "Without, the stormy winds increase,
                 Within the harbor all is peace."

Behind the fence was a good-sized tract of lawn heavily shaded with
trees, a brick walk, and at the rear a large house. The house itself was
of the stately Colonial type and its simple dignity was in marked
contrast to the fence.

Captain Kendrick recognized the establishment of course. It, with its
next door neighbor the General Minot place, was for so many years the
home of old Captain Sylvanus Seymour. Captain Sylvanus, during his
lifetime, was active claimant for the throne of King of Bayport. He was
the town's leading Democratic politician, its wealthiest citizen, with
possibly one exception--its most lavish entertainer--with the same
possible exception--and when the Governor came to the Cape on "Cattle
Show Day" he was sure to be a guest at the Seymour place--unless General
Ashahel Minot, who was the exception mentioned--had gotten his
invitation accepted first. For General Minot was Bayport's leading Whig,
as Captain Sylvanus was its leading Democrat, and the rivalry between
the two was intense. Nevertheless, they were, in public at least,
extremely polite and friendly, and when they did agree--as on matters
concerning the village tax rate and the kind of doctrine permitted to be
preached in the Orthodox meeting-house--their agreement was absolute and
overwhelming. In their day the Captain and the General dominated Bayport
by sea and land.

But that day had passed. They had both been dead for some years. Captain
Seymour died first and his place and property were inherited by his
maiden daughter, Miss Lobelia Seymour. Sears Kendrick remembered Lobelia
as a dressy, romantic spinster, very much in evidence at the church
socials and at meetings of the Shakespeare Reading Society, and who sang
a somewhat shrill soprano in the choir.

Now, as he looked over the side of Judah Cahoon's truck-wagon and saw
the sign hanging beneath the arch above the gate of the Seymour place he
began dimly to remember other things, bits of news embodied in letters
which his sister, Sarah Macomber, had written him at various times.
Lobelia Seymour had--she had done something with the family home,
something unusual. What was it? Why, yes....

"Judah," he said, "Lobelia Seymour turned that place into a--a sort of
home, didn't she?"

Judah twisted on the wagon seat to stare at him.

"What are you askin' me that for, Cap'n Sears?" he demanded. "You know
more about it than I do, I guess likely. Anyhow, you ought to; you was
brought up in Bayport; I wasn't."

"Yes, but I've been away from it ten times longer than I've been in it.
I'd forgotten all about Lobelia. Seems to me Sarah wrote me somethin'
about her, though, and that she had turned her father's place into a
home for women."

"For mariners' women, that's what she calls it. Didn't you see it on the
sign? Ho, ho! that's a good one, ain't it, Cap'n Sears? 'Mariners'
women!' Course what it means is sea cap'ns widders and sisters and such,
but it does sound kind of Brigham Youngy, don't it? Haw, haw! Well,
fur's that goes I have known mariners that--Hi! 'Vast heavin' there!
What in time you tryin' to do, carry away that gate post? Whoa! Jumpin'
creepin', limpin'---- Whoa! _Look_ at the critter!" in huge disgust and
referring to the white horse, who had suddenly evinced a desire to turn
in at a narrow driveway and to gallop while doing so. "Look at him!"
repeated Judah. "When I go up to the depot he'll stand right in the
middle of the railroad track and go to sleep. I have to whale the
timbers out of him to get him awake enough to step ahead so's a train of
cars won't stave in his broadside. But get him home here where he can
see the barn, the place where he knows I stow the oats, and he wants to
run right over top of a stone wall. Can't hardly hold him, I can't.
Who-a-a!... Well, Cap'n Sears, here we be at the General Minot place.
Here's where I sling my hammock these days."

Kendrick looked about him, at the grassy back yard, with the ancient
settee beneath the locust tree, the raspberry and currant bushes along
the wall, the venerable apple and pear trees on the other side of the
wall, at the trellis over the back door and the grape vine heavily
festooning it, at the big weather-beaten barn, carriage house and
pig-pens beyond. Turning, he looked upward at the high rambling house,
its dormers and gables, its white clapboards and green window blinds.
The sunlight streamed over it, but beneath the vine-hung lattice and
under the locust tree were coolness and shadow. The wing of the big
house, projecting out to the corner of the drive, shut off the view to
or from the road. Somehow, the whole yard, with its peace and quiet and
sunshine and shadow, and above all, its retirement, made a great appeal.
It seemed so homelike, so shut away, so comforting, like a sheltered
little backwater where a storm-beaten craft might lie snug.

Mr. Cahoon made anxious inquiry.

"What do you think of it, Cap'n?" he asked.

His visitor did not reply. Instead he said, "Judah, I'd like to see your
quarters inside, may I?"

"Sartin sure you may. Right this way. Look out for the rocks in the
channel," indicating the brick floor beneath the lattice. "Two or three
of them bricks stick up more'n they ought to. Twice since I've been here
the stem of one of my boots has fetched up on them bricks and I've all
but pitch-poled. Take your time, Cap'n Sears, take your time. Here, lean
on my shoulder, I'll pilot you."

The captain smiled. "Much obliged, Judah," he said, "but I shan't need
your shoulder. There aren't any stairs to climb, are there? Stair
climbin' is too much for me yet awhile. Perhaps it will always be. I
don't know."

The tone in which he uttered the last sentence caused his companion to
turn his head and regard him with concern.

"Sho, sho, sho!" he exclaimed, hastily. "What kind of talk's that,
Cap'n! I'll live to see you shin up and hang your hat on the main truck
yet.... There, here's the galley. Like it, do you?"

The "galley" was, of course, the kitchen. It was huge and low and very
old-fashioned. Also it was, just now, spotlessly clean. From it opened
the woodshed, and toward the front, the dining room.

"I don't eat in here much," observed Judah, referring to the dining
room. "Generally mess in the galley. Comes more natural to me. The
settin' room, and back parlor and front parlor are out for'ard yonder.
Come on, Cap'n Sears."

The captain shook his head. "Never mind them just now," he said. "I want
to see the bedrooms, those you use, Judah. That is, unless they're up
aloft."

"No, no. Right on the lower deck, both of 'em. Course there _is_ plenty
more up aloft, but, as I told you, I never bother 'em. Here's my berth,"
opening a door from the sitting room. "And here's what I call my spare
stateroom. I keep it ready for comp'ny. Not that I ever have any, you
understand."

Judah's bedroom was small and snug. The "spare stateroom" was a trifle
larger. In both were the old-fashioned mahogany furniture of our
great-grandfathers. Mr. Cahoon apologized for it.

"Kind of old-timey stuff down below here," he explained. "Just common
folks used these rooms, I judge likely. But you'd ought to see them up
on the quarter deck. There's your high-toned fixin's! Marble tops to the
bureaus and tables and washstands, and fruit--peaches and pears and all
sorts--carved out on the headboards of the beds, and wreaths on the
walls all made out of shells, and--and kind of brass doodads at the tops
of the window curtains. Style, don't talk!... Sort of a pretty look-off
through that deadlight, ain't there, Cap'n Sears? Seems so to me."

Kendrick had raised the window shade of the spare stateroom and was
looking out. The view extended across the rolling hills and little pine
groves and cranberry bogs, to the lower road with its white houses and
shade trees. And beyond the lower road were more hills and pines, a
pretty little lake--Crowell's Pond, it was called--sand dunes and then
the blue water of the Bay. The captain looked at the view for a few
moments, then, turning, looked once more at the room and its furniture.

"So you've never had a passenger in your spare stateroom, Judah?" he
asked.

"Nary one, not yet."

"Expectin' any?"

"Nary one. Don't know nobody to expect."

"But you think it would be all right if you did have some one? Your
er--owner--young Minot, I mean, wouldn't object?"

"Object! No, no. He told me to. 'I should think you'd die livin' here
alone,' he says. 'Why don't you take a boarder? I would if I was you.'"

Sears Kendrick stopped looking at the room and its furniture and turned
his gaze upon his former cook.

"Take a boarder?" he repeated. "Did Ogden Minot tell you to take a
boarder? And do you think he meant it?"

"Sartin sure he meant it. He don't care what I do--in reason, of
course."

"Humph!... Well, then, Judah, why don't you take one?"

"Eh? Take one what? A boarder? Who'd I take, for thunder's sakes?"

Captain Kendrick smiled.

"Me," he said.



CHAPTER III


For the half hour which followed the captain's utterance of that simple
little word, "Me," exclamation, protestation and argument heated and
unwontedly disturbed the atmosphere of the Minot spare stateroom and
when the discussion adjourned there, of the little back yard. The old
white horse, left to himself and quite forgotten, placidly meandered on
until he reached a point where he could reach the tender foliage of a
young pear tree which leaned over the wall toward him. Then, with a sigh
of content, he proceeded to devour the tree. No one paid the least
attention to him. Captain Kendrick, now seated upon the bench beneath
the locust, was quietly but persistently explaining why he desired to
become a boarder and lodger at Mr. Cahoon's quarters on the after lower
deck of the General Minot house, and Judah was vociferously and
profanely expostulating against such an idea.

"It ain't fittin', I tell you," he declared, over and over again. "It
ain't fittin', it's the craziest notion ever I heard tell of. What'll
folks think if they know you're here--you, Cap'n Sears Kendrick, that
all hands knows is the smartest cap'n that ever sailed out of Boston
harbor? What'll they say if they know you've hove anchor along of me,
stayin' here in the--in the fo'castle of this house; eatin' the grub I
cook--"

"I've eaten your cookin' for a good many months at a stretch, Judah. You
never heard me find any fault with it, did you?"

"Don't make no odds. That's different, Cap'n Sears, and you know 'tis.
It's ridiculous, stark, ravin' ridiculous."

"So you don't care for my company?"

"Don't tuk so! Wouldn't I be proud to have ye? Wouldn't I ruther have
you aboard here than anybody else on earth? Course I would!"

"All right. And you're goin' to have me. So that's all settled."

"Settled! Who said 'twas settled? Course 'tain't settled. You don't
understand, Cap'n Sears. 'Tain't how I feel about it. 'Tain't even maybe
how you feel about it. But how'll your sister feel about it? How'll Joel
feel? How'll the doctor feel? How'll the folks in town feel? How'll--"

"Oh, shh! shh! Avast, Judah! How'll the cat feel? And the pig? What do I
care? How'll your old horse feel if he eats the other half of that pear
tree? That's considerably more important."

Judah turned, saw the combination of ancient equine and youthful tree
and rushed bellowing to the rescue of the latter. When he returned,
empty of profanity and copiously perspiring, his former skipper was
ready for him.

"Listen, Judah," he said. "Listen, and keep your main hatch closed for
five minutes, if you can. I want to come here to board with you for a
while and I've got the best reasons on earth. Keep still and I'll tell
you again what they are."

He proceeded to give those reasons. They were that he had little money
and must therefore live inexpensively. He would not remain at his
sister's because she had more than enough care and work in her own
family. George Kent boarded with her and one boarder was sufficient.
Then--and this was the principal reason for selecting the General Minot
spare stateroom--he wished to live somewhere away from observation,
where he could be alone, or nearly alone, where he would not be plagued
with questions.

"You see, Judah," he said, "I've had a bump in more ways than one. My
pride was knocked flat as well as my pocket book. The doctor says I've
got to stay ashore for a good while. He says it will be months before
I'm ready for sea--if I'm ever ready--"

"Hold on, hold on! Cap'n Sears, you mustn't talk so. Course you'll be
ready."

"All right, we'll hope I will. But while I'm gettin' ready to be ready I
want to lie snug. I don't want to see a whole lot of people and have to
listen to--to sympathy and all that. I've made a fool of myself, and
that kind of a fool doesn't deserve sympathy. And I don't want it,
anyhow. Give me a pair of sound spars and my health once more and you
won't find me beggin' for sympathy--no, nor anything else.... But
there," he added, straightening and throwing back his shoulders in the
way Judah had seen him do so often on shipboard and which his mates had
learned to recognize as a sign that the old man's mind was made up,
"that's enough of that. Let's stick to the course. I like this place of
yours, Judah, and I'm comin' here to live. I'm weak yet and you can
throw me out, of course," he added, "but I tell you plainly you can't
_talk_ me out, so it's no use to try."

Nevertheless, Mr. Cahoon kept on trying and, when he did give in only
gave in halfway. If Captain Sears was bound to do such a fool thing he
didn't know how he was going to stop him, but at least he did insist
that the captain should take a trial cruise before signing on for the
whole voyage.

"I tell you what you do, Cap'n Sears," he said. "You make me a little
visit of--of two, three days, say. Then, if you cal'late you can stand
the grub--and me--and if the way Bayport folks'll be talkin' ain't
enough to send you back to Sary's again, why--why, then I suppose you
can stay right along, if you want to. _'Twould_ be fine to have you
aboard! Whew!"

He grinned from ear to ear. The captain accepted the compromise.

"All right, Judah," he said. "We'll call the first few days a visit and
I'll begin by stayin' to dinner now. How'll that do, eh?"

Mr. Cahoon affirmed that it would do finely. The only drawback was that
there was nothing in the house for dinner.

"I was cal'latin' to go down to the shore," he said, "and dig a bucket
of clams. Course they'll do well enough for me, but for you--"

"For me they will be just the ticket," declared Kendrick. "Go ahead and
dig 'em, Judah. And on the way stop and tell Sarah I'm goin' to stay
here and help eat 'em. After dinner--well, after dinner I shall have to
go back there again, I suppose, but to-morrow I'm comin' up here to
stay."

So, still under protest, Judah, having unloaded the seaweed, climbed
once more to the high seat of the truck-wagon and the old horse dragged
him out of the yard. After the row of trees bordering the road had
hidden him from sight Kendrick could hear the rattle of the cart and a
fragment of the _Dreadnought_ chantey.

    "Now the _Dreadnought's_ becalmed on the banks of Newfoundland,
    Where the water's all green and the bottom's all sand.
    Says the fish of the ocean that swim to and fro:
    'She's the Liverpool packet, good Lord, let her go.'"

Rattle and chantey died away in the distance. Quiet, warm and lazy,
settled down upon the back yard of the General Minot place. A robin
piped occasionally and, from somewhere off to the left, hens clucked,
but these were the only sounds. Kendrick judged that the hens must
belong to neighbors; Judah had expressed detestation of all poultry.
There was not sufficient breeze to stir the branches of the locust or
the leaves of the grapevine. The captain leaned back on the settee and
yawned. He felt a strong desire to go to sleep.

Now sleeping in the daytime had always been a trick which he despised
and against which he had railed all his life. He had declared times
without number that a man who slept in the daytime--unless of course he
had been on watch all night or something like that--was a loafer, a good
for nothing, a lubber too lazy to be allowed on earth. The day was a
period made for decent, respectable people to work in, and for a man who
did not work, and love to work, Captain Sears Kendrick had no use
whatever. Many so-called able seamen, and even first and second mates,
had received painstaking instructions in this section of their skipper's
code.

But now--now it was different. Why shouldn't he sleep in the daytime?
There was nothing else for him to do. He had no business to transact, no
owners to report to, no vessel to load or unload or to fit for sea. He
had heard the doctor's whisper--not meant for his ears--that his legs
might never be right again, and the word "might" had, he believed, been
substituted for one of much less ambiguous meaning. No, all he was fit
for, he reflected bitterly, was to sit in the sun and sleep, like an old
dog with the rheumatism. He sighed, settled himself upon the bench and
closed his eyes.

But he opened them again almost at once. During that very brief interval
of darkness there had flashed before his mind a picture of a small park
in New York as he had once seen it upon a summer Sunday afternoon. The
park walks had been bordered with rows of benches and upon each bench
slumbered at least one human derelict who, apparently, realized his
worthlessness and had given up the fight. Captain Kendrick sat upright
on the settee, beneath the locust tree. Was he, too, giving
up--surrendering to Fate? No, by the Lord, he was not! And he was not
going to drop off to sleep on that settee like one of those tramps on a
park bench.

He rose to his feet, picked up his cane, and started to walk--somewhere.
Direction made little difference, so long as he kept awake and kept
going. There was a path leading off between the raspberry and currant
bushes, and slowly, but stubbornly, he limped along that path. The path
ended at a gate in a white picket fence. The gate was unlatched and
there was an orchard on the other side of it. Captain Sears opened the
gate and limped on under the apple trees. They were old trees and large
and the shade they cast was cool and pleasant. The soft green slope
beneath them tempted him strongly. He was beginning to realize that
those shaky legs of his were tiring in this, the longest walk they had
attempted since the accident. He had a mind to sit down upon the bank
beneath the apple trees and rest. Then he remembered the mental picture
of the tramps on the park benches and stubbornly refused to yield.
Leaning more heavily upon his cane, he limped on.

The path emerged from beneath the apple trees, ascended a little rise
and disappeared around the shoulder of a high thick clump of lilacs.
Kendrick, tiring more and more rapidly, plodded on. His suffering limbs
were, so to speak, shrieking for mercy but he would not give it to them.
He set himself a "stint"; he would see what was beyond the clump of
lilacs, then he would rest, and then he would hobble back to the Minot
yard. Incidentally he realized that he had been a fool ever to leave it.

His teeth grimly set and each step a labor, he plodded up the little
rise and turned the corner of the lilac bushes. There he stopped, not
entirely because his "stint" was done, but because what he saw surprised
him.

Beyond the lilacs was a small garden, or rather a series of small
gardens. The divisions between them appeared to be exactly the same size
and the plots themselves precisely the same size and shape. There
were--although the captain did not learn this until later--seven of
these plots, each exactly six by nine feet. But there resemblance
ceased, for each was planted and arranged with a marked individuality.
For example, the one nearest the lilac bushes was laid out in a sort of
checkerboard pattern of squares, one square containing a certain sort of
old-fashioned flower and its neighbors other varieties. The plot
adjoining the checkerboard was arranged in diamonds and spirals; the
planting here was floral also, whereas the next was evidently
utilitarian, being given up entirely to corn, potatoes, onions, beets
and other vegetables. And the next seemed to be covered with nothing
except a triumphant growth of weeds.

At the rear of these odd garden plots was a little octagonal building,
evidently a summer-house. Over its door, a door fronting steps leading
down to the gardens, was a sign bearing the name "The Eyrie." And behind
the summer-house was a stretch of rather shabby lawn, a half dozen
trees, and the rear of a large house. Captain Sears recognized the house
as the Seymour residence, now the "Fair Harbor." He had strayed off the
course and was trespassing upon his neighbors' premises. This fact was
immediately brought to his attention. From somewhere at the rear of the
gardens a shrill feminine voice exclaimed:

"Mercy on us! Who's that?"

And another feminine voice chimed in:

"Eh! I declare it's a man, ain't it?"

And the first voice observed sharply:

"Of course it is. You didn't think I thought it was a cow, did you?"

"But what's he doin' here? Is he a tramp?

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Hi! Here! You--man--where are
you going?"

Captain Sears had, by this time, located the voices as coming from the
"Eyrie," the summer-house with the poetical name. He had so far,
however, been able to see nothing of the speakers. But now the tangle of
woodbine and morning-glory which draped the front of the summer-house
was drawn aside and revealed a rustic window--or unglazed window
opening--with two heads framed in it like a double portrait. Both of
these heads were feminine, but one was thin-faced and sharp-featured,
and gray-haired, while the other was like a full moon--a full moon with
several chins--and its hair was a startlingly vivid black parted in the
middle and with a series of very regular ripples on each side.

It was the thin face which was hailing him. The other was merely
staring, open-eyed and open-mouthed.

"Here, you--man!" repeated the shrill voice--belonging to the thin face.
"Where are you going?"

The captain smiled. "Why, nowhere in particular, ma'am," he replied. "I
was just figurin' that I'd gone about as far as I could this voyage."

His smile became a chuckle, but there were no symptoms of amusement
visible upon the faces framed in the window of the Eyrie. The thin lips
merely pressed tighter and the plump ones opened wider, that was all.

"Why don't you answer my question?" demanded the thin woman. "What are
you doing on these premises?"

"Why, nothin' in particular, ma'am. I was just tryin' to take a little
walk and not makin' a very good job at it."

There was an interruption here. The full moon broke in to ask a question
of its own.

"Who is he? What's he talkin' about?" it demanded.

"I don't know who he is--yet."

"Well, what's he talkin' about? Make him speak louder."

"I will, if you give me a chance. He says he is taking a walk. What are
you taking a walk in here for? Don't you know it isn't allowed?"

"Why, no, ma'am, I didn't. In fact I didn't realize I was in here until
I--well--until I got here."

"What is he sayin'?" demanded the moon-face again, and somewhat testily.
"I can't hear a word."

Now the captain's tone had been at least ordinarily loud, so it was
evident that the plump woman's hearing was defective. Her curiosity,
however, was not in the least impaired.

"What's that man talkin' about now?" she persisted. Her companion became
impatient.

"Oh, I don't know," she snapped. "Do give me a chance, won't you? I
think he's been drinking. He says he doesn't know where he is or how he
got here."

Kendrick thought it high time to protest. Also to raise his voice when
doing so.

"That wasn't exactly it," he shouted. "I was takin' a little walk,
that's all. I have to navigate pretty slow for my legs aren't just
right."

"What did he say wa'n't right?" demanded the plump female.

"His legs."

"Eh! Legs! What's he talkin' about his legs for?"

"Oh, I don't know! Do be still a minute. It's his head that isn't right,
I guess he means.... Don't you know you're trespassing? What do you
mean by coming in here?"

"Well, ma'am, I didn't mean anything in particular. I just happened in
by accident. I'm sorry."

"Humph! You didn't come in here to run off with anything that didn't
belong to you, I hope."

The captain looked at her for a moment. Then his lip twitched.

"No, ma'am," he said, solemnly, "I didn't come with that idea--but--"

"But? What do you mean by 'but'?"

"But I didn't realize what there was in here to run off with. If I
had.... There, I guess I'd better go. Good day, ladies. Sorry I troubled
you."

He lifted his cap, turned, and limped out of sight around the clump of
lilacs. From behind him came a series of indignant gasps and
exclamations.

"Why--why--Well, I never in all my born days! The saucy, impudent--"

And the voice of the moon-faced one raised in bewildered entreaty:

"What was it? What did he say? Elviry Snowden, why don't you tell me
what 'twas he _said_?"

Captain Kendrick hobbled back to the Minot yard. He hobbled through the
orchard gate, leaving it ajar, and reaching the bench beneath the locust
tree, collapsed upon it. For some time he was conscious of very little
except the ache in his legs and the fact that breathing was a difficult
and jerky operation. Then, as the fatigue and pain ceased to be as
insistent, the memory of his interview with the pair in the Eyrie
returned to him and he began to chuckle. After a time he fancied that he
heard a sympathetic chuckle behind him. It seemed to come from the
vegetable garden, Judah's garden, which, so Mr. Cahoon told his former
skipper, he had set out himself and was "sproutin' and comin' up
better'n ary other garden in the town of Bayport, if I do say it as
shouldn't."

Kendrick could not imagine who could be chuckling in that garden. Also
he could not imagine where the chuckler could be hiding, unless it was
behind the rows of raspberry and currant bushes. Slowly and painfully he
rose to his feet and peered over the bushes. Then the mystery was
explained. The "chuckles" were clucks. A flock of at least a dozen
healthy and energetic hens were enthusiastically busy in the Cahoon
beds. Their feet were moving like miniature steam shovels and showers of
earth and infant vegetables were moving likewise. Judah had boasted that
the fruits of his planting were "comin' up." If he had seen them at that
moment he would have realized how fast they were coming up.

The sight aroused Captain Kendrick's ire. He was, in a way of speaking,
guardian of that vegetable patch. Judah had not formally appointed him
to that position, but he had gone away and, by the fact of so doing, had
left it in his charge. He felt responsible for its safety.

"Shoo!" shouted the captain and, leaning upon his cane, limped toward
the garden.

"Shoo!" he roared again. The hens paid about as much attention to the
roar as a gang of ditch diggers might pay to the buzz of a mosquito.
Obviously something more drastic than shooing was necessary. The captain
stooped and picked up a stone. He threw the stone and hit a hen. She
rose in the air with a frightened squawk, ran around in a circle, and
then, coming to anchor in a patch of tiny beets, resumed excavating
operations.

Kendrick picked up another stone, a bigger one, and threw that. He
missed the mark this time, but the shot was not entirely without
results; it hit one of Mr. Cahoon's cucumber frames and smashed a pane
to atoms. The crash of glass had the effect of causing some of the fowl
to stop digging and appear nervous. But these were in the minority.

The captain was, by this time, annoyed. He was on the verge of losing
his temper. Beyond the little garden and between the raspberry and
currant bushes he caught a glimpse of the path and the gate through
which he had just come on his way back from the grounds of the Fair
Harbor. That gate he saw, with a twinge of conscience, was wide open.
Obviously he must have neglected to latch it on passing through, it had
swung open, and the hens had taken advantage of the sally port to make
their foray upon Judah's pet vegetables. They were Fair Harbor hens.
Somehow this fact did not tend to deepen Sears Kendrick's affection for
them.

"Shoo! Clear out, you pesky nuisances!" he shouted, and waving his cane,
charged laboriously down upon the fowl. They retreated before him, but
their retreat was strategic. They moved from beets to cabbages, from
cabbages to young corn, from corn to onions. And they scratched and
pecked as they withdrew. Nevertheless, they were withdrawing and in the
direction of the open gate; in the midst of his panting and pain the
captain found a slight comfort in the fact that he was driving the
creatures toward the gate.

At last they were almost there--that is, the main body. Kendrick noted,
with sudden uneasiness, that there were stragglers. A gaily decorated
old rooster, a fowl with a dissipated and immoral swagger and a knowing,
devil-may-care tilt of the head, was sidling off to the left. Two or
three young pullets were following the lead of this ancient pirate,
evidently fascinated by his recklessness. The captain turned to head off
the wanderers. They squawked and ran hither and thither. He succeeded in
turning them back, but, at the moment of his success, heard triumphant
cluckings at his rear. The rest of the flock had, while his attention
was diverted by the rooster and his followers, galloped joyfully back to
the garden again. Now, as Captain Sears gazed, the rooster and his
satellites flew to join them. All hands--or, more literally, all
feet--resumed excavating with the abandon of conscientious workers
striving to make up lost time.

And now Sears Kendrick did lose his temper. Probably at another time he
might have laughed, but now he was tired, in pain, and in no mood to see
the humorous side of the situation. He expressed his opinion of the hens
and the rooster, using quarter deck idioms and withholding little. If
the objects of his wrath were disturbed they did not show it. If they
were shocked they hid their confusion in the newly turned earth of Judah
Cahoon's squash bed.

Whether they were shocked or not Sears did not stop to consider. He
intended to shock them to the fullest extent of the word's meaning. At
his feet was a stick, almost a log, part of the limb of a pear tree. He
picked up this missile and hurled it at the marauders. It missed them
but it struck in the squash bed and tore at least six of the delicate
young squashlings from their moorings. Kendrick plunged after it--the
hens separating as he advanced and rejoining at his rear--picked up the
log and, turning, again hurled it.

"There!" roared the captain, "take that, damn you!"

One of the hens did "take it." So did some one else. The missile struck
just beneath the fowl as she fled, lifted her and a peck or two of soil
as well, and hurled the whole mass almost into the face of a person who,
unseen until then, had advanced along the path from the gate and had
arrived at that spot at that psychological instant. This person uttered
a little scream, the hen fled with insane yells, the log and its
accompanying shower fell back to earth, and Sears Kendrick and the young
woman--for the newcomer was a young woman--stood and looked at each
other.

She was bareheaded and her hair was dark and abundant, and she was
wearing a gingham dress and a white apron. So much he noticed at this,
their first meeting. Afterward he became aware that she was slender and
that her age might perhaps be twenty-four or twenty-five. At that
moment, of course, he did not notice anything except that her apron and
dress--yes, even her hair and face--were plentifully besprinkled with
earth and that she was holding a hand to her eyes as if they, too, might
have received a share of the results of the terrestrial disturbance.

"Oh!" he stammered. "I'm awfully sorry! I--I hope I didn't hurt you."

If she heard him she did not answer, but, removing her hand, opened and
shut her eyes rapidly. The captain's alarm grew as he watched this
proceeding.

"I--I _do_ hope I didn't hurt you," he repeated. "It--it didn't put your
eyes out, did it?"

She smiled, although rather uncertainly. "No," she said.

"You're sure?"

"Yes." The smile became broader. "It's not quite as bad as that, I
guess. I seem to be able to see all right."

He drew a relieved breath. "Well, I'm thankful for so much, then," he
announced. "But it's all over your dress--and--and in your hair--and....
Oh, I _am_ sorry!"

She laughed at this outburst. "It is all right," she declared. "Of
course it was an accident, and I'm not hurt a bit, really."

"I'm glad of that. Yes, it was an accident--your part of it, I mean. I
didn't see you at all. I meant the part the hen got, though."

Her laugh was over, but there was still a twinkle in her eye. Kendrick
was, by this time, aware that her eyes were brown.

"Yes," she observed, demurely, "I--gathered that you did."

"Yes, I--" It suddenly occurred to him that his language had been as
emphatic as his actions. "Good lord!" he exclaimed. "I forgot. I beg
your pardon for that, too. When I lose my temper I am liable to--to make
salt water remarks, I'm afraid. And those hens.... Eh? There they are
again, hard at it! Will you excuse me while I kill three or four of 'em?
You see, I'm in charge of that garden and.... _Get out!_"

This last was, of course, another roar at the fowl, who, under the
leadership of the rake-helly rooster, were scratching harder than ever
in the beds. The captain reached for another missile, but his visitor
stepped forward.

"Please don't," she begged. "Please don't kill them."

"Eh? Why not? They ought to be killed."

"I know it, but I don't want them killed--yet, at any rate. You see,
they are my hens."

"Yours?" The captain straightened up and looked at her. "You don't mean
it?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, I do. They are mine, or my mother's, which is the same thing. I am
dreadfully sorry they got in here. I'll have them out in just a minute.
Oh, yes, I will, really."

Kendrick regarded her doubtfully.

"Well," he said, slowly, "I know it isn't polite to contradict a lady
but if you'll tell me _how_ you are goin' to get 'em out without killin'
'em, I'll be ever so much obliged. You can't drive 'em, I know that."

"I shan't try. Just wait, I'll be right back."

She hurried away, down the path and through the open gate. Captain Sears
Kendrick looked after her. Behind and about him the Fair Harbor hens
clucked and scratched blissfully.

In very little more than the promised minute the young woman returned.
She carried a round wooden receptacle--what Cape Codders used to call a
"two quart measure"--and, as she approached, she shook it. Something
within rattled. The hens, some of them, heard the rattle and ceased
their digging.

"Come, chick, chick! Come, biddy, biddy, biddy!" called the young woman,
rattling the measure. More of the fowl gave up their labors, and looked
and listened. Some even began to follow her. She dipped a hand into the
measure, withdrew it filled with corn, and scattered a few grains in the
path.

"Come, biddy, biddy, biddy!" she said again.

And the biddies came. Forgetting the possibilities of Judah Cahoon's
garden, they rushed headlong upon the golden certainties of those yellow
kernels. The young woman retreated along the path, scattering corn as
she went, and after her scrambled and pecked and squawked the fowl. Even
the sophisticated rooster yielded to temptation and was among the
leaders in the rush. The corn bearer and the flock passed through the
open gate, along the path beneath the Fair Harbor apple trees, out of
sight around the bend. Sears Kendrick was left alone upon the battle
ground, amid the dead and wounded young vegetables.

But he was not left alone long. A few minutes later his visitor
returned. She had evidently hurried, for there was a red spot on each of
her cheeks and she was breathing quickly. She passed through the gate
into the grounds of the General Minot place and closed that gate behind
her.

"There!" she said. "Now they are locked up in the hen yard. How in the
world they ever got out of there I don't see. I suppose some one left
the gate open. I--What were you going to say?"

The captain had been about to confess that it was he who left the gate
open, but he changed his mind. Apparently she had been on the point of
saying something more. The confession could wait.

"What was it?" asked the young woman.

"Oh, nothin', nothin'."

"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter much how they got out, as long as
they did. But I am _very_ sorry they got into Mr. Cahoon's garden. I
hope they haven't completely ruined it."

They both turned to survey the battlefield. It was--like all
battlefields after the strife is ended--a sad spectacle.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed the visitor. "I am afraid they have. What _will_
Mr. Cahoon say?"

The captain smiled slightly.

"I hope you don't expect me to answer that," he observed.

"Why?... Oh, I see! Well, I don't know that I should blame him much.
Have--have they left anything?"

"Oh, yes! Yes, indeed. There are a good many--er--sprouts left. And they
dug up a lot of weeds besides. Judah ought to be thankful for the weeds,
anyhow."

"I am afraid he won't be, under the circumstances."

"Maybe not, but there is one thing that, under the same circumstances,
he _ought_ to be thankful for. That is, that you came when you did. You
may not know it, but I had been tryin' to get those hens out of that
garden for--for a year, I guess. It seems longer, but I presume likely
it wasn't more than a year."

She laughed again. "No," she said, "I guess it wasn't more than that."

"Probably not. If it had been any longer, judgin' by the way they worked,
they'd have dug out the underpinnin' and had the house down by this time.
How did you happen to come? Did you hear the--er--broadsides?"

"Why, no, I--But that reminds me. Have you seen a tramp around here?"

"A tramp? What sort of a tramp?"

"I don't know. Elvira--I mean Miss Snowden--said he was a tall, dark man
and Aurora thought he was rather thick-set and sandy. But they both
agree that he was a dreadful, rough-looking creature who carried a big
club and had a queer slouchy walk. And he came in this direction, so
they thought."

"He did, eh? Humph! Odd I didn't see him. I've been here all the time.
Where was he when they saw him first?"

"Over on our property. In the Fair Harbor grounds, I mean. He came out
of the bushes, so Elvira and Aurora say, and spoke to them. Insulted
them, Elvira says."

"Sho! Well, well! I wonder where he went."

"I can't think. I supposed of course you must have seen him. It was only
a little while ago, not more than an hour. Have you been here all that
time?"

"Yes, I've been here for the last two hours. What part of your grounds
was it? Would you like to have me go over there and look around?"

"No, thank you. You are very kind, but I am sure it won't be necessary.
He has gone by now, of course."

"I should be glad to try." Then, noticing her glance at his limp, he
added: "Oh, I can navigate after a fashion, well enough for a short
cruise like that. But it is funny that, if there was a tramp there such
a little while ago, I didn't run afoul of him. Why, I was over there
myself."

"You were?"

"Yes, you see, I----"

He stopped short. He had been about to tell of his short walk and how he
had inadvertently trespassed within the Fair Harbor boundaries. But
before he could speak the words a sudden and amazing thought flashed
upon him.

"Eh?" he cried. "Why--why, I wonder----"

His visitor was leaning forward. Judging by her expression, she, too,
was experiencing a similar sensation of startled surmise.

"Why----" repeated the captain.

"Oh!" exclaimed the young woman.

"You don't suppose----"

"It couldn't possibly be that----"

"Wait a minute, please. Just a minute." Sears held up his hand. "Where
did those folks of yours see this tramp? Were they in a--in a kind of
roundhouse--summer-house, you might call it?"

"Why, yes. They were in the Eyrie."

"That's it, the Eyrie. And is one of the--er--ladies rather tall and
narrow in the beam, gray-haired, and speaks quick and--school-marmy?"

"Yes. That is Miss Elvira Snowden."

"Of course--Elvira. That's what the other one called her. And she--the
other one--is short and broad and--and hard of hearin'?"

"Yes. Her name is Aurora Chase. Is it possible that you----"

"Just a second more. Has this short one got a--a queer sort of hair rig?
Black as tar and with kind of--of wrinkles in it?"

She smiled at this description. "Yes," she said. "Do you mean that _you_
are----"

"The tramp? I guess likely I am. I was over on your premises just a
little while ago and met those two ladies."

"But you can't be. They said he--the tramp--was a dreadful, rough man,
with a club and--and----"

"Here's the club." Captain Kendrick exhibited his cane. "And these lame
legs of mine would account for that slouchy walk they told you about. I
guess there isn't much doubt that I am the tramp. But I'm sorry if they
thought I insulted 'em. I surely didn't mean to."

He described the meeting by the Eyrie and repeated the dialogue as he
remembered it.

"So you see," he said, in conclusion, "that's all there is to it. I
suppose that hint of mine about bein' tempted to run off with one of 'em
is the nearest to an insult of any of it. Perhaps I shouldn't have said
it, but--but it popped into my head and I couldn't hold it back. I
didn't really mean it," he added solemnly. "I wouldn't have run off with
one of 'em for the world."

This, and the accompanying look, was too much. His visitor had been
listening and trying to appear grave, although her eyes were twinkling.
But now she burst out laughing.

"Honest I wouldn't," reiterated Captain Sears. "And I'm sorry for that
insult."

"Absurd! You needn't be. If there was any insult it was the other way
about. The idea of Elvira's suggesting that you came over there to
steal. Well, we've settled the tramp, at any rate, and I apologize for
the way you were treated, Mr.----"

"Kendrick. My name is Kendrick."

"Yes, Mr. Kendrick. And I am very sorry about the garden, too. Please
tell Mr. Cahoon so, and tell him I think I can promise that the gate
won't be left open again."

"I'll tell him when he comes back. He'll be here pretty soon, I guess.
He and I are old shipmates. He shipped cook aboard of me for a good many
voyages."

She was moving toward the path and the gate, but now she paused and
turned to look at him. There was a new expression on her face, an
expression of marked interest.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Are you--are you Cap'n Sears Kendrick? The one who
was--hurt?"

"Wrecked in the train smash up? Yes, I'm the one. Look like a total
wreck, don't I?"

He laughed as he said it, but there was a taint of bitterness in the
laugh. She did not laugh. Instead she took a step toward him and
involuntarily put out her hand.

"Oh, I'm _so_ sorry!" she said.

"Eh? Oh, you needn't be. I'm gettin' along tip-top. Able to walk and
ride and--er--chase hens. That's doin' pretty well for one day."

"I know. But they were my--our--hens and they must have tired you so.
Please forgive us. I won't," with a smile, "ask you to forgive them."

"Oh, that's all right, that's all right, Miss--er----"

"Berry. I am Elizabeth Berry. My mother is in charge here at the
Harbor."

"Harbor? Oh, yes, over yonder. Berry? Berry? The only Berry I remember
around here was Cap'n Isaac Berry. Cap'n Ike, we young fellows used to
call him. I went to sea with him once, my first voyage second mate."

"Did you? He was my father. But there, I _must_ go. Good-by, Cap'n
Kendrick. I hope you will get well very fast now."

"Thanks. Good-bye. Oh, by the way, Miss Berry, what made you think I
might be Sears Kendrick? There are half a dozen Kendricks around
Bayport."

"Yes, but--excuse me--there is only one Cap'n Sears Kendrick. You are
one of Bayport's celebrities, Cap'n."

"Humph! Notorieties, you mean. So all hands have been talkin' about me,
eh? Humph! Well, I guessed as much."

"Why, of course. You are one of our shining lights--sea lights, I mean.
You must expect to be talked about."

"I do--in Bayport, and I'll be talked about more in a day or two, I
guess."

"Why?"

"Eh? Oh, nothin', nothin'. I was thinkin' out loud, didn't realize I
spoke. Good-by."

"Good-by."

The gate closed behind her. Kendrick sat down once more upon the bench
beneath the locust tree.

When Judah returned with the bucket of clams he found his guest and
prospective boarder just where he had left him.

"Well, by Henry, Cap'n Sears!" he exclaimed. "Still at the same old
moorin's, eh? Been anchored right there ever since I sot sail?"

"Not exactly, Judah. Pretty nearly, though."

"Sho! Kind of dull music for you, I'm afraid. Whoa, you lop-sided
hay-barge! Stand still till I give you orders to move, will ye! That's
what I warned you, Cap'n Sears; not much goin' on around here. You'll be
pretty lonesome, I guess likely."

"Oh, I guess I can stand it, Judah. I haven't been lonesome so far."

"Ain't, eh? That's good. Well, I got my clams; now I'll steer this horse
into port and come back and get to work on that chowder. Oh, say, Cap'n
Sears; I see Sary and told her you was cal'latin' to stay here for
dinner."

"Did you? Much obliged. What did she say?"

"Say? She said a whole lot. Wanted to know how in time you got up here.
'You didn't let him _walk_ all that great long ways, Judah Cahoon?' she
says. 'I ain't altogether a fool, be I?' says I."

Mr. Cahoon paused to search his pockets for a match.

"What answer did she make to that?" asked the captain. Judah grinned.

"Wa--ll," he drawled, "she said, 'Perhaps not--altogether.' 'Twan't
much, but it was enough of the kind, as the feller said about the
tobacco in the coffee pot. Oh, say, that reminds me, Cap'n Sears; there
was somebody else talkin' about you. I--whoa, you camel, you! Creepin',
crawlin', jumpin'---- Well, go ahead, then! I'll tell you the rest in
half a shake, Cap'n. Git dap!"

Horse, cart and driver jogged and jolted into the barn. After a brief
interval Mr. Cahoon reappeared, carrying the clam bucket. They entered
the kitchen together. Then the captain said:

"Judah, you said some one beside Sarah was talkin' about me. Who was
it?"

"Hey? Oh, 'twas Emeline Tidditt, her that's keepin' house for Judge
Knowles. She says the old judge is gettin' pretty feeble. Don't cal'late
he'll last out much longer, Emeline don't. Says it's nothin' but just
grit and hang-on that keeps him alive. He's a spunky old critter, Judge
Knowles is, 'cordin' to folks's tell. Course I don't know him same as
some, but I cal'late he's a good deal on the general build and lines of
a man name of George Dingo that I run afoul of one time to a place
called Semurny--over acrost. You know Semurny, don't ye, Cap'n? One of
them Med'terranean port 'tis."

"Smyrna, do you mean?"

"Um-hm. That's it, Semurny. I was there aboard the _William Holcomb_,
out of Philadelphy. We was loadin' with figs and truck like that. You
remember the old _Holcomb_, don't you, Cap'n Sears? Sartin sure you do.
Horncastle and Grant of Philadelphy they owned her. Old Horncastle was a
queer man as ever I see. Had a cork leg. Got the real one shot off in
the Mexican war or run over by a horse car, some said one and some said
t'other. Anyhow he had a cork one spliced on in place of it, and--ho,
ho! 'twas as funny a sight as ever I see--one time he fell off the wharf
there in Philadelphy. Yes, sir, fell right into the dock, he did. And
when they scrabbled down the ladder to haul him in there wasn't nothin'
in sight but that cork leg, stickin' up out of water. The rest of him
had gone under, but that cork leg hadn't--no, sire-ee! Haw, haw!
Well ... er ... er.... What did I start to talk about, Cap'n Sears?"

"I don't know, Judah. It was a good while ago. You began by sayin' that
you met Judge Knowles's housekeeper."

"Hey? Why, sure and sartin!" Mr. Cahoon slapped his leg. "Sartin sure,
Cap'n Sears, that was it. And I said she and me got to talkin' about
you. Well, well, well! I started right there and I fetched up way over
in Semurny, along of George Dingo. Well, by Henry! Ain't that queer,
now?"

He rubbed his legs and shook his head, apparently overcome by the
queerness of it. Kendrick, judging that another Mediterranean cruise was
imminent, made a remark calculated to keep him at home.

"What did this--what's-her-name--this Tidditt woman say about me?" he
asked.

"Hey? Oh, she said that Judge Knowles wanted to see you. Said that he
asked about you 'most every day, wanted to know how you was gittin'
along, because just as soon as you was well enough to cruise on your own
hook he wanted you to come in and see him."

"Judge Knowles wanted me to come in and see him? Why, that's funny! I
don't know the judge well. Haven't seen him for years, and then only two
or three times. What on earth can Judge Knowles have to say to me?....
Humph! I can't think."

He tried to think, nevertheless. Judah busied himself with the sloppy
process of clam opening. A little later he observed:

"So you wan't lonesome all alone here by yourself while I was gone,
Cap'n? That's good. Glad to hear it."

"Thanks, Judah. I wasn't alone, though."

"You wan't? Sho! Do tell! Have company, did ye? Somebody run in?"

"Yes. And they wouldn't run out again, not for a good while. They came
on business."

"Business? What kind of business?"

"Well, I suppose you might call it gardening. They were interested in
raisin' vegetables, I know that."

Judah laid down the clam knife and regarded his former skipper. "Raisin'
vegetables?" he repeated slowly. "What--? Look here Cap'n Sears, who was
they? Where'd they come from?"

"I believe they came from next door?"

"Next door? From the Harbor?" He rose to his feet, suspicion dawning
upon his face above the whiskers.

"Yes, Judah."

"Cap'n Sears, answer me right straight out. Have those dummed
everlastin' Fair Harbor hens been in my garden again?"

"Yes, Judah."

"Have they--have they?----" Words failed him. He strode up the path to
the garden. Then, after a moment's comprehensive gaze upon the scene of
ruin, the words returned.



CHAPTER IV


Sears Kendrick's prophecy that Bayport would, within the next day or
two, talk about him even more than it had before was a true one. As soon
as it became known that he had left the Macomber home and was boarding
and lodging with Judah Cahoon in the rear portion of the General Minot
house every tongue in the village--tongues of animals and small children
excepted--wagged his name. At the sewing-circle, at the Shakespeare
Reading Society--convening that week at Mrs. Tabitha Crosby's--after
Friday night prayer-meeting at the Orthodox meeting-house, in Eliphalet
Bassett's store at mail times, in the sitting-rooms and kitchens and
around breakfast, dinner and supper tables from West Bayport to East
Bayport Neck and from Poverty Lane to Woodchuck's Misery--the principal
topic was Captain Kendrick's surprising move.

"Why?" that was the question.

Various answers were offered, many reasons suggested, but none satisfied
everybody.

At the Shakespeare Society meeting, just before the reading aloud of
"Cymbeline" began--"Cymbeline" carefully edited, censored and kalsomined
by the selective committee, Mrs. Reverend David Dishup and Miss Tryphosa
Taylor--the feelings of the genteel section of the community were
expressed by no less a personage than Mrs. Captain Elkanah Wingate. Mrs.
Wingate, speaking from the Mount Sinai of Bayport's aristocracy, made
proclamation thus:

"Why, if the man must leave his sister's and go somewhere else to live,
_why_ in the world does he choose to go _there_? Aren't there good,
respectable, genteel boarding-houses like--well, like yours, Naomi, for
instance? _I_ should say so."

Mrs. Naomi Newcomb, whose home sheltered a few "paying guests," smiled
and shook her head. The shake indicated not a doubt of Mrs. Wingate's
judgment, but complete loss as to Sears Kendrick's reasons for behaving
as he had. Other members shook their heads also. Mary-Pashy Foster, who
had spent a winter in France when her husband was ill with the small-pox
at Havre, shrugged her shoulders.

"And," continued Mrs. Captain Wingate, "when you consider the place he
has gone to and the person he has gone with! Good heavens, _I_ say! Good
heavens!"

More words and exclamations of approval. Several others declared that
they said so, too.

"Gone to live," went on Mrs. Wingate, "not in the General Minot house
proper--there might be some explanation for _that_, perhaps--but they
tell me that this Judah Cahoon only uses the back part of the house and
that Cap'n Kendrick has got a room just off the kitchen or thereabouts."

"And Judah himself!" broke in Miss Taylor. "He is as rough and common
as--as--I don't know what. How a man like Cap'n Kendrick can lower
himself--debase himself to such a person's level I _do_ not see. You
would as soon expect a needle to go through a camel's eye, as the saying
is."

There was a slight interval of embarrassment after this outburst. The
majority of those present realized that the speaker had gotten her
proverb twisted, but, she being Miss Tryphosa Taylor, no one felt like
venturing to set her right. Mrs. Captain Godfrey Peasley relieved the
situation; she had a habit of relieving situations--when she did not
make them tenser. She had gotten into the Shakespeare Reading Society
purely by persistence and the possession of adamantine self-confidence.
From that shot-proof exterior snubs, hints and reproofs glanced like
blown peas from the hull of a battleship. "Heaven knows," confided Mrs.
Captain Wingate to Miss Taylor and the Reverend Mrs. Dishup, "why Amelia
Peasley ever wanted to join the Society. She doesn't know whether
Shakespeare is a man or a disease." Which may or not have been true,
the fact remaining that Mrs. Peasley _had_ wanted to join the Society
and--joined.

Now, while others hesitated, following Miss Tryphosa's little blunder,
she spoke.

"I think," she declared, with conviction, "that Sears Kendrick ought to
be ashamed of himself. _I_ think such actions are degradatin'--yes,
indeed, right down degradatin'."

After that, further comments upon the captain's conduct would have
seemed like anti-climaxes. Therefore the Society proceeded to read
"Cymbeline." Mrs. Peasley had something to say about "Cymbeline," also.

Captain Sears himself merely grinned when told of the sensation his
conduct was causing.

"All right," he said, "let 'em talk. If they aren't talkin' about me
they will be about somebody else."

Judah, to whom this remark was made, snorted.

"Humph!" he growled. "They _be_ talkin' about somebody else. Don't you
make no mistake about that, Cap'n Sears."

"That so, Judah? Who's the other lucky man?"

"Me. Jumpin', creepin'---- Why, some of them womenfolks seem to cal'late
I lammed you over the head with a marlinspike and then towed you up here
by main strength; seems if they did, by Henry! And some of the men ain't
a whole lot better. Makes me madder'n a sore nose. I was down to the
store--down to 'Liphalet's--and there was a crew of ha'f a dozen there
and they all wanted to know how you was gittin' along.

"'Well, he ain't dead yit,' says I. 'He was lively enough when I left
him. I ain't come to buy no spade to bury him with.'

"You'd think that would satisfy 'em, wouldn't ye? Well, it didn't! Cap'n
Noah Baker was there and he wanted to know this, and that little runt of
a Thad Black he wanted to know that--and kept on wantin'. And that
brother-in-law of yours, Cap'n Sears, that Joel Macomber, I declare to
man if he wan't the wust of all. You'd think _he_ ought to keep quiet
about your doin's, wouldn't ye, now? But he didn't. 'Don't ask me,
boys,' he says. 'I don't know why Sears quit my house and went to
Judah's. We manage to bear up without him somehow,' says he, winkin' to
the gang, 'but if you ask me his _reasons_ for goin' _I_ can't tell ye.
I presume likely Judah can, though,' he says. 'Well, I can see _one_
reason plain enough,' says I, lookin' right at him."

Kendrick burst out laughing. "Did he get the idea, Judah?" he inquired.

"Him? Nary a bit. Wanted me to tell him what the reason was. Limpin',
creepin' prophets! What did a woman like Sary ever marry him for,
anyway, Cap'n? Not that it's any of my business, you understand."

"I understand. Well, it wasn't any of mine either, Judah."

"No, I presume likely not. But that George Kent, he's a nice young
feller, ain't he, Cap'n?"

"Seems to be," replied Kendrick.

"Um--hm. Come up to me, after the gang had quit havin' their good time,
and shook hands nice and chummy and wanted to know how you was. 'Tell
the cap'n I'm goin' to come in and see him some day,' he says, 'if you
and he want callers.' 'Good land, yes,' says I, 'course we do. Don't
stop to call, come right along in.' He's a nice boy that young Kent....
But--but some of these days I'm goin' to _hit_ that Thad Black--hit him
with somethin' soft like--like an anvil. If that critter fell overboard
I wouldn't heave him no life-preserver. No, sir, by Henry, I'd heave him
the sheet anchor. The longer he hung on to that the better 'twould suit
_me_."

To his sister only did Sears give his reasons for leaving her home. With
her he was perfectly frank.

"You know why I'm doin' this, Sarah," he said. "Now don't you--honest?"

Mrs. Macomber hesitated. "Why, Sears," she faltered reluctantly, "I--I
suppose I can guess why you _think_ you're doin' it. But that doesn't
make it right for you to do it, really."

"Oh, yes, it does. Be sensible, Sarah. Here are you with six children to
support and work for, not to mention one boarder and--a husband. The
house is crowded, aloft and alow. There isn't a bit of room for me."

"Now, Sears, how can you talk so? You've _had_ room here, haven't you?"

"Yes, I've had it, plenty of it. But how much room have the rest of you
had?"

"Why--why, we've had enough. Nobody's complained that I know of."

"Good reason why. You wouldn't let 'em, Sarah. And of course you never
would complain yourself. But that is only part of it. The real thing is
that I will not live on you."

"But you pay board."

"Stuff and nonsense! How much do I pay in comparison with what it costs
to keep me?"

"You pay me all you can afford, I'm sure; and I rather guess, from what
you said about your money affairs the other day, that you pay me more
than you ought to afford. And I don't believe you're goin' to pay that
Judah Cahoon any high board for livin' in that old rats' nest of his. If
you are I shall begin to believe you've gone crazy."

Her brother laughed. "I don't mind payin' Judah little or nothin',
Sarah," he declared. "What I get will be worth it, probably, and besides
he's a strong, healthy man. Then, too--well, I shouldn't say it to any
one but you, but there is a little obligation on his side and that keeps
me from feelin' like too much of a barnacle.... But there, what is the
use of our threshin' this all over again? As I said in the beginnin',
Sarah, you know why I'm doin' it perfectly well."

Mrs. Macomber sighed.

"I suppose I do," she admitted. "It's because you are Sears Kendrick and
as independent and--and proud as--as your own self."

So the move was made and Captain Sears Kendrick's sea chest and its
owner moved into Judah Cahoon's spare stateroom at the General Minot's
place. And Bayport talked and talked more and more and then less and
less until at the end of the captain's first week in his new quarters
the move had become old news and people ceased to be interested in it, a
state of affairs which pleased Mr. Cahoon immensely.

"There, by Henry!" he declared, on his return from what he called a
"cruise down the road along." "I honestly do believe you and me has got
so we can bat our weather eye without all hands and the ship's cat
tryin' to see us do it. I met no less than seven folks while I was down
along just now and only two of 'em hailed to ask how you liked bein'
aboard here, Cap'n Sears. Yes, sir, by creepin', only two of 'em; the
rest never said a word. What do you think of that? Some considerable
change, I call it."

So being forgotten by the majority of Bayporters--which was what he
desired to be--the captain settled down to live, or exist, and to wait.
Just what he was waiting for he would have found hard to tell. Of course
he told his sister when she came to see him, which was at least once
every other day, that he was waiting for his legs to get whole and
strong again, and then he should, of course, go to sea. He told Doctor
Sheldon much the same thing, and the doctor said, "Why, of course, Cap'n
Kendrick. We'll have you on your own quarter deck again one of these
days." He said it with heartiness and apparent sincerity, but Sears was
skeptical. After the doctor's visits he was likely to be blue and
dejected for a time, and Judah noticed this fact but attributed it to
quite a different cause.

"It's high time that doctor swab quit comin' here to see you," declared
Judah. "Runnin' in here and lettin' go anchor and settin' round and
sayin', 'Well, how goes it to-day?' and 'Nice spell of weather we're
havin',' and the like of that, and then goin' home and chalkin' up
another dollar on the bill. No sense to it, I say. No wonder you look
glum, Cap'n Sears. Makes _me_ glum, and 'tain't _my_ money that's bein'
talked out of me, nuther. Hear what he said just now? 'I must go,' he
says. 'And what did you say? Why, you said, 'Don't hurry, Doctor. What
do you want to go for?' All I could do to keep from bustin' out in a
laugh. _I_ know what you was sayin' to yourself, you see. 'Stead of
sayin', 'What do you want to go for?' you was thinkin', 'What in blue
blazes do you want to _come_ for?' Haw, haw! That was it, wan't it,
Cap'n?"

"Why, no, Judah. I'm always glad to see the doctor."

"Ye--es, you be!" with sarcasm. "Glad to see his back. Well, no use,
Cap'n, I've got to think up some notion to keep him from comin' here.
How would it do to run up a signal 'Small-pox aboard,' or somethin' like
that? Think that would keep him off?... No, he's a doctor, ain't he? All
he'd read out of that set of flags would be, 'More dollars. Come on in.'
Haw, haw! Well, I got to think up some way."

Judah's chatter kept his lodger from being too lonely. Mr. Cahoon talked
about everybody and everything, and when he was not talking he was
singing. He sang when he turned out in the morning to get breakfast, he
sang when he turned in at bedtime. He sang while working in the garden
repairing the damages done by the Fair Harbor hens. His repertoire was
extensive, embracing not only every conceivable variety of chantey and
sea song, but also an assortment of romantic ballads, running from "The
Blue Juniata," in which:

    "Wild rowed an Indian girl,
    Bright Al-fa-ra-ta,"

to the ancient ditty of twenty-odd verses describing how

    "There was a rich merchant in London did dwell,
    He had for his daughter a very fine gel,
    Her name it was Dinah, just sixteen years old,
    With a very large fortune in silver and gold.

    "Singing Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay,
    Singing Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay,"

and continuing to sing "Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay" four times after
each of the twenty-odd verses to the tragical finish of Dinah and the
ballad.

As some men take to drink upon almost any or no excuse, so Judah Cahoon
took to song. And if the effect upon him was not as unsteadying as an
over indulgence in alcohol, that upon his hearers was at times upsetting
and disastrous. For example, upon the occasion when Captain Sears again
encountered his acquaintances of the Fair Harbor summer-house, Mr.
Cahoon's singing completely wrecked what might possibly have been a
meeting tending to raise the captain in the estimation of those ladies.

Sears happened to be taking what he liked to call his exercise. Judah
called it "pacin' decks." He was hobbling back and forth along the path
leading to the gate opening upon the Fair Harbor grounds. His landlord
was at work in the garden. The captain had limped as far as the gate and
was about to turn and limp back again when, behold, along the path
beyond that gate appeared two feminine figures strolling with what might
be called careful carelessness, looking up, down and on every side
except that upon which stood Captain Sears Kendrick. And the captain
recognized the pair, the one tall, slim, slender--unusually slim and
remarkably slender--the other short and plump--very decidedly plump--as
the ladies with whom he had held brief but spirited discourse the
fortnight before, the ladies who had peered forth at him from the
vine-draped window of the Eyrie--in short, for Miss Elvira Snowden and
Mrs. Aurora Chase.

The pair came scrolling along the path. They were almost at the gate
when Miss Snowden looked up--she would have said she happened to look
up--and saw the captain standing there. She was embarrassed and
surprised--any one might have noticed the surprise and embarrassment.
She started, gasped and uttered a little exclamation. Mrs. Chase, taking
her affliction into account, could not possibly have heard the
exclamation, but no doubt there was a telepathic quality in it, for
she, too, started, looked up and was surprised and embarrassed.

"Why--why, oh, dear!" faltered Miss Snowden.

"Why! My soul and body!" exclaimed Mrs. Chase.

Captain Sears raised his hat. "Good mornin'," he said politely.

The ladies looked at each other. Then Miss Elvira, evidently the born
leader, inclined her head ever so little and said, "Good morning." Mrs.
Aurora looked up at her in order to see what she said.

Captain Sears tried again.

"It's a nice day for a walk," he observed.

Miss Elvira nodded and agreed, distantly--yet not too distant.

"I understand," said the captain, "that I gave you ladies a little bit
of a scare the other day. Understand you thought I was a tramp. I'm real
sorry. Of course I know I hadn't any business over on your premises,
but, as a matter of fact, I didn't exactly realize where I was. It was
the first cruise I'd made in these latitudes, as you might say, and I
didn't think about keepin' on my own side of the channel buoys. I beg
your pardon. I'll hope you'll excuse me."

Miss Snowden nodded elegantly and murmured that she understood.

"You are our new neighbor, I believe," she said.

"Why, yes'm, I suppose I am."

"Cap'n Kendrick, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"I hope, Cap'n Kendrick, that you won't think there was
any--ah--anything personal in our mistaking you for a tramp the other
day. Of course there wasn't. Oh, dear, no!"

The captain hesitated. He was wondering just what answer he was supposed
to make to this speech. Did the lady wish him to infer that it was the
Fair Harbor custom to consider all male strangers tramps until they were
proven innocent? Or--but Mrs. Chase saved him the trouble of reply.

"Elviry," she demanded, "what are you and him whisperin' about? Why
don't you talk so's a body can hear you? He's Cap'n Kendrick, ain't he?
Have you told him who we be, same as you said you was goin' to?"

Miss Snowden, after looking at the rotund Aurora as if she would like to
bite her, smiled instead and began a rather tangled explanation to the
effect that she and Mrs. Chase had felt that perhaps they had been
a--ah--they might have seemed "kind of hasty--you know, Cap'n Kendrick,
in what--in speaking as we did that time, and so--and so I told her if
we ever _did_ meet you--if we ever _should_, you know---- But
we haven't really met yet, have we? Shall we introduce ourselves? I
don't see why not; neighbors, you know. Cap'n Kendrick, this is Mrs.
Aurora Chase, widow of the late Cap'n Ichabod Chase. No doubt, you knew
Cap'n Chase in the old days, Cap'n Kendrick."

And then Aurora, who had been listening with all her ears, and hearing
with perhaps a third of them, broke in to say that her husband was not a
captain. "He was second mate when he died," she explained. "Aboard the
bark _Charles Francis_ he was, bound for New Bedford from the West
Indies with a load of guano."

Miss Snowden, favoring the veracious Aurora with another look, hastily
introduced herself and began to speak of the beauties of the day, of the
surroundings, and particularly of the select and refined joys of life at
the Fair Harbor.

"We have our little circle there," she said. "We live our lives, quiet,
retired, away from the world----"

Mrs. Chase broke in once more to ask what she was talking about. When
the substance of the Snowden rhapsody was given her, she nodded--as well
as her several chins would permit her to nod--and announced that she
agreed.

"We like livin' at the home first-rate," she declared. Elvira flushed.

"It is _not_ a home," she said, sharply. "It is a select retreat, that
is all. It is not a home in _any_ sense of the word. Every one knows
that it is not. Aurora, I wish to goodness you---- But of course Cap'n
Kendrick doesn't want to hear about us all the time. He is interested in
his own new quarters. Do you like it here, Cap'n Kendrick?
I--ah--understand you are, so to speak, a guest of Mr. Cahoon's. He
is--ah--a relation of yours?"

Sears explained the acquaintanceship between Judah and himself. Miss
Snowden nodded comprehension.

"That explains it," she said. "I thought he could hardly be a relation
of _yours_, Cap'n Kendrick. He is--he is a little bit queer, isn't he? I
mean eccentric, you know. Of course I've never met him, and I'm sure
he's real good-hearted, but----"

She paused, leaving the rest of the sentence to be inferred. Captain
Sear's answer was prompt and crisp.

"Judah Cahoon is one of the best fellows that ever lived," he said.

"Yes, I know. I am sure he is. I didn't mean that. I meant is he--is
he----"

And then Judah himself, at work in the garden behind the screen of
bushes, too busy to hear or even be aware of the conversation at the
gate, chose this untoward moment to burst into song, to sing at the top
of his voice, and the top of Judah's voice was an elevation from which
sound traveled far. He sang:

    "Oh, Sally Brown was a bright mulatter,
      Way, oh, roll and go!
    She drinks rum and chews terbacker,
      Spend my money on Sally Brown.
        Whee--_yip_!"

Miss Elvira's thin figure stiffened to an exclamation point of
disapproval. Captain Kendrick turned uneasily in the direction of the
singer. Mrs. Chase, aware that something was going on and not wishing to
miss it, cupped her ear with her hand. And Judah began the second
verse.

    "Oh, Sally Brown, I'll surely miss you,
      Way, oh, roll and go!
    How I'd love to hug and kiss you!
      Spend my money on Sally Brown.
        Whee--_yip_!"

"Judah!" roared the captain, who was suffering acute apprehension.
"Judah!"

"Oh, Sally Brown----"

"_Judah!"_

"Eh? What is it, Cap'n Sears?"

"Shut up."

"Eh! Shut up what? What's open?"

"Stop that noise."

"What noise?"

"That noise of yours. That singin'."

"Eh? Oh, all right, sir. Aye, aye, Cap'n, just as you say."

Captain Sears, relieved, turned again to his visitors. But the visitors
were rapidly retreating along the path, the lines of Miss Elvira's back
indicating disgust and outraged gentility. Mrs. Chase, however, looked
back. Obviously she still did not know what it was all about.

Sears, although he chuckled a good deal over the affair, was a trifle
annoyed, nevertheless. It was a good joke, of course, and he certainly
cared little for the approval or disapproval of Miss Elvira Snowden. But
when he considered what the prim spinster's version of the happening was
likely to be and the reputation her story was sure to confer, inside the
Fair Harbor fences at least, upon him and his household companion, he
was tempted to wish that that companion's musical talent had been hidden
under a napkin, or, better still, a feather bed. He--Kendrick--was to
live, for a time indefinite, next door to the Fair Harborites, and it is
always pleasant to be on good terms with one's neighbors. True, those
neighbors might be, the majority of them, what Mr. Cahoon called
them--which was whatever term of approbrium he happened to think of at
the moment, "pack of old hens" being the mildest--but the captain knew
that one, at least, was not an "old hen." "That Berry girl," which was
his way of thinking of her, was attractive and kind and a lady. They had
met but once, it is true, but she had made a most favorable impression
upon him. He had caught glimpses of her on two occasions, in the Fair
Harbor grounds, and once she had waved a greeting. She was a nice girl,
he was sure of it. If she thought at all of the cripple next door he
would like her to think of him in a kindly way, as a decent sort of
hulk, so to speak. It was provoking to feel that she would next hear of
him as a dissipated ruffian, friend and defender of another ruffian who
howled ribald songs in the presence--or at least in the hearing--of
ladies.

He questioned Judah concerning the Fair Harbor, its founder and the
dwellers within its gates. Judah told him what he knew of the story,
which was very little more than the captain already knew, his knowledge
gained from his sister's letters. Captain Sylvanus Seymour had had but
one child, his daughter Lobelia. At his death she, of course, inherited
all his property. According to Bayport gossip, as reported by Mr.
Cahoon, the old man had died worth anywhere from one half a million to
three or five millions. "Richer'n dock mud, I cal'late he was," declared
Judah. "Made a lot of money out of his Boston shippin' business and a
lot more out of stocks and city real estate and one thing or 'nother."
For years after Captain Sylvanus died Lobelia lived alone in the big
house. Then she had married. Judah could tell little about the man she
married.

"He was a music teacher that come to town here one winter, that's about
all I can swear to," said Judah. "Down here for his health, so he said,
and taught singin' school while he was gittin' healthy. His last name
was Phillips, which is all right, but he had the craziest fust name ever
_I_ heard. Egbert 'twas. Hoppin', creepin' Henry! Did you ever _hear_
such a name? _Egbert!_ Jumpin' prophets! Boys round town, they tell me,
used to call him 'Eg' behind his back. Some of 'em, them that didn't
like him, called him 'Soft biled.' Haw, haw! See what they meant, don't
you, Cap'n Sears? Egbert, you know, that's 'Eg' for short, and then
'Soft biled' meanin' a soft biled egg.... Hey? Yes, I cal'lated you'd
see it, you're pretty sharp at a joke, Cap'n, but there _has_ been them
I've told that to that never.... Hey? Aye, aye, sir, I was just goin' to
tell the rest of it."

According to Judah's report, which was a second or third hand report of
course, Egbert Phillips had not been too popular among the males in
Bayport. But with the females--ah, there it was different.

"He was one of them kind, they tell me," said Judah. "One of them
smooth, slick, buttery kind of fellers that draws womenfolks same as
molasses draws flies. Hailed from Philadelphy he did. I used to know a
good many Philadelphy folks myself once. Why, one time----"

The captain broke in to head off the Philadelphia reminiscence. Brought
back to Bayport and Egbert and Lobelia, Judah went on to tell what more
he knew of the Fair Harbor beginnings. Sears gathered that after the
marriage Egbert who, it seemed, was not in love with the Cape as a place
of residence, would have liked his wife to sell the old house and move
away. But there was a clause in the will of Captain Sylvanus which
prevented this. Under that will the property could not be sold while his
daughter lived. It was then that Lobelia was seized with her great idea.
She, a mariner's daughter, had--until the Providential appearance of the
peerless Egbert--faced a lonely old age. But she had at least a
comfortable home. There were so many women--sea-captains' widows and
sisters--who faced their lonely future without a home. Why not turn the
Seymour property into a home for them--a limited number of them?

"So she done it," said Judah. "And that's how the Fair Harbor got off
the ways."

"But you called it a home," objected Captain Sears. "The other day that
Snowden woman, the thin one, gave the other, the stout one--what's her
name?--Northern lights--Aurora, that's it--she gave Aurora fits for
speakin' of the place as a home. She declared it wasn't a home."

Mr. Caboon chuckled. "Did, eh?" he observed. "Well, you might call a
mackerel gull a canary bird, I presume likely, but 'twouldn't make the
thing sing no better. That Elviry critter likes to make believe she's
the Queen of Sheby. _She_ wouldn't live in no home--no sir-ee! 'Cordin'
to her the Fair Harbor ain't a home because they only take six or eight
passengers, or visitors, or patients, or jailbirds--whatever you might
to call 'em, and it costs four hundred dollars to pay your way in and a
hundred a year to keep you there. So 'tain't a home, you see. It's a--a
genteel henhouse, I'd say. That Elviry Snowden she----"

Then the captain asked the question to which he had been leading since
the beginning.

"That Berry girl's mother runs the place, doesn't she?" he asked.

Judah snorted. "Yeah," he drawled, "she runs it about the way the
skipper's poll parrot runs the vessel. The poll parrot talks a barrel a
minute and the skipper goes right along navigatin'. That's about the way
'tis over yonder," with a jerk of the head in the general direction of
the Fair Harbor.

His lodger was a trifle surprised.

"Why, I understood Mrs. Berry--Cap'n Isaac Berry's widow--was manager
there," he said.

"Um-hm. So she is, the poll parrot manager. But it's that girl of hers,
that 'Lizabeth Berry, that really handles the ropes. There's a capable
little craft, if you want to know," declared Judah, with emphasis.

He whittled a pipe full of tobacco from the mutilated remnant of a plug,
and continued to expatiate on the capabilities of Miss Berry. According
to him whatever was as it should be within the Fair Harbor boundaries
was due to the young woman's efforts, not to those of her mother.

"It's kind of queer, ain't it, Cap'n Sears," he observed, "how things
average up sometimes. Seems if whoever 'tis works out the course up
aloft sort of fixed 'em that way."

"What's that got to do with the Berrys?"

"Cause it worked that way with them. _You_ knew Cap'n Ike Berry, Cap'n
Sears. Sharp, shrewd, able and all that, but rough and hard as the
broadside of a white-oak plank. Well, he married a woman from down in
the Carolinas somewhere. Her folks was well-off and she was brought up
in cotton wool, as you might say. They wouldn't have nothin' to do with
her after she married Cap'n Ike. He fell in love with her and carried
her off by main strength, as you might say. She'd been treated like a
plaything afore he got her and he treated her that way till he died. She
is soft-spoken, and kind of good-lookin', and polite and all that--but
about as much practical use for bossin' a place like the Fair Harbor as
a--well as a paper umbrella would be in a no'theaster. But 'Lizabeth
now, she's different. She's got her mother's good looks and nice manners
and--and kind of genteelness, you understand, and with 'em she's got her
dad's sense and capableness. She's all right, that girl. Don't you think
so, Cap'n Sears?"

The captain nodded.

"I never met her but that once, Judah," he replied. "She was all right
then, surely."

"I bet you! She's all right most of the time, I guess.... That young
George Kent, he thinks so, they tell me."

"Oh ... does he?"

"Um-hm! He's cruisin' up to the Fair Harbor 'bout every once or twice a
week, 'cordin' to tell. If it ain't to see 'Lizabeth I don't know what
'tis. It might be Queen Elviry he's after, but I have my doubts.... Oh,
say, Cap'n, speakin' of the Harbor reminds me of Judge Knowles. You
ain't been in to see him yet, same as he wanted you to."

"That's so, Judah, I haven't. I must pretty soon, I suppose. I can't
think what the old judge wants to see me for. But why did talkin' of the
Fair Harbor and the rest of it make you think of Judge Knowles?"

"Hey? Oh, 'cause the judge is kind of commodore of the fleet there,
looks after the money matters for 'em, I understand. He's Lobelia's
lawyer, same as he was old Cap'n Sylvanus's afore he died.... I declare
I can't guess what he wants to see you for, Cap'n Sears. Do you
s'pose----"

Judah proceeded to suppose several things, each supposition more
far-fetched and improbable than its predecessor. Sears paid little
attention to them. He again expressed his intention of calling upon the
judge before long and changed the subject.

The next day it rained and he did not go and the following day he did
not feel like going. On the day after that, however, further
procrastination was rendered impossible. Mrs. Tidditt, the judge's
housekeeper, visited the General Minot place with another message from
her employer. Emmeline was gray-haired, brisk and, as Judah expressed
it, "straight up and down," both in figure and manner of speaking.

"Good mornin', Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "Judge Knowles wants to know
if 'twill be convenient for you to come over and see him this afternoon?
Says if 'tis he'll send Mike and the hoss-'n'-buggy around for you at
two o'clock."

The captain's guilty conscience made him a trifle embarrassed.
"Why--why, yes, certainly," he stammered. "I---- Well, I'm ashamed of
myself for not goin' over there sooner. Beg Judge Knowles's pardon for
me, will you, and tell him I'll be on hand at two sharp. And tell him
not to bother to send the horse and team. I'll get there all right."

Mrs. Tidditt sniffed. "I'll tell him the first part," she said. "And
Mike'll have the hoss-'n'-buggy here at ten minutes of. Judah Cahoon,
why in the land of Canaan don't you scrub up that back piazza floor once
in a while? It's dirty as a fish shanty."

Judah's back fin rose. "Say, who's keepin' house aboard here, anyway?"
he demanded. Mrs. Tidditt sniffed again. "Nobody, by the looks," she
said, and departed in triumph.

At two the Knowles horse and buggy drove into the yard. It was piloted
by Mike Callahan, an ancient, much bewhiskered Irishman who had been
employed by the judge almost as long as had Mrs. Tidditt. He and Judah
assisted Sears into the vehicle and the captain started upon his cruise,
which was a very short one, the Knowles establishment being but a few
hundred yards from the Minot place. On the way he inquired concerning
the judge's health. Mike shook his head.

"Bad," he grunted. "It's close _to_, the ould judge is."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Sure ye are. So are we all. He is a fine man, none better--barrin' he's
a grand ould curmudgeon. Here ye are, Cap'n. Git up till I lift ye
down."

Judge Knowles's house--Sears Kendrick had never been in it before--was a
big square mansion built in the '50's. There was the usual front door
leading to a dark front hall from which, to right and left respectively,
opened parlor and sitting rooms. Emmeline ushered the visitor into the
latter apartment. It was high studded, furnished in black walnut and
haircloth, a pair of tall walnut cases filled with books against one
wall, on the opposite wall a libellous oil portrait of the judge's wife,
who died twenty years before, and a pair of steel engravings depicting
"Sperm Whale Fishing in the Arctic"; No. 1, portraying "The Chase," No.
2, "the Capture." Beneath these stood a marble-topped table upon which
were neatly piled four gigantic volumes, bound copies of Harper's
Weekly, 1861 to '65, the Civil War period.

At the end of the room, where two French windows opened--that is, could
have opened, they never were--upon the narrow, iron-railed veranda, sat
Judge Marcus Aurelious Knowles, in an old-fashioned walnut armchair, his
feet upon a walnut and haircloth footstool--Bayport folk in those days
called such stools "crickets"--a knitted Afghan thrown over his legs and
a pillow beneath his head. And in that dark, shadowy room, its curtains
drawn rather low, so white was the judge's hair and his face that, to
Sears Kendrick, just in from the light out of doors, it was at first
hard to distinguish where the pillow left off and the head began.

But the head on the pillow stirred and the judge spoke.

"Ah--good afternoon, Kendrick," he said. "Glad to see you.... Humph.
Can't see much of you, can I? Here, Emmeline, put those shades up, will
you?"

The housekeeper moved toward the windows, but she protested as she
moved.

"Now, Judge," she said, "I don't believe you want them winder curtains
strung way up, do you? I hauled 'em down purpose so's the sun wouldn't
get in your eyes."

"Um--yes. Well, you haul 'em up again. And don't you haul 'em down till
I'm dead. You'll do it then, I know, and I don't want to attend my
funeral ahead of time."

Mrs. Tidditt gasped.

"Oh, Judge Knowles, how _can_ you talk so!" she wailed.

"I intend to talk as I choose--while I can talk at all.... There, there,
woman, that's enough. Put the blasted things up.... Umph! That's better.
Sit down, Cap'n, sit down. I want to look at you."

The captain took one of the walnut and haircloth chairs. The judge
looked at him and he looked at the judge. He remembered the latter as a
tall, broad-shouldered figure, with a ruddy face, black hair slightly
sprinkled with gray, and a nose and eye like an eagle's. The man in the
armchair was thin and shrunken, the face was deeply lined, and face and
hands and hair were snow white. The nose was, however, more eagle-like
than ever, and the eyes beneath the rough white brows had the old flash.

Sears waited an instant for him to speak, but he did not. So the captain
did.

"I beg your pardon, Judge," he began, "for not comin' over here sooner.
I got your message----"

Knowles interrupted. "Oh, you got it, did you?" he said. "Humph! I told
Emmeline to get word to you and she said---- Oh, well, never mind that.
Can't waste time. I haven't got any too much of it, or strength either.
Sorry to hear about your accident, Cap'n. Doctor Sheldon says you had a
close call of it. How are the legs?"

"Oh, I can navigate with 'em after a fashion, but not far. How are you,
Judge? Gettin' better fast, I hope."

The head on the pillow gave an impatient jerk. "Your hope is lost then.
Don't waste time talking about me. I'm going to die and I know it--and
before long.... There, there," as his caller uttered a protest, "don't
bother to pretend, Kendrick. We aren't children, either of us, although
you're a good many years younger than I am; but we're both too old to
make-believe. I'm almost through. Well, it's all right. I've lived past
my three score and ten and I'm alone in the world and ought not to mind
leaving it, I suppose. I don't much. It's an interesting place and there
are two or three matters I should like to straighten up before....
Humph! I'm the one's who's wasting the time. How are you? I don't mean
how would you like to be or how do your fool friends and the doctor tell
you you are--but how _are_ you?"

Captain Sears smiled. It had been a long, long time since any one had
talked to him like this. Not since he relinquished a mate's rating for
that of a master. But he did not resent it; he, too, was sick of
pretending.

"I'm in bad shape, Judge," he said. "My legs are better and I can hobble
around on 'em, as you saw when I hobbled in here. But as to whether or
not they will ever be fit for sea again I--well, I doubt it. And I
rather guess the doctor doubts it, too. I don't say so to many, haven't
said it to any one but you, but it looks to me as if I were on a lee
shore. I may get out of the breakers some day--or I may just lay there
and rot and drop to pieces.... Well, as you say, what's the use of
wastin' time talkin' about me?"

"I've got a reason for talking about you, Cap'n. So you're not confined
to your bed. And your head is all right, eh?"

Kendrick hesitated. He could not make out what in the world the man was
driving at.

"Eh?" repeated the judge.

"Yes, as right as it ever was, I presume likely. Sometimes I think that
may not be sayin' much."

"When a man thinks that way it is a favorable symptom, according to my
experience. From what I've heard and know, Cap'n Kendrick, your head
will do very well. Now there's another question. Have you got all the
money you need?"

The captain leaned back in his chair. He did not answer immediately.
From the head upon the pillow came a rasping chuckle.

"Go on," observed Judge Knowles, "ask it."

Kendrick stared at him. "Ask what?" he demanded.

"The question you had in mind. If I hadn't been a man with one foot in
the grave you would have asked me if I considered the amount of money
you had any of my damned business. Isn't that right?"

Sears hesitated. Then he grinned. "Just about," he said.

"I thought so. Well, in a way it is my business, because, if you have
all the money you need, fifteen hundred a year for the next two or three
years won't tempt you any. And I want to tempt you, Cap'n."

Again the captain was silent for an interval.

"Fifteen hundred a year?" he repeated, slowly.

"Yes."

"For what?"

"For services to be rendered. I've been looking for a man with time on
his hands, who has been used to managing, who can be firm when it's
necessary, has had enough experience of the world to judge people and
things and who won't let a slick tongue get the better of him. And he
must be honest. I think you fill the bill, Cap'n Kendrick."

The visitor tugged at his beard.

"Look here, Judge Knowles," he said crisply, "what are you talkin'
about? What's the joke?"

"It isn't a joke."

"Well, then what is it? You'll have to give me my bearin's, I'm lost in
the fog. Do I understand you to mean that you are offerin' me a berth, a
job where I can earn--no, I won't put it that way, where I will be paid
fifteen hundred a year?"

"I am, and," with another sardonic chuckle, "I rather think you'll earn
all you get. Of course fifteen hundred dollars a year isn't a large
salary, it isn't a sea captain's wage and share--not such a captain as
you've been, Kendrick. But, as I see it, you can't go to sea for a year
or two at least. You are planning to stay right here in Bayport. Well,
while you are here this thing I am offering you will," there was another
chuckle, "keep you moderately busy, and you will be earning something.
It may be that fifteen hundred won't be enough to be worth your while.
Perhaps I shouldn't venture to offer it if I hadn't heard--hadn't
heard----"

Sears interrupted.

"What you heard was probably true," he said crisply. "True enough, at
any rate. Fifteen hundred a year looks like a lot to me now. But what am
I to do to get it, that's the question. I'm a cripple, don't forget
that."

"I should remember it if I thought it necessary. You won't handle this
job with your legs. It is your head I want. Cap'n Kendrick, I want you
to take charge--take command, if you had rather we used seafaring lingo,
of that establishment next door to where you are living now. I want you
to act as--well, we'll call it captain of the Fair Harbor."

Captain Sears's eyes and mouth opened. His chair creaked as he leaned
forward and then slowly leaned back again.

"You--you--" he gasped, "you want me to--to manage that--that _old
women's home_?"

"Yes."

"_Me?_"

"Yes.... Here! where are you going?"

The visitor had risen.

"Stop!" shouted Judge Knowles. "Where are you going?"

The captain breathed heavily.

"I'm goin' to send for the doctor," he declared. "One of us two needs
him."



CHAPTER V


Judge Knowles's answer to his caller's assertion concerning the need of
a physician's services was another chuckle.

"Sit down, Cap'n," he ordered.

Kendrick shook his head. "No," he began, "I'm----"

"Sit down."

"Judge, look here: I don't suppose you're serious, but if you are, I
tell you----"

"No, I'm going to tell _you_. SIT DOWN."

This time the invalid's voice was raised to such a pitch that Mrs.
Tidditt came hurrying from the kitchen.

"My soul and body, Judge!" she exclaimed. "What is it? What _is_ the
matter?"

Her employer turned upon her.

"The matter is that that confounded door is open again," he snapped.

"Why--why, of course 'tis. I just opened it when I came in."

"Umph! Yes. Well then, hurry up and shut it when you go out. _Shut_ it!"

Emmeline, going, not only shut but slammed the door. The judge smiled
grimly.

"Sit down, Kendrick," he commanded once more, panting. "Sit down, I--I'm
out of breath. Confound that woman! She seems to think I'm four years
old. Ah--ah--whew!"

His exhaustion was so apparent that Sears was alarmed.

"Don't you think, Judge----" he began, but was interrupted.

"Sshh!" ordered Knowles. "Wait.... Wait.... I'll be all right in a
minute!"

The captain waited. It took more than a minute, and even then the
judge's voice was husky and his sentences broken, but his determination
was unshaken.

"I want you to listen to me, Cap'n Kendrick," he said. "I know it sounds
crazy, this proposal of mine, but it isn't. How much do you know about
this Fair Harbor place; its history and so on?"

Captain Sears explained that his sister had written him some facts
concerning it and that recently Judah Cahoon had told him more details.
The judge wished to know what Judah had told. When informed he nodded.

"That's about right, so far as it goes," he admitted. "Fairly straight,
for a Bayport yarn. It doesn't go far enough, though. Here is the
situation:

"Lobelia, when she first conceived the fool notion," he said, "came to
me, of course, to arrange it. I was her father's lawyer for years, and
so naturally I was looking out for her affairs. I said all I could
against it, but she was determined, and had her way. She, through me,
set aside the Sylvanus Seymour house and land to be used as a home for
what she called 'mariners' women' as long as--well, as long as she
should continue to want it used for that purpose. She would have been
contented to pay the bills as they came, but, of course, there was no
business method in that, so we arranged that she was to hand over to me
fifty thousand dollars in bonds, the income from that sum, plus the
entrance fees and one hundred dollars yearly paid by each inmate, was to
run the place. That is the way it has been run. She christened it the
Fair Harbor. Heaven knows I had nothing to do with that.

"For a year or so she lived there herself and had a beautiful time
queening it over the inmates. Then that Phillips chap drifted into
Bayport."

The captain interrupted here. "Oh, then the Fair Harbor was off the ways
before she married Phillips?" he said. "Judah told me it was
afterwards."

"He's wrong. No, the thing had been running two years when that
confounded.... Humph! You never met Egbert Phillips, did you, Cap'n?"

"No."

"You've heard about him?"

"Only what Judah told me the other day."

"Humph! What did he tell?"

"Why, he--he gave me to understand that this Phillips was a pretty
smooth article."

"Smooth! Why, Kendrick, he is.... But there, you'll meet him some day
and no feeble words of mine could do him justice. Besides all my words
are getting too feeble to waste--even on anything as beautiful as Egbert
the great.... And that condemned doctor will be here pretty soon, so we
must get on.... Ah.... Well, he came here to teach singing, Phillips
did, and he had all the women in tune before the first lesson was over.
They said he was wonderful, and he was--good God, yes! They kept on
thinking he was wonderful until he married Lobelia Seymour."

"Then they changed their minds, eh?"

"Humph! You don't know women, do you, Cap'n? Never mind, you've got time
enough left to learn in.... No, they didn't change their minds. They
thought Egbert was as wonderful as ever, but they agreed that Lobelia
had roped him in. _She_ had roped _him_ in! Oh, lord!... Well, they were
married and went to Boston to live. Afterwards they went to Europe. Five
years ago they came back here for a week's visit. Cahoon tell you about
that?"

"No."

"Probably he didn't know about it. They did, though, and stayed here
with me, of course. Lobelia settled that, I imagine--one of the times
when she settled something herself. And while she was here she and I
settled something else. She added a codicil to her will making the fifty
thousand dollars in my possession and the house and Seymour land a gift,
absolute, to the Fair Harbor. And she appointed me as sole trustee of
the fund and financial manager of the home, with authority to appoint my
own successor. And her husband didn't know a thing about it. Didn't
when they went away; I'm sure I don't know whether he does now or not,
but he didn't then. No, sir, we settled the Fair Harbor fund and
Egbert's hash, so far as it was concerned. Ha, ha! And a blessed good
job, too, Kendrick.... Hand me that glass of water, will you? Thanks."

He drank a swallow or two of water and lay back upon the pillow. Captain
Sears was a little anxious. He suggested that, perhaps, he had better be
told the rest another time.

"I think you had better rest now, Judge," he counseled. The judge
consigned the "rest" idea to a place where, according to tradition,
there is very little of it.

"I want you to hear this," he snapped. "Don't bother me, but listen....
Where was I?... Oh, yes.... Well, Lobelia and her husband went away, to
Europe again. They have been there ever since, living in Italy. Egbert
finds the climate there agrees with him, I suppose---- Humph!... I have
had letters from Lobelia. The later ones were shorter and not
encouraging. She wrote that she wasn't well and the doctors didn't seem
to help her much. After two or three of these letters I wrote one,
myself--to the American consul at Florence. He is the son of a good
friend of mine. I explained the situation and asked him to find out just
what ailed her and what the prospects were. His reply explained things.
Poor Lobelia is in my position--except that my age entitles me to be
there and hers doesn't; she has an incurable disease and she is likely
to die at any time. No hope for her. And now, it seems she has found it
out. About a month ago I had another letter from her.... Humph!... Wait
a minute, Cap'n. Give me that glass again, will you. Sorry to be such a
condemned nuisance--particularly to other people.... Wait! Hold on! When
I've finished you can talk. Hear the rest of it first.

"Lobelia's latest--last, I shouldn't wonder--letter was a sad sort of a
thing. I'm a tough old fellow, but I declare I'm sorry for that poor
woman. Fool to marry Phillips? Of course she was, but most of us are
fools, some time or other. And, if I don't miss my guess, she has
repented of her foolishness many times and all the time. She wrote me
she knew she was going to die. And she said---- But here is the letter.
Read it, that page of it."

He fumbled among the papers and books on the table beside him, selected
a sheet of paper, covered with closely written lines, and extended it in
a shaking hand to his caller.

"That explains things a little," he said. "It's illuminating. Read it."

Captain Sears read.... "And so I am _very_ anxious, dear Judge Knowles,
whatever else happens, that the Fair Harbor shall always be as it is, a
home for sisters and widows and daughters of men who went down to the
sea in ships, as father did. I know he would have liked it. And
_please_, after I'm gone, don't let it be sold or given up, or anything
like that. I am asking this of you, because I know I can trust you. You
have proved it so many times. And--I never have written you this before
but it is true--I have so little left except the Fair Harbor and its
endowment. You will wonder where the money has gone. I do not know. It
seems to have slipped away little by little and neither my husband nor I
can account for...."

The page ended there. The captain would have handed it back to Knowles,
but the latter asked him to put it on the table.

"Put it in the envelope and put the envelope in the drawer, will you,
Kendrick?" he said. "My housekeeper is a good housekeeper, but what is
mine is hers--including correspondence.... Well, you see? She can't
account for the disappearance of the money. I can. When you have a five
thousand dollar income and spend ten thousand you can account for a
lot.... Humph! Well, the fact is that I am expecting to hear of
Lobelia's death at any time. She may be dead to-day--or to-morrow--or
next week. And as soon as I hear of it I shall say to myself.... Humph!
Cap'n, you know how the Old Farmer's Almanac, along in November,
prophesies the weather, don't you? 'About this time look out for snow.'
Yes, well, on a date about a month after the day I hear of Lobelia
Phillips's death I should write on the calendar: 'About this time look
for Egbert.' ... Humph.... Eh? See, don't you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

Kendrick smiled, he couldn't help it. He tugged thoughtfully at his
beard.

"Yes," he admitted, "I guess likely I see. But I don't see where I come
in. You can handle Egbert, Judge, or I don't know much about men."

The judge snorted. "Handle him," he repeated. "I think I could handle
him--and enjoy the job. The trouble is I shan't have the chance. I won't
be here. I'll be in the graveyard."

He spoke of it as casually as he might of Boston or New York. Again his
listener could not help but protest.

"Why, Judge," he began, "that's perfectly ridiculous. You----"

The judge interrupted. "Perhaps," he said, drily. "In fact, I agree with
you. The graveyard is a ridiculous place for anybody to be, but I shall
be there--and soon. But I am not going to let it interfere with my plans
concerning the Fair Harbor. Lobelia Seymour I've known since she was a
little girl, and whether I'm dead or alive, I'm going to have her wishes
carried out. That's why I'm telling you these things, Sears Kendrick. I
am counting on you to carry them out."

The captain leaned back in his chair.

"Why pick on me?" he asked, drily.

"Why? Because I've got to pick on somebody and do it while I have the
strength to pick. You and I have never been close friends, Kendrick, but
I've watched you and kept track of you for years, in a general sort of
way. Your sister and I have had a long acquaintanceship. There's another
woman who made a mistake.... Eh?"

Sears nodded.

"I'm afraid so," he admitted. "Joel is a good enough fellow, in his way,
but----"

"But--that's it. Well, he's got a good wife and she's your sister. I
know you can handle this Fair Harbor job if you will and if you take it
on I shall go to--well, to that graveyard we were talking about, with an
easier mind. Look here--why----"

"Hold on a minute, Judge. Heave to and let me say a word. If there
wasn't any other reason why I shouldn't feel like takin' the wheel of an
old woman's home there would be this one: You need a business man there
and I'm no business man."

"How do you know you're not?"

"Because I've just proved it. You heard somethin' of how my voyage in
business ashore turned out. I'll tell you the truth about it."

He did, briefly, giving the facts of his disastrous sojourn in
ship-chandlery.

"So that's how good a business man _I_ am," he said in conclusion. "And
I'm a cripple besides. Much obliged, Judge, but you'll have to ship
another skipper, I'm afraid."

He was rising but Judge Knowles barked a profane order for him to keep
his seat.

"I know all that," he snapped. "Knew about it just after it happened.
And I know, too, that you paid your share of the debts dollar for
dollar. I'll risk you in this job I'm offering you.... Yes, and you're
the only man I will risk--the only one in sight, that is. Come now,
don't say no. Think it over. I'll give you a week to think it over in.
I'd give you a month, but I might not be here at the end of it.... Will
you take the offer under consideration and then come back and have
another talk with me? Eh? Will you?"

The captain hesitated. He wanted to say no, of course, should say it
sooner or later, but he hated to be too abrupt in his refusal. After
all, the offer, although absurd, was, in a way, a compliment and he
liked the old judge. So he hesitated, stammered and then asked another
question.

"You've got a skipper aboard the Fair Harbor already, haven't you?" he
inquired. "Judah told me that Cap'n Ike Berry's widow was runnin' the
place."

"Humph! That isn't all he told you, is it?"

Kendrick smiled. "Why"--he hesitated, "I--"

"Come, come, come! Of course he told you that Cordelia Berry was another
one of those mistakes we've been talking about. She is, but her husband
was one of my best friends and his daughter is another. No mistake
there, Cap'n Kendrick, I tell you.... But you've met Elizabeth, I
understand, eh?"

He chuckled as he said it. Sears was surprised and a trifle confused.
Evidently she had told of their encounter in Judah's garden.

"Well, yes," he admitted. "We met."

"Ha, ha! So I heard. Handled the poultry pretty well, didn't she? She
ought to, she's had experience in handling old hens for some time."

"I presume likely. Then I don't see why you don't let her keep on
handlin' 'em. What do you want me for?"

"Oh, damnation, man, haven't I told you! I want you because I'm going to
die and somebody--some man--must take my place.... Look here, Kendrick.
I appoint you general manager of the Fair Harbor, take it or leave it.
But _if_ you leave it don't do it for a week, and, before you do,
promise me you'll go over there some day and look around. Meet Cordelia
and talk to her, meet Elizabeth and talk to her. Meet some of
the--er--hens and talk to them. But, this is the main thing, look
around, listen, see for yourself. Then you can come back and, if you
accept, we'll discuss details. Will you do that much?"

Captain Sears looked troubled. "Why, yes, I suppose so," he said,
reluctantly, "to oblige you, Judge. But it's wasted time, I shan't
accept. Of course I thank you for the offer and all that, but I might as
well, seems to me, say no now as next week."

"No such thing. And you will go there and look around?"

"Why--yes, I guess so. But won't the Berry woman and the rest of 'em
think I'm nosin' in where I don't belong? I should, if I were they, and
I'd raise a row about it, too."

"Nonsense. They can't object to your making a neighborly call, can they?
And if they do, let 'em. A healthy row won't do a bit of harm over
there. Give 'em the devil, it's what they need.... See here, will you
go?"

"Yes."

"Good! And, remember, you are appointed to this job this minute if you
want it. Or you may take it at any time during the week; don't bother to
speak to me first. Fifteen hundred a year, live with Cahoon or whoever
you like, precious little to do except be generally responsible for the
Fair Harbor--oh, how I hate that syrupy, sentimental name!--financially
and in a business way.... Easy berth, as you sailors would say, eh? Ha,
ha!... Well, good day, Cap'n. Can you find your way out? If not call
that eternally-lost woman of mine and she'll pilot you.... Ah....
yes.... And just hand me that water glass once more.... Thanks.... I
shall hope to hear you've accepted next time I see you. We'll talk
details and sign papers then, eh?... Oh, yes, we will. You won't be fool
enough to refuse. Easy berth, you know, Kendrick. And don't forget
Egbert; eh? Ha, ha.... Umph--ah, yes.... Where's that damned
housekeeper?"

Mike Callahan asked no questions as he drove his passenger back to the
General Minot place--no direct questions, that is--but it was quite
evident that his curiosity concerning the reasons for Captain Kendrick's
visit was intense.

"Well, the ould judge seen you at last, Cap'n," he observed.

"Yes."

"I expect 'twas a great satisfaction to him, eh?"

"Maybe so. Looks as if it was smurrin' up for rain over to the west'ard,
doesn't it?"

Mr. Callahan delivered his passenger at the Minot back door and
departed, looking grumpy. Then Mr. Cahoon took his turn.

"Well, Cap'n Sears," he said, eagerly, "you seen him."

"Yes, Judah, I saw him."

"Um-hm. Pretty glad to see you, too, wan't he?"

"I hope so."

"Creepin' prophets, don't you _know_ so? Ain't he been sendin' word by
Emmeline Tidditt that he wanted to see you more'n a million times?"

"Guess not. So far as I know he only wanted to see me once."

"No, no, no. You know what I mean, Cap'n Sears.... Well--er--er--you
seen him, anyway?"

"Yes, I saw him."

"Um-hm ... so you said."

"Yes, I thought I did."

"Oh, you did--yes, you did.... Um-hm--er--yes."

So Judah, too, was obliged to do without authentic information
concerning Judge Knowles's reason for wishing to meet Sears Kendrick. He
hinted as far as he dared, but experience gained through years of sea
acquaintanceship with his former commander prevented his doing more than
hint. The captain would tell just exactly what he wished and no more,
Judah knew. He knew also that attempting to learn more than that was
likely to be unpleasant as well as unprofitable. It was true that his
beloved "Cap'n Sears" was no longer his commander but merely his lodger,
nevertheless discipline was discipline. Mr. Cahoon was dying to know why
the judge wished to talk to the captain, but he would have died in
reality rather than continue to work the pumps against the latter's
orders, expressed or intimated. Judah was no mutineer.



CHAPTER VI


Sears put in a disagreeable day or two after his call upon the judge. He
was dissatisfied with the ending of their interview. He felt that he had
been foolishly soft-hearted in promising to call at the Fair Harbor, or,
to consider for another hour the preposterous offer of management of
that institution. He must say no in the end. How much better to have
said it then and there. Fifteen hundred a year looked like a lot of
money to him. It tempted him, that part of the proposition. But it did
not tempt him sufficiently to overcome the absurdities of the remaining
part. How could _he_ manage an old woman's home? And what would people
say if he tried?

Nevertheless, he had promised to visit the place and look it over and
the promise must be kept. He dreaded it about as much as he had ever
dreaded anything, but--he had promised. So on the morning of the third
day following that of his call upon Judge Knowles he hobbled painfully
and slowly up the front walk of the Fair Harbor to the formidable front
door, with its great South Sea shells at each end of the granite
step--relics of Captain Sylvanus's early voyages--and its silver-plated
name plate with "SEYMOUR" engraved upon it in Gothic lettering. To one
looking back from the view-point of to-day such a name plate may seem a
bit superfluous and unnecessary in a village where every one knew not
only where every one else lived, but how they lived and all about them.
The fact remains that in Bayport in the '70's there were many name
plates.

Sears gave the glass knob beside the front door a pull. From the
interior of the house came the resultant "_JINGLE_; _jingle_; jingle,
jing, jing." Then a wait, then the sound of footsteps approaching the
other side of the door. Then a momentary glimpse of a reconnoitering eye
behind one of the transparent urns engraved in the ground glass pane.
Then a rattle of bolt and latch and the door opened.

The woman who opened it was rather good looking, but also she
looked--well, if the captain had been ordered to describe her general
appearance instantly, he would have said that she looked "tousled." She
was fully dressed, of course, but there was about her a general
appearance of having just gotten out of bed. Her hair, rather
elaborately coiffured, had several loose strands sticking out here and
there. She wore a gold pin--an oval brooch with a lock of hair in it--at
her throat, but one end was unfastened. She wore cotton gloves, with
holes in them.

"Good mornin'," said the captain.

The woman said "Good morning." There was no "r" in the "morning" so,
remembering what he had heard concerning Mrs. Isaac Berry's rearing,
Kendrick decided that this must be she.

"This is Mrs. Berry, isn't it?" he inquired.

"Yes." The lady's tone was not too gracious, in fact there was a trace
of suspicion in it, as if she was expecting the man on the step to
produce a patent egg-beater or the specimen volume of a set of
encyclopedias.

"How do you do, Mrs. Berry," went on the captain. "My name is Kendrick.
I'm your neighbor next door, and Judge Knowles asked me to be neighborly
and cruise over and call some day. So I--er--so I've cruised, you see."

Mrs. Berry's expression changed. She seemed surprised, perhaps a little
annoyed, certainly very much confused.

"Why--why, yes, Mr. Kendrick," she stammered. "I'm so glad you did.... I
am so glad to see you.... Ah--ah---- Won't you come in?"

Captain Sears entered the dark front hall. It smelt like most front
halls of that day in that town, a combination smell made up of
sandal-wood and Brussels carpet and haircloth and camphor and damp
shut-up-ness.

"Walk right in, do," urged Mrs. Berry, opening the parlor door. The
captain walked right in. The parlor was high-studded and square-pianoed
and chromoed and oil-portraited and black-walnutted and marble-topped
and hairclothed. Also it had the fullest and most satisfying assortment
of whatnot curios and alum baskets and whale ivory and shell frames and
wax fruit and pampas grass. There was a majestic black stove and window
lambrequins. Which is to say that it was a very fine specimen of a very
best parlor.

"Do sit down, Mr. Kendrick," gushed Mrs. Berry, moving about a good deal
but not, apparently, accomplishing very much. There had been a feather
duster on the piano when they entered, but it, somehow or other, had
disappeared beneath the piano scarf--partially disappeared, that is, for
one end still protruded. The lady's cotton dusting-gloves no longer
protected her hands but now peeped coyly from behind a jig-sawed
photograph frame on the marble mantelpiece. The apron she had worn lay
on the floor in the shadow of the table cloth. These habiliments of
menial domesticity slid, one by one, out of sight--or partially so--as
she bustled and chatted. When, after a moment, she raised a window shade
and admitted a square of sunshine to the grand apartment, one would
scarcely have guessed that there was such drudgery as housework,
certainly no one would have suspected the elegant Mrs. Cordelia Berry of
being intimately connected with it.

She swept--in those days the breadth of skirts made all feminine
progress more or less of a sweep--across the room and swished gracefully
into a chair. When she spoke she raised her eyebrows, at the end of the
sentence she lowered them and her lashes. She smiled much, and hers was
still a pretty smile. She made attractive little gestures with her
hands.

"I am _so_ glad you dropped in, Mr. Kendrick," she declared. "So very
glad. Of course if we had known when you were coming we might have been
a little better prepared. But there, you will excuse us, I know.
Elizabeth and I--Elizabeth is my daughter, Mr. Kendrick.... But it is
_Captain_ Kendrick, isn't it? Of course, I might have known. You look
the sea--you know what I mean--I can always tell. My dear husband was a
captain. You knew that, of course. And in the old days at my girlhood
home so many, _many_ captains used to come and go. Our old home--my
girlhood home, I mean--was always open. I met my husband there.... Ah
me, those days are not these days! What my dear father would have said
if he could have known.... But we don't know what is in store for us, do
we?... Oh, dear!... It's such charming weather, isn't it, Captain
Kendrick?"

The captain admitted the weather's charm. He had not heard a great deal
of his voluble hostess's chatter. He was there, in a way, on business
and he was wondering how he might, without giving offence, fulfill his
promise to Judge Knowles and see more of the interior of the Fair
Harbor. Of the matron of that institution he had already seen enough to
classify and appraise her in his mind.

Mrs. Berry rambled on and on. At last, out of the tumult of words,
Captain Sears caught a fragment which seemed to him pertinent and
interesting.

"Oh!" he broke in. "So you knew I was--er--hopeful of droppin' in some
time or other?"

"Why, yes. Elizabeth knew. Judge Knowles told her you said you hoped to.
Of course we were delighted.... The poor dear judge! We are _so_ fond of
him, my daughter and I. He is so--so essentially aristocratic. Oh, if
you knew what that means to me, raised as I was among the people I was.
There are times when I sit here in this dreadful place in utter
despair--utter.... Oh--oh, of course, Captain Kendrick, I wouldn't have
you imagine that Elizabeth and I don't like this house. We _love_ it.
And dear 'Belia Seymour is my _closest_ friend. But, you know----"

She paused, momentarily, and the captain seized the opportunity----

"So Judge Knowles told you I was liable to call, did he?" he queried.
He was somewhat surprised. He wondered if the Judge had hinted at a
reason for his visit.

"Why, yes," replied Mrs. Berry, "he told Elizabeth. She said---- Oh,
here you are, dearie. Captain Kendrick, our next door neighbor, has run
in for a little call. Isn't it delightful of him? Captain Kendrick, this
is my daughter, Elizabeth."

She had entered from the door behind the captain's chair. Now she came
forward as he rose from it.

"How do you do, Cap'n Kendrick?" she said. "I am very glad to see you
again. Judge Knowles told me you were planning to call."

She extended her hand and the captain took it. She was smiling, but it
seemed to him that the smile was an absent-minded one. In fact--of
course it might be entirely his imagination--he had a feeling that she
was troubled about something.

However, he had no time to surmise or even reply to her greeting. Mrs.
Berry had caught a word in that greeting which to her required
explanation.

"Again?" she repeated. "Why, Elizabeth, have you and Captain Kendrick
met before?"

"Yes, Mother, that day when our hens got into Mr. Cahoon's garden. You
remember I told you at the time."

"I don't remember any such thing. I remember Elvira said that she and
Aurora met him one afternoon, but I don't remember your saying anything
about it."

"I told you. No doubt you have forgotten it."

"Nonsense! you know I never forget. If there is one thing I can honestly
pride myself on it is a good memory. You may have thought you told me,
but---- Why, what's that noise?"

The noise was a curious babble or chatter, almost as if the sound-proof
door--if there was such a thing--of a parrot cage had been suddenly
opened. It came from somewhere at the rear of the house and was,
apparently, produced by a number of feminine voices all speaking very
fast and simultaneously.

Elizabeth turned, glanced through the open door behind her, and then at
Mrs. Berry. There was no doubt now concerning the troubled expression
upon her face. She was troubled.

"Mother--" she began, quickly. "Excuse us, Cap'n Kendrick,
please--mother, have Elvira and Susan Brackett been talking to you about
buying that collection of--of what they call garden statuary at Mrs.
Seth Snowden's auction in Harniss?"

And now Mrs. Berry, too, looked troubled. She turned red, stammered and
fidgetted.

"Why--why, Elizabeth," she said, "I--I don't see why you want to discuss
that now. We have a visitor and I'm sure Captain Kendrick isn't
interested."

Her daughter did not seem to care whether the visitor was interested or
not.

"Tell me, mother, please," she urged. "_Have_ they been talking with you
about their plan to buy that--those things?"

Mrs. Berry's confusion increased. "Why--why, yes," she admitted. "Elvira
did tell me about it, something about it. She said it was beautiful--the
fountain and the--the deer and--and how pretty they would look on the
lawn and----"

"Mother, you didn't give them the least encouragement, did you? They
say--Elvira and Mrs. Brackett say you told them you thought it a
beautiful idea and that you were in favor of what they call their
committee going to the sale next Monday and buying those--those
cast-iron dogs and children with the Fair Harbor money? I am sure you
didn't say that, did you, mother?... I'm awfully sorry, Cap'n Kendrick,
to bring this matter into the middle of your call, but really it is very
important and it can't be postponed, because.... Tell me, Mother, they
will be here in a moment. You didn't say any such thing, did you?"

Mrs. Berry's fine eyes--they had been called "starlike" twenty years
before, by romantic young gentlemen--filled with tears. She wrung her
hands.

"I--I only said--" she stammered, "I---- Oh, I don't think I said
anything except--except that---- Well, they were so sure they were
lovely and a great bargain--and you know Captain Snowden's estate in
Harniss was perfectly _charming_. You know it was, Elizabeth!"

"Mother, you didn't tell them they might buy them?"

"Why--why, no, I--I don't think I did. I--I couldn't have because I
never do anything like that without consulting you.... Oh, Elizabeth,
_please_, don't let us have a scene here, with Captain Kendrick present.
What _will_ he think? Oh, dear, dear!"

Her handkerchief was called into requisition. Sears Kendrick rose from
his chair. Obviously he must go and, just as obviously, he knew that in
order to fulfill his promise to the judge in spirit as well as letter he
ought to stay. This was just the sort of situation to shed light upon
the inner secrets of the Fair Harbor and its management....
Nevertheless, he was not going to stay. His position was much too
spylike to suit him. But before he could move there were other
developments.

While Miss Berry and her mother had been exchanging hurried questions
and answers the parrot-cage babble from the distant places somewhere at
the end of the long entry beyond the door had been continuous. Now it
suddenly grew louder. Plainly the babblers were approaching along that
entry and babbling as they came.

A moment more and they were in the room, seven of them. In the lead was
the dignified Miss Elvira herself, an impressive figure of gentility in
black silk and a hair breast pin. Close behind her, of course, was the
rotund Mrs. Aurora Chase, and equally close--yes even a little in
advance of Aurora, was a solidly built female with gray hair, a square
chin, and a very distinct mustache. The others were in the rear, but as
they came in one of these, a little woman in a plain gingham dress, who
wore steel spectacles upon a sharp little nose, left the group and took
a stand a little apart, regarding the company with lifted chin and a
general air of determination and uncompromising defiance. Later on
Captain Sears was destined to learn that the little woman was Mrs.
Esther Tidditt, and the lady with the mustache Mrs. Susanna Brackett.
And that the others were respectively Mrs. Hattie Thomas, Miss Desire
Peasley, and Mrs. Constance Cahoon. Each of the seven was, of course,
either a captain's widow or his sister.

Just at the moment the captain, naturally, recognized nobody except Miss
Snowden and Mrs. Chase. Nor did he notice individual peculiarities
except that something, excitement or a sudden jostle or something, had
pushed Aurora's rippling black locks to one side, with the result that
the part which divided the ripples, instead of descending plumb-line
fashion from the crown of the head to a point directly in the center of
the forehead, now had a diagonal twist and ended over the left eye. The
effect was rather astonishing, as if the upper section of the lady's
head had slipped its moorings.

He had scarcely time to notice even this, certainly none in which to
speculate concerning its cause. Miss Snowden, who held a paper in her
hand, stepped forward and began to speak, gesticulating with the paper
as she did so. She paid absolutely no attention to the masculine
visitor. She was trembling with excitement and it is doubtful if she
even saw him.

"Mrs. Berry," she began, "we are here--we have come here, these ladies
and I--we have come here--we---- Oh, what _is_ it?"

This last was addressed to Mrs. Chase, who was tugging at her skirt.

"Talk louder," cautioned Aurora, in a stage whisper. "I can't hear you."

With an impatient movement Miss Snowden freed her garment and began
again.

"Mrs. Berry," she repeated, "we are here, these ladies and I, to--to ask
a question and to express our opinion on a very important matter. We are
all agreed----"

Here she was again interrupted, this time by Mrs. Esther Tidditt, the
little woman in the gingham dress. Mrs. Tidditt's tone was brisk and
sharp.

"No, we ain't agreed neither," she announced, with a snap of her head
which threatened shipwreck to the steel spectacles. "_I_ think it's
everlastin' foolishness. Don't you say _I'm_ agreed to it, Elvira
Snowden."

Elvira drew her thin form erect and glared. "We are practically agreed,"
she proclaimed crushingly. "You are the only one who doesn't agree."

"Humph! And I'm the only one that is practical. Of all the silly----"

"Esther Tidditt, was you appointed to do the talking for this committee
or was I?"

"You was, but that don't stop me from talkin' when I want to. I ain't on
the committee, thank the good lord. I'm my own committee."

This declaration of independence was received with an outburst of
indignant exclamations, in the midst of which Mrs. Chase could be heard
demanding to be told what was the matter and who said what. Elizabeth
Berry stilled the hubbub.

"Hush, hush!" she pleaded. "Don't, Esther, please. You can say your word
later. I want mother--and Cap'n Kendrick--to hear this, all of it."

The captain was still standing. He had risen when the "committee"
entered the room. Its members, most of them, had been so intent upon the
business which had brought them there that they had ignored his
presence. Now, of course, they turned to look at him. There was
curiosity in their look but by no means enthusiastic approval. Miss
Snowden's nod was decidedly snippy. She looked, sniffed and turned again
to Mrs. Berry.

"We want your mother to hear it," she declared. "We've come here so she
shall hear it--all of it. If--if _others_--who may not be 'specially
interested want to hear they can, I suppose. I don't know why not....
_We_ haven't anything to hide. _We_ ain't ashamed--are not, I should
say. Are we?" turning to those behind and beside her.

Mrs. Brackett announced that she certainly should say not, so did
several others. There was a general murmur of agreement. Every one
continued to look at the captain. He was embarrassed.

"I think perhaps I had better be goin'," he said, addressing Miss Berry.
"I ought to be gettin' home, anyway."

But the young lady would not have it.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she said, earnestly, "I hope you won't go. Judge
Knowles told me you were going to call. I was very glad when I found you
had called now--at this time. And I should like to have you stay. You
can stay, can't you?"

Sears hesitated. "Why--why, yes, I presume likely I can," he admitted.

"And will you--please?"

He looked at her and she at him. Then he nodded.

"I'll stay," he said, and sat down in his chair.

"Thank you," said Elizabeth. "Now, Elvira.... Wait, mother, please."

Miss Snowden sniffed once more. "Now that that important matter is
settled I _suppose_ I may be allowed to go on," she observed, with
sarcasm. "Very good, I will do so in spite of the presence of--of those
not--ahem--intimately concerned. Mrs. Berry, on behalf of this committee
here, a committee of the whole----"

"No such thing," this from Mrs. Tidditt. "I'm part of the whole but I
ain't part of that committee. Stick to the truth, Elviry--pays better."

"Hush, Esther," begged Miss Berry. "Let her go on, please. Go on,
Elvira."

The head of the committee breathed fiercely through her thin nostrils.
Then she made another attempt.

"I address you, Mrs. Cordelia Berry," declaimed Elvira, "because you are
supposed--I say _supposed_--to be officially the managing director--or
directress, to speak correct--of this institution. Not," she added,
hastily, "that it is an institution in any sense of the word--like a
home or any such thing. We all know that, I hope and trust. Although,"
with a venomous glance in the direction of Mrs. Esther, "there appear
to be _some_ that know precious little. I mention no names."

"You don't need to," retorted the Tidditt lady promptly. "Never mind, I
know enough not to vote to buy a lot of second-handed images and
critters just because they belong to one of your relations. I know that
much, Elviry Snowden."

This was a body blow and Elvira visibly winced. For just an instant
Captain Sears thought she was contemplating physical assault upon her
enemy. But she recovered and, white and scornful, proceeded.

"I shan't deign to answer such low--er--insinuations," she declared, her
voice shaking. "I scorn them and her that makes them. I scorn
them--both. _BOTH!_"

This last "Both" was fired like a shot from a "Big Bertha." It should
have annihilated the irreverent little female in the gingham gown. It
did not, however; she merely laughed. The effect of the blast was still
further impaired by Mrs. Chase, who although listening with all her
ears, such as they were, had evidently heard neither well nor wisely.

"That's right, Elviry," proclaimed Aurora, "that's just what I say. Why,
the lion alone is worth the money."

Mrs. Brackett touched the Snowden arm. "Never mind, Elvira," she said.
"Don't pay any attention. Go right ahead and read the resolutions."

Elvira drew a long breath, two long breaths. "Thank you, Susanna," she
said, "I shall. I'm going to. Mrs. Berry," she added, turning to that
lady, who was quite as much agitated as any one present and was
clutching her chair arm with one hand and her daughter's arm with the
other. "Mrs. Berry," repeated Miss Snowden, "this resolution drawn up
and signed by the committee of the whole here present--signed with but
one exception, I should say, one _trifling_ exception--" this with a
glare at Mrs. Tidditt--"is, as I said, addressed to you because you are
supposed--" a glare at Elizabeth this time--"to be in charge of the Fair
Harbor and what goes on and is done within its--er--porticos. Ahem! I
will now read as follows."

And she proceeded to read, using both elocution and gestures. The
resolutions made a rather formidable document. They were addressed to
"Mrs. Cordelia Imogene Berry, widow of the late Captain Isaac Stephens
Berry, in charge of the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women at Bayport,
Massachusetts, United States of America. Madam: Whereas----"

There were many "Whereases." Captain Kendrick, listening intently, found
the path of his understanding clogged by them and tangled by Miss
Elvira's flowers of rhetoric. He gathered, nevertheless, that the
"little group of ladies resident at the Fair Harbor, having been reared
amid surroundings of culture, art and refinement" were, naturally,
desirous of improving their present surroundings. Also that a "truly
remarkable opportunity" had come in their way by which the said
surroundings might be improved and beautified by the expenditure of a
nominal sum, seventy-five dollars, no more. With this seventy-five
dollars might be bought "the entire collection of lawn statuary and the
fountain which adorned the grounds of the estate of the late lamented
deceased Captain Seth Snowden at Harniss and now the property of his
widow, namely to wit, Mrs. Hannah Snowden."

"And I'll say this," put in Elvira, before reading further, "although
hints and insinuations have been cast at me in the hearing of those
present to-day about my being a relation--relative, that is--of Captain
Seth, and he was my uncle on my father's side, nevertheless it's just
because I am a relation--relative--that we are able to buy all those
elegant things for as cheap a price as seventy-five dollars when they
cost at least five hundred and.... But there! I will proceed.

"'The said statuary, etcetera, consisting of the following, that is to
say:

"'No. 1. Item ... 1 Lawn Fountain. Hand painted iron. Representing two
children beneath umbrella.'"

"And it's the cutest thing," put in the hitherto silent Desire Peasley,
with enthusiastic suddenness. "There's them two young ones standin'
natural as life under that umbrella--just same as anybody _would_ stand
under an umbrella if 'twas rainin' like fury--and the water squirts
right down over top of 'em and drips off the ribs--off the ribs of the
umbrella, I mean--and there they stand and--and---- _Well_, when I see
_that_ I says, 'My glory!' I says, 'what'll they contrive next?' That's
what I said. All hands heard me.... What's that you're mutterin', Esther
Tidditt?"

"I wasn't mutterin', 'special. I just said I bet they heard you if they
was anywheres 'round."

"Is that so? Do tell! Well, I'll have you to understand----"

Elvira and Miss Berry together intervened to calm this new disturbance.
Then the former went on with the reading of the "resolutions."

"'No. 2. Item ... 1 Hand painted lion. Iron....' Hush, Aurora!... Yes,
'lion,' that's right.... I did say 'iron.' It's an iron lion, isn't
it?... Oh, _do_ be quiet! We'll never get through if everybody keeps
interrupting. 'No. 2 ... Item ... 1 Hand painted lion iron'--iron lion,
I mean.... Oh, my soul and body! If everybody keeps talking I shan't
know what I mean.... 'A very wonderful piece of statuary. In perfect
condition. Paint needs touching up, that's all.

"'No. 3--Item.... 1 Deer. Hand painted iron. Perfectly lovely--'"

"Stuff!" This from the irrepressible Mrs. Tidditt, of course. "One horn
is broke off and it looks like the Old Harry. No, I'll take that back;
the Old Harry is supposed to have two horns. But that deer image is a
sight, just the same. Why, it ain't got any paint left on it."

"Nonsense! It may need a little paint, here and there, but----"

"Humph! A little here and a lot there and a whole lot more in between.
Elvira Snowden, that image looks as if 'twas struck with leprosy, like
Lazarus in the Bible; you know it well as I do."

Sears Kendrick enjoyed the reading of these resolutions. If it were not
for certain elements in the situation he would have considered the
morning's performance the most amusing entertainment he had witnessed
afloat or ashore. He managed not to laugh aloud, although he was obliged
to turn his head away several times and to cough at intervals. Once or
twice he and Elizabeth Berry exchanged glances and the whimsical look of
resignation and humorous appreciation in her eyes showed that she, too,
was keenly aware of the joke.

But at other times she was serious enough and it was her expression at
these times which prevented the captain's accepting the whole ridiculous
affair as a hilarious farce. Then she looked deeply troubled and
careworn and anxious. He began to realize that this affair, funny as it
was, was but one of a series, a series of annoyances and trials and
petty squabbles which, taken in the aggregate, were anything but funny
to her. For it was obvious, the truth of what Judah Cahoon had said and
Judge Knowles intimated, that this girl, Elizabeth Berry, was bearing
upon her young shoulders the entire burden of responsibility for the
conduct and management of affairs in the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women
at Bayport. Her mother was supposed to bear this burden, but it was
perfectly obvious that Cordelia Berry was incapable of bearing any
responsibilities, including her own personal ones.

Miss Snowden solemnly read the concluding paragraph of the resolutions.
It summed up those preceding it and announced that those whose names
were appended, "being guests at the Fair Harbor, the former home of our
beloved benefactress and friend Mrs. Lobelia Phillips, _née_ Seymour,
are unanimously agreed that as a simple matter of duty to the
institution and those within its gates, not to mention the beautifying
of Bayport, the collection of lawn statuary and fountain now adorning
the estate of the late deceased Captain Seth Snowden be bought,
purchased and obtained from that estate at the very low price of
seventy-five dollars, this money to be paid from the funds in the Fair
Harbor treasury, and the said statuary and fountain to be erected and
set up on the lawns and grounds of the Fair Harbor. Signed----"

Miss Elvira read the names of the signers. They included, as she took
pains to state, the names of every guest in the Fair Harbor with
one--ahem--exception.

"And I'm it, praise the lord," announced Mrs. Tidditt, promptly. "I
ain't quite crazy yet, nor I ain't a niece-in-law of Seth Snowden's
widow neither."

"Esther Tidditt, I've stood your hints and slanders long enough."

"Nobody's payin' _me_ no commissions for gettin' rid of their old junk
for 'em."

"Esther, be still! You shouldn't say such things. Elvira, stop--stop!"
Miss Berry stepped forward. Mrs. Tidditt was bristling like a combative
bantam and Elvira was shaking from head to feet and crooking and
uncrooking her fingers. "There mustn't be any more of this," declared
Elizabeth. "Esther, you must apologize. Stop, both of you, please.
Remember, Cap'n Kendrick is here."

This had the effect of causing every one to look at the captain once
more. He felt unpleasantly conspicuous, but Elizabeth's next speech
transferred the general gaze from him to her.

"There isn't any use in saying much more about this matter, it seems to
me," she said. "It comes down to this: You and the others, Elvira, think
we should buy the--the statues and the fountain because they would, you
think, make our lawns and grounds more beautiful."

"We don't think at all--we know," declared Elvira. Mrs. Brackett said,
"Yes indeed, we do," and there was a general murmur of assent. Also a
loud sniff from the Tidditt direction.

"And your mother thinks so, too," spoke up Miss Peasley, from the group.
"She told me herself she thought they were lovely. Didn't you, Cordelia?
You know you did."

Before Mrs. Berry could answer--her embarrassment and distress seemed
to be bringing her again to the verge of tears--her daughter went on.

"It doesn't make a bit of difference what mother and I think about
their--beauty--and all that," she said. "The whole thing comes down to
the matter of whether or not we can afford to buy them. And we simply
cannot. We haven't the money to spare. Spending seventy-five dollars for
anything except the running expenses of the Harbor is now absolutely
impossible. I told you that, Elvira, when you first suggested it."

Miss Snowden, still trembling, regarded her resentfully. "Yes, _you_
told me," she retorted. "I know you did. You are always telling us we
can't do this or that. But why should _you_ tell us? That is what we
can't understand. _You_ ain't--aren't--manager here, so far as we know.
We never heard of your appointment. _We_ always understood your mother
was the manager, duly appointed. Isn't she?"

"Of course she is, but----"

"Yes, and when we have spoken to _her_--two or three of us at different
times--she has said she thought buying these things was a lovely idea. I
shouldn't be surprised if she thought so now.... Cordelia, don't you
think the Fair Harbor ought to buy those statues and that fountain?"

This pointed appeal, of course, placed Mrs. Berry directly in the
limelight and she wilted beneath its glare. She reddened and then paled.
Her fingers fidgetted with the pin at her throat. She picked up her
handkerchief and dropped it. She looked at Elvira and the committee and
then at her daughter.

"Why--why, I don't know," she faltered. "I think--of course I think
the--the statuary is very beautiful. I--I said so. I--I am always fond
of pretty things. You know I am, Elizabeth, you----"

"Wait a minute, Cordelia. Didn't you tell me you thought the Fair Harbor
ought to buy them? Didn't you tell Suzanna and me just that?"

Mrs. Berry squirmed. She did not answer but, so far as Sears Kendrick
was concerned, no answer was necessary. He was as certain as if she had
sworn it that she had told them just that thing. And, looking at
Elizabeth's face, he could see that she, too, was certain of it.

"Didn't you, Cordelia?" persisted Miss Snowden.

"Why--why, I don't know. Perhaps I did, but--but what difference does it
make? You heard what Elizabeth said. She says we can't afford it. She
always attends to such matters, you know she does."

"Yes," with sarcastic emphasis, "we do, but we don't know _why_ she
should. And in this case we aren't going to stand it. You are supposed
to be managing this place, Cordelia Berry, and if you are willing to
turn your duties over to a--a mere child we aren't willing to let you.
Once more I ask you----"

Elizabeth interrupted. "There, there, Elvira," she said, "what _is_ the
use? It isn't a question of mother's opinion or what she has said
before. It is just a matter of money. We can't afford it."

Miss Snowden ignored her. "We shall not," she repeated, "permit our
future and--and all like that to be ruined by the whims of a mere child.
_That_ is final."

She pronounced the last sentence with solemn emphasis. The pause which
followed should have been impressive but Mrs. Tidditt spoiled the
effect.

"Mere child!" she repeated, significantly. "Well, I presume likely she
_is_ a mere child compared to some folks. Only she just looks childish
and they act that way."

There was another outburst of indignant exclamations from the committee.
The head of that body turned to her followers.

"It is quite evident," she declared, furiously, "that this conference is
going to end just as the others have. But this time we are not going to
sit back and be trampled on. There are those higher up to be appealed to
and we shall appeal to them. Come!"

She stalked majestically to the door and marched out and down the hall,
the committee following her. Only Mrs. Tidditt remained, and she but for
a moment.

"They're goin' to the back room to have another meetin'," she whispered.
"If there's anything up that amounts to anything, 'Lizabeth, I'll come
back and let you know."

Elizabeth did not answer, but Kendrick offered a suggestion. "You don't
belong to this committee," he observed. "Perhaps they won't let you into
the meetin'."

The eyes behind the steel spectacles snapped sparks. "I'd like to see
'em try to keep me out," declared Mrs. Esther, and hurried after the
others. Elizabeth turned to her mother.

"Mother," she said, earnestly, "we must be very firm in this matter. We
simply can't afford to spend any money just now except for necessities.
If they come to you again you must tell them so. You will, won't you?"

And now Mrs. Berry's agitation reached its climax. She turned upon her
daughter.

"Oh, I suppose so," she cried hysterically, "I suppose so! I shall have
to go through another scene and be spoken to as if--as if I were dirt
under these women's feet instead of being as far above them in--in
position and education and refinement as the clouds. Why can't I have
peace--just a little peace and quiet? Why must I _always_ have to
undergo humiliation after humiliation? I----"

"Mother, mother, please don't----"

But her mother was beyond reason.

"And you--" she went on, "you, my own daughter, why must you always take
the other side, and put me in such positions, and--and humiliate me
before--before---- Oh, why can't I die? I _wish_ I were dead! I do! I
do!"

She burst into a storm of hysterical sobs and hurried toward the door.
Elizabeth would have gone to her but she pushed her aside and rushed
into the front hall and up the stairs. They heard her sobs upon the
upper landing.

Sears Kendrick, feeling more like an interloper than ever, looked in
embarrassment at the flowered carpet. He did not dare look at the young
woman beside him. He had never in his life felt more sorry for any one.
Judge Knowles had said he hoped that he--Kendrick--might obtain a
general idea of the condition of affairs in the Fair Harbor. The scenes
he had just witnessed had given him a better idea of that condition than
anything else could have done. And, somehow or other, it was the last of
those scenes which had affected him most. Elizabeth Berry had faced the
sarcasms and sneers of the committee, had never lost her poise or her
temper, had never attempted to shift the responsibility, had never
reproached her mother for the hesitating weakness which was at the base
of all the trouble. And, in return, her mother had accused her of--all
sorts of things.

And yet when Elizabeth spoke it was in defence of that mother.

"I hope, Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "that you won't misunderstand my
mother or take what she just said too seriously. She is not very well,
and very nervous, and, as you see, her position here is a trying one
sometimes."

The captain could not keep back the speech which was at his tongue's
end.

"_Your_ position is rather tryin', too, isn't it?" he observed. "It sort
of would seem that way--to me."

She smiled sadly. "Why, yes--it is," she admitted. "But I am younger
and--and perhaps I can bear it better."

It occurred to him that the greatest pity of all was the fact that she
should be obliged to bear it. He did not say so, however, and she went
on, changing the subject and speaking very earnestly.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "I am very glad you heard this--this
disagreement this morning. Judge Knowles told me you were going to call
at the Harbor here and when he said it he--well, I thought he looked
more than he said, if you know what I mean. I didn't ask any questions
and he said nothing more, but I guess perhaps he wanted you to--to
see--well, to see what he wasn't well enough to see--or something like
that."

She paused. The captain was embarrassed. He certainly felt guilty and he
also felt as if he looked so.

"Why--why, Miss Berry," he stammered, "I hope you--you mustn't
think----"

She waved his protestations aside.

"It doesn't make a bit of difference," she said. "No matter why you came
I am very glad you did. This ridiculous statuary business is just
one--well, symptom, so to speak. If it wasn't that, it might be
something else. It comes, you see, from my position here--which really
isn't any position at all--and their position, Elvira Snowden's and the
rest. They pay a certain sum to get here in the first place and a small
sum each year. There is the trouble. They think they pay for board and
lodging and are guests. Of course what they pay amounts to almost
nothing, but they don't realize that, or don't want to, and they expect
to have their own way. Mother is--well, she is nervous and high strung
and she hates scenes. They take advantage of her, some of them--no doubt
they don't consider it that, but it seems to me so--and so I have been
obliged to take charge, in a way. They don't understand that and resent
it. I don't know that I blame them much. Perhaps I should resent it if I
were in their place. Only.... But never mind that now.

"This is only one of a good many differences of opinion we have had,"
she went on. "In the old days--and not older than a year ago, for that
matter--if the differences were too acute I used to go to Judge Knowles.
He always settled everything, finally and sensibly. But now, since he
has been so sick, I--well, I simply can't go to him. He has been very
kind to us, to mother and me, and I am very fond of him. He was a great
friend of my father's and I think he likes me for father's sake. And now
I will not trouble him in his sickness with my troubles--I will _not_."

She raised her head as she said it and Captain Sears, regarding her, was
again acutely conscious of the fact that it was a very fine head indeed.

"I understand," he said.

"Yes, I knew you would. And I know I could fight this out by myself. And
shall, of course. But, nevertheless, I am glad you were here as--well,
as a witness, if it ever comes to that. You heard what Elvira--Miss
Snowden--said about appealing to those higher up. I suppose she means
Mrs. Phillips, the one who founded the Harbor. If they should write to
her I---- What is it, Esther?"

Mrs. Tidditt had rushed into the room, bristling. She waved her arms
excitedly.

"'Lizbeth, 'Lizbeth," she whispered, "they're goin' to tell him. They're
makin' up the yarn now that they're goin' to tell him."

"Tell him? Tell who?"

"Judge Knowles. They've decided to go right straight over to the judge's
house and--and do what they call appeal to him about them images. Elviry
she's goin', and Susanna, and Desire Peasley, too, for what I know. What
do you want me to do? Ain't there any way I can help stop 'em?"

For the first time in that distressing forenoon Captain Kendrick saw
Miss Berry's nerve shaken. She clasped her hands.

"Oh dear!" she cried. "Oh, dear, that is the very thing they mustn't do!
I wouldn't have Judge Knowles worried or troubled about this for the
world. I have kept everything from him. He is _so_ ill! If those women
go to him and---- Oh, but they mustn't, they mustn't! I can't let them."

Mrs. Tidditt, diminutive but combative, offered a suggestion.

"Do you want me to go out and stop 'em?" she demanded. "I'll go and
stand in the kitchen doorway, if you want me to. They won't get by if
I'm there, not in a hurry, anyway."

"Oh no, no, Esther, of course not."

"I tell you what I'll do. I'll go and tell Emmeline not to let 'em in
the judge's house. She's my cousin and she'll do what I
ask--sometimes--if I don't ask much."

"No, that wouldn't do any good, any permanent good. But they must not go
to the judge. They must not. He has been so kind and forbearing and he
is so very sick. The doctor told me that he.... They shan't go. They can
say anything they please to me, but they shan't torment him."

She started toward the door through which Mrs. Tidditt had entered. At
the threshold she paused for an instant and turned.

"Please excuse me, Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "I almost forgot that you
were here. I think I wouldn't wait if I were you. There will be another
scene and I'm sure you have had scenes enough. I have, too, but.... Oh,
well, it will be all right, I'm sure. Please don't wait. Thank you for
calling."

She turned again but the captain stopped her. As she faced him there in
the doorway their eyes had met. Hers were moist--for the first time she
was close to the breaking point--and there was a look in them which
caused him to forget everything except one, namely, that the crowd in
the "parrot cage" at the other end of that hall should not trouble her
further. It was very seldom that Captain Sears Kendrick, master mariner,
acted solely on impulse. But he did so now.

"Stop," he cried. "Miss Elizabeth, don't go. Stay where you are....
Here--you--" turning to Mrs. Tidditt. "You go and tell those folks I
want to see 'em. Tell 'em to come aft here--now."

There was a different note in his voice, a note neither Elizabeth nor
the Tidditt woman had before heard. Yet if Judah Cahoon had been present
he would have recognized it. He had heard it many times, aboard many
tall ships, upon many seas. It was the captain's quarter-deck voice and
it meant business.

Mrs. Tidditt and Elizabeth had not heard it, and they looked at the
speaker in surprise. Captain Sears looked at them, but not for long.

"Lively," he commanded. "Do you hear? Go for'ard and tell that crew in
the galley, or the fo'castle, or wherever they are, to lay aft here.
I've got somethin' to say to 'em."

It was seldom that Esther Tidditt was at a loss for words. As a usual
thing her stock was unlimited. Now she merely gasped.

"You--you--" she stammered. "You want me to ask--to ask Elviry and
Susanna and them to come in here?"

"Ask? Who said anything about askin'? I want you to tell 'em I say for
them to come here. It's an order, and you can tell 'em so, if you want
to."

Mrs. Tidditt gasped again. "Well!" she exclaimed. "Well, my good lordy,
if this ain't---- A-ll right, _I'll_ tell 'em."

She hastened down the corridor. Elizabeth ventured a faint protest.

"But, Cap'n Kendrick--" she began. He stopped her.

"It is all right, Miss Elizabeth," he said. "I'm handlin' this matter
now. All you've got to do is look on.... Well, are they comin' or must I
go after 'em?"

Apparently he had forgotten that his lameness made going anywhere a slow
proceeding. As a matter of fact he had. He had forgotten everything
except the business of the moment and the joy of being once more in
supreme command.

The message borne by Mrs. Tidditt had, presumably, been delivered. The
messenger had left the dining room door open and through it came a
tremendous rattle of tongues. Obviously the captain's order had created
a sensation.

Elizabeth listened.

"Well?" repeated Sears, again. "Are they goin' to come?"

Miss Berry smiled faintly. "I think they will come," she answered. "If
they are as--as curious as I am they will."

They were. At any rate they came. Miss Snowden, Mrs. Brackett and Mrs.
Chase in the lead, the others following. Mrs. Tidditt brought up the
rear, marshaling the stragglers, as it were.

Elvira was, of course, the spokeswoman. She was the incarnation of
dignified and somewhat resentful surprise.

"We have been told," she began, loftily, "we have been _told_, Cap'n
Kendrick, that you wished to speak to us. We can't imagine why, but we
have came--come, I should say. _Do_ you wish to speak to us?"

Kendrick nodded. "Yes," he said crisply, "I do. I want to tell you that
you mustn't go to Judge Knowles about buyin' those iron statues of Cap'n
Seth's or about anything else. He is sick and mustn't be worried. Miss
Berry says so, and I agree with her."

He paused From the committee came a gasp, or concert of gasps and
muttered exclamations, indicating astonishment. Elvira voiced the
feeling.

"You agree with her!" she exclaimed. "_You_ agree? Why--I never did!"

"Yes. And I agree with her, too, about buyin' those--er--lions and dogs
and--hogs, or whatever they are. I don't say they aren't worth
seventy-five dollars or more--or less--I don't know. But I do say that,
until I have had time to look into things aboard here, I don't want any
money spent except for stores and other necessities. There isn't a bit
of personal feelin' in this, you must understand, it is business, that's
all."

He paused once more, to let this sink in. It sank apparently and when it
again came to the surface an outburst of incoherent indignation came
with it. Every committee-woman said something, even Mrs. Chase, although
her observations were demands to know what was being said by the rest.
Elizabeth was the only one who remained silent. She was gazing,
wide-eyed, at the captain, and upon her face was a strange expression,
an expression of eagerness, dawning understanding, and--yes, of hope.

Miss Snowden was so completely taken aback that she was incapable of
connected speech. Mrs. Susanna Brackett, however, was of a temperament
less easily upset. She stepped forward.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she demanded, "what are you talkin' about? What right
have you got to say how the Fair Harbor money shall be spent? What are
you interferin' here for I'd like to know?"

"I'm not interferin'. I'm taking charge, that's all.

"Takin' _charge_?... My land of love!... Charge of what?"

"Of this craft here, this Fair Harbor place. Judge Knowles offered me
the general management of it three days ago."

Even the Brackett temperament was not proof against such a shock.
Susanna herself found difficulty in speaking.

"You--you--" she sputtered. "My soul to heavens! Do you mean---- Are you
crazy?"

"Um--maybe. But, anyhow, crazy or not, I'm in command aboard here from
now on. Miss Elizabeth here--and her mother, of course--will be captain
and mate, same as they've always been, but I'll be--well, commodore or
admiral, whichever you like to call it. It's a queer sort of a job for a
man like me," he added, with a grim smile, "but it looks as if it was
what we'd all have to get used to."

For a moment there was silence, absolute silence, in the best parlor of
the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women. Then that silence was broken.

"What is he sayin'?" wailed Mrs. Aurora Chase. "Elviry Snowden, why
don't you tell me what he's a-sayin'?"



CHAPTER VII


The bomb had burst, the debris had fallen, the smoke had to some extent
cleared, the committee, still incoherent but by no means speechless, had
retired to the dining room to talk it over. Mrs. Tidditt had accompanied
them; and Sears Kendrick and Elizabeth Berry were saying good-by at the
front door.

"Well," observed the captain, dubiously, "I'm glad you don't think I'm
more than nine tenths idiot. It's some comfort to know you can see one
tenth of common-sense in the thing. It's more than I can, and that's
honest. I give you my word, Miss Elizabeth, when I set sail from Judah's
back entry this mornin' I hadn't any more idea that I should undertake
the job of handlin' the Fair Harbor than--well, than that Snowden woman
had of kissin' that little spitfire that was flyin' up in her face every
minute or two while she was tryin' to read that paper.... Ha-ha! that
was awfully funny."

Elizabeth smiled. "It was," she agreed. "And it looks so much funnier to
me now than it did then, thanks to you, Cap'n Kendrick. You have taken a
great load off my mind."

"Um--yes, and taken it on my own, I shouldn't wonder. I do hope you'll
make it clear to your mother that all I intend doin' is to keep a sort
of weather eye on money matters, that's all. She is to have just the
same ratin' aboard here that she has always had--and so will you, of
course."

"But I haven't had any real rating, you know. And now I will be more of
a fifth wheel than ever. You and mother can manage the Harbor. You won't
need me at all. I can take a vacation, can't I? Won't that be
wonderful!"

He looked at her in unfeigned alarm.

"Here, here!" he exclaimed. "Lay to! Come up into the wind! Don't talk
that way, Miss Berry, or I'll jump over the rail before I've really
climbed aboard this craft. I'm countin' on you to do three thirds of the
work, just as I guess you've been doin' for a good while. All I shall be
good for--if anything--is to be a sort of reef in the channel, as you
might say, something for committees like this one to run their bows on
if they get too far off the course."

"And that will be the most useful thing any one can do, Cap'n Kendrick.
Oh, I shall thank Judge Knowles--in my mind--so many, many times a day
for sending you here, I know I shall. I guessed, when he told me you
were going to call, that there was something behind that call. And there
was. What a wise old dear he is, bless him."

"Is he? Well I wish I was surer of the wisdom in trappin' me into takin'
this command. However, I have taken it, so I'll have to do the best I
can for a while, anyhow. Afterwards--well, probably I won't last _but_ a
little while, so we won't worry about more than that. And you'll have to
stand by the wheel, Miss Elizabeth. If it hadn't been for you--I mean
for the way that committee lit into you--I don't think I should ever
have taken charge."

"I know. And I sha'n't forget. You may count on me, Cap'n Kendrick, for
anything I can do to help."

His face brightened. "Good!" he exclaimed. "That's as good as an
insurance policy on the ship and cargo. With you to pilot and me to
handle the crew she ought to keep somewhere in deep water.... Well, I'll
be gettin' back to port. Judah's dinner will be gettin' cold and he
won't like that. And to-morrow mornin' I'll come again and we'll have a
look at the figures."

"Yes. I'll have the books and bills and everything ready.... Oh, be
careful! Can't I help you down the step?"

He shook his head. "I can navigate after a fashion," he said, grimly. "I
get along about as graceful as a brick sloop in a head tide, but, by the
Lord Harry, I'll get along somehow.... No, don't, please. I'd rather
you didn't help me, if you don't mind."

Slowly, painfully, and with infinite care he lowered himself down the
step. On level ground once more, leaning heavily on his cane, he turned
to her and smiled a somewhat shame-faced apology.

"It's silly, I know," he said, panting a little, "but I've always been
used to doin' about as I pleased and it--somehow it plagues me to think
I can't go it alone still. Just stubborn foolishness."

She shook her head. "No, it isn't," she said, quickly. "I understand.
And I do hope you will be better soon. Of course you will."

"Will I?... Well, maybe. Good mornin', Miss Berry. Be sure and tell your
mother she's to be just as much cap'n as she ever was."

He hobbled along the walk to the gate. As he passed beneath the sign he
looked back. She was still standing in the doorway and when he limped in
at the entrance of the General Minot place she was there yet, watching
him.

He said no word to Judah of his acceptance of the post of commander of
the Fair Harbor. He felt that Judge Knowles should be the first to know
of it and that he, himself, should be the one to tell him. So, after
dinner was over, and Judah had harnessed the old horse to go to the
Minot wood lot for a load of pine boughs and brush for kindling, he
asked his ex-cook to take him across to the judge's in the wagon, leave
him there, and come for him later. Mr. Cahoon, of course, was delighted
to be of service but, of course also, he was tremendously curious.

"Hum," he observed, "goin' to see the judge again, be you, Cap'n Sears?"

"Yes."

"Hum.... Ain't heard that he's any sicker, nor nothin' like that, have
you?"

"No."

"I see.... Yus, yus.... Just goin' to make a--er--sort of--what you
might call a--er--a call, I presume likely."

"I shouldn't wonder."

"Um-hm.... I see.... Yus, yus, I see.... Um-hm.... Well, I suppose we
might as well--er--start now as any time, eh?"

"Better, I should say, Judah. Whenever you and the Foam Flake are ready,
I am."

The Foam Flake was the name with which Judah had rechristened the old
horse. The animal's name up to the time of the rechristening had been
Pet, but this, Mr. Cahoon explained, he could _not_ stand.

"'Whatever else he is,' says I to young Minot, 'he ain't no pet--not of
mine. The only way I ever feel like pettin' that oat barrel,' I says,
'is with a rope's end.' 'Well, why don't you give him a new name?' says
he. 'What'll I call him?' says I. 'Anything you can think of,' he says.
'By Henry,' says I. 'I have called him about everything I can think of,
already.' Haw, haw! That was a pretty good one, wan't it Cap'n Sears?"

"But where did you get 'Foam Flake' from?" the captain had wanted to
know.

"Oh, it just come to me, as you might say, same as them things do come
sometimes. I was tellin' the Methodist minister about it one day and he
said 'twas a--er--one of them--er--inflammations. Eh? Don't seem as if
it could have been 'inflammation,' but 'twas somethin' like it."

"Inspiration, maybe."

"That's the ticket, inspiration's what 'twas. Well, I was kind of
draggin' a seine through my head, so to speak, tryin' to haul aboard a
likely name for the critter, and fetchin' the net in empty every time,
when one day that--er--what-d'ye-call-it?--inflammation landed on me.
I'd piloted 'Pet' and the truck wagon over to Harniss--and worked my
passage every foot of the way--and over there to Brett's store I met
Luther Wixon, who was home from a v'yage to the West Indies. Lute and me
had been to sea together half a dozen times, and we got kind of
swappin' yarns about the vessels we'd been in.

"'Have you heard about the old _Foam Flake_?' says Lute. 'She was
wrecked on the Jersey coast off Barnegat,' he says, 'and now they've
made a barge out of her hull and she's freightin' hay in New York
harbor,' he says.

"Well, sir, I hauled off and fetched the broadside of my leg a slap you
could have heard to Jericho. 'By the creepin', jumpin',' says I. 'I've
got it!' 'Yes,' he says, 'you act as if you had. But what do you take
for it?' 'I wouldn't take a dollar note for it right now,' I told him.
And I wouldn't have, nuther. The old _Foam Flake_--maybe you remember
her, Cap'n Sears--was the dumdest, lop-sidedest, crankiest old white tub
of a bark that ever carried sail. When I was aboard of her she wouldn't
steer fit to eat, always wanted to go to port when you tried to put her
to starboard, walloped and slopped along awkward as a cow, was the
slowest thing afloat, and all she was ever really fit for was what they
are usin' her for now, and that was to stow hay in. If that wan't that
old horse of Minot's all over then I hope I'll never smoke a five-cent
cigar again. 'You ain't "Pet" no more,' says I to the critter; 'your
name's "Foam Flake!"' Haw, haw! See now, don't you, Cap'n Sears?"

Foam Flake and the truck-wagon landed the captain at the Knowles gate
and, a few minutes later, Kendrick was, rather shamefacedly, announcing
to the judge his acceptance of the superintendency of the Fair Harbor.
The invalid, as grimly sardonic and indomitable as ever, chuckled
between spasms of pain and weakness.

"Good! Good!" he exclaimed. "I thought you wouldn't say no if you once
saw how things were over there. Congratulations on your good sense,
Kendrick."

Sears shook his head. "Don't be any more sarcastic than you can help,
Judge," he said.

"No sarcasm about it. If you hadn't stepped in to help that girl I
should have known you didn't have any sense at all. By the way, I didn't
praise her too highly when we talked before, did I? She is considerable
of a girl, Elizabeth Berry, eh, Cap'n?"

The captain nodded.

"She is," he admitted. "And she was so confoundedly plucky, and she
stood up against that crowd of--of----"

"Mariners' women. Yes. Ho, ho! I should like to have been there."

"I am glad you wasn't. But when I saw how she stood up to them, and then
when her mother----"

"Yes. Um ... yes, I know. Isaac Berry was my friend and his daughter is
a fine girl. We'll remember that when we talk about the family,
Kendrick.... Whew! Well, I feel better. With you and Elizabeth to handle
matters over there, Lobelia's trust will be in good hands. Now I can go
to the cemetery in comfort."

He chuckled as if the prospect was humorous. Captain Sears spoke quickly
and without considering exactly how the words sounded.

"Indeed you can't," he protested. "Judge Knowles, I'm goin' to need you
about every minute of every day from now on."

"Nonsense! You won't need me but a little while, fortunately. And--for
that little while, probably--I shall be here and at your disposal. Come
in whenever you want to talk matters over. If the doctor or that damned
housekeeper try to stop you, hit 'em over the head. Much obliged to you,
Cap'n Kendrick. He, he! We'll give friend Egbert a shock when he comes
to town.... Oh, he'll come. Some of these days he'll come. Be ready for
him, Kendrick, be ready for him."

That evening the captain told Judah of his new position and Judah's
reception of the news was not encouraging. Somehow Sears felt that, with
the voice of Judah Cahoon was, in this case, speaking the opinion of
Bayport.

Judah had been scrubbing the frying-pan. He dropped it in the sink with
a tremendous clatter.

"_No!_" he shouted. "You're jokin', ain't you, Cap'n Sears?"

"It's no joke, Judah."

"My creepin' Henry! You can't mean it. You ain't really, honest to
godfreys, cal'latin' to pilot that--that Fair Harbor craft, be you?"

"I am, Judah. Wish me luck."

"Wish you _luck_! Jumpin', creepin', crawlin', hoppin'---- Why, there
ain't no luck _in_ it. That ain't no man's job, Cap'n Sears. That's a
woman's job, and even a woman'd have her hands full. Why, Cap'n,
they'll--that crew of--of old hens in there they'll pick your eyes out."

"Oh, I guess not, Judah. I've handled crews before."

"Yes--yes, you have--men crews aboard ship. But this ain't no men crew,
this is a woman crew. You can't lam _this_ crew over the head with no
handspike. When one of those fo'mast hands gives you back talk you can't
knock _her_ into the scuppers. All you can do is just stand and take it
and wait for your chance to say somethin'. And you won't _git_ no
chance. What chance'll you have along with Elviry Snowden and Desire
Peasley and them? Talk! Why, jumpin' Henry, Cap'n Sears, any one of them
Shanghais in there can talk more in a minute than the average man could
in a hour. Any one of 'em! Take that Susanna Brackett now. Oh, I've
heard about _her_! She had a half-brother one time. Where is he now? Ah
ha! Where is he? Nobody knows, that's where he is. Him and her used to
live together. Folks that lived next door used to hear her tongue
a-goin' at him all hours day or night. Wan't no 'watch and watch' in
that house--no sir-ee! She stood _all_ the watches. She----"

"There, there, Judah. I guess I can stand the talk. If it gets too bad
I'll put cotton in my ears."

"Huh! Cotton! Cotton won't do no good. Have to solder your ears up
like--like a leaky tea-kittle, if you wanted to keep from hearin'
Susanna Brackett's clack. Why, that brother of hers--Ebenezer Samuels,
seems to me his name was. Seems to me they told me that Susanna's name
was Samuels afore she married Brackett. Maybe twan't Samuels. Seems to
me, now I think of it, as if 'twas Schwartz. Yet it don't hardly seem
as if it could be, does it? I guess likely I'm gettin' him mixed with a
feller name of Samuel Schwartz that I knew on South Street in New York
one time. Run a pawn shop, he did. I remember _that_ Schwartz 'cause he
used to _take_ stuff, you know--er--er--same as a Chinaman. One of them
oakum eaters, that s what he was--an oakum eater. Why one time he----"

Sears never did learn what happened to Mrs. Brackett's brother. Judah's
reminiscent fancy, once started, wandered far and wide, and in this case
it forgot entirely to return to the missing Samuels--or Schwartz. But
Mr. Cahoon expressed himself freely on the subject of his beloved
ex-captain and present lodger taking charge of the establishment next
door. Sears' explanations and excuses bore little weight. Time and time
again that evening Mr. Cahoon would come out of a dismal reverie to
exclaim: "Skipper of the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women! You! Cap'n
Sears Kendrick, skipper of _that_ craft! Don't seem possible, somehow,
does it?"

"Look here Judah," the captain at last said, in desperation, "if you
feel so almighty bad about it, perhaps you won't want me here. I can
move, you know."

Judah turned a horrified face in his direction. "Move!" he repeated
"_Don't_ talk so, Cap'n Sears. That's the one comfort I see in the whole
business. Livin' right next door to 'em the way you and me do, you can
always run into port here if the weather gets too squally over yonder.
Yes, sir there'll always be a snug harbor under my lee when the Fair
Harbor's too rugged. Eh? Ha, ha!"

Just before retiring Sears said, "There's just one thing I want you to
do, Judah. You may feel--as I know you do feel--that my takin' this job
is a foolish thing. But don't you let any one else know you feel that
way."

Judah snorted. "Don't you worry, Cap'n Sears," he said. "If any one of
them sea lawyers down to Bassett's store gets to heavin' sass at me
about your takin' the hellum at the Harbor I'll shut their hatches for
'em. I'll tell 'em the old judge and Lobelia was ondecided between you
and Gen'ral Grant for the job, but finally they picked you. Don't
mistake me now, Cap'n. Your goin' over there is the best thing for
the--the henroost that ever was or ever will be. It's you I'm thinkin'
about. It ain't--well, by the crawlin' prophets, 'tain't the kind of
berth you've been used to. Now is it, Cap'n Sears?"

Kendrick smiled, a one-sided smile.

"Maybe not, Judah," he admitted. "It is a queer berth, but it's a berth,
and, unless these legs of mine get well a lot quicker than I think they
will, I may be mighty thankful to have any berth at all."

He told his sister this when she called to learn if the rumor she had
heard was true. She shook her head.

"Perhaps it is all right, Sears," she said. "I suppose you know best.
But, somehow, I--well, I hate to think of your doin' it."

"I know. You're proud, Sarah. Well, I used to be proud too, before the
ship-chandlery business and the Old Colony railroad dismasted me and
left me high and dry."

She put a hand on his arm. "Don't, Sears," she pleaded. "You know why I
hate to have you do it. It don't seem--it don't seem--you know what I
mean."

"A man's job. I know. Judah said the same thing. I took Judge Knowles'
offer because it seemed the only way I could earn my salt. If I didn't
take it you and Joel might have had a poor relation to board and lodge.
And you've got enough on your hands already, Sarah."

She sighed. "Of course I knew that was why you took it," she said.

Yet, even as he said it, he realized that the statement was not the
whole truth. The fifteen hundred a year salary had tempted him, but if
he had not gone to the Fair Harbor on that forenoon and seen Elizabeth
Berry brave the committee and her mother, it is extremely doubtful if he
would have yielded. In all probability he would have declined the
judge's offer and have risked the prospect of the almost hopeless
future, for a time longer at least.

But, having accepted, he characteristically cast doubts, misgivings and
might-have-beens over the side, as he had cast wreckage over the rails
of his ships after storms, and, while Bayport buzzed with gossip and
criticism and surmise concerning him, took up his new duties and went
ahead with them. The morning following that of his dramatic scene with
the committee he limped to the door of the Fair Harbor and, for the
first time, entered that door as general manager.

He anticipated, and dreaded, a perhaps painful and surely embarrassing
scene with Mrs. Berry, but was pleasantly disappointed. Elizabeth, true
to her promise, had evidently broken the news to her mother and, also,
had reconciled the matron to her partial deposing. Mrs. Berry was, of
course, a trifle martyrlike, a little aggrieved, but on the whole
resigned.

"I presume, Captain Kendrick," she said, "that I should have expected
something of the sort. Dear 'Belia is abroad and Judge Knowles is ill,
and, from what I hear, his mind is not what it was."

Sears, repressing a smile, agreed that that might be the case.

"But, of course, Mrs. Berry," he explained, "I did not take the position
with the least idea of interferin' with you. You will be--er--er--well,
just what you have been here, you know. I've shipped to help you and the
judge and Miss Elizabeth in any way I can, that's all."

With the situation thus diplomatically explained Mrs. Berry brightened,
restored her handkerchief to her pocket--in the '70's ladies' gowns had
pockets--and announced that she was sure that she and the captain would
get on charmingly together.

"And, after all, Captain Kendrick," she gushed, "a man's advice is so
often _so_ necessary in business, you know, and all that. Just as a
woman's advice helps a man at times. Why, Captain Berry--my dear
husband--used to say that without my advice he would have been
absolutely at sea, yes, absolutely."

According to Bayport gossip, as related by Judah, Captain Isaac Berry
had been, literally, during the latter part of his life, absolutely at
sea as much as he possibly could. "And mighty thankful to be there,
too," so Mr. Cahoon was wont to add.

Elizabeth heard a portion of Sears interview with her mother, but she
made no comment upon it, to him at least. When he announced his
intention of interviewing Miss Snowden, however, she was greatly
surprised and said so. "You want to speak with Elvira, Cap'n Kendrick?"
she repeated. "You do, really? Do you--of course I am not interfering,
please don't think I am--but do you think it a--a wise thing to do, just
now?"

The captain nodded. "Why, yes, I do," he said. "Oh, it's all right, Miss
Elizabeth, I'm not goin' to start any rows. You wouldn't think it to
look at me, probably, but I've got an idea in my head and I'm goin' to
try it out on this Elvira."

It was some time before he was able to catch Miss Snowden alone, but at
last he did and, as it happened, in that same summer-house, the Eyrie,
where he had first seen her. The interview began, on her part, as
frostily as a February morning in Greenland, but ended like a balmy
evening in Florida. The day following he laid his plans to meet and
speak with Mrs. Brackett and the militant Susanna thereafter became as
peaceful, so far as he was concerned, as a dovecote in spring. Elizabeth
Berry, noticing these changes, and surmising their cause, regarded him
with something like awe.

"Really, Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "I'm beginning to be a little afraid
of you. When you first spoke of interviewing Elvira Snowden alone
I--well, I was strongly tempted to send for the constable. I didn't know
what might happen. She was saying--so Esther Tidditt told me--the most
dreadful things about you and I was frightened for your safety. And Mrs.
Brackett was just as savage. And now--why, Elvira this very morning told
me, herself, that she considered your taking the management here a
blessing. I believe she did call it a blessing in disguise, but that
doesn't make any real difference. And Susanna--three days ago--was
calling upon all our--guests here to threaten to leave in a body, as a
protest against the giving over of the management of their own Harbor to
a--excuse me--man like you. I don't know she meant by that, but it is
what she said. And now----"

"Just a minute, Miss Elizabeth. Called me a man, did she? Well, comin'
from her that's a compliment, in a way. She ought to know she's the
nearest thing, herself, to a man that I've about ever seen in skirts.
But that's nothin'. What interests me is that idea of all the crew
aboard here threatenin' to leave. They could, I suppose, if they wanted
to same as anybody aboard a ship could jump overboard. But in both cases
the question would be the same, wouldn't it? Where would they go to
after they left?"

Miss Berry smiled. "They have no idea of leaving," she said. "But they
like to think--or pretend to think--that they could if they wanted to
and that the Fair Harbor would go to rack and ruin if they did. It
comes, you see, of to paying that hundred dollars a year. That, to their
mind--and I imagine Mrs. Phillips had it in her mind too, when she
planned this place--prevents it being a 'home' in the ordinary sense of
the word. But Susanna's threatening to leave amounts to nothing. What I
am so much interested in is to know how you changed her attitude and
Elvira's from war to peace? How did you do it, Cap'n Kendrick?"

The captain's left eyelid drooped. He smiled. "Well," he said, slowly,
"I tell you. I've sailed in all sorts of weather and I've come to the
conclusion that when you're in a rough sea the first thing to do, if you
can, is to smooth it down. If you can't--why, then fight it. The best
treatment I know for a rough sea is to sling a barrel of oil over the
bows. It's surprisin' what a little bit of oil will do to make things
smoother for a vessel. It's always worth tryin', anyway, and that's how
I felt in this case of Elvira and Susanna. When I started to beat up
into their neighborhood I had a barrel of oil slung over both my port
and starboard bows. I give you my word, Miss Elizabeth, I was the
oiliest craft afloat in these waters, I do believe."

His smile broadened. Elizabeth smiled too, but her smile was a bit
uncertain.

"I--I _think_ I understand you, Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "But I'm not
quite sure. How did you---- Would you mind being just a little more
clear? Won't you explain a little more fully?"

"Surely. Easiest thing in the world. Take Sister Snowden. I cast anchor
under her lee--and 'twas like tyin' up to an iceberg at first. Ha,
ha!--and I began by sayin' that I had been waitin' for a chance to speak
with her alone. There were a few things I wanted to explain, I said. I
told her that of course I realized she was not like the average, common
run of females here in the Harbor. I knew that so far as brains and
refinement and--er--beauty were concerned she was far, far ahead, had
all the rest of 'em hull down, so to speak."

"Cap'n Kendrick, you didn't!"

"Eh! Well, maybe I left out the 'beauty,' but otherwise than that I told
her just that thing. The ice began to melt a little and when I went on
to say that I realized how much the success of the Fair Harbor depended
on her sense and brains and so on she was obliged to give in that she
agreed with me. It was what she had thought all the time, you see; so
when I told her I thought so too, we began to get on a common fishin'
ground, so to speak. And the more I hinted at how wonderful I thought
she was the smarter she began to think _I_ was. It ended in a sort of
understandin' between us. I am to do the best I can as skipper here and
she is to help along in the fo'castle, as you might say. When I need any
of her suggestions I'm to go and ask her for 'em. And we aren't either
of us goin' to tell the rest of the crew--or passengers, or whatever you
call 'em--a word. When she and I separated there was a puddle of oil all
around that Eyrie place, but there wasn't a breaker in sight. Ha, ha!
Oh, dear!"

He laughed aloud. Miss Berry laughed, too, but she still seemed somewhat
puzzled.

"But, Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "you're not going to ask for her
suggestions, are you?"

"Only when I need 'em. The agreement was that I was to ask when I needed
'em. I have a pretty strong feelin' that I shan't need 'em much."

"But it was her idea, the buying of that ridiculous statuary."

"Yes, I know. We talked about that. I told her that I was sure the iron
menagerie that belonged to her uncle, or whoever it was, would have made
this place look as lovely as the Public Garden in Boston. I said you and
your mother thought so, too, but that the trouble was we couldn't afford
'em at present. If ever another collection hove in sight that we could
afford, I'd let her know. But, whatever happened, she must always feel
that I was dependin' on her. She said she was glad to know that and that
I _could_ depend on her. So it'll be fair weather in her latitude for a
while."

"And Susanna--Mrs. Brackett? What did you say to her?"

"Oh, exactly what I said to Elvira. I can depend on her, too, she said
so. And I can have _her_ advice--when I need it. The main thing, Miss
Elizabeth, was, it seemed to me, to smooth down the rough water until I
could learn a little of my new job, at least enough to be of some help
to you. Because it is plain enough that if this Fair Harbor is to keep
afloat and on an even keel, you will keep it so--just as you have been
keepin' it for the last couple of years. I called myself the admiral
here the other day, when I was talkin' to that committee. I realize that
all I really am, or ever will be, is a sort of mate to you, Miss
Elizabeth. And a good deal of a lubber even at that, I am afraid."

The lubber mate was, at least, a diligent student. Each morning found
him hobbling to the door of the Fair Harbor--the side door now, not the
stately and seldom-used front door--and in the room which Cordelia Berry
called her "study" he and Elizabeth studied the books and accounts of
the institution. These were in good condition, surprisingly good
condition, and he of course realized that that condition was due to the
capability and care of the young woman herself. Mrs. Berry professed a
complete knowledge of everything pertaining to the Fair Harbor, but in
reality her knowledge was very superficial. In certain situations she
was of real help. When callers came during hours when Elizabeth and
Sears were busy Cordelia received and entertained them and was in her
element while doing so. At dinner--on one or two occasions the captain
dined at the Harbor instead of limping back to Judah's kitchen--she
presided at the long table and was the very pattern of the perfect
hostess. A stranger, happening in by chance, might have thought her the
owner of palaces and plantations, graciously dispensing hospitality to
those less favored. As an ornament--upon the few occasions when the Fair
Harbor required social ornamentation--Cordelia Berry left little to be
desired. But when it came--as it usually did come--to the plain duties
of housekeeping and managing, she left much. And that much was, so Sears
Kendrick discovered, left to the willing and able hands of her daughter.

As, under Elizabeth's guidance, Captain Sears plodded through the books
and accounts, he was increasingly impressed with one thing, which was
how very close to the wind, to use his own seafaring habit of thought
and expression, the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women was obliged to sail.
The income from the fifty thousand dollar endowment fund was small, the
seven hundred dollars paid yearly by the guests helped but a little, and
expenses, even when pared down as closely as they had been, seemed large
in comparison. Mrs. Berry's salary as matron was certainly not a big one
and Elizabeth drew no salary at all. He spoke to her about it.

"Don't they pay you any wages for all the work you do here?" he queried.

She shook her head. "Of course not," she replied. "How could they? Where
would the money come from?"

"But--why, confound it, you run the whole craft. It isn't fair that you
should do it for nothin'."

"I do it to help mother. Her salary as matron here is practically all
she has. She needs me. And, of course, the Fair Harbor is our home, just
as it is Elvira's and Esther Tidditt's, and the rest."

He glanced at her quickly to see if there was any trace of bitterness or
resentment in her expression. He had detected none in her voice. But she
was, apparently, not resentful, not as resentful as he, for that matter.

"Yes," he said, and if he had paused to think he would not have said it,
"it is your home now, but it isn't goin' to be always, is it? You're not
plannin' to stay here and help your mother for the rest of your life?"

She did not reply at once, when she did the tone was decisive and final.

"I shall stay as long as I am needed," she said. "Here are the bills for
the last month, Cap'n Kendrick."

That evening the captain employed Judah and the Foam Flake to carry him
to and from Judge Knowles'. The call was a very brief one. Sears had
determined to trouble the judge as little as was humanly possible.

"Judge," he said, coming to the point at once, "I've been lookin' over
the books and runnin' expenses of that Harbor place and for the life of
me I can't see how it can carry another cent and keep afloat. As it is,
that Berry girl ought to draw at least a hundred a month, and she
doesn't get a penny."

Knowles nodded. "I know it," he agreed. "But you say yourself that the
Fair Harbor can't spare another cent. How could we pay her?"

"I don't know. And what I don't know a whole lot more is how I'm goin'
to be paid fifteen hundred a year. Where's that comin' from; can you
tell me?"

From the bed--the invalid was in bed most of the time now--came a
characteristic chuckle. "He, he, he," laughed the judge. "So you've got
on far enough to wonder about that, eh?"

"I certainly have. And I want to say right here that----"

"Hold on! Hold on, Kendrick! Don't be a fool. And don't make the
mistake of thinkin' I'm one, either. I may have let you guess that the
Fair Harbor was to pay your salary. It isn't because it can't. _I'm_
paying it and I'm going to pay it--while I'm alive and after I'm dead.
You're my substitute and so long as you keep that job you'll get your
pay. It's all arranged for, so don't argue."

"But, Judge, why----"

"Shut up. I want to do it and I can afford to do it. Let a dead man have
a little fun, can't you. You'll earn your money, I tell you. And when
that Egbert comes I'll get the worth of mine--dead or alive, I'll get
it. Now go home and let me alone, I'm tired."

But Sears still hesitated.

"That's all right, Judge," he said. "You've got the right to spend your
own money, I presume likely, so I won't say a word; although I may have
my own opinion as to your judgment in spendin' it. But there's one more
thing I can't quite get over. Here am I, about third mate's helper
aboard that Harbor craft, bein' paid fifteen hundred a year, and that
girl--as fine, capable, sensible--er--er--nice girl as ever lived, I do
believe--workin' her head off and runnin' the whole ship, as you might
say, and bein' paid nothin' at all. It isn't right. It isn't square. I
won't stand it. I'll heave up my commission and you pay her the fifteen
hundred. _She_ earns it."

Silence. Then another slow chuckle from the bed.

"Humph!" grunted Judge Knowles. "'Fine, capable, sensible, nice--'
Getting pretty enthusiastic, aren't you, Kendrick? He, he, he!"

Taken by surprise, and suddenly aware that he had spoken very
emphatically, the captain blushed, and felt, himself a fool for so
doing.

"Why--I--I--" he stammered, then laughed, and declared stoutly, "I don't
care if I am. That girl deserves all the praise anybody's got aboard.
She's a wonder, that's what she is. And she isn't bein' treated right."

The answer was of a kind quite unexpected.

"Well," rasped the judge, "who said she was?"

"Eh? What----"

"Who said she was? Not I. Don't you suppose I know what Elizabeth Berry
is worth to Lobelia Seymour's idiot shop over yonder? And what she
gets--or doesn't get? And didn't I tell you that her father was my best
friend? Then.... Oh, well! Kendrick, you go back to your job. And don't
you fret about that girl. What she doesn't get now she.... Humph! Clear
out, and don't worry me any more. Good night."

So the captain departed. In a way his mind was more at rest. He was
nearer to being reconciled to the fifteen hundred a year now that he
knew it was not to come from the funds of the Fair Harbor. Judge Knowles
was reputed to be rich. If he chose to pay a salary to gratify a
whim--why, let him. He, Kendrick, would do his best to earn that salary.
But, nevertheless, he did not intend to let Elizabeth Berry remain under
any misapprehension as to where the salary was coming from. He would
tell her the next time they met. A new thought occurred to him. Why not
tell her then--that very evening? It was not late, only about nine
o'clock.

"Judah," he said, "I've got to run in to the Harbor a minute. Drive me
around to the side door, will you? And then wait there for me, that's a
good fellow."

So, leaving the Foam Flake and its pilot to doze comfortably in the soft
silence of the summer evening, Sears--after Judah had, as was his
custom, lifted him down from the wagon seat and handed him his
cane--plodded to the side door of the Harbor and knocked. Mrs. Brackett
answered the knock.

"Why, how d'ye do, Cap'n Kendrick?" she said, graciously. "Come right
in. We wasn't expectin' you. You don't very often call evenin's. Come
right in. I guess you know everybody here."

He did, of course, for the group in the back sitting room was made up of
the regular guests. He shook hands with them all, including Miss
Snowden, who greeted him with queenly condescension, and little Mrs.
Tidditt, who jerked his arm up and down as if it was a pump handle, and
affirmed that she was glad to see him, adding, as an after thought,
"Even if I did see you afore to-day."

"Now you are just in time, Cap'n Kendrick," said Miss Elvira. "We are
going to have our usual little 'sing' before we go to bed. Desire--Miss
Peasley--plays the melodeon for us and we sing a few selections, sacred
selections usually, it is our evening custom. Do join us, Cap'n
Kendrick. We should love to have you."

The captain thanked them, but declined. He had run in only for a moment,
he said, a matter of business, and must not stop.

"Besides, I shouldn't be any help," he added. "I can't sing a note."

Miss Snowden would have uttered some genteel protest, but Mrs. Tidditt
spoke first.

"Humph! _That_ won't make any difference," she announced. "Neither can
any of the rest of us--not the right notes."

Possibly Elvira, or Susanna, might have retorted. The former looked as
if she were about to, but Mrs. Aurora Chase came forward.

"And it wasn't more'n ha'f past six neither," she declared with
conviction.

Just why or when it was half past six, or what had happened at that
time, or what fragment of conversation Aurora's impaired hearing had
caught which led her to think this happening was being discussed, the
captain was destined never to learn. For at that instant Miss Berry came
into the room, entering from the hall.

"Who is it?" she asked. "Why, good evening, Cap'n Kendrick."

She was what two thirds of Bayport would have called "dressed up." That
is to say, she was wearing a simple afternoon gown instead of the
workaday garb in which he had been accustomed to seeing her. It was
becoming, even at the first glance he was sure of that.

"Good evening, Cap'n Kendrick," she said, again. "I wasn't expecting
you this evening. Is anything the matter?"

"Oh no, no! I just ran over for a minute. I--um--yes, that's all."

He scarcely knew how to explain his errand. He had referred to it as a
matter of business, but it was scarcely that. And he could not explain
it at all in the presence of the guests, each one so obviously eager to
have him do so.

"I just ran in," he repeated. She looked a little puzzled, and it seemed
to him that she hesitated, momentarily. Then--

"Won't you come into the parlor?" she asked. Was it the captain's
imagination, or did Elvira and Susanna and Desire and the rest--except
Aurora, of course, who had not heard--cast significant looks at each
other? It seemed to him that they did, but why? A moment later he
understood.

"Come right in, Cap'n," she urged. "George is here, but you know him, of
course."

They had walked the length of the hall and were almost at the door when
she made this announcement. He paused.

"George?" he repeated.

"Why, yes, George Kent. But that doesn't make a bit of difference. Come
in."

"But, Miss Elizabeth, I didn't realize you had company. I----"

"No, no. Stop, Cap'n Kendrick. George isn't company. He is--just George.
Come in."

So he went in and George Kent, tall and boyish and good looking, rose to
shake hands. He appeared very much at home in that parlor, more so than
Sears Kendrick did just then. The latter knew young Kent well, of
course, had met him first at Sarah Macomber's and had, during his slow
convalescence there, learned to like him. They had not seen much of each
other since the captain became Judah Cahoon's lodger, although Kent had
dropped in once for a short call.

But Sears had not expected to find him there, that evening, in the best
parlor of the Fair Harbor. There was every reason why he should have
expected it. Judah had told him that George was a regular visitor and
had more than hinted at the reason. But, in the whirl of interest
caused by his acceptance of his new position and the added interest of
his daily labors with Elizabeth, the captain had forgotten about
everything and every one else, Kent included.

But there he was, young, broad-shouldered, handsome, optimistic,
buoyant. And there, too, was Elizabeth, also young, and pretty and gayly
chatty and vivacious. And there, too, was he, Sears Kendrick, no longer
young, even in the actual count of years, and feeling at least twice
that count--there he was, a cripple, a derelict.

His call was very brief. The contrast between himself and those two
young people was too great, and, to him, at least, too painful. He did
not, of course, mention the errand which had brought him there. He could
tell Elizabeth the facts concerning the payment of his wages at some
other time. He gave some more or less plausible reason for his running
in, and, at the end of fifteen minutes or so, ran out. Kent shook hands
with him at parting and declared that he was going to call at the Minot
place at an early date.

"We've all missed you there at the Macombers', Cap'n," he said. "Your
sister says it doesn't seem like the same place. And I agree with her,
it doesn't. I'm coming to see you within a day or two, sure. May I?"

Sears said of course he might, and tried to make his tone cordial, but
the attempt was not too successful. Elizabeth accompanied him to the
side door. This meant a return trip through the back sitting room,
where, judging by the groans of the melodeon and the accompanying vocal
wails, the "sing" had been under way for some minutes. But, when Captain
Sears and Miss Berry entered the room, there was absolute silence.
Something had stopped the sing, had stopped it completely and judging by
the facial expressions of the majority of those present, painfully.

Miss Snowden sat erect in her chair, frigidly, icily, disgustedly erect.
Beside her Mrs. Brackett sat, scorn and mental nausea plain upon her
countenance. Every one looked angry and disgusted except Mrs. Chase, who
was eagerly whispering questions to her next neighbor, and Mrs.
Tidditt, who was grinning broadly.

Elizabeth looked in astonishment at the group.

"Why what is it?" she asked. "What is the matter?"

Several began speaking, but Miss Elvira raised a silencing hand.

"We were having our sing," she said. "I say 'we _were_'. We are not now,
because," her eyes turned to and dwelt upon the puzzled face of Captain
Sears Kendrick, "we were interrupted."

"Interrupted?" Elizabeth repeated the word.

"Interrupted was what I said. And _such_ interruptions! Captain
Kendrick, I presume you are not responsible for the--ahem--_manners_ of
your--ahem--friend, or landlord, or cook or whatever he may be, but
whoever _is_ responsible for them should be.... But there, listen for
yourself."

Warned by the raised Snowden hand, every one, including the captain and
Elizabeth, listened. And, from the yard without so loud that the words
were plainly understandable although the windows were closed and locked,
came the voice of Judah Cahoon, uplifted in song.

    "'Whisky is the life of man,
      Whisky, Johnny!
    Whisky from an old tin can,
      Whisky for my Johnny!

    "'I drink whisky and my wife drinks gin,
      Whisky, Johnny!
    The way we drink 'em is a sin,
      Whisky for my Johnny!'"

The singer paused, momentarily, and Elvira spoke.

"Of course," she said, "I make no comment upon the lack of common
politeness shown by interrupting our evening sing by such--ah--_noises_
as that. But when one considers the morals of the person who chooses
such low, disgraceful----"

    "'I had a girl, her name was Lize,
      Whisky, Johnny!
    She put whisky in her pies,
      Whisky for my Johnny!'"

Captain Sears hobbled, as fast as his weak legs would permit, to the
door. He flung it open.

    "'Whisky stole my brains away,
      Whisky, Johnny!
    Just one more pull and then belay,
      Whisky for----'"

"Judah! _Judah!_"

"Eh? Aye, aye, Cap'n Sears. What is it?"

"Shut up!"

"Eh? Oh! Aye, aye, Cap'n."

He swung his former skipper to the seat of the truck-wagon. The captain
spoke but little during the short trip home. What he did say, however,
was to the point.

"Judah," he ordered, "the next time you sing anywhere within
speakin'-trumpet distance of that Fair Harbor place, don't you dare sing
anything but psalms."

"Eh? But which?"

"Never mind. What in everlastin' blazes do you mean by sittin' up aloft
here and bellowin' about--rum and women?"

"Hold on, now, Cap'n Sears! Ho-ld on! That wan't no rum and woman song,
that was the old 'Whisky, Johnny' chantey. Why, I've heard that song
aboard your own vessels mo-ore times, Cap'n Sears. Why----"

"All right. But don't let me ever hear it sung near the Fair Harbor
again. If you must sing, when you're over there sing--oh, sing the
doxology."

Judah did not speak for a minute or two. Then he stirred rebelliously.

"What's that?" asked the captain. "What are you mumblin' about?"

"Eh? I wan't mumblin'. I was just sayin' I didn't have much time to
learn new-fangled songs, that's all.... Whoa, you--you walrus! Don't you
know enough to come up into the wind when you git to your moorin's?"

As his boarder took his lamp from the kitchen table, preparatory to
going to his room, Mr. Cahoon spoke again.

"George Kent was over there, wan't he?" he observed.

"Eh? Oh ... yes."

"Um-hm. I cal-lated he would be. This is his night--one of 'em. Comes
twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, they tell me, and then heaves in a
Sunday every little spell, for good measure. Gettin' to be kind of
settled thing between them two, so all hands are cal'latin'.... Hey?
Turnin' in already, be you, Cap'n? Well, good night."

Sears Kendrick found it hard to fall asleep that night. He tossed and
tumbled and thought and thought and thought. At intervals he cursed
himself for a fool and resolved to think no more, along those lines at
least, but to forget the foolishness and get the rest he needed. And
each time he was snatched back from the brink of that rest by a vision
of George Kent, tall, young, good-looking, vigorous, with all the world,
its opportunities and rewards, before him, and of himself almost on the
verge of middle age, a legless, worthless, hopeless piece of wreckage.
He liked Kent, George was a fine young fellow, he had fancied him when
they first met. Every one liked him and prophesied his success in life
and in the legal profession. Then why in heaven's name shouldn't he call
twice a week at the Fair Harbor if he wished to? He should, of course.
That was logic, but logic has so little to do with these matters, and,
having arrived at the logical conclusion, Captain Sears Kendrick found
himself still fiercely resenting that conclusion, envying young Kent his
youth and his hopes and his future, and as stubbornly rebellious against
destiny as at the beginning.

Nevertheless--and he swore it more than once before that wretched night
was over--no one but he should know of that envy and rebellion, least
of all the cause of it. From then on he would, he vowed, take especial
pains to be nice to George Kent and to help or befriend him in every
possible way.



CHAPTER VIII


It was Kent himself who put this vow to the test. He called at the Minot
place the very next evening. It was early, only seven o'clock; Judah,
having begged permission to serve an early supper because it was "lodge
night," had departed for Liberty Hall, where the local branch of the Odd
Fellows met; and Sears Kendrick was sitting on the settee in the back
yard, beneath the locust tree, smoking. Kent came swinging in at the
gate and again the captain felt that twinge of envy and rebellion
against fate as he saw the active figure come striding toward him.

But, and doubly so because of that very twinge, his welcome was brimming
with cordiality. Kent explained that his call must be a brief one, as he
must hurry back to his room at the Macombers' to study. It was part of
his agreement with Eliphalet Bassett that his duties as bookkeeper at
the latter's store should end at six o'clock each night.

Sears asked how he was getting on with his law study. He replied that he
seemed to be getting on pretty well, but missed Judge Knowles' help and
advice very much indeed.

"I read with Lawyer Bradley over at Harniss now," he said. "Go over two
evenings a week, Mondays and Thursdays. The other evenings--most of
them--I put in by myself, digging away at _Smith on Torts_ and _Chitty
on Bills_, and stuff of that kind. I suppose that sounds like pretty
dull music to you, Cap'n Kendrick."

The captain shook his head. "I don't know about the music part," he
observed. "It's a tune I never could learn to play--or sing, either, I'm
sure of that. But you miss the judge's help, do you?"

"Miss it like blazes. He could do more in five minutes to make me see a
point than Bradley can in an hour. Bradley's a pretty good lawyer, as
the average run of small lawyers go, but Judge Knowles is away above the
average. Bradley will hem and haw and 'rather think' this and 'it would
seem as if' that, but the judge will say a hundred words, and two of 'em
swear words, and there is the answer, complete, plain and demonstrated.
I do like Judge Knowles. I only hope he likes me half as well."

They discussed the judge, his illness and the pity of it. This led to a
brief talk concerning Sears' hurt and his condition. Kent seemed to
consider the latter much improved.

"Your sister says so, too," he declared. "I heard her telling Macomber
yesterday at dinner that she thought you looked and acted very much more
like a well man than when you left our house. And your legs must be
better, too, Cap'n. I'm sure you get around easier than you did."

The captain shrugged. "I get around," he said, "but that's about all you
can say. Whether I'll ever.... But there, what's the use of talkin'
about my split timbers? Tell me some of the Bayport news. Now that it
seems to be settled I'm goin' to tie up here for a good while I ought to
know somethin' about my fellow citizens, hadn't I? What is goin' on?"

There was not very much going on, so Kent said. Captain Lorenzo Taylor's
ship was due in New York almost any week or day now, and then the
captain would, of course, come home for a short visit. Mrs. Captain
Elkanah Wingate had a new silk dress, and, as it was the second silk
gown within a year, there was much talk at sewing circle and at the
store concerning it and Captain Elkanah's money. One of Captain Orrin
Eldridge's children was ill with scarlet fever. The young people of the
Universalist society were going to give some amateur theatricals at the
Town Hall some time in August, and the minister at the Orthodox
meeting-house had already preached a sermon upon the sin of theater
going.

"There," concluded George Kent, with another laugh. "That's about all
the local excitement, Cap'n. It won't keep you awake to-night, I hope."

Sears smiled. "Guess I'll drop off in spite of it," he observed. "But it
is kind of interestin', too, some of it. Hope Cap'n Lorenzo makes a good
voyage home. He's in the _Belle of the Ocean_, isn't he? Um-hm. Well,
she's a good able vessel and Lorenzo's a great hand to carry sail, so,
give him good weather, he'll bring her home flyin'. So the Universalists
have been behavin' scandalous, have they? Dear, dear! But what can you
expect of folks so wicked they don't believe in hell? Humph! I mustn't
talk that way. I forgot that you were a Universalist yourself, George."

Kent smiled. "Oh, I'm as wicked as anybody you can think of," he
declared. "Why, I'm going to take a part in those amateur theatricals,
myself."

"Are you? My, my! You'll be goin' to dancin'-school next, and then you
_will_ be bound for that place you don't believe in. When is this show
of yours comin' off? I'd like to see it, and shall, if Judah and the
Foam Flake will undertake to get me to the Town Hall and back."

"I think we'll give it the second week in August. We had a great
argument trying to pick a play. For a long time we were undecided
between 'Sylvia's Soldier' or 'Down by the Sea' or 'Among the Breakers.'
At last we decided on 'Down by the Sea.' It's quite new, been out only
four or five years, and it rather fits our company. Did you ever see it,
Cap'n?"

"No, I never did. I've been out _on_ the sea so much in my life that
when I got ashore I generally picked out the shows that hadn't anything
to do with it--'Hamlet,' or 'Lydia Thompson's British Blondes,' or
somethin' like that," with a wink. Then he added, more soberly, "The old
salt water looks mighty good to me now, though. Strange how you don't
want a thing you can have and long for it when you can't.... But I'm not
supposed to preach a sermon, at least I haven't heard anybody ask me to.
What's your part in this--what d'ye call it?--'Out on the Beach,'
George?"

"'Down by the Sea.' Oh, I'm 'March Gale,' and when I was a baby I was
cast ashore from a wreck."

"Humph! When you were a baby. Started your seafarin' early, I should
say. Who else is in it?"

"Oh, Frank Crosby, he is 'Sept Gale,' my brother--only he isn't my
brother. And John Carleton--the schoolteacher, you know--he is
'Raymond,' the city man; he's good, too. And Sam Ryder, and Erastus
Snow. There was one part--'John Gale,' an old fisherman chap, we
couldn't seem to think of any one who could, or would, play it. But at
last we did, and who do you think it was? Joel Macomber, your sister's
husband."

"What? Joel Macomber--on the stage! Oh, come now, George!"

"It's a fact. And he's good, too. Some one told one of us that Macomber
had done some amateur acting when he was young, and, in desperation, we
asked him to try this part. And he is good. You would be surprised,
Cap'n Kendrick."

"Um-hm, I am now. I certainly am. What sort of a part is it Joel's got?
What does this--er--Gale do; anything but blow?"

"Why--why, he doesn't really do much, that's a fact. He is supposed to
be a fisherman, as I said, but--well, about all he does in the play is
to come on and off and talk a good deal, and scold at Frank and me--his
sons, you know--and fuss at his wife and----"

Captain Sears held up his hand.

"That's enough, George," he interrupted. "That'll do. Don't do much of
anything, talks a lot, and finds fault with other folks. No wonder Joel
Macomber can act that part. He ought to be as natural as life in it.
Aren't there any womenfolks in this play, though? I don't see how much
could happen without them aboard."

"Oh, yes, of course there are women. Three of them. Mrs. Cora Bassett,
Eliphalet's brother's wife, she is 'Mrs. Gale,' my mother, only she
turns out not to be; and Fannie Wingate, she is the rich city girl; and
Elizabeth. That makes the three."

"Yes, yes, so it does. But which Elizabeth are you talkin' about?"

"Why, Elizabeth Berry. My--our Elizabeth, over here at the Fair Harbor."

The quick change from "my" to "our" was so quick as to be almost
imperceptible, but the captain noticed it. He looked up and Kent,
catching his eye, colored slightly. Sears noticed the color, also, but
his tone, when he spoke, was quite casual.

"Oh," he said. "So Elizabeth's in it, too, is she? Well, well! What part
does she take?"

"She's 'Kitty Gale,' my sweetheart."

"You don't say. She's good, I'll bet."

"Wonderful!" Kent's enthusiasm was unrestrained. "You wouldn't believe
any untrained girl could act as she does. She might have been born for
the part, honestly she might."

"Um-hm.... Well, maybe she was."

"Eh? I beg your pardon."

"Nothin', nothin'. I'll have to see that play, even if the Foam Flake
founders and Judah has to carry me there pig-back. And how are you
gettin' on in it yourself? You haven't told me that."

"Oh, I'm doing well enough. Trying hard, at least. But, Cap'n Sears, you
should see Elizabeth. She is splendid. But she is a wonderful girl,
anyway. Don't you think she is?"

"Yes."

"You couldn't help thinking so. No one could. Why----"

The remainder of the conversation was, for the most part, a chant, sung
as a solo by George Kent, and having as its subject, the wonders of Miss
Berry. Captain Sears joined occasionally in the chorus, and smiled
cordial and complete agreement. His caller was charmed.

"I've had a bully good time, Cap'n," he declared, at parting. "I came
intending to stay only a few minutes and I've been here an hour and a
half. You are one of the most interesting talkers I ever heard in my
life, if you don't mind my saying so."

Sears, whose contributions to the latter half of the conversation had
been about one word in twenty, laughed. "I'm afraid you haven't heard
many good talkers," he said.

"Oh, yes, I have. But there are precious few of them in this town. It
does a fellow good to know a man like you, who has been everywhere and
met so many people and done so many things worth while. And, you and I
agree so on almost every point. I don't know whether you noticed it or
not, but our opinions seemed so exactly alike. It's remarkable, I think.
I like you, Cap'n Kendrick; you don't mind my saying so, do you?"

"Oh, not a bit, not a bit. Glad of it, of course."

"Yes. I liked you down there at your sister's, but you were so sick I
didn't have the chance to know you as well as I wanted to. But I had
seen enough of you to know I should like you a lot when I knew you
better. And Elizabeth, she was sure I would."

"Oh, she was, eh?"

"Yes. Oh, yes. She likes you very much. We talk about you almost every
time I call--I mean when we are together, you know. Well, good-by. I'm
coming for another talk--and soon, too. May I?"

"Hope you do, son. Come aboard any day. The gangplank is always down for
you."

Which was all right, except that as Sears watched his caller swinging
buoyantly to the gate, the same unreasonable twinge came back to him,
bringing with it the keen sense of depression and discouragement, the
realization of his approaching middle age and his crippled condition. It
did not last long, he would not permit it to linger, but it was acute
while it lasted.

He heard a great deal concerning the approaching production of "Down by
the Sea" as the weeks passed and the time for that production drew
nearer. As he and Elizabeth worked and took counsel together concerning
the affairs of the Fair Harbor they spoke of it. She was enjoying the
rehearsals hugely and the captain gathered that they furnished the
opportunity for change of thought and relaxation which she had greatly
needed. They spoke of George Kent, also; Sears saw to that. He brought
the young man's name into their conversation at frequent intervals and
took pains to praise him highly and to declare repeatedly his liking for
him. All part of his own self-imposed penance, of course. And Elizabeth
seemed to enjoy these conversations and agreed with him that George was
"a nice boy" and likely to succeed in life.

"I'm so glad you like him, Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "He likes you so
much and is so sure that you are a wise man."

Sears turned to look at her.

"Sure that I'm what?" he demanded.

"A wise man. He says that, next to Judge Knowles, he had rather have
your opinion than any one else in Bayport."

The captain shook his head. "Dear, dear!" he sighed. "And just as I had
come to the conclusion that George was so smart. Me a wise man? _Me!_
Tut, tut! George, you disappoint me."

But she would not be turned aside in that way.

"There is no reason for disappointment that I can see," she said. "I
think he is quite right. You _are_ a wise man, Cap'n Kendrick. Of course
I know you must be or Judge Knowles would not have selected you to take
charge here. But since you and I have been working together I have found
it out for myself. In fact I don't see how we ever got along--mother and
I--before you came. And we didn't get on very well, that is a fact," she
added, with a rueful smile.

"Rubbish! You got on wonderfully. And as for the worth of my
opinions--well, you ask Northern Lights what she thinks of 'em. She'll
tell you, I'll bet."

"Northern Lights" was Captain Sears's pet name for Mrs. Aurora Chase.
Elizabeth asked why Aurora should hold his opinions lightly. The captain
chuckled.

"Well," he explained, "she asked me yesterday what I thought of the
Orthodox minister's sermons about the Universalist folks play-actin'. I
said I hadn't heard 'em first hand, but that I understood they were hot.
I thought she sailed off with her nose pretty well aloft, but I couldn't
see why. To-day Esther Tidditt told me that she had understood me to say
the sermons were 'rot.' That's what comes of bein' hard of hearin'. Ho,
ho! But truth will out, won't it?"

The afternoon preceding the evening when "Down by the Sea" was to be
publicly presented upon the stage of the town hall was overcast and
cloudy. Judah, with one eye upon the barometer swinging in its gimbals
in the General Minot front entry, had gloomily prophesied rain. Captain
Sears, although inwardly agreeing with the prophecy, outwardly
maintained an obstinate optimism.

"I don't care if the glass is down so low that the mercury sticks out of
the bottom and hits the deck," he declared. "It isn't goin' to rain
to-night, Judah. You mark my words."

"I'm a-markin' 'em, Cap'n Sears. I'm a-markin' of 'em. But what's the
use of words alongside of a fallin' glass like that? And, besides, ain't
I been watchin' the sky all the afternoon? Look how it's smurrin' up
over to the west'ard. Look at them mare's tails streakin' out up aloft.

    'Mack'rel skies and mares' tails
    Make lofty ships to douse their sails.'

You know that's well's I do, Cap'n Sears."

"Yes, yes, so I do, Judah. But do you know this one?

    'Hi, diddle, diddle,
    The cat and the fiddle,
    The cow jumped over the moon.'

What have you got to say to that, eh?"

Judah stared at him. His chin quivered.

"Wh--wh--" he stammered. "What have I got to say to that? Why, I ain't
got nawthin' to say to it. There ain't no sense to it. That's Mother
Goose talk, that's all that is, What's that got to do with the
weather?"

"It would have somethin' to do with it if a cow jumped over the moon,
wouldn't it?"

"Eh? But---- Oh, creepin' prophets, Cap'n Sears, what's the use of you
and me wastin' our breath over such foolishness? You're just bein'
funny, that's all." His expression changed, and he smiled broadly. "Why,
by Henry," he declared, "I ain't heard you talk that way afore since you
shipped aboard this General Minot craft along of me. That's the way you
used to poke fun at me aboard the old _Wild Ranger_ when we was makin'
port after a good v'yage. What's happened to spruce you up so? Doctor
ain't told you any special good news about them legs of yours, has he,
Cap'n? Limpin' Moses, I wisht that was it."

Sears shook his head. "No, Judah," he replied. "No such luck as that.
It's just my natural foolishness, I guess. And I'm goin' to the theater
to-night, too, all by myself. Think of it. Do you wonder I feel like a
boy in his first pair of long trousers?"

Mr. Cahoon's whisker-framed face expressed doubt and foreboding. "I
ain't sure yit that I'm doin' right in lettin' you pilot yourself down
to that town hall," he declared. "It ain't that I'm scart of the horse
runnin' away, or nothin' like that, you understand, but----"

His lodger burst into a roar of laughter.

"Runnin' away!" he repeated. "Judah, foam flakes drift away pretty often
and sometimes they blow away, but I never saw one run away yet. And if
this Foam Flake of yours ever started to run I should die of surprise
before anything else could happen to me. Don't worry about me. You'll be
here to help me aboard the buggy, when I'm ready to leave port, and
there'll be plenty of folks at the hall to help me out of it when I get
there. So I'll be all right and to spare."

"Um--well, maybe so. But it seems to me like takin' risks just the same.
Now, Cap'n Sears, why don't you let me drive you down, same as I always
do drive you? What makes you so sot on goin' alone?"

The captain did not answer for a moment. Then he said, "Judah, for a
good many long weeks--yes, and months--I've been havin' somebody drive
me or steer me or order me. To-night, by the Lord A'mighty, _I'm_ goin'
to drive and give my own orders."

"But the doctor----"

"The doctor doesn't know. And if you tell him I'll--well, you'll need
him, that's all. Every dog has its day, Judah, and this is my night."

"But it's goin' to rain and----"

"It isn't.... And, if it does, haven't you and I seen enough water not
to be afraid of it?"

"Salt water--yes; but----"

"There aren't any buts. That'll do, Judah. Go for'ard." So Mr. Cahoon,
obeying orders, went for'ard; that is, he went into the kitchen, and
Sears Kendrick was left upon the seat beneath the locust tree to smoke
and cast rebellious glances at the deepening gloom of the sky. He had
not been entirely truthful in his replies to his landlord's questions.
Although he scarcely dared admit it, even to himself, his damaged legs
were better than they had been. Doctor Sheldon told him that they were
and seemed more hopeful after each examination. And he knew that the
doctor's hope was not mere pretending, something assumed but not felt.
Yes, he knew it. And, for the first time since the accident which
wrecked the Old Colony train and his own life, he began to think that,
perhaps--some day, perhaps--he might again be a man, a whole,
able-bodied man among men. When he submitted this thought to the cold
light of reason, it was transparent and faint enough, but it was there,
and it was one cause of his high spirits.

And there was another, a cause which was even less worthy of
reason--which was perfectly childish and absurd but not the less real on
that account. It was connected with his stubborn determination to be his
own pilot to the hall that evening. He had, when he first determined to
risk the trip in that way, refused to permit Judah to accompany him
because he knew, if he did, that the latter would be a sort of safety
valve, a life preserver--to mix similes--the real driver who would be
on hand to take charge if necessary. Under such circumstances his own
responsibility ceased to be a responsibility and his self-reliance
_nil_. No, sink or swim, survive or perish, he would make the voyage
alone.

So, although there was plenty of room on the buggy seat, he stubbornly
refused to permit Judah to sit there. Mr. Cahoon was going to the play,
of course--the entire constabulary force of Ostable County could not
have prevented his doing so--but he was to walk, not ride behind the
Foam Flake. And Captain Sears Kendrick was supposed to be riding alone.

Yet he was not to ride alone, although only one person, and that not
Judah Cahoon, knew of that fact. The day before, while he and Miss Berry
were busy, as usual, with the finances and managerial duties of the Fair
Harbor, she had happened to mention that there were some stage
properties, bits of costumes, and the like, which must be gotten early
to the hall on the evening of the performance and he had offered to have
Judah deliver them for her. Now he told her of his intention of driving
the Foam Flake unassisted and that he would deliver them himself.

"Or any other light dunnage you might want taken down there," he added.
"Glad to, no trouble at all."

She looked at him rather oddly he thought.

"You are going all alone?" she asked.

"Um-hm. All alone. I'm goin' to have my own way this time in spite of
the Old Harry--and the doctor--and Judah."

"And you are sure there will be plenty of room?"

"What? With only me in the buggy? Yes, indeed. Room enough for two sea
chests and a pork barrel, as old Cap'n Bangs Paine used to say when I
sailed with him. Room and to spare."

"Room enough for--me?"

"For you? Why, do you mean----"

"I mean that if there _is_ room I should like to ride down with you very
much. I want to get to the hall early and I have these things to carry.
Mother and the rest of the Harbor people are going later, of course....
So, if you are sure that I and my bundles won't be nuisances----"

He was sure, emphatically and enthusiastically sure. But his surprise
was great and he voiced it involuntarily.

"I supposed, of course," he said, "that your passage was booked long
ago. I supposed George had attended to that."

Her answer was brief, but there was an air of finality about it which
headed off further questions.

"I am not going with him," she said.

So this was his second cause for good spirits, the fact that Elizabeth
Berry was to ride with him to the hall that evening. It was a very
slight inconsequential reason surely, but somehow he found it
sufficient. She was going with him merely because he and the Foam Flake
and the buggy furnished the most convenient method of transportation for
her and her packages, but she was going--and she was not going with
George Kent. There was a certain wicked pleasure in the last thought. He
was ashamed of it, but the pleasure was there in spite of the shame.
Kent had so much that he had not, but here was one little grain of
advantage to enter upon the Kendrick side of the ledger; Elizabeth Berry
was not going to the town hall with Kent, but with him.

He made but one protest and that only because his conscience goaded him
into making it.

"I don't know as I ought to let you, Miss Elizabeth," he said. "I'm
takin' a chance, I suppose, that perhaps you shouldn't take. This is my
first voyage under my own command since I ran on the rocks. I may strike
another reef, you can't tell."

She looked at him and smiled.

"I am not afraid," she said.

So, in spite of the gathering clouds and the falling barometer, Captain
Sears was cheerful as he smoked beneath the locust tree. After a time he
rose and limped down to the gate. Doctor Sheldon's equipage was standing
by the Knowles hitching post just beyond across the road. The doctor
himself came out of the house and the captain hailed him.

"How is the judge?" he asked. Doctor Sheldon shook his head.

"No better," he replied. "He is weaker every day and last week he had an
attack that was so severe I was afraid it was the end. He weathered it,
though."

"Why, yes. I saw him on Sunday and he was as full of jokes and spunk as
ever, seemed to me. His voice wasn't quite as strong, that's all. He is
a great man, Judge Knowles. Bayport will miss him tremendously when he
goes. So shall I, for that matter, and I haven't known him very long."

"We'll all miss him."

"There isn't a chance, I suppose? In the long run----"

The doctor's look caused him to stop the sentence in the middle.

"There isn't any question of long runs," said Sheldon, gravely. "The
next one of these seizures will end it. He has been a great fighter and
he never gives up; that is why he is here. But the fight is practically
over. The next attack will be the last."

Sears was deeply concerned. "Dear, dear," he said. "I didn't realize it
was quite so bad. And that attack may come--next month, or even next
week, I presume likely?"

"Yes."

The captain's good spirits were dashed for the time. His regard and
admiration for the old judge had grown steadily during their brief
acquaintance. He pictured the rugged, determined face as he had seen it
Sunday, and heard again the voice, weak but drily humorous or
indomitably pugnacious. It did not seem as if a spirit like that could
be so near surrender. Doctor Sheldon must be over apprehensive.

It was but seven o'clock when he drove the Foam Flake up to the side
door of the Fair Harbor and his passenger stowed her various bundles
about his feet in the bottom of the buggy and then climbed in herself.
The drive to the town hall was made in good time, the Foam Flake
considered, and--to the captain at any rate--it was a most pleasant
excursion. There was the unaccustomed sensation of once more being free
from orders or domination.

There was little conversation during the drive. Sears attempted it, but
his passenger was not talkative. She seemed to be thinking of something
else and her answers were brief and absent-minded. Nevertheless Sears
Kendrick enjoyed their drive and was almost sorry when the Foam Flake
halted, snorting, or sneezing, violently, by the hall platform. The
building was as yet but dimly lighted and Asaph Tidditt, the janitor,
was the only person about. Asaph, hearing the Foam Flake's sneeze, came
to the door.

"Well, I swan!" he exclaimed. "Is that you, 'Liz'beth? You're good and
early, ain't you? Evenin', George. Why, 'tain't George. Who is it? Well,
well, well, Cap'n Sears, this _is_ a surprise!"

He helped the captain from the buggy and, at Sears' request, led the
Foam Flake around the corner to the hitching rail. When he returned Miss
Berry had gone upstairs to the dressing-room to leave her packages.
Asaph was still surprised.

"Mighty glad to see you out again, Cap'n," he declared. "I heard you was
better, but I didn't hardly cal'late to see you takin' your girl to ride
so soon. Hey? He, he, he!"

Sears-laughed long enough to seem polite. Asaph laughed longer.

"And 'tain't _your_ girl you're takin' nuther, is it?" he said. "When I
looked in that buggy just now I don't know when I've been more sot back.
'Evenin', George,' says I. And 'twan't George Kent at all, 'twas you.
Ain't been to work and cut George out, have you, Cap'n Sears? He, he,
he! That's another good one, ain't it!"

The captain smiled--more politeness--and inquired if he and Miss Berry
were the first ones at the hall.

"Is any one else here?" he asked.

"Yus," said Mr. Tidditt.

"Who?"

"Me. He, he, he! Kind of caught you that time, didn't I, Cap'n? Wasn't
expectin' that, was you? Except me, you and 'Liz'beth's the fust ones.
Be plenty more in half an hour, though. 'Bout all hands in Bayport's
comin' to this time, everybody but the Orthodox and the Methodists and
the Come-Outers. They cal'late goin' to a play-actin' time is same as
goin' to Tophet. I tell 'em I'd ruther go to the show, 'cause I'd have a
little fun out of it, and from what I hear there ain't much fun in
t'other place. He, he, he! But say, how'd it happen George Kent ever let
'Liz'beth Berry go anywheres without him? Where _is_ George?"

Sears was rather glad when the arrival of Sam Ryder and Carleton, two
other members of the cast of "Down by the Sea" attracted the attention
of the garrulous Asaph and led the latter, in their company, upstairs. A
moment or so later another figure approached from the blackness to the
circle of light cast by the big ship's lantern over the hall door.

"Why, hello, George!" hailed Sears.

Young Kent looked up, recognized the speaker and said "Good evening." He
did not seem surprised as Mr. Tidditt had been to find the captain
there. The latter remarked upon it.

"Why, George," he observed, "I must say you take my bein' here all alone
pretty calmly. Ase Tidditt all but capsized when he saw me bring the
Foam Flake into dock."

Kent nodded. "I knew you were here," he said. "Elizabeth came down with
you, I suppose."

"Why, yes. Did she tell you she was goin' to risk life and limb aboard
my vessel?"

"No," briefly.

"Oh. Then how did you know?"

"I stopped at the Harbor. Her mother said she had gone with you....
Where is she; upstairs?"

"Up in the dressin' room, I guess. She had to come so early because
there were things to bring and some work for her to do before you and
the others got here, she said."

"What? Did she say before _I_ got here?"

"Eh? Why, no, didn't mention you in particular. She just said----"

Kent interrupted. "I see," he said, shortly. "All right, never mind."

He was walking toward the other end of the platform. His manner was so
very peculiar that Sears could not help noticing it. He looked after him
in perplexity.

"Here ... George!" he called.

Kent turned and came back, rather reluctantly it seemed. The older man
looked at him keenly.

"George," he asked, "what's the matter with you?"

"Matter? With me?"

"Yes, with you. You're short as Aunt Nabby's pie crust. Have I done
anything you don't like? If I have I'll apologize before I know what it
is. It wasn't done on purpose, you can be sure of that."

Kent started, colored, and was much perturbed. "I didn't realize I was
short, Cap'n Kendrick," he declared. "I beg your pardon. I am mighty
sorry. No--no, of course you haven't done anything I don't like. I don't
believe you could."

"You never can tell. But so far I haven't tried. Not sick, are you?"

"No ... I'm just--oh, nothing. I'm in a little trouble, that's all. My
own fault, maybe, I don't know."

"Probably it is. Most of our troubles are our own fault, in one way or
another. Well, if there's anything I can do to help out, just give me a
hail."

"Thanks. But I'm afraid there isn't."

He turned and walked down the platform once more. Mrs. Captain Orrin
Eldridge, who was to sell tickets, came, and, after greeting the captain
cordially, went in to open and light the ticket-office at the foot of
the stairs. Two more members of the cast, Erastus Snow and Mrs. Bassett,
arrived and went up to prepare. Suddenly Kent, who had been standing at
the farther end of the platform, came back.

"Captain Kendrick," he said, "would you mind answering a question?"

"Eh? Why, not a bit, George. But perhaps yours may be one of those
questions I can't answer."

"I think you can. Say--er--Cap'n Kendrick----"

"Yes, George."

"You see, I.... This sounds awfully foolish, but--but I don't know what
I ought to do."

"Um-hm. Well, a good many of us get that way every once in a while."

"Do you?"

"You bet!"

"Humph! Somehow you seem to me like a man who would know exactly what to
do at any time."

"Yes? Well, my looks must belie me. Heave ahead, George. The folks are
beginning to come."

"Well, I---- Oh, hang it, Cap'n, when you've made a mistake--done
something that you didn't think was wrong--that wasn't wrong,
really--and--and.... Say, I'm making an awful mess of this. And it's
such a fool thing, anyhow."

"Um-hm. So many things are. Chuck it overboard, George; that is, if you
really want to ask me about it."

"I do. That is, I want to ask you this: Suppose you had done something
that you thought was all right and--and somebody else had thought was
wrong--would you--would you go and tell that other person that you
_were_ wrong? Even if you weren't, you know."

Kendrick was silent. The question was ridiculous enough, but he did not
laugh, nor feel like laughing. Nor did he want to answer.

"Oh, I know that it's a child's question," put in Kent, disgustedly.
"Never mind answering. I am a child sometimes, feel like one, anyhow.
And I've got to fight this out with myself, I suppose, so what's the
use?"

He turned on his heel, but the captain laid a hand on his shoulder.

"George," he said, slowly, "of course, the way you put this thing makes
it pretty foggy navigatin' for a stranger; but--humph!--well, in cases
somethin' like yours, when I've cared anything about the--er--friendship
of the other fellow, I've generally found 'twas good business to go and
say I was sorry first, and then, if 'twas worth while, argue the point
of who was right or wrong later. You never can do much fishin' through
the ice unless somebody chops the hole."

The young man was silent. He seemed to be reflecting and to find his
reflections not too pleasant. Before they were at an end the first group
of townspeople came up the steps. Some of them paused to greet Kendrick
and at their heels was another group. The captain was chatting with them
when he heard Kent's voice at his ear.

"Excuse me, Cap'n," he whispered. "I'll see you by and by. I'm going to
chop the ice."

"Eh?... Oh, all right, George. Good luck."

George hurried up the stairs. A minute or two later Captain Sears slowly
limped after him and sought a secluded corner on one of the settees at
the rear of the hall. There was still a full half hour before the rising
of the curtain, and as yet there was but a handful of people present. He
turned his face away from the handful and hoped that he might not be
recognized. He did not feel like talking. His good spirits had left him.
He was blue and despondent and discouraged. And for no reason--that was
the worst of it--no earthly, sensible, worth while reason at all.

Those two children--that is what they were, children--had quarreled and
that was why Elizabeth had asked to ride to the hall with him that
evening. It was not because she cared for his company; of course he knew
that all the time, or would have known it if he permitted himself to
reason. She had gone with him because she had quarreled with George. And
that young idiot's conscience had troubled him and, thanks to his
own--Kendrick's--advice, he had gone to her now to beg pardon and make
up. And they would make up. Children, both of them.

And they ought to make up; they should, of course. He wanted them to do
so. What sort of a yellow dog in the manger would he be if he did not?
He liked them both, and they were young and well--and he was--what that
railway accident had made of him.

The audience poured in, the settees filled, the little boys down in
front kicked the rounds, and pinched each other and giggled. Mr. Asaph
Tidditt importantly strode down the aisle and turned up the wicks of the
kerosene foot-lamps. Mrs. Sophronia Eldridge, Captain Orrin's
sister-in-law, seated herself at the piano and played the accompaniments
while Mrs. Mary Pashy Foster imparted the information that she could not
sing the old songs now. When she had finished, most people were inclined
to believe her. The delegation from the Fair Harbor, led by Mrs. Berry
and Elvira Snowden, arrived in a body. The Universalist minister and his
wife came, and looked remarkably calm for a couple leading a flock of
fellow humans to perdition. Captain Elkanah Wingate and Mrs. Wingate
came last of all and marched majestically to the seats reserved for them
by the obsequious Mr. Tidditt. The hall lights were dimmed. The curtain
rose. And George Kent, very handsome and manly as "March Gale," was seen
and heard, singing:

    "Oh, my name was Captain Kidd
    As I sailed, as I sailed."

And these were the opening lines of the play, "Down by the Sea."

That performance was a great success, everybody said so. Mr. Tidditt
expressed the general opinion when he declared that all hands done about
as fine as the rest but some of 'em done finer. John Carleton, the
schoolteacher, shone with particular brilliancy as he delivered himself
of such natural, everyday speeches as: "I have dispatched a messenger to
town with the glad tidings," or "We will leave this barren spot and hie
to the gay scenes of city life." And Frank Crosby, as "September Gale,"
the noble young fisherman, tossed the English language about as a real
gale might toss what he would have called "a cockle shell," as he
declared, "With a true heart and a stout arm, who cares for danger?...
To be upon the sea when the winds are roaring and the waves are seething
in anger; ... to have a light bark obedient to your command, braving the
fury of the tempest...." Bayport was fairly well acquainted with
fishermen, numbering at least thirty among its inhabitants, but no one
of the thirty could talk like that.

Sam Ryder's performance of "Captain Dandelion," the city exquisite, was,
so the next issue of the _Item_ said, "remarkable"; there is little
doubt that the _Item_ selected the right word. Joel Macomber was good,
when he remembered his lines; Miss Wingate was very elegant as "a city
belle"; Mrs. Bassett made a competent fisherman's wife. But everybody
declared that Elizabeth Berry and George Kent, as "Kitty Gale" and
"March Gale," were the two brightest stars in that night's firmament.

Captain Kendrick, between the acts, could hear whispered comments all
about him. "Isn't Elizabeth fine!" "Don't they do well!" "Ain't she a
good-lookin' girl, now--eh?" "Yes, and, my soul and body, if that George
Kent ain't a match for her then _I_ don't know!" "Oh, don't they make a
lovely couple!" And, from a seat two rows in front, the penetrating
voice of Mrs. Noah Baker made proclamations: "Lovers on the stage and
off the stage, too, I guess. Ha, ha!" And there was a general buzz of
agreement and many pleased titters.

Sears tried very hard to enjoy the performance, but his thoughts would
wander. And, when the final curtain fell and the applause subsided, he
rose to hobble to the door, glad that the evening was over.

He was one of the last to reach the landing and, at the top of the
stairs, Judah met him. Mr. Cahoon's manner was a combination of dismay
and triumph.

"Oh, there you be, Cap'n Sears," he exclaimed. "Well, I told you! You
can't say I never, that's one comfort."

"Told me what, Judah?"

"That 'twas goin' to rain. I told you the glass was fallin'. It's a
pourin'-down rainstorm now, that's what 'tis."

Judah, his faith rooted in the prophecy of the falling barometer, had
come to the hall with oilskins upon his arm. Now he was arrayed in them
and weather-proof.

"I'll fetch the Foam Flake around to the platform, Cap'n," he said.
"You'll want to wait for 'Liz'beth, I presume likely, so take your time
navigatin' them stairs. No, no, I'll walk. I won't get wet. _I_ knew
what was comin'. Aye, aye, sir. I'll fetch the horse. Cal'late the
critter has gnawed off and swallowed two fathoms of fence by this time."

The Foam Flake and the buggy were made fast by the platform when Sears
reached that point. It was raining hard. The greater part of the
audience had already started on their homeward journey, but a few still
lingered, some lamenting the absence of umbrellas and rubbers, others
awaiting the arrival of messengers who had been sent home to procure
those protections. The captain, of course, was awaiting Elizabeth, and
she having to change costume and get rid of make-up, he knew his wait
was likely to be rather lengthy. He did not mind that so much, but he
did not desire to talk or be talked to, so he walked to the dark end of
the platform--the same end, by the way, where George Kent had stood when
pondering his problem before asking advice--and stood there, staring
into the splashy blackness.

The last group left the lighted portals of the hall and started
homeward, exclamations and little screams denoting spots where progress
had been delayed by puddles or mud holes. Mrs. Eldridge, in the ticket
office, packed up her takings, pennies and "shin-plasters," in a
pasteboard box and departed for home. Mr. Tidditt accompanying her as
guard and umbrella holder.

"I'll be back to lock up, Cap'n Sears," called Asaph, reassuringly.
"Stay right where you be. You won't be in my way at all."

For some minutes longer Sears stood there alone on the platform, facing
the dismal darkness and his own dismal thoughts. They were dismal, and
no less so because his common-sense kept prodding him with the certainty
that there was no more reason for discouragement now than there had been
two hours before. The obvious offset to this was the equal certainty
that there had been no more reason for optimism two hours before than at
present. So he stared into the darkness, listened to the splashing
waterspouts, and, for the millionth time at least, eternally condemned
the Old Colony railroad and his luck.

A springy, buoyant step came down the stairs. A voice called from the
doorway:

"Cap'n Kendrick! Cap'n, are you there?"

Sears turned.

"Right here, George," he said.

Kent hastened toward him. His hand was outstretched and his face was
beaming.

"It worked," he exclaimed, eagerly. "It worked in great shape. Cap'n,
you're a brick."

His friend did not, momentarily, catch his meaning.

"Glad you think so, George," he said; "but why are you so sure of it
just now?"

"Why, because if it hadn't been for you I should have, more than likely,
not tried to chop the ice at all."

"Chop the---- Oh, yes, yes; I remember. So you and Elizabeth have made
up, eh?"

"Yes, I.... How on earth did you know she was the one? I didn't tell
you, did I?"

"No. It's just another proof of my tremendous wisdom. Well, I'm glad,
George."

"I knew you would be. Mind you, I'm not sure yet I was wrong, but I----
Good Lord, look at the rain! I had no idea!... Well, at any rate,
Elizabeth will be all right. She's going with you in the buggy."

There was a slight, a very slight note of regret, almost of envy, in the
young fellow's tone. The captain noticed it.

"No, she isn't, George," he said, quietly.

"What! She isn't?"

"No, she's goin' with you. You take the horse and buggy and drive her up
to the Harbor. Then you can send Judah back with it after me, if you
will."

"But, Cap'n, I wouldn't think of it. Why----"

"No need to think. Do it. Look here, George, you know perfectly well you
haven't finished that ice-choppin' business. There are lots of things
you want to tell her yet, I know. Come now, aren't there?"

Kent hesitated. "Why--why, yes, I suppose there are," he admitted. "But
it seems mean to take advantage of you, you know. To leave you standing
here and waiting while she and I----"

"That's all right. I'm better fitted for waiting than I am for anything
else nowadays. Don't argue any more. She'll be here in a minute."

"Well ... well. You're sure you don't mind, really?"

"Not a bit. And she'd rather ride with you, of course."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that. Of course she did tell me she came with you
because I--because we had that--that little row--and---- But she likes
you, Cap'n. Honest, she does, a lot. By George, nobody could help liking
you, you know."

Sears' smile was gray, but his companion did not notice. He was too full
of his own happiness.

"I'll run up and tell her," he said. "It's mighty good of you, Cap'n
Kendrick. Sure you don't care? You _are_ a brick."

He hastened up the stairs. Sears was left once more with the black
wetness to look at. It looked blacker than ever.

Elizabeth, accompanied by George, came down soon afterward. She was
still protesting.

"Really, I don't think this is right at all, Cap'n Kendrick," she
declared. "Why should you wait here? If you insist upon George's going
in the buggy, why don't you come too? I'm sure there will be room
enough. Won't there, George?"

Kent said, "Yes, of course," but there might have been more enthusiasm
in his tone. Sears spoke next.

"I can't go now," he lied, calmly. "I want to see Ase Tidditt and he's
gone to see Cap'n Orrin's wife home. Won't be back for twenty minutes or
so. No, no, you and George heave right ahead and go, and then send Judah
and the Foam Flake back for me."

So, after a few more protests on Elizabeth's part, it was settled in
that way. She and her packages and bags were tucked in the buggy and
George unhitched the placid Foam Flake. On his way he stopped to
whisper in the captain's ear.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he whispered, "I shan't forget this. And, say, if ever
I get into real trouble I'll know who to come to."

The "plash-plash" of the Foam Flake's hoofs and the squeak and grind of
buggy wheels died away along the invisible main road. Captain Sears
stared at the ropes of rain laced diagonally across the lighted window
of the town hall.

After a time, a surprisingly short time, he heard the hoofs returning.
It seemed almost incredible that George could have driven to the Harbor,
then to the Minot place, and started Judah on the return trip so soon.

It was not Judah. It was Mike, Judge Knowles' man, and he was driving
Doctor Sheldon's horse attached to the doctor's chaise.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he hailed, as the equipage splashed up to the
platform, "is that you there?"

"Yes, Mike. What's the matter?"

"I was just after goin' to the Minot place after ye and I met Cahoon and
he tould me you was down here. Git in, git in; the doctor says you must
come."

"Come? Come where?"

"Home. To the judge's house. The ould man is dyin' and he wants to see
you afore he goes. Ye'll have to hurry. The doctor says it's a matter of
any time now."



CHAPTER IX


Sears Kendrick never forgot that drive from the town hall. The pouring
rain, the lurch and roll and bounce of the old chaise, the alternate
thud and splash of the horse's hoofs, the black darkness--and the errand
upon which he was going. Mike told him a little concerning the seizure.
Judge Knowles had been, so Emmeline Tidditt and the doctor thought,
appreciably easier during the day.

"He was like himself, the ould man was," said Mike. "I went in to see
him this mornin'--he sent for me, you understand--and he give me the
divil and all for not washin' the front room windows. 'Dom ye,' says he,
'I've only got a little while to look out of thim windows; don't you
suppose I want thim so I _can_ look out of thim?' And the windows clean
as clean all the time, mind ye. Sure, I didn't care: 'Twas just his way
of bein' dacint to me. He give me a five dollar bill before I left, God
rest him. And now----"

Mike was tremendously upset. The captain learned that the attack had
developed about six, and the judge had grown steadily worse since. The
upper windows of the Knowles house were bright with lights as they drove
in at the yard gate. Mrs. Tidditt met them at the door. Her thin, hard
face was tear-streaked and haggard.

"Oh, I'm so glad you've come, Cap'n Kendrick," she cried. "He's been
askin' for you."

In the hall at the foot of the stairs Doctor Sheldon was waiting. They
shook hands and Sears looked a question.

"Not a chance," whispered the doctor. "Barring miracles, he will go
before morning. He shouldn't see any one, but he insisted on seeing you.
I'll give you five minutes, no more. Don't excite him."

The judge looked up from the pillow as Sears tiptoed into the room. His
face was flushed with fever, but otherwise he looked very much as when
the captain last visited him. It did not seem possible that this could
really be the end.

"Hello, Kendrick," whispered Judge Knowles. "Sit down. Sorry I can't
shake hands with you."

The voice was weak, of course, but not much weaker than when he had last
heard it. No, it did not seem possible. Captain Sears murmured something
about his sorrow at finding the judge ill again.

"That's all right, that's all right," was the testy rejoinder. "You
didn't expect to find me any other way, did you? Kendrick, I wasn't so
far off when I talked about that graveyard trip, eh?... Umph--yes. How
much time did Sheldon say you might have with me?... Don't fool around
and waste any of it. How many minutes--come?"

"Five."

"Humph! He might have made it ten, blast him! Well, then listen. When
I'm gone you're going to be the head of that Fair Harbor place. You're
going to keep on being the head, I mean. I've fixed it so you'll get
your salary."

"But, Judge----"

"Hush! Let me do the talking. Good Lord, man," with an attempt at a
chuckle, "you wouldn't grudge me any of the little talk I have left,
would you? You are to keep on being the head of the Fair Harbor--you
_must_ for a year or so. And Elizabeth Berry is to be the manager and
head, under you--if she wants to be. Understand?"

"Why, yes. But, Judge, how----"

"I've fixed it, I tell you. Wait a little while and you'll know how. But
that isn't what I want to say to you. Lobelia is dead."

"What?"

"Don't keep asking me what. Listen. Lobelia Seymour--hanged if I'll call
her Lobelia Phillips!--is dead. She died over a month ago. I got a
letter this afternoon mailed in Florence by that husband of hers. There
it is, on that table, by the tumbler.... Yes, that's it. Don't stop to
read it now. Put it in your pocket. You will have time to read it. Time
counts with me. Now listen, Kendrick."

He paused and asked for water. The captain put the glass to his lips. He
swallowed once or twice and then impatiently jerked his head aside.

"There are two things you've got to promise me, Kendrick," he whispered,
earnestly. "One is that, so long as you can fight, that condemned Egbert
Phillips shan't have a cent of the Fair Harbor property, endowment fund,
land or anything else. Will you fight the scamp for me, Kendrick?"

"Of course. The best I know how."

"You know more than most men in this town. I shouldn't have picked you
for your job if you didn't. That's one thing--spike Egbert's guns.
Here's the other: Look out for Elizabeth Berry."

The captain was not expecting this. He leaned back so suddenly that his
chair squeaked. The sick man did not notice, or, if he did, paid no
attention.

"She's Isaac Berry's daughter," he went on, "and Ike Berry was my best
friend. More than that, she's a good girl, a fine girl. Her mother is
more or less of a fool, but that isn't the girl's fault. Keep an eye on
her, will you, Kendrick?"

"Why--why, I'll do what I can, of course."

"Like her, don't you?"

"Yes. Very much."

"You couldn't help it. She is pretty thick with that young Kent, I
believe. He's a bright boy."

"Yes."

"All right.... But there's time enough for that; they're both young....
Watch her, Kendrick. See that she doesn't make too big mistakes.
She--she's going to have a little money of her own pretty soon--just a
little. Don't let that--that Phillips or--or anybody else get hold of
it. I.... Oh, here you are! Confound you, Sheldon, you're a nuisance!"

The doctor opened the door and entered. He nodded significantly to
Kendrick. The latter understood. So, too, did Judge Knowles.

"Time's up, eh?" he panted. "Well, all right, I suppose. Good luck to
you, Kendrick. And good night."

He smiled cheerfully. One might have thought he expected to see his
caller the next morning. The captain simply could not believe this was
to be the last time.

"Good night, Judge," he said. "I'll drop in to-morrow, early."

The judge did not answer. His last word had to do with other things.

"Don't you forget, Kendrick," he whispered. "I've banked on you."

The feeling of the absolute impossibility of the situation still
remained with Sears as Mike drove him to his own door and Judah helped
him down from the chaise. It was not possible that a brain like that, a
bit of machinery capable of thinking so clearly and expressing itself so
vigorously, could be so near its final breakdown. A personality like
Judge Knowles' could not end so abruptly. He would not have it so. The
doctor must be mistaken. He was over pessimistic.

He sat in the rocking chair until nearly half-past one thinking of the
judge's news, that Lobelia Phillips was dead, and of the charge to him.
Fight Egbert--there was an element of humor in that; Knowles certainly
did hate Phillips. But for him, Kendrick, to assume a sort of
guardianship over the fortunes of Elizabeth Berry! The fun in that was
too sardonic to be pleasant. He thought of many things before he
retired, but the way ahead looked foggy enough. And behind the fog
was--what? Why, little sunshine for him, in all human probability.
Before blowing out his lamp he peered out of the window at the Knowles
house. The lights there were still burning.

The next morning when he came out for breakfast, Judah met him with a
solemn face.

"Bad news for Bayport this mornin', Cap'n Sears," said Judah. "Judge
Knowles has gone. Slipped his cable about four o'clock, so Mike told
me. There's a good man gone, by Henry! Don't seem hardly as if it could
be, does it?"

That was exactly what Bayport said when it heard the ill tidings. It did
not seem as if it could be. The judge had been so long a dominant figure
in town affairs, his strong will had so long helped to mould and lead
opinion and his shrewd common sense had so often guided the community,
and individuals, through safe channels and out of troubled waters, that
it was hard to comprehend the fact that he would lead and guide no more.
He had many enemies, no man with his determined character could avoid
that, but they were altogether of a type whose enmity was, to decent
people, preferable to their friendship. During his life it had seemed as
if he were a lonely man, but his funeral was the largest held in Bayport
since the body of Colonel Seth Foster, killed at Gettysburg, was brought
home from the front for burial.

It was a gloomy, drizzly day when the long line of buggies and carryalls
and folk on foot followed the hearse to the cemetery amid the pines.
Captain Sears, looking back at the procession, thought of the judge's
many prophecies and grim jokes concerning this very journey, and he
wondered--well, he wondered as most of us wonder on such occasions. Also
he realized that, although their acquaintanceship had been brief, he was
going to miss Judge Knowles tremendously.

"I wish I had been lucky enough to know him sooner," he told Judah that
evening.

Judah pulled his nose reflectively. "It kind of surprised me," he
observed, "to hear what the minister said about him. 'Twas the Orthodox
minister, and he's pretty strict, too, but you heard him say that the
judge was one of the best men in Ostable County. Yet he never went to
meetin' what you'd call reg'lar and he did cuss consider'ble. He did
now, didn't he, Cap'n Sears?"

Sears nodded. He was thinking and paying little attention to the Cahoon
moralizing.

"Um-hm," went on Judah. "He sartin did. He never said 'sugar' when he
meant 'damn.' But I don't know, I cal'late I'd ruther been sworn at by
Judge Knowles than had a blessin' said over me by some others in these
latitudes. The judge's cussin' would have been honest, anyhow. And he
never put one of them swear words in the wrong place. They was always
just where they belonged; even when he swore at me I always agreed with
him."

Feeling, somehow, that the death of the man who had chosen and employed
him for the position increased his responsibility in that position,
Captain Sears worked harder than ever to earn his salary as general
manager of the Fair Harbor. He had already made some improvements in
systematizing and thereby saving money for the institution. The
groceries, flour, tea, sugar, and the rest, had heretofore been
purchased at Bassett's store in the village. He still continued to buy
certain articles of Eliphalet, principally from motives of policy and to
retain the latter's good will, but the bulk of supplies he contracted
for in Boston at the houses from which he had so often bought stores for
his ships. He could not go to the city and negotiate by word of mouth,
more was the pity, and so was obliged to make his trades by mail, but he
got bids from several firms and the results were quite worth while.
Besides groceries he bought a hogshead of corned beef, barrels of
crackers, a barrel of salt pork, and, from one of the local fishermen, a
half dozen kegs of salt mackerel. The saving altogether was a very
appreciable amount.

The Fair Harbor property included, besides the land upon which the house
was situated, several acres of wood lot timbered with pine and oak. Mrs.
Berry--or her daughter--had been accustomed to hire a man to cut and
haul such wood as was needed, from time to time, for the stoves and
fireplaces. Also, when repairs had to be done, they hired a carpenter to
make them. Sears, when he got around to it, devoted some consideration
to the wood and repair question and, after much haggling, affected a
sort of three-cornered swap. Benijah Black, the carpenter, was a
brother-in-law of Burgess Paine, who owned the local coal, wood, lumber
and grain shop by the railway station. The captain arranged that Black
should do whatever carpenter work might be needed at the Harbor and take
his pay in wood at the wood lot, selling the wood--or a part of it--to
Paine, for whom he was in debt for coal and lumber; and, also, for whom
he, Black, was building a new storage shed. It was a complicated
process, but it resulted in the Fair Harbor's getting its own firewood
cut, hauled and split for next to nothing, its repair costs cut in half,
its coal bills lessened, while Black and Paine seemed to be perfectly
satisfied. Altogether it was a good deal of a managerial triumph, as
even the manager himself was obliged to admit.

Elizabeth was loud in her praises.

"I don't see how you ever did it, Cap'n Kendrick," she declared. "And
Benijah and Mr. Paine are just as contented as we are. It is a miracle."

Sears grinned. "I don't know quite how I did it, myself," he said.
"'Twas the most complicated piece of steerin' I ever did, and if we come
out without shipwreck it _will_ be a miracle! I'm goin' to tackle that
hay question next. There's hay enough on that lower meadow of ours to
pay for corn for the hens for quite a spell. I'll see if I can't make a
dicker there somehow. Then if I can fix up a deal with the hens to trade
corn for eggs, we'll come out pretty well, won't we?"

This sort of thing interested him and made him a trifle more contented
with his work. His talents as a diplomat, such as they were, were needed
continually. The interior of the Fair Harbor was a sort of incubator for
petty squabbles, jealousies, prejudices and complaints, some funny, many
ridiculous, and almost all annoying. The most petty he refused to be
troubled with, bidding the complainants go to Mrs. Berry. His refusals
were good-natured but determined.

"Well, I tell you, Miss Peasley," he said, when that lady had come to
him with a long, involved wail concerning the manner in which Mrs.
Constance Cahoon, who occupied the seat next her at table, insisted on
keeping the window open all through meals, "so's I sit there with a
draft blowin' right down my neck the whole time." "I tell you, Miss
Peasley," said the captain, "if I were you I would shut the window."

"But I do shut it," declared Desire. "And every time I jump up and shut
it, up she bounces and opens it again."

"Humph! I see.... Well, exercise helps digestion, so they say. You can
jump as long as she can bounce, can't you?"

Miss Peasley was disgusted. "Well," she snapped, "I don't call that much
help. I supposed if I went to the _manager_ he'd put his foot down."

"He's goin' to--and then take it up and put it down again. I've got to
hobble out to see to mowin' the meadow. You tell Mrs. Berry all about
it."

As a part of his diplomacy he made it a point to spend half an hour each
morning in consultation with Cordelia Berry. The matron of the Fair
Harbor was at first rather suspicious and ready to resent any intrusion
upon her rights and prerogatives. But at each conference the captain
listened so politely to her rambling reports, seemed to receive her
suggestions so eagerly and to ask her advice upon so many points, that
her suspicions were lulled and she came to accept the new
superintendent's presence as a relief and a benefit.

"He is so very gentlemanly, Elizabeth," she told her daughter. "And so
willing to learn. At first, as you know, I couldn't see why the poor
dear judge appointed him, but now I do. He realized that I needed an
assistant. In many ways he reminds me of your father."

"But, mother," exclaimed her daughter, in surprise, "Cap'n Kendrick
isn't nearly as old as father was."

"Oh it isn't the age that reminded me. It's the manner. He has the same
quick, authoritative way of making decisions and saying things. And it
is so very gratifying to see how he defers to my judgment and
experience."

Captain Sears did defer, that is he seldom opposed. But, when each
conference was over, he went his own sweet way, using his own judgment
and doing what seemed to him best. With Elizabeth, however, he was
quite different. When she offered advice--which was seldom--he listened
and almost invariably acted upon it. He was daily growing to have a
higher opinion of her wisdom and capabilities. Whether or not it was the
wisdom and capabilities alone which influenced that opinion he did not
attempt to analyze. He enjoyed being with her and working with her, that
he knew. That the constant companionship might be, for him, a risky and
perhaps dangerous experience, he did not as yet realize. When he was
with her, and busy with Fair Harbor affairs, he could forget the
slowness with which his crippled legs were mending, and the increasing
longing--sometimes approaching desperation--for the quarter deck of his
own ship and the sea wind in his face.

He worked hard for the Harbor and did his best to justify his
appointment as manager, but, work as he might, he knew perfectly well
that such labors would scarcely earn his salary. But, on the other hand,
he knew that the man who appointed him had not expected them to do so.
He had been put in charge of the Fair Harbor for one reason alone and
that was to be in command of the ship when the redoubtable Egbert came
alongside. Judge Knowles had as much as told him that very thing, and
more than once. Egbert Phillips had been, evidently, the judge's pet
aversion and, in his later days illness and fretfulness had magnified
and intensified that aversion. When Sears attempted to find good and
sufficient reasons for belief that the husband of Lobelia Seymour was
any such bugbear he was baffled. He asked Judah more questions and he
questioned citizens of Bayport who had known the former singing teacher
before and after his marriage. Some, like Judah, declared him "slick" or
"smooth." Others, and those the majority, seemed to like him. He was
polite and educated and a "perfect gentleman," this was the sum of
feminine opinion. Captain Sears was inclined to picture him as what he
would have called a "sissy," and not much more dangerous than that. The
judge's hatred, he came to believe, was an obsession, a sick man's
fancy.

He had, of course, read the Phillips letter, that which Judge Knowles
bade him take away and read that night of his death. He hurriedly read
it on that occasion before going to bed; he had reread it several times
since.

It was a well-written letter, there was no doubt of that, a polite
letter, almost excessively so, perhaps. In fact, if Sears had been
obliged to find a fault with it it would have been that it was a little
too polite, a little too polished and flowery. It was not the sort of
letter that he, himself, would have written under stress of grief, but
he realized that it was not the sort of letter he could have written at
all. Taken as a whole it was hard to pick flaws which might not be the
result of prejudice, and taken sentence by sentence it stood the test
almost as well.

"Our life together has been so happy," wrote Phillips, "so ideal, that
the knowledge of its end leaves me stunned, speechless, wordless."

That was exaggeration, of course. He was not wordless, for the letter
contained almost a superfluity of words; but people often said things
they did not mean literally.

"My dear wife and I spoke of you so often, Judge, her affection for you
was so great--an affection which I share, as you know----"

Judge Knowles had not returned the writers affection, quite the
contrary. But it was possible that Phillips did not know this and that
he was fond of the judge. Possible, even if not quite probable.

"She and I never had a difference of opinion, never a thought which was
not shared. This, in my hour of sorrow--" Phillips had written "my
stricken hour" first, and then altered it to "hour of sorrow"--"is my
greatest, almost my only consolation."

Yet, as Judge Knowles had expressly stated, Lobelia herself had told him
that her husband did not know of the endowment at the Fair Harbor and
she had at least hinted that her married life was not all happiness.

But, yet again, the judge was ill and weak, he had never liked Phillips,
had always distrusted and suspected him, and might he not have fancied
unhappiness when there was none?

The letter said nothing concerning its writer's plans. It told of Mrs.
Phillips' death, her burial at Florence, and of the widower's grief. The
only hint, or possible hint, concerning a visit to Bayport was contained
in one line, "When I see you I can tell you more."

The captain puzzled over the letter a good deal. He showed it to
Elizabeth. He found that Judge Knowles had not discussed Egbert with her
at all. To her the ex-singing teacher was little more than a name; she
remembered him, but nothing in particular concerning him. She thought
the letter a very beautiful one--very sad, of course, but beautiful.
Plainly she did not have the feeling which Sears had, but which he was
inclined to think might be fathered by prejudice that it was a trifle
too beautiful, that its beauty was that of a painting by a master, each
stroke carefully touched in at exactly the right place for effect.

There was no demand for money in it, no hint at straitened
circumstances; so why should there be any striving for effect? He gave
it up. If the much talked of Egbert was what Judge Knowles had declared
him to be, then neither the judge nor any one else had exaggerated his
smoothness.

Emmeline Tidditt, for so many years the Knowles housekeeper, made one
remark which contained possible food for thought.

"So he buried her over there amongst them foreigners, did he?" observed
Emmeline. "That seems kind of funny. When she and him was visitin' here
the last time she told me herself--and he was standin' right alongside
and heard her--that when she died she wanted to be fetched back here to
Bayport and buried in the Orthodox cemetery alongside her father and
mother and all her folks. Said, dead or alive, it wasn't really home for
her anywheres else. She must have changed her mind since, though, I
cal'late."

Bayport talked a good deal about Lobelia Phillips and what would become
of the Fair Harbor now that its founder and patroness was dead. It was
surmised, of course, that Mrs. Phillips had provided for her pet
institution in her will, but that will had not yet been offered for
probate. Neither had the will of Judge Knowles, for that matter. Lawyer
Bradley, over at Orham, the attorney with whom George Kent was reading
law, was known to be the judge's executor. And Judge Knowles and Mr.
Bradley were co-executor's for Lobelia Phillips, having been duly named
by Lobelia on her last visit to Bayport. So, presumably, both wills were
in Bradley's possession. But why had they not been probated?

Bradley himself made the explanation.

"The judge had a nephew in California," he said. "He was the nearest
relative--although that isn't very near. Of course he couldn't get on
for the funeral, but he is coming pretty soon. I thought I would wait
until he came before I opened the will. As for Mrs. Phillips' will, I
expect that her husband must be on his way here now. I haven't heard
from him, but I take it for granted he is coming. I shall wait a while
for him, too. There is no pressing hurry in either case."

So Bayport talked about the wills and the expected arrival of the heirs,
but as time passed and neither nephew nor husband arrived, began to lose
interest and to talk of other things. Sears Kendrick, remembering his
last conversation with Judge Knowles, was curious to learn exactly what
the latter meant by his hints concerning "fixing things" for the Fair
Harbor and Elizabeth having "money of her own," but he was busy and did
not allow his curiosity to interfere with his schemes and improvements.
He and Miss Berry saw each other every day, worked together and planned
together, and the captain's fits of despondency and discouragement grew
less and less frequent. He had an odd feeling at times, a feeling as if,
instead of growing older daily, he was growing younger. He mentioned it
to Elizabeth on one occasion and she did not laugh, but seemed to
understand.

"It is true," she said. "I have noticed it. You _are_ getting younger,
Cap'n Kendrick."

"Am I? That's good. Be better yet if I didn't have such a tremendous
long way to go."

"Nonsense! You aren't old. When I first met you I thought--it sounds
dreadful when I say it--I thought you were fifty, at least. Now I don't
believe you are more than--well, thirty-five."

"Oh, yes, I am. I am--humph!--let's see, I am--er--thirty-eight my next
birthday. And I suppose that sounds pretty ancient to you."

"No, indeed it doesn't. Why, thirty-eight isn't old at all!"

The interesting discussion of ages was interrupted just then, but Sears
found pleasure in the thought that she, too, had noticed that he looked
and acted younger. It was being at work again, he believed, which was
responsible for the rejuvenation; this and the now unmistakable fact
that, although the improvement was still provokingly slow, his legs were
better, really better. He could, as he said, navigate much more easily
now. Once, at supper time, he walked from his room to the table without
a cane. It was a laborious journey, and he was glad when it was over,
but he made it. Judah came in just in time to see the end.

"Jumpin', creepin', hoppin' hookblocks, Cap'n Sears!" cried Judah. "Is
that you, doin' that?"

"What's left of me, Judah. I feel just this minute as if there wasn't
much left."

"Well, creepin' prophets! I couldn't believe it. Thinks I, 'There's fog
in my deadlights and I can't see through 'em right.' Well, by Henry! And
a little spell ago you was tellin' me you'd never be able to cruise
again except under jury rig. Humph! You'll be up to the town hall
dancin' 'Hull's Victory' and 'Smash the Windows' fust thing we know."

After supper the captain, using the cane but whistling a sprightly air,
strolled out to the front gate, where, leaning over the fence, he looked
up and down the curving, tree-shaded road, dozing in the late summer
twilight. And up that road came George Kent, also whistling, to swing
in at the Fair Harbor gate and stride to the side door.

Before that object lesson of real youth Sears' fictitious imitation
seemed cheap and shoddy. He leaned heavily upon his cane as he hobbled
back to the kitchen.

The next day something happened. Sears had been busy all the forenoon
superintending the carting in and stowing of the Fair Harbor share of
oak and pine from the wood-lot. Thirteen cords of it, sawed and split in
lengths to suit the Harbor stoves and fireplaces, were to be piled in
the sheds adjoining the old Seymour barn at the rear of the premises.
Judah had been engaged to do the piling. The captain had hesitated about
employing him for several reasons, one being that he was drawing
wages--small but regular--as caretaker at the General Minot place;
another, that there might be some criticism--or opportunity for
criticism--because of the relationship, landlord and lodger, which
existed between them. Judah himself scorned the thought.

"Mean to tell me I can't work for you just because you're boardin' along
of me, Cap'n Sears?" he protested. "I've cooked for you a good many
years and I worked for you then, didn't I?"

"Ye--es, but you had signed up to work for me then. That's what they
paid you for."

"Well, it's what _you_ pay me for now, ain't it? And Ogden Minot he pays
me to be stevedore aboard his house yonder. And the Fair Harbor's
cal'latin' to pay me for pilin' this wood, ain't it? You ain't payin'
for that, nor Ogden nuther. Well, then!... Oh, don't let's waste time
arguin' about it now, Cap'n Sears. Let's do the way Abe Pepper done when
the feller asked him to take a little somethin'. Abe had promised his
wife he'd sign the pledge and he was on his way to temp'rance meetin'
where he was goin' to meet her and sign it. And on the way he ran acrost
this feller--Cornelius Bassett 'twas--and Cornelius says, 'Come have a
drink with me, Abe,' he says. Well, time Abe got around to meet his wife
the temp'rance meetin' hall was all dark and Abe was all--er--lighted
up, as you might say. 'Why didn't you tell that Bassett man you was in a
hurry and couldn't stop?' his wife wanted to know. 'Didn't have time to
tell him nothin',' explains Abe. 'I knew I was late for meetin' as
'twas.' 'Then why didn't you come right on _to_ meetin'?' she wanted to
know. 'If I'd done that I'd lost the drink,' says he."

The captain laughed, but looked doubtful.

"I don't quite see where that yarn fits in this case, Judah," he
observed.

"Don't ye? Well, I don't know's it does. But anyhow, don't let's waste
time arguin'. Let me pile the wood fust and then we can argue
afterwards."

So he was piling busily, carrying the wood in huge armfuls from the
heaps where the carts had left it into the barn, and singing as he
worked. But, bearing in mind his skipper's orders concerning the kind of
song he was to sing, his chantey this time dealt neither with the
eternal feminine nor the flowing bowl. Suggested perhaps by the nature
of his task, he bellowed of "Fire Down Below."

    "'Fire in the galley,
      Fire in the house,
    Fire in the beef-kid
      Burnin' up the scouce.
    Fire, _fire_, FIRE down below!
    Fetch a bucket of water!
      Fire! down BELOW!'"

Captain Sears, after watching and listening for a few minutes, turned to
limp up the hill, past the summer-house and the garden plots, to the
side entrance of the Fair Harbor. The mystery of these garden patches,
their exact equality of size and shape, had been explained to him by
Elizabeth. The previous summer the Fair Harbor guests, or a few of them,
led, as usual, by Miss Snowden and Mrs. Brackett, had suddenly been
seized with a feverish desire to practice horticulture. They had
demanded flower beds of their own. So, after much debate and
disagreement on their part Elizabeth and her mother had had the slope
beneath the Eyrie laid out in plots exactly alike, one for each guest,
and the question of ownership had been settled by drawing lots. Each
plot owner might plant and cultivate her own garden in her own way.
These ways differed widely, hence the varied color schemes and
diversifications of design noted by Sears on his first visit. The most
elaborate--not to say "whirliggy"--design was the product of Miss
Snowden's labor. The captain would have guessed it. The plot which
contained no flowers at all, but was thickly planted with beets, onions
and other vegetables, belonged to Esther Tidditt. He would have guessed
that, too.

He had stopped for an instant to inspect the plots, when he heard a
footstep. Looking up, he saw a man descending the slope along the path
by the Eyrie.

The man was a stranger, that was plain at first glance. The captain did
not know every one in Bayport, but he had at least a recognizing
acquaintance with most of the males, and this particular male was not
one of them. And Sears would have bet heavily that neither was he one of
the very few whom he did not know. He was not a Bayport citizen, he did
not look Bayport.

He was very tall and noticeably slim. He wore a silk hat what Bayport
still called a "beaver" in memory of the day's when such headpieces were
really covered with beaver fur. There was nothing unusual in this fact;
most of Bayport's prosperous citizens wore beavers on Sundays or for
dress up. But there was this of the unusual about this particular hat:
it had an air about it, a something which would have distinguished it
amid fifty Bayport tiles. And yet just what that something was Sears
Kendrick could not have told he could not have defined it, but he knew
it was there.

There was the same unusual something about the stranger's apparel in
general, and yet there was nothing loud about it or queer. He carried a
cane, but so did Captain Elkanah Wingate, for that matter, although only
on Sundays. Captain Elkanah, however, carried his as if it were a club,
or a scepter, or a--well, a marlinspike, perhaps. The stranger's cane
was a part of his arm, and when he twirled it the twirls were graceful
gestures, not vulgar flourishes.

Sears's reflections concerning the newcomer were by no means as
analytical as this, of course. His first impressions were those of one
coming upon a beautiful work of art, a general wonder and admiration,
not detailed at all. Judah, standing behind him with an armful of wood,
must have had similar feelings, for he whispered, hoarsely, "Creepin'
Moses, Cap'n Sears, is that the Prince of Wales, or who?"

The man, standing in the path above the gardens, stopped to look about
him. And at that moment, from the vine-covered Eyrie emerged Miss Elvira
Snowden. She had evidently been there for some time, reading--she had a
book in her hand--and as she came out she and the stranger were brought
face to face.

Sears and Judah saw them look at each other. The man raised his hat and
said something which they could not hear. Then Miss Snowden cried "Oh!"
She seemed intensely surprised and, for her, a good deal flustered.
There was more low-toned conversation. Then Elvira and the stranger
turned and walked back up the path toward the house. He escorted her in
a manner and with a manner which made that walk a sort of royal
progress.

"Who was that?" asked Sears, as much of himself as of Judah.

But Mr. Cahoon had, by this time, settled the question to his own
satisfaction.

"It's one of them slick critters peddlin' lightnin' rods," he declared,
with conviction. "When you sight somebody that looks like a cross
between a minister and one of them stuffed dummies they have outside of
the stores in Dock Square to show off clothes on, then you can 'most
generally bet he's peddlin' lightnin' rods. Either that or paintin'
signs on fences about 'Mustang Liniment' or 'Vegetine' or somethin'.
Why, a feller like that hove alongside me over in our yard one
time--'twas afore you come, Cap'n Sears--and I give you my word, the
way he was togged up I thought----"

The captain did not wait to hear the Cahoon thought. He walked away. In
a few minutes he had forgotten the stranger, having other and more
important matters on his mind. There was a question concerning the Fair
Harbor cooking range which was perplexing him just at this time. It
looked as if they might have to buy a new one, and Sears, as
superintendent of finances, hated to spend the money that month.

He limped up the slope and along the path to the side door. And when he
entered that door he became aware that something unusual was going on.
The atmosphere of the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women was, so to speak,
electrified, it was vibrant with excitement and mystery.

There was no one in the dining room, and no one in the sitting room. Yet
in each of these apartments were numerous evidences that people had been
there very recently and left in a great hurry. A cloth partially laid
and left hanging. Drawers of the buffet left open. A broom lying
directly in the middle of the floor where it had been dropped. An upset
work-basket, disgorging spools, needle packets, and an avalanche of
stockings awaiting darning. A lamp with the chimney standing beside it
on the table. These were some of the signs denoting sudden and important
interruption of a busy forenoon.

Captain Sears, wondering much, turned from the sitting room into the
hall leading to the parlor. Then he became aware that, ahead of him, was
the center and core of excitement. From the parlor came a murmur of
voices, exclamations, giggles--the sounds as of a party, a meeting of
the sewing-circle, or a reception. He could not imagine what it was all
about.

He reached the parlor door and stood there for an instant looking in.
Every inmate of the Harbor was in that room, including Elizabeth and her
mother and even Caroline Snow, who, because it was Monday, was there to
help with the washing. And every one--or almost every one--was talking,
and the majority were crowded about one spot, a spot where stood a man,
a man whom Sears recognized as the stranger he had seen in the garden.

And then Mrs. Berry, who happened to be facing the door, saw him. She
broke through the ring of women and hurried over. Her face was aglow,
her eyes were shining, there were bright spots in her cheeks, and,
altogether, she looked younger and handsomer than the captain had ever
seen her, more as he would have imagined she must have looked in the
days when Cap'n Ike came South a-courting.

"Oh, Captain Kendrick," she cried, "I am so _very_ glad you have come.
We have just had such a surprise! Such a very unexpected surprise, but a
very delightful one. Come! You must meet him."

She took his hand and led him toward the stranger. The latter, seeing
them approach, politely pushed through the group surrounding him and
stepped forward. Sears noticed for the first time that the sleeve of his
coat was encircled by a broad band of black. His tie was black also, so
were his cuff buttons. He was in mourning. An amazing idea flashed to
the captain's brain.

"Captain Kendrick," gushed Mrs. Berry, "I have the honor to present you
to Mr. Phillips, husband of our beloved founder."

Mr. Phillips smiled--his teeth were very fine, his smile engaging. He
extended a hand.

"I am delighted to meet Captain Kendrick," he said.

The captain's stammered answer was conventional, and was not a literal
expression of his thought. The latter, put into words, would have been:

"Egbert! I might have known it."

But there was no real reason why he should have known it, for this
Egbert was not at all like the Egbert he had been expecting to see.



CHAPTER X


Sears Kendrick left the Fair Harbor, perhaps fifteen minutes later, with
that thought still uppermost in his mind. This was not at all the Egbert
Phillips he had expected. From Judge Knowles' conversation, from Judah
Cahoon's stories, from fragmentary descriptions he had picked up here
and there about Bayport, he had fashioned an Egbert who had come to be
in his mind a very real individual. This Egbert of his imagining was an
oily, rather flashily dressed adventurer, a glib talker, handsome in a
stage hero sort of way, with exaggerated politeness and a toothsome
smile. There should be about this individual a general atmosphere of
brilliantine, clothes and jewelry. On the whole he might have been
expected to look a bit like the manager the captain had seen standing
beside the ticket wagon at the circus, twirling his mustache with one
hand and his cane with the other. Not quite as showy, not quite as
picturesque, but a marked resemblance nevertheless.

And the flesh and blood Egbert Phillips was not that kind at all. One
was not conscious of his clothes, except that they were all that they
should be as to fit--and style. He wore no jewelry whatever save his
black cuff buttons and studs. His black tie was not of Bayport's
fashion, certainly. It was ample, flowing and picturesque, rather in the
foreign way. No other male in Bayport could have worn that tie and not
looked foolish, yet Mr. Phillips did not look foolish, far from it. He
did not wear a beard, another unusual bit of individuality, but his
long, drooping mustache was extraordinarily becoming and--yes,
aristocratic was the word. His smile was pleasant, his handshake was
cordial, but not overdone, and his voice low and pleasant. Above all he
had a manner, a manner which caused Sears, who had sailed pretty well
over the world and had met all sorts of people in all sorts of places,
to feel awkward and countrified. Yet one could tell that Mr. Phillips
would not have one feel that way for the world; it was his desire to put
every one at his or her ease.

He greeted the captain with charming affability. He had heard of him, of
course. He understood they were neighbors, as one might say. He looked
forward to the pleasure of their better acquaintance. He had gotten but
little further than this when Mrs. Berry, Miss Snowden and the rest
again swooped down upon him and Sears was left forgotten on the outside
of the circle. He went home soon afterward and sat down in the Minot
kitchen to think it over.

Egbert had come.... Well? Now what?

He spent the greater part of the afternoon superintending the stowage of
the wood and did not go back to the Harbor at all. But he was perfectly
certain that he was not missed. The Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women
fairly perspired excitement. Caroline Snow, her washing hung upon the
lines in the back yard, found time to scurry down the hill and tell
Judah the news. The captain had limped up to his room for a forgotten
pipe, and when he returned Judah was loaded with it. He fired his first
broadside before his lodger entered the barn.

"Say, Cap'n Sears," hailed Mr. Cahoon, breathlessly, "do you know who
that feller was me and you seen along of Elviry this forenoon? The tall
one with the beaver and--and the gloves and the cane? The one I called
the Prince of Wales or else a lightnin'-rod peddler? Do you know who he
is?"

Sears nodded. "Yes," he said, shortly.

Judah stared, open-mouthed.

"You _do_?" he gasped.

"Yes."

"You mean to tell me you know he's that--ah--er-what's-his-name--Eg
Phillips come back?"

"Yes, Judah."

"My hoppin' Henry! Why didn't you say so?"

"I didn't know it then, Judah. I found it out afterward, when I went up
to the house."

"Yes--but--but you knew it when you and me was eatin' dinner, didn't
you? Why didn't you say somethin' about it then?"

"Oh I don't know. It isn't important enough to interfere with our meals,
is it?"

Judah slowly shook his head. "It's a dum good thing you wan't around
time of the flood, Cap'n Sears," he declared. "'Twould have been the
thirty-eighth day afore you'd have cal'lated 'twas sprinklin' hard
enough to notice. Afore that you'd have called it a thick fog, I presume
likely. If you don't think this Phillips man's makin' port is important
enough to talk about you take a cruise down to the store to-night.
You'll hear more cacklin' than you'd hear in a henhouse in a week--and
all account of just one Egg, too," he added, with a chuckle.

"Caroline told you he had come, I suppose? Well, what does she think of
him?"

Judah snorted. "She?" he repeated. "She thinks he's the Angel Gabriel
dressed up."

He would have liked to discuss the new arrival the remainder of the
afternoon, but the captain was not in the mood to listen. Neither was he
more receptive or discussive at supper time. Judah wanted to talk of
nothing else and to speculate concerning the amount of wealth which Mr.
Phillips might have inherited, upon the probable date of the reading of
Lobelia's will, upon whether or not the fortunate legatee might take up
his residence in Bayport.

"Say Cap'n" he observed, turning an inflamed countenance from the steam
of dishwashing, "don't you cal'late maybe he may be wantin' to--er--sort
of change things aboard the Fair Harbor? He'll be Admiral, as you might
say, now, won't he?"

"Will he?"

"Well--won't he?"

"Don't know, Judah. I haven't thrown up my commission yet, you know."

"No, course you ain't, course you ain't. I don't mean he'd think of
disrating you, Cap'n Sears. Nobody'd be fool-head enough for that....
But, honest, I would like to look at him and hear him talk. Caroline
Snow, she says he's the finest, highest-toned man ever _she_ see."

"Yes? Well, that's sayin' somethin'."

"Yus, but 'tain't sayin' too much. She lives down to Woodchuck Neck and
the highest thing down there is a barrel of cod-livers. They're good and
high when the sun gets to 'em."

When the dishes were done he announced that he guessed likely he might
as well go down to Eliphalet's and listen to the cackling. The captain
did not object, and so he put on his cap and departed. But he was back
again in less than a minute.

"He's comin', Cap'n," he cried, excitedly. "Creepin' Moses! He's comin'
here."

Sears remained calm. "He is, eh?" he observed. "Well, is he creepin'
now?"

"Hey? Creepin'? What are you talkin' about?"

"Why, Moses. You said he was comin', didn't you?"

"I said that Egbert man was comin'. He was just onlatchin' the gate when
I see him.... Hey? That's him knockin' now. Shall I--shall I let him in,
Cap'n Sears?"

"I would if I were you, Judah. If you don't I shall have to."

So Judah did. Mr. Phillips entered the kitchen, removing his silk hat at
the threshold. Mr. Cahoon followed, too overcome with excitement and
curiosity to remember to take off his own cap. Sears Kendrick would have
risen from the armchair in which he was seated, but the visitor extended
a gloved hand.

"Don't. Don't rise, I beg of you," he said, earnestly. "Pray keep your
seat, Captain Kendall. I have just learned of your most unfortunate
accident. Really, I must insist that you remain just as you are. You
will distress me greatly if you move on my account. Thank you, thank
you. I suppose I should apologize for running in in this informal way,
but I feel almost as if I had known you for a long time. Our mutual
friends, the Berrys, have told me so much concerning you since my
arrival that I did not stand upon ceremony at all."

"That's right," declared the captain, heartily. "I'm glad you didn't.
Sit down, Mr. Phillips. Put your hat on the table there."

Judah stepped forward.

"Give it to me; I'll take care of it," he said, taking the shining beaver
from the visitor's hand. "I'll hang it up yonder in the back entry, then
'twon't get knocked onto the floor.... No, no, don't set in that chair,
that's got a spliced leg; it's liable to land you on your beam ends if
you ain't careful. Try this one."

He kicked the infirm chair out of the way and pushed forward a
substitute. "There," he added, cheerfully, "that's solid's the rock of
Giberaltar. Nothin' like bein' sure of your anchorage. Set down, set
down."

He beamed upon the caller. The latter did not beam exactly. His
expression was a queer one. Sears came to the rescue.

"Mr. Phillips," he said, "this is Mr. Cahoon."

Judah extended a mighty hand.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Phillips," he declared. "I've
heard tell of you considerable."

Egbert looked at the hand. His expression was still queer.

"Oh--ah--how d'ye do?" he murmured.

"Mr. Cahoon and I are old friends," explained Sears. "I am boardin' here
with him."

"Yus," put in Judah. "And afore that I shipped cook aboard Cap'n Sears's
vessels for a good many v'yages. The cap'n and I get along fust rate.
He's all right, Cap'n Sears is, _I_ tell ye!"

Mr. Phillips murmured something to the effect that he was sure of it. He
did not seem very sure of Judah. Mr. Cahoon did not notice the
uncertainty, he pushed his hand nearer to the visitor's.

"I'm real glad to meet you," he said.

Egbert gingerly took the proffered hand, moved it up and down once and
then dropped it, after which he looked at his glove. Judah looked at it,
too.

"Kind of chilly outdoor to-night, is it?" he asked. "Didn't seem so to
me."

Again his lodger came to the rescue.

"Well, Mr. Phillips," he said, "you gave us all a little surprise,
didn't you? Of course we expected you in a general sort of way, but we
didn't know when you would make port."

Egbert bowed. "I scarcely knew myself," he said. "My plans were somewhat
vague and--ah--rather hurriedly made, naturally. Of course my great
sorrow, my bereavement----"

He paused, sighed and then brushed the subject away with a wave of his
glove.

"You won't mind, I'm sure," he said, "if I don't dwell upon that just
now. It is too recent, the shock is too great, I really cannot.... But I
am so sorry to hear of your disability. A railway wreck, I understand.
Outrageous carelessness, no doubt. Really, Captain Kendrick, one cannot
find excuses for the reckless mismanagement of your American
railways.... Why, what is it? Don't you agree with me?"

The captain had looked up momentarily. Now he was looking down again.

"Don't you agree with me?" repeated Egbert. "Surely you, of all people,
should not excuse their recklessness."

Sears shook his head. "Oh, I wasn't tryin' to," he replied. "I was only
wonderin' why you spoke of 'em as 'your' railroads. They aren't mine,
you know. That is, any more than they are Judah's--or yours--or any
other American's. No such luck."

Mr. Phillips coughed, smiled, coughed again, and then explained that he
had used the word 'your' without thinking.

"I have been so long an--ah--shall I say exile, Captain Kendall," he
observed, "that I have, I presume, fallen somewhat into the European
habit of thinking and--ah--speaking. Habit is a peculiar thing, is it
not?"

Mr. Cahoon, intensely interested in the conversation, evidently felt it
his duty to contribute toward it.

"You're right there, Mr. Phillips," he announced, with emphasis.
"Don't talk to me about habits! When a man's been to sea as long's I
have he runs afoul of pretty nigh every kind of habit there is, seems
so. Why, I knew a feller one time--down to Surinam 'twas--I was cook
and steward aboard the old _Highflyer_--and this feller--he wan't
a white man, nor he wan't all nigger nuther, kind of in between, one of
them--er--er--octoreens, that's what he was--well, this feller he had
the dumdest habit. Every day of his life, about the middle of the dog
watch he'd up and----"

"Judah."

"Aye, aye, Cap'n Sears?"

"You'll be late down at the store, won't you?"

"Hey? Oh, I don't care how late I be. I don't know's I'm so dreadful
partic'lar about goin' down there to-night, anyhow. Don't know but I'd
just as live stay here."

"I'd go."

"Hey? Oh, I----"

"I'd go, if I were you. You know there's likely to be a good deal goin'
on."

"Think so, do you?" Judah was evidently on the fence. "Course, I----
Well, maybe I had better, come to think of it. Good night, Mr. Phillips.
I'll tell you about that octoreen feller next time I see you. So long,
Cap'n Sears. I'll report about," with a wink, "the cacklin' later.
Creepin'! it's most eight now, ain't it?"

He hurried out. Egbert looked rather relieved. He smiled tolerantly.

"Evidently an eccentric, your--er--man," he observed.

"He has his ways, like the majority of us, I guess," declared the
captain, crisply. "Underneath he is as square and big-hearted as they
make. And he's a good friend of mine."

"Oh, yes; yes, I'm sure of it. Captain Kendall----"

"Kendrick, not Kendall."

Mr. Phillips begged pardon for the mistake. It was inexcusable, he
admitted. He had heard the captain's name mentioned so frequently since
his arrival in Bayport, especially by Mrs. Berry and her daughter, "so
favorably, even enthusiastically mentioned," that he certainly should
have remembered it. "I am not quite myself, I fear," he added. "My
recent bereavement and the added shock of the death of my dear old
friend the judge have had their effect. My nerves are--well, you
understand, I am sure."

He made a lengthy call. He talked a great deal, and his conversation was
always interesting. He spoke much of his dear wife, of life abroad, of
Genoa and Leghorn, ports which the captain had visited, and of the
changes in Bayport since his last sojourn in the village. But he said
almost nothing concerning his plans for the future, and of the Fair
Harbor very little. In fact, Sears had the feeling that he was waiting
for him to talk concerning that institution. This the captain would not
do and, at last, Mr. Phillips himself touched lightly upon the fringes
of the subject.

"Do you find your duties in connection with the--ah--retreat next door
arduous, Captain Kendrick?" he inquired.

"Eh?... Oh, no, I don't know as I'd call 'em that, exactly."

"I imagine not, I imagine not. You are--you are, I gather, a sort
of--oh---- What should I call you, captain; in your official capacity,
you know?"

He laughed pleasantly. Sears smiled.

"Give it up," he replied. "I told Elizabeth--Miss Berry, I mean--when I
first took the berth that I scarcely knew what it was."

"Ha, ha! Yes, I can imagine. Miss Berry--charming girl, isn't she,
captain--intimated to me that your position was somewhat--ah--general.
You exercise a sort of supervision over the finances and management, in
a way, do you not?"

"In a way, yes."

"Yes. Of course, my dear sir, you understand that I am not unduly
curious. I don't mean to be. This--ah--Fair Harbor was, as you know,
very dear to the heart of Mrs. Phillips and, now that she has been taken
from me, I feel, of course, a sense of trust, of sacred responsibility.
We had understood, she and I, that our dear friend--Judge Knowles--was
in supreme charge--nominally, I mean; of course Mrs. Berry was in actual
charge--and, therefore, I confess to a natural feeling of--shall I say
surprise, on learning that the judge had appointed another person, an
understudy, as it were?"

"Well, you couldn't be any more surprised than I was when the judge
asked me to take the job. And Elizabeth and her mother know that I
hesitated considerable before I did take it. Judge Knowles was in his
last sickness, he couldn't attend to things himself."

Mr. Phillips raised a protesting hand. "Please don't misunderstand me,"
he said. "Don't, I beg of you, think for a moment that I am objecting to
the judge's action, or even criticizing it. It was precisely the thing
he should have done, what Mrs. Phillips and I would have wished him to
do. And as for his choice of--ah--appointee----"

Captain Sears interrupted. "As to that," he said, "you can criticize as
much as you please. You can't object any more than I did when me made me
the offer."

The protesting hand was again raised. "Criticism or objection was the
very farthest from my mind, I assure you," Egbert declared. "I was about
to say that Judge Knowles showed his usual--ah--acumen when he selected
a man as well known and highly esteemed as yourself, sir. The mention of
the name of Captain Kendall----"

"Kendrick."

"Kendrick, of course. I apologize once more. But, if you will permit me
to say so, a man as well and favorably known to us all as you are, sir,
is certainly the ideal occupant of the--ah--place."

"Thanks. You knew of me, then? I don't think you and I have ever met
before, have we?"

"No; no, I believe I have never before had the pleasure."

"Thanks. I was pretty sure I hadn't. I've been away from Bayport a good
deal. I wasn't here when you and your wife came back--about five years
ago, wasn't it? And, of course, I didn't know you when you used to live
here. Let's see; you used to teach singin'-school, didn't you?"

This question was asked in the most casual fashion. Mr. Phillips did not
answer at once. He coughed, changed his position, and then smiled
graciously.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, I--I did something of the sort, for a time. Music
has always been a--one might call it a--ah--hobby of mine. But,
regarding your duties as--well, whatever those duties are, Captain
Kendrick: You say they are not arduous. And your--ah--compensation?
That, I understand, is not large? Pardon my referring to it, but as Mrs.
Phillips was the owner and benefactress of the Fair Harbor, and as I
am--shall I say heir--to her interests, why, perhaps my excuse for
asking for information is--ah--a reasonable one."

He paused, and with another smile and wave of the hand, awaited his
host's reply. Sears looked at him.

"I guess you know what my wages are, Mr. Phillips," he observed. "Don't
you?"

"Why--why--ah--ah----"

"Didn't Cordelia tell you? She knows. So does Elizabeth."

"Why--why, Mrs. Berry did mention a figure, I believe. I seem to
recall--ah--ah--something."

"If you remember fifteen hundred a year, you will have it right. That is
the amount I'm paid for bein' in general command over there. As you say,
it isn't very large, but perhaps it's large enough for what I do."

"Oh--ah, _don't_ misunderstand me, Captain Kendrick, please don't. I
was not questioning the amount of your salary."

"Wasn't you? My mistake. I thought you was."

"No; indeed no. My only feeling in regard to it was its--ah--trifling
size. It--pardon me, but it seemed such a small sum for you to accept, a
man of your attainments."

"My attainments, as you call 'em, haven't got me very far I'm a poor man
and, just now at any rate, I'm a cripple, a wreck on a lee shore.
Fifteen hundred a year isn't so small to me."

Mr Phillips apologized. He was sorry he had referred to the subject. But
the captain, he was sure, understood his motive for asking, and, now
that so much had been said, might he say just a word more.

"Our dear Cordelia--Mrs. Berry--" he went on, "intimated that
your--ah--compensation was paid by the judge, himself."

"Yes it was. Judge Knowles paid it with his own money. It doesn't come
out of the Fair Harbor funds."

"Yes, yes, of course, of course. The judge's interest in my beloved
wife's--ah--whims--perhaps that is too frivolous a word--was
extraordinarily fine. But now the judge has passed on."

"Yes. More's the pity."

"I heartily agree with you, it is a great pity. An irreparable loss....
But he has gone."

"Yes."

Just here the dialogue came to a peculiar halt. Mr. Phillips seemed to
be waiting for his companion to say something and the captain to be
waiting for Phillips himself to say it first. As a consequence neither
said it. When the conversation was resumed it was once more of a general
nature. It was not until just beyond the end of the call that the Fair
Harbor was again mentioned. And, as at first, it was the caller who led
up to it.

"Captain Kendrick," he observed, "you are, like myself, a man of the
world, a man of wide experience."

This was given forth as a positive statement, not a question, yet he
seemed to expect a reply. Sears obliged.

"Oh, I don't know," he demurred.

"Pardon me, but I do. I am accustomed to judge persons and characters,
and I think I may justly pride myself on making few mistakes. From what
I had heard I expected to find you a man of the world, a man of
experience and judgment. Judge Knowles' selection of you as
the--ah--temporary head of the Fair Harbor would have indicated that, of
course, but, if you will permit me to say so, this interview has
confirmed it."

Again he paused, as if expecting a reply. And again the captain humored
him.

"Much obliged," he said.

The Phillips hand waved the thanks away. There was another perceptible
wait. Then said Egbert, "Captain Kendrick, as one man of the world to
another, what do you think of the--ah--institution next door?"

Sears looked at him. "What do I think of it?" he repeated.

"Yes, exactly. It was, as you know, the darling of my dear wife's heart.
When she loaned her--shall we say her ancestral home, and--ah--money to
the purpose she firmly believed the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women to
be an inspiration for good. She believed its founding to be the
beginning of a great work. Is it doing that work, do you think? In your
opinion, sir, is it a success?"

Captain Sears slowly stroked his close-cropped beard. What was the man
driving at?

"Why--I don't know as I know exactly what you mean by success," he
hesitated. "It's takin' care of its--er--boarders and it's makin' a home
for 'em. That is what your wife wanted it to do, didn't she?"

"Oh, yes, yes, quite so. But that is not precisely what I mean. Put it
this way, sir: In your opinion, as a man of affairs----"

"Here, here, just a minute. I'm not a man of affairs. I'm a broken-down
sea cap'n on shore, that's all."

Again the upraised hand. "_I_ know what you are, Captain Kendrick,"
said Egbert. "That, if you will permit me to say so, is why I am asking
your opinion. The success of a--ah--proposition depends, as I see it,
upon the amount of success achieved in proportion to the amount of
energy, capital--ah--whatnot invested. Now, considering the sum needed
to support the Fair Harbor--paid, as doubtless you know, Captain
Kendrick, from the interest of an amount loaned and set aside by my dear
wife some years ago--considering that sum, I say, added to the amount
sunk, or invested, in the house, land, furnishings, et cetera, is it
your opinion that the institution's success is a sufficient return? Or,
might not the same sums, put into other--ah--charities, reap larger
rewards? Rewards in the shape of good to our fellow men and women,
Captain Kendrick? What do you think?"

Sears crossed his knees.

"I don't know," he said.

"Of course, of course. One does not know. But it is a question to be
considered, is it not?"

"Why--why, yes, maybe. Do I understand that you are thinkin' of givin'
up the Fair Harbor? Doin' away with it?"

"Oh, no, no, no!" Mr. Phillips pushed the surmise deeper into the
background with each negative. "I am not considering anything of that
sort, Captain Kendrick."

"Well--humph! My mistake again. I thought you just said you were
considerin' it."

"Only as a question, Captain, only as a question. While my wife lived,
of course, the Fair Harbor--_her_ Fair Harbor--was a thing fixed,
immovable. Now that she has been taken from me, it devolves upon me, the
care of her trusts, her benefactions."

"Yes. So you said, Mr. Phillips."

"I believe I did say so. Yes. And therefore, as I see it, a part of that
trust is to make sure that every penny of her--ah--charity is doing the
greatest good to the greatest number."

"And you think the Fair Harbor isn't gettin' its money's worth?"

"Oh, no, no, no. I don't say that. I don't say that at all. I am sure it
must be. I am merely considering, that is all, merely considering....
Well, Captain Kendrick, I must go. We shall see each other often, I
trust. I have-ah--a suite at the Central House and if you will do me the
honor of calling I shall greatly appreciate it. Pray drop in at any
time, sir. Don't, I beg of you, stand upon ceremony."

Sears promised that he would not. He was finding it hard to keep from
smiling. A "suite" at the Central House, Bayport's one hostelry, tickled
him. He knew the rooms at that hit or miss tavern.

"Good-by, Captain Kendrick," said Mr. Phillips. "Upon one thing I feel
sure you may congratulate yourself, that is that your troubles and petty
annoyances as--ah--manager of the Fair Harbor are practically over."

"Oh," observed the captain.

"Yes. I think I shall be able to relieve you of _that_ care very
shortly. And the sooner the better, I presume you are saying. Yes? Ha,
ha!"

"Thanks. Goin' to appoint somebody else, eh?"

"Oh, no, no! My _dear_ sir! Why, I--I really--I thought you understood.
I mean to say simply that, while I am here in person, and as long as I
am here, I shall endeavor to look after the matters myself and
consequently relieve you, that is all. Judge Knowles appointed you and
paid you--a very wise and characteristic thing for him to do; but he,
poor man, is dead. One could scarcely expect you to go on performing
your duties gratuitously. That is why I congratulate you upon the
lifting of the burden from your shoulders."

"Oh, yes. Um-hm. I see. Thank you, Mr. Phillips."

"I should thank you, sir, for all you have already done. I do
sincerely.... Oh, by the way, Captain Kendrick, perhaps it would be as
well that nothing be said concerning this little business talk of ours.
One knows how trifles are distorted, mole hills made mountains, and all
that, in communities like--well, like dear old Bayport. We love our
Bayporters, bless them, but they will talk. Ha, ha! So, captain, if you
will consider our little chat confidential----"

"I will."

"Thank you, sir, thank you. And we shall see each other frequently. I am
counting upon it. _Au revoir_, Captain Kendrick. Don't rise, I beg of
you."

He was gone, the door closed behind him. Sears filled his pipe, lighted
it, and leaned back in his chair to review and appraise his impressions.

The appraisal was not altogether satisfactory. It was easy to say that
he did not like Egbert Phillips, for it was the truth--he did not like
him. But to affirm truthfully that that dislike was founded upon
anything more substantial than prejudice due to Judge Knowles'
detestation was not so easy. The question which continually intruded was
this: Suppose he had met Mr. Phillips for the first time, never having
heard of him before--would he have disliked and distrusted him under
those circumstances? He could not be quite sure.

For, leaving aside Egbert's airy condescension and his--to the captain's
New England mind--overdone politeness, there was not so much fault to be
found with his behavior or words during the interview just ended. He had
asked questions concerning the Fair Harbor, had hinted at the
possibility of its discontinuance, had more than hinted at the dropping
of Kendrick as its manager. Well--always bearing in mind the fact that
he was ignorant of his wife's action which gave the Seymour house and
land to the Fair Harbor and gave, not loaned, the money for its
maintenance--bearing in mind the fact that Egbert Phillips believed
himself the absolute owner of all, with undisputed authority to do as he
pleased with it--then.... Well, then Captain Sears was obliged to admit
that he, himself, might have questioned and hinted very much as his
visitor had done. And as for the condescension and the "manner"--these
were, after all, not much more than eccentricities, and developed, very
likely, during his life abroad.

Lobelia Phillips' will would be opened and read soon, probably at once.
Whew! Sears whistled as he thought of the staggering disillusionment
which was coming to the widower. How would he take it? Was Judge Knowles
right in his belief that the rest of the Seymour inheritance had been
wasted and lost? If so, the elegant personage who had just bowed himself
out of the Minot kitchen would be in a bad way indeed. Sears was sorry
for him.

And yet he did not like the man. No, he did not.... And he did distrust
him.

Judah came back from his sojourn at the store brimful of talk and
chuckles. As he had prophesied, all Bayport had heard of the arrival of
the great man and all Bayport was discussing him. He had the finest
rooms at the Central House. He had three trunks--count them--three! Not
to mention bags and a leather hat box. He had given the driver of the
depot wagon a dollar over and above his regular charge. He remembered
Eliphalet Bassett the first time he saw him, and called him by name.

There was a lot more of this, but Sears paid little attention to it.
Judah summed it all up pretty well in his final declaration, given as
his lodger was leaving the kitchen for the "spare stateroom."

"By Henry!" declared Judah, who seemed rather disgusted, "I never heard
such a powwowin' over one man in my life. Up to 'Liphalet's 'twan't
nothin' but 'Egbert Phillips,' 'Egbert Phillips,' till you'd think 'twas
a passel of poll-parrots all mockin' each other. Simeon Ryder had been
down to deacon's meetin' in the Orthodox vestry and, nigh's I can find
out, 'twas just the same down there. 'Cordin' to Sim's tell they talked
about the Lord's affairs for ten minutes and about this Egg man's for
forty."

"But why?" queried the captain. "He isn't the only fellow that has been
away from Bayport and come back again."

Mr. Cahoon shook his head. "I know it," he admitted, "but none of the
rest ever had quite so much fuss made over 'em. I cal'late, maybe, it's
on account of the way he's been led up to, as you might say. I went one
time to a kind of show place in New York, Barnum's Museum 'twas. There
was a great sign outdoor sayin', 'Come on aboard and see the White
Whale,' or somethin' similar. Well, I'd seen about every kind of a whale
_but_ a white one, so I cal'lated maybe I'd might as well spend a
quarter and see that. There was a great big kind of tank place full of
water and a whole passel of folks hangin' around the edge of it with
their mouths open, gawpin' at nothin'--nothin' but the water, that's all
there was to see. And a man up on a kind of platform he was preachin' a
sort of sermon, wavin' his arms and hollerin' about how rare and scurce
white whales was, and how the museum folks had to scour all creation
afore they got this one, and about how the round heads of Europe----"

"Crowned heads, wasn't it, Judah?"

"Hey? I don't know, maybe so. Cabbage heads it ought to have been,
'cordin' to my notion. Well, anyhow, 'twas some kind of Europe heads,
and they had all pretty nigh broke the necks belongin' to 'em gettin' to
see this whale, and how lucky we was because we could see it for the
small sum of twenty-five cents, and so on, and so on--until all hands of
us was just kind of on tiptoe, as you might say. And then, all to once,
the water in the tank kind of riz up, you know, and somethin'
white--might have been the broadside of a barn for all we had time to
see of it--showed for a jiffy, there was a 'Woosh,' and the white thing
went under again.' And that was all. The man said we was now able to
tell our children that we'd seen a white whale and that the critter
would be up to breathe again in about an hour, or week after next, or
some such time.... Anyhow, what I'm tryin' to get at is that 'twan't the
whale itself that counted so much as 'twas the way that preachin' man
led up to him. This Egbert he's been preached about and guessed about
and looked for'ard to so long that all Bayport's been on tiptoe, like us
folks around that museum tank.... Well, this Phillips whale has made a
big 'Woosh' in town so fur. Can he keep it up? That's what I'm
wonderin'."

The sensation kept up for the next day and the next at least, and there
were no signs of its abating. Over at the Fair Harbor Captain Sears
found himself playing a very small second fiddle. Miss Snowden, Mrs.
Brackett and their following, instead of putting themselves out to smile
upon the captain and to chat with him, ignored him almost altogether,
or, if they did speak, spoke only of Mr. Phillips. He was the most
entertaining man, _so_ genteel, his conversation was remarkable, he had
traveled everywhere.

Mrs. Berry, of course, was in ecstasies concerning him. He was her ideal
of a gentleman, she said, _so_ aristocratic. "So like the men I
associated with in the old days," she said. "Of course," she added, "he
is an old friend. Dear 'Belia and he were my dearest friends, you know,
Captain Kendrick."

The captain was curious to learn Elizabeth's opinion of him. He found
that opinion distinctly favorable.

"He is different," she said. "Different, I mean, from any one I ever
met. And at first I thought him conceited. But he isn't really, he is
just--well, different. I think I shall like him."

Sears smiled. "If you don't you will be rather lonesome here in the
Harbor, I judge," he observed.

She looked at him quickly. "You don't like him, do you, Cap'n Kendrick?"
she said. "Why?"

"Why--why, I don't say I don't like him, Elizabeth."

"No, you don't say it, but you look it. I didn't think you took sudden
dislikes, Cap'n. It doesn't seem like you, somehow."

He could not explain, and he felt that he had disappointed her.

On the third day the news came that Mr. Phillips had left town, gone
suddenly, so Judah said.

"He took the afternoon train and bought a ticket for Boston, so they
tell me," declared the latter. "He's left his dunnage at the Central
House, so he's comin' back, I cal'late; but nobody knows where he's
gone, nor why he went. Went over to Orham this mornin'--hired a
horse-'n'-team down to the livery stable and went--come back about one
o'clock, wouldn't speak to nobody, went up to his room, never et no
dinner, and then set sail for Boston on the up train. Cur'us, ain't it?
Where do you cal'late likely he's gone, Cap'n Sears?"

"Give it up, Judah. And," speaking quickly in order to head off the
question he saw the Cahoon lips already forming, "I can't guess why he's
gone, either."

But, although he did not say so, he could have guessed why Mr. Phillips
had gone to Orham. Bradley, the Orham lawyer, had written the day before
to say that the will of Lobelia Phillips would be opened and read at his
office on Thursday morning. And this was Thursday. Bradley had suggested
Sears's coming over to be present at the reading of the will. "As you
are so deeply interested in the Fair Harbor," he wrote, "I should think
you might--or ought to--be on hand. I don't believe Phillips will
object."

But the captain had not accepted the invitation. Knowing, as he did, the
disappointment which was in store for Egbert, he had no wish to see the
blow fall. So he remained at home, but that afternoon Bradley himself
drove into the Minot yard.

"I just stopped for a minute, Cap'n, he said. I had some other business
in town here; that brought me over, but I wanted to tell you that we
opened that will this morning."

Sears looked a question. "Well?" he queried.

Bradley nodded. "It was just about as we thought, and as the judge
said," he declared. "The papers were there, of course, telling of the
gift of the fifty thousand to the Harbor, of the gift of the land and
house, everything. There was one other legacy, a small one, and then she
left all the rest, 'stocks, bonds, securities, personal effects and
cash' to her beloved husband, Egbert Phillips. That's all there was to
it, Kendrick. Short but sweet, eh?"

Sears nodded. "Sweet enough," he agreed. "And how did the beloved
husband take it?"

"Well ... well, he was pretty nasty. In fact he was about as nasty as
anybody could be. He went white as a sheet and then red and then white
again. I didn't know, for a minute or two, what was going to happen,
didn't know but what I should have a fight on my hands. However, I
didn't. I don't think he's the fighting kind, not that kind of a fight.
He just took it out in being nasty. Said of course he should contest the
gift, hinted at undue influence, spoke of thieves and swindlers--not
naming 'em, though--and then, when I suggested that he had better think
it over before he said too much, pulled up short and walked out of the
office. Yes, he was pretty nasty. But, honestly, Cap'n Kendrick, when I
think it over, I don't know that he was any nastier than I, or any other
fellow, might have been under the circumstances. It was a smash between
the eyes for him, that's what it was. Met him, have you?"

"Yes."

"What do you think of him?"

"I don't know--yet."

"Neither do I. He's a polite chap, isn't he?"

"No doubt about that. Say, Bradley, do you think he's got much left of
the 'stocks, bonds,' and all the rest that the will talked about?"

"I give it up. Of course we shall talk about that by and by, I suppose,
but we haven't yet. You know what Judge Knowles declared; he was
perfectly sure that there wouldn't be anything left--that this fellow
and Lobelia had thrown away every loose penny of old Seymour's money.
And, of course, he prophesied that this Egbert man would be back here as
soon as his wife died to sell the Fair Harbor, ship and cargo, and get
the money for them. The biggest satisfaction the old judge got out of
life along toward the last of it was in knowing that he and Lobelia had
fixed things so that that couldn't be done. He certainly hated Phillips,
the judge did."

"Um-hm. But he might have been prejudiced."

"Yes. Sometimes I wonder if he wasn't."

"Tell me, Bradley: Did you know this Phillips man when he was skipper of
the singin' school here in Bayport? Before he married Lobelia?"

"No. Nor I didn't meet him when he and his wife were on here the last
time. I was up in the State House serving out my two terms as county
representative."

"I see.... Oh! You spoke of Lobelia's leavin' another legacy. Who was
that to? If it isn't a secret."

"It is, so far. But it won't be very long. She left five thousand, in
cash and in Judge Knowles's care, for Cordelia Berry over here at the
Harbor. She and Lobelia were close friends, you know. Cordelia is to
have it free and clear, but I am to invest it for her. She doesn't know
her good luck yet. I am going over now to tell her about it.... Oh, by
the way, Cap'n: Judge Knowles's nephew, the man from California, is
expecting to reach Bayport next Sunday. He can't stay out a little
while, and so I shall have to hurry up that will and the business
connected with it. Can you come over to my office Monday about ten?"

"Why, I suppose likely I could, but what do you want me for?"

"I don't, except in the general way of always wanting to see you, Cap'n.
But Judge Knowles wanted you especially."

"He did! Wanted _me_?"

"Yes. Seems so. He left a memorandum of those he wanted on hand when his
will was read. You are one, and Elizabeth Berry is another. Will you
come?"

"Why--why, yes, I suppose so. But what in the world----"

"I don't know. But I imagine we'll all know Monday. I'll look for you
then, Cap'n."



CHAPTER XI


The reading of the Knowles will, so Bradley had said, was to take place
at the lawyer's office in Orham on Monday. It was Friday when Bradley
called at the Minot place, and on Saturday morning Sears and Elizabeth
discussed the matter.

"Mr. Bradley said your name was on the list of those the judge asked to
be on hand when the will was read," said the captain. "He asked me not
to speak about the will to outsiders, and of course I haven't, but
you're not an outsider. You're goin' over, I suppose?"

She hesitated slightly. "Why, yes," she said. "I think I shall."

"Yes. Yes, I thought you would."

"I shall go because the judge seems to have wished me to be there, but
why I can't imagine. Can you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

Remembering his last conversation with Judge Knowles, Sears thought he
might at least guess a possible reason, but he did not say so.

"We're both interested in the Fair Harbor," he observed. "And we know
how concerned the judge was with that."

She nodded. "Yes," she admitted. "Still I don't see why mother was not
asked if that was it. You are going over, of course?"

"Why--yes, I shall. Bradley seemed to want me to."

That was all, at the time. The next day, however, Elizabeth again
mentioned the subject. It was in the afternoon, church and dinner were
over, and Sears was strolling along the path below the Fair Harbor
garden plots. He could walk with less difficulty and with almost no pain
now, but he could not walk far. The Eyrie was, for a wonder,
unoccupied, so he limped up to it and sat down upon the bench inside to
rest. This was the favorite haunt of the more romantic Fair Harbor
inmates, Miss Snowden and Mrs. Chase especially, but they were not there
just then, although a book, _Barriers Burned Away_, by E. P. Roe, lay
upon the bench, a cardboard marker with the initials "E. S." in
cross-stitch, between the leaves. When the captain heard a step
approaching the summer-house, he judged that Elvira was returning to
reclaim her "Barriers." But it was not Elvira who entered the Eyrie, it
was Elizabeth Berry.

She was surprised to see him. "Why, Cap'n Sears!" she exclaimed. "I
didn't expect to find you here. I was afraid--that is, I did rather
think I might find Elvira, but not you. I didn't know you had the Eyrie
habit."

He smiled. "I haven't," he said. "That is, it isn't chronic yet. I
didn't know you had it, either."

"Oh I haven't. But I was rather tired, and I wanted to be alone, and
so----"

"And so you took a chance. Well, you came at just the right time. I was
just about gettin' under way."

He rose, but she detained him. "Don't go," she begged. "When I said I
wanted to be alone I didn't mean it exactly. I meant I wanted to be away
from--some people. You are not one of them."

He was pleased, and showed it. "You're sure of that?" he asked.

"Of course. You know I am. Do sit down and talk. Talk about anything
except--well, except Bayport gossip and Fair Harbor squabbles and bills
and--oh, that sort of thing. Talk about something away from Bayport,
miles and miles away. I feel just now as if I should like to be--to be
on board a ship sailing ... sailing."

She smiled wistfully as she said it. The captain was seized with an
intense conviction that he should like to be with her on that same ship,
to sail on and on indefinitely. The kind of ship or its destination
would not matter in the least, the only essentials were that she and he
were to be on board, and ... Humph! His brain must be softening. Who
did he think he was: a young man again?--a George Kent? He came out of
the clouds.

"Yes," he observed, dryly, "I know. I get that same feelin' every once
in a while. I should rather like to walk a deck again, myself."

She understood instantly. That was one of the fascinations of this girl,
she always seemed to understand. A flash of pity came into her eyes.
Impulsively she laid a hand on his coat sleeve.

"I beg your pardon," she said. "I'm so sorry. I realize how hard it must
be for you, Cap'n Kendrick. A man who has been where you have been and
seen what you have seen.... Yes, and done what you have done."

He shrugged. "I haven't done much," he said.

"Oh, yes, you have. I have heard so many stories about you and your
ships and the way you have handled them. There was one story I remember,
a story about how your sailors mutinied and how you got them to go to
work again. I heard that years ago, when I was a girl at school. I have
never forgotten; it sounded so wonderful and romantic and--and far off."

He nodded. "It was far off," he said. "Away over in the South Seas. And
it was a good while ago, too, for I was in command of my first vessel,
and that's the time of all times when a man doesn't want mutiny or any
other setback. And I never had any trouble with my crews, before or
since, except then. But the water in our butts had gone rancid and we
put in at this island to refill. It was a pretty place, lazy and
sunshiny, like most of those South Sea corals, and the fo'mast hands got
ashore amongst the natives, drinkin' palm wine and traders' gin, and
they didn't want to put to sea as soon as the mates and I did."

"But you made them?"

"Well, I--er--sort of coaxed 'em into it."

"Tell me about it, please."

"Oh, there isn't anything to----"

"Please."

So Sears began to spin the yarn. And from that she led him into another
and then another. They drifted through the South Seas to the East
Indies, and from there to Bombay, and then to Hong Kong, and to
Mauritious, from the beaches of which came the marvelous sea shells that
Sarah Macomber had in the box in her parlor closet. They voyaged through
the Arabian Sea, with the parched desert shores shimmering in the white
hot sun. They turned north, saw the sperm whales and the great squid and
the floating bergs.... And at last they drifted back to Bayport and the
captain looked at his watch.

"Heavens and earth!" he exclaimed. "It's almost four o'clock. I believe
I've talked steady for pretty nearly an hour. I'm ashamed. Are you
awake, Elizabeth? I hope, for your sake, you've been takin' a nap."

She did not answer at once. Then she breathed deeply. "I don't know what
I have been doing--really doing," she said. "I suppose I have been
sitting right here in this old summer-house. But I _feel_ as if I had
been around the world. I wanted to sail and sail.... I said so, didn't
I? Well, I have. Thank you, Cap'n Kendrick."

He rose from the bench.

"A man gets garrulous in his old age," he observed. "But I didn't think
I was as old as that--just yet. The talkin' disease must be catchin',
and I've lived with Judah Cahoon quite a while now."

She laughed. "If I had as much to talk about--worth while talking
about--as you have," she declared, "I should never want to stop. Well, I
must be getting back to the Fair Harbor--and the squabbles."

"Too bad. Can I help you with 'em?"

"No, I'm afraid not. They're not big enough for you."

They turned to the door. She spoke again.

"You are going to drive to Orham to-morrow afternoon?" she asked.

"Eh? Oh, yes. The Foam Flake and I will make the voyage--if we have
luck."

"And you are going--alone?"

"Yes. Judah thinks I shouldn't. Probably he thinks the Foam Flake may
fall dead, or get to walkin' in his sleep and step off the bank or
somethin'. But I'm goin' to risk it. I guess likely I can keep him in
the channel."

She waited a moment. Then she smiled and shook her head.

"Cap'n," she said, "you make it awfully hard for me. And this is the
second time. Really, I feel so--so brazen."

"Brazen?"

"Yes. Why don't you invite me to ride to Orham with you? Why must I
_always_ have to invite myself?"

He turned to look at her. She colored a little, but she returned his
look.

"You--you mean it?" he demanded.

"Of course I mean it. I must get there somehow, because I promised Mr.
Bradley. And unless you don't want me, in which case I shall have to
hire from the livery stable, I----"

But he interrupted her. "Want you!" he repeated. "_Want_ you!"

His tone was sufficiently emphatic, perhaps more emphatic than he would
have made it if he had not been taken by surprise. She must have found
it satisfactory, for she did not ask further assurances.

"Thank you," she said. "And when are you planning to start?"

"Why--why, right after dinner to-morrow. If that's all right for you.
But I'm sorry you had to invite yourself. I--I thought--well, I thought
maybe George had--had planned----"

To his further surprise she seemed a trifle annoyed.

"George works at the store," she said. "Besides, I--well, really, Cap'n
Kendrick, there is no compelling reason why George Kent should take me
everywhere I want to go."

Now Sears had imagined there was--and rumor and surmise in Bayport had
long supported his imagining--but he did not tell her that. What he did
say was inane enough.

"Oh--er--yes, of course," he stammered.

"No, there isn't. He and I are friends, good friends, and have been for
a long time, but that doesn't---- Well, Cap'n, I shall look for you and
the Foam Flake--oh, that _is_ a wonderful name--about one to-morrow. And
I'll promise not to keep you waiting."

"If the Foam Flake doesn't die in the meantime I'll be on hand. He'll be
asleep probably, but Judah declares he walks in his sleep, so that----
Oh, heavens and earth!"

This exclamation, although but a mutter, was fervent indeed. The captain
and Elizabeth had turned to the vine-shaded doorway of the Eyrie, and
there, in that doorway, was Miss Snowden and, peering around her thin
shoulder, the moon face of Mrs. Chase. Sears looked annoyed, Miss Berry
looked more so, and Elvira looked--well, she looked all sorts of things.
As for Aurora, her expression was, as always, unfathomable. Judah Cahoon
once compared her countenance to a pink china dish-cover, and it is hard
to read the emotions behind a dish-cover.

Miss Snowden spoke first.

"Oh!" she observed; and much may be expressed in that monosyllable.

Elizabeth spoke next. "Your book is there on the seat, Elvira," she
said, carelessly. "At least I suppose it is yours. It has your bookmark
in it."

Elvira simpered. "Yes," she affirmed, "it is mine. But I'm not in a
hurry, not a single bit of hurry. I _do_ hope we haven't _disturbed_
you."

"Not a bit, not a bit," said Sears, crisply. "Miss Elizabeth and I were
havin' a business talk, but we had finished. The coast is clear for you
now. Good afternoon."

"You're _sure_, Cap'n Kendrick? Aurora and I wouldn't interrupt a
_business_ talk for the _world_. And in such a romantic place, too."

As Sears and Elizabeth walked up the path from the summer-house the
voice of Mrs. Chase was audible--as usual very audible indeed.

"Elviry," begged Aurora, eagerly, "Elviry, what did he say to you? He
looked awful kind of put out when he said it."

The captain was "put out," so was Elizabeth apparently. The latter said,
"Oh, dear!" and laughed, but there was less humor than irritation in the
laugh. Sears's remark was brief but pointed.

"I like four-legged cats first-rate," he declared.

The next day at one o'clock he and his passenger, with the placid Foam
Flake as motor power, left the Fair Harbor together. And, as they drove
out of the yard, both were conscious that behind the shades of the
dining-room windows were at least six eager faces, and whispering
tongues were commenting, exclaiming and surmising.

The captain, for his part, forgot the faces and tongues very quickly. It
was a pleasant afternoon, the early fall days on the Cape are so often
glorious; the rain of a few days before had laid the dust, at least the
upper layer of it, and the woods were beginning to show the first
sprinklings of crimson and purple and yellow. The old horse walked or
jogged or rambled on along the narrow winding ways, the ancient buggy
rocked and rattled and swung in the deep ruts. They met almost no one
for the eight miles between Bayport and Orham--there were no roaring,
shrieking processions of automobiles in those days--and when Abial
Gould, of North Harniss, encountered them at the narrowest section of
highway, he steered his placid ox team into the huckleberry bushes and
waited for them to pass, waving a whip-handle greeting from his perch on
top of his load of fragrant pitch pine. The little ponds and lakes shone
deeply blue as they glimpsed them in the hollows or over the tree tops
and, occasionally, a startled partridge boomed from the thicket, or a
flock of quail scurried along the roadside.

They talked of all sorts of things, mostly of ships and seas and
countries far away, subjects to which Elizabeth led the conversation and
then abandoned it to her companion. They spoke little of the Fair Harbor
or its picayune problems, and of the errand upon which they were
going--the judge's will, its reading and its possible surprises--none at
all.

"Don't," pleaded Elizabeth, when Sears once mentioned the will; "don't,
please. Judge Knowles was such a good friend of mine that I can't bear
to think he has gone and that some one else is to speak his thoughts and
carry out his plans. Tell me another sea story, Cap'n Kendrick. There
aren't any Elvira Snowdens off Cape Horn, I'm sure."

So Sears spun his yarns and enjoyed the spinning because she seemed to
so enjoy listening to them. And he did not once mention his crippled
limbs, or his despondency concerning the future; in fact, he pretty well
forgot them for the time. And he did not mention George Kent, a person
whom he had meant to mention and praise highly, for his unreasonable
conscience had pestered him since the talk in the summer-house and, as
usual, he had determined to do penance. But he forgot Kent for the time,
forgot him altogether.

Bradley's law offices occupied a one-story building on Orham's main road
near the center of the village. There were several rigs standing at the
row of hitching posts by the steps as they drove up. Sears climbed from
the buggy--he did it much easier than had been possible a month
before--and moored the Foam Flake beside them. Then they entered the
building.

Bradley's office boy told them that his employer and the others were in
the private room beyond. The captain inquired who the others were.

"Well" said the boy, "there's that Mr. Barnes--he's the one from
California, you know, Judge Knowles' nephew. And Mike--Mr. Callahan, I
mean--him that took care of the judge's horse and team and things; and
that Tidditt woman that kept his house. And there's Mr. Dishup, the
Orthodox minister from over to Bayport, and another man, I don't know
his name. Walk right in, Cap'n Kendrick. Mr. Bradley told me to tell you
and Miss Berry to walk right in when you came."

So they walked right in. Bradley greeted them and introduced them to
Knowles Barnes, the long-looked-for nephew from California. Barnes was a
keen-eyed, healthy-looking business man and the captain liked him at
once. The person whom the office boy did not know turned out to be
Captain Noah Baker, a retired master mariner, who was Grand Master of
the Bayport lodge of Masons.

"And now that you and Miss Berry are here, Cap'n Kendrick," said
Bradley, "we will go ahead. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the will of
our late good friend, Judge Knowles. He asked you all to be here when it
was opened and read. Mr. Barnes is obliged to go West again in a week or
so, so the sooner we get to business the better. Ahem!"

Then followed the reading of the will. One by one the various legacies
and bequests were read. Some of them Sears Kendrick had expected and
foreseen. Others came as surprises. He was rather astonished to find
that the judge had been, according to Cape Cod standards of that day,
such a rich man. The estate, so the lawyer said, would, according to
Knowles' own figures, total in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars.

Judge Knowles bequeathed:

    To the Endowment Fund of the Fair Harbor for
    Mariners' Women                                $50,000

    To the Bayport Congregational Church             5,000

    To the Building Fund of the Bayport Lodge of
    Masons                                           5,000

    To Emmeline Tidditt (his housekeeper)            5,000

    To Michael Callahan (his hired man)              5,000

    To Elizabeth Berry--in trust until she should be
    thirty years of age                             20,000

    Other small bequests, about                      7,000

The balance, the residue of the estate, amounting to a sum approximating
fifty-five thousand, to Henry Knowles Barnes, of San Francisco,
California.

There were several pages of carefully worded directions and
instructions. The fifty thousand for the Fair Harbor was already
invested in good securities and, from the interest of these, Sears
Kendrick's salary of fifteen hundred a year was to be paid as long as
he wished to retain his present position as general manager. If the time
should come when he wished to relinquish that position he was given
authority to appoint his successor at the same salary. Or should
Cordelia Berry, at any time, decide to give up her position as matron,
Kendrick and Bradley, acting together, might, if they saw fit, appoint a
suitable person to act as manager _and_ matron at a suitable salary. In
this event, of course, Kendrick would no longer continue to draw his
fifteen hundred a year.

The reading was not without interruptions. Mr. Callahan's was the most
dramatic. When announcement was made of his five thousand dollar
windfall his Celtic fervor got the better of him and he broke loose with
a tangled mass of tearful ejaculations and prayers, a curious mixture of
glories to the saints and demands for blessings upon the soul of his
benefactor. Mrs. Tidditt was as greatly moved as he, but she had her
emotions under firmer control. The Reverend Mr. Dishup was happy and
grateful on behalf of his parish, so too was Captain Baker as
representative of the Masonic Lodge. But each of these had been in a
measure prepared, they had been led to expect some gift or remembrance.
It was Elizabeth Berry who had, apparently, expected nothing--nothing
for herself, that is. When the lawyer announced the generous bequest to
the Fair Harbor she caught her breath and turned to look at Sears with
an almost incredulous joy in her eyes. But when he read of the twenty
thousand which was hers--the income beginning at once and the principal
when she was thirty--she was so tremendously taken aback that, for an
instant, the captain thought she was going to faint. "Oh!" she
exclaimed, and that was all, but the color left her face entirely.

Sears rose, so did the minister, but she waved them back. "Don't," she
begged. "I--I am all right.... No, please don't speak to me for--for a
little while."

So they did not speak, but the captain, watching her, saw that the color
came back very slowly to her cheeks and that her eyes, when she opened
them, were wet. Her hands, clasped in her lap, were trembling. Sears,
although rejoicing for her, felt a pang of hot resentment at the manner
of the announcement. It should not have been so public. She should not
have had to face such a surprise before those staring spectators. Why
had not the judge--or Bradley, if he knew--have prepared her in some
measure?

But when it was over and he hastened to congratulate her, she was more
composed. She received his congratulations, and those of the others, if
not quite calmly at least with dignity and simplicity. To Mr. Dishup and
Bradley and Captain Baker she said little except thanks. To Barnes,
whose congratulations were sincere and hearty, and, to all appearances
at least, quite ungrudging, she expressed herself as too astonished to
be very coherent.

"I--I can scarcely believe it yet," she faltered. "I can't understand--I
can't think why he did it.... And you are all so very kind. You won't
mind if I don't say any more now, will you?"

But to Sears when he came, once more, to add another word and to shake
her hand, she expressed a little of the uncertainty which she felt.

"Oh," she whispered; "oh, Cap'n Kendrick, do you think it is right? Do
you think he really meant to do it? You are sure he did?"

His tone should have carried conviction. "You bet he meant it!" he
declared, fervently. "He never meant anything any more truly; I know
it."

"Do you? Do you really?... Did--did you know? Did he tell you he was
going to?"

"Not exactly, but he hinted. He----"

"Wait. Wait, please. Don't tell me any more now. By and by, on the way
home, perhaps. I--I want to know all about it. I want to be sure. And,"
with a tremulous smile, "I doubt if I could really understand just yet."

The group in the lawyer's office did not break up for another hour.
There were many matters for discussion, matters upon which Bradley and
Barnes wished the advice of the others. Mike and Mrs. Tidditt were sent
home early, and departed, volubly, though tearfully rejoicing. The
minister and Captain Noah stayed on to answer questions concerning the
church and the lodge, the former's pressing needs and the new building
which the latter had hoped for and which was now a certainty. Sears and
Elizabeth remained longest. Bradley whispered to the captain that he
wished them to do so.

When they were alone with him, and with Barnes of course, he took from
his pocket two sealed letters.

"The judge gave me these along with the will," he said. "That was about
three weeks before he died. I don't know what is in them and he gave me
to understand that I wasn't supposed to know. They are for you two and
no one else, so he said. You are to read yours when you are alone, Cap'n
Kendrick, and Elizabeth is to read hers when she is by herself. And he
particularly asked me to tell you both not to make your decision too
quickly. Think it over, he said."

He handed Sears an envelope addressed in Judge Knowles' hand-writing,
and to Elizabeth another bearing her name.

"There!" he exclaimed, with a sigh of relief. "That is done. Ever since
the old judge left us I have been feeling as if he were standing at my
elbow and nudging me not to forget. He had a will of his own, Judge
Knowles had, and I don't mean the will we have just read, either. But,
take him by and large, as you sailors say, Cap'n, I honestly believe he
was the biggest and squarest man this county has seen for years. Some of
us are going to be surer of that fact every day that passes."

It was after four when Elizabeth and Sears climbed aboard the buggy and
the captain, tugging heavily on what he termed the port rein, coaxed the
unwilling Foam Flake into the channel--or the road. Heavy clouds had
risen in the west since their arrival in Orham, the sky was covered with
them, and it was already beginning to grow dark. When they turned from
the main road into the wood road leading across the Cape there were
lighted lamps in the kitchens of the scattered houses on the outskirts
of the town.

"Is it going to rain, do you think?" asked Elizabeth, peering at the
troubled brown masses above the tree tops.

Sears shook his head. "Hardly think so," he replied. "Looks more like
wind to me. Pretty heavy squall, I shouldn't wonder, and maybe rain
to-morrow. Come, come; get under way, Old Hundred," addressing the
meandering Foam Flake. "If you don't travel faster than this in fair
weather and a smooth sea, what will you do when we have to reef? Well,"
with a chuckle, "even if it comes on a livin' gale the old horse won't
blow off the course. Judah feeds him too well. Nothin' short of a
typhoon could heel _him_ down."

The prophesied gale held off, but the darkness shut in rapidly. In the
long stretches of thick woods through which they were passing it was
soon hard to see clearly. Not that that made any difference. Sears knew
the Orham road pretty well and the placid Foam Flake seemed to know it
absolutely. His ancient hoofs plodded up and down in the worn "horse
path" between the grass-grown and sometimes bush-grown ridges which
separated it from the deep ruts on either side. Sometimes those ruts
were so deep that the tops of the blueberry bushes and weeds on those
ridges scratched the bottom of the buggy.

Beside his orders to the horse the captain had said very little since
their departure. He had been thinking, though, thinking hard. It was
just beginning to dawn upon him, the question as to what this good
fortune which had befallen the girl beside him might mean, what effect
it might have upon her, upon her future--and upon her relations with
him, Sears Kendrick.

Hitherto those relations had been those of comrades, fellow workers,
partners, so to speak, in an enterprise the success of which involved
continuous planning and fighting against obstacles. A difficult but
fascinating game of itself, but one which also meant a means of
livelihood for them both. Elizabeth had drawn no salary, it is true, but
without her help her mother could not have held her position as matron,
not for a month could she have done so. It was Elizabeth who was the
real matron, who really earned the wages Cordelia received and upon
which they both lived. And Elizabeth had told the captain that she
should remain at the Fair Harbor and work with and for her mother as
long as the latter needed her.

And now Sears was realizing that the necessity for either of them to
remain there no longer existed. Cordelia, thanks to Mrs. Phillips'
bequest, had five thousand dollars of her own. Elizabeth had, for the
six or seven years before her thirtieth birthday, an income of at least
twelve hundred yearly. Cordelia's legacy would add several hundred to
that. If they wished it was quite possible for them to retire from the
Fair Harbor and live somewhere in a modest fashion upon that income.
Many couples--couples esteemed by Bayporters as being in comfortable
circumstances--were living upon incomes quite as small. Sears was
suddenly brought face to face with this possibility, and was forced to
admit it even a probability.

And he--he had no income worth mentioning. He could not go to sea again
for a long time; he did not add "if ever," because even conservative
Doctor Sheldon now admitted that his complete recovery was but a matter
of time, but it would be a year--perhaps years. And for that year, or
those years, he must live--and he had practically nothing to live upon
except his Fair Harbor salary. And then again, as an additional
obligation, there was his promise to Judge Knowles to stick it out. But
to stick it out alone--without her!

For Elizabeth was under no obligation. She might not stay--probably
would not. She was a young woman of fortune now. She could do what she
liked, in reason. She might--why, she might even decide to marry. There
was Kent----

At the thought Sears choked and swallowed hard. A tingling, freezing
shiver ran down his spine. She would marry George Kent and he would be
left to--to face--to face---- She would marry--_she_----

The shiver lasted but a moment. He shut his teeth, blinked and came
back to the buggy seat and reality--and shame. Overwhelming, humiliating
shame. He glanced fearfully at her, afraid that she might have seen his
face and read upon it the secret which he himself had learned for the
first time. No, she did not read it, she was not looking at him, she too
seemed to be thinking. There was a chance for him yet. He must be a man,
a decent man, not a fool and a selfish beast. She did not know--and she
should not. Then, or at any future time.

He spoke now and hurriedly. "Well," he began, "I suppose----"

But she had looked up and now she spoke. Apparently she had not heard
him, for she said:

"Tell me about it, Cap'n Kendrick, please. I want to hear all about it.
You said you knew? You say Judge Knowles hinted that he was going to do
this--for me? Tell me all about it, please. Please."

So he told her, all that he could remember of the judge's words
concerning his regard for her, of his high opinion of her abilities, of
his friendship for her father, and of his intention to see that she was
"provided for."

"I didn't know just what he meant, of course," he said, in conclusion,
"but I guessed, some of it. I do want you to know, Elizabeth," he added,
stammering a little in his earnestness, "how glad I am for you, how
_very_ glad."

"Yes," she said, "I do know."

"Well, I--I haven't said much, but I _am_. I don't think I ever was more
glad, or could be. You believe that, don't you?"

She looked at him in surprise. "Why, of course I believe it," she said.
"Why do you ask that?"

"Oh, I--I don't know. I hadn't said much about it."

"But it wasn't necessary. I knew you were glad. I know you by this time,
Cap'n Kendrick, through and through."

The same guilty shiver ran down his spine and he glanced sharply at her
to see if there was any hidden meaning behind her words. But there was
not. She was looking down again, and when she again spoke it was to
repeat the question she had asked at the lawyer's office.

"I wonder if I ought to take it?" she murmured. "Do you think it is
right for me to accept--so much?

"Right!" he repeated. "Right? Of course its right. And because it is
enough to amount to somethin' makes it all the more right. Judge Knowles
knew what he was doin', trust his long head for that. A little would
only have made things easier where you were.... Now," he forced himself
to say it, "now you can be independent."

"Independent?"

"Why, yes. Do what you like--in reason. Steer your own course. Live as
you want to ... and where ... and _how_ you want to."

They were simple sentences these, but he found them hard to say. She
turned again to look at him.

"Why do you speak like that?" she asked. "How should I want to live?
What do you mean?"

"I mean--er--you can think of your own happiness and--plans, and--all
that. You won't be anchored to the Fair Harbor, unless you want to be.
You.... Eh? Hi! Standby! Whoa! _Whoa!_"

The last commands were roars at the horse, for, at that moment, the
squall struck.

It came out of the blackness to the left and ahead like some enormous
living creature springing over the pine tops and pouncing upon them.
There was a rumble, a roar and then a shrieking rush. The sand of the
road leaped up like the smoke from an explosion, showers of leaves and
twigs pattered sharply upon the buggy top or were thrown smartly into
their faces. From all about came the squeaks and groans of branches
rubbing against each other, with an occasional sharp crack as a limb
gave way under the pressure.

Captain Kendrick and his passenger had been so occupied with their
thoughts and conversation that both had forgotten the heavy clouds they
had noticed when they left Bradley's office, rolling up from the west.
Then, too, the increasing darkness had hidden the sky. So the swoop of
the squall took them completely by surprise.

And not only them but that genuine antique the Foam Flake. This
phlegmatic animal had been enjoying himself for the last half hour. No
one had shouted orders at him, he had not been slapped with the ends of
the reins, no whip had been cracked in his vicinity. He had been
permitted to amble and to walk and had availed himself of the
permission. For the most recent mile he had been, practically, a
somnambulist. Now out of his dreams, whatever they may have been, came
this howling terror. He jumped and snorted. Then the wind, tearing a
prickly dead branch from a scrub oak by the roadside, cast it full into
his dignified countenance. For the first time in ten years at least, the
Foam Flake ran away.

He did not run far, of course; he was not in training for distance
events. But his sprint, although short, was lively and erratic. He
jumped to one side, the side opposite to that from which the branch had
come, jerking the buggy out of the ruts and setting it to rocking like a
dory amid breakers. He jumped again, and this brought his ancient
broadside into contact with the bushes by the edge of the road. They
were ragged, and prickly, and in violent commotion. So he jumped the
other way.

Sears, yelling Whoas and compliments, stood erect upon his newly-mended
legs and leaned his weight backward upon the reins. If the skipper of a
Hudson River canal boat had suddenly found his craft deserting the
waterway and starting to climb Bear Mountain, he might have experienced
something of Sears' feelings at that moment. Canal boats should not
climb; it isn't done; and horses of the Foam Flake age, build and
reputation should not run away.

"Whoa! Whoa! What in thunder--?" roared the captain. "Port! Port, you
lubber!"

He jerked violently on the left rein. That rein was, like the horse and
the buggy, of more than middle age. Leather of that age must be
persuaded, not jerked. The rein broke just beyond Sears' hand, flew over
the dashboard and dragged in the road. The driver's weight came solidly
upon the right hand rein. The Foam Flake dashed across the highway
again, head-first into the woods this time.

Then followed a few long--very long minutes of scratching and rocking
and pounding. Sears heard himself shouting something about the Broken
rein he must get that rein.

"It's all right! It's all right, Elizabeth!" he shouted. "I'm goin' to
lean out over his back, if I can and--O--oh!"

The last was a groan, involuntarily wrung from him by the pain in his
knees. He had put an unaccustomed strain upon them and they were
remonstrating. He shut his teeth, swallowed another groan, and leaned
out over the dash, his hand clutching for the harness of the rocketing,
bumping Foam Flake.

Then he realized that some one else was leaning over that dashboard, was
in fact almost out of the buggy and swinging by the harness and the
shaft.

"Elizabeth!" he shouted, in wild alarm. "Elizabeth, what are you doin'?
Stop!"

But she was back, panting a little, but safe.

"I have the rein," she panted. "Give me the other, Cap'n Kendrick. I can
handle him, I know. Give me the rein. Sit down! Oh, please! You will
hurt yourself again!"

But he was in no mood to sit down. He snatched the end of the broken
rein from her hand, taking it and the command again simultaneously.

"Get back, back on the seat," he ordered. "Now then," addressing the
horse, "we'll see who's what! Whoa! Whoa! Steady! Come into that
channel, you old idiot! Come _on_!"

The Foam Flake was pretty nearly ready to come by this time. And
Kendrick's not too gentle coaxing helped. The buggy settled into the
ruts with a series of bumps. The horse's gallop became a trot, then a
walk; then he stopped and stood still.

The captain subsided on the seat beside his passenger. He relaxed his
tension upon the reins and the situation.

"Whew!" he exclaimed. "That was sweet while it lasted. All right, are
you?"

She answered, still rather breathlessly, "Yes, I am all right," she
declared. "But you? Aren't you hurt?"

"Me? Not a bit."

"You're sure? I was so afraid. Your--your legs, you know."

"My legs are all serene." They weren't, by any means, and were at that
moment proclaiming the fact, but he did not mean she should know.
"They're first-rate.... Well, I'm much obliged."

"Obliged for what?"

"For that rein. But you shouldn't have climbed out that way. You might
have broken your neck. 'Twas an awful risk."

"You were going to take the same risk. And _I_ am not in the doctor's
care."

"Well, you shouldn't have done it, just the same. And it was a spunky
thing to do.... But what a numbskull I was not to be on the lookout for
that squall. Humph!" with a grin, "I believe I told you even a typhoon
couldn't move this horse. I was wrong, wasn't I?"

The squall had passed on, but a steady gale was behind it. And there was
a marked hint of dampness in the air. Sears sniffed.

"And I'm afraid, too," he said, "that I was wrong about that rain comin'
to-morrow. I think it's comin' this evenin' and pretty soon, at that."

It came within fifteen minutes, in showery gusts at first. The captain
urged the Foam Flake onward as fast as possible, but that quadruped had
already over-expended his stock of energy and shouts and slaps meant
nothing to him. For a short time Sears chatted and laughed, but then he
relapsed into silence. Elizabeth, watching him fearfully, caught, as the
buggy bounced over a loose stone, a smothered exclamation, first cousin
to a groan.

"I knew it!" she cried. "You _are_ hurt, Cap'n Kendrick."

"No, no, I'm not," hastily. "It's--it's those confounded spliced spars
of mine. They're a little weak yet, I presume likely."

"Of course they are. Oh, I'm _so_ sorry. Won't you let me drive?"

"I should say not. I'm not quite ready for the scrap heap yet. And if I
couldn't steer this Noah's ark I should be.... Hello! here's another
craft at sea."

Another vehicle was ahead of them in the road, coming toward them. Sears
pulled out to permit it to pass. But the driver of the other buggy
hailed as the horses' heads came abreast.

"Elizabeth," he shouted, "is that you?"

Miss Berry's surprise showed in her voice.

"Why, George!" she cried. "Where in the world are you going?"

The horses stopped. Kent leaned forward.

"Going?" he repeated. "Why, I was going after you, of course. Are you
wet through?"

He seemed somewhat irritated, so the captain thought.

"No, indeed," replied Elizabeth. "I am all right. But why did you come
after me? Didn't they tell you I was with Cap'n Kendrick?"

"_They_ told me--yes. But why didn't _you_ tell me you were going to
Orham? I would have driven you over; you know I would."

"You were at work at the store."

"Well, I could have taken the afternoon off.... But there! no use
talking about it out here in this rain. Come on.... Oh, wait until I
turn around. Drive ahead a little, will you?"

This was the first time he had spoken to Sears, and even then his tone
was not too gracious. The captain drove on a few steps, as requested,
and, a moment later, Kent's equipage, now headed in their direction, was
alongside once more.

"Whoa!" he shouted, and both horses stopped. "Come on, Elizabeth," urged
the young man, briskly. "Wait, I'll help you."

He sprang out of his buggy and approached theirs. "Come on," he said,
again. "Quick! It is going to rain harder."

Elizabeth did not move. "But I'm not going with you, George," she said
quietly.

He stared at her.

"Not going with me?" he repeated. "Why, of course you are. I've come on
purpose for you."

"I'm sorry. You shouldn't have done it. You knew I would be all right
with Cap'n Kendrick."

"I didn't even know you were going with him. You didn't say you were
going at all. If you had I----"

"You would have taken another afternoon's holiday. And you know what Mr.
Bassett said about the last one."

"I don't care a--I don't care what he says. I shan't be working very
long for him, I hope.... But there, Elizabeth! Come on, come on! I can
get you home for supper while that old horse of Cahoon's is thinking
about it."

But still she did not move. Sears thought that, perhaps, he should take
a hand.

"Go right ahead, Elizabeth," he said. "George is right about the
horses."

"Of course I am. Come, Elizabeth."

"No, I shall stay with Cap'n Kendrick. He has been kind enough to take
me so far and we are almost home. You can follow, George, and we'll get
there together."

"Well, I like that!" exclaimed Kent. But he did not speak as if he liked
it. "After I have taken the trouble----"

"Hush! Don't be silly. The cap'n has taken a great deal of trouble,
too.... No," as Sears began to protest, "you can't get rid of me, Cap'n
Kendrick."

"But, Elizabeth----"

"No. Do you suppose I am going to leave you--in pain--and.... Drive on,
please. George can follow us."

"But I'm all right, good land knows! The Foam Flake won't try to fly
again. And really, I----"

"Drive on, please."

So he drove on; there seemed to be nothing else to do. It did not help
his feelings to hear, as George Kent was left standing in the road, a
disgusted and profane ejaculation from that young gentleman.

The remainder of the journey was quickly made. There was little
conversation. The rain, the wind, and the sounds of the horses' hoofs
and the rattle of the buggies--for Kent's was close behind all the
way--furnished most of the noise.

Judah was waiting when they came into the yard of the Minot place. He
and Elizabeth helped Sears from the buggy. The captain, in spite of his
protestations, could scarcely stand. Kent, because Elizabeth asked him
to, assisted in getting him into the kitchen and the biggest rocking
chair.

"Now go ... go," urged Sears. "I'm just a little lame, that's all, and
I'll be all right by to-morrow. Go, Elizabeth please. Your supper is
waitin' as it is. Now go."

She went, but rather reluctantly. "I shall run over after supper to see
how you are," she declared. "Thank you very much for taking me to Orham,
Cap'n."

"Thank you for--for a whole lot of things. And don't you dream of comin'
over again to-night. There's no sense in it, is there, George?"

If Kent heard he did not answer. His "good night" was brief. Sears did
not like it, nor the expression on his face. This was a new side of the
young fellow's character, a side the captain had not seen before. And
yet--well, he was young, very young. Sears was troubled about the
affair. Had he been to blame? He had not meant to be. Ah-hum! the world
was full of misunderstandings and foolishness. And was there, in all
that world, any being more foolish than himself?

Just here, Judah, having returned from stabling the Foam Flake, rushed
into the kitchen to demand answers to a thousand questions. For the next
hour there was no opportunity for moralizing or melancholy.



CHAPTER XII


Elizabeth did not visit the Minot place that evening, as she had said
she meant to do. It may be that Sears was a trifle disappointed, but
even he would have been obliged to confess that that particular evening
was not the time for him to receive callers. He ate his supper--a very
small portion of the meal which Judah had provided for him--and, soon
afterward, retired to the spare stateroom and bed. Undressing was a
martyrdom, and he had hard work to keep back the groans which the pain
in his legs tempted him to utter. There was no doubt that he had twisted
those shaky limbs of his more than he realized. He had wrenched them
severely, how severely he scarcely dared think. But they forced him to
think all that night, and the next morning Judah insisted on going for
the doctor.

Doctor Sheldon examined the "spliced timbers," fumed and scolded a good
deal, but at last grudgingly admitted that no irreparable harm had been
done.

"You're luckier than you deserve, Cap'n," he declared. "It's a wonder
you aren't ruined altogether. Now you stay right in that bed until I
tell you to get up. And that won't be to-day, or to-morrow either.
Perhaps the day after that--well, we'll see. But those legs of yours
need absolute rest. Judah, you see that they get it, will you? If he
tries to get up you knock him back again. Those are orders. Understand?"

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Judah, promptly. "I'll have a handspike handy.
He won't turn out, I'll see to it."

Sears' protestations that he couldn't waste time in bed, that he had too
many important things to attend to, went for nothing. According to
Sheldon and Judah his legs were the only things of real importance just
then and they needed absolute rest. Down inside him the captain realized
that this was true, and so grumblingly resigned himself to the two days
of imprisonment. With the most recent issues of the _Cape Cod Item_ and
one or two books from the shelves in the sitting room closet, books of
the vintage of the '40's and '50's, but fortunately of a strong sea
flavor, he endeavored to console himself, while Judah attended to the
household duties or went down town on errands.

Elizabeth called that first forenoon, but did not see him. The doctor
had warned Judah to head off visitors. "They may not do any harm, but
they certainly won't do any good, and I want him to have absolute rest,"
said Sheldon. So Judah guarded the outer portal, and, when he went out,
hung up a warning placard. "OUT. NO ADMITENTS. DOORS LOKED. KEY UNDER
MAT." The information concerning the key was for the doctor's benefit.

But Elizabeth sent her good wishes and sympathy. So did her mother. So,
too, did Esther Tidditt, and Miss Snowden, and Miss Peasley, and in fact
all the Fair Harbor inmates. For the first day Mr. Cahoon was kept busy
transmitting messages to the spare stateroom.

But about this time Bayport began to rock with a new series of
sensations and, except by the very few, Captain Kendrick was forgotten.
The news of Judge Knowles' various legacies became known and spread
through the village like fire in a patch of dead weeds. The Fair Harbor
sat up nearly all of one night discussing and commenting upon the good
fortune which had befallen the Berrys. And by no means all of the time
was used in congratulations.

"Humph!" sniffed Susanna Brackett, her lips squeezed so tightly together
that her mustache stood on end. "Humph!"

Miss Snowden nodded. "Of course," she said, "I'm not a person to hint,
or anything of that sort. But--_but_ if somebody'll tell me _why_ the
judge left all that money to her I should like to hear 'em."

Mrs. Brackett opened her lips sufficiently to observe that so should
she. "Of course," she added, "the five thousand that Lobelia left
Cordelia might have been expected, they was real friendly always. But
why did Judge Knowles leave it all to Elizabeth and not one cent to her
mother? _That_ I _can't_ understand."

Miss Peasley smiled. "We used to wonder why Elizabeth kept runnin' to
the judge's all the time," she said. "He was sick and feeble and we
thought 'twas queer her pesterin' him so. _Now_--well, it pays to hang
around sick folks, don't it? They're easier to coax, maybe, than the
well kind.... Course I ain't sayin' there was any coaxin' done."

Little Mrs. Tidditt's feathers had begun to rise. "Oh, no!" she snapped.
"You ain't _sayin'_ anything, any of you. Judge Knowles was business
head of this--this old cats' home afore he app'inted Cap'n Kendrick to
the job, and you know that. Elizabeth _had_ to go to him about all sorts
of money matters, and you know that, too. As for her tryin' to coax him
to leave her money, that's just rubbish. He always liked her, thought
the world of her ever since she was a little girl, and he left her the
twenty thousand because of that and for no other reason. That's why _I_
think he left it to her; but, if some of the rest of you would be better
satisfied, I'll tell her what you say--or _ain't_ sayin', Desire--and
let her answer it herself."

This not being at all what Miss Peasley and the others wished, no more
was said about undue influence at the time. But much was said at times
when the pugnacious Esther was not present, and there was marked
speculation concerning what Miss Berry would do with her money, what Mr.
Phillips would do when he returned to Bayport, whether or not Cordelia
Berry would continue to be matron at the Harbor, and what Sears
Kendrick's plans for the future might be.

"Of course," said Mrs. Brackett, "the judge fixed it so he would get his
fifteen hundred so long as he stays manager. But will he stay long?
There's Mr. Phillips to be considered now, I should think. _He'll_ have
somethin' to say about the--er--retreat his wife founded, won't he?"

Mrs. Constance Cahoon made a remark.

"George Kent'll come in for a nice windfall some of these days, it looks
like," she observed, significantly. "What makes you look so funny,
Elviry?"

Miss Snowden smiled. "Will he?" she inquired.

"Well, won't he? When he marries Elizabeth----"

"Yes. Yes, _when_ he does."

"Well, he's goin' to, ain't he? Why, he's been keepin' comp'ny with her
for two years. Everybody cal'lates they're engaged."

"Yes. But _they_ don't say they are.... Oh, what is it Aurora?"

Mrs. Chase, who had been listening with her hand at her ears, had caught
a little of the conversation.

"If you mean her and George Kent is engaged, Constance," she declared,
"they ain't. I asked Elizabeth if they was, myself, asked her much as a
month ago, and she said no. Pretty nigh took my head off, too."

Elvira's smile broadened. She nodded, slowly and with mysterious
significance. "I'm not so sure about that engagement," she observed.
"Some things I've seen lately have set me to thinking. To thinking a
good deal.... Um ... yes. It looks to me as if somebody--_somebody_, I
mention no names--may have had a hint of what was coming and began to
lay plans according.... No, I shan't say any more--now. And I give in
that it seems too perfectly ridiculous to believe. But things like that
sometimes do happen, and ... Well, we'll wait and see."

Happy in the knowledge that she had aroused curiosity as well as envy of
her superior knowledge, she subsided. Mrs. Tidditt concluded that
portion of the discussion.

"Well," she remarked, crisply, "I don't see why we need to sit here
talkin' about engagements or folks' gettin' married. Nobody has shown
any symptoms of wantin' to marry any of _this_ crowd, so far as I can
make out."

While the town was at the very height of its agitation concerning the
Knowles will, there came another earthquake. Egbert Phillips returned.
He alighted from the train at the Bayport depot on the second morning of
Sears's imprisonment in the spare stateroom and before night the
information that he imparted--confidentially, of course--and the hints
he gave concerning his plans for the future, made the Berry legacies and
all the other legacies take second place as gossip kindlers.

Judah came rushing into the house later that afternoon, his arms full of
bundles--purchases at Eliphalet's store--and his mouth full of words. He
dropped everything, eggs, salt fish, tea and shoe laces, on the kitchen
table and tore pell-mell into his lodger's bedroom. Captain Kendrick,
propped up with pillows, was of course stretched out in bed. There was
what appeared to be a letter in his hand, a letter apparently just
received, for a recently opened envelope lay on the comforter beside
him, and upon his face was an expression of bewilderment, surprise and
marked concern. Judah was too intent upon his news to notice anything
else and Sears hastily gathered up letter and envelope and thrust them
beneath the pillow. Then Judah broke loose.

Egbert had come back, had come back to Bayport to live, for good. He had
come on the morning train. Lots of folks saw him; some of them had
talked with him. "And what do you cal'late, Cap'n Sears? You'll never
guess in _this_ world! By the crawlin' prophets, he swears he ain't
rich, the way all hands figured out he was. No, sir, he ain't! 'Cordin'
to his tell he ain't got no money at all, scarcely. All them stocks
and--and bonds and--and securitums and such like have gone on the rocks.
They was unfort'nate infestments, he says. He says he's in straightened
out circumstances, whatever they be, but he's come back here to spend
his declinin' days--that's what Joe Macomber says he called 'em, his
declinin' days--in Bayport, 'cause he loves the old place, 'count of
Lobelia, his wife, lovin' it so, and he can maybe scratch along here on
what income he's got, and--and----"

And so on, for sentence after sentence. Sears heard some of it, but not
all. The letter he had just read--the letter from Judge Knowles which
Bradley had handed him before he left Orham--was of itself too startling
and disturbing to be dismissed from his thoughts; but he heard some,
enough to make him realize that there might be, in all probability was,
trouble ahead. Just why Phillips had returned to Bayport, to take up his
abode there permanently, was hard to understand, but there certainly
must be some reason beside his "love" for the place and its people.
Neither place nor people should, so it seemed to the captain, appeal
strongly to a citizen of the world, of the fashionable world, like Mr.
Egbert Phillips. It is true that he might perhaps live cheaper there
than in most communities, but still.... No, Sears was sure that the
former singing teacher had returned to the Cape in pursuance of a plan.
What that plan might be he could not guess, unless the widower
contemplated contesting his wife's gift to the Fair Harbor. That would
be a losing fight, was certain to be, for Judge Knowles had seen to
that. But if not that--what?

He gave very little thought to the matter at the time, for Judge
Knowles' letter and its astounding proposition were monopolizing his
mental machinery. That letter would have, as he might have expressed it,
knocked him on his beam ends even if the Foam Flake's unexpected
outbreak had not knocked him there already. The letter was rather long,
but it was to the point, nevertheless. Judge Knowles begged him--him,
Sears Kendrick--to accept the appointment of trustee in charge of
Elizabeth Berry's twenty thousand dollar inheritance. The latter was
hers in trust until she was thirty.

"I have seen enough of you to believe in you, Kendrick," so the judge
had written. "Besides, you know the Berrys, mother and daughter, by this
time, better than any one else--even Bradley--and you know my opinion of
Cordelia's headpiece. I don't want her soft-headedness or foolishness to
get any of Elizabeth's money away from her. Elizabeth is a dutiful
daughter and an unselfish girl and she may feel--or be led to
feel--that her mother ought to have this money or a large part of it. I
don't want this to happen. Of course I expect Elizabeth to share her
income with her mother, but I don't want the principal disturbed. After
she is thirty she can, of course, do what she likes with it, but that
time isn't now by some years. And then there is that Egbert. Look out
for him. I say again, look out for him. If _he_ ever got a penny of this
money I should turn over in my grave. Perhaps you think I am an old fool
and am treating him with more seriousness than he deserves. You won't
think so when you know him as well as I do, mark my words. And I think
you are the one man around here that has had worldly experience enough,
backed by brains and common-sense, to see through him and handle him. I
don't mean that there aren't other smart men in town, but most of the
smartest are in active service and at sea a good share of the time. You
will be right here for a few years at least. And you are honest, and you
like Elizabeth Berry, and will look out for her interests.... Of course
I can't compel you to take this trusteeship, but I hope you will, as a
favor to her and to me. I have written her a letter similar to this, but
I have left her a free choice in the matter. If she does not want you
for her trustee then that ends it. Being the kind of girl she is, I
think she will be mighty glad to have you...."

And this was the proposition which was causing the captain so much
anxiety and perplexity. It interfered with the sleep which Doctor
Sheldon seemed to feel necessary to his patient's complete recovery from
the setback. It prevented his keeping those damaged legs of his
absolutely quiet. Time and time again Judah, at work in what he always
referred to as the "galley," heard his lodger tossing about in the spare
stateroom and occasionally muttering to himself.

For Sears, facing the problem of accepting or declining the trust, was
quite aware that the dilemma upon which the judge had perched him had
two very sharp horns. If he declined--always of course supposing that
Elizabeth Berry asked him to accept--if he declined he would be acting
contrary to her wishes and Judge Knowles'. If he did decline, then
Bradley would be the trustee. Knowles, in a part of the letter not
quoted, had said that he imagined that would have to be the alternative.
And Bradley--a good man, an honest and capable man--was not a resident
of Bayport and could not, as he could, keep an eye upon the Berrys nor
upon those who might try to influence them. And Bradley did not know
Bayport as he, Kendrick, did.

But on the other hand, suppose Elizabeth begged him to take the
trusteeship and he did take it? To begin with, he dreaded the added
responsibility and distrusted his ability to handle investments. His
record as a business man ashore was brief enough and not of a kind to
inspire self-confidence. And what would people say concerning it and
him? He and Elizabeth were in daily contact. Their association in the
management of the Fair Harbor was close already. If he should be given
charge of her fortune--for it was a fortune, in Bayport eyes--would not
his every action be liable to misconstruction? Would not malicious
gossip begin to whisper all sorts of things? To misconstrue motives and
...? Perhaps they were already whispering. He had seen Elvira Snowden
but once since she and Mrs. Chase surprised him and Elizabeth in the
Eyrie, but on that one occasion Elvira had, so it seemed to him, looked
queer--and knowing. It was foolish, of course; it was ridiculous, and
wicked. He and Elizabeth were friendly, had come to be very good friends
indeed, but----

And here his train of thought stopped dead, while the same guilty shiver
he had before felt ran up and down his spine.... Good Lord above! _what_
was he thinking of? What could be the matter with him? Why, even if
things were as they had been he would be crazy to.... And now she was a
rich woman, rich compared to him, at least.

No! And over and over again, No! He would decline the trusteeship. And
he would make it his business to get well and to sea again as soon as
possible. As soon as she came to him to mention the judge's letter and
its insane request he would settle that proposal once and for all.

But she did not come. On the third day the doctor refused to permit him
to leave the bed.

"You stay where you are for another two days," commanded Sheldon. "It
will do you good, and while I'm boss you shan't take chances. Cahoon and
I have got you where we want you now and we'll keep you there till we
pipe you on deck. Eh, Judah?"

Judah grinned. "Aye, aye," was his rejoinder. "Got the handspike ready
to my fist, Doctor. He'll stay put if I have to lash him to the bunk
with a chain cable. It's all for your good, Cap'n Sears. That's what my
ma used to tell me when she dosed me up every spring with brimstone and
molasses."

So, reluctantly realizing that it was for his good, Sears "stayed put."
He had a few callers, although Judah saw to it that their calls were
brief. Elizabeth was not one of these. She came at least once a day to
inquire about him, but she did not ask to see him. The captain, trying
not to be disappointed, endeavored to console himself with the idea that
she was following Judge Knowles' advice, as repeated by Bradley, and
meant to take plenty of time before making up her mind concerning the
trusteeship.

One of his visitors was George Kent. On the fourth day, on his way to
the Macombers for dinner, the young fellow called at the Minot place.
Judah was out, but Sears heard his visitor's voice and step through the
open doors of the dining room and kitchen and shouted to him to come in.
His manner when he entered was, so it seemed to the captain, a trifle
constrained, but his inquiries concerning the latter's health were
cordial enough. As for Sears, he, of course, made it a point to be
especially cordial.

They talked of many things, but not of their recent encounter on the
Orham road. Sears did not like to be the first to mention it and it
appeared as if Kent wished to avoid it altogether. But at last, after a
short interval of silence, a break in the conversation, he did refer to
it.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he said, reddening and looking rather nervous and
uncomfortable, "I--I suppose you thought I was--was pretty disagreeable
the other evening. I mean when we met in the rain and Elizabeth was with
you."

"Eh? Disagreeable?"

"Yes. I wasn't very pleasant, I know. I'm sorry. That--that was one of
the things I came to say. I lost my temper, I guess."

"Well, if you did I don't know as I blame you, George. A night like that
is enough to lose any one's temper. I lost mine. The Foam Flake ran away
with it. But he's repentin' in sackcloth and ashes, I guess. Judah says
the old horse is lamer than I am."

He laughed heartily. Kent's laugh was short. His uneasiness seemed to
increase.

"Yes," he said, returning to the subject which was evidently uppermost
in his mind. "Yes, I did--er--lose my temper, perhaps. But--but it seems
almost as if I had a--er--well, some excuse. You see--well, you see,
Cap'n Kendrick, I didn't like it very much, the idea of Elizabeth's
going over to Orham with--with you, you know."

Sears looked at him in surprise. "Why, she went with me because it was
the simplest way to get there," he explained. "I was goin' anyhow, and
Bradley had asked her to be there, too. So, it was natural enough that
we should go together."

"Well--well, I don't see why she didn't tell me she was going."

"Perhaps she didn't think to tell you."

"Nonsense!... I mean.... Well, anyhow, if she had told me I should have
looked out for her, of course. I could have hired a rig and driven her
over."

"But she knew you were at work down at the store. She said that, didn't
she? Seems to me I remember hearin' her say that she didn't want you
to--to feel that you must take the afternoon off on her account."

The young man stirred impatiently. "That's foolishness," he declared.
"She seems to think Bassett has a mortgage on my life. He hasn't, not by
a long shot. I don't mean to keep his books much longer; I've got other
things to attend to. My law is getting on pretty well."

"Glad to hear it, George."

"Yes. I shall read with Bradley for a while longer, of course, but after
that--well, I don't know. I was talking with--with a man who has had a
good deal of experience with lawyers--real city lawyers, not the
one-horse sort--and he says the thing for an ambitious young fellow to
do is to get into one of those city offices. Then you have a chance."

"Oh--I see. But isn't it kind of hard to get in, unless you have some
acquaintance or influence?"

"I don't know as it is. And I guess this man will help me if I want him
to."

"So? That's good. Did he say he would?"

"No-o, not exactly, but I think he will. And he's got the acquaintances,
all right enough. He knows almost everybody that's worth while."

"That's the kind to tie to. Who is he? Somebody up in Boston?"

George shifted again. "I'd rather not mention his name just now," he
said. "Our talks have been rather--er--confidential and I don't know
that I should have said anything about them. But I've got plans, you
see. Then there is my aunt's estate. I am the administrator of that."

"Oh? I didn't know. Your aunt, eh?"

"Yes, my Aunt Charlotte, mother's sister. She was single and lived up in
Meriden, Connecticut. She died about a month ago and left everything to
my half-sister and me--my married sister in Springfield, you know. I
have charge of--of the estate, settling it and all that."

Sears smiled inwardly at the self-satisfaction with which the word
"estate" was uttered. But outwardly he was serious enough.

"Good for you, George!" he exclaimed. "Congratulations. I hope you've
come in for a big thing."

His visitor colored slightly. "Well--well, of course," he admitted, "the
estate isn't very large, but----"

"But it's an estate. I'm glad for you, son."

"Yes--er--yes.... But really, Cap'n, I didn't mean to talk about that.
I--I just wanted to say that--that I was sorry if I--er--wasn't as
polite as I might have been the other night, and--well, I thought--it
seemed as if I--I ought to say--to say----"

Whatever it was it seemed to be hard to say. The captain tried to help.

"Yes, of course, George," he prompted. "Heave ahead and say it."

"Well--well, it's just this, Cap'n Kendrick: Elizabeth and you are--are
together a good deal, in the Fair Harbor affairs, you know,
and--and--she doesn't think, of course--and you _are_ a lot older than
she is--but all the same----"

Sears interrupted.

"Here! Hold on, George!" he put in, sharply. "What's all this?"

Kent's embarrassment increased. "Why--why, nothing," he stammered.
"Nothing, of course. But you see, Cap'n, people are silly--they don't
stop to count ages and things like that. They see you with her so
much.... And when they see you taking her to ride--alone----"

"Here! That'll do!" All the cordiality had left the captain's voice.
"George," he said, after a moment, "I guess you'd better not say any
more. I don't think I had better hear it. Miss Elizabeth is a friend of
mine. She is, as you say, years younger than I am. I _am_ with her a
good deal, have to be because of our Fair Harbor work together. I took
her to Orham with me just as I'd take her mother, or you, or any other
friend who had to go and wanted a lift. But--_but_ if you or any one
else is hintin' that.... There, there! George, don't be foolish. Maybe
you'd better run along now. The doctor says I mustn't get excited."

His visitor looked remarkably foolish, but the stubbornness had not
altogether left his face or tone as he said: "Well, that's all right,
Cap'n. I knew you would understand. _I_ didn't mean anything, but--but,
you see, in Elizabeth's case I feel a--a sort of responsibility.
You--you understand."

Even irritated and angry as he was, Sears could not help smiling at the
last sentence.

"George," he observed, "you've been fairly open and aboveboard in your
remarks to me. Suppose I ask you a question. Just what _is_ your
responsibility in the case? I have heard said, and more than once, that
you and Elizabeth Berry are engaged to be married. Is it so?"

The young man grew redder yet, hesitated, and turned to the door.

"I--I'm not at liberty to say," he declared.

"Wait! Hold on! There is this responsibility business. If you're not
engaged--well, honestly, George, I don't quite see where your
responsibility comes in."

Kent hesitated a moment longer. Then he seemed to make up his mind.

"Well, then, we are--er--er--practically," he said.

"Practically?... Oh! Well, I--I certainly do congratulate you."

George had his hand on the latch, but turned back.

"Don't--please don't tell any one of it," he said earnestly. "It--it
mustn't be known yet.... You see, though, why I--I feel as if you--as if
we all ought to be very careful of--of appearances--and--and such
things."

"Yes.... Yes, of course. Well, all right, George. Good-by. Call again."

Judah, who had been over at the Fair Harbor doing some general chores
around the place, came in a little later. His lodger called to him.

"Judah," he commanded, "come in here. I want to talk to you." When Mr.
Cahoon obeyed the order, he was told to sit down a moment.

"I want to ask you some questions," said the captain. "What is the
latest news of Egbert Phillips? Where is he nowadays? And what is he
doin'?"

Judah was quite ready to give the information, even eager, but he
hesitated momentarily.

"Sure you want me to talk about him, Cap'n?" he asked. "Last time I said
anything about him--day afore yesterday 'twas--you told me to shut up.
Said you had somethin' more important to think about."

"Did I, Judah? Well, 'twas true then, I guess."

"Um-hm. And you ordered me not to mention his name again till you
h'isted signals, or somethin' like that."

"Yes, seems to me I did. Well, the signals are up. What is he doin'?"

"Doin'? He ain't doin' nothin'--much. He's roomin' up to the Central
House yet, but from what I hear tell he ain't goin' to stay there. He's
cal'latin', so the folks down to the store say, to find some nice home
place where he can board. He don't call it boardin'. Thoph Black says he
said what he wanted was a snug little den where him and his few
remainin' household gods could be together. Thoph said he couldn't make
out what household gods was, and I'm plaguey sure _I_ can't. Sounds
heathenish to me. And I told Thoph, says I, 'That ain't no way to hunt a
boardin' house, goin' round hollerin' for a den. If I was takin' in
boarders and a feller hove alongside and says, "Can I hire one of them
dens of yours?" he'd get somethin' that he wan't lookin' for.' Huh! Den!
Sounds like a circus menagerie, don't it? Not but what I've seen
boardin'-house rooms that was like dens. Why, one time, over in
Liverpool 'twas, me and a feller named----"

"Yes, yes, all right, Judah. I've heard about it. But what else is he
doin'? Where does he go? Is he makin' friends? Is he talkin' much about
his plans? What do folks say about him?"

Judah answered the last question first.

"They like him," he declared. "All hands are so kind of sorry for him,
you see. Course we all cal'lated he was rich, but he ain't. And them
bonds and such that him and his wife had all went to nawthin' and he
come back here after she died, figgerin', I presume likely, same as
anybody would, that he owned the Fair Harbor property and that the fifty
thousand was just a sort of--er--loan, as you might say. He told Joe
Macomber--or George Kent, I forget which 'twas--he's with George
consider'ble; I guess likely 'twas him--that, of course, he wouldn't
have disturbed the property or the fifty thousand for the world, not for
a long spell anyhow, but ownin' it give him a feelin' of security, like
an anchor to wind'ard, you understand, and----"

"So folks like him, do they?"

"You bet you they do. He don't complain a mite, that's one reason they
like him. Says at first, of course, he was kind of took all aback with
his canvas flappin', but now he's thought it over and realizes 'twas his
dear wife's notion and her wishes is law and gospel to him, so he's
resigned."

"And he doesn't blame anybody, then?"

Mr. Cahoon hesitated. "Why--er--no, not really, fur's I hear. Anyhow, if
there was any influence used same as it shouldn't be, he says, he
forgives them that used it. And, so far as that goes, he don't repute no
evil motives to nobody, livin' or dead."

"Repute? Oh, impute, you mean."

"I guess so, some kind of 'pute'. He uses them old-fashioned kind of
words all the time. That's why he's so pop'lar amongst the Shakespeare
Readin' Society and the rest. _They've_ took him up, I tell ye! Minister
Dishup and his wife they've had him to dinner, and Cap'n Elkanah and his
wife have had him to supper and yesterday noon he was up here to the
Harbor for dinner."

"Oh, was he?"

"Yus. He made 'em a little speech, too. All hands came into the parlor
after dinner and he kind of--of preached to 'em. Told about his
travelin' in foreign lands and a lot about Lobelia and how she loved the
Harbor and everybody in it, and how him and her used to plan for it, and
the like of that. Desire Peasley told me that 'twas the most movin' talk
ever _she_ listened to. Said about everybody was cryin' some. 'Twas a
leaky session, I judged. Oh, they love him over to the Harbor, I tell
you!"

The captain was silent for a moment. Then he asked, "Did I understand
you to say he and young Kent were friendly?"

"Yes, indeed. He seems to have took quite a fancy to George. Drops in to
see him at the store and last night he went home along with him to your
sister's--to Sary's. Had supper and spent the evenin', I believe."

Judah was dismissed then and the talk ended, but Sears had now something
else to think about. There was little doubt in his mind who the "man of
experience" was, the person who had advised Kent concerning the getting
of a position with a law firm in the city. He wondered what other
advice might have been given. Was it Mr. Phillips who had suggested
to Kent the impropriety of Elizabeth's being seen so much in
his--Kendrick's--company? If so, why had he done it? What was Egbert's
little plan?

Of course it was possible that there was no plan of any kind. Sears had
taken a dislike to Phillips when they met and that fact, and Judge
Knowles' hatred of the man, might, he realized, have set him to hunting
mares' nests. Well, he would not hunt any more at present. He would
await developments. But he would not lie in that bed and wait for them.
He had been there long enough. In spite of Judah's protests and with the
latter's help, commandeered and insisted upon, he got up, dressed, and
spent the rest of that afternoon and evening in the rocking chair in the
kitchen.

And that evening Elizabeth came to see him. He was almost sure why she
had come, and as soon as she entered, sent Judah down town after smoking
tobacco. Judah declared there was "up'ards of ha'f a plug aboard the
ship somewheres" and wanted to stay and hunt for it, but the captain,
who had the plug in his pocket, insisted on his going. So he went and
Sears and Elizabeth were alone. He was ready for the interview. If she
asked him to accept the trusteeship of her twenty thousand dollars he
meant to refuse, absolutely.

And she did ask him that very thing. After inquiries concerning his
injured limbs and repeated cautions concerning his never taking such
risks again, "even with the old Foam Flakes," she came directly to the
subject. She spoke of Judge Knowles' letter to her, the letter which
Bradley had handed her at the time when he gave Sears his. She had read
it over and over again, she said.

"You know what he wrote me, Cap'n Kendrick," she went on. "I can't show
you the letter, it is too personal, too--too.... Oh, I can't show it to
any one--now, not even to mother. But you must know what he asked--or
suggested, because he says he has written you a letter asking you to
take charge of my money for me, to be my trustee. I suppose you must
think it queer that I have let all these days go by without coming to
speak with you about it. I hope----"

He interrupted. "Now, Elizabeth, before we go any further," he said,
earnestly, "don't you suppose any such thing. The judge wrote me he had
asked us both not to decide in a hurry, but to take plenty of time to
think it over. I have thought it over, in fact, I haven't thought of
much else since I opened that letter, and I have made up my mind----"

"Wait. Please wait a minute. I haven't been taking time to think over
that at all. I have been thinking about the whole matter; whether I
should accept the money--so very, very, very much money----"

"What! Not accept it? Of course you'll take it. He wanted you to take
it. It was what he wanted as much as anybody could want anything. Why,
don't you dare----"

"Hush! hush! You mustn't be so excited. And you mustn't move from that
chair. If you do I shall go home this minute. I am going to accept the
money."

"Good! Of course you are."

"Yes, I am. Because I do believe that he wanted me to have it so much. I
know people will say--perhaps they are already saying all sorts of
wicked, mean things. I don't--I won't let myself think what some of them
may be saying about my influencing the judge, or things like that. But I
don't care--that is, I care ever so much more for what _he_ said and
what he wished. And he wanted you to take care of the money for me. You
will, won't you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

Now it was Sears' turn. He had gone over a scene like this, the scene
which he had foreseen, many times. He was kind, but he was firm. He told
her that he should not accept the trusteeship. He could not. It was too
great a responsibility for a man with as little--and that little
unfortunate--business experience as he had had.

"It needs a banker or a lawyer for that job, Elizabeth," he declared.
"What does a sailor know about handlin' money? You go to Bradley;
Bradley's the man."

But she did not want Bradley. The judge only mentioned Bradley as second
choice.

"He wanted you, Cap'n Kendrick. He had every confidence in you. You
should see what he says about your ability and common-sense and--and
honesty in the letter. Please."

"No, Elizabeth. As far as honesty goes I guess he's right. I am honest,
at least I hope I should be. But for the rest--he's partial there. He
seemed to take a fancy to me, and goodness knows I liked him. But you
mustn't feel you've got to do this thing. He wrote me it was only a
suggestion. You are absolutely free--he wrote me so--to go to Bradley
or----"

"No." She rose to her feet. "I shan't go to Bradley or anybody but you.
I am like him, Cap'n Kendrick; I trust you. I have come to know you and
to believe in you. I like you. Why, you don't know how glad I was to
find that he wanted you to do this for me. Glad! I--I felt----"

"Why, Elizabeth!"

He had not meant to speak. The words were forced from him involuntarily.
Her tone, her eyes, the eager earnestness in her voice.... He did not
say any more, nor did he look at her. Instead he looked at the patchwork
comforter which had fallen from his knees to the floor, and fervently
hoped that he had not already said too much. He stooped and picked up
the comforter.

"And you will do it for me, won't you?" she pleaded.

"I can't. It wouldn't be right."

"Then I shall not take the money at all. _He_ gave it to me, _he_ asked
me--the very last thing he asked was that you should do it. He put the
trust in your hands. And you won't do it--for him--or for me?"

"Well, but--but---- Oh, good Lord! how can I?"

"Why can't you?"

The real reason he could not tell her. According to Kent--whether
inspired by Phillips or not made little difference--people were already
whispering and hinting. How much more would they hint and whisper if
they knew that he had taken charge of her money? The thought had not
occurred to her, of course; the very idea was too ridiculous for her to
imagine; but that made but one more reason why he must think for her.

"No," he said, again. "No, I can't."

"But why? You haven't told me why."

He tried to tell her why, but his words were merely repetitions of what
he had said before. He was not a good business man, he did not know how
to handle money, even his own money. The judge had been very ill when he
wrote those letters, if he had been well and himself he never would have
thought of him as trustee. She listened for a time, her impatience
growing. Then she rose.

"Very well," she said. "Then I shall not accept the twenty thousand. To
me one wish of Judge Knowles' is as sacred as the other. He wanted you
to take that trust just as much as he wanted me to have the money. If
you won't respect one wish I shall not respect the other."

He could not believe she meant it, but she certainly looked and spoke as
if she did. He faltered and hesitated, and she pressed her advantage.
And at last he yielded.

"All right," he said desperately. "All right--or all wrong, whichever it
turns out to be. I'll take the trustee job--try it for a time anyhow.
But, I tell you, Elizabeth, I'm afraid we're both makin' a big mistake."

She was not in the least afraid, and said so.

"You have made me very happy, Cap'n Kendrick," she declared. "I can't
thank you enough."

He shook his head, but before he could reply there came a sharp knock on
the outer door, the back door of the house.

"Who on earth is that?" exclaimed Sears. Then he shouted, "Come in."

The person who came in was George Kent.

"Why, George!" said Elizabeth. Then she added. "What is it? What is the
matter?"

The young man looked as if something was the matter. His expression was
not at all pleasant.

"Evenin', George," said the captain. "Glad to see you. Sit down."

Kent ignored both the invitation and the speaker.

"Look here," he demanded, addressing Miss Berry: "do you know what time
it is? It is ten o'clock."

His tone was so rude--so boyishly rude--that Sears looked up quickly and
Elizabeth drew back.

"It's nearly ten o'clock," repeated Kent. "And you are over here."

"George!" exclaimed Sears, sharply.

"You are over here--with him--again."

It was Elizabeth who spoke now. She said but one word.

"Well?" she asked.

There was an icy chill about that "Well?" which a more cautious person
that George Kent might have noticed and taken as a warning. But the
young man was far from cautious at that moment.

"_Well?_" he repeated hotly. "I don't think it's well at all. I come see
you and--I find you over here. And I find that every one else knows you
are here. And they think it queer, too; I could see that they did.... Of
course, I don't say----"

"I think you have said enough. I came here to talk with Cap'n Kendrick
on a business matter. I told mother where I was going when I left the
house. The others heard me, I suppose; I certainly did not try to
conceal it. Why should I?"

"Why should you? Why, you should because--because---- Well, if you don't
know why you shouldn't be here, he does."

"He? Cap'n Kendrick?"

"Yes. I--I told him why, myself. Only this noon I told him. I was here
and I told him people were beginning to talk about you and he being
together so much and--and his taking you to ride, and all that sort of
thing. I told him he ought to be more careful of appearances. I said of
course you didn't think, but he ought to. I explained that----"

"Stop!" Her face was crimson and she was breathing quickly. "Do you mean
to say that--that people are talking--are saying things about--about....
What people?"

"Oh--oh, different ones. Of course they don't say anything much--er--not
yet. But if we aren't careful they will. You see----"

"Wait. Are they--are they saying that--that---- Oh, it is _too_ wicked
and foolish to speak! Are they saying that Cap'n Kendrick and I----"

Sears spoke. "Hush, hush, Elizabeth!" he begged. "They aren't sayin'
anything, of course. George is--is just a little excited over nothin',
that's all. He has heard Elvira or some other cat over there at the
Harbor, probably. They're jealous because you have had this money left
you."

"It is nothing to do with the money," Kent asserted. "Didn't I tell you
this noon that you--that we had to be careful of appearances? Didn't I
say----"

Again Elizabeth broke in.

"You have said all I want to hear--in this room, now," she declared.
"There are a good many things for us both to say--and listen to, but not
here.... Good night, Cap'n Kendrick. I am sorry I kept you up so late,
and I hope all this--I hope you won't let this wicked nonsense trouble
you. It isn't worth worrying about. Good night."

"But, Elizabeth," urged Sears, anxiously, "don't you think----"

"Good night. George, you had better come with me. I have some things to
say to you."

She went out. Kent hesitated, paused for a moment, and then followed
her. When Judah returned with the tobacco and a fresh cargo of rumors
concerning Egbert Phillips he found his lodger not the least interested
in either smoke or gossip.



CHAPTER XIII


So Judah was obliged to postpone the telling of his most important news
item. But the following morning when, looking heavy-eyed and haggard, as
if he had slept but little, Captain Kendrick limped into the kitchen for
breakfast, Mr. Cahoon served that item with the salt mackerel and fried
potatoes. It was surprising, too--at least Sears found it so. Egbert
Phillips, so Judah declared, had given up his rooms at the Central House
and had gone, household goods and all, to board and lodge at Joel
Macomber's. He was occupying, so Judah said, the very room that Sears
himself had occupied when he was taken to his sister's home after the
railway accident.

The captain could scarcely believe it. He had not seen Sarah Macomber
since the day following the Foam Flake's amazing cut-up on the Orham
road, when she had come, in much worriment and anxiety, to learn how
badly he was hurt. Her call had been brief, and, as he had succeeded in
convincing her that the extra twist to his legs would have no serious
effect, she had not called since. But Sarah-Mary, the eldest girl, had
brought a basket containing a cranberry pie, a half-peck, more or less,
of molasses cookies, and two tumblers of beach-plum jelly, and
Sarah-Mary had said nothing to her Uncle Sears about the magnificent Mr.
Phillips coming to live with them.

"I guess not, Judah," said the captain. "Probably you've got it snarled
some way. He may have gone there to supper with George Kent and the rest
of the yarn sprouted from that."

But Judah shook his head. "No snarl about it, Cap'n Sears," he declared.
"Come straight this did, straight as a spare topmast. Joe Macomber told
me so himself. Proud of it, too, Joe was; all kind of swelled up with
it, like a pizened shark."

"But why on earth should he pick out Sarah's? Why didn't he go to Naomi
Newcomb's; she keeps a regular boardin'-house? Sarah can't take any more
boarders. Her house is overloaded as it is. That was why I didn't stay
there. No, I don't believe it, Judah. Joel was just comin' up to blow,
that's all. He's a regular puffin'-pig for blowin'."

But Sarah called that very forenoon and confirmed the news. She had
agreed to take Mr. Phillips into her home. Not only that, but he was
already there.

"I know you must think it's sort of funny, Sears," she said, looking
rather embarrassed and avoiding her brother's eye. "If anybody had told
me a week ago that I should ever take another boarder I should have felt
like askin' 'em if they thought I was crazy. I suppose you think I am,
don't you?"

"Not exactly, Sarah--not yet."

"But you think I most likely will be before I'm through? Well, maybe,
but I'm goin' to risk it. You see, I--well, we need the money, for one
thing."

Sears stirred in his chair.

"I could have let you have a little money every once in a while, Sarah,"
he said. "It's a shame that it would have to be so little. If those legs
ever do get shipshape and I get to sea again----"

She stopped him. "I haven't got so yet awhile that I have to take
anybody's money for nothin'," she said sharply. "There, there, Sears! I
know you'd give me every cent you had if I'd let you. I'll tell you why
I took Mr. Phillips. He came to supper with George the other night and
stayed all the evenin'. He's one of the most interestin' men I ever met
in my life. Not any more interestin' than you are, of course," she
added, loyally, "but in--in a different way."

"Um ... yes. I shouldn't wonder."

"Yes, he is. And he liked my supper, and said so. Ate some of everything
and praised it, and was just as--as common and everyday and sociable,
not a mite proud or--like that."

"Why in the devil should he be?"

"Why--why, I don't know why he shouldn't. Lots of folks who know as much
as he does and have been everywhere and known the kind of people he
knows--they would be stuck up--yes, and are. Look at Cap'n Elkhanah
Wingate and his wife."

"I don't want to look at 'em. How do you know how much this Phillips
knows?"

"How do I _know_? Why, Sears, you ought to hear him talk. I never heard
such talk. The children just--just hung on his words, as they say. And
he was so nice to them. And Joel and George Kent they think he's the
greatest man they ever saw. Oh, all hands in Bayport like him."

"Humph! When he was here before, teachin' singin' school, he wasn't such
a Grand Panjandrum. At least, I never heard that he was."

"Sears, you don't like him, do you? I'm real surprised. Yes, and--and
sorry. Why don't you like him?"

Her brother laughed. "I didn't say I didn't like him, Sarah," he
replied. "Besides, what difference would one like more or less make? I
don't know him very well."

"But he likes you. Why, he said he didn't know when he had met a man who
gave him such an impression of--of strength and character as you did. He
said that right at our supper table. I tell you I was proud when he said
it about my brother."

So Sears had not the heart to utter more skepticism. He encouraged Sarah
to tell more of her arrangements with the great man. He was, it
appeared, to have not only the bedroom which Sears had occupied, but
also the room adjoining.

"One will be his bedroom," explained Mrs. Macomber, "and the other his
sittin' room, sort of. His little suite, he calls 'em. He is movin' the
rest of his things in to-day."

Seers looked at her. "Two rooms!" he exclaimed. "He's to have _two_
rooms in your house! For heaven sakes, Sarah, where do the rest of you
live; in the cellar? Goin' to let the children sleep in the cistern?"

She explained. It was a complicated process, but she had worked it out.
Lemuel and Edgar had always had a room together, but now Bemis was to
have a cot there also. "And Joey, of course, is only a baby, his bed is
in our room, Joel's and mine. And Sarah-Mary and Aldora, they are same
as they have been."

"Yes, yes, but that doesn't explain the extra room, his sitting room.
Where does that come from?"

She hesitated a moment. "Well--well, you see," she said, "there wasn't
any other bedroom except the one George hires, and he is goin' to stay
for a while longer anyway. At first it didn't seem as if I could let Mr.
Phillips have the sittin' room he wanted. But at last Joel and I thought
it out. We don't use the front parlor hardly any, and there is the
regular sittin' room left for us anyway, so----"

"Sarah Kendrick Macomber, do you mean to tell me you've let this fellow
have your _front parlor_?"

"Why--why, yes. We don't hardly ever use it, Sears. I don't believe
we've used that parlor--really opened the blinds and used it, I
mean--since Father Macomber's funeral, and that was--let me see--over
six years ago."

Her brother slowly shook his head. "The judge was right," he declared.
"He certainly was right. Smoothness isn't any name for it."

"Sears, what are you talkin' about? I can't understand you. I thought
you would be glad to think such a splendid man as he is was goin' to
live with us. To say nothin' of my makin' all this extra money. Of
course, if you don't want me to do it, I won't. I wouldn't oppose you,
Sears, for anything in this world. But I--I must say----"

He laid his hand on hers. "There, Sarah," he broke in. "Don't pay too
much attention to me. I'm crochetty these days, have a good deal on my
mind. If you think takin' this Phillips man aboard is a good thing for
you, I'm glad. How much does he pay you a week?"

She told him. It was more than fair rate for those days.

"Humph!" he observed. "Well, Sarah, good luck to you. I hope you get
it."

"Get it! Why, of course I'll get it, Sears. Its all arranged. And I want
you and Mr. Phillips to know each other real well. I'm goin' to tell him
he must call again to see you."

"Eh?... Oh, all right, Sarah. You can tell him, if you want to."

After she had gone he thought the matter over. Surely Mr. Egbert
Phillips was a gentleman of ability along certain lines. His sister
Sarah was a sensible woman, she was far far from being a susceptible
sentimentalist. Yet she was already under the Phillips spell. Either
Judge Knowles was right--very, very much right--or he was overwhelmingly
wrong. If left to Bayport opinion as a jury there was no question
concerning the verdict. Egbert would be triumphantly acquitted.

Sears, however, did not, at this time, spare much thought to the
Phillips riddle. He had other, and, it seemed to him, more disturbing
matters to deal with. The quarrel between Elizabeth Berry and young Kent
was one of those, for he felt that, in a way, he was the cause of it.
George had, of course, behaved like a foolish boy and had been about as
tactless as even a jealous youth could be, but there was always the
chance that some one else had sowed the seeds of jealousy in his mind.
He determined to see Kent, explain, have a frank and friendly talk, and,
if possible, set everything right--everything between the two young
people, that is. But when, on his first short walk along the road, he
happened to meet Kent, the latter paid no attention to his hail and
strode past without speaking. Sears shouted after him, but the shout was
unheeded.

Elizabeth was almost as contrary. When he attempted to lead the
conversation to George, she would not follow. When he mentioned the
young man's name she changed the subject. At last when, his sense of
guilt becoming too much for him, he began to defend Kent, she
interrupted the defense.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "I understand why you take his part. And it
is like you to do it. But when you begin to blame yourself or me then I
shan't listen."

"Blame _you_! Why, Elizabeth, I had no idea of blamin' you. The whole
thing is just a--a misunderstandin' between you and George, and I want
to straighten it out, that's all. If anybody is to blame I really think
I am. I should have thought more about--about, what he calls
appearances; that is, perhaps I should."

She lost patience. "Oh, do stop!" she cried. "You know you are talking
nonsense."

"Well but, Elizabeth, I feel--wicked. I wouldn't for the world be the
cause of a break between you two. If that should happen because of me I
couldn't rest easy."

This conversation took place in the smaller sitting room of the Fair
Harbor, the room which she and her mother used as a sort of office. She
had been standing by the window looking out. Now she turned and faced
him.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she asked, "just what do you mean by a 'break' between
George Kent and me? Are you under the impression that he and I
were--were engaged?"

"Why--why, weren't you?"

"No. Why should you think we were?"

"Well--why, there seemed to be a sort of general idea that--that you
were. People--Bayport folks seemed to think--seemed to think----"

She stamped her foot. "They don't think, most of them, they only talk,"
she declared. "_I_ certainly never said we were. And he didn't either,
did he?"

Kent had said that he and Elizabeth were engaged--practically--whatever
that might mean. But the captain thought it wisest just then to forget.

"Why--no, I guess not," he answered.

"Of course he didn't ... Cap'n Kendrick. I--oh, you might as well
understand this clearly. I have known George for a long time. I liked
him. For a time I thought--well I thought perhaps I liked him enough
to--to like him a lot more But I was mistaken. He--he kept doing things
that I didn't like. Oh, they had nothing to do with me. They were things
that didn't seem--what you would call square and aboveboard. Little
things that.... It was about one of these that we disagreed just before
the 'Down by the Sea' theatricals. But he explained that and--and--well,
he can be so nice and likable, that I forgave him. But lately there have
been others. He has changed. And now all this foolishness, and....
There, Cap'n Kendrick, I didn't mean to say so much. But I want you to
understand, and to tell every one else who talks about George Kent and
me being engaged, that there never was any such engagement."

It would be rather difficult to catalogue all of Sears Kendrick's
feelings as he listened to this long speech. They were mixed feelings,
embarrassment, sorrow, relief--and a most unwarranted and unreasonable
joy. But he repressed the relief and joy and characteristically returned
to self-chastisement.

"Yes--oh--I see," he faltered. "I guess likely I didn't understand
exactly. But just the same I don't know but George was right in some
things he said. I shouldn't wonder if I had been careless about--about
appearances. I don't know but--but my seein' you so much--and our goin'
to Orham together might set some folks talkin'. Of course it doesn't
seem hardly possible that anybody could be such fools, considerin'
you--and then considerin' me--but----"

She would not hear any more. "I don't propose to consider _them_," she
declared with fierce indignation. "I shall see you or any one else just
as often as I please. Now that you are to take care of my money for me I
have no doubt I shall see you a great deal oftener than I ever did. And
if those--those talkative persons don't like it, they may do the next
best thing.... No, that is enough, Cap'n Kendrick. It is settled."

And it did appear to be. If anything, she saw him oftener than before,
seemed to take a mischievous delight in being seen with him, in running
to the Minot place on errands connected with the Harbor business, and
in every way defying the gossips.

And gossip accepted the challenge. From the time when it became known
that Sears Kendrick was to be the trustee of Elizabeth Berry's
twenty-thousand dollar legacy the tide of public opinion, already on the
turn, set more and more strongly against him. And, as it ebbed for
Captain Sears, it rose higher and higher for that genteel martyr, Mr.
Egbert Phillips.

Sears could not help noticing the change. It was gradual, but it was
marked. He had never had many visitors, but occasionally some of the
retired sea dogs among the town-folk would drop in to swap yarns, or a
younger captain, home from a voyage, would call on him at the Minot
place. The number of those calls became smaller, then they ceased.
Doctor Sheldon was, of course, as jolly and friendly as ever, and
Bradley, when he drove over from Orham on a legal errand, made it a
point to come and see him. But, aside from those, and Sarah Macomber,
and, of course, Elizabeth Berry, no one came.

When he walked, as he did occasionally now that his legs were
stronger--they had quite recovered from the strain put upon them by the
Foam Flake's outbreak--up and down the sidewalk from Judge Knowles'
corner to the end of the Fair Harbor fence, the people whom he met
seldom stopped to chat with him. Or, if they did, the chat was always
brief and, on their part, uneasy. They acted, so it seemed to him,
guilty, as if they were doing something they should not do, something
they were not at all anxious to have people see them do. And when he
drove with Judah down to the store the group there no longer hailed him
with shouts of welcome. They spoke to him, mentioned the weather
perhaps, grinned in embarrassed fashion, but they did not ask him to sit
down and join them. And when his back was turned, when he left the
store, he had the feeling that there were whispered comments--and
sneers.

It was all impalpable, there was nothing openly hostile, no one said
anything to which he could take exception--he only wished they would;
but he felt the hostility nevertheless.

And among the feminine element it was even more evident. When he went to
church, as he did semi-occasionally, as he walked down the aisle he felt
that the rustle of Sunday black silks and bonnet strings which preceded
and followed him was a whisper of respectable and self-righteous
disapproval. It was not all imagination, he caught glimpses of sidelong
looks and headshakes which meant something, and that something not
applause. Once the Reverend Mr. Dishup took for his text Psalm xxxix,
the sixth verse, "He heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather
them." The sermon dealt with, among others, the individual who in his
lifetime amassed wealth, not knowing that, after his death, other
individuals scheming and unscrupulous would strive to divert that wealth
from the rightful heirs for their own benefit. It was a rather dull
sermon and Sears, his attention wandering, happened to turn his head
suddenly and look at the rest of the congregation. It seemed to him that
at least a quarter of the heads in that congregation were turned in his
direction. Now, meeting his gaze, they swung back, to stare with
noticeable rigidity at the minister.

Over at the Fair Harbor his comings and goings were no longer events to
cause pleasurable interest and excitement. The change there was quite as
evident. Miss Snowden and Mrs. Brackett, leaders of their clique, always
greeted him politely enough, but they did not, individually or
collectively, ask his advice or offer theirs. There were smiles,
significant nods, knowing looks exchanged, especially, he thought or
imagined, when he and Miss Berry were together. Cordelia Berry was
almost cold toward him. Yet, so far as he knew, he had done nothing to
offend her.

He spoke to Elizabeth about her mother's attitude toward him. She said
it was his imagination.

"It may be," she said, "that you don't consult her quite enough about
Fair Harbor matters, Cap'n Kendrick. Mother is sensitive, she is matron
here, you know; perhaps we haven't paid as much deference to her opinion
as we should. Poor mother, she does try so hard, but she isn't fitted
for business, and knows it."

That Sunday, after his return from church, the captain asked Judah a
point blank question.

"Judah," he said, "I want you to tell me the truth. What is the matter
with me, nowadays? The whole ship's company here in Bayport are givin'
me the cold shoulder. Don't tell me you haven't noticed it; a blind man
could notice it. What's wrong with me? What have I done? Or what do they
say I've done?"

Judah was very much embarrassed. His trouble showed in his face above
the whiskers. He had been bending over the cookstove singing at the top
of his lungs the interminable chantey dealing with the fortunes of one
Reuben Ranzo.

    "'Ranzo was no sailor,
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!
    Ranzo was a tailor,
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!

    "'Oh, poor Reuben Ranzo!
      _Ranzo_, boys, Ranzo!
    Hurrah for Reuben Ranzo!
      _Ranzo_, boys, _Ranzo_!

    "'Ranzo was no sailor,
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!
    He shipped on board a whaler,
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!'"

And so on, forever and forever. Judah had reached the point where:

    "They set him holy-stonin',
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!
    And cared not for his groanin',
      Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!

    "_'Oh_, poor Reuben Ranzo!
      _Ranzo_, boys, Ranzo!
    Hurrah for----'

"Eh? Did you say somethin', Cap'n Sears?"

Sears repeated his question, and then, as no answer seemed to be
forthcoming, repeated it once more, with an order to "step lively."
Judah groaned and shook his head.

"I've been sort of afraid you might think somethin' was queer, Cap'n
Sears," he admitted. "I was hopin' you wouldn't, though, not till it
begun to blow over. All them kind of things do blow over, give 'em time.
One voyage I took--to Shanghai, seems to me 'twas, either that or Rooshy
somewheres--there was a ship's carpenter aboard and word got spread
around that he had a wooden leg. Now he didn't, you know; matter of fact,
all he had out of the way with him was a kind of--er--er--sheet-iron
stove lid, as you might call it, riveted onto the top of his head. He
was in the Mexican war, seemed so, and one of them cannon balls had caved
in his upper deck, you understand, and them doctors they----"

"Here, here, Judah! I didn't ask you about any iron-headed carpenters,
did I?"

"No; no, you never, Cap'n Sears. But what I started to say was that----"

"All right, but you stick to what I want you to say. Tell me what's the
matter with me in Bayport?"

Judah groaned again. "It 'tain't so much that there's any great that's
wrong along of you, Cap'n," he said, "as 'tis that there ain't nothin'
but what's so everlastin' right with another feller. That's the way I
size it up, and I've been takin' observations for quite a spell. Bayport
folks are spendin' seven days in the week lovin' this Egbert Phillips.
Consequentially they ain't got much time left to love you in. Fools?
Course they be, and I've told some of 'em so till I've got a sore throat
hollerin'. But, by the creepin'----"

"Judah! Has Phillips been saying things about me?"

"Hey? Him? No, no, no! He don't say nothin' about nobody no time,
nothin' out of the way, that is. He's always praisin' of you up, so they
tell me, and excusin' you and forgivin' you."

"Forgivin' me? What do you mean by that?"

"Hold on! don't get mad at _me_, Cap'n Sears. I mean when they say what
a pity 'tis that he, the man whose wife owned all this Seymour property
and the fifty thousand dollars and such--when they go to poorin' him and
heavin' overboard hints about how other folks have the spendin' of that
money and all--he just smiles, sad but sort of sweet, and says it's all
right, his dear Lobelia done what seemed to her proper, and if he has to
suffer a little grain, why, never mind.... That's the way he talks."

"But where do I come in on that?"

"Well--well, you don't really, Cap'n Sears. Course you don't. But
you--you have got the handlin' of that money, you know. And you are
gettin' wages for skipperin' the Fair Harbor. I've heard it said--not by
him, oh, creepin', no!--but by others, that _he_ ought to have that
skipper's job, if anybody had. Lots of folks seem to cal'late he'd ought
to _own_ the Harbor. But instead of that he don't own nothin', they say,
and scratches along in two rooms, down to Joe Macomber's, and,
underneath all his sufferin', he's just as sweet and uncomplainin' and
long-endurin' and--and high-toned and sociable and--and----"

"Yes, yes. I see. Do they say anything more? What about my bein'
Elizabeth Berry's trustee?"

Mr. Cahoon paused before replying. "Well, they do seem to hold that
against you some, I'm afraid," he admitted reluctantly. "I don't know
why they do. And they don't say much in front of me no more, 'cause,
they realize, I cal'late, that I'm about ready to knock a few of 'em
into the scuppers. But it--it just don't help you none, Cap'n, takin'
care of that money of Elizabeth's don't. And it does help that Eg
man.... Why? Don't ask me. I--I'm sick and disgusted. _I_ shan't go to
no church vestry to hear him lecture on Eyetalian paintin' or--or
glazin', or whatever 'tis. And have you noticed how they bow down and
worship him over to the Fair Harbor? Have you noticed Cordelia Berry?
She's makin' a dum fool of herself, ain't she? Not that that's a very
hard job."

Judah's explanations did not explain much, but they did help to increase
Sears' vague suspicions. He had noticed--no one could help noticing--the
ever-growing popularity of Mr. Phillips. It was quite as evident as the
decline of his own. What he suspected was that the two were connected
and that, somehow or other, the smooth gentleman who boarded and lodged
with the Macombers was responsible, knowingly, calculatingly responsible
for the change.

Yet it seemed so absurd, that suspicion. He and Phillips met frequently,
sometimes at church, or oftenest at the Harbor--Egbert's visits there
were daily now, and he dined or supped with the Berrys and the "inmates"
at least twice a week. And always the Phillips manner was kind and
gracious and urbane. Always he inquired solicitously concerning the
captain's health. There was never a hint of hostility, never a trace of
resentment or envy. And always, too, Sears emerged from one of those
encounters with a feeling that he had had a little the worst of it, that
his seafaring manners and blunt habit of speech made him appear at a
marked disadvantage in comparison with this easy, suave, gracefully
elegant personage. And so many of those meetings took place in the
presence of Elizabeth Berry.

Elizabeth liked Egbert, there was no doubt of that. Once when she and
the captain were together in the Fair Harbor office Phillips entered.
Sears and Elizabeth were bending over the ledger and Egbert opened the
door. Sears and the young lady were not in the least embarrassed--of
course there was not the slightest reason why they should be--but, oddly
enough, Phillips seemed to be. He stepped back, coughed, fidgeted with
the latch, and then began to apologize.

"I--I really beg your pardon," he said. "I am sorry.... I didn't know--I
didn't realize--I'm _so_ sorry."

Elizabeth looked at him in surprise. "But there is nothing for you to be
sorry about," she declared. "What is it? I don't understand."

Egbert still retained his hold upon the latch with one hand. His hat,
gloves and cane were in the other. It is perhaps the best indication of
his standing in the community, the fact that, having lived in Bayport
for some weeks and being by his own confession a poor man, he could
still go gloved and caned on week days as well as Sundays and not be
subject to ridicule even by the Saturday night gang in Eliphalet
Bassett's store.

He fidgeted with the latch and turned as if to go.

"I should have knocked, of course," he protested. "It was most careless
of me. I do hope you understand. I will come--ah--later."

"But I don't understand," repeated the puzzled Elizabeth. "It was
perfectly all right, your coming in. There is no reason why you should
knock. The cap'n and I were going over the bills, that's all."

Mr. Phillips looked--well, he looked queer.

"Oh!" he said. "Yes--yes, of course. But one doesn't always care to be
interrupted in--even in business matters--ah--sometimes."

Elizabeth laughed. "I'm sure I don't mind," she said. "Those business
matters weren't so frightfully important."

"I'm so glad. You ease my conscience, Elizabeth. Thank you.... But I am
afraid the captain minds more than you do. He looks as if he didn't like
interruptions. Now do you, Captain Kendrick?"

Sears was ruffled. The man always did rub him the wrong way, and now,
for the first time, he heard him address Miss Berry by her Christian
name. There was no real reason why he should not, almost every one in
Bayport did, but Sears did not like it nevertheless.

"You don't fancy interruptions, Captain," repeated the smiling Egbert.
"Now do you? Ha, ha! Confess."

For the moment Sears forgot to be diplomatic.

"That depends, I guess," he answered shortly.

"Depends? You see, I told you, Elizabeth. Depends upon what? We must
make him tell us the whole truth, mustn't we, Elizabeth? What does it
depend upon, Captain Kendrick; the--ah--situation--the nature of the
business--or the companion? Now which? Ha, ha!"

Sears answered without taking time to consider.

"Upon who interrupts, maybe," he snapped. Then he would have given
something to have recalled the words, for Elizabeth turned and looked at
him. She flushed.

Egbert's serenity, however, was quite undented.

"Oh, dear me!" he exclaimed, in mock alarm. "After that I shall _have_
to go. And I shall take great pains to close the door behind me. Ha, ha!
_Au revoir_, Elizabeth. Good-by, Captain."

He went out, keeping his promise concerning the closing of the door.
Elizabeth continued to look at her companion.

"Now why in the world," she asked, "did you speak to him like that?"

Sears frowned. "Oh, I don't know," he answered. "He--he riles me
sometimes."

"Yes.... Yes, I should judge so. I have noticed it before. You don't
like him for some reason or other. What is the reason?"

He hesitated. Aside from Judge Knowles' distrust and dislike--which he
could not mention to her--there was no very valid reason, nothing but
what she would have called prejudice. So he hesitated and reddened.

She went on. "_I_ like him," she declared. "He is a gentleman. He is
always polite and considerate--as he was just now about breaking in on
our business talk. What did you dislike about that?"

"Well, I--well--oh, nothin', perhaps."

"I think nothing certainly. He is an old friend of mother's and of the
people here in the Harbor. They all like him very much. I am sorry that
you don't and that you spoke to him as you did. I didn't think you took
unreasonable dislikes. It doesn't seem like you, Cap'n Kendrick."

So once more Sears felt himself to have been put in a bad position and
to have lost ground while Phillips gained it. And, brooding over the
affair, he decided that he must be more careful. If he were not so much
in Elizabeth's company there would be no opportunity for
insinuations--by Egbert Phillips, or any one else. So he put a strong
check upon his inclination to see the young woman, and,
overconscientious as he was so likely to be, began almost to avoid her.
Except when business of one kind or another made it necessary he did not
visit the Harbor. It cost him many pangs and made him miserable, but he
stuck to his resolution. She should not be talked about in connection
with him if he could help it.

He had had several talks with Bradley and with her about her legacy from
Judge Knowles. The twenty-thousand was, so he discovered, already well
invested in good securities and it was Bradley's opinion, as well as his
own, that it should not be disturbed. The bonds were deposited in the
vaults of the Harniss bank, and were perfectly safe. On dividend dates
he and Miss Berry could cut and check up the coupons together. So far
his duties as trustee were not burdensome. Bradley had invested
Cordelia's five thousand for her, so the Berry family's finances were
stable. In Bayport they were now regarded as "well off." Cordelia was
invited to supper at Captain Elkhanah Wingate's, a sure sign that the
hall-mark of wealth and aristocracy had been stamped upon her. At that
supper, to which Elizabeth also was invited but did not attend, Mr.
Egbert Phillips shone resplendent. Egbert was not wealthy, a fact which
he took pains to let every one know, but when he talked, as he did most
of the evening, Mrs. Wingate and her feminine guests sat in an adoring
trance and, after these guests had gone, the hostess stood by the parlor
window gazing wistfully after them.

Her husband was unlocking the door of a certain closet upon the shelf of
which was kept a certain bottle and accompanying glasses. The closet had
not been opened before that evening, as the Reverend and Mrs. Dishup had
been among the dinner guests.

"Elkhanah," observed Mrs. Wingate, dreamily, "I do think Mr. Phillips is
the most elegant man I ever saw in my life. His language--and his
manners--they are perfect."

Captain Elkhanah nodded. "He's pretty slick," he agreed.

If he expected by thus agreeing to please his wife, he must have been
disappointed.

"Oh, _don't_ say 'slick'!" she snapped. "I do wish you wouldn't use such
countrified words."

"Eh?" indignantly. "Countrified! Well, I am country, ain't I? So are
you, so far as that goes. So was he once--when he was teachin' a
one-horse singin' school in this very town."

"Well, perhaps. But he has got over it. And it would pay you to take
lessons from him, and learn not to say 'slick' and 'ain't'."

Her husband grunted. "Pay!" he repeated. "I'll wait till he pays me the
twenty dollars he borrowed of me two weeks ago. He wasn't too citified
to do that."

Mrs. Wingate stalked to the stairs. "I'm ashamed of you," she declared.
"You know what a struggle he is having, and how splendid and
uncomplaining he is. And you a rich man! Any one would think you never
saw twenty dollars before."

Captain Elkhanah poured himself a judicious dose from the bottle.

"Maybe I never _will_ see _that_ twenty again," he observed with a
chuckle.

"Oh, you--you disgust me!"

"Oh, go----"

"_What?_ What are you trying to say to me?"

"Go to bed," said the captain, and took his dose.



CHAPTER XIV


If Elizabeth noticed that Sears was not as frequent a visitor at the
Fair Harbor as he had formerly been she said nothing about it. She
herself had ceased to run in at the Minot place to ask this question or
that. Since the occasion when Mr. Phillips interrupted the business talk
in the office and his apologies had brought about the slight
disagreement--if it may be called that--between the captain and Miss
Berry, the latter had, so Sears imagined, been a trifle less cordial to
him than before. She was not coldly formal or curt and disagreeable--her
mother was all of these things to the captain now, and quite without
reason so far as he could see--Elizabeth was not like that, but she was
less talkative, less cheerful, and certainly less confidentially
communicative. At times he caught her looking at him as if doubtful or
troubled. When he asked her what was the matter she said "Nothing," and
began to speak of the bills they had been considering.

On one occasion she asked him a point blank question, one quite
irrelevant to the subject at hand.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she asked, "how do you think Judge Knowles came to
appoint you to be manager here at the Harbor?"

He was taken by surprise, of course. "Why," he stammered, "I--why, I
don't know. That is, all I know about it is what he told me. He said he
felt he ought to have some one, and I was near at home, and--and so he
thought of me, I suppose."

"Yes, I know. You told me that.... But--but how did he know you wanted
the position?"

"Wanted it? Good heavens and earth, I didn't want it! I fought as hard
as I could not to take it. Why, I told you--you remember, that day when
I first came over here; that time when Elvira and the rest wanted to buy
the cast-iron menagerie; I told you then----"

"Yes," she interrupted again. "Yes, I know you did. But.... And the
judge had never heard from you--had never...."

"Heard from me! Do you mean had I sent in an application for the job?"

"Oh, no, no! Not that. But you and he had never been--er--close friends
in the old days, when you were here before?"

He could not guess what she was driving at. "Look here, Elizabeth," he
said, "I've told you that I scarcely knew Judge Knowles before he sent
for me and offered me this place. No man alive was ever more surprised
than I was then. Why, I gathered that the judge had talked about me to
you before he sent for me. Not as manager here, of course, but as--well,
as a man. He told you that I was goin' to call, you said so, and I
_know_ you and he had talked and laughed together about my fight with
the hens in Judah's garden."

The trouble, whatever its cause, seemed to vanish. She smiled. "Yes,
yes," she said. "Of course we had. He did like you, Judge Knowles did,
and that was all--of course it was."

"All what?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing. How is Judah? I haven't seen him for two days."

She would not mention Judge Knowles again, but for the remainder of
their session with the accounts she was more like her old self than she
had been for at least a week, or so it seemed to him.

This was but one of those queer and disconcerting flare-ups of hers. One
day, a week or so after she had questioned him concerning his
appointment, he happened to be in the Harbor kitchen, and alone--of
itself a surprising thing. Elvira Snowden and her group were holding
some sort of committee meeting in the sitting room. Elvira was
continually forming committees or circles for this purpose or that,
purposes which fizzled out at about the third meeting of each group.
Esther Tidditt was supposed to be in charge of the kitchen on this
particular morning, but she had gone into the committee meeting in order
to torment Elvira and Mrs. Brackett, a favorite amusement with her.

So Sears, wandering into the kitchen, happened to notice that the door
of the store closet had been left open, and he was standing in front of
it idly looking in. He was brought out of his day dream, which had
nothing to do with the closet or its contents, by Elizabeth's voice. She
had entered from the dining room and he had not heard her.

"Well," she asked, "I trust you find everything present or accounted
for?"

Her tone was so crisply sarcastic that he turned in astonishment.

"Why--what?" he faltered.

"I said I trusted that you found everything in that closet as it should
be. Have you measured the flour? My mother is matron here, Cap'n
Kendrick, and she will be glad to have you take any precautions of that
kind, I am sure. So shall I. But don't you think it might as well be
done while she or I are here?"

He was bewildered.

"I don't know what you mean, Elizabeth," he said.

"Don't you?"

"No, I don't. I came in just now by the back door, and there was no one
in the kitchen, so--so I waited for a minute."

"Why did you come by the back door? You didn't use to. Mother and I are
usually in the office, or, at least, we are always glad to come there
when you call."

He was still bewildered, but irritated, too.

"Why did I come by the back door?" he repeated. "Why, I've come that way
a dozen times in the last fortnight. Don't you want me to come that
way?"

Now she looked a trifle confused, but the flush was still on her cheeks
and the sparkle in her eye.

"I'm sure I don't care how often you come that way," she said.
"But--well, mother is matron here, Cap'n Kendrick. She may not
be--perhaps she isn't--the most businesslike and orderly person in the
world, but she is my mother. If you have any complaints to make, if you
want to find out how things are kept, or managed, or----"

"Here!" he broke in. "Wait! What do you mean? Do you suppose I sneaked
into this kitchen by myself to peek into that closet, and--and spy on
your mother's managin'?... You don't believe anything of that kind. You
can't."

She was more embarrassed now. "Why--why, no, I don't, Cap'n Kendrick,"
she admitted. "Of course I know you wouldn't sneak anywhere. But--but I
have been given to understand that you and--well, Mr. Bradley--have not
been--are not quite satisfied with the management--with mother's
management. And----"

"Wait! Heave to!" Sears was excited now, and, as usual when excited,
drifted into nautical phraseology. "What do you mean by sayin' I am not
satisfied? Who told you that?"

"Why--well, you are not, are you? You questioned her about the coal a
week ago, about how much she used in a week. And then you asked her
about keeping the fires overnight, if she saw how many were kept, and if
there was much waste. And two or three times you have been seen standing
by the bins--figuring."

"Good Lord!" His exclamation this time was one of sheer amazement. "Good
Lord!" he said again. "Why, I have been tryin', now winter is comin' on,
to figure out how to save coal cost for this craft--for the Fair Harbor.
You know I have. I asked your mother about the fires because I know how
much waste there is likely to be when a fire is kept carelessly. And as
for Bradley and I not bein' satisfied with your mother that is the
wildest idea of all. I never talked with Bradley about the management
here. It isn't his business, for one reason."

She was silent. Her expression had changed. Then she said, impulsively,
"I'm sorry. Please don't mind what I said, Cap'n Kendrick. I--I am
rather nervous and--and troubled just now. Of course, you are not
obliged to come over here as--as often as you used.... But things I have
heard---- Oh, I shouldn't pay attention to them, I suppose. I--I am very
sorry."

But he was not quite in the mood to forgive. And one sentence in
particular occupied his attention.

"Things you have heard," he repeated. "Yes.... I should judge you must
have heard a good deal. But who did you hear it from?... Look here,
Elizabeth; how did you know I was here in the kitchen now? Did you just
happen to come out and find me by accident?"

She reddened. "Why--why----" she stammered.

"Or did some one tell you I was out here--spyin' on the pickles?"

His tone was a most unusual one from him to her. She resented it.

"No one told me you were 'spying'," she replied; coldly. "I have never
thought of you as--a spy, Cap'n Kendrick. I have always considered you a
friend, a disinterested friend of mother's and mine."

"Well?... What does that 'disinterested' mean?"

"Why, nothing in particular."

"It must mean somethin' or you wouldn't have said it. Does it mean that
you are beginnin' to doubt the disinterested part?... I'd like to have
you tell me, if you don't mind, how you knew I was alone here in the
kitchen? Who took the pains to tell you that?"

Her answer now was prompt enough.

"No one took particular pains, I should imagine," she said, crisply.
"Mr. Phillips told me, as it happened. Or rather, he told mother and
mother told me. He is to speak to the--to Elvira's 'travel-study'
committee in the sitting room, and, as he often does, he walked around
by the garden path. When he passed the window he saw you standing by the
closet, that was all."

Sears did not speak. He turned to the door.

She called to him. "Wait--wait, please," she cried. "Mr. Phillips did
not say anything, so far as I know, except to mention that you were
here."

The captain turned back again. "Somebody said somethin'," he declared.
"Somebody said enough to send you out here and make you speak to me
like--like that. And somebody has been startin' you to think about how I
got the appointment as manager. Somebody has been whisperin' that I am
not satisfied with your mother's way of doin' things and am schemin'
against her. Somebody has been droppin' a hint here and a hint there
until even you have begun to believe 'em.... Well, I can't stop your
belief, I suppose, but maybe some day I shall stop Commodore Egbert, and
when I do he'll stop hard."

"You have no right to say I believe anything against you. I have always
refused to believe that. Do you suppose if I hadn't believed in and
trusted you absolutely I should have.... But there! You know I did--and
do. It is only when--when----"

"When Egbert hints."

"_Oh!_ ... How you do hate Mr. Phillips, don't you?"

"Hate him?... Why, I--I don't know as you'd call it hate."

"I know. It is plain to see. You have hated him ever since he came. But
why? He has never--you won't believe this, but it is true--he has never,
to me at least, said one word except in your praise. He likes and
admires you. He has told me so."

"Does he tell your mother the same thing?"

She looked at him. "Why do you couple my mother's name with his?" she
demanded quickly. "Why should he tell her anything that he doesn't tell
me?"

It was a question which Sears could not answer. For some time he had
noticed and guessed and feared, but he could not tell her. So he was
silent, and to remain silent was perhaps the worst thing he could have
done.

"What do you know against Mr. Phillips?" she asked. "Tell me. Do you
know _anything_ to his discredit?"

Again he did not answer. She turned away.

"I thought not," she said. "Oh, envy is such a _mean_ trait. Well, I
suppose I shouldn't expect to have many friends--lasting friends."

"Here! hold on, Elizabeth. Don't say that."

"What else can I say? I am sorry I spoke to you as I did, but--I think
you have more than paid the debt.... Yes, mother, I am coming."

She went out of the room and Sears limped moodily home, reflecting, as
most of mankind has reflected at one time or another, upon the
unaccountableness of the feminine character. So far as he could see he
had said much less than he would have been justified in saying. She had
goaded him into saying even that. He pondered and puzzled over it the
greater part of the night and then reached the conclusion which the male
usually reaches under such circumstances, namely, that he had better ask
her pardon.

So when they next met he did that very thing and she accepted the
apology. And at that meeting, and others immediately following it, no
word was said by either concerning "spying" or Mr. Egbert Phillips. Yet
the wall between them was left a little higher than it had been before,
their friendship was not quite the same, and an experienced person, not
much of a prophet at that, could have foretold that the time was coming
when that friendship was to end.

It was little Esther Tidditt who laid the coping of the dividing wall.
Elvira Snowden built some of the upper tiers, but Esther finished the
job. Almost unbelievable as it may seem, she did not like Mr. Phillips.
Of course with her tendency to take the off side in all arguments and to
be almost invariably "agin the government," the fact that the rest of
feminine Bayport adored the glittering Egbert might have been of itself
sufficient to set up her opposition. But he had, or she considered that
he had, snubbed her on several occasions and she was a dangerous person
to snub. Judah expressed it characteristically when he declared that
anybody who "set out" to impose on Esther Tidditt would have as lively
a time as a bare-footed man trying to dance a hornpipe on a wasp's nest.
"She'll keep 'em hoppin' high, _I_ tell ye," proclaimed Judah.

Little Mrs. Tidditt would have liked to keep Mr. Phillips hopping high,
and did administer sly digs to his grandeur whenever she could. In the
praise services among the "inmates" which were almost sure to follow a
call of the great man at the Fair Harbor it was disconcerting and
provoking to the worshipers to have Esther refer to the idol as "that
Eg." Mrs. Brackett took her to task for it.

"You ought to have more respect for his wife's memory, if nothin' else,"
snapped Susanna. "If it hadn't been for her and her generosity you
wouldn't be here, Esther Tidditt."

"Yes, and if it hadn't been for her _he_ wouldn't be here. He'd have
been teachin' singin' school yet--if he wasn't in jail. _You_ can call
him Po-or de-ar Mr. Phillips,' if you want to; _I_ call him 'Old Eg.'
And he is a bad egg, too, 'cordin' to my notion. Prob'ly that's why his
wife and Judge Knowles hove him out of the nest."

And, as Egbert climbed in popularity while Captain Sears Kendrick
slipped back, it followed naturally that Mrs. Tidditt became more and
more the friend and champion of the latter. She went out of her way to
do him favors and she made it her business to keep him posted on the
happenings and gossip at the Fair Harbor. He did not encourage her in
this, in fact he attempted tactfully to discourage her, but Esther was
not easily discouraged.

It was she who first called his attention to Miss Snowden's fondness for
the Phillips society.

"Elviry's set her cap for him," declared Mrs. Tidditt. "The way she sets
and looks mushy at him when he's preachin' about Portygee pictures and
such is enough to keep a body from relishin' their meals."

But of late, according to Esther, Elvira was no longer the first violin
in the Phillips orchestra.

"She's second fiddle," announced the little woman. "There's another
craft cut acrost her bows. If you ask me who 'tis I can tell you, too,
Cap'n Sears."

And Sears made it a point not to ask. Once it was Elvira herself who
more than hinted, and in the presence of Elizabeth and the captain. The
latter pair were at the desk together when Miss Snowden passed through
the room.

"Where is mother?" asked Elizabeth. "Have you seen her, Elvira?"

Elvira's thin lips were shut tight.

"Don't ask _me_," she snapped, viciously. "She's out trapping, I
suppose."

"Trapping!" Elizabeth stared at her. "What are you talking about?
Trapping what?"

"I don't know. _I'm_ not layin' traps to catch anything--or any_body_
either."

She sailed out of the room. Miss Berry turned to Sears.

"Do you know what she means, Cap'n Kendrick?" she asked.

Sears did know, or would have bet heavily on his guess. But he shook his
head. Elizabeth was not satisfied.

"Why do you look like that?" she persisted. "_Do_ you know?"

"Eh?... Oh, no, no; of course not.... I--I think I saw your mother goin'
out of the gate as I came across lots. She--I presume likely she was
goin' to the store or somewhere."

"She didn't tell me she was going. Was she alone?"

"Why--why, no; I think--seems to me Mr. Phillips was with her."

For the next few minutes the captain devoted his entire attention to the
letter he was writing. He did not look up, but he was quite conscious
that her eyes were boring him through and through. During the rest of
his stay she was curt and cool. When he went she did not bid him
good-by.

So the fuse was burning merrily and the inevitable explosion came three
days later. The scene was this time not the Fair Harbor office, but the
Minot kitchen. Judah was out and the captain was alone, reading the
_Item_. The fire in the range was a new one and the kitchen was very
warm, so Sears had opened the outer door in order to cool off a bit. It
was a beautiful late October forenoon.

The captain was deep in the _Item's_ account of the recent wreck on
Peaked Hill Bars. A British bark had gone ashore there and the crew had
been rescued with difficulty. He was himself dragged, metaphorically
speaking, from the undertow by a voice just behind him.

"Well, you're takin' it easy, ain't you, Cap'n Sears?" observed Mrs.
Tidditt. "I wish _I_ didn't have nothin' to do but set and read the
news."

"Oh, good mornin', Esther," said the captain. He was not particularly
glad to see her. "What's wrong; anything?"

"Nothin' but my batch of gingerbread, and a quart of molasses'll save
that. Can you spare it? Oh, don't get up. I know where Judah keeps it;
I've been here afore."

She went to the closet, found the molasses jug, and filled her pitcher.
Then she came back and sat down. She had not been invited to sit, but
Esther scorned ceremony.

"No, sir," she observed, as if carrying on an uninterrupted
conversation, "_I_ can't set and read the newspapers. And I can't go to
walk neither, even if 'tis such weather as 'tis to-day. Some folks can,
though, and they've gone."

Sears turned the page of the _Item_. He made no comment. His silence did
not in the least disturb his caller.

"Yes, they've gone," she repeated. "Right in the middle of the forenoon,
too.... Oh, well! when the Admiral of all creation comes to get you to
go cruisin' along with him, you go, I suppose. That is, some folks do.
I'd like to see the man _I'd_ make such a fool of myself over."

The captain was reading the "Local Jottings" now. Mrs. Tidditt kept
serenely on.

"I wouldn't let any man make such a soft-headed fool of me," she
declared. "'Twould take more than a mustache and a slick tongue to get
_my_ money away from me--if I had any."

Sears was obliged to give up the Jottings. He sighed and put down the
paper.

"What's the matter, Esther?" he asked. "Who's after your money?"

"Nobody, and good reason why, too. And I ain't out cruisin' 'round the
fields with an Eg neither."

"With an egg? Who is?"

"Who do you think? Cordelia Berry, of course. Him and her have gone for
what he calls a little stroll. He said she was workin' her poor brain
too hard and a little fresh air would do her good. Pity about her poor
brain, ain't it? Well, if 'twan't a poor one he'd never coax her into
marryin' _him_, that's sartin."

"Esther, don't talk foolish."

"Nothin' foolish about it. If them two ain't keepin' company then I
never saw anybody that was. He's callin' on her, and squirin' her
'round, and waitin' on her mornin', noon and night. And she--my
patience! she might as well hang out a sign, 'Ready and Willin'.' She
says he's the one real aristocrat she has seen since she left her
father's home. Poor Cap'n Ike, he's all forgotten."

Sears stirred uneasily. Barring Tidditt exaggeration, he was inclined to
believe all this very near the truth. It merely confirmed his own
suspicions.

His visitor went gayly on. "I'm sorry for Elizabeth," she said. "I don't
know whether the poor girl realizes how soon she's liable to have that
Eg for a step-pa. I shouldn't wonder if she suspected a little. I don't
see how she can help it. But, Elviry Snowden--oh, dear, dear! If _she_
ain't the sourest mortal these days. I do get consider'ble fun out of
Elviry. She's the one thing that keeps me reconciled to life."

The captain thought he saw an opportunity to shift Mrs. Berry from the
limelight and substitute some one else.

"I thought Elvira Snowden was the one you said meant to get Egbert," he
suggested.

"So I did, and so she was. But she don't count nowadays."

"Why doesn't she?"

"Well, if you ask me I shall give you an answer. Elviry Snowden ain't
fell heir to five thousand dollars and Cordelia Berry has. That's why."

Sears uneasily shifted again. This conversation was following much too
closely his own line of reasoning.

"Five thousand isn't any great fortune," he observed, "to a man like
Phillips."

The little woman nodded. "It's five thousand dollars to a man just
_like_ Phillips--now," she said, significantly. "And, more'n that,
Cordelia's matron at the Harbor. The Fair Harbor ain't a Eyetalian
palace maybe, but it's a nice, comf'table place where the matron's
husband might live easy and not pay board.... That's _my_ guess. Other
folks can have theirs and welcome."

"But----"

"There ain't no buts about it, Cap'n Kendrick. You know it's so. Eg
Phillips is goin' to marry Cordelia Berry. My name ain't Elijah nor
Jeremiah--no, nor Deuteronomy nuther--but I can prophesy that much."

She rose with a triumphant bounce, turned to the open door behind her,
and saw Elizabeth Berry standing there. Sears Kendrick saw her at the
same time.

There are periods in the life of each individual when it seems as if
Fate was holding a hammer above that individual's head and, at
intervals, as the head ventures to lift itself, knocking it down again.
Each successive tap seems a bit harder, and the victim, during the
interval of its falling, wonders if it is to be the final and finishing
thump.

Sears did not wonder this time, he knew. His thought, as he saw her
there, saw the expression upon her face and realized what she must have
heard, was: "Here it is! This is the end."

Yet he was the first of the two to speak. Elizabeth, white and rigid,
said nothing, and even Mrs. Tidditt's talking machinery seemed to be
temporarily thrown out of gear. So the captain made the attempt, a
feeble one.

"Why, Elizabeth," he faltered, "is that you?... Come in, won't you?"

She did come in, that is, she came as far as the door mat. Then she
turned, not to him, but to his companion.

"What do you mean by speaking in that way of my mother?" she demanded.

Esther was still a trifle off balance. Her answer was rather incoherent.

"I--I don't know's I--as I said--as I said much of anything--much," she
stammered.

"I heard you. How dare you tell such--such _lies_?"

"Lies?"

"Yes; mean, miserable lies. What else are they? How dare you run to--to
_him_ with them?"

Mrs. Tidditt's hand, that grasping the handle of the molasses pitcher,
began to quiver. Her eyes, behind her steel-rimmed spectacles, winked
rapidly.

"Elizabeth Berry," she snapped, with ominous emphasis, "don't you talk
to me like that!"

"I shall talk to you as--as.... Oh, I should be ashamed to talk to you
at all. My mother--my kind, trustful, unsuspecting mother! And you--you
and he _dare_----"

Kendrick, in desperation, tried to put in a word.

"Elizabeth," he begged, "don't misunderstand. Esther hasn't been runnin'
here to tell me things. She came over to borrow some molasses from
Judah, that's all."

"Oh, stop! I tell you I heard what she said. And you were listening.
Listening! Without a word of protest. I suppose you encouraged her. Of
course you did. No doubt this isn't the first time. This may be her
usual report. Not content with--with prying into closets and--and coal
bins and--and----"

"Elizabeth!"

"Doing these things for yourself was not enough, I suppose. You must
encourage her--pay her, perhaps--to listen and whisper scandal and to
spy----"

"Stop! Stop right there!" The captain was not begging now. Even in the
midst of her impassioned outburst the young woman paused, halted
momentarily by the compelling force of that order. But she halted
unwillingly.

"I shall not stop," she declared. "I shall say----"

"You have said a whole lot too much already. And you don't mean what you
have said."

"I do! I do! Oh, I can't tell you what I think of you."

"Well," dryly, "you have made a pretty fair try at tellin' it. If it is
what you really think of me it'll do--it will be quite enough. I shan't
need any more."

He was looking at her gravely and steadily and before his look her own
gaze wavered. If they had been alone it is barely possible that ... but
they were not alone. Mrs. Tidditt was there and, by this time, as Judah
would have said, "her neck-feathers were on end" and her spurs sharpened
for battle. She hopped into the pit forthwith.

"_I_ need consider'ble more," she cackled, defiantly. "I've been called
a spy and a scandal whisperer and the Lord knows what else. Now I'll say
somethin'."

"Esther, be still."

"I shan't be still till I'm ready, not for you, Sears Kendrick, nor for
her nor nobody else. I ain't a spy, 'Liz'beth Berry, and I ain't paid by
no livin' soul. But I see what I see with the eyes the Almighty give me
to see with, and after I've seen it--not alone once but forty dozen
times--I'll talk about it if I want to, when I want to, to anybody I
want to. Now that's that much."

Elizabeth, scornfully silent, was turning to the door, but the little
woman hopped--that seems the only word which describes it--in her way.

"You ain't goin'," she declared, "till I've finished. 'Twon't take me
long to say it, but it's goin' to be said. I told Cap'n Sears that Eg
Phillips was chasin' 'round with your mother. He is. And if she ain't
glad to have him chase her then I never see anybody that was. I said
them two was cal'latin' to get married. Well ... well, if they ain't
then they'd ought to be, that's all I'll say about _that_. And don't you
ever call me a spy again as long as you live, 'Liz'beth Berry."

She hopped again, to the doorway this time. There she turned for a
farewell cackle.

"One thing more," she said. "I told the cap'n I believed the reason that
that Eg man wanted to marry Cordelia was on account of her bein' able to
give him five thousand dollars and the Fair Harbor to live in. I do
believe it. And you can tell her so--or him so. But afore I told anybody
I'd think it over, if I was you, 'Liz'beth Berry. And I'd think _him_
over a whole lot afore I'd let him and his 'ily tongue make trouble
between you and your _real_ friends.... There! Good-by."

She went away. Kendrick pulled at his beard.

"Elizabeth," he began, hastily, "I'm awfully sorry that this happened.
Of course you know that I----"

She interrupted him. "I know," she said, "that if I ever speak to you
again it will be because I am obliged to, not because I want to."

She followed Mrs. Tidditt. Sears Kendrick sat down once more in the
rocking chair.

He did a great deal of hard and unpleasant thinking before he rose from
it. When he did rise it was to go to the drawer in the bureau of the
spare stateroom where he kept his writing materials, take therefrom pen,
ink and paper and sit down at the table to write a letter. The letter
was not long of itself, but composing it was a rather lengthy process.
It was addressed to Elizabeth Berry and embodied his resignation as
trustee and guardian of her inheritance from Judge Knowles.

       *       *       *       *       *

"As I see it [he wrote] I am not the one to have charge of that money. I
took the job, as you know, because the judge asked me to and because you
asked me. I took it with a good deal of doubt. Now, considering the way
you feel towards me, I haven't any doubt that I should give it up. I
don't want you to make the mistake of thinking that I feel guilty. So
far as I know I have not done anything which was not square and honest
and aboveboard, either where you were concerned, or your mother, or what
I believed to be the best interests of the Fair Harbor. And I am not
giving up my regular berth as general manager of the Harbor itself.
Judge Knowles asked me to keep that as long as I thought it was
necessary for the good of the institution. I honestly believe it is more
necessary now than it ever was. And I shall stay right on deck until I
feel the need is over. I shan't bother you with my company any more than
I can help, but you will have to put up with it about every once in so
often while we go over business affairs. So much for that. The
trusteeship is different and I resign it to Mr. Bradley, who was the
judge's second choice."

       *       *       *       *       *

He paused here, deliberated for a time, and then added another
paragraph.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I feel sure Bradley will take it [he wrote]. If he should refuse I will
not give it up to any one else. At least not unless I am perfectly
satisfied with the person chosen. This is for your safety and for no
other reason."

       *       *       *       *       *

He sent the letter over by Judah. Two days later he received a reply.
It, too, was brief and to the point.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I accept your resignation [wrote Elizabeth]. It was Judge Knowles' wish
that you be my trustee, and, as you know, it was mine also. Apparently
you no longer feel bound by either wish, and of course I shall not beg
you to change your mind. I have no right to influence you in any way. I
have seen Mr. Bradley and he has consented to act as trustee for me. He
will see you in a day or two. As for the other matters I have nothing to
say. Whenever you wish to consult with me on business affairs I shall be
ready."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a postscript. It read:

"I feel that I should thank you for what you have already done. I do
thank you sincerely."

       *       *       *       *       *

So that ended it, and ended also what had been a happy period for Sears
Kendrick. He made no more informal daily visits to the Fair Harbor.
Twice a week, at stated times, he and Elizabeth met in the office and
conferred concerning bills, letters and accounts. She was calm and
impersonal during these interviews, and he tried to be so. There was no
reference to other matters and no more cheerful and delightful chats, no
more confidences between them. It did seem to him that she was more
absent-minded, less alert and attentive to the business details than she
had been, and at times he thought that she looked troubled and careworn.
Perhaps, however, this was but his imagining, a sort of reflection of
his own misery. For he was miserable--miserable, pessimistic and pretty
thoroughly disgusted with life. His health and strength were gaining
always, but he found little consolation in this. He could not go to sea
just yet. He had promised Judge Knowles to stick it out and stick he
would. But he longed--oh, how he longed!--for the blue water and a deck
beneath his feet. Perhaps, a thousand miles from land, with a gale
blowing and a ship to handle, as a real deep-sea skipper he could
forget--forget a face and a voice and a succession of silly fancies
which could not, apparently, be wholly forgotten by the middle-aged
skipper of an old women's home.

One morning, after a troubled night, on his way to a conference with
Elizabeth at the Fair Harbor office, he met Mr. Egbert Phillips. The
latter, serene, benign, elegant, was entering at the gateway beneath the
swinging sign which proclaimed to the other world that within the Harbor
all was peace. Of late Captain Kendrick had found a certain flavor of
irony in the wording of that sign.

Kendrick and Phillips reached the gate at the same moment. They
exchanged good mornings. Egbert's was sweetly and condescendingly
gracious, the captain's rather short and brusque. Since the encounter in
the office where, in the presence of Elizabeth, Phillips' polite
inuendoes had goaded Sears into an indiscreet revelation of his real
feeling toward the elegant widower--since that day relations between
the two had been maintained on a basis of armed neutrality. They bowed,
they smiled, they even spoke, although seldom at length. Kendrick had
made up his mind not to lose his temper again. His adversary should not
have that advantage over him.

But this morning to save his life he could not have appeared as
unruffled as usual. The night had been uncomfortable, his waking
thoughts disturbing. His position was a hard one, he was feeling
rebellious against Fate and even against Judge Knowles, who, as Fate's
agent, had gotten him into that position. And the sight of the tall
figure, genteelly swinging its cane and beaming patronage upon the world
in general, was a little too much for him. So his good morning was more
of a grunt than a greeting.

It may be that Egbert noticed this. Or it may be that with his triumph
so closely approaching a certainty he could not resist a slight gloat.
At all events he paused for an instant, a demure gleam in his eye and
the corner of his lip beneath the drooping mustache lifting in an amused
smile.

"A beautiful day, Captain," he said.

Kendrick admitted the day's beauty. He would have passed through the
gateway, but Mr. Phillips' figure and Mr. Phillips' cane blocked the
way.

"It seems to me that we do not see as much of you here at the Harbor as
we used, Captain Kendrick," observed Egbert. "Or is that my fancy
merely?"

The captain's answer was noncommittal. Again he attempted to pass and
again the Phillips' walking-stick casually prevented.

"I trust that nothing serious has occurred to deprive us of your
society, Captain?" queried the owner of the stick, solicitously. "No
accident, no further accident, or anything of that sort?"

"No."

"And you are quite well? Pardon me, but I fancied that you
looked--ah--shall I say disturbed--or worried, perhaps?"

"No. I'm all right."

"I am so glad to hear it. I gathered--that is, I feared that perhaps the
cares incidental to your--" again the slight smile--"your labors as
general supervisor of the Harbor might be undermining your health. I am
charmed to have you tell me that that is not the case."

"Thanks."

"Of course--" Mr. Phillips drew a geometrical figure with the
cane in the earth of the flower bed by the path--"of course," he
said, "speaking as one who has had some sad experience with illness
and that sort of thing, it has always seemed to me that one should
not take chances with one's health. If the cares of a particular
avocation--situation--position--whatever it may be--if the cares
and--ah--disappointments incidental to it are affecting one's physical
condition it has always seemed to me wiser to sacrifice the first for
the second. And make the sacrifice in time. You see what I mean?"

Kendrick, standing by the post of the gateway, looked at him.

"Why, no," he said, slowly, "I don't know that I do. What do you mean?"

The cane was drawn through the first figure in the flower bed and began
to trace another. Again Mr. Phillips smiled.

"Why, nothing in particular, my dear sir," he replied. "Perhaps nothing
at all.... I had heard--mere rumor, no doubt--that you contemplated
giving up your position as superintendent here. I trust it is not true?"

"It isn't."

"I am delighted to hear you say so. We--we of the Harbor--should miss
you greatly."

"Thanks. Do you mind telling me who told you I was goin' to give up the
superintendent's position?"

"Why, I don't remember. It came to my ears, it seemed to be a sort of
general impression. Of course, now that you tell me it is not true I
shall take pains to deny it. And permit me to express my gratification."

"Just a minute. Did they say--did this general impression say why I was
givin' up the job?"

"No-o, no, I think not. I believe it was hinted that you were not well
and--perhaps somewhat tired--a little discouraged--that sort of thing.
As I say, it was mere rumor."

Sears smiled now--that is, his lips smiled, his eyes were grave enough.

"Well," he observed, deliberately, "if you have a chance, Mr. Phillips,
you can tell those mere rumorers that I'm not tired at all. My health is
better than it has been for months. So far from bein' discouraged, you
can tell 'em that--well, you know what Commodore Paul Jones told the
British cap'n who asked him to surrender; he told him that he had just
begun to fight. That's the way it is with me, Mr. Phillips, I've just
begun to fight."

The cane was lifted from the flower bed. Egbert nodded in polite
appreciation.

"Really?" he said. "How interesting, Captain!"

Kendrick nodded, also. "Yes, isn't it?" he agreed. "Were you goin' into
the Harbor, Phillips? So am I. We'll walk along together."

But that night he went to his bed in better spirits. Egbert's little dig
had been the very thing he needed, and now he knew it. He had been
discouraged; in spite of his declaration in his letter to Elizabeth
Berry, he had wished that it were possible to run away from the Fair
Harbor and everything connected with it. But now--now he had no wish of
that kind. If Judge Knowles could rise from the grave and bid him quit
he would not do it.

Quit? Not much! Like Paul Jones, he had just begun to fight.



CHAPTER XV


But there was so little that was tangible to fight, that was the
trouble. If Mr. Egbert Phillips was the villain of the piece he was such
a light and airy villain that it was hard to take him seriously enough.
Even when Kendrick was most thoroughly angry with him and most
completely convinced that he was responsible for all his own troubles,
including the loss of Elizabeth Berry's friendship--even then he found
it hard to sit down and deliberately plan a campaign against him. It
seemed like campaigning against a butterfly. The captain disliked him
extremely, but he never felt a desire to knock him down. To kick
him--yes. Perhaps to thump the beaver hat over his eyes and help him
down the brick path of the Harbor with the judicious application of a
boot, grinning broadly during the process--that was Sears Kendrick's
idea of a fitting treatment for King Egbert the Great.

The captain had done his share of fighting during an adventurous
lifetime, but his opponents had always been men. Somehow Phillips did
not seem to him like a man. A creature so very ornamental, with so much
flourish, so superlatively elegant, so overwhelmingly correct, so
altogether and all the time the teacher of singing school or dancing
school--how could one seriously set about fighting such a bundle of
fluff? A feather-duster seemed a more fitting weapon than a shotgun.

But the fluff was flying high and in the sunshine and was already far
out of reach of the duster. Soon it would be out of reach of the
shotgun. Unless the fight was made serious and deadly at once there
would be none at all. Unless having already lost about all that made
life worth living, Sears Kendrick wished to be driven from Bayport in
inglorious rout, he had better campaign in earnest. Passive resistance
must end.

As a beginning he questioned Judah once more concerning Phillips'
standing in the community. It was unchanged, so Judah said. He was quite
as popular, still the brave and uncomplaining martyr, always the idol of
the women and a large proportion of the men.

"Did you hear about him down to the Orthodox church fair last week?"
asked Mr. Cahoon. "You didn't! Creepin'! I thought everybody aboard had
heard about that. Seems they'd sold about everything there was to sell,
but of course there was a few things left, same as there always is, and
amongst 'em was a patchwork comforter that old Mrs. Jarvis--Capn'
Azariah Jarvis's second wife she was--you remember Cap'n Azariah, don't
ye, Cap'n Sears? He was the one that used to swear so like fury. Didn't
mean nothin' by it, just a habit 'twas, same as usin' tobacco or rum is
with some folks. Didn't know when---- Eh? Oh, yes, about that comforter.
Why, old Mrs. Jarvis she made it for the fair and it wan't sold. 'Twas
one of them log-cabin quilts, you know. I don't know why they call 'em
log cabins, they don't look no more like a log cabin than my head does.
I cal'late they have to call 'em somethin' so's to tell 'em from the
risin' sun quilts and the mornin'-glory quilts and--and the
Lord-knows-what quilts. The womenfolks make mo-ore kinds of them quilts
and comforters, seems so, than----

"Eh? Oh, yes, I'm beatin' up to Egbert, Cap'n Sears; I'll be alongside
him in a minute, give me steerage way. Well, the log-cabin quilt wan't
sold and they wanted to sell it, partly because old Mrs. Jarvis would
feel bad if nobody bought it, and partly because the meetin'-house folks
would feel worse if any money got away from 'em at a fair. So Mr. Dishup
he says, 'We'll auction of it off,' he says, 'and our honored and
beloved friend, Mr. Phillips, will maybe so be kind enough to act as
auctioneer.' So Eg, he got up and apologized for bein' chose, and went
on to say what a all-'round no-good auctioneer he'd be but how he
couldn't say no to the folks of the church where his dear diseased wife
had worshiped so long, and then he started in to sell that comforter.
Did he _sell_ it? Why, creepin', crawlin', hoppin' ... Cap'n Sears, he
could have sold a shipload of them log-cabins if he'd had 'em handy. He
held the thing up in front of 'em, so they tell me, and he just praised
it up same as John B. Gough praises up cold water at a temp'rance
lecture. He told how the old woman had worked over it, and set up nights
over it, and got her nerves all into a titter and her finger ends all
rags, as you might say, and how she had done it just to do somethin' for
the meetin'-house she thought so much of, the church that her loved and
lost husband used to come to so reg'lar. _That_ was all fiddlesticks,
'cause Cap'n Az never went to church except for the six weeks after he
was married, and pretty scattern' 'long the last three of _them_.

"Well, he hadn't talked that way very long afore he had that whole
vestry as damp as a fishin' schooner's deck in a Banks fog. All
hands--even the men that had been spendin' money for the fair things,
tidies and aprons and splint work picture-frames and such, even they was
cryin'. And then old Mrs. Jarvis--and she was cryin', too--she went and
whispered to the minister and he whispered to Phillips and Phillips, he
says: 'Ladies and gentlemen,' he says, 'I have just learned that a part
of this quilt was made from a suit of clothes worn by Cap'n Jarvis on
his last v'yage,' he says. '_Just_ think of it,' says he, 'this blue
strip here is a part of the coat worn by him as he trod the deck of his
ship homeward bound--bound home to his wife, bound home to die.'

"Well, all hands cried more'n ever at that, and Mrs. Jarvis got up, with
the tears a-runnin', and says she: 'It wan't his coat,' she says. 'I
sold the coat and vest to a peddler. 'Twas his----' But Egbert cut in
afore she could tell what 'twas, and then he got 'em to biddin'.
Creepin' Henry, Cap'n Sears! that log-cabin quilt sold for nine dollars
and a half, and the man that bought it was Philander Comstock, the
tailor over to Denboro. And Philander told me himself that he didn't
know why he bought it. '_I_ made that suit of clothes for Cap'n Azariah,
myself,' he says, 'and he died afore I got half my pay for it. But that
Phillips man,' he says, 'could sell a spyglass to a blind man.'"

The captain asked Judah if he had heard any testimony on the other side;
were there any people in Bayport who did not like Mr. Phillips. Judah
thought it over.

"We-ll," he said, reflectively, "I don't know as I've ever heard anybody
come right out and call him names. Anybody but Esther Tidditt, that is;
she's down on him like a sheet anchor on a crab. Sometimes Elviry snaps
out somethin' spiteful, but most of that's jealousy, I cal'late. You
see, Elviry had her cap all set for this Egbert widower--that is, all
hands seems to cal'late she had--and then she began to find her nose was
bein' put out of j'int. You know who they're sayin' put it out, Cap'n
Sears? There seems to be a general notion around town that----"

Kendrick interrupted; this was a matter he did not care to discuss with
Judah or any one else. There had been quite enough said on that subject.

"Yes, yes, all right, Judah," he said, hastily. "But the men? Do the men
like him as well as the women?"

"Why--why, yes, I guess so. Not quite so well, of course. That wouldn't
be natural, would it, Cap'n Sears?"

"Perhaps not. But have you ever heard any man say anything against him,
anything definite? Does he pay his bills?"

"Eh? Why, I don't know. I ain't never----"

"All right. Who does he chum around with mostly? Who are his best
friends?"

Mr. Cahoon gave a list of them, beginning of course with the Wingates
and the Dishups and the members of the Shakespeare Reading Society and
ending with George Kent.

"He cruises along with George a whole lot," declared Judah. "Them two
are together about half the time. George don't work to the store no
more. You knew that, didn't you?"

If Sears had heard it, he had forgotten. Judah went on to explain.

"He hove up his job at Eliphalet's quite a spell ago," he said "He's
studyin' law along with Bradley same as ever, but 'he's busy lawin' here
in Bayport, too. Some of his relations died and left a lot of money, so
folks tell, and George is what they call administer of the estate. It's
an awful good thing for him, all hands cal'late. Some say he's rich."

The captain vaguely remembered Kent's disclosure to him concerning his
appointment as administrator of his aunt's estate. He had not exchanged
a word with the young man since the evening of the latter's call and
Elizabeth's interruption. It seemed a long while ago. Much--and so much
that was unpleasant--had happened since then. Kent and he had met, of
course, and on the first two or three occasions, Kendrick had spoken.
The young fellow had not replied. Now, at the mention of his name,
Kendrick felt an uneasy pang, almost of guilt. He had done nothing
wrong, of course yet if it had not been for him perhaps the two young
people might still have been friends or even more than friends. It was
true that Elizabeth had told him but there, what difference did it make
what she told him? She had told him other things since, things that he
could not forget.

"Well, all right, Judah," he said. "It wasn't important. Run along."

Judah did not run along. He remained, looking at his lodger with a
troubled expression. The latter noticed it.

"What is it, Judah?" he asked. "Anything wrong?"

Mr. Cahoon's fingers moved uneasily through the heavy foliage upon his
chin. "Why--why, Cap'n Sears," he stammered, "can I ask you somethin'?"

"Certain. Fire away."

"Well--well--it--it ain't true, is it, that you done anything to set
Elizabeth Berry against that young Kent feller? You never told her
nothin'--or did nothin'--or--or----"

He seemed to find it hard to finish his sentence. The captain did not
wait, but asked a question of his own.

"Who said I did, Judah?" he asked.

"Hey?... Oh, I--I don't know. Why--why, some of them sculpin'-mouths
down to the store they say that you--that you told Elizabeth a lot of
things--or did somethin' or 'nother to spite George with her. Of course
_I_ knew 'twan't so, but--but----"

"But they said it was, eh? Well, it isn't true. I haven't done anything
of that kind, Judah."

The Cahoon fist descended upon the kitchen table with a thump. "I knew
it!" roared Judah. "I knew dum well 'twas a cargo of lies. Now just
wait. Let one of them swabs just open his main hatch and start to unload
another passel of that cargo. If I don't----"

"Shh, shh! Don't do that. I tell you what to do. If you want to help me,
Judah, you say nothin', but try and find out who told them these things.
Some one has been pretty busy tellin' things to my discredit for some
time. Don't let any one know what you're after, but see if you can find
out who is responsible. Will you?"

"Sartin sure I will. And when I do find out----"

"When you do, let me know. And Judah, one thing more: Find out all that
you can find out about this Phillips man. See if he owes anybody money.
See if he pays his debts. See if he--well, find out all you can about
him; but don't let any one know you're tryin' to find out, that's all.
Do you understand?"

"Eh?... Why, I guess likely I do.... But--but.... Eh? Cap'n Sears, do
you mean to say you cal'late that that Eg Phillips is at the back of all
this talk against you in Bayport? Do you mean that?"

"Humph! So there is talk against me; a lot of it, I suppose?"

Judah forgot to be discreet. "Talk!" he shouted. "There's more
underhand, sneakin' lies about you goin' around this flat-bottomed,
leaky, gurry-and-bilgewater tub of a town than there is fiddlers in
Tophet. I've denied 'em and contradicted 'em till I'm hoarse from
hollerin'. I've offered to fight anybody who dast to say they was true,
but, by the hoppin' Henry, nobody ever said any more than that they'd
heard they was. And I never could find out who started 'em. And do you
mean to say you believe that long-legged critter with the beaver hat and
the--the mustache like a drowned cat's tail is responsible?"

Captain Kendrick hesitated for an instant. Then he nodded. "I think he
is, Judah," he said, solemnly.

"Then, by the creepin', crawlin'----"

"Wait! I don't know that he is. I don't know much about him. But I mean
to find out all about him, if I can. And I want you to help me."

"I'll help. And when you find out, Cap'n?"

"Well, that depends. If I find out anything that will give me the
chance, I'll--I'll smash him as flat as that."

_He_ struck the table now, with his open palm. Mr. Cahoon grinned
delightedly.

"I bet you will, Cap'n Sears!" he vowed. "And if he ain't flat enough
then I'll come and jump on him. And I ain't no West Injy hummin'-bird
neither."

Kendrick's next move was to talk with his sister. Her visits at the
Minot place had not been quite as frequent of late. She came, of course,
but not as often, or so it seemed to the captain, and when she came she
carefully avoided all reference to her new boarder. Sears knew the
reason, or thought he did. He had hurt her feelings by intimating that
Mr. Phillips might not be as altogether speckless as she thought him. He
had not enthused over her giving up the best parlor to his Egbertship
and Sarah was disappointed. But, loyal and loving soul that she was, she
would not risk even the slightest disagreement with her brother, and so
when she called, spoke of everything or everybody but the possible cause
of such disagreement. Yet the cause was there and between brother and
sister, as between Elizabeth and Sears, lay the slim, lengthy,
gracefully undulating shadow of Judge Knowles' pet bugbear, who was
rapidly becoming Sears Kendrick's bugbear as well.

The captain had not visited the Macomber home more than twice since
Judah carted him away from it in the blue truck-wagon. One fine day,
however, he and the Foam Flake made the journey again, although with the
buggy, not the wagon. He chose a time when he knew Kent was almost
certain to be over at Bradley's office in Orham and when Phillips was
not likely to be in his rooms. Of course there was a chance that he
might encounter the latter, but he thought it unlikely. His guess was a
good one and Egbert was out, had gone for a ride, so Mrs. Macomber said.
Mrs. Cap'n Elkanah Wingate had furnished the necessary wherewithal for
riding. "The Wingates let him use their horse and team real often," said
Sarah. "They're awful fond of him, Mrs. Wingate especial. I don't know
as Cap'n Elkanah is so much; he is kind of cross-grained sometimes and
it's hard for him to like anybody very long."

She was hard at work, ironing this time, but she would have put the
flatiron back on the stove and taken her brother to the sitting room if
he had permitted. "The idea of a man like you, Sears, havin' to sit on
an old broken-down chair out here in the wash-shed," she exclaimed. "It
ain't fittin'."

The captain sniffed. "I guess if it's fittin' for you to be workin' out
here I shouldn't complain at sittin' here," he observed. "Is that Joel's
shirt? He's gettin' awfully high-toned--and high collared, seems to me."

Mrs. Macomber was slightly confused. "Why, no," she said, "this isn't
Joe's shirt. It's Mr. Phillips's. Ain't it lovely linen? I don't know as
I ever saw any finer."

Her brother leaned back in the broken chair. "Do you do his washin' for
him, Sarah?" he demanded.

"Why--why, yes, Sears. You see, he's real particular about how it's
done, and of course you can't blame him, he has such lovely things. He
tried two of the regular washwomen, Elsie Doyle and Peleg Carpenter's
wife, and they did 'em up just dreadful. So, just to help him out one
time, I tried 'em myself. And they came out real nice, if I do say it,
and he was so pleased. So ever since then I have been doin' 'em for
him. It's hardly any trouble--any extra trouble. I have to do our own
washin', you know."

Sears did know, also he knew the size of that washing.

"Does he pay you for it?" he asked, sharply. "Pay you enough, I mean?"

"Why--why, yes. Of course he doesn't pay a whole lot. Not as much maybe
as if he was a stranger, somebody who didn't pay me regular board, you
know."

"Humph! Do you get your money?"

"Why, yes. Of course I do."

"He doesn't owe you anything, then, for board or lodgin' or anything?"

Mrs. Macomber hesitated. "Nothin' much," she replied, after a moment.
"Of course he gets a little behind sometimes, everybody does that, you
know. But then his dividend payments or somethin' come to him and he
pays right up in a lump. It's kind of nice havin' it come that way,
seems more, you know."

"Yes. So long as it keeps on comin'. His dividends, you say? I thought
the story was that he hadn't any stocks left to get dividends from. I
thought he told all hands that he was poverty-stricken, that when he was
cut out of the Harbor property and the fifty thousand he hadn't a
copper."

"Oh no not as bad as that. He had some stocks and bonds, of course. Why,
if he hadn't where would he get _any_ money from? How could he live?"

"I don't know. He seems to be livin', though, and pretty well. Has he
got the parlor yet?"

"Yes, and it's fixed up so pretty. He's got his pictures and things
around. Wouldn't you like to see it? He's out, you know."

They went into the parlor and the bedroom adjoining, that which the
captain had occupied during his stay. Both rooms were as neat as
wax--Sears expected that, knowing his sister's housekeeping--but he had
scarcely expected to find the rooms so changed. The furniture was the
same, but the wall decorations were not.

"What's become of the alum basket and the wax wreath and the Rock of
Ages chromo?" he asked.

"Oh, he took 'em down. That is, he didn't do it himself, of course, but
he had Joel do it. They're up attic. Mr. Phillips said they was so like
the things that his wife used to have in the dear old home that he
couldn't bear to see 'em. They reminded him so of her. He asked if we
would mind if they was removed and we said no, of course."

"Humph! And the Macomber family coffin plates, those you had set out on
black velvet with all Joel's dead relations names on 'em, in the plush
and gilt frame? Are those up attic, too?"

"Yes."

"I should have thought 'twould have broken Joel's heart to part with
_them_!"

"Sears, you're makin' fun. I don't blame you much. I always did hate
those coffin plates, but Joel seemed to like 'em. They were in his
folks' front parlor, he says."

"Yes. That 'Death of Washin'ton' picture and the rounder-case thing with
the locks of hair in it were there, too, you told me once. That must
have been a lively room. Those--er--horse pictures are Egbert's, I
suppose?"

"Yes. He is real fond of horses."

The "horse pictures" were colored plates of racers.

"That's a portrait of his wife over there," explained Sarah. "She had it
painted in Italy on purpose for him."

"Is that so? Well, I'm glad it was for him. I shouldn't think it was
hardly fittin' for anybody outside the family. Of course Italy's a warm
climate, but----"

"_Sears!_" Mrs. Macomber blushed. "Of course I didn't mean _that_
picture," she protested. "And you know I didn't. I wouldn't have that
one up at all if I had _my_ way. But he says it's an old master and very
famous and all like that. Maybe so, but I'm thankful the children ain't
allowed in here. That's Lobelia over there."

In the bedroom were other pictures, photographs for the most part. Many
of them were autographed.

"They're girl friends of his wife's," said Sarah. "She met 'em over
abroad. Real pretty, some of them, ain't they?"

They were, and the inscriptions were delightfully informal and friendly.
Lobelia Phillips' name was not inscribed, but her husband's was
occasionally. Upon the table, by a half-emptied cigar box, lay a Boston
paper of the day before. It was folded with the page of stock market
quotations uppermost. Sears picked it up. One item was underscored with
a pencil. It was the record of the day's sales of "C. M.," a stock with
which the captain was quite unfamiliar. His unfamiliarity was not
surprising; he had little acquaintance with the stock market.

Back in the wash-shed, brother and sister chatted while the ironing
continued. Sears led the conversation around until it touched upon
George Kent. George was still boarding with them, so Sarah said. Yes, he
had given up his place as bookkeeper at Bassett's store.

"He's administrator of his aunt's estate," she went on. "You knew that,
Sears? It's a pretty responsible position for such a young man, I guess.
I'm afraid it's a good deal of worry for him. He's seemed to me kind of
troubled lately. I thought at first it might be on account of Elizabeth
Berry--everybody knows they've had some quarrel or somethin'--but I'm
beginnin' to be afraid it may be somethin' else. He and Mr. Phillips are
together about all the time. They're great friends, and I'm so glad,
because if George _should_ be in any trouble--about business or
anything--a man of Mr. Phillips' experience would be a wonderful friend
to have."

"What makes you think it may be a business trouble?" asked the captain,
casually.

Mrs. Macomber hesitated. "Why," she said, "I heard somethin' yesterday
that made me think so. It wasn't meant for me to hear, but I just
happened to. I don't know as I'd ought to say anything about it--I
shouldn't to anybody but you, Sears--yet it has worried me a good deal.
Mr. Phillips and George were standin' together in the hall as I went by.
They didn't see me, and I heard George say, 'Somethin' _must_ be done
about it,' he says. 'It can't go on for another week.' And Mr. Phillips
said, kind and comfortin'--nice as he always is, but still it did seem
to me a little mite impatient--'I tell you it is all right,' he said.
'Wait a while and it will be all right.' Then George said somethin' that
I didn't catch, and Mr. Phillips said, 'But I can't, I tell you. I'm in
exactly the same boat.' And George said, 'You've _got_ to! you've got
to! If you don't it'll be the end of me.' That was what he said--'It
will be the end of me.' And oh, Sears, he did sound _so_ distressed. It
has troubled me ever since. What do you suppose it could be that would
be the end of him?"

Her brother shook his head. "Give it up," he said. "Humph!... And Egbert
said he was in the same boat, did he? That's interestin'. It must be a
pretty swell liner; he wouldn't be aboard anything else."

But Mrs. Macomber declined to joke. "You wouldn't laugh," she declared,
"if you had heard George talk. He's just a boy, Sears, a real
kind-hearted, well-meanin' boy, and I hate to think of him as in any
more trouble."

"Any more? What do you mean by more?"

"Why--why--oh, well, everybody knows he and Elizabeth ain't keepin'
company any longer. And--and----"

"And everybody thinks I am to blame. Well, I'm not, Sarah. Not
intentionally, anyhow. And, if George would let me, I should be glad to
be a friend of his. Not as grand and top-lofty a friend as Admiral
Egbert, of course, but as good as my rank and ratin' in life will let me
be."

"Sears," reproachfully, "I hate to hear you speak in that sarcastic way.
And I can't see why you mistrust Mr. Phillips so."

"Can't you? Well, I don't know as I can, myself; but if I live long
enough I may find a reason.... As for Kent--well, I tell you, Sarah: You
keep an eye on the boy. If he still seems worried, or more worried, and
you think it advisable, you might give him a message from me. You remind
him that one time he told me if he ever got into real trouble he should
come to me for help. You can say--if you think it advisable--that I am
just as willin' to give that help now as ever I was."

"Oh, Sears, do you mean it? Why, I thought--I was afraid that you and
he----"

"That's all right. I am the young fellow's friend--if he wants me to be.
And, although I'm a thousand sea miles from guaranteein' to be able to
help him, I'm willin' to try my hardest.... But there! the chances are
he won't listen if you do tell him, so use your own judgment in the
matter. But, Sarah, will you do me a favor?"

"Sears! How can you! As if I wouldn't do anything for you!"

"I know you would. And this isn't so very much, either. I'm kind of
interested in this Phillips man's dividends and things. I'd like to know
how he makes his money. I noticed that that newspaper in his room was
folded with the stock price page on top. Is he interested in stock and
such things?"

"Why, yes, he is. I've heard him and George talkin' about what they call
the 'market.' That means stocks, doesn't it?"

"Um-hm, usually. Well, Sarah, if he happens to mention any particular
stock he owns, or anything like that, try and remember and let me know,
will you?"

"Yes, of course, if you want me to. But why, Sears? There's nothing
wrong in a man like Mr. Phillips bein' interested in such things, is
there? I should think it would be--well, sort of natural for a person
who has been rich as he used to be to keep up his interest."

"I presume likely it is."

"Then why do you want to know about it?"

The captain picked up his hat. "Oh, for no particular reason, maybe,
Sarah," he replied. "Perhaps _I_ shall be rich sometime--if I live to be
a hundred and eighty and save a dollar a day as I go along--and then I
shall want to know how to invest my money. Let me know if you hear
anything worth while, won't you, Sarah?"

"Yes, Sears. And if I get a chance I am goin' to tell George what you
said about bein' his friend and willin' to help him. Good-by, Sears. I'm
_so_ glad you came down. Come again soon, won't you? You're the only
brother I've got, you know."

Kendrick drove the Foam Flake back to the Minot place, reflecting during
the journey upon what he had seen and heard while visiting his sister.
It amounted to very little in the way of tangible evidence against
Egbert Phillips. Sporting prints and dashing photographs were
interesting perhaps, and in a way they illuminated the past; but they
did not illumine the present, they shed no light upon their owner's
means of living, nor the extent of those means. Egbert occupied the best
rooms at the Macomber's, but, apparently, he paid for his board and
lodging--yes, and his washing. He might be interested in stocks, but
there was nothing criminal in that, of itself. The Kendrick campaign
was, so far, an utter failure.

Another week dragged by with no developments worth while. Judah, much
inflated with the importance of his commission as a member of the
Kendrick secret service, made voluminous and wordy reports, but they
amounted to nothing. Mr. Phillips had borrowed five dollars of Caleb
Snow. Had he paid the debt? Oh, yes, he had paid it. He smoked
"consider'ble many" cigars, "real good cigars, too; cost over ten cents
a piece by the box," so he told Thoph Black. But, so far as Black or
Judah knew, he had paid for them. He owed a fair-sized bill at the
livery-stable, but the stable owner "wan't worried none." There was
little of interest here. No criminal record, rather the contrary.

Esther Tidditt dropped in from time to time, loaded, as Judah said, "to
the guards" with Fair Harbor gossip. Captain Sears did not encourage her
visits. Aside from learning what he could concerning the doings of
Egbert Phillips, he was little interested in petty squabbles and
whispers among the "mariners' women." Except by Esther he was almost
entirely ignored by the inmates. Elizabeth he saw daily for a short
time, but for her sake he made those times as brief as he could. Her
mother he saw occasionally; she spoke to him only when necessary.
Elvira, Mrs. Brackett, Desire Peasly and the rest gave him the snippiest
of bows when they met and whispered and giggled behind his back.

It had seemed to him that Elizabeth looked more careworn of late. He did
not mention it to her, of course, but it troubled him. He speculated
concerning the cause and was inclined, entirely without good reason, to
suspect Egbert, just as he was inclined to suspect him of being the
cause of most unpleasantness. Something that Mrs. Tidditt said during
one of her evening "dropping-ins" supplied a possible base for suspicion
in this particular case.

"Elizabeth and her mother has had some sort of a rumpus," declared
Esther. "They ain't hardly on speakin' terms with one another these
days. That is," she added, "Cordelia ain't. I guess likely Elizabeth
would be as nice as she always is if her ma would give her the chance.
Cordelia goes around all divided up between tears and joy, as you might
say. When she's nigh her daughter she looks as if she was just about
ready to cry--lee scuppers all awash, as my husband used to say when I
was in the same condition; which wan't often, for cryin' ain't much in
my line. Yes, when Elizabeth's lookin' at her she's right on the ragged
edge of tears. But you let that dratted Eg heave in sight with all sail
sot and signals flyin' and she's all smiles in a minute. Oh, what a fool
a fool woman can be when she sets out to be!... Hey? What did you say,
Cap'n Kendrick?"

"I didn't say anything, Esther."

"Oh, didn't you? I thought you did. There's one ray of comfort over
acrost, anyhow. Elizabeth ain't in love with old Eggie, even if her
mother is. She and he have had a run-in or I miss my guess."

The captain was interested now. "What makes you think that?" he asked.

"Oh, from things I've seen. He's all soft soap and sweet ile to her same
as he always was--little more so, if anything--but she is cold as the
bottom of a well to him. No, they've had a row and of course the
reason's plain enough. That night over here when she called me a spy and
a lot more names I told her a few things for her own good. I told her
she had better think over what I said about that Eg's schemin' to get
her mother and the five thousand dollars. I told her to think that over
and think Eg over, too. She was terribly high and mighty then, but I bet
you she's done some thinkin' since. Yes, and come to the conclusion
that, spy or no spy, I was tellin' the plain truth.... Hey, Cap'n
Kendrick?"

"Eh?... Oh, yes, yes; I shouldn't wonder, Esther."

"I shouldn't wonder, neither. But it won't have no effect on Cordelia.
She'd put her best Sunday bonnet on the ground and let that Eg dance the
grand fandango on it if he asked her to. Poor, soft-headed critter."

"Yes, yes.... Humph! Any other news? How is Elvira?"

"Oh, she's full of spite and jealousy as a yeast jug is full of pop. She
pretends that the idea of anything serious between Cordelia and Phillips
is just silliness. Might as well talk about King Solomon in all his
glory marryin' the woman that done his washin'--that's what she pretends
to believe. It's all Cordelia and not Eg at all, that's what she says.
But she knows better, just the same. She's got somethin' else to think
about now. That aunt of hers over to Ostable, the one that owns them
iron images she wanted the Harbor to buy--she's sick, the aunt is.
Elviry's pretty worried about her; she's the old woman's only relation."

Kendrick had heard nothing further from his sister in the matter of
young Kent and his trouble, whatever the latter might be. Sears had
pondered a good deal concerning it and tried to guess in what possible
way the boy could be "in the same boat" with Egbert. There was little
use in guessing, however, and he had given up trying. And another week
passed, another fruitless, dreary, hopeless week.

Judah's lodge night came around again and Mr. Cahoon, after asking his
skipper's permission, departed for the meeting, leaving Sears Kendrick
alone. It was a beastly November evening, cold and with a heavy rain
beating against the windows of the Minot kitchen, and a wind which
shrieked and howled about the corners and gables of the old house,
rattled every loose shingle, and set the dry bones of the wisteria vine
scratching and thumping against the walls. The water was thrown in
bucketfuls against the ancient panes and poured from the sashes as if
the latter were miniature dams in flood time.

Sears sat by the kitchen stove, smoking and trying to read. He could
make a success of the smoking, but the attempt at reading was a failure.
It was so much easier to think, so much easier to let his thoughts dwell
upon his own dismal, wretched, discouraging story than to follow the
fortunes of Thaddeus of Warsaw through the long succession of printed
pages. And he had read Thaddeus's story before. He knew exactly how it
would end. But how would his own story end? He might speculate much, but
nowhere in all his speculations was there a sign of a happy ending.

His pipe went out, he tossed the book upon the table among the supper
dishes--Judah had been in too great a hurry to clear away--and leaned
back in his chair. Then he rose and walked--he could walk pretty well
now, the limp was but slight--to the window and, lifting the shade,
peered out.

He could see nothing, or almost nothing. The illumined windows made
yellow pools of light upon the wet bricks below them, and across the
darkness above were shining ribbons of rain. Against the black sky
shapes of deeper blackness were moving rapidly, the bare thrashing
branches of the locust tree. It was a beastly night, so he thought as he
looked out at it; a beastly night in a wretched world.

Then above the noises of screeching wind and splashing water he heard
other sounds, sounds growing louder, approaching footsteps. Some one was
coming up the walk from the road.

He thought of course that it was Judah returning. He could not imagine
why he should return, but it was more impossible to imagine any one
else being out and coming to the Minot place on such a night. A figure,
bent to the storm, passed across the light from the window. Captain
Kendrick dropped the shade and strode through the little entry to the
back door. He threw it open.

"Come in, Judah," he ordered. "Come in quick, before we both drown."

But the man who came in was not Judah Cahoon. He was George Kent.



CHAPTER XVI


The young man plunged across the threshold, the skirts of his dripping
overcoat flapping about his knees and the water pouring from the brim of
his hat. He carried the ruin of what had been an umbrella in his hand.
It had been blown inside out, and was now but a crumpled tangle of wet
fabric and bent and bristling wire. He stumbled over the sill, halted,
and turning, addressed the man who had opened the door.

"Cap'n," he stammered, breathlessly, "I--I--I've come to see you. I--I
know you must think--I don't know what you can think--but--but----"

Kendrick interrupted. He was surprised, but he did not permit his
astonishment to loosen his grip on realities.

"Go in the other room," he ordered. "In the kitchen there by the fire.
I'll be with you soon as I shut this door. Go on. Don't wait!"

Kent did not seem to hear him.

"Cap'n," he began, again, "I----"

"Do as I tell you. Go in there by the stove."

He seized his visitor by the shoulder and pushed him out of the entry.
Then he closed and fastened the outer door. This was a matter of main
strength, for the gale was fighting mad. When the latch clicked and the
hook dropped into the staple he, too, entered the kitchen. Kent had
obeyed orders to the extent of going over to the stove, but he had not
removed his hat or coat and seemed to be quite oblivious of them or the
fire or anything except the words he was trying to utter.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he began again, "I----"

"Sshh! Hush! Take off your things. Man alive, you're sheddin' water
like a whistlin' buoy. Give me that coat. And that umbrella, what there
is left of it. That's the ticket. Now sit down in that rocker and put
your feet up on the hearth.... Whew! Are you wet through?"

"No. No, I guess not. I----"

"Haven't got a chill, have you? Can't I get you somethin' hot to drink?
Judah generally has a bottle of some sort of life-saver hid around in
the locker somewhere. A hot toddy now?... Eh? Well, all right, all
right. No, don't talk yet. Get warm first."

Kent refused the hot toddy and would have persisted in talking at once
if his host had permitted. The latter refused to listen, and so the
young man sat silent in the rocking chair, his soaked trouser legs and
boots steaming in the heat from the open door of the oven, while the
captain bustled about, hanging the wet overcoat on a nail in the corner,
tossing the wrecked umbrella behind the stove and pretending not to look
at his caller.

He did look, however, and what he saw was interesting certainly and
might have been alarming had he been a person easily frightened or
unduly apprehensive. Kent's wet cheeks had dried and they were flushed
now from the warmth, but they were haggard, his eyes were underscored
with dark semicircles, and his hands as he held them over the red-hot
stove lids were trembling. He looked almost as if he were sick, but a
sick man would scarcely be out of doors in such a storm. He had,
apparently, forgotten his desire to talk, and was now silent, his gaze
fixed upon the wall behind the stove.

Kendrick quietly placed a chair beside him and sat down.

"Well, George?" he asked.

Kent started. "Oh!" he exclaimed. And then, "Oh, yes! Cap'n Kendrick,
I--I know you must think my coming here is queer, after--after----"

He hesitated. The captain helped him on.

"Not a bit, George," he said. "Not a bit. I'm mighty glad to see you. I
told you to come any time, you remember. Well, you've come, haven't you?
Now what is it?"

Kent's gaze left the wall and turned toward his companion. "Cap'n
Kendrick," he began, then stopped. "Cap'n Kendrick," he repeated,
"I--Mrs. Macomber said--she told me you said that--that----"

"All right, George, all right. I told her to remind you that one time
you promised to come to me if you was in any--er--well, trouble, or if
you had anything on your mind. I judge that's what you've come for,
isn't it?"

Kent started violently. His feet slipped from the hearth and struck the
floor with a thump.

"How did you know I was in trouble?" he demanded. "Who told you? Did
they tell you what----"

"No, no, no. Nobody told me anything especial. Sarah did say you hadn't
looked well lately and she was afraid you was worried about somethin'.
That's all. I've been worried myself durin' my lifetime and I've
generally found it helped a little to tell my worries to somebody else.
At any rate it didn't do any harm. What's wrong, George? Nothin'
serious, I hope."

Kent breathed heavily. "Serious!" he repeated. "I--I...." Then in a
sudden outburst: "Oh, my God, Cap'n Kendrick, I think they'll put me in
jail."

Sears looked at him. Then, leaning forward, he laid a hand on the boy's
knee.

"Nonsense, George," he exclaimed, heartily. "Stuff and nonsense! They
don't put fellows like you in jail. You're scared, that's all. Tell me
about it."

"But they will, they will. You don't know Ed Stedman. He doesn't like
me. He always has had it in for me. He's prejudiced Clara against me and
she hates me, too. They're pressing me for the money now. The last
letter I had from them Stedman said he wouldn't wait another fortnight.
And a week is gone already. He'll----"

"Hold on. Who's Stedman?"

"Oh, I thought you knew. He's my half-sister's husband up in
Springfield. When my aunt died.... But I told you I was administrator of
her estate. I remember I told you. That day when----"

"Yes, yes, I remember; that is, I remember a little. Tell me the whole
of it. What's happened?"

"Yes--yes, I want to. I'm going to. Oh, if you _can_ help me I'll--I'll
never forget it. I'll do anything for you, Cap'n Kendrick. I know I
shouldn't have done it. I had no right to take the risk. But Mr.
Phillips said--he said----"

"Eh?" Sears' interruption this time was quite unpremeditated.
"Phillips?" he repeated, sharply. "Egbert, you mean? Oh, yes....
Humph.... Is he mixed up in this?"

"Why--why, yes. If it hadn't been for him it wouldn't have happened. I
don't mean that he is to blame, exactly. I guess nobody is to blame but
myself. But when I think---- Oh, Cap'n Kendrick, do you suppose you can
help me out of it? If you can, I----"

Here followed another outburst of agonized entreaty. The boy's nerves
were close to breaking, he was almost hysterical. Slowly and with the
exercise of much patience and tact the captain drew from him the details
of his trouble. It was, as he told it, a long and complicated story,
but, boiled down, it amounted to something like this:

Kent and Phillips had been very friendly for some time, their intimacy
beginning even before the latter came to board at Sarah Macomber's.
Egbert's polished manners, his stories of life abroad, his easy
condescending geniality, had from the first made a great impression upon
George. The latter, already esteeming himself above the average of
mentality and enterprise in what he considered the "slow-poke" town of
Bayport, found in the brilliant arrival from foreign parts the
personification of his ideals, a satisfying specimen of that much read
of _genus_, "the complete man of the world." He fell on his knees before
that specimen and worshiped. Such idolatry could not but have some
effect, even upon as _blasé_ an idol as Mr. Phillips, so the latter at
first tolerated and then even encouraged the acquaintanceship. He began
to take this young follower more and more into his confidence, to speak
with him concerning matters more intimate and personal.

George soon gathered that Egbert had been much in moneyed circles. He
spoke casually of the "market" and referred to friends who had made and
remade fortunes in stocks, as well as of others whose horses had brought
them riches, or who had brought off what he called _coups_ at foreign
gaming tables. The young man, who had been brought up in a strict
Puritanical household, was at first rather shocked at the thought of
gambling or racing, but Mr. Phillips treated his prejudices in a
condescendingly joking way, and Kent gradually grew ashamed of his
"insularity" and _bourgeois_ ideas. Egbert habitually read the stock
quotations in the Boston _Advertiser_ and the mails brought him brokers'
circulars and letters. Kent was led to infer that he still took a small
"flyer" occasionally. "Nothing of consequence, my boy, nothing to get
excited about; haven't the wherewithal since our dear friend Knowles and
his--ah--satellites took to drawing wills and that sort of thing. But if
my friends in the Street send me a bit of judicious advice--as they do
occasionally, for old times' sake--why, I try to cast a few crumbs upon
the waters, trusting that they may be returned, in the shape of a small
loaf, after not too many days. Ha, ha! Yes. And sometimes they do
return--yes, sometimes they do. Otherwise how could I rejoice in the
good, but sometimes tiresome, Mrs. Macomber's luxurious hospitality?"

It seemed an easy way to turn one's crumbs into loaves. Kent, now the
possessor of the little legacy left him by his aunt, wished that the
eight hundred dollars, the amount of that legacy, might be raised to
eight thousand. He was executor of the small estate, which was to be
equally divided between his half-sister and himself. There had been a
little land involved, that had been sold and the money, most of it, paid
him. So he had in his possession about sixteen hundred dollars, half his
and half Mrs. Stedman's. If he could do no better than double his own
eight hundred it would not be so bad. He wished that _he_ had friends
in the Street.

He hinted as much to Phillips. The latter was, as always, generously
kind. "If I get the word of another good thing, my boy, I shall
be glad to let you in. Mind, I shan't advise. I shall take no
responsibility--one mustn't do that. I shall only pass on the good word
and tell you what I intend doing myself." George, very grateful, felt
that this was indeed true friendship.

The chance at the good thing came along in due season. The New York
brokerage firm wrote Phillips concerning it. It appeared that there was
a certain railway stock named Central Midland Common. According to the
gossip on the street, Central Midland--called C. M. for short--was just
about due for a big rise. Certain eminent financiers and manipulators
were quietly buying and the road was to be developed and exploited. Only
a few, a select few, knew of this and so, obviously, now was the time to
get aboard. Kent asked questions. Was Egbert going to get aboard? Egbert
smilingly intimated that he was thinking of it. Would it be possible for
him, Kent, to get aboard at the same time? Well, it might be; Egbert
would think about that, too.

He did think about it and, as a result of his thinking, he and Kent
bought C. M. Common together. Of course to buy any amount worth while
would be impossible because of the small amount of ready cash possessed
by either. "But," said Phillips, "I seldom buy outright. The latest
quotation of C. M. is at 40, or thereabouts. I intend buying about two
hundred shares. That would be eight thousand dollars if I paid cash, but
of course I can't do that. I shall buy on a ten per cent margin, putting
up eight hundred. If it goes up twenty points I make two thousand
dollars. If it goes up fifty points, as they say it will, why----" And
so on.

It ended--or began--by Phillips and Kent buying, as partners, four
hundred shares of C. M. on a ten per cent margin. George turned over to
Egbert the eight hundred dollars in cash, and Egbert sent to the brokers
six hundred of those dollars and a bond, which he had in his
possession, for one thousand dollars. Yes, Kent, had seen the broker's
receipt. Yes, the bond was a good one; at least the brokers were
perfectly satisfied. Where did Egbert get the bond? Kent did not know.
It was one he owned, that is all he knew about it.

For a week or so after the purchase was made C. M. Common did continue
to rise in price. At one time they had a joint profit of nearly two
thousand dollars. Of course that seemed trifling compared with the
thousands they expected, and so they waited. Then the market slumped. In
two days their profit had gone and C. M. Common was selling several
points below the figure at which they purchased. By the end of the
fourth day, unless they wished to be wiped out altogether, additional
margin--another ten per cent--must be deposited immediately.

And to George Kent this seemed an impossibility because he had not
another eight hundred, or anything like it, of his own.

Why, oh, why, had he been such a fool? In his chagrin, disappointment
and discouragement he asked himself that question a great many times.
But when he asked it of his partner in the deal that partner laughed at
him. According to Phillips he had not been a fool at all. The slump was
only temporary; the stock was just as good as it had ever been; all this
was but a part of the manipulation, the insiders were driving down the
price in order to buy at lower figures. And letters from the brokers
seemed to bear this out. Nevertheless the fact remained that more margin
must be deposited and where was Kent's share of that margin coming from?

The rest of the story was exactly like fifty thousand similar stories.
In order to save the eight hundred dollars of his own George put up as
margin with the New York brokers the eight hundred dollars belonging to
Mrs. Stedman, his half sister. Again he paid the eight hundred to
Phillips, who sent to New York another one thousand dollar bond and six
hundred in cash. And C. M. Common continued to go down, went down until
once more the partners were in imminent danger of being wiped out. Then
it rose a point or so, and there the price remained. All at once every
one seemed to lose interest in the stock; instead of thousands of shares
bought and sold daily, the sales dropped to a few odd lots. And instead
of the profits which were to have been theirs by this time, the firm of
Phillips and Kent owned together a precarious interest in four hundred
shares of Central Midland Common which if sold at present prices would
return them only a minimum of their investment, practically nothing when
brokerage commissions should be deducted.

And then Edward Stedman, Kent's brother-in-law, demanded an immediate
settlement of the estate. The land had been sold, the estate had been
settled--he knew it--now he and his wife wanted their share.

So that was the situation which was driving the young fellow to
desperation. _What_ could he do? He could not satisfy Stedman because he
had not eight hundred dollars and he could not confess it, at least not
without answering questions which he did not dare answer. As matters
stood he was a thief; he had taken money which did not belong to him. He
and Stedman had not been friendly for a long time. According to George
his brother-in-law would put him in jail without the slightest
compunction. And, even if he managed--which he was certain he could
not--to avoid imprisonment, there was the disgrace and its effect upon
his future. Why, if the affair became known, at the very least his
career as a lawyer would be ruined. Who would trust him after this? He
would have to go away; but where could he go? He had counted on his
little legacy to help him get a start, to--to help him to all sorts of
things. Now---- Oh, what _should_ he do? Suicide seemed to be the sole
solution. He had a good mind to kill himself. He should--yes, he was
almost sure that he should do that very thing.

It was pitiful and distressing enough, and Kendrick, although he did not
take the threat of self-destruction very seriously--somehow he could
scarcely fancy George Kent in the role of a suicide--was sincerely
sorry for the boy. He did his best to comfort.

"There, there, George," he said, "we won't talk about killin' ourselves
yet awhile. Time enough to hop overboard when the last gun's fired, and
we haven't begun to take aim yet. Brace up, George. You'll get through
the breakers somehow."

"But, Cap'n Kendrick, I can't--I can't. I've got only a week or so left,
and I haven't got the money."

"Sshh! Sshh! Because you haven't got it now doesn't mean you won't have
it before the week's out--not necessarily it doesn't.... Humph! Let's
take an observation now, and get our bearin's, if we can. You've talked
this over with Egbert--with Phillips, of course. After all, he was the
fellow that got you into it. What does he say?"

It appeared that Mr. Phillips said little which was of immediate solace.
He professed confidence unbounded. C. M. was a good stock, it was going
higher, all they had to do was wait until it did.

"Yes," put in Sears, "that's good advice, maybe, but it's too much like
tellin' a man who can't swim to keep up till the tide goes out and he'll
be in shallow water. The trouble is neither that man nor you could keep
afloat so long. Is that all he said? He understands your position,
doesn't he, George?"

Yes, Mr. Phillips understood, but he could do nothing to help. He had no
money to lend--had practically nothing except the two one thousand
dollar bonds, and those were deposited as collateral with the brokers.

"Um--ye-es," drawled Kendrick. "Those bonds are interestin' of
themselves. We'll come to those pretty soon. But hasn't he got _any_
ready money? Seems as if he must have a little. Why, you paid him
sixteen hundred in cash and, accordin' to your story, he sent only
twelve hundred along with the bonds. He must have four hundred left, at
least. That is, unless he's been heavin' overboard more 'crumbs' that
you don't know about."

Kent knew nothing of his partner's resources beyond what the latter had
told him. And, at any rate, what good would four hundred be to him?
Unless he could raise eight hundred within the week----

"Yes, yes, yes, I know. But four hundred is half of eight hundred and
seems to me if I was in his shoes and had been responsible for gettin'
you into a clove hitch like this I'd do what I could to get you out. And
he couldn't--or wouldn't--do anything; eh?"

"He can't, Cap'n Kendrick. He can't. Don't you see, he hasn't got it.
He's poor, himself. Of course he came here to Bayport, after his wife's
death, thinking that he owned the Fair Harbor property and--and a lot
more. Why, he thought he was rich. _He_ didn't know that old Knowles had
used his influence with Mrs. Phillips when she was half sick and tricked
her into----"

"Here, here!" The captain's tone was rather sharp this time. "Never mind
that. Old Knowles, as you call him, was a friend of mine.... I thought
he was your friend, too, George, for the matter of that."

George was embarrassed. "Well, he was," he admitted. "I haven't got
anything against him; in fact he was very good to me. But that is what
Mr. Phillips says, you know, and everybody--or about everybody--seems to
believe it. At least they are awfully sorry for Phillips."

"So I judged. But about you, now. Do _you_ believe in--er--Saint Egbert
as much as you did?"

"Why--why, I don't know. I---- Of course it seems almost as if he ought
to do something to help me, but if he can't he can't, I suppose."

"I suppose not. Look here, he won't tell anybody about your scrape, will
he?"

The junior partner in the firm of Phillips and Kent was indignant.

"Of course not," he declared. "He told me he should not breathe a word.
And he is really very much disturbed about it all. He told me himself
that he felt almost guilty. Mr. Phillips is a gentleman."

"Is that so? Must be nice to be that way. But tell me a little more
about those bonds, George. There were two of 'em, you say, a thousand
dollars each."

"Yes."

"And you don't know what sort of bonds they were?"

His visitor's pride was touched. "Why, of course I know," he declared.
"What sort of a business man would I be if I didn't know that, for
heaven's sake?"

Sears did not answer the question. For a moment it seemed that he was
going to, but if so, he changed his mind. However, there was an odd look
in his eye when he spoke.

"Beg your pardon, George," he said. "I must have misunderstood you. What
bonds were they?"

"They were City of Boston bonds. Seems to me they were--er--er--well, I
forget just what--er--issue, you know, but that's what they were, City
of Boston bonds."

"I see ... I see.... Humph! Seems kind of odd, doesn't it?"

"What?"

"Oh, nothin'. Only Phillips, accordin' to his tell, is pretty close to
poverty. Yet he hung on to those two bonds all this time."

"Well, he had to hang on to something, didn't he? And he probably has a
_little_ more; if he hasn't what has he been living on?"

"Yes, that's so--that's so. Still.... However, we won't worry about
that. Now, George, sit still a minute and let me think."

"But, Cap'n Kendrick, do you think there is a chance? I'm almost crazy.
I--I----"

"Sshh! shh! I guess likely we'll get you off the rocks somehow. Let me
think a minute or two."

So Kent possessed his soul in such patience as it could muster, while
the wind howled about the old house, the wistaria vine rattled and
scraped, the shutters groaned and whined, and the rain dashed and poured
and dripped outside. At length the captain sat up straight in his chair.

"George," he said, briskly, "as I see it, first of all we want to find
out just how this affair of yours stands. You write to those New York
brokers and get from them a statement of your account--yours and
Egbert's. Just what you've bought, how much margin has been put up, how
much is left, about those bonds--kind, ratin', numbers and all that. Ask
'em to send you that by return mail. Will you?"

"Why--why, yes, I suppose so. But I have seen all that. Mr.
Phillips----"

"We aren't helpin' out Phillips now. He isn't askin' help, at least I
gather he's satisfied to wait. You get this statement on your own hook,
and don't tell him you're gettin' it. Will you?"

"I'll write for it to-night."

"Good! That'll get things started, anyhow. Now is there anything else
you want to tell me?"

"No--no, I guess not. But, Cap'n Kendrick, do you honestly think there
is a chance for me?"

For an instant his companion lost patience. "Don't ask that again," he
ordered. "There is a chance--yes. How much of a chance we can't tell
yet. You go home and stop worryin'. You've turned the wheel over to me,
haven't you? Yes; well, then let me do the steerin' for a spell."

Kent rose from his chair. He drew a long breath. He looked at the
captain, who had risen also, and it was evident that there was still
something on his mind. He fidgeted, hesitated, and then hurried forth a
labored apology.

"I--I am awfully ashamed of myself, Cap'n Kendrick," he began.

"That's all right, George. We all make mistakes--business mistakes
especially. If I hadn't made one, and a bad one, I might not be stranded
here in Judah's galley to-night."

"I didn't mean business. I meant I was ashamed of treating you as I
have. Ever since that time when--when Elizabeth was here and I came over
and--and said all those fool things to you, I--I've been ashamed. I
_was_ a fool. I am a fool most of the time, I guess."

"Oh, I guess not, George. We're all taken with the foolish disease once
in a while."

"But I was such a fool. The idea of my being jealous of you--a man
pretty nearly old enough to be my father. No, not so old as that, of
course, but--older. I don't know what ailed me, but whatever it was,
I've paid for it.... She--she has hardly spoken to me since."

"I'm sorry, George."

"Yes.... Has she--has she said anything about me to you, Cap'n?"

"Why--er--no, George, not much. She and I are not--well, not very
confidential, outside of business matters, that is."

"No, I suppose not. Mr. Phillips told me she had--well, that she and you
were not--not as----"

"Yes, all right, all right, George; I understand. Outside of Fair Harbor
managin' we don't talk of many things."

"No, that's what he said. He seemed to think you two had had some sort
of quarrel--or disagreement, you know. But I never took much stock in
that. After all, why should you and she be interested in the same sort
of things? She isn't much older than I am, about my age really, and of
course you----"

"Yes, yes," hastily. "All right.... Well, I guess your coat is middlin'
dry, George. Here it is."

"Thanks. But that wasn't all I meant to say. You see, Cap'n Kendrick, I
did treat you so badly and yet all the time I've had such confidence in
you. Ever since you gave me that advice the night of the theatricals
I've--well, somehow I've felt as if a fellow could depend on you, you
know--always, in spite of everything. Eh, why, by George, _she_ said
that very thing about you once, said it to me. She said you were so
dependable. Say, that's queer, that she and I should both think the very
same thing about you."

"Um-m. Yes, isn't it?"

"Yes. It shows, after all, how closely alike our minds, hers and mine,
work. We"--he hesitated, reddened, and then continued, with a fresh
outburst of confidence: "You see, Cap'n," he said, "I have felt all the
time that this--this trouble between Elizabeth and me, wasn't going to
last. I was to blame--at least, I guess I probably was, and I meant to
go to her and tell her so. But I waited until--until I had pulled off
this stock deal. I meant to go to her with two or three thousand dollars
that I had made myself, you see, and--and ask her pardon and--well, then
I hoped she would--would.... You understand, don't you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

"Why--er--yes, I guess likely, George, in a way."

"Yes. I wanted to show her that I _was_ good for something, and
then--and then, maybe it would be all right again. You see?"

"Surely, George. Yes, yes.... Ready for your coat?"

Kent ignored the coat. He did not seem to realize that his companion was
holding it. "Yes," he stammered, eagerly. "I think if I went to her in
that way it would be all right again. I was hasty and--and silly maybe,
but perhaps I had some excuse. And, Cap'n Kendrick, I'm sure she
does--er--like me, you know. I'm sure of it.... But now--" as reality
came once more crashing through his dream, "I--I---- Oh, think of me
now! I may be put in prison. And then.... Oh, but Cap'n Kendrick, that's
why I came to you. I knew you'd stand by me, I knew you would. I treated
you damnably, but--but you know, it was on account of her, really. I
knew you'd understand that. You won't hold a grudge against me? You
really will help me? If you don't----"

Kendrick seized his arm. "Shut up, George," he commanded brusquely.
"Shut up. I'll get you out of this, I promise it."

"You will? You promise?"

"Yes. That is, I'll see that you don't go to jail. If we can't get the
eight hundred of your sister's from these brokers I'll get it
somehow--even if I have to borrow it."

"Oh, Great Scott, that's great! That's wonderful. I can hardly believe
it. I'll make it up to you somehow, you know. You're the best man I ever
knew. And--and--if she and I--that is, when she and I are--are as we
used to be--well, then I shall tell her and she'll be as grateful as I
am, I know she will."

"All right, George, all right. Run along. The rain's easin' up a little,
so now's your time. Don't forget to write to those brokers.... Good
night."

"Good night, Cap'n. I shall tell your sister how good you've been to me.
She told me to come to you. Of course she doesn't know why I came,
but----"

"No, and she mustn't know. Don't you tell her or anybody else. Don't you
do it."

"I--why, I won't if you say so, of course. Good night."

Kendrick closed the door. Then he came back to his seat before the
stove. When Judah returned home he found that his lodger had gone to the
spare stateroom, but he could hear his footsteps moving back and forth.

"Ahoy, there, Cap'n Sears!" hailed Judah. "What you doin', up and pacin'
decks this time of night? It's pretty nigh eight bells, didn't you know
it?"

The pacing ceased. "Why, no, is it?" replied the captain's voice. "Guess
I'd better be turnin' in, hadn't I? How's the weather outside?"

"Fairin' off fast. Rain stopped and it's clear as a bell over to the
west'ard. Clear day and a fair wind to-morrer, I cal'late."

Kendrick made no further comment and Judah prepared for bed, singing as
he did so. He sang, not a chantey this time, but portions of a revival
hymn which he had recently heard and which, because of its nautical
nature, had stuck in his memory. The chorus commanded some one or other
to

    "Pull for the shore, sailor,
      Pull for the shore.
    Leave that poor old stranded wreck
      And pull for the shore."

Mr. Cahoon sang the chorus over and over. Then he ventured to tackle one
of the verses.

    "Light in the darkness, sailor,
      Day is at hand."

"Judah!" This from the spare stateroom.

"Aye, aye, Cap'n Sears."

"Better save the rest of that till the day gets here, hadn't you?"

"Eh? Oh, all right, Cap'n. Just goin' to douse the glim this minute.
Good night."

Three days after this interview in the Minot kitchen George Kent again
came to call. He came after dark, of course, and his visit was brief. He
had received from the New York brokers a detailed statement of his and
Phillips' joint account. The statement bore out what he had already told
Sears. Four hundred shares of Central Midland Common had been purchased
at 40. Against this the partners deposited sixteen hundred dollars.
Later they had deposited another sixteen hundred. The New York firm were
as confident as ever that the stock was perfectly good and the
speculation a good one. They advised waiting and, if possible, buying
more at the present low figure.

All this was of little help. The only information of any possible value
was that concerning the bonds which Egbert had contributed as his share
of the margin. Those, according to the brokers, were two City of Boston
4-1/2s, of one thousand dollars each, numbered A610,312 and A610,313.

Kent would have stayed and talked for hours if Kendrick had permitted.
He was as nervous as ever, even more so, because the days were passing
and the time drawing near when his brother-in-law would demand
settlement. The captain comforted him as well as he could, bade him
write his sister or her husband that he would remit early in the
following week, and sent him home again more hopeful, but still very
anxious.

"I don't see how I'm going to get the money, Cap'n Kendrick," he kept
repeating. "I don't see how all this helps us a bit. I don't see----"

Kendrick interrupted at last.

"You don't have to see," he declared. "You've left it to me, now let me
see if _I_ can see. I told you that, somehow or other, I'd tow you into
deep water. Well, give me a chance to get up steam. You write that
letter to your brother-in-law and hold him off till the middle of next
week. That's all you've got to do. I'll do the rest."

So Kent had to be satisfied with that. He departed, professing over and
over again his deathless gratitude. "If you do this, Cap'n Kendrick," he
proclaimed, "I never, never will forget it. And when I think how I
treated you I can't see why you do it. I never heard of such----"

"Sshh! shhh!" The captain waved him to silence. "I don't know why I am
doin' it exactly, George," he said.

"I do. You're doing it for my sake, of course, and----"

"Sshh! I don't know as I am--not altogether. Maybe I'm doin' it to try
and justify my own judgment of human nature--mine and Judge Knowles'. If
that judgment isn't right then I'm no more use than a child in arms, and
I need a guardian as much as--as----"

"As I do, you mean, I suppose. Well, I do need one, I guess. But I don't
understand what you mean by your judgment of human nature. Who have you
been judging?"

"Never mind. Now go home. Judah's out again and that's a mercy. I don't
want him or any one else to know you come here to see me."

George went, satisfied for the time, but Sears Kendrick, left face to
face with his own thoughts, knew that he had told the young man but a
part of the truth. It was not for Kent's sake alone that he had made the
rash promise to get back eight hundred of the sixteen hundred, or
another eight hundred to take its place. Neither was it entirely because
he hoped to confirm his judgment in the case of Egbert Phillips. The
real reason lay deeper than that. Kent had declared that he still loved
Elizabeth Berry and that he had reason to think she returned that love.
Perhaps she did; in spite of some things she had said after their
quarrel, it was possible--yes, probable that she did. If, by saving her
lover from disgrace, he might insure her future and her happiness,
then--then--Sears would have made rasher promises still and have
undertaken to carry them out.

The brokers' letter helped but little, if any. He entered the names and
numbers of the bonds in his memorandum book. Those bonds still perplexed
him. He could not explain them, satisfactorily. It might be that Egbert
had more left from his wife's estate than Judge Knowles expected him to
have or that Bradley was inclined to think he had. Lobelia's will
bequeathed to her beloved husband "all stocks, bonds, securities, etc.,"
remaining. But Knowles had more than intimated that none remained. The
pictures of the horses and the ladies in Egbert's room at Sarah
Macomber's confirmed the captain's belief that the Phillips past had
been a hectic one. It seemed queer that, out of the ruin, there should
have been preserved at least two thousand dollars in good American--yes,
City of Boston--bonds.

In the back of the Kendrick head was a theory--or the ghost of a
theory--concerning those bonds. He did not like to believe it, he would
not believe it yet, but it was a possibility. Elizabeth had been
bequeathed twenty thousand dollars. She and Egbert had been close
friends for a time. She had liked him, had trusted him. Of late, so
Esther Tidditt said, that friendship had been somewhat strained. Was it
possible that.... Humph! Well, Bradley might know. He was Elizabeth's
guardian, he would know if her investments had been disturbed.

Then, too, if worst came to the worst and he had to raise the eight
hundred, which he had promised Kent, by borrowing it, he could, he
thought, arrange to get from Bradley an advance of that amount, or a
part of it, against his salary as manager of the Fair Harbor.

So he determined, as the next move, to go to Orham and visit the lawyer.
On Saturday morning, therefore, he and the Foam Flake once more
journeyed along the wood road to Orham.



CHAPTER XVII


The trip was cold and long and tedious. The oaks and birches were bare
of leaves and the lakes and little ponds looked chill and forbidding.
Judah's prophecy of a clear day was only partially fulfilled, for there
were great patches of clouds driving before the wind and when those
obscured the sun all creation looked dismal enough, especially to
Kendrick, who was in the mood where any additional gloom was distinctly
superfluous. But the Foam Flake jogged on and at last drew up beside the
Bradley office.

Another horse and buggy were standing there and the captain was somewhat
surprised to recognize the outfit as one belonging to the Bayport livery
man. A gangling youth in the latter's employ was on the buggy seat and
he recognized the Foam Flake first and his driver next.

"Why, good mornin', Cap'n," hailed the youth. "You over here, too?"

Sears, performing the purely perfunctory task of hitching the Foam Flake
to a post, smiled grimly.

"No, Josiah," he replied. "I'm not here. I'm over in South Harniss all
this week. Where are you?"

"Eh?... Where be I?... Say, what----"

"Yes, yes, Josiah, all right. Just keep a weather eye on this post, will
you, like a good fellow?"

"On the post? On the horse, you mean?"

"No, I mean on the post. If you don't this--er--camel of mine will eat
it. Thanks. Do as much for you some time, Josiah."

He went into the building, leaving the bewildered Josiah in what might
be described as a state of mind.

"Is the commodore busy?" he asked of the boy at the desk.

"Yes, he is," replied the boy. "But he won't be very long, I don't
think."

"Humph! That's what you don't think, eh? Well, now just between us, what
do you think?... Never mind, son, never mind, I'm satisfied if you are.
I'll wait. By the way, somebody from my home port is in there with him,
I judge."

"Um--hm. Miss Berry, she's there."

"Miss Berry! Elizabeth Berry?... Is she there now?"

The boy nodded. "Um-hm," he declared, "she's there, but I guess they're
'most done. I heard her chair scrape a minute or two ago, so I think
she's comin' right out."

Kendrick rose from his own chair. "I'll wait outside," he said, and went
out to the platform again. Josiah, evidently lonely and seeking
conversation, hailed him at once.

"Say, that old horse of yours _is_ a cribbler, ain't he," he observed.
"He's took one chaw out of that post already."

Sears paid no attention. He walked around to the rear of the little
building and, leaning against its shingled side, waited, gazing absently
across the fields to the spires and roofs of Orham village.

He was sorry that Elizabeth was there just at this time. True they met
almost daily at the Fair Harbor office, but those meetings were
obligatory, this was not. And meeting her at all, relations between them
being what they were, was very hard for him. Since George Kent's
disclosure of his feelings and hopes those meetings were harder still.
Each one made his task, that of helping the boy toward the realization
of those hopes, so much more difficult. He was ashamed of himself, but
so it was. No, in his present frame of mind he did not want to meet her.
He would wait there, out of sight, until she had gone.

But he was not allowed to do so. He heard the office door open, heard
her step--he would have recognized it, he believed, anyway--upon the
platform. He heard her speak to Josiah. And then that pest of an office
boy began shouting his name.

"Cap'n Kendrick," yelled the boy. "Cap'n Kendrick, where are you?"

He did not answer, but the other imbecile, Josiah, answered for him.

"There he is, out alongside the buildin'," volunteered Josiah. "Cap'n
Kendrick, they want ye."

Then both began shrieking "Cap'n Kendrick" at the top of their voices.

To pretend not to hear would have been too ridiculous. There was but
thing to do and he did it.

"Aye, aye," he answered, impatiently. "I'm comin'!"

When he reached the platform Elizabeth was still there. She was
surprised to see him, evidently, but there was another expression on her
face, an expression which he did not understand. He bowed gravely.

"Good mornin'," he said. She returned his greeting, but still she
continued to look at him with that odd expression.

"Mr. Bradley's all ready for you," announced the office boy, who was
holding the door open. Sears' foot was at the 'threshold when Elizabeth
spoke his name. He turned to her in surprise.

"Yes?" he replied.

For an instant she was silent. Then, as if obeying an uncontrollable
impulse, she came toward him.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "May I speak with you? In private? I won't
keep you but a moment."

"Why--why, yes, of course," he stammered. He turned to the office boy.
"Go and tell Mr. Bradley I'll be right there," he commanded. The boy
went.

Elizabeth spoke to her charioteer, who was leaning forward on the buggy
seat, his small eyes fixed upon the pair and his large mouth open.

"Drive over to that corner, Josiah," she said. "To that store
there--yes, that's it. And wait there for me. I'll come at once."

Josiah reluctantly drove away. Elizabeth turned again to Kendrick.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she began. "I shan't keep you long. I realize that
you must be surprised at my asking to speak with you--after everything.
And, of course, I realize still more than you can't possibly wish to
speak with me."

He attempted to say something, to protest, but she did not give him the
chance.

"No, don't, don't," she said, hurriedly. "Don't pretend. I know how you
feel, of course. But I have been wanting to tell you this for a long
time. I hadn't the courage, or I was too much ashamed, or something. And
this is a strange place to say it--and time. But when I saw you just now
I--I felt as if I must say it. I couldn't wait another minute. Cap'n
Kendrick, I want to beg your pardon."

To add to his amazement and embarrassed distress he saw that she was
very close to tears.

"Why--why--" he stammered.

"Don't say anything. There isn't anything for _you_ to say. I don't ask
you to forgive me--you couldn't, of course. But I--I just had to tell
you that I am so ashamed of myself, of my misjudging you, and the things
I said to you. I know that you were right and I was all wrong."

"Why--why, here, hold on!" he broke in. "I don't understand."

"Of course you don't. And I can't explain. Probably I never can and you
mustn't ask me to. But--but--I had to say this. I had to beg your pardon
and tell you how ashamed I am.... That's all.... Thank you."

She turned and almost ran from the platform, down the steps and across
the street to the waiting buggy. Sears Kendrick stared after her, stared
until that buggy disappeared around the bend in the road. Then he
breathed heavily, straightened his cap, slowly shook his head, and
entered the lawyer's office. He was still in a sort of trance when he
sat down in the chair in the inner room and heard Bradley bid him good
morning. He returned the good morning, but he heard, or understood, very
little of what the lawyer said immediately afterward. When he did begin
vaguely to comprehend he found the latter was speaking of Elizabeth
Berry.

"I wish I knew what her trouble is," Bradley was saying. "She won't tell
me, won't even admit that there is any trouble, but that doesn't need
telling. The last half dozen times I have seen her she has seemed and
looked worried and absent-minded. And this morning she drove way over
here to ask me some almost childish questions about her investments, the
money the judge left her. Wanted to know if it was safe, or something
like that. She didn't admit that was it, exactly, but that was as near
as I could get to what she was driving at. Do you know what's troubling
her, Kendrick?"

Sears shook his head. "No-o," he replied. "I've heard--but no, I don't
know. She wanted to be sure her money was safe, you say?"

"Why, not safely invested, I don't think that was it. She seemed to want
to know what I'd done with the bonds themselves and the other securities
of hers. I told her they were in the deposit vaults over at the Bayport
bank; that is, some of them were there and some of them were in the bank
at Harniss. Then she asked if any one could get them, anybody except she
or I. Of course I told her no, and not even I without an order from her.
She seemed a little relieved, I thought, but when _I_ asked questions
she shut up like a quahaug. But that seemed a silly errand to come away
over here on. Don't you think so, Cap'n? ... Eh? What's the matter? What
are you looking at me like that for?"

The captain _was_ looking at him, was looking with an expression of
intense and eager interest. He did not answer Bradley's question, but
asked one, himself.

"Did she ask anything more about--well, about her bonds?" he demanded.
"Think now; I'll tell you why by and by."

The lawyer considered. "No-o," he said. "Nothing of importance, surely.
She asked--she seemed to want to know particularly if it was possible
for any one except the owner or a duly accredited representative to get
at securities in the vaults of those banks. That seemed to be the
information she was after.... Now what have you got up your sleeve?"

"Nothin'--nothin'. I guess. Or somethin', maybe; I don't know. Bradley,
would you mind tellin' me this much: Of course I'm not Elizabeth's
trustee any more, but would it be out of the way if you told me whether
or not you reinvested any of her twenty thousand in City of Boston
bonds? City of Boston 4-1/2s; say?"

Bradley did not answer for a moment. Then from a pigeon hole in his desk
he took a packet of papers and selected one.

"Yes," he said, gravely. "I put ten thousand of her money in those very
bonds. My brokers up in Boston recommended them strongly as being a safe
and good investment.... And now perhaps you'll tell us why you asked
about that?"

Sears' brows drew together. Here was his vague theory on the way, at
least, to confirmation.

"You tell me somethin' more first," he said. "'Tisn't likely you've got
the numbers of those bonds on that piece of paper, is it?"

"Likely enough. I've got the numbers and the price I paid for 'em. Why?"

Kendrick took his memorandum book from his pocket. "Were two of those
numbers A610,312 and A610,313?" he asked.

Bradley consulted his slip of paper. "No," he replied. "Nothing like
it."

"Eh? You're sure?"

"Of course I'm sure. Say, what sort of a trustee do you think I am?"

Sears did not answer. If the lawyer was sure, then his "theory," instead
of being confirmed, was smashed flat.

"Humph!" he grunted, after a moment. "Do you mind my lookin' at that
paper of yours?"

Bradley pushed the slip across the desk. The captain looked at it
carefully. "Humph!" he said again. "You're right. And those are five
hundred dollar bonds, all of 'em. Well, that settles that. And now it's
all fog again.... Humph! In a way I'm glad--but---- Pshaw!"

"Yes. And _now_ maybe you'll tell me what you're after? Don't you think
it's pretty nearly time?"

"Why, perhaps, but I'm afraid that's what I can't tell--you or anybody
else.... Bradley, just one more thing. Do you happen to know whether
there was any of those Boston bonds in Lobelia Phillips' estate? That
is, did any of 'em come to her husband from her?"

The lawyer's answer was emphatic enough.

"Yes, I do know," he said. "There wasn't any. Those bonds are a brand
new issue. They have been put out since her death."

Here was another gun spiked. Kendrick whistled. Bradley regarded him
keenly.

"Cap'n," he demanded, "are you on the trail of that Eg Phillips? Do you
really think you've got anything on him? Because if you have and you
don't let me into the game I'll never forgive you. Of all the slick,
smooth, stuck-up nothings that---- Say, have you?"

Kendrick shook his head. "I'm afraid not, Squire," he observed. "And, at
any rate, I couldn't tell you, if I had. ... Eh? And _now_ what?"

For the lawyer had suddenly struck the desk a blow with his hand. He was
fumbling in another pigeon-hole and extracting therefrom another packet
of papers.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he said, "I know where there are--or were,
anyhow--more of those Boston 4-1/2s."

"Eh? You do?"

"Yes. And they were thousand dollar bonds, too.... Yes, and.... Give me
those numbers again."

Sears gave them. Bradley grinned, triumphantly.

"Here you are," he exclaimed. "Five one thousand dollar City of Boston
4-1/2s, bought at so and so much, on such and such a date, numbered
A610,309 to A610,313 inclusive. Cap'n Sears, those bonds are--or were,
the last I knew--in the vault of the Bayport National Bank."

Kendrick rose to his feet. "You don't tell me!" he cried. "Who put 'em
there?"

"I put 'em there. And I bought 'em. But they don't belong to me. There
was somebody else had money left to them, and I, on request, invested it
for the owner. Now you can guess, can't you?"

Cap'n Sears sat down heavily. "Cordelia?" he exclaimed. "Cordelia Berry,
of course!... Bradley, what an everlastin' fool I was not to guess it
in the first place! _There's_ the answer I've been hunting for."

But, as he pondered over it during the long drive home he realized that,
after all, it was not by any means a completely satisfying answer. True
it confirmed his previous belief that the bonds which Phillips had
deposited with the New York brokers were not a part of the residue of
his wife's estate. He had obtained them from Cordelia Berry. But the
question as to how and why he had obtained them still remained. Did he
get them by fraud? Did she lend them to him? If she lent them was it a
loan without restrictions? Did she know what he meant to do with them;
that is, was Cordelia a silent partner in Egbert's stock speculations?
Or, and this was by no means impossible considering her infatuation, had
she given them to him outright?

Unless there was an element of fraud or false pretense in the
transference of those bonds, the mere knowledge of whence they came was
not likely to help in regaining George Kent's sixteen hundred dollars.
For the matter of that, even if they had been obtained by fraud, if they
were not Phillips' property, but Cordelia's, still the return of Kent's
money might be just as impossible provided Phillips had nothing of his
own to levy upon. He--Kendrick--might compel the brokers to return Mrs.
Berry's City of Boston 4-1/2s to their rightful owner, but how would
that help Kent?

Well, never mind that now. If the worst came to the worst he could still
borrow the eight hundred which would save George from public disgrace.
And the fact remained that his campaign against the redoubtable Egbert
had made, for the first time, a forward movement, however slight.

His thoughts turned to Elizabeth. The causes of her worry and trouble
were plain enough now. Esther Tidditt had declared that she and Phillips
were by no means as friendly as they had been. Of course not. She, too,
had been forced to realize what almost every one else had seen before,
the influence which the fellow had obtained over her mother. Her visit
to Bradley and her questions concerning the safety of securities in the
bank's vaults were almost proof positive that she knew Egbert had those
bonds and perhaps feared he might get the others. He should not get them
if Sears Kendrick could help it. She had asked his pardon, she had
confessed that he was right and that she had been wrong. She believed in
him again. Well, in return he would fight his battle--and hers--and
George's--harder than ever. The fight had been worth while of itself,
now it was more than ever a fight for her happiness. And Egbert--by the
living jingo, Egbert was in for a licking.

So, to the mild astonishment of the placid Foam Flake, who had been
meandering on in a sort of walking doze, Captain Kendrick tugged briskly
at the reins and broke out in song, the hymn which Judah Cahoon had sung
a few nights before:

    "Light in the darkness, sailor,
      Day is at hand."

Judah himself was singing when his lodger entered the kitchen, but his
was no joyful ditty. It was a dirge, which he was intoning as he bent
over the cookstove. A slow and solemn and mournful wail dealing with
death and burial of one "Old Storm Along," whoever he may have been.

    "'Old Storm Along is dead and gone
      To my way, oh, Storm Along.
    Old Storm Along is dead and gone
      Ay--ay--ay, Mister Storm A-long.

    "'When Stormy died I dug his grave
      To my way, oh, Storm Along,
    I dug his grave with a silver spade.
      Ay--ay--ay, Mister Storm A-long.

    "'I hove him up with an iron crane,
      To my way, oh, Storm Along,
    And lowered him down with----'"

Kendrick broke in upon the flow of misery.

"Sshh! All hands to the pumps!" he shouted. "Heavens, what a wail!
Sounds like the groans of the dyin'. Didn't your breakfast set well,
Judah?"

Judah turned, looked at him, and grinned sheepishly. "'Tis kind of a
lonesome song, ain't it?" he admitted. "Still we used to sing it
consider'ble aboard ship. Don't you know we did, Cap'n?"

The captain grunted. "Maybe so," he observed, "but it's one of the
things that would keep the average man from going to sea. What's the
news since I've been gone--anything?"

Judah nodded. "Um-hm," he said. "I cal'late 'twas the news that set me
goin' about old Storm Along. Esther Tidditt's been over here half the
forenoon, seemed so, tellin' about Elviry Snowden's aunt over to
Ostable. She's dead, the old woman is, and she died slow and agonizin',
'cordin' to Esther. Elviry was all struck of a heap about it. And now
she's gone."

"Gone! Elvira? Dead, you mean?"

"Hey? No, no! The aunt's dead, but Elviry ain't. She's gone over to
Ostable to stay till after the funeral. She's about the only relation to
the remains there is left, so Esther tells me. There was a reg'lar young
typhoon over to the Harbor when the news struck. 'Twas too late for the
up train so they had to hire a horse and team and then somebody had to
be got to pilot it, 'cause Elviry wouldn't no more undertake to drive a
horse than I would to eat one. And the trouble was that the livery
stable boy--that Josiah Ellis--was off drivin' somebody else
somewheres."

"Yes, I saw him."

"Hey? You did? Where? Who was he drivin'?"

"Never mind that. Heave ahead with your yarn."

"Well, the next thing they done was to come cruisin' over here to see if
_I_ wouldn't take the job. Hoppin', creepin', jumpin' Henry! I shut down
on _that_ notion almost afore they got their hatches open to tell me
about it. Suppose likely I'd set in a buggy alongside of Elviry Snowden
and listen to her clack from here to Ostable? Not by a two-gallon
jugful! Creepin'! She'd have another corpse on her hands time we got
there. So I said I was sick."

"Sick! Ha, ha! You're a healthy lookin' sick man, Judah."

"Um-hm. Mine must be one of them kind of diseases that don't show on the
outside. But I was sick then, all right--at the very notion. And, Cap'n
Sears, who do you cal'late finally did invite himself to drive that
Snowden woman to Ostable? You'll never guess in _this_ world."

"Well, I don't intend to wait until the next world to find out; so
you'll have to tell me, Judah. Who was it?"

"Old Henfruit."

"_Who?_"

"Old Henfruit, that's what I call him. That Eg thing"

"What? Phillips?"

"Yus. That's the feller."

"But why should he do it?"

"Oh, just to show off how polite and obligin' he is, I presume likely.
Elviry she was snifflin' around and swabbin' her deadlights with her
handkercher and heavin' overboard lamentations about her poor dear Aunt
So-and-so layin' all alone over there and she couldn't get to her--as if
'twould make any difference to a dead person whether she got to 'em or
not, and anyhow I'd _want_ to be dead afore Elviry Snowden got to
me--and---- Oh, yes, well, pretty soon here comes Eg, beaver hat and
mustache and all, purrin' and wantin' to know what was the matter. And,
of course all hands of 'em started to tell him, 'specially that Aurora
Chase, who is so everlastin' deaf she hadn't heard the yarn more'n half
straight and wan't sure yet whether 'twas a funeral or a fire. And
so----"

"There, there, Judah! Get back on the course. So Egbert drove Elvira
over to Ostable, did he?"

"Sartin sure. When Elviry saw him she kind of flew at him same as a
chicken flies to the old hen. And he kind of spread out his wings, as
you might say, and comforted her and, next thing you know, he'd offered
to be pilot and she and him had started on the trip. So that's the
news.... Esther said 'twas good as a town hall to see Cordelia Berry
when them two went away together. You see, Cordelia is so dreadful gone
on that Eg man that she can't bear to see another female within hailin'
distance of him. Been just the same if 'twas old Northern Lights Chase
he'd gone with. Haw, haw!"

The Fair Harbor was still buzzing with the news of Miss Snowden's
bereavement when Kendrick visited there next day. The funeral was to
take place the day after that and Mrs. Brackett was going and so was
Aurora. As Miss Peasley and some of the others would have liked to go,
but could not afford the railway fare, there was some jealousy manifest
and a few ill-natured remarks made in the captain's hearing. Elvira, it
seemed, had sent for her trunk, as she was to remain in Ostable for a
week or two at least.

The captain and Elizabeth had their customary conference in the office
concerning the Harbor's bills and finances. Kendrick's greeting was a
trifle embarrassed--recollection of the interview at Orham was fresh in
his mind. Elizabeth colored slightly when they met, but she did not
mention that interview and, although pleasant and kind, kept the
conversation strictly confined to business matters.

That afternoon Sears encountered Egbert for the first time in a week or
so. The captain was on his way to the barn at the rear of the Harbor
grounds. He was about to turn the bend in the path, the bend which he
had rounded on the day of his first excursion in those grounds, and
which had afforded him the vision of Miss Snowden and Mrs. Chase framed
in the ivy-draped window of The Eyrie. As he passed the clump of lilacs,
now bare and scrawny, he came suddenly upon Phillips. The latter was
standing there, deep in conversation with Mrs. Berry. Theirs should, it
would seem, have been a pleasant conversation, but neither looked happy;
in fact, Cordelia looked as if she had been crying.

Sears raised his cap and Egbert lifted the tall hat with the flourish
all his own. Cordelia did not bow nor even nod. Kendrick, as he walked
on toward the barn, was inclined to believe he could guess the cause of
Mrs. Berry's distress and her companion's annoyance; he believed that
City of Boston 4-1/2s might be the subject of their talk. If so, then
perhaps those bonds had come into the gentleman's possession in a manner
not strictly within the law. Or, at all events, the lady might not know
what had become of them and be requesting their return. He certainly
hoped that such was the case. It was the one thing he yearned to find
out before making the next strategic advance in his and Egbert's private
war.

But a note from Bradley which he received next day helped him not at
all. It was a distinct disappointment. Bradley had, at his request, made
some inquiries at the Bayport bank. The lawyer was a director in that
institution and he could obtain information without arousing undue
curiosity or answering troublesome questions. The two one thousand
dollar bonds had been removed from the vaults by Cordelia Berry herself.
She had come alone, and on two occasions, taking one bond at each visit.
She did not state why she wanted them and the bank authorities had not
considered it their business to ask.

So that avenue of hope was closed. Egbert had not taken the bonds, and
how they came into his possession was still as great a puzzle as ever.
And the time--the time was growing so short. On Wednesday Kent had
promised to send his brother-in-law eight hundred dollars. It was
Saturday when Bradley's letter came. Each evening George stopped at the
Minot place to ask what progress had been made. The young man's
nervousness was contagious; the captain's own nerves became affected.

"George," he ordered, at last, "don't ask me another question. I
promised you once, and now I promise you again, that by Wednesday night
you shall have enough cash in hand to satisfy your sister and her
husband. Don't you come nigh me until then."

On Monday, the situation remaining unchanged, Sears determined upon a
desperate move. He would see Egbert alone and have a talk with him. He
had, after careful consideration, decided what his share in that talk
was to be. It must be two-thirds "bluff." He knew very little, but he
intended to pretend to much greater knowledge. He might trap his
adversary into a damaging admission. He might gain something and he
could lose almost nothing. The attack was risky, a sort of forlorn
hope--but he would take the risk.

That afternoon he drove down to the Macomber house. There he was
confronted with another disappointment. Egbert was not there. Sarah said
he had been away almost all day and would not be back until late in the
evening.

"He's been away consider'ble the last two or three days," she said. "No,
I'm sure I don't know where he's gone. He told Joel somethin' about
bein' out of town on business. Joel sort of gathered 'twas in Trumet
where the business was, but he never told either of us really. He wasn't
here for dinner yesterday or supper either, and not for supper the day
before that."

"Humph! Will he be here to-morrow, think?"

"I don't know, but I should think likely he would, in the forenoon,
anyhow. He's almost always here in the forenoon; he doesn't get up very
early, hardly ever."

"Oh, he doesn't. How about his breakfast?"

Mrs. Macomber looked a bit guilty.

"Well," she admitted, "I usually keep his breakfast hot for him,
and--and he has it in his room."

"You take it in to him, I suppose?"

"We-ll, he's always been used to breakfastin' that way, he says. It's
the way they do over abroad, accordin' to his tell."

"Oh, Sarah, Sarah!" mused her brother. "To think _you_ could slip so
easy on that sort of soft-soap. Tut, tut! I'm surprised.... Well,
good-by. Oh, by the way, how about his majesty's board bill? Paid up to
date, is it?"

His sister looked even more embarrassed, and, for her, a trifle
irritated.

"He owes me for three weeks, if you must know," she said, "but he'll pay
it, same as he always does."

"Look out, look out! Can't be too sure.... There, there, Sarah, don't be
cross. I won't torment you."

He laughed and Mrs. Macomber, after a moment, laughed too.

"You are a tease, Sears," she declared, "and always was. Shall I tell
Mr. Phillips you came to see him?"

"Eh? No, indeed you shan't. Don't you mention my name to him. He loves
me so much that he might cry all night at the thought of not bein' at
home when I called. Don't tell him a word. I'll try again."

The next forenoon he did try again. Judah had some trucking to do in the
western part of the village and the captain rode with him on the seat of
the truck wagon as far as the store. From there he intended to walk to
his sister's, for walking, even as long a distance as a mile, was no
longer an impossibility. As he alighted by the store platform Captain
Elkanah Wingate came out of the Bassett emporium.

"Mornin', Kendrick," he hailed.

Sears did not share Bayport's awe of the prosperous Elkanah. He returned
the greeting as casually as if the latter had been an everyday citizen.

"Been spendin' your money on Eliphalet's bargains?" he inquired.

The great man did not resent the flippancy. He seemed to be in a
particularly pleasant humor.

"Got a little extra to spend to-day," he declared, with a chuckle.
"Picked up twenty dollars this mornin' that I never expected to see
again."

"So? You're lucky."

"That's what I thought. Say, Kendrick, have you had any--hum--business
dealings with that man Phillips? No," with another chuckle, "I suppose
you haven't. He doesn't love you over and above, I understand. My wife
and the rest of the women folks seem to think he's first mate to Saint
Peter, but, between ourselves, he's always been a little too much of a
walkin' oil barrel to suit me. He borrowed twenty of me a good while ago
and I'd about decided to write it down as a dead loss. But an hour or so
ago he ran afoul of me and, without my saying a word, paid up like a
man, every cent. Had a roll of bills as thick as a skys'l yard, he did.
Must have had a lucky voyage, I guess. Eh? Ha, ha!"

He moved off, still chuckling. Kendrick walked down the lower road
pondering on what he had heard. Egbert, the professed pauper, in
possession of money and voluntarily paying his debts. What might that
mean?

Sarah met him at the door. She seemed distressed.

"There!" she cried, as he approached. "If this isn't too bad! And I was
afraid of it, too. You've walked way down here, Sears, on those poor
legs of yours, and Mr. Phillips has gone again. And I don't think he'll
be back before night, if he is then. He said not to worry if he wasn't,
because he might have to go to Trumet. Isn't it a shame?"

It was a shame and a rather desperate shame. This was Tuesday. If the
interview with Egbert was to take place at all, it should be that day,
or the next. He looked at his sister's face and something in her
expression caused him to ask a question.

"What is it, Sarah?" he demanded. "What's the rest of it?"

She hesitated. "Sears," she said, after looking over her shoulder to
make sure none of the children was within hearing, "there's somethin'
else. I--I don't know, but--but I'm almost _sure_ Mr. Phillips won't be
back to-night. I think he's gone to stay."

"Stay? What do you mean? Did he take his dunnage--his things--with him?"

"No. His trunk is in his room. And he didn't have a satchel or a valise
in his hand. But, Sears, I can't understand it--they're gone--his
valises are gone."

"Gone! Gone where?"

"I don't know. That's the funny part of it. He's always kept two valises
in his room, a big one and a little one. I went into his room just now
to make the beds and clean up and I didn't see those valises anywhere. I
thought that was funny and then I noticed that the things on his bureau,
his brushes and comb and things, weren't there. Then I looked in his
bureau drawers and everything was gone, the drawers were empty....
Sears, what _do_ you suppose it means?"

Her brother did not answer at once. He tugged at his beard and frowned.
Then he asked:

"Didn't he say a word more than you've told me? Or do anything?"

"No. He had his breakfast out here with us this mornin'. Then he went
back to his room and, about nine or so, he came out to me and paid his
board bill---- Oh, I told you he'd pay it, Sears; he always does
pay--and then----"

"Here! Heave to! Hold on, Sarah! He paid his bill, all of it?"

"Yes. Right up to now. That was kind of funny, bein' the middle of the
week instead of the end, but he said we might as well start with a clean
ledger, or somethin' nice and pleasant like that. Then he took a bundle
of money from his pocketbook--a great, _big_ bundle it was, and--Why,
why, Sears, what is it? Where are you goin'?"

The captain had pushed by her and was on his way to the front of the
house.

"Goin'?" he repeated. "I'm goin' to have a look at those rooms of his.
You'd better come with me, Sarah."



CHAPTER XVIII


The keeper of the livery stable was surprised. "Why, yes," he said, "Mr.
Phillips was here a spell ago. He said he was cal'latin' to go to Trumet
to-day on a business cruise, and he hired Josiah and the bay horse and
buggy to get him over there. They left about ten o'clock, I should say
'twas. I had a mind to ask him why he didn't take the train, but then I
thought 'twould be poor business for a fellow that let teams, so I kept
still. Hey? Ho, ho!"

The captain, somewhat out of breath after his hurried walk from the
Macomber home to the stable, pondered a moment "Did he have a valise or
satchel or anything with him?" he asked.

"No. Nothin' but his cane. Couldn't navigate a yard without his cane
that feller couldn't, seemed so. Looked kind of spruced up, too. Dressed
in his best bib and tucker, he was, beaver hat and all. Cal'late he must
be goin' to see his best girl, eh. Ho, ho! Guess not though; from what I
hear his best girl's down to the Fair Harbor."

Kendrick pondered a moment longer.

"Did he pay for the team?" he inquired.

"Hey? Yus, paid in advance, spot cash. But what you askin' all this for,
Cap'n? Wanted to see him afore he went, did you?"

Sears nodded. "Just a business matter," he explained, and walked away.
He did not walk far, only to the corner. There on the low stone wall
bordering on the east the property of Captain Orrin Eldridge, he seated
himself to rest and cogitate.

His cogitations were most unsatisfactory. They got him nowhere. He and
his sister had pretty thoroughly inspected Egbert's quarters at the
Macomber house. The Phillips trunk was still there, and the "horse
pictures" and the photographs of Lobelia's charming lady friends! but
there was precious little else. Toilet articles, collars, ties and more
intimate articles of wearing apparel were missing and, except for a
light coat and a summer suit of clothes, the closets were empty. And, as
Sarah had said, the two valises had vanished. Egbert had told his
landlady he was going to Trumet; he had told the livery man the same
thing. But by far the easiest way to reach Trumet was by train. Why had
he chosen to be driven there over a long and very bad road? And _what_
had become of the valises?

And then occurred the second of a series of incidents which had a marked
and helpful bearing up Captain Kendrick's actions that day. He said
afterwards that, for the first time since his railway accident, he
really began to believe the tide of luck was turning in his direction.
The first of those incidents had been his meeting and talk with Captain
Elkanah. That had sent him hurrying to the Macombers' earlier than he
intended. The second incident was that now, as he sat there on the
Eldridge wall, down the road came the Minot truck wagon with the Foam
Flake in the shafts and Judah Cahoon swinging and jolting on the seat.

Judah spied him and hailed.

"Ahoy, there, Cap'n Sears!" he shouted, pulling the old horse to a
standstill. "Thought you was down to Sary's long ago. What you doin' on
that wall--gone to roost so early in the day?"

The captain smiled. "Not exactly, Judah," he replied. "But what are you
doin' 'way back here? I thought you were haulin' Seth Bangs's wood for
him."

"Huh!" in disgust; "I thought I was, too, but there was some kind of
mix-up in the time. Cal'late 'twas that Hannah Bangs that muddled
it--she could muddle a cake of ice, that woman. Kind of born with a
knack for makin' mistakes, she is; and she's the biggest mistake
herself, 'cordin' to my notion. Seems 'twas to-morrow, not to-day, Seth
expected me to come."

"Humph! So you had your cruise up there for nothin'?"

"Yus. Creepin', jumpin'! Think of it, Cap'n. I navigated this
old--er--er--spavin-rack 'way up to where them folks live, three mile on
the Denboro road 'tis, and then had to come about and beat for home
again. I ... Oh, say I sighted a chum of ours up along that way. Who do
you cal'late 'twas, Cap'n Sears? Old Eg, that's who. Togged out from
truck to keelson as usual, beaver and all, and----"

"Here! Hold up! What's that, Judah? You saw Phillips up on the Denboro
road, you say? What was he doin' there? When did you see him?"

"'Bout an hour ago, or such matter. He was aboard one of the livery
stable teams and that Josiah Ellis was pilotin' him. I sung out to
Josiah, but he never answered. Says I----"

"Sshh! Where were they bound; do you know?"

"Denboro, I presume likely. That's the only place there is to be bound
to, on that road; 'less you're goin' perchin' up to Seabury's Pond, and
folks don't do much perchin' in December. Not with beaver hats on,
anyhow. Haw, haw! Eg and Josiah was all jammed up together on the buggy
seat, with two big valises crammed in alongside of 'em, and ... Hi!
What's the matter, Cap'n Sears? What's your hurry?"

The captain did not answer. He _was_ hurrying--hurrying back to the
livery stable. Half an hour later he, too, was on the seat of a hired
buggy, driving the best horse the stable afforded up the lonely road
leading to Denboro.

He met no one on that road--which winds and twists over the hills and
through the wooded hollows from one side of the Cape to the other--until
he was within a mile of Denboro village. Then he saw another horse and
buggy approaching his. He recognized the occupant of that buggy long
before he himself was recognized.

"Hi!" he shouted, as the two vehicles came near each other. "Hi! Josiah!
Josiah Ellis!"

Josiah, serenely dozing, his feet propped against the dash and his cap
over his eyes, came slowly to life.

"Hey?" he murmured, drowsily. "Yes; here I be.... Eh! What's the matter?
Why, hello, Cap'n Kendrick, that you?"

"Whoa!" ordered the captain, addressing his own horse, who came to a
standstill beside that driven by the other. "Stop, Josiah! Come up into
the wind a minute, I want to speak to you. What have you done with
Phillips?"

Josiah was surprised. "Why, how did you know I had Mr. Phillips aboard?"
he asked. "Oh, I presume likely they told you at the stable. But how did
you know he was goin' to Denboro? _I_ never knew it till after we
started. When we left port I supposed 'twas Trumet we was bound for, but
we hadn't much more'n got under way when Mr. Phillips says he's changed
his mind and wants to come over here. Didn't make no difference to _me_,
of course. I get my wages, Saturday nights, just the same whether----"

"Where is Phillips now?"

"I was tellin' you. So we came about and headed for Denboro. Next thing
we had to haul up abreast of that old tumbledown shed at the end of
Tabby Crosby's lot there by the meetin'-house while Mr. Phillips hopped
out and got a couple of great big satchels he'd left there. Big as
trunks they was, pretty nigh, and time he got them stowed in here there
wan't no room for knees nor feet nor nawthin' else seurcely. But,
finally----"

"Hold on! Why did he have his dunnage in Tabitha Crosby's shed?"

"That's what _I_ couldn't make out. He said he left 'em there so's not
to have to go out of our way to get 'em at Joe Macomber's. But it's
about as nigh to Joe's as 'tis to Tabby's, seems to me. Seemed funny
enough, that did, but 'twan't no funnier than comin' way over to the
Denboro depot to take the same train he might have took just as well at
Bayport. _I_ couldn't make it out. Can you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

"Did you leave him at the Denboro depot?"

"Yus. 'Bout an hour ago, or such matter. And the up train ain't due till
four, and it's only half-past twelve now. I stopped at the Denboro House
to get some diner. A feller has to eat once in a while, even if he ain't
rich. And talk about chargin' high prices! All I had was some chowder
and a piece of pie and tea, and I swan if they didn't stick me
thirty-five cents! Yes, sir, thirty-five cents! And the pie was
dried-apple at that. Don't talk to me no more about that Denboro House!
If I ever----"

Kendrick heard no more. He was on his way to the railway station at
Denboro. The mystery of the valises was, in one way, explained; in
another it was more mysterious than ever. Evidently Phillips must have
taken them from his rooms either early that morning or during the
night--probably the latter--and hidden them in the Crosby shed. But why?

Denboro was a sleepy little village and at that hour on that raw
December day the railway station was as sleepy as the rest of it. The
station agent, who was also the telegraph operator, was locking his door
preparatory to going home for dinner. He and the captain were old
acquaintances. In days gone by he had sailed as second mate aboard a
bark which Kendrick commanded. Now, retired from the sea, he was depot
master and pound-keeper and constable in his native town. And, like most
of Sears' shipmates, he was glad to see his former skipper.

They shook hands, exchanged observations concerning the weather, and
then the depot master asked what he could do for his friend.

"I'm lookin' for a man named Phillips," explained Kendrick. "Josiah
Ellis--fellow that drives for the livery stable over home--told me he
left him here at your depot, Jim. About an hour ago, Josiah said it was.
He doesn't seem to be here now; do you know where he's gone?"

Jim rubbed his chin. "Tall feller, thin, long mustache, beaver hat,
talks important and patronizin' like a combination of Admiral Farragut
and the Angel Gabriel?" he inquired.

"That's the man."

"He was here. Left them two valises yonder in my care. He's comin' back
in time to take the three-fifteen."

"Three-fifteen? I thought the up train left here at half-past four or
somethin' like that."

"The reg'lar train does. But there's a kind of combination, three or
four freight and one passenger car, that comes up from Hyannis and goes
on ahead of the other. It don't go only to Middleboro. He said he was
cal'latin' to take that. I had a notion he was goin' to change at
Middleboro and go somewheres else from there."

"I see. Yes, yes. And you don't know where he is now?"

"Well, he asked where was the best place to eat and I told him some went
to the hotel and some to Amanda Warren's boardin'-house. 'Most of 'em
only go to the hotel once, though,' says I. I guess likely you'll find
him at Amanda's."

So to Mrs. Warren's boarding-house the captain drove. The lady herself
opened the door for him. Yes, the gentleman described had been there.
Yes, he had eaten dinner and gone.

"Do you know where he has gone?" asked Kendrick.

Mrs. Warren nodded. "He asked me where Mr. Backus, the Methodist
minister, lived," she said. "He was real particular to find out how to
get there, so I guess that's where he was bound."

The Methodist minister! Why on earth Egbert Phillips should go to the
home of a minister was another mystery beyond Sears Kendrick's power of
surmise. However, he too inquired the way to the Backus domicile and
once more took up the chase.

The Methodist parsonage was a neat little white house, green-shuttered,
and with a white picket fence inclosing its little front yard. It being
the home of a clergyman, Sears ventured to knock at the front door;
otherwise he would, of course, have gone around to the side entrance.

A white-haired little woman answered the knock. No, Mr. Backus was out,
but he was expected back very soon. He had an appointment at two, so she
was sure he would be in by that time. Would the captain come in and
wait? There was another gentleman now in the parlor waiting. Yes, a tall
gentleman with a mustache.

At last! Another minute, and Captain Kendrick, entering the Backus
parlor, came face to face with the elusive object of his search, Mr.
Egbert Phillips.

Egbert was sitting in a rocking chair by the marble-topped center table.
A plush-covered photograph album was on that table and he was languidly
turning its pages and inspecting, with a smile of tolerant amusement,
the likenesses of the Backus friends and relatives. As the door opened
he turned, his smile changing to one of greeting.

"Ah, Mr. Backus----" he began. And then he stopped. It was the captain
who smiled now. His smile was as genial as a summer morn.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Phillips," he said. "How are you, sir?"

He stepped forward with extended hand. Still Egbert stood and stared.
The photograph album, imperfectly balanced on the edge of the table,
slipped to the floor.

The clergyman's wife seemed a trifle puzzled and perturbed by the
Phillips expression and attitude.

"This gentleman said----" she began. "He said you and he----"

Kendrick helped her to finish: "I told the lady," he put in cheerfully,
"that I had come 'way over from Bayport to see you about a little
matter. I said we knew each other pretty well and I was sure you'd be
glad to see me, even if I was kind of unexpected.... Excuse me, but
you've dropped your picture book."

He stooped, picked up the album and replaced it on the table. This
action occupied but a moment of time, nevertheless in that moment a
portion at least of Egbert's poise returned. His smile might have been
a bit uncertain, but it was a smile. And when Sears again extended his
hand his own came to meet it.

"Of course, of course," he said. "Yes--ah--yes, indeed. How do you do,
Kendrick?"

The captain beamed. "Oh, I'm feelin' tip-top," he declared. "The sight
of you is enough to make me well, even if I was sick--which I'm not. Now
if you and I might have a little talk?"

Mrs. Backus was anxious to oblige.

"You make yourselves right at home in here," she said. "If my husband
comes I'll tell him to wait until you're through. Take all the time you
want."

She was at the threshold, but Phillips detained her.

"Pardon me," he said, hastily, "but we mustn't abuse your hospitality to
that extent. This--ah--gentleman and I can talk just as well out of
doors. Really, I----"

"Oh, no! You must stay right here. Please do. It isn't the least
trouble."

She went and the door closed behind her. Egbert glanced at the clock on
the mantel and frowned. Captain Kendrick continued to smile.

"And here we are at last," he observed. "Quiet and sociable as you
please. Sit down, Mr. Phillips, sit down."

But Egbert did not sit. He glanced at the clock once more and then at
his watch.

"Sit down," repeated the captain. "I've been cruisin' so much this
forenoon that I'm glad of the chance to sit. From what I've been able to
learn you've been movin' pretty lively, too. A little rest won't do
either of us any harm. Sit down, Mr. Phillips. Take the rocker."

Phillips walked to the front window, looked out, hesitated, and then,
returning, did take the rocker. He looked at his fellow-townsman.

"Well?" he asked.

Kendrick nodded. "Yes," he agreed, "it is well, real well, now that I've
caught up with you. I'll say this for you, you're as good a craft for
leavin' a crooked wake as any I ever chased. For a while there you had
me hull down. But I'm here now--and so are you."

Egbert's slim hand slowly stroked his mustache.

"There appears to be some truth in that remark," he declared. "We do
seem to be here--yes.... But----"

"But you are wonderin' why _I_ am here? Well, to be honest, I came to
find you. I judged that you were thinkin' of leavin' us--for a spell,
anyhow--and before you went I wanted to talk with you, that's all."

A pause, and more mustache stroking. The two men regarded each other;
the captain blandly beaming, Phillips evidently pondering.

"I don't know," he said, at last, "what you may mean by my thinking of
leaving you. However, that is not material, and I am always delighted to
see you, of course. But as I am rather busy this afternoon perhaps
you'll be good enough to come to the point.... If there is a point."

"Yes, there is. Oh, yes, there's a point. Two or three points."

"Indeed! How interesting. And what are they? Please be as--ah--brief as
you can."

Sears crossed his legs. All this had been but preliminary maneuvering.
Here now was the real beginning of the fight; and he realized only too
keenly that his side in that fight was tremendously short of ammunition.
But he did not mean that his adversary should guess that fact, and with
the smiling serenity of absolute confidence he fired the opening gun.

"Egbert," he began--"you don't mind my callin' you Egbert? Knowin' you
as well as I do, it seems foolish to stand on ceremony, don't you think?
You don't mind?"

"Not at all. Charmed, I'm sure.... Well?"

"Well--yes. We've got a good many mutual friends--you and I, Egbert. One
of 'em is named George Kent. He's a great friend of both of us. Nice
boy, too."

At the mention of the name the Phillips hand, caressing the Phillips
mustache, paused momentarily. But it resumed operations almost at once.
Other than this there was no sign of perturbation on its owner's part.
He slowly shook his head.

"My _dear_ Captain Kendrick----" he drawled.

"Oh, call me Sears. _Don't_ be formal."

"My dear man, if it is possible for you to come to the point? Without
too great a strain on your--ah--intellect?"

"I'm comin', Egbert. Right abreast there now. George--our mutual
friend--is in trouble. He has used some money that he can't spare, used
it in a stock deal. I won't go into the particulars because you know 'em
just as well as I do. You got him into the trouble in the first place, I
understand. Now, to a man up a tree, as the boys say, it would seem as
if you ought to be the one to get him out. Particularly as you are his
very best friend. Don't you think so?"

Egbert sighed before answering, a sigh of utter weariness.

"And may I ask if _this_ is the--ah--point?" he inquired.

"Why, yes--I guess so. In a way."

"And you are acting as our young friend's representative? He has seen
fit to take you into his confidence concerning a matter which was
supposed to be a business secret between--ah--gentlemen?"

"I could see he was in trouble and I offered to do what I could to help.
Then he told me the whole thing."

"Indeed? A changeable youth. When I last heard him mention your name it
was not--pardon me--in a--shall we say strictly affectionate tone?"

"That so? Too bad. But we are all liable to be mistaken in our
judgments. Men--and women, too."

Again there was a slight pause; Egbert was regarding the speaker
intently. The latter's countenance was about as expressive as that of a
wooden idol, a good-natured one. Mr. Phillips glanced once more at the
clock, languidly closed his eyes, opened them, sighed for the third
time, and then spoke.

"So I am to understand that our--ah--juvenile acquaintance has turned
his business affairs over to you," he said. "I congratulate him, I'm
sure. The marked success which you have attained in the--ah--management
of--ah--other business affairs has inspired him with perfect trust,
doubtless."

"That must be it. The average man has to trust somebody and I gathered
that _some_ trusts of his were beginnin' to slip their moorin's.
However, here's the situation. You got him to buy some stock on margin.
The stock, instead of goin' up, as you prophesied, went down. You
suggested his puttin' up more margin. He'd used all his own money, so he
used some belonging to some one else. Now he's in trouble, bad trouble.
What are you goin' to do about it?"

"I? My dear man, what should I do about it? What can I do? I have
explained my situation to him. I am, owing to circumstances and
the--ah--machinations of certain individuals--both circumstances and
individuals of your acquaintance, I believe--in a most unfortunate
position financially. I have no money, or very little. Our--your young
protege wished to risk some of his money in a certain speculation. I did
the same. The speculation was considered good at the time. I still
consider it good, although profit may be deferred. He took the risk with
his eyes open. He is of age. He is not a child, although--pardon
me--this new action of his might lead one to think him such. I am sorry
for him, but I do not consider myself at all responsible."

"I see. But he has used money which wasn't his to speculate with."

"I am sorry, deeply sorry. But--is that my fault?

"Well, that might be a question, mightn't it? You knew he was usin' that
money?"

"Pardon me--pardon me, Kendrick; but is that--ah--strictly true?"

"Well, he says it is. However, the question is just this: Will you help
him out by buyin' up his share in this C. M. deal? Pay him back his
sixteen hundred and take the whole thing over yourself?"

Mr. Phillips for the first time permitted himself the luxury of a real
smile.

"My _dear_ man," he observed, "you're not seriously offering such a
proposition as that, are you? You must be joking."

"It's no joke to poor George. And he's only a boy, after all. You
wouldn't want him to go to jail."

The smile disappeared. "I should be pained," protested Egbert, and
proved it by looking pained. "It would grieve me deeply. But I can't
think such a contingency possible. No, no; not possible. And in time--my
brokers assure me a very short time--the stock will advance."

"And you won't take over his share and get all that profit yourself?"

"I can't. It is impossible. I am so sorry. In former days--" with a
gesture of resignation--"it would have been quite possible. Then I
should have been delighted. But now.... However, you must, as a man of
the world, see that all this is quite absurd. And it is painful to me,
as a friend--still a friend of young Kent's. Pardon me again, but I am
busy this afternoon and----"

He rose. Sears did not rise. He remained seated.

"Jail's a mean place," he remarked, with apparent irrelevance. "I'd hate
to go there myself. So would you, I'll bet."

Another pause on Phillips' part. Then another wearied smile.

"Do you--ah--foresee any likelihood of either of us arriving at that
destination?" he inquired.

"Well, _I'm_ hopin' to stay out, for a spell anyway. Mr.
Phillips--Egbert--yes, yes, Egbert, of course; we're gettin' better
acquainted all the time, so we just mustn't stand on ceremony. Egbert,
how about those City of Boston 4-1/2s you put up as security over there
in New York? What are you goin' to do about _them_?"

Egbert had strolled to the window and was looking out. He continued to
look out. The captain, his gaze fixed upon the beautifully draped, even
though the least bit shiny, shoulders of the Phillips' coat, watched
eagerly for some shiver, some sign of agitation, however slight. But
there was none. The sole indication that the shot just fired had had
any effect was the length of time Egbert took before turning. When he
did turn he was still blandly smiling. He walked back to the rocker and
settled himself upon its patchwork cushion.

"Yes?" he queried. "You were saying----"

"I was speakin' of those two one thousand dollar City of Boston bonds
you sent your brokers, you know. Would you mind tellin' me how you got
those bonds?"

Mr Phillips lifted one slim leg over the other. He lifted two slim hands
and placed their finger tips together.

"Kendrick," he asked, "you will pardon me for speaking plainly? Thank
you so much. I have already listened to you for some time--more time
than I should have spared. For some reason you have--ah--seen fit
to--shall we say pursue me here. Having found me, you make a
most--pardon me again--unreasonable and childish demand on the part of
young Kent. I cannot grant it. Now is there any use wasting more time by
asking--pardon me once more--impertinent questions concerning my
affairs? You can scarcely--well, even you, my dear Kendrick, can hardly
expect me to answer them. Don't you think this--ah--extremely pleasant
interview had better end pleasantly--by ending now?"

He would have risen once more, but Sears motioned him to remain in the
rocker. The captain leaned forward.

"Egbert," he said briskly, "I'm busy, too; but I have spent a good many
hours and some dollars to get at you and I shan't leave you until I get
at least a part of what I came after. Those Boston bonds----"

"Are my property, sir."

"Well, I don't know. The last anybody heard they were the property of
Mrs. Cordelia Berry. Now you say they're yours. That's one of the
matters to be settled before you and I part company, Egbert."

Mr. Phillips' aristocratic form stiffened. Slowly he rose to his feet.

"You are insulting," he proclaimed. "That will do. There is the door."

"Yes, I see it. It's a nice door; the grainin' on it seems to be pretty
well done. How did you get hold of those bonds, Egbert?"

"If you don't go, I shall."

"All right. Then I'll go with you. You shan't take the three-fifteen or
any other train till we've settled this and some other questions. Oh,
it's a fact. No hard feelin', you know; just business, that's all."

Egbert moved toward the door. His caller rose to follow him. The captain
often wondered afterward whether or not Phillips would really have left
the room if there had been no interruption. The question remained a
question because at that moment there was a knock on the other side of
the door. It had a marked effect upon Egbert. He started, frowned and
shot another glance at the clock.

"Excuse me," said Mrs. Backus, opening the door a crack, "but my husband
has come."

Phillips seemed relieved, yet troubled, too.

"Yes--ah--yes," he said. "Will you kindly ask him to wait? Thank you."

The lady closed the door again. Egbert took a turn across the room and
back. Kendrick smiled cheerfully.

"About those bonds?" he observed.

Phillips faced him.

"The bonds," he declared, "are mine. How I got them is not your business
in the least."

"Just a minute, just a minute. Cordelia Berry----"

"Did Mrs. Berry tell you that I had them?"

"No need to bother with that part of it now. I know."

"But she did not give you authority to come to me about them? Don't
pretend she did; I know better."

"I'm not goin' to pretend--that. She didn't."

"Humph!" with a sneer; "perhaps your authority comes from some one else.
Her daughter, maybe? You and she are--or shall we say _were_--quite
touchingly confidential at one time, I believe."

The tone and the remark were mistakes; it would have been much better
for the Phillips cause if the speaker had continued to be loftily
condescending. Sears kept a grip on his temper, but his own tone changed
as he replied.

"Egbert," he said sharply, "look here. The facts, as far as a man
without a spyglass can sight 'em through the fog, are just these: You
got George Kent into a stock trade. He put up money--real money. You put
up two thousand dollars in bonds and, because that was more than your
share, he paid you four hundred dollars in cash. The last anybody knew
the two bonds you put up were the property of Cordelia Berry. I want to
know how you got hold of 'em."

"Am I to understand that you are accusing me of _stealing_ those bonds?"

"I'm not accusin' you of anything in particular. George has put this
affair of his in my hands; I've got what amounts to his signed power of
attorney in my pocket. If those bonds are yours, and you can prove it,
then I shan't say any more about 'em. If they still belong to
Cordelia--well, that's another question, one I mean to have the answer
to before you and I part company."

"Kendrick, I---- Do you realize that I can have you arrested for this?"

"I don't know. But it does seem to me that if those bonds aren't your
property then you had no right to pledge 'em in that stock deal. And
that your takin' Kent's four hundred dollars in part payment for 'em
comes pretty nigh to what a lawyer would call gettin' money under false
pretenses. So the arrests might be even-Stephen, so far as that goes."

This was the sheerest "bluff," but it was delivered with all the
assurance in the world. It had not precisely the effect Sears had hoped
for. Egbert did not seem so much frightened as annoyed by it. He
frowned, walked across the room and back, looked at the clock, then out
of the window, and finally turned to his opponent.

"Recognizing, of course," he sneered, "the fact that all this is
absolutely none of your business, Kendrick; may I ask why you didn't
come to me in Bayport instead of here?"

The captain's smile returned. "I did try to come, Egbert," he answered.
"But you had gone and so had the things in your room. You told Sarah and
the stable folks you were goin' to Trumet. When I found you hadn't gone
there, but were bound for here--after hidin' your valises over night in
Tabby Crosby's shed--I decided you might be goin' even farther than
Denboro, and that if I wanted to see you pretty soon--or ever,
maybe--I'd better hoist sail and travel fast. When the depot folks told
me you were askin' about the three-fifteen I felt confirmed in my
judgments, as the fellow said. Now if you'll tell me about those bonds?"

Another turn by Phillips across the parlor and back. Then he asked, with
sarcasm, "If I were to tell you that those bonds were given me by Mrs.
Berry, you wouldn't believe it, I presume?"

"We-ll, I'd like to hear a little testimony from Cordelia first."

"May I ask why you did not go to her instead of to me?"

"I didn't have a chance. You got away too soon."

"Possibly you may have thought that she, too, would consider it none of
your business. And, since you won't take my word, how do you expect me
to prove--here in Denboro that those bonds are mine?"

"I don't know. But if it can't be proved in Denboro, then I'm afraid,
Egbert, that you'll have to go back to Bayport with me and prove it
there.... Oh, I know you'd hate to go, but----"

"Go! I flatly refuse to go, of course."

"I was afraid you would. Well, then I'd have to call in the constable to
help get you under way. Jim Baker, the depot master, is constable here
in Denboro. He and I were shipmates. He'd arrest the prophet Elijah if I
asked him to, and not ask why, either."

"Kendrick----"

"Egbert, a spell ago you and I had a little chat together and I told you
I had just begun to fight.... Well, I haven't really begun yet, but I'm
gettin' up steam.... Think it over."

Phillips stopped and, standing by the window, stared fixedly at the
captain. The latter met the stare with a look of the blandest serenity.
Behind the look, however, were feelings vastly different. If ever a
forlorn hope skated upon thin ice, his and George Kent's was doing so at
that moment. If Egbert _should_ agree to return to Bayport, and if his
statement concerning the ownership of the Boston bonds _was_ true,
then--well, then it would not be Mr. Phillips who might receive the
attentions of the constable.

Egbert stopped staring and once more looked at the clock. Quarter past
two! He turned again quickly.

"Kendrick," he snapped, "what _is_ your proposition?"

"My proposition? I want you to pay me the sixteen hundred dollars Kent
put into that C. M. stock deal. If you do that I'll give you his signed
paper turnin' over to you all interest in the deal. You can make all the
profit on it yourself--when it comes. Then in matter of Cordelia's
bonds----"

Phillips lifted a hand.

"The bonds are not to be considered," he said, decisively. "If they are
mine, as I say they are, you have no claim on them. If they are Mrs.
Berry's, as you absurdly pretend to think they are, again you have no
claim. If she says I have stolen them--which she won't--she may
prosecute; but, again, my dear sir, she--ah--won't."

The slight smile accompanying the last sentence troubled the captain. It
was not the smile of a frightened man. Before he could reply Egbert
continued.

"But the bond matter may be settled later," he went on. "So far as I am
concerned it is settled now. For our--ah--foolish young friend, Kent,
however, I feel a certain sense of--shall we say pity?--and am inclined
to make certain confessions. Silly sentimentalism on my part,
doubtless--but pity, nevertheless. If you will give me the paper signed
by him, which you claim to have, relinquishing all share in the stock at
the New York brokers, I will--well, yes, I will pay you the sixteen
hundred dollars."

It was Sears Kendrick who was staggered now. It was his turn to stare.

"You will pay me sixteen hundred dollars--_now_?" he gasped.

"Yes."

"But--but.... Humph! Well, thanks, Egbert--but your check, you know----"

"I have no time to waste in drawing checks. I will pay you in cash."

And, as Sears's already wide-open eyes opened wider and wider, he calmly
took from his coat a pocketbook hugely obese and extracted from that
pocketbook a mammoth roll of bank notes.

Ten minutes later the captain was again moving along the road between
Denboro and Bayport, bound home this time. He was driving mechanically;
the horse was acting as his own pilot, for the man who held the reins
was too much engrossed in thought to pay attention to such
inconsequential matters as ruts or even roads. Sears was doing his best
to find the answer to a riddle and, so far, the answer was as deeply
shrouded in mist as ever a ship of his had been on any sea.

He was satisfied in one way, more than satisfied. His demand for the
full sixteen hundred had been made with no real hope. Had Phillips
consented to return eight hundred dollars of the amount, the offer would
in the end have been accepted with outward reluctance but inward joy.
Had he refused to return a penny Kendrick would not have been surprised.
But Egbert, after making up his mind, had paid the entire sum without a
whimper, had paid it almost casually and with the air of one obliging a
well-meaning, if somewhat annoying, inferior. Inspecting and pocketing
Kent's power of attorney and the captain's receipt he had dismissed his
visitor at the parsonage door as King Solomon in all his glory might
have graciously dismissed a beggar whose petition had been granted. And
the look in his eye and the half smile beneath the long mustache were
not those of one beaten at a game--no, they were not.

The recollection of that look and that smile bothered Sears Kendrick. He
could not guess what was behind them. One thing seemed to be certain,
his threats of prosecution and his bluffs concerning the Boston bonds
had not alarmed Phillips greatly. He had not given in because he was
afraid of imprisonment. No; no, the only symptoms of nervousness he had
shown were his repeated glances at the clock, at his watch, and when he
looked out of the parsonage window. More and more the captain was forced
to the conclusion that Egbert had paid him to get rid of him, that he
did not wish to be detained or to have Kendrick remain there, and his
reasons must have been so important that he was willing to part with
sixteen hundred dollars to get his visitor out of the way.

But what possible reason could be as important as that? Why had he run
away from Bayport? Why was he taking the three-fifteen train--at
Denboro? Why was he spending the time before the departure of that train
in the parlor of the Methodist parsonage? And he had made an appointment
with the minister himself. Was he expecting some one else at that
parsonage?

Eh? The captain straightened on the buggy seat. He spoke aloud one word,
a name.

"Cordelia!" he cried.

For another five minutes Captain Sears Kendrick, his frown growing
deeper and deeper as the conviction was forced upon him, sat motionless
in the buggy. Then he spoke sharply to his horse, turned the latter
about, and drove rapidly back to Denboro. He could do nothing worth
while, he could prevent nothing, but he could answer that riddle. He
believed he had answered it already.

It was half-past three when he again knocked at the parsonage door. The
Reverend Backus himself answered the knock.

"Why, no," he said, "Mr. Phillips has gone. Yes, I think--I am sure he
took the train. You are his friend, aren't you? I am sorry you missed
the--er--happy event. Mrs. Phillips--the new Mrs. Phillips--is a
charmingly refined lady, isn't she? And Mr. Phillips himself is _such_ a
gentleman. I don't know when I have had the pleasure of--er--officiating
at a pleasanter ceremony. I shall always remember it."

Mrs. Backus looked over her husband's shoulder.

"The bride came just after you left," she explained. "She was just a
little late, she said; but it was all right, there was plenty of time.
And she did look _so_ happy!"

Captain Kendrick did not look happy. He had answered the riddle
correctly. An elopement, of course. It was plain enough now. Oh, if he
might have been there when that poor, silly, misguided woman arrived! He
might not have been able to stop the marriage, but at least he
could--and would--have told the bride a few pointed truths concerning
the groom.

Mrs. Backus, all smiles, asked her husband a question. "What did you say
her name was, dear?" she asked.

The minister hesitated. "Why--why--" he stammered, "it was---- Dear me,
how forgetful I am!"

Sears supplied the information.

"Berry," he said, gloomily. "Cordelia Berry."

Mr. Backus seemed surprised. "Why, no," he declared. "That doesn't sound
like the name.... It wasn't. No, it wasn't. It was--I have it--Snowden.
Miss Elvira Snowden--of Ostable, I believe."



CHAPTER XIX


Not until Captain Kendrick entered the Minot kitchen late that afternoon
did he get the full and complete answer to his puzzle. Judah supplied
the missing details, supplied them with a rush, had evidently been
bursting with them for hours.

"My hoppin', creepin', jumpin' prophets, Cap'n Sears," he roared, before
his lodger could speak a word, "if I ain't got the dumdest news to tell
you now, then nobody ever had none!... You ain't heard it, Cap'n, have
you? _Don't_ tell me you've heard it already! Have you?"

Sears shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, Judah," he replied. "Have
I?"

"Hoppin' Henry! I _hope_ you ain't, 'cause I wanted to tell you myself.
It's about Elviry Snowden. Have you heard anything about her?"

"Why--well, what have _you_ heard?"

"Heard! They heard it fust over to the Harbor about a couple of hours
ago. Bradley, the Orham lawyer feller, he'd heard it and he come over to
see Elizabeth about somethin' or 'nother and he told it to all hands.
You know that aunt of Elviry's over to Ostable, the one that died last
week? Well all hands had cal'lated she was kind of on her beam
ends--poor, I mean. When her husband died, don't you recollect some
property they owned over to Harniss was goin' to be sold to auction? All
them iron images Elviry wanted to buy was part of 'em; don't you
remember?"

"Yes, I remember.

"Sartin sure you do. Well, so fur as that goes them images wan't sold
because the widow changed her mind about 'em and had 'em all carted
over to another little place she owned in Ostable, and set up in the
yard there. She's been livin' on this place in Ostable and everybody
figgered she didn't have much money else she'd stayed in the big house
in Harniss. But, by Henry, since she's died it's come out that she was
rich. Yes, sir, rich! She'd saved every cent, you see; never spent
nothin'. A reg'lar mouser, she was--miser, I mean. And who do you
suppose she's left it all to? Elviry, by the creepin'! Yes, sir, every
last cent to Elviry Snowden."

"_No!!_"

"Yes. Elviry's rich. 'Cordin' to Bradley's tell there's a lot of land
and a house and barn, and all them iron images, and--wait; let me tell
you--stocks, and things like that, and over ten thousand dollars cash in
the bank, by Henry! In _cash_, where Elviry can get right aholt of it if
she wants to. Much as thirty thousand, altogether, land and all. And....
What in tunket are you laughin' at?"

For Captain Kendrick had thrown himself into the rocking chair and was
shaking the pans on the stove with peal after peal of laughter.

It was so simple, so complete, and so wonderfully, gorgeously Egbertian.
A little matter of arithmetic, that was all. Merely the substitution of
twenty or thirty thousand dollars and a landed estate for five--no,
three--thousand dollars and a somewhat cramped future at the Fair
Harbor. The ladies in the case were incidental. When the choice was
offered him the businesslike Phillips hesitated not a moment. He was on
with the new love even before he was off with the old. And, in order to
avoid the unpleasantness which was sure to ensue when the old found it
out, he had arranged to be married at Denboro and to be far afield upon
his wedding tour before the news reached Bayport.

Everything was clear now. Elvira's windfall explained it all. It was her
money which had paid Captain Elkanah, and Sarah Macomber, and the livery
man, and no doubt many another of Egbert's little bills. It was her
money that was paying the honeymoon expenses. And, of course, it was
her sixteen hundred dollars which had just been handed to Sears Kendrick
in the parlor of the parsonage.

No wonder that, under the circumstances, Egbert had chosen to pay. It
must have been a nerve-racking session for him, that interview with the
captain. Each minute might bring his bride-to-be to the parsonage door,
and if she learned before marriage of Cordelia's bonds and the
Kent-Phillips stock speculation, not to mention the threatened arrest
and consequent scandal, why--well, Elvira was fatuously smitten, but the
chances were that the wedding would have been postponed, if nothing
worse. No wonder Egbert preferred parting with a portion of his
lady-love's fortune to the risk of parting with the lady herself--and
the remainder of it.

Sears did not tell Judah of the elopement. He did not feel like it,
then. His had been a tiring day and the strain upon his own nerves not
slight. He wanted to rest, he wanted to think, and he did not want to
talk. Judah spared him the trouble; he did talking enough for two.

After supper George Kent came hurrying into the yard. Sears had expected
him and, when he came, led him into the "spare stateroom" and closed the
door. Then, without any preliminaries, he took the sixteen hundred
dollars from his wallet and gave them to him.

"There's your money, George," he said.

Kent could not believe it. He had come here, in the last stages of
despair. This was practically his final day of grace. The afternoon mail
had brought him another letter from his brother-in-law, making immediate
demand and threatening drastic action within the week. He had come,
haggard, nervous and trembling, ready to proclaim again his intention of
self-destruction.

He sat there, staring at the money in his hand, saying nothing. His face
was as white as the clean towels on the captain's washstand. Kendrick,
leaning forward, laid a hand on his knee.

"Brace up, George," he ordered, sharply. "Don't let go of the wheel."

Kent slowly lifted his gaze from the roll of bills to his friend's face.

"You--you _got_ it!" he faltered.

"_I_ got it--all of it. There's the whole sixteen hundred there. Count
it."

"But--but, oh, my God! I--I----"

"Sshh! Steady as she is, George. Count your money. Put it on the table
here by the lamp."

He took the bills from Kent's shaking fingers, arranged them on the
table and, at last, coaxed or drove the young man into beginning to
count them. Of course it was Kendrick himself who really counted; his
companion did little but pick up the bank notes and drop them again.
Suddenly, in the midst of the performance, he stopped, put his hands to
his face and burst into hysterical sobs.

Sears let him cry for a time, merely stepping across to make sure that
the bedroom door was tightly closed, and then standing above him with
his hands on the bowed shoulders. After a little the sobs ceased. A
moment later and George raised his head.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "What a--a kid I am!"

Sears, who had been thinking pretty nearly that very thing, patted the
shoulder beneath his hand.

"All right, George," he said. "Bein' a kid is no crime. In fact, it has
some advantages."

"But--but, you see--I--I have been through purgatory this week, I----"

"I know. But you're all through and out now."

"Yes, I--I am. By George, I am, aren't I!... And you did it for me.
_You_ did!"

"Never mind that. I enjoyed doin' it. Yes," with a slight smile, "I had
a pretty good time, take it by and large."

"And you got the--the whole of it! The whole!"

"Yes."

"But I can't understand.... Did--Cap'n Kendrick, did you borrow it for
me?"

"No. I talked things over with your--er--side-partner and he decided to
give it back."

"To give it back! Mr. Phillips did, you mean? But he wouldn't give it to
me. I begged him to. I should have been satisfied with half of it--my
sister's half. Indeed I should! But he said he couldn't give it to me,
he didn't have it to give. And--and you got him to give me the whole!
Cap'n Kendrick, I--I can't understand."

"You don't have to. There's your sixteen hundred. Now take it, and
before you turn in this night you get ready to send your brother-in-law
his half, and the papers that go with it, on the first mail. That's all
I ask of you, George."

"I'll have it in the post office as soon as it opens to-morrow morning.
You bet I will!"

"That's what I want to be able to bet. You send a money-order, that's
safest. And--well, yes, George, you might show me the receipt."

"I'll show it to you. You can keep it for me, if you want to."

"Seein' it will do. And one thing more: you promise me now, on your word
of honor, not to take any more of those stock market fliers for--well,
for ten years, anyhow."

Kent promised; he would have promised anything. His color had come back,
his spirits were now as high as they had been low, and he was striding
up and down the room like a mad thing.

"But how did you get it for me?" he kept demanding. The captain bade him
stop.

"Never mind how I got it," he declared. "I got it, and you've got it,
and you'll have to be satisfied with that. Don't ask me again, George."

"I won't, but--but I can't understand Mr. Phillips giving it back. He
didn't have to, you know. Say, I think it was mighty generous of him,
after all. Don't you?"

Sears's lip twitched. "It looks as if somebody was generous," he
observed. "Now run along, George, and fix up that letter to your
brother-in-law."

"I'm going to. I'm going now. But, Cap'n Kendrick, I don't know what to
say to you. I--why, great Scott, I can't begin to tell you how I feel
about what you've done! I'd cut off my head for you; honest I would."

"Cuttin' off your own head would be consider'ble of a job. Better keep
your head on, George.... And use it once in a while."

"You know what this means to me, Cap'n Kendrick. To my future and--and
maybe some one else's future, too. Why, _now_ I can go--I can say----
Oh, great Scott!"

Kendrick opened the bedroom door. "Come now, George," he said. "Good
night--and good luck."

Kent would have said more, much more, even though Judah Cahoon was
sitting, with ears and mouth open, in the kitchen. But the captain would
not let him linger or speak. He helped him on with his coat and hat,
and, with a slap on the back, literally pushed him out into the yard.
Then he turned on his heel and striding again through the kitchen
reëntered the spare stateroom and closed the door behind him. Judah
shouted something about its being "not much more'n two bells"--meaning
nine o'clock--but he received no answer.

Judah did not retire until nearly eleven that night, but when, at last,
he did go to his own room, there was a light still shining under the
door of the spare stateroom and he could hear the captain's footsteps
moving back and forth, back and forth, within. For two hours he had so
heard them. Obviously the "old man" was pacing the deck, a pretty sure
sign of rough weather present or expected. Mr. Cahoon was troubled, also
disappointed. He would have liked to talk interminably concerning the
sensational news of Miss Snowden's inheritance; he had not begun to
exhaust the possibilities of that subject. Then, too, he was very
anxious to learn where Captain Sears had been all day, and why. He tried
in various ways to secure attention. But when, after singing eight
verses of the most doleful ditty in his repertoire, he was not ordered
to "shut up," was in fact ignored altogether, he quit disgusted. But, as
he closed the door of his own bedchamber, he could still hear the
regular footfalls in the spare stateroom.

Had he listened for another hour or more he would have heard them. Sears
Kendrick was tramping back and forth, his hands jammed in his pockets,
and upon his spirit the blackest and deepest and densest of clouds. It
was the reaction, of course. He was tired physically, but more tired
mentally. All day long he had been under a sharp strain, now he was
experiencing the let-down. But there was more than that. His campaign
against Egbert Phillips had kept him interested. Now the fight was over
and, although superficially he was the victor, in reality it was a
question which side had won. He had saved George Kent's money and his
good name. And Cordelia Berry's future was safe, too, although her two
thousand dollars might be, and probably were, lost. But, after all, his
was a poor sort of victory. Egbert was, doubtless, congratulating
himself and chuckling over the outcome of the battle; with thirty
thousand dollars and ease and comfort for the rest of his life, he could
afford to chuckle. Kent's happiness was sure. He could go to Elizabeth
now with clean hands and youth and hope. Perhaps he had gone to her
already. That very evening he and she might be together once more.

And for the man who had made this possible, what remained? Where were
those silly hopes with which, at one time, he had deluded himself? He
had dared to dream romance. Where was that romance now? Face to face
with reality, what was to be _his_ future? More days and weeks and years
of puttering with the penny-paring finances of a home for old women?

He dressed next morning with a mind made up. He had dallied and
deliberated and wished long enough. Now he _knew_. His stay in Bayport
was practically ended. Give him a little time and luck enough to find a
competent manager for the Fair Harbor, one with whom he believed Judge
Knowles would have been satisfied, and he was through for good. He must
play fair with the judge and then--then for the shipping offices of
Boston or New York and a berth at sea. His health was almost normal;
his battered limbs were nearly as sound as ever. He could handle a ship
and he could handle men. His fights and sacrifices for others were
finished, over and done with. Now he would fight for himself.

His breakfast appetite was poor. Judah, aghast at the sight of his
untouched plate, demanded to know if he was sick. The answer to the
question was illuminating.

"No," snapped the captain, "I'm not sick.... Yes, I am, too. I'm sick to
death of this town and this place and this landlubber's job. Judah, are
you goin' to spend the rest of your days playin' hired boy for Ogden
Minot? Or are you comin' to sea again with me? Because to sea is where
I'm goin'--and mighty quick."

Judah's mouth opened. "Hoppin' Henry!" he gasped. "Why, Cap'n Sears----"

"You don't _like_ this job, do you? Hadn't you rather have your own
galley on board a decent ship? Are you a sea-man--or a washwoman? Don't
you want to ship with me again?"

"_Want_ to! Cap'n Sears, you know I'd rather go to sea along with you
than--than be King of Rooshy. But you ain't fit to go to sea yet."

"Shut up! Don't you dare say that again. And stand by to pack your sea
chest when I give the order.... No, I don't want to argue. I won't
argue. Clear out!"

Mr. Cahoon, bewildered but obedient, cleared out. Not long afterward he
drove away on the seat of the truck wagon to haul the Bangs wood, the
task postponed from the previous day. Kendrick, left alone, lit a pipe
and resumed his pacing up and down. Later on he took pen, ink and paper
and seated himself at the table to write some letters to shipping
merchants whose vessels he had commanded in the old days, the happy days
before he gave up seafaring to become a poor imitation of a business man
on shore.

He composed these letters with care. Two were completed and the third
was under way, when some one knocked at the other door. He laid down his
pen impatiently. He did not want to be interrupted. If the visitor was
Kent he did not feel like listening to more thanks. If it was Esther
Tidditt she could unload her cargo of gossip at some other port.

But the caller was neither George nor Esther. It was Elizabeth who
entered the kitchen in answer to his command to "Come in." He rose to
greet her. She looked pale--yes, and tired, but she smiled faintly as
she bade him good morning.

"Cap'n Kendrick," she said, "are you very busy? I suppose you are,
but--but if you are not too busy I should like to talk with you for a
few minutes. May I?"

He nodded. "Of course," he said. "My business can wait a little longer;
it has waited a good while, this particular business has. Sit down."

She took the rocker. He sat at the other side of the table, waiting for
her to speak. It came to him, the thought that, the last time she had
visited that kitchen, she had left it vowing never to speak to him
again. Well, at least that was over; she no longer believed him a spy,
and all the rest of it. There was, or should be, some comfort for him in
knowing that.

Suddenly, just as she had done on the platform of the lawyer's office at
Orham, she put out her hand.

"Don't!" she pleaded.

He started, confusedly. "Don't?" he stammered. "What?"

"Don't think of--of what you were thinking. If you knew--oh, Cap'n
Kendrick, if you could only realize how wicked I feel. Even when I said
those dreadful things to you I didn't mean them. And now---- Oh,
_please_ forget them, if you can."

He drew a long breath. "I never saw any one like you," he declared. "How
did you know what I was thinkin'? ... Of course I wasn't thinkin' it,
but----"

She interrupted. "Of course you were, you mean," she said, with a faint
smile. "It isn't hard to know what you think. You don't hide your
thoughts very well, Cap'n Kendrick. They aren't the kind one needs to
hide."

He stared at her in guilty amazement. "Good land!" he ejaculated,
involuntarily. "Don't talk that way. What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that your thoughts are always straightforward and--well, honest,
like yourself.... But we mustn't waste time. I don't know when we shall
have another opportunity to be together like this, and there are some
things I must say to you. Cap'n Kendrick, you know--you have heard the
news?"

"News?... Oh, you mean about Elvira's inheritin' all that money?"

"That, of course. But that wasn't the news I meant. I mean about her
eloping with--with that man."

Troubled even as Sears was at the sight of her evident distress, he
could not but feel a thrill of satisfaction at the tone in which she
referred to "that man." He nodded.

"I've heard it," he said. "I guess likely I was about the first
Bayporter that did hear it. When did you hear?"

"A little while ago. He wrote--he wrote my mother a letter. It was at
the post office this morning."

"He did? He _didn't_! The low-lived scamp!"

"Hush! Don't talk about him. Yes, he wrote her. _Such_ a letter! She
showed it to me. So full of hypocrisy, and lies and--oh, can't you
imagine what it was?"

Kendrick's right fist tapped the table gently. "I guess likely I can,"
he said, grimly. "Well, some of these days I may run afoul of Egbert
again. When I do----" The fist closed a little tighter.

"You won't touch him. Promise me you won't. If you should, I---- Oh,
dear! I think I should be afraid to touch your hands afterwards."

Sears smiled. "It might be safer to use my boot," he admitted. "Your
mother--how is she?"

"Can't you imagine? I think--I hope it is her pride that is hurt more
than anything. For some little time--well, ever since I found out that
she was lending him money--I have done my best to make her see what he
really is. But before that--oh, there is no use pretending, for you
know--she was insane about him. And now, with the shock and the
disillusionment and the shame, she is---- Oh, it is dreadful!"

"Do the--er--rest of 'em over there know it yet?"

"No, but they will very soon. And when they do! You know what some of
them are, what they will say. We can't stay there, mother and I. We must
go away--and we will."

She was crying, and if ever a man yearned for the rôle of comforter,
Sears Kendrick was that man. He tried to say something, but he was
afraid to trust his own tongue; it might run away with him. And before
his attempt was at all coherent, she went on.

"Don't mind me," she said, hastily wiping her eyes. "I am nervous, and I
have been through a bad hour, and--and I am acting foolishly, of course.
I know that this is, in a way, the very best thing that could happen.
This ends it, so far as mother is concerned. Oh, it might have been _so_
much worse! It looked as if it were going to be. Now she _knows_ what he
is. I have known it, or been almost sure of it, for a long time. And you
must have known it always, from the beginning. That is a part of what I
came here for this morning. Please tell me how you knew and--and all
about everything."

So he told her, beginning with what Judge Knowles had said concerning
Lobelia's husband, and continuing on to the end. She listened intently.

"Yes," she said. "I see. I wish you could have told me at first. I think
if I had known exactly how Judge Knowles felt I might not have been so
foolish. But I should have known--I should have seen for myself. Of
course I should. To think that I ever believed in such a creature, and
trusted him, and permitted him to influence me against--against a friend
like you. Oh, I must have been crazy!"

Kendrick shook his head. "No craziness about that," he declared. "I've
seen some smooth articles in my time, seen 'em afloat and ashore, from
one end of this world to the other, but of all the slick ones he was
the slickest. It's a good thing the judge warned me before Egbert
crossed my bows. If he hadn't--well, I don't know; _I_ might have been
lendin' him my last dollar, and proud of the chance--you can't tell....
I'm sorry, though," he added, "that he got those bonds of your mother's.
Borrowed 'em of her, you say?"

"Yes. He was going to make better investments for her, I believe he
said. But that doesn't make any difference. She has no receipts or
anything to show. And of course if she should try to get them again
there would be dreadful gossip, all sorts of things said. No, the bonds
are gone and ... But how did you know about the bonds, Cap'n Kendrick?"

Sears had momentarily forgotten. He had, during his story of his war
with Phillips, carefully avoided mentioning Kent's trouble. He had told
of chasing Egbert to Denboro, but the particular reason for the pursuit
he had not told. He was taken aback and embarrassed.

"Why--why----" he stammered.

But she answered her own question. "Of course!" she cried. "I know how
you knew. George said that--that that man had used some bonds as a part
of their stock speculation. I didn't think then of mother's bonds. That
is what he did with them. I see."

The captain looked at her. Kent had told her of the C. M. deal. That
meant that he had seen her, that already he had gone to her, to confess,
to beg her pardon, to ... He sighed. Well, he should be glad, of course.
He must pretend to be very glad.

"So--so you've seen George?" he stammered.

She colored slightly. "Yes," she answered. "He came to see me last
evening.... Cap'n Kendrick you should hear him speak of you. You saved
him from disgrace--and worse, he says. It was a wonderful thing to do.
But I think you must be in the habit of doing wonderful things for other
people."

He shrugged his shoulders. "Nothin' very wonderful about it," he said.
"George is a good boy. He hadn't bumped into any Egberts before, that's
all. He'll be on the lookout for 'em now. I'm glad for him--and for
you."

If she understood what he meant she did not show any embarrassment.

"I don't know that you need be so glad for me," she said. "Yet in a way
I am glad. The problem is settled now, mother's and mine. She and I will
go away."

"Go away? From the Fair Harbor?"

"Yes, and from Bayport. She has a little money left. Thanks to Judge
Knowles, I have some of my own. She and I can live on the interest for a
time, or until I can find a way to earn more."

"But--but--George?"

"I think George is going away, too. He spoke of Boston. But there is
another thing I meant to say to you. I hate to leave you with the entire
care of the Fair Harbor on your hands. I shall try and help you to find
another matron before we go."

Sears rose from his chair. "That's all right," he said, "that part of
it. We'll try and find another outside manager at the same time. You
see, you and your mother aren't the only ones who are quittin' Bayport.
I'm goin', too."

She turned to look at him. "_You_ are going?" she repeated, slowly.
"Where?"

"I don't know exactly. To sea, I hope. I'm well again, or next door to
it. I mean to command another ship, if such a thing's possible."

"But you are leaving the Fair Harbor. Why?"

He turned on her almost fiercely. "Why?" he cried. "Don't you know why?
Because I'm a man--or I was one--and I want to be a man again. On shore,
I'm--well, I'm a good deal of a failure, I guess; but on salt water I
count for somethin'. I'm goin' to sea where I belong."

He strode to the window and stood there, looking out. He heard her rise,
heard her step beside him. Then he felt her hand upon his.

"I'm glad for you," she said, simply. "Very, very glad. I wish I were a
man and could go, too."

He did not look at her, he did not dare.

"It's a rough life," he said, "but I like it."

"I know.... So you will soon be really seeing again those things you
told me about, the foreign cities and the people and those islands--and
all the wonderful, wonderful places. And you won't have to fret about
the grocery bills, or the mean little Fair Harbor gossip, or anything of
the kind. You can just sail away and forget it all."

"I shan't forget it all. There's a lot I never want to forget."

There was an interval of silence here, an interval that, to the captain,
seemed to last for ages. It must be broken, it must be or....

"I shall think of you and George often enough," he announced, briskly.
"Yes, indeed. And--and if it isn't too soon--that is, if you don't mind
my bein' the first one--I'd like to congratulate you and wish you a
smooth passage and a long one."

She did not answer and he mustered courage to turn and look at her. She
was looking at him and her expression was odd.

"A smooth passage?" she repeated. "Why, Cap'n Kendrick, I'm not going to
sea. What do you mean?"

"I mean--well, I meant--er--oh, I was speakin' in parables, like a
minister, you know. I was wishin' you and George a happy voyage through
life, that's all."

"George! Why, I am going away with my mother. George isn't.... Why,
Cap'n Kendrick, you don't think--you can't think that George and I
are--are----"

"Eh? Aren't you? I thought----"

She shook her head. "I told you once," she said. "I mean it. I like
George well enough--sometimes I like him better than at others. But--oh,
why can't you believe me?"

He was staring at her with a gaze so intent, an expression so strange
that she could not meet it. She turned away.

"Please don't say any more about it," she begged.

"But--but George is--he has counted on it. He told me----"

"Don't. I don't know what he told you. I hope nothing foolish. He and I
understand each other. Last night, when he came, I told him ... There, I
must go, Cap'n Kendrick. I have left mother alone too long already."

"Wait!" he shouted it. "You mean ... You aren't goin' to marry George
Kent--_ever_?"

"Why, no, of course not!"

"Elizabeth--oh, my soul, I--I'm crazy, I guess--but--Elizabeth, could
you---- No, you couldn't, I know.... But _am_ I crazy? Could you--do
you--Elizabeth, if you ... _Stop_!"

She was on her way to the door.

He sprang after her, caught her hand.

"Elizabeth," he cried, the words tumbling over each other, "I'm
thirty-eight years old. I'm a sailor, that's all. I'm not much of a man,
as men go maybe, sort of a failure so far. But--with you to work for and
live for, I--I guess I could be--I feel as if I could be almost
anything. Could you give me that chance? Could you?"

She did not answer; did not even look at him. He dropped her hand.

"Of course not," he sighed. "Just craziness was what it was. Forgive me,
my girl. And--forget it, if you can."

She did not speak. Slowly, and still without looking at him, she walked
out of the kitchen. The outer door closed behind her. He put his hand to
his eyes, breathed deeply, and returning to the chair by the table, sat
heavily down.

"A failure," he groaned aloud. "Lord Almighty, _what_ a failure!"

He had not heard the door open, but he did hear her step, and felt her
arms about his neck and her kiss upon his cheek.

"Don't, don't, don't!" she sobbed. "Oh, my dear, don't say that. Don't
ever say it again. Oh, you mustn't."

And he did not. For the next half hour he said many other things, and
so did she, and when at last she did go away, he stood in the doorway,
looking after her, knowing himself to be not a failure, but the one real
overwhelming success in all this gloriously successful world.



CHAPTER XX


It was April and one of those beautiful early spring days with which New
England is sometimes favored. The first buds were showing on the trees,
the first patches of new green were sprinkling the sheltered slopes of
the little hills, and under the dead leaves by the edges of the woods
boys had been rummaging for the first mayflowers.

It was supper time at the Fair Harbor and the "guests"--quoting Mrs.
Susannah Brackett--or the "inmates"--quoting Mr. Judah Cahoon--were
seated about the table. There were some notable vacancies in the roster.
At the head, where Mrs. Cordelia Berry had so graciously and for so long
presided, there was now an empty chair. That chair would soon be filled,
however; the new matron of the Harbor was at that moment in the office
discussing business matters with Mr. Bradley, the new "outside manager."
She had told the others not to wait for her; she would come to supper as
soon as she could. So Mrs. Brackett, who had moved up to the seat once
glorified by the dignity of Miss Elvira Snowden, was serving the cold
corned beef; while opposite her, in the chair where Elizabeth Berry used
to sit, Mrs. Aurora Chase was ladling forth the preserved pears. And, in
the absence of the matron, it was of course natural that conversation
should turn to subjects which could not be discussed as freely or
pointedly in her presence.

Miss Desire Peasley began the discussion. She looked at the ancient
clock on the mantel. The time was a quarter to six.

"H'm," sniffed Miss Peasley, with a one-sided smile. "I suppose likely
the great event's took place long afore this. They're married and off on
their honeymoon by now.... If you can call a cruise on board a ship
bound to an outlandish place like Singapore a honeymoon. I took one
voyage to Bombay with my brother, and 'twan't the honeymoon trip I'd
pick out. _Such_ a place! And such folks! The clothes those poor
heathens wore--or didn't wear! Shameful! Don't talk!"

The order not to talk was plainly not considered binding, for every one
immediately began to talk.

"I should like to have seen the weddin'," proclaimed Mrs. Hattis Thomas,
with a giggle. "Must have looked more like an adoptin' ceremony than a
marryin'. I've always been thankful for one thing, I married a man
somewheres nigh my own age, anyhow."

"Wonder how Cordelia likes bein' left alone?" observed Mrs. Constance
Cahoon. "She's been used to havin' a daughter to wait on her hand and
foot. Now she'll have to wait on herself for a spell. But I presume
likely she won't mind that. Livin' up to Boston, with the interest of
twenty-five thousand dollars to live on, will suit her down to the
ground. She'll be airy enough now. Won't speak to common folks, I
suppose. Well, she won't have to put herself out to speak to _me_. _I_
shan't go a-visitin' her, even if she begs me to."

There was no immediate symptom of Mrs. Berry's begging for visitors, at
least none present had so far received an invitation. But all nodded,
indicating that they, too, would scorn the plea when it came.

"That poor man!" sighed Mrs. Brackett, pityingly. "How those two, mother
and daughter, did pull the wool over his eyes. I suppose he thinks we
all believe he wouldn't take a cent of Elizabeth's money. Humph! Good
reason why Jack wouldn't eat his supper--he didn't have a chance. Ha,
ha! I cal'late he'd taken it if he could have got it. But his wife knew
a trick worth two of that. She'll keep him afloat and hard at work
earnin' more for her to spend. Well, I hope his poor lame legs won't
give out on him. If he has to give up goin' to sea _again_, I pity him,
that's all I've got to say."

Mrs. Chase, her jet black locks a trifle askew as usual, was listening,
the hand holding the preserve spoon cupped behind her ear and the spoon
itself sticking out like a Fiji Islander's head ornament. As usual she
had heard next to nothing.

"That's what _I_ say!" she declared. "Why, Mr. Bradley, or whoever was
responsible, let Sears Kendrick put a woman with six children in as
matron of this place, I can't understand. Of course it's plain enough
why Cap'n Sears wanted her to have the job. Joel Macomber's wages ain't
more than twelve dollars a week and the salary here'll give 'em all the
luxuries and doodads they want. Fust thing you know that Sary-Mary of
hers'll be goin' to the Middleboro Academy to school. I wouldn't put it
past her.... Hey? What did you say, Susanna?"

Mrs. Brackett had not said anything. She and some of the others were
glancing uneasily in the direction of the hall door. All agreed that the
appointment of Sarah Macomber as matron of the Fair Harbor was an
outrage, but no one cared to have Mrs. Macomber know of that agreement.
It was an experiment, that appointment, and Sarah herself was by no
means confident of its success, although she had at last agreed to give
it three months' trial. Half of that time was over and so far all was
well. Bradley expressed huge satisfaction. Mrs. Macomber came to the
Harbor early each morning and went home again after supper. Sarah-Mary
and a hired girl, wages three dollars a week, were doing the Macomber
housework.

"Hey?" shouted Aurora once more. "What did you say, Susanna?"

Mrs. Brackett, after another uneasy glance at the hall door, nodded and
smiled. Mrs. Cahoon spoke quickly, in order to change the subject.

"What do you suppose I heard to-day?" she answered. "I met Josiah Ellis
down to 'Liphalet's store and he told me he see Mr. Phillips yesterday.
Josiah drove one of the livery hoss-'n'-teams over to Denboro--had a
Boston notion drummer to cart over there, he did--and who should come
drivin' along but Mr. Phillips. Josiah said he was dressed just as
elegant as ever was, and the hoss-'n'-team he was drivin' was styled-up
to match. Josiah hailed him and Mr. Phillips stopped and talked for a
few minutes. Nice as always, not a bit of airs. No, Elviry wan't with
him. Mr. Phillips said she was to home gettin' him ready to go away for
a little vacation. Seems he's cal'latin' to go to New York for a
fortni't. Mr. Phillips told Josiah that Elviry was kind of tired out,
they'd done so much entertainin' this winter, and he was goin' away so's
she could have a little rest. Ain't that just like him?
Self-sacrificin'--my sakes! Elviry's a lucky woman, that's all I've got
to say. I don't say so much about _his_ luck; but when she got him she
done well."

There was a general buzz of agreement about the table. Then from the
kitchen, where she had gone to get a fresh supply of cream-of-tartar
biscuit, came little Mrs. Tidditt. She put the plate of biscuits on the
table and sat down.

"What's that, Constance?" she demanded.

Mrs. Cahoon repeated the news of the Phillips family. Aurora put in a
word.

"There's one thing I've always been sorry for," she said. "Of course I
wouldn't take anything away from Elviry, she and I have always been good
friends. But she's got enough as 'tis, and I _do_ wish--I do wish that
Sears Kendrick had stayed away from this place until we'd had a chance
to buy them lovely lawn statues. We'll never have another chance like
that again."

Esther Tidditt smiled. "Yes, you will, Aurora," she snapped. "Yes, you
will. Give him time and about two or three more New York trips, and
those images will be up at auction again. Thirty thousand don't last
some folks long, and Elviry and her Eg will be needin' money to pay
grocery bills. You can't eat an iron lion. Just wait, Aurora. We may
have that menagerie in the yard here yet. Possess your soul in
patience."

There was another buzz about the table, this time of scornful
disapproval. Mrs. Chase leaned forward.

"What's she sayin', Susanna?" she demanded, querulously. "Susanna
Brackett, why don't you or the rest tell me what she's sayin'?"

       *       *       *       *       *

At that moment the ship _Gold Finder_, of Boston, Winthrop and
Hunniwell, owners, Sears Kendrick, master, was sailing out over the
waters of Massachusetts Bay. Astern, a diamond point against the
darkening sky, Minot's Light shone. The vessel was heeling slightly in
the crisp evening wind, her full, rounded sails rustling overhead, her
cordage creaking, foam at her forefoot and her wake stretching backward
toward the land she was leaving. Her skipper stood aft by the binnacle,
feeling, with a joy quite indescribable, the lift of the deck beneath
him and the rush of the breeze across his face.

From the open door of the galley lamplight streamed. Within Judah Cahoon
sang as he worked over the stove. Judah had had a glorious afternoon.
His chanteys had cast off the hawsers, had walked away with the ropes,
had hoisted the sails, had bade the tug good-by. Now his voice was a
thought frayed, but he sang on.

Elizabeth--now Elizabeth Berry no more forever--came up the companion
ladder. She joined her husband by the after rail. The sea air was chill
and she was wearing one of the captain's pea jackets, the collar turned
up; a feathery strand of her brown hair blew out to leeward. She stood
beside him. The man at the wheel was looking down into the binnacle and
Sears took her hand.

"Well?" he said, after a moment.

She looked up at him. "Well?" she said.

Neither spoke immediately. Then Kendrick breathed a sigh, a sigh
expressive of many things.

She understood. As always she knew what he was thinking.

"Yes," she said, "it is glorious. Glorious for me; but for you,
Sears----"

"Yes. It's pretty fine. I really never expected to make sail out of
Boston harbor again. And if anybody had told me that I was to--" with
another look at the helmsman, and lowering his voice--"to leave port
this way--with you----"

He laughed aloud.

She laughed, too. "And just think," she said; "no more little worries or
pettinesses, no more whispers, or faultfinding, or----"

"Or Fair Harbors. You're right, my girl. We're off, clean away from it
all, bound out."

From the galley Judah's voice came, beginning the second verse of his
song,

    "'Aloft! Aloft!' our jolly bos'n cries.
      Blow high! blow low! and so sailed we.
    'Look ahead, look astern, look a-weather and a-lee,
      Look along down the coast of the High Bar-ba-ree.'

    "'There's none upon the starn, there's none upon the lee.'
      Blow high! blow low! and so sailed we.
    'There's a lofty ship to wind'ard a-sailin' fast and free,
      Sailin' down along the coast of the High Bar-ba-ree.'"


THE END


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