Part 3 out of 7
"Didn't know but I might," he replied, solemnly. "Ain't got any--
er--tips, any sure things you want to put me on to, have you?"
"I have not. My experience of Wall Street 'sure things' leads me
to believe that they're sure--but only for the other fellow."
"Hum! I know a chap down home that made money in stocks. He made
it so easy that, as the boys say, 'twas almost a shame to take the
money. And 'twas the makin' of him, too."
Pearson was embarrassed and troubled. If this big-hearted, simple-
minded countryman had come to New York to buck the stock market, it
was time to sound a warning. But had he, on such short acquaintance,
the right to warn? The captain was shrewd in his own way. Might
not the warning seem presumptuous?
"So--this--this friend of yours was a successful speculator, was
he?" he asked. "He was lucky."
"Think so? Well, maybe. His name was Elkanah Chase, and his dad
was old man 'Rastus Chase, who made consider'ble in cranberries and
one thing or 'nother. The old man brought Elkanah up to be what he
called a gentleman. Ho! ho! Hi hum! I ain't sure what 'Rastus's
idea of a gentleman was, but if he cal'lated to have his son a
tramp in go-to-meetin' clothes, he got his wish. When the old man
died, he willed the boy fifteen thousand dollars. Well, fifteen
thousand dollars is a fortune to some folks--if they ain't
economizin' in New York--but to Elkanah 'twas just about enough to
make him realize his poverty. So, to make it bigger, he got one of
them 'tips' from a college friend down here in Wall Street, and put
the heft of ten thousand into it. AND, I swan, if it didn't double
Captain Elisha's visitor shook his head. He did not even smile.
"He was extremely fortunate," he said. "I give you my word,
Captain Warren, that the majority of first speculators don't turn
out that way. I hope he was wise enough to keep his profits."
The captain rubbed his chin.
"Jim--" he began. "Excuse me, I should have said Mr. Pearson, but
I've got sort of in the habit of callin' folks by their first
names. Livin' where you know everybody so well gets you into those
"Jim suits me. I hope you'll cultivate the habit."
"Do you? Well, I will. Now, Jim, referrin' to what I was goin' to
say, you, bein' a newspaper man, ought to know everything, but it's
pretty plain you don't know Elkanah Chase. Keep his profits! Why,
when a feller is all but convinced that he knows it all, one little
bit of evidence like that speculation settles it for him conclusive.
Elkanah, realizin' that Wall Street was his apple pie, opened his
mouth to swaller it at one gulp. He put his profits and every other
cent he had into another sure thing tip."
"And won again?"
"No. He lost all that and some more that he borrowed."
"But I thought you said it was the making of him!"
"It was. He had to take a job over at the overalls factory in
Ostable. As a fifteen thousand dollar gentleman, he was pretty
average of a mess, but they tell me he makes middlin' good
overalls. Elkanah convinced me that Wall Street has its good
He chuckled. Pearson, relieved, laughed in sympathy. "Has he paid
back the money he borrowed?" he inquired.
"No-o! I guess the creditors'll have to take it out in overalls.
However, it's a satisfaction to some of 'em to watch Chase really
work. I know that gives me MY money's worth."
"Oh, ho! You are one of the creditors! Captain Warren, I'm
surprised. I sized you up as a shrewder judge of investments."
Captain Elisha colored. "I judged that one correct," he answered.
"If I hadn't thought 'twould have turned out that way I never would
have plunged. You see, old man Chase was a friend of mine, and--
However," he added, hastily changing the subject, "we've strayed
some off the course. When I mentioned the Stock Exchange I did it
because my brother was a member of it, and I cal'late you might
have known him."
Pearson was astonished. "Your brother was a member of the
Exchange?" he repeated.
"Um-hm. Never would have guessed it, would you? I s'pose you
cal'late all the stock I knew about was on the hoof. Well, I have
been acquainted with other breeds in my time. My brother's name
was Abijah Warren--A. Rodgers Warren, he called himself."
The effect of this announcement was instantaneous and electric.
The young man sat back in his chair.
"A. Rodgers Warren was your brother?" he cried.
"Um-hm. Seems to stagger you some. Contrast between us as big as
all that comes to?"
"But--but, Captain Warren--Your brother--Tell me, is Miss Caroline
Warren your niece?"
"She is. And Steve is my nephew. 'Tain't possible you're
acquainted with them?"
Pearson rose to his feet. "Is--They used to live on the Avenue,"
he said. "But you said you were visiting. Captain Warren, is this
your niece's apartment?"
"Yes, hers and Steve's. Why, what's the matter? Ain't goin', are
"I think perhaps I had better. It is getting late."
"Late! It's only the shank of the evenin'. Jim, I ain't so blind
that I can't see through an open window. It ain't the lateness
that makes you want to leave so sudden. Is there some trouble
between you and Caroline? Course, it's none of my business, and
you needn't tell me unless you want to."
The answer was prompt enough.
"No," replied Pearson. "No. I assure you there is nothing of that
kind. I--I met Miss Warren. In fact, at one time we were well
acquainted. I have the very highest opinion of her. But I think
it is best to--"
"Just a minute now. No trouble with Steve? He's a boy and at an
age when he's pretty well satisfied with himself and you have to
"No. Steve and I were quite friendly. I'm sorry to cut my visit
short, but it is late and I MUST go."
He was moving toward the door. Captain Elisha looked at him
"Well, if you must," he said. "But I hope you'll come again soon.
"I hope I may. I give you my word, Captain, that I appreciate your
invitation, and I do want to know you better."
"Same here. I don't often take sudden fancies, Jim, but I knew
your uncle, and I'd bet consider'ble on any member of his family.
And I WAS kind of interested in that novel of yours. You haven't
said you'd come again. Will you?"
Pearson was much embarrassed.
"I should like to come, immensely," he said, with an earnestness
unmistakable; "but--but, to be honest, Captain Warren, there is a
reason, one which I may tell you sometime, but can't now--neither
Miss Warren nor her brother have any part in it--which makes me
reluctant to visit you here. Won't you come and see me at the
boarding house? Here's the address. WILL you come?"
"Sartin! I figured on doin' it, if you gave me the chance."
"Thank you, you'll be welcome. Of course it is ONLY a boarding
house, and not a very good one. My own room is--well, different
"Yup. Maybe that's why I expect to feel at home in it. Good
night, Jim. Thank you for callin'. Shall I ring for the Commodore
to pilot you out?"
"No, I can find my way. I--Someone is coming."
From the hall came the clang of the elevator door and the sound of
voices. Before the captain or his friend could move, Caroline,
Stephen, Mrs. Corcoran Dunn, and Malcolm entered. Caroline was the
first to reach the library. Her entrance brought her face to face
"I beg your pardon," she began. "I did not know there was anyone
"It's only a friend of mine, Caroline," explained her uncle,
quickly. "Just callin' on me, he was."
"Good evening, Miss Warren," said Pearson, quietly.
The girl looked at him for an instant. Then her expression changed,
and, with a smile, she extended her hand.
"Why, Mr. Pearson!" she exclaimed. "I'm very glad to see you. You
must excuse me for not recognizing you at once. Steve, you
remember Mr. Pearson."
Stephen also extended a hand.
"Sure!" he said. "Glad to see you again, Pearson. Haven't met you
for an age. How are you?"
Pearson shook both the hands. He was embarrassed and hesitated in
"It HAS been some time since we met," he said. "This is an
unexpected pleasure. Ah, Mr. Dunn, good evening."
"It is Mr. Pearson, the financial writer of the Planet, Malcolm,"
said Caroline. "You used to know him, I think."
"Don't remember, I'm sure. Yes, I do. Met you at the University
Club, didn't I?"
"Yes. I was formerly a member."
"And let me present you to Mrs. Corcoran Dunn," went on the girl.
"Mr. Pearson used to know father well."
Mrs. Dunn inspected the visitor through her lorgnette, and
condescended to admit that she was "delighted."
"I'm very glad you called," continued Caroline. "We were just in
time, weren't we? Do sit down. And if you will wait a minute
until we remove our wraps--Steve ring for Edwards, please."
"I'm afraid I can't wait, Miss Warren. I dropped in to see your
uncle, at his invitation, and, as a matter of fact, I didn't know--"
"To see our UNCLE!" interrupted Stephen, in amazement. "Who?"
"Your uncle, Captain Warren here," explained Pearson, surprised in
his turn. "He and I made each other's acquaintance yesterday, and
he asked me to call."
"You--you called to see HIM?" repeated Stephen. "Why, what in the
"I took the liberty of askin' him, Caroline," observed Captain
Elisha quietly, and ignoring the last speaker. "I didn't know you
knew him, and I used to sail along with HIS uncle, so he seemed
almost like own folks."
"Oh!" Caroline's manner changed. "I presume it was a business
call," she said slowly. "I beg pardon for interrupting. We had
not seen you since father's death, Mr. Pearson, and I assumed that
you had called upon my brother and me. Excuse me. Mrs. Dunn, we
will go into the drawing-room."
She led the way toward the apartment. Captain Elisha was about to
speak. Pearson, however, explained for him.
"Miss Warren," he said, "if by a business call you mean one in the
interest of the Planet, I assure you that you are mistaken. I am
no longer connected with any paper. I met Captain Warren, under
rather unusual circumstances. We discovered that we had mutual
friends and mutual interests. He asked me to call on him, and I
did so. I did not know, until five minutes ago, that he was your
uncle or that you and your brother lived here. I beg you won't
leave the room on my account. I was about to go when you came.
He bowed and stepped toward the hall. Captain Elisha laid a hand
on his arm and detained him.
"Just a minute," he said. "Caroline, I want you and Steve to know
that what Mr. Pearson says is exactly true. I ain't the kind to
talk to the newspapers about the private affairs of my relations,
and, if I'm any judge of character, Mr. Pearson, knowin' you as it
seems he does, wouldn't be the kind to listen. That's all. Now,
Jim, if you must go."
He and his guest were at the door. Caroline and Mrs. Dunn were at
the opposite side of the room. Suddenly the girl halted, turned,
and, moving across to where her uncle and the young man were
standing, once more extended her hand.
"Mr. Pearson," she said, impulsively, "again I ask your pardon. I
should have known. I am very sorry I spoke as I did. Will you
Pearson colored. His embarrassment was more evident than before.
"There is no occasion for apology, Miss Warren," he said. "I don't
wonder you thought I had come in my former capacity as reporter."
"Yes, you do. You MUST have wondered. I am very glad you called
to see my--my guardian, and I hope you will continue to do so.
Father used to speak so highly of you, and I'm sure he valued your
friendship. Stephen and I wish to consider his friends ours.
Please believe that you are welcome here at any time."
Pearson's reply was brief.
"Thank you, Miss Warren," he said. "You are very kind. Good
In the hall, as they waited for the elevator, Captain Elisha,
happier than at any time since his arrival in New York, clapped his
friend on the shoulder.
"Jim," he said, "I was beginnin' to doubt my judgment of things and
folks. Now I feel better. That niece of mine has got the right
stuff in her. After THAT invitation, you will come and see us once
in a while. That makes it easier, hey?"
Pearson shook his head. "I'm not sure, Captain," he observed,
slowly, "that it doesn't make it harder. I shall look for you at
the boarding house very soon. Don't disappoint me. Good night."
The captain's last remark that evening was made to Edwards, whom he
met just outside the door of his bedroom.
"Commodore," he said, "a barn full of rats is a nuisance, ain't
"Sir?" stammered the astonished butler.
"I say a barn full of rats is a nuisance."
"Why--why, yes, sir. I should think it might be, sir."
"Yup. Well, I know a worse one. It's a house full of mysteries.
By, by, Son. Pleasant dreams."
He sat up until late, meditating profoundly. Then, taking from its
envelope the letter yet unsealed, which he had written to Miss
Abigail Baker, he added this postscript:
"Eleven o'clock. I have decided, Abbie, to accept the guardianship
and the rest of it, for a spell, anyhow. Shall notify the lawyers
in the morning. Necessity is one thing, and pleasure is another.
I doubt if I find the job pleasant, but I guess it is necessary.
Anyhow, it looks that way to me."
Announcement of Captain Elisha's decision followed quickly.
Sylvester, Kuhn, and Graves received the telephone message stating
it, and the senior partner was unqualifiedly delighted. Kuhn
accepted his associate's opinion with some reservation. "It is an
odd piece of business, the whole of it," he declared. "I shall be
curious to see how it works out." As for Mr. Graves, when the
information was conveyed to him by messenger, he expressed disgust
and dismay. "Ridiculous!" he said. "Doctor, I simply must be up
and about within the next few days. It is necessary that a sane,
conservative man be at the office. Far be it from me to say a word
against Sylvester, as a lawyer, but he is subject to impressions.
I imagine this Cape Codder made him laugh, and, therefore, in his
opinion, is all right. I'm glad I'm not a joker."
The captain said that he would be down later on to talk things
over. Meanwhile, if the "papers and such" could be gotten
together, it would "sort of help along." Sylvester explained that
there were certain legal and formal ceremonies pertaining to the
acceptance of the trust to be gone through with, and these must
have precedence. "All right," answered the captain. "Let's have
'em all out at once and get the ache and agony over. I'll see you
by and by."
When Mrs. Corcoran Dunn made her daily visit to the Warren
apartment that afternoon, she found Caroline alone and almost in
tears. Captain Elisha had broken the news at the table during
luncheon, after which he went downtown. Stephen, having raved,
protested, and made himself generally disagreeable and his sister
correspondingly miserable, had departed for the club. It was a
time for confidences, and the wily Mrs. Dunn realized that fact.
She soothed, comforted, and within half an hour, had learned the
whole story. Caroline told her all, the strange will, the
disclosure concerning the country uncle, and the inexplicable
clauses begging the latter to accept the executorship, the trust,
and the charge of her brother and herself. Incidentally she
mentioned that a possible five hundred thousand was the extreme
limit of the family's pecuniary resources.
"Now you know everything," sobbed Caroline. "Oh, Mrs. Dunn, YOU
won't desert us, will you?"
The widow's reply was a triumph, of its kind. In it were expressed
sorrow, indignation, pity, and unswerving loyalty. Desert them?
Desert the young people, toward whom she had come to feel almost
like a mother? Never!
"You may depend on Malcolm and me, my dear," she declared. "We are
not fair-weather friends. And, after all, it is not so very bad.
Affairs might be very much worse."
"Worse! Oh, Mrs. Dunn, how could they be? Think of it! Stephen
and I are dependent upon him for everything. We must ask him for
every penny. And whatever he says to do we MUST do. We're obliged
to. Just think! if he decides to take us back with him to--South
Denboro, or whatever dreadful place he comes from, we shall have to
go--and live there."
"But he won't, my dear. He won't. It will take some time to
settle your father's affairs, and the business will have to be
transacted here in New York."
"I know. I suppose that's true. But that doesn't make it any
easier. If he stops here he will stay with us. And what shall we
do? We can't introduce him to our friends, or, at least, to any
except our best, our understanding friends, like you and Malcolm."
"Why, I'm not sure. He is rather--well--er--countryfied, but I
believe he has a good heart. He is not rude or unkind or anything
of that sort, is he?"
"No. No-o. He's not that, at all. In fact, he means to be kind
in his way. But it's such a different way from ours. He is not
used to society; he wouldn't understand that certain things and
ways were absolutely essential. I suppose it isn't his fault
exactly, but that doesn't help. And how can we tell him?"
"I don't know that you can tell him, but you might hint. Diplomacy,
my dear, is one of the necessary elements of life. Whatever else you
do remember to be diplomatic. My poor husband used to have a pet
proverb--he was interested in politics, my dear, and some of his
sayings were a trifle grotesque but very much to the point. He used
to say that one could get rid of more flies with molasses than with
a club. And I think he was right. Now let me consider. Let's look
the situation right in the face. Of course your guardian, as a
companion, as an associate for us, for our kind of people, is, to be
quite frank, impossible."
"Yes. Yes, I'm sure he is."
"Yes. But he IS your guardian. Therefore, we can't get rid of him
with--well, with a club. He must be endured and made as endurable
as possible. And it certainly will not do to offend him."
"Steve says we must do what he calls freezing him out--make him
feel that we do not want him here."
"Hum! Well, Stephen is a nice boy--Malcolm adores him--but he
isn't a diplomat. If we should--what is it?--freeze out your
"Please call him something else."
"Well, we'll call him the encumbrance on the estate; that's legal,
I believe, and expresses it nicely. If we should freeze out the
encumbrance, we MIGHT freeze him to his village, and he MIGHT
insist on your going with him, which wouldn't do at ALL, my dear.
For one thing, Malcolm would probably insist on going, also, and I,
for one, don't yearn for rural simplicity. Ha! ha! Oh, you
mustn't mind me. I'm only a doting mamma, dearie, and I have my
air castles like everyone else. So, freezing out won't do. No,
you and Steve must be polite to our encumbrance."
"I shall not get on my knees to him and beg. That I sha'n't do."
"No one expects you to. If anyone begs it should be he. Condescend
to just a little. Make him feel his place. Correct him when he
goes too far wrong, and ignore him when he gets assertive. As for
getting rid of him at times when it may be necessary--well, I think
you may safely leave that to me."
"To you? Oh, Mrs. Dunn, we couldn't think of dragging you into it.
It is bad enough that we should be disgraced; but you must not be."
"My dear child, I THINK my position in society is sufficiently
established to warrant a risk or two. If _I_ am seen in company
with--with the encumbrance, people will merely say, 'Oh, it's
another of her eccentricities!' that's all. Now, don't worry, and
don't fret all that pretty color from your cheeks. Always remember
this: it is but for a year or a trifle over. Then you will be of
age and can send your encumbrance to the right-about in a hurry."
Caroline, under the spell of this convincing eloquence, began to
cheer up. She even smiled.
"Well," she said, "I will try to be diplomatic. I really will.
But Stephen--I'm not sure what dreadful thing HE will do."
"He will return to college soon. I will take upon myself the
convincing of the encumbrance to that effect. And while he is at
home, Malcolm will take charge of him. He will be delighted to do
"Mrs. Dunn, how can we ever thank you sufficiently? What should we
do without you and Malcolm?"
"I HOPE, my dear, that you will never have to do without me; not
for many years, at any rate. Of course, there is always my poor
heart, but--we won't worry, will we?"
So, with a kiss and an embrace, this affecting interview ended.
There was another that evening between Mrs. Dunn and her son, which
was not devoid of interest. Malcolm listened to the information
which his mother gave him, and commented upon it in characteristic
"Humph!" he observed, "two hundred and fifty thousand, instead of
the two million you figured on, Mater! Two hundred and fifty
thousand isn't so much, in these days."
"No," replied his parent, sharply, "it isn't so much, but it isn't
so little, either."
"I suppose one can get along on it."
"Yes, one can. In fact, I know of two who are managing with a good
deal less. Don't be any more of a fool than you can help, Malcolm.
The sum itself isn't small, and, besides, the Warrens are a family
of standing. To be connected with them is worth a good deal.
There are infinite possibilities in it. Oh, if only I might live
to see the day when tradespeople meant something other than
nuisances to be dodged, I THINK I could die contented."
"Caro's a decent sort of a girl," commented Malcolm, reflectively.
"She's a bright girl and an attractive one. Just now she is in a
mood to turn to us, to you. But, for Heaven's sake, be careful!
She is delicate and sensitive and requires managing. She likes
you. If only you weren't such a blunderer!"
"Much obliged, Mater. You're free with your compliments this
evening. What's the trouble? Another 'heart'?
"No. My heart I can trust, up to certain limits. But I'm afraid
of your head, just as I always was of your father's. And here's
one more bit of advice: Be careful how you treat that country
"The Admiral! Ho! ho! He's a card."
"He may be the trump that will lose us the trick. Treat him
civilly; yes, even cordially, if you can. And DON'T insult him as
you did the first time you and he met."
The young man crossed his legs, and grunted in resignation.
"Well," he said, "it's going to be a confounded bore, but, at the
very longest, it'll last but a year. Then Caro will be her own
"Yes. But there are three hundred and sixty-five days in a year;
"All right, Mater. You can bet on me. The old hayseed and I will
be bosom pals. Wait and see."
The formalities at the lawyers' took some time. Captain Elisha was
absent from the apartment the better part of the following two
days. The evenings, however, he spent with his niece and nephew,
and, if at all sensitive to sudden changes of the temperature, he
must have noticed that the atmosphere of the library was less
frigid. Caroline was not communicative, did not make conversation,
nor was she in the least familiar; but she answered his questions,
did not leave the room when he entered, and seemed inclined to
accept his society with resignation, if not with enthusiasm. Even
Stephen was less sarcastic and bitter. At times, when his new
guardian did or said something which offended his highly cultivated
sense of the proprieties, he seemed inclined to burst out with a
sneer; but a quick "ahem!" or a warning glance from his sister
caused him to remain silent and vent his indignation by kicking a
footstool or barking a violent order at the unresisting Edwards.
Caroline and her brother had had a heart to heart talk, and, as a
result, the all-wise young gentleman promised to make no more
trouble than he could help.
"Though, by gad, Caro," he declared, "it's only for you I do it!
If I had my way the old butt-in should understand exactly what I
think of him."
On Thursday, after luncheon, as Captain Elisha sat in his own room,
reading a book he had taken from the library, there came a knock at
"Come ahead in!" ordered the captain. Caroline entered. Her uncle
rose and put down the book.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "is it you? Excuse me. I thought 'twas the
Commodore--Edwards, I mean. If I'd known you was comin' callin',
Caroline, I shouldn't have been quite so bossy. Guess I'd have
opened the door for you, instead of lettin' you do it yourself."
"Thank you," answered his niece. "I came to see you on--I suppose
you might call it business. At any rate, it is a financial matter.
I sha'n't detain you long."
Captain Elisha was a trifle disappointed.
"Oh," he said, "on business, was it? I hoped--I didn't know but
you'd come just out of sociability. However, I'm mighty glad to
see you, Caroline, no matter what it's for. That's a real becomin'
dress you've got on," he added, inspecting her admiringly. "I
declare, you look prettier every time I see you. You favor your pa
consider'ble; I can see it more and more. 'Bije had about all the
good looks there was in our family," with a chuckle. "Set down,
The girl seated herself in a rocker, and looked at him for a moment
without speaking. She seemed to have something on her mind, and
not to know exactly how to express it.
"Captain Warren," she began, "I--I came to ask a favor. I am
obliged to ask it, because you are our--" she almost choked over
the hated word--"our guardian, and I can no longer act on my own
responsibility. I wish to ask you for some money.
Captain Elisha nodded gravely.
"I see" he said. "Well, Caroline, I don't believe you'll find me
very close-fisted. I think I told you and Steve that you was to do
just as you'd been in the habit of doin'. Of course I AM your
guardian now, and I shall be held responsible for whatever expense
comes to the estate. It is quite a responsibility, and I so
understand it. As I said to you when I told you I'd decided to
take the job on trial, WHILE I have it it'll be my pride to see
that you or your brother don't lose anything. I intend, if the
Almighty spares me so long and I keep on with the trust, to turn
over, when my term's out, at least as much to you and Steve as your
father left. That's all. Excuse me for mentioning it again. Now,
how much do you want? Is your reg'lar allowance too small?
Remember, I don't know much about such things here in New York, and
you must be frank and aboveboard and tell me if you have any
"I have no complaints. My allowance is sufficient. It is the same
that father used to give me, and it is all I need. But this is a
matter outside my personal needs."
"Um-hm. Somethin' to do with the household expenses, hey?"
"No. It is--is a matter of--well, of charity. It may amount to
several hundred dollars."
"Yes, yes. I see. Charity, hey? Church?"
"No. One of the maids, Annie, has trouble at home, and I wanted to
The captain nodded once more.
"Annie," he repeated, "that's the rosy-faced one? The Irish one?"
"Yes. Her father was seriously injured the other day and cannot
work. His hip is broken, and the doctor's bill will be large.
They are very poor, and I thought perhaps--" She hesitated,
faltered, and then said haughtily: "Father was very sympathetic
and liked to have me do such things."
"Sho! sho! Sartin! Course he did. I like it, too. I'm glad you
came to me just as you did, Caroline. How much do you want to
"I don't know, exactly. I thought I might ask our own doctor to
attend to the case, and might send them some delicacies and food."
"Good idea! Go right ahead, Caroline."
"Thank you. I have been over to see them, and they need help--they
"I presume likely. How'd the accident happen? Anybody's fault,
Caroline's eyes snapped. "Indeed it was!" she said, indignantly.
"It was a wet morning, after a rain, and the pavement was slippery.
Mr. Moriarty, Annie's father, was not working that day--they were
making some repairs at the factory where he is employed, I believe--
and he had gone out to do the family marketing. He was crossing
the street when an automobile, recklessly driven, so everyone says,
drove directly down on him. He tried to jump out of the way and
succeeded--otherwise he might have been killed; but he fell and
broke his hip. He is an old man, and the case is serious."
"Dear! dear! you don't tell me! Poor old chap! The auto feller--
did he help? Seems to me he ought to be the one to be spendin' the
money. 'Twas his fault."
"Help! Indeed he didn't! He and the man with him merely laughed,
as if it was a good joke, put on speed, and disappeared as quickly
"Why, the mean swab! Did this Mr. Moriarty or the folks around get
the license number of the auto?"
"No. All they know is that it was a big yellow car with two men in
"Hey? A yellow car?"
"Yes. Somewhat similar to the one Malcolm--Mr. Dunn drives."
"So, so! Hum! Where did it happen?"
"On Saint Nicholas Avenue, near One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth
"Eh? Saint Nicholas Avenue, you say?"
"Yes." Caroline rose and turned to go. "Thank you, Captain
Warren," she said. "I will tell Doctor Henry to take the case at
The captain did not answer immediately. With his chin in his hand
he was gazing at the floor.
"Good afternoon," said Caroline.
Her uncle looked up.
"Er--Wait just a minute, Caroline," he said. "I guess maybe, if
you don't mind, I'd like to think this over a little afore you go
too far. You have your doctor go right ahead and see to the old
man, and you order the things to eat and whatever's necessary. But
afore you give Annie or her father any money, I'd kind of like to
figger a little mite."
His niece stopped short, turned and stared at him.
"Oh!" she said, slowly and icily, "I see. Please don't trouble
yourself. I should have known. However, my allowance is my own,
and I presume I am permitted to do what I please with that."
"Caroline, don't be hasty. I ain't sayin' no about the money. Far
from it. I only--"
"I understand--thoroughly. Don't trouble to 'figure,' as you call
it. Oh! WHY did I humiliate myself? I should have known!"
But the girl had gone, closing the door after her. Captain Elisha
shook his head, heaved a deep sigh, and then, sinking back into his
chair, relapsed into meditation. Soon afterward he put on his hat
and coat and went out.
Half an hour later he entered the office of a firm of commission
brokers on lower Broad Street, and inquired if a gentleman by the
name of Mr. Malcolm Dunn was connected with that establishment. On
being answered in the affirmative, he asked if Mr. Dunn were in.
Yes, he was.
"Well," said Captain Elisha, "I'd like to speak to him a minute or
so. Just tell him my name's Warren, if you don't mind, young
The clerk objected to being addressed as "young feller," and showed
his disapproval by the haughty and indifferent manner in which he
departed on the errand. However, he did so depart, and returned
followed by Malcolm himself. The latter, who had been misled by
the name into supposing his caller to be Stephen Warren, was much
astonished when he saw the captain seated outside the railing.
"Good afternoon," said Captain Elisha, rising and extending his
hand: "How are you to-day, sir? Pretty smart?"
The young man answered briefly that he was all right. He added he
was glad to see his visitor, a statement more polite than truthful.
"Well, what's up?" he inquired, condescendingly. "Nothing wrong
with Caro or Steve, I hope."
"No, they're fust-rate, thank you."
"What's doing, then? Is it pleasure or business?"
"Well, a little of both, maybe. It's always a pleasure to see you,
of course; and I have got a little mite of business on hand."
Malcolm smiled, in his languid fashion. If he suspected sarcasm in
the first part of the captain's reply, it did not trouble him. His
self-sufficiency was proof against anything of that sort.
"Business," he repeated. "Well, that's what I'm here for.
Thinking of cornering the--er--potato market, were you?"
"No-o. Cranberries would be more in my line, and I cal'late you
fellers don't deal in that kind of sass. I had a private matter I
wanted to talk over with you, Mr. Dunn; that is, if you ain't too
Malcolm looked at him with an amused curiosity. As he had
expressed it in the conversation with his mother, this old fellow
certainly was a "card." He seated himself on the arm of the oak
settle from which the captain had risen and, lazily swinging a
polished shoe, admitted that he was always busy but never too busy
"What's on your mind, Captain?" he drawled.
Captain Elisha glanced about him somewhat uneasily.
"I--I don't know as I made it quite clear," he said, "that it was
sort of private; somethin' just between us, you understand."
Malcolm hesitated. Sliding from the settle, and impatiently
commanding the clerk to open the gate in the railing, he led his
caller through the main office and into a small room beyond. On
the glass pane of the door was lettered, "Mr. Dunn--Private." A
roll-top desk in the corner and three chairs were the furniture.
Malcolm, after closing the door, sprawled in the swing chair before
the desk, threw one leg over a drawer, which he pulled out for that
purpose, and motioned his companion to occupy one of the other
Captain Elisha took the offered chair and dropped his hat on the
floor beside it. Then he inspected the room and its furnishings
with interest. Dunn drew out a pocket case, extracted a cigarette,
lit it, and waited for him to speak.
"Well," observed the young man, after a moment, what's the trouble,
Admiral? Better get it off your chest, hadn't you? We're private
The captain answered the last question. "Yes," he said, "this is
nice and private. Got a stateroom all to yourself; name on the
door, and everything complete. You must be one of the officers of
"Um-hm. I sort of expected to find your name on the door outside,
but there 'twas, 'Smith, Haynes & Co.' I presume likely you're the
"_I_ 'presume likely,'" with mocking impatience. "What about that
Captain Elisha did not appear to hear him. His eyes were fixed on
several photographs stuck in the rail of Mr. Dunn's desk. The
photos were those of young ladies.
"Friends of yours?" inquired the captain, nodding toward the
"No." Dunn took the photos from the rack and threw them into a
pigeon hole. "Look here," he said, pointedly, "I wouldn't hurry
you for the world, but--"
He paused. Captain Elisha did not take the hint. His mind was
evidently still busy with the vanished photographs.
"Just fancy pictures, I s'pose, hey?" he commented.
"Doubtless. Any other little points I can give you?"
"I guess not. I thought they was fancy; looked so to me. Well,
about that private matter. Mr. Dunn, I come to see you about an
"An automobile!" The young man was so astonished that he actually
removed his feet from the desk. Then he burst into a laugh. "An
automobile?" he repeated. "Captain, has the influence of the
metropolis made you a sport already? Do you want to buy a car?"
"Buy one?" It was Captain Elisha's turn to show irritation. "Buy
one of them things? Me? I wouldn't buy one of 'em, or run one of
'em, for somethin', _I_ tell you! No, I don't want to buy one."
"Why not? Sell you mine for a price."
"Not if I see you fust, thank you. No, Mr. Dunn, 'tain't that.
But one of the hired help up to our place--Caroline's place, I
mean--is in trouble on account of one of the dratted machines.
They're poor folks, of course, and they need money to help 'em
through the doctorin' and nursin' and while the old man's out of
work. Caroline was for givin' it to 'em right off, she's a good-
hearted girl; but I said--that is, I kind of coaxed her out of it.
I thought I'd ask some questions first."
"So you came to me to ask them?" Malcolm smiled contentedly.
Evidently the cares and complications of guardianship were already
proving too intricate for the unsophisticated countryman. He
wished advice, and had come to him for it, possibly at Caroline's
suggestion. Affairs were shaping themselves well. Here was an
opportunity to act the disinterested friend, as per maternal
"So you wanted to ask questions, did you, Captain?" he repeated.
"Well, fire away. Anything I can do to help you or Caroline will
be a pleasure, of course. Smoke?"
He offered the cigarette case. The captain eyed it dubiously and
shook his head.
"No," he said; "no, thank you, I commenced smokin' at the butt end,
I guess. Begun with a pipe, and them things would seem sort of
kindergarten, I'm afraid. No offense meant, you understand. It's
all accordin' to what you've been used to. Well, about the
questions. Here's the first one: Don't it seem to you that the
right one to pay for the doctorin' and nursin' and such of Mr.
Moriarty--that's Annie's pa--ought to be the feller who hurt him?
That feller, instead of Caroline?"
"Sure thing! If you know who did it, he's your mark."
"He could be held responsible, couldn't he?"
"Um-hm. So I thought. And if he was a right-minded chap, he'd be
glad to help the poor critter, providin' he knew what damage he'd
done; wouldn't you think so?"
Malcolm nodded sagely, opened his mouth to speak, and then closed
it again. A sudden recollection came to him, an alarming
recollection. He turned in his chair and looked at his visitor.
Captain Elisha met his gaze frankly.
"Where did this accident happen?" asked Mr. Dunn, his condescending
"At the corner of Saint Nicholas Avenue and One Hundred and Twenty-
Eighth Street. It happened last Friday mornin', a week ago. And
the car that hit him was a yellow one."
Malcolm did not answer. His pale face grew paler, and then flushed
a brilliant red. The captain seemed to feel sorry for him.
"Naturally," he went on, "when I heard about it, I remembered what
you told Mr. Sylvester and me at the club that afternoon. I
understand how 'twas, of course. You never thought you'd done any
real harm and just went on, thinkin' 'twas a good joke, much as
anything. If you'd known you'd really hurt the poor old man, you'd
have stopped to see him. I understand that. But--"
"Look here!" interrupted Dunn, sharply, "did Caroline send you to
"Caroline? No, no! She don't know 'twas your automobile at all.
I never said a word to her, 'tain't likely. But afore she spent
any of her money, I thought you'd ought to know, because I was sure
you wouldn't let her. That's the way I'd feel, and I felt 'twas no
more'n honest to give you the chance. I come on my own hook; she
didn't know anything about it."
Malcolm drummed on the desk with nervous fingers. The flush
remained on his face, his cigarette had gone out, and he threw the
stump savagely into the wastepaper basket. Captain Elisha remained
silent. At length the young man spoke.
"Well," he growled, pettishly, "how much will it take to square
things with the gang? How much damages do they want?"
"Damages? Oh, there won't be any claim for damages, I guess. That
is, no lawsuit, or anything of that kind. The Moriartys don't know
you did it, and there's no reason why they should. I thought maybe
I'd see to 'em and do whatever was necessary; then you could settle
with me, and the whole business would be just between us two.
Outside the doctor's bills and food and nursin' and such, all the
extry will be just the old man's wages for the time he's away from
the factory. 'Twon't be very heavy."
More reflection and finger tattoo by his companion. Then:
"All right! I'm in it, I can see that; and it's up to me to get
out as easy as I can. I don't want any newspaper publicity. Go
ahead! I'll pay the freight."
Captain Elisha arose and picked up his hat.
"That's fust-rate," he said, with emphasis. "I felt sure you'd see
it just as I did. There's one thing I would like to say," he
added: "that is, that you mustn't think I was stingy about helpin'
'em myself. But it wa'n't really my affair; and when Caroline
spoke of spendin' her money and Steve's, I didn't feel I'd ought to
let her. You see, I don't know as you know it yet, Mr. Dunn, but
my brother 'Bije left me in charge of his whole estate, and, now
that I've decided to take the responsibility, I've got a sort of
pride in not wastin' any of his children's inheritance. Good day,
Mr. Dunn. I'm much obliged to you."
He opened the office door. Malcolm, frowning heavily, suddenly
asked a final question.
"Say!" he demanded, "you'll not tell Caroline or Steve a word of
The captain seemed surprised.
"I guess you didn't catch what I said, Mr. Dunn," he observed,
mildly. "I told you this whole business would be just between you
Captain Elisha was very far from considering himself a Solomon. As
he would have said he had lived long enough with himself to know
what a lot he didn't know. Nevertheless, deep down in his inner
consciousness, he cherished a belief in his judgment of human
nature. This judgment was not of the snap variety; he took his
time in forming it. People and their habits, their opinions and
characters, were to him interesting problems. He liked to study
them and to reach conclusions founded upon reason, observation, and
common sense. Having reached such a conclusion, it disturbed him
when the subjects of the problem suddenly upset the whole process
of reasoning and apparently proved him wrong by behavior exactly
contrary to that which he had expected.
He had been pretty well satisfied with the result of his visit to
young Dunn at the latter's office. Malcolm had surrendered,
perhaps not gracefully or unconditionally, but he had surrendered,
and the condition--secrecy--was one which the captain himself had
suggested. Captain Elisha's mental attitude toward the son of the
late Tammany leader had been a sort of good-natured but alert
tolerance. He judged the young man to be a product of rearing and
environment. He had known spoiled youths at the Cape and, in their
surroundings, they behaved much as Malcolm did in his. The same
disrespect to their elders, the same cock-sureness, and the same
careless indifference concerning the effect which their actions
might have upon other people--these were natural and nothing but
years and the hard knocks of experience could bring about a change.
Elkanah Chase, country swell and pampered heir to the cranberry
grower's few thousands, and Malcolm Dunn, idol of his set at the
Metropolitan Club, were not so very different, except in externals.
The similarity confirmed his opinion that New York was merely South
Denboro many thousand times magnified.
He knew how young Chase had behaved after an interview not unlike
that just described. In Elkanah's case several broken windows and
property destroyed on a revel the night before the Fourth had
caused the trouble. In Malcolm's it was an automobile. Both had
listened to reason and had knuckled under rather than face possible
lawsuits and certain publicity. Chase, however, had sulkily
refused to speak to him for a month, and regained affability merely
because he wished to borrow money. According to the captain's
deduction, Dunn should have acted in similar fashion. But he
didn't; that was the odd part of it.
For Malcolm, when he next called, in company with his mother, at
the Warren apartment, was not in the least sulky. Neither was he
over effusive, which would have argued fear and a desire to
conciliate. Possibly there was a bit more respect in his greeting
of the new guardian and a trifle less condescension, but not much.
He still hailed Captain Elisha as "Admiral," and was as mockingly
careless as ever in his remarks concerning the latter's newness in
the big city. In fact, he was so little changed that the captain
was perplexed. A chap who could take a licking when he deserved
it, and not hold malice, must have good in him, unless, of course,
he was hiding the malice for a purpose. And if that purpose was
the wish to appear friendly, then the manner of hiding it proved
Malcolm Dunn to possess more brains than Captain Elisha had given
him credit for.
One thing seemed sure, the Dunns were not openly hostile. And
Caroline was. Since the interview in the library, when the girl
had, as she considered it, humiliated herself by asking her
guardian for money to help the Moriartys, she had scarcely spoken
to him. Stephen, taking his cue from his sister, was morose and
silent, also. Captain Elisha found it hard to forgive his dead
brother for bringing all this trouble upon him.
His lawyers, so Sylvester informed him, were setting about getting
Rodgers Warren's tangible assets together. The task was likely to
be a long one. The late broker's affairs were in a muddled state,
the books were anything but clear, some of the investments were
foreign, and, at the very earliest, months must elapse before the
executor and trustee could know, for certain, just how large a
property he was in charge of.
He found some solace and forgetfulness of the unpleasant life he
was leading in helping the stricken Moriarty family. Annie, the
maid at the apartment, he swore to secrecy. She must not tell Miss
Caroline of his visits to her parents' home. Doctor Henry, also,
though he could not understand why, promised silence. Caroline
herself had engaged his services in the case, and he was faithful.
But the patient was more seriously hurt than at first appeared, and
consultations with a specialist were necessary.
"Goin' to be a pretty expensive job, ain't it, Doctor?" asked the
captain of the physician.
"Rather, I'm afraid."
"All right. If expense is necessary, don't be afraid of it. You
do just what you'd ought to, and send the bill to me."
"But Miss Warren insisted upon my sending it to her. She said it
was a private matter, and one with which you, as her guardian, had
nothing to do."
"I know. Caroline intends to use her own allowance, I s'pose.
Well, let her think she will, if 'twill please her. But when it
comes to the settlement, call on me. Give her any reason you want
to; say a--er--wealthy friend of the family come to life all at
once and couldn't sleep nights unless he paid the costs."
"But there isn't any such friend, is there, Captain Warren? Other
than yourself, I mean?"
Captain Elisha grinned in appreciation of a private joke. "There
is somebody else," he admitted, "who'll pay a share, anyhow. I
don't know's he's what you call a bosom friend, and, as for his
sleepin' nights--well, I never heard he couldn't do that, after he
went to bed. But, anyhow, you saw wood, or bones, or whatever you
have to do, and leave the rest to me. And don't tell Caroline or
anybody else a word."
The Moriartys lived in a four-room flat on the East Side, uptown,
and his visits there gave the captain a glimpse of another sort of
New York life, as different from that of Central Park West as could
well be imagined. The old man, Patrick, his wife, Margaret, the
unmarried son, Dennis, who worked in the gas house, and five other
children of various ages were hived somehow in those four small
rooms and Captain Elisha marveled greatly thereat.
"For the land sakes, ma'am," he asked of the nurse, "how do they do
it? Where do they put 'em nights? That--that closet in there's
the pantry and woodshed and kitchen and dinin' room; and that one's
the settin' room and parlor; and them two dry-goods boxes with
doors to 'em are bedrooms. There's eight livin' critters to stow
away when it's time to turn in, and one whole bed's took up by the
patient. WHERE do they put the rest? Hang 'em up on nails?"
The nurse laughed. "Goodness knows!" she said. "He should have
been taken to the hospital. In fact, the doctor and I at first
insisted upon his removal there. He would have been much better
off. But neither he nor his wife would hear of it. She said he
would die sure without his home comforts."
"Humph! I should think more likely he'd die with 'em, or under
'em. I watch that fleshy wife of his with fear and tremblin'.
Every time she goes nigh the bed I expect her to trip over a young
one and fall. And if she fell on that poor rack-o'-bones," with a
wave of the hand toward the invalid, "'twould be the final smash--
like a brick chimney fallin' on a lath hencoop."
At that moment the "brick chimney" herself entered the rooms and
the nurse accosted her.
"Captain Warren here," she said, "was asking where you all found
Mrs. Moriarty smiled broadly. "Sure, 'tis aisy," she explained.
"When the ould man is laid up we're all happy to be a bit
uncomfortable. Not that we are, neither. You see, sor, me and
Nora and Rosy sleep in the other bed; and Dinnie has a bit of a
shakedown in the parlor; and Honora is in the kitchen; and--"
"There! there!" Captain Elisha interrupted hastily, "don't tell me
any more. I'd rather GUESS that the baby bunks in the cookstove
oven than know it for sartin. How did the grapes I sent you go?"
turning to the sick man.
"Aw, sor! they were foine. God bless you, sor! Mary be kind to
you, sor! Sure the angels'll watch over you every day you live and
Captain Elisha bolted for the parlor, the sufferer firing a gatling
fusillade of blessings after him. Mrs. Moriarty continued the
bombardment, as she escorted him to the door of the flat.
"There! there!" protested the captain. "Just belay! cut it short,
there's a good woman! I'll admit I'm a saint and would wear a halo
instead of a hat if 'twa'n't so unfashionable. Good day. If you
need anything you ain't got, tell the nurse."
The grateful Irish woman did not intend to let him escape so
"Aw, sor," she went on, "it's all right for you to make fun. I'm
the jokin' kind, sor, meself. Whin the flats where we used to be
got afire and Pat had to lug me down the fire escape in his arms,
they tell me I was laughin' fit to kill; that is, when I wasn't
screechin' for fear he'd drop me. And him, poor soul, never seein'
the joke, but puffin' and groanin' that his back was in two pieces.
Ha, ha! Oh, dear! And him in two pieces now for sure and all!
Aw, sor, it's all right for you to laugh it off, but what would we
do without you? You and Miss Caroline, God bless her!"
"Caroline? She doesn't come here, does she?"
"Indade she does. Sure, she's the perfect little lady! Hardly a
day passes--or a week, anyhow--that she doesn't drop in to see how
the ould man's gettin' on."
"Humph! Well, see that you don't tell her about me."
Mrs. Moriarty held up both hands in righteous protestation. SHE
tell? Might the tongue of her wither between her teeth before it
let slip a word, and so on. Captain Elisha waved her to silence.
"All right! all right!" he exclaimed. "So long! Take good care of
your husband, and, and--for Heaven's sake, walk careful and don't
step on any of the children."
Mrs. Moriarty's tongue did not wither; at all events, it was lively
enough when he next met her. The captain's secret was not
divulged, and he continued his visits to the flat, taking care,
however, to ascertain his niece's whereabouts beforehand. It was
not altogether a desire to avoid making his charitable deeds public
which influenced him. He had a habit of not letting his right hand
know what his left was about in such cases, and he detested a
Pharisaical philanthropist. But there was another reason why
Caroline must not learn of his interest in the Moriartys. If she
did learn it, she would believe him to be helping them on his own
responsibility; or, if not, that he was using money belonging to
the estate. Of course he would, and honestly must, deny the latter
charge, and, therefore, the first would, to her mind, be proven.
He intended that Malcolm Dunn should pay the larger share of the
bills, as was right and proper. But he could not tell Caroline
that, because she must not know of the young man's responsibility
for the accident. He could not give Malcolm the credit, and he
felt that he ought not to take it himself. It was a delicate
He was lonely, and the days seemed long. Reading the paper,
walking in the park, occasionally dropping in at the lawyers'
offices, or visiting the shops and other places of interest about
town made up the monotonous routine. He breakfasted early, waited
upon by Edwards, got lunch at the restaurant nearest to wherever he
happened to be at noon, and returned to the apartment for dinner.
His niece and nephew dined with him, but when he attempted
conversation they answered in monosyllables or not at all. Every
evening he wrote a letter to Abbie, and the mail each morning
brought him one from her. The Dunns came frequently and seemed
disposed to be friendly, but he kept out of their way as much as
Pearson he had not seen since the latter's call. This was a
disappointment, for he fancied the young fellow and believed he
should like him even better on closer acquaintance. He would have
returned the visit, but somehow or other the card with the
boarding-house street and number had been lost or mislaid, and the
long list of "James Pearsons" in the directory discouraged him. He
speculated much concerning the mystery at which the would-be
novelist hinted as preventing his accepting Caroline's invitation.
Evidently Pearson had once known Rodgers Warren well, and had been
esteemed and respected by the latter. Caroline, too, had known
him, and was frankly pleased to meet him again. Whatever the
trouble might be, she, evidently, was ignorant of it. The captain
wondered and pondered, but reached no satisfactory conclusion. It
seemed the irony of fate that the one congenial person--Sylvester
excepted--whom he had met during his stay in the big city should be
scratched from his small list of acquaintances.
With Sylvester he held many familiar and enjoyable chats. The
good-natured, democratic senior member of the law firm liked to
have Captain Elisha drop in for advice or to spin yarns. Graves,
who was well again, regarded the new guardian with respect of a
kind, but with distinct disapproval. The captain was, in his
opinion, altogether too flippant and jolly. There was nothing
humorous in the situation, as Graves saw it, and to laugh when
one's brother's estate is in a tangle, indicated unfitness, if
nothing worse. Kuhn was a sharp, quick-moving man, who had no time
for frivolity if it delayed business.
It was after a long interview with Sylvester that Captain Elisha
decided to send Stephen back to college. When he broke the news
there was rebellion, brief but lively. Stephen had no desire to
continue his studies; he wished to become a stock broker at once,
and, as soon as he was of age, take his father's seat on the
"Stevie," said Captain Elisha, "one of these days, when you get to
be as old as I am or before, you'll realize that an education is
"Ugh!" grunted the boy, in supreme disgust. "What do you know
"Why, not much, maybe, but enough."
"Yes?" sarcastically. "What college did you attend?"
"Me? Why, none, more's the pity. What learnin' there was in our
family your dad had. Maybe that's why he was what he was, so fur
as money and position and society and so on went, and I'm what _I_
"Oh, rubbish! What difference does it make to Malcolm Dunn--now--
his going through college?"
"Well, he went, didn't he?"
Stephen grinned. Malcolm had told him some particulars concerning
his university career and its termination.
"He went--part way," he answered.
"Ya-as. Well, you've gone part way, so fur. And now you'll go the
"I'd like to know why."
"For one reason, because I'm your guardian and I say so."
Stephen was furiously angry. His father's indulgence and his
sister's tolerance had, in most cases, made his will law in the
household. To be ordered about in this way by an ignorant
interloper, as he considered his uncle, was too much.
"By gad," he shouted, "we'll see!"
"No, we've seen. You run along now and pack your trunk. And take
my advice and study hard. You'll be behindhand in your work, so
Mr. Sylvester tells me, but you're smart, and you can catch up.
Make us proud of you; that's what you can do."
His nephew glanced at him. Captain Elisha was smiling kindly, but
there was no sign of change of purpose in his look.
Stephen ground his teeth.
"Oh," he snarled, "if it wasn't for the disgrace! If things
weren't as they are, I'd--"
"S-s-s-h! I know; but they are. Maybe I wish they wa'n't 'most as
much as you do, but they are. I don't blame you for feelin' mad
now; but I'm right and I know it. And some day you'll know it, and
"When I do, I'll be insane."
"No, you'll be older, that's all. Now pack your trunk--or get the
Commodore to pack it for you."
News from the Moriarty sick room continued favorable for a time.
Then, with alarming suddenness, a change came. The broken hip was
mending slowly, but poor Pat's age was against him, and the shock
and long illness were too much for his system to fight. Dr. Henry
shook his head dubiously when the captain asked questions. And,
one morning at breakfast, Edwards informed him that the old man was
dead. Annie had been summoned by telephone at midnight and had
Captain Elisha, though not greatly surprised, was shocked and
grieved. It seemed such a needless tragedy, almost like murder,
although there was no malice in it. And the thought of the
fatherless children and the poverty of the stricken family made him
shudder. Death at any time, amid any surroundings, is terrible;
when the dead hands have earned the bread for many mouths it is
The captain dreaded visiting the flat, but because he felt it to be
a duty he went immediately. And the misery and wailing and dismay
he found there were worse than his anticipations. He did his best
to comfort and cheer. Mrs. Moriarty alternately called upon the
saints to bless him and begged to know what she would do now that
they were all sure to starve. Luckily, the family priest, a kind-
hearted, quiet man who faced similar scenes almost every day of his
life, was there, and Captain Elisha had a long talk with him. With
Dennis, the oldest son, and Annie, the maid at the Warrens', he
also consulted. Money for their immediate needs, he told them, he
would provide. And the funeral expenses must not worry them.
Afterward--well, plans for the future could be discussed at another
time. But upon Dennis and Annie he tried to impress a sense of
"It's up to you, Boy," he said to the former. "Annie's job's sure,
I guess, as long as she wants it, and she can give her mother
somethin' every month. But you're the man of the house now, and
you've got to steer the ship and keep it afloat. That means work,
and hard work, lots of it, too. You can do it, if you've got the
grit. If I can find a better place and more pay for you, I will,
but you mustn't depend on that. It's up to you, I tell you, and
you've got to show what's in you. If you get stuck and need
advice, come to me."
He handed the priest a sum of money to cover immediate contingencies,
and departed. His letter to Abbie that afternoon was so blue that
the housekeeper felt sure he was "coming down" with some disease or
other. He had been riding in that awful subway, where the air--so
the papers said--was not fit to breathe, and just as like as not
he'd caught consumption. His great-uncle on his mother's side died
of it, so it run in the family." Either he must come home or she
should come to him, one or the other.
But before evening his blueness had disappeared. He had just
returned to his room, after stepping into the hall to drop his
letter in the mail chute, when his niece knocked at the door. He
was surprised to see her, for she had not spoken to him, except in
brief reply to questions, since their misunderstanding in that very
room. He looked at her wonderingly, not knowing what to say or
what to expect; but she spoke first.
"Captain Warren," she began, hurriedly, "the last time I came to
you--the last time I came here, I came to ask a favor, and you--I
She was evidently embarrassed and confused. Her guardian was
embarrassed, also, but he tried to be hospitable.
"Yes, Caroline," he said, gravely, "I know what you mean. Won't
you--won't you sit down?"
To his surprise, she accepted the invitation, taking the same chair
she had taken on the occasion of their former interview. But there
was a look in her eyes he had never seen there before; at least,
not when she was addressing him.
She went on, speaking hastily, as though determined to head off any
questioning on his part.
"Captain Warren," she began once more, "the time I came to you in
this room you were, so I thought, unreasonable and unkind. I asked
you for money to help a poor family in trouble, and you refused to
give it to me."
"No, Caroline," he interrupted, "I didn't refuse, you only thought
She held up her hand. "Please let me go on," she begged. "I
thought you refused, and I couldn't understand why. I was hurt and
angry. I knew that father never would have refused me under such
circumstances, and you were his brother. But since then, only
to-day, I have learned that I was wrong. I have learned--"
She paused. The captain was silent. He was beginning to hope, to
believe once more in his judgment of character; and yet, with his
hope and growing joy, there was a trifle of anxiety.
"I have learned," went on his niece, "that I was mistaken. I can't
understand yet why you wished to wait before saying yes, but I do
know that it must have been neither because you were unkind nor
ungenerous. I have just come from those poor people, and they have
told me everything."
Captain Elisha started. "What did they tell you?" he asked,
quickly. "Who told you?"
"Annie and her mother. They told me what you had done and were
doing for them. How kind you had been all through the illness and
to-day. Oh, I know you made them promise not to tell me; and you
made the doctor and nurse promise, too. But I knew SOMEONE had
helped, and Annie dropped a hint. Then I suspected, and now I
know. Those poor people!"
The captain, who had been looking at the floor, and frowning a bit,
suddenly glanced up to find his niece's eyes fixed upon him, and
they were filled with tears.
"Will you forgive me?" she asked, rising from her chair, and coming
impulsively toward him. "I'm sorry I misjudged you and treated you
so. You must be a very good man. Please forgive me."
He took her hand, which was swallowed up in his big one. His eyes
were moist, also.
"Lord love you, dearie," he said, "there's nothin' to forgive.
I realized that I must have seemed like a mean, stingy old scamp.
Yet I didn't mean to be. I only wanted to look into this thing
just a little. Just as a matter of business, you know. And
I . . . Caroline, did that doctor tell you anything more?"
"Any more?" she repeated in bewilderment. "He told me that you
were the kindest man he had ever seen."
"Yes, yes. Well, maybe his eyesight's poor. What I mean is did he
tell you anything about anybody else bein' in this with me?"
"Anybody else? What do you mean?"
"Oh, nothin', nothin'. I joked with him a spell ago about a
wealthy relation of the Moriarty tribe turnin up. 'Twas only a
joke, of course. And yet, Caroline, I--I think I'd ought to say--
He hesitated. What could he say? Even a hint might lead to
embarrassing questions and he had promised Dunn.
"What ought you to say?" asked his niece.
"Why, nothin', I guess. I'm glad you understand matters a little
better and I don't intend for the estate nor you to pay these
Moriarty bills. Just get 'em off your mind. Forget 'em. I'll see
that everything's attended to. And, later on, if you and me can,
by puttin' our heads together, help those folks to earnin' a better
livin', why, we will, hey?"
The girl smiled up at him. "I think," she said, "that you must be
one who likes to hide his light under a bushel."
"I guess likely a two-quart measure'd be plenty big enough to hide
mine. There! there! We won't have any more misunderstandin's,
will we? I'm a pretty green vegetable and about as out of place
here as a lobster in a balloon, but, as I said to you and Steve
once before, if you'll just remember I AM green and sort of rough,
and maybe make allowances accordin', this cruise of ours may not be
so unpleasant. Now you run along and get ready for dinner, or the
Commodore'll petrify from standin' so long behind your chair."
She laughed, as she turned to go. "I should hate to have him do
that," she said. "He would make a depressing statue. I shall see
you again in a few minutes, at dinner. Thank you--Uncle."
She left Captain Elisha in a curious state of mind. Against his
will he had been forced to accept thanks and credit which, he
believed, did not rightfully belong to him. It was the only thing
to do, and yet it seemed almost like disloyalty to Malcolm Dunn.
This troubled him, but the trouble was, just then, a mere pinhead
of blackness against the radiance of his spirit.
His brother's daughter had, for the first time, called him uncle.
"Captain Warren," asked Caroline, as they were seated at the
breakfast table next morning, "what are your plans for to-day?"
Captain Elisha put down his coffee cup and pulled his beard
reflectively. Contrary to his usual desire since he came to the
apartment to live, he was in no hurry to finish the meal. This
breakfast and the dinner of the previous evening had been really
pleasant. He had enjoyed them. His niece had not called him uncle
again, it is true, and perhaps that was too much to be expected as
yet, but she was cheerful and even familiar. They talked as they
ate, and he had not been made to feel that he was the death's head
at the feast. The change was marked and very welcome. The bright
winter sunshine streaming through the window indicated that the
conditions outside were also just what they should be.
"Well," he replied, with a smile, "I don't know, Caroline, as I've
made any definite plans. Let's see, to-day's Sunday, ain't it?
Last letter I got from Abbie she sailed into me because, as she
said, I seemed to have been 'most everywheres except to meetin'.
She figgers New York's a heathen place, anyhow, and she cal'lates
I'm gettin' to be a backslider like the rest. I didn't know but I
might go to church."
Caroline nodded. "I wondered if you wouldn't like to go," she
said. "I am going, and I thought perhaps you would go with me."
Her uncle had again raised his cup to his lips. Now he set it down
with a suddenness which caused the statuesque Edwards to bend
forward in anticipation of a smash. The captain started to speak,
thought better of it, and stared at his niece so intently that she
colored and dropped her eyes.
"I know," she faltered, "that I haven't asked you before, but--
but--" then, with the impulsiveness which was one of her
characteristics, and to her guardian her great charm, she looked
him full in the face and added, "but I hoped you would understand
that--that _I_ understood a little better. I should like to have
your company very much."
Captain Elisha drew a long breath.
"Thank you, Caroline," he answered. "I appreciate your askin' me,
I sartinly do. And I'd rather go with you than anybody else on
earth. But I was cal'latin' to hunt up some little round-the-
corner chapel, or Bethel, where I'd feel a little bit at home. I
guess likely your church is a pretty big one, ain't it?"
"We attend Saint Denis. It IS a large church, but we have always
been connected with it. Stephen and I were christened there. But,
of course, if you had rather go somewhere else--"
"No, no! I hadn't anywhere in particular to go. I'm a
Congregationalist to home, but Abbie says I've spread my creed so
wide that it ain't more'n an inch deep anywhere, and she shouldn't
think 'twould keep me afloat. I tell her I'd rather navigate a
broad and shallow channel, where everybody stands by to keep his
neighbor off the shoals, than I would a narrow and crooked one with
self-righteousness off both beams and perdition underneath.
"You see," he added, reflectively, "the way I look at it, it's a
pretty uncertain cruise at the best. Course there's all sorts of
charts, and every fleet is sartin it's got the only right one. But
I don't know. We're afloat--that much we are sure of--but the port
we left and the harbor we're bound for, they're always out of sight
in the fog astern and ahead. I know lots of folks who claim to see
the harbor, and see it plain; but they don't exactly agree as to
what they see. As for me, I've come to the conclusion that we must
steer as straight a course as we can, and when we meet a craft in
distress, why, do our best to help her. The rest of it I guess we
must leave to the Owner, to the One that launched us. I . . . Good
land!" he exclaimed, coming out of his meditation with a start,
"I'm preachin' a sermon ahead of time. And the Commodore's goin'
to sleep over it, I do believe."
The butler, who had been staring vacantly out of the window during
the captain's soliloquy, straightened at the sound of his nickname,
and asked hastily, "Yes, sir? What will you have, sir?" Captain
Elisha laughed in huge enjoyment, and his niece joined him.
"Well," she said, "will you go with me?"
"I'd like to fust-rate--if you won't be too much ashamed of me."
"Then it's settled, isn't it? The service begins at a quarter to
eleven. We will leave here at half-past ten."
The captain shaved with extra care that morning, donned spotless
linen, including a "stand-up" collar--which he detested--brushed
his frock-coat and his hair with great particularity, and gave
Edwards his shoes to clean. He would have shined them himself, as
he always did at home, but on a former occasion when he asked for
the "blackin' kit," the butler's shocked and pained expression led
to questions and consequent enlightenment.
He was ready by a quarter after ten, but when his niece knocked at
his door she bore a message which surprised and troubled him.
"Mrs. Dunn called," she said, "to ask me to go to church with her.
I told her I had invited you to accompany me. Would you mind if
she joined us?"
Her guardian hesitated. "I guess," he answered, slowly, "it ain't
so much a question of my mindin' her as she mindin' me. Does SHE
want me to go along?"
"She said she should be delighted."
"I want to know! Now, Caroline, don't you think I'd be sort of in
the way? Don't you believe she'd manage to live down her
disappointment if I didn't tag on? You mustn't feel that you've
got to be bothered with me because you suggested my goin', you
"If I had considered it a bother I should not have invited you. If
you don't wish Mrs. Dunn's company, then you and I will go alone."
"Oh, land sakes! I wouldn't have you do that for the world! All
right, I'll be out in a jiffy."
He gave his hair a final brush, straightened his tie, turned around
once more before the mirror, and walked fearfully forth to meet the
visitor. For him, the anticipated pleasure of the forenoon had
been replaced by uneasy foreboding.
But Mrs. Corcoran Dunn, as she rose creakingly to greet him, was
extremely gracious. She was gowned and furred and hatted in a
manner which caused the captain to make hasty mental estimate as
to cost, but she extended a plump hand, buttoned in a very tight
glove, and murmured her gratification.
"I'm so glad you are to accompany us, Captain Warren," she gushed.
"It is a charming winter morning, isn't it?"
Captain Elisha touched the plump glove with his own big finger
tips, and admitted that the morning was "fust-rate." He was
relieved from the embarrassment of further conversation just then
by Caroline's appearance in the library. She, too, was richly
"Are we all ready?" she asked, brightly. "Then we may as well
"I'm afraid we're a trifle early, my dear," said Mrs. Dunn, "but we
can stroll about a bit before we go in."
The captain looked at the library clock. The time was a quarter to
"Early?" he exclaimed, involuntarily. "Why, I thought Caroline
He stopped, suddenly, realizing that he had spoken aloud. His
niece divined his thought and laughed merrily.
"The service does begin now," she said, "but no one is ever on
"Oh!" ejaculated her uncle, and did not speak again until they were
at the door of the church. Then Caroline asked him what he was
"Nothin' much," he answered, gazing at the fashionably garbed
throng pouring under the carved stone arch of the entrance; "I was
just reorganizin' my ideas, that's all. I've always sort of
thought a plug hat looked lonesome. Now I've decided that I'm
wearin' the lonesome kind."
He marched behind his niece and Mrs. Dunn up the center aisle to
the Warren pew. He wrote his housekeeper afterwards that he
estimated that aisle to be "upwards of two mile long. And my
Sunday shoes had a separate squeak for every inch," he added.
Once seated, however, and no longer so conspicuous, his common
sense and Yankee independence came to his rescue. He had been in
much bigger churches than this one, while abroad during his
seagoing years. He knew that his clothes were not fashionably cut,
and that, to the people about him, he must appear odd and, perhaps,
even ridiculous. But he remembered how odd certain city people
appeared while summering at South Denboro. Recollections of
pointed comments made by boatmen who had taken these summer
sojourners on fishing excursions came to his mind. Well, he had
one advantage over such people, at any rate, he knew when he was
ridiculous, and they apparently did not.
So, saved from humiliation by his sense of humor, he looked about
him with interest. When the procession of choir boys came up the
aisle, and Mrs. Dunn explained in a condescending whisper what they
were, his answer surprised her a trifle. "Yes," whispered the
captain in reply, "I know. I've seen the choir in Saint Peter's at
Only once did he appear greatly astonished. That was when the
offering was taken and a certain dignified magnate, whose fame as a
king of finance is world-wide, officiated as one of the collectors.
"Heavens and earth!" murmured Captain Elisha, staring wide-eyed at
the unmistakable features so often pictured and cartooned in the
daily papers; "Caroline--Caroline, am I seein' things or is that--
That is Mr. ----," whispered his niece. "He is one of the vestrymen
"My soul!" still gazing after the Emperor of Wall Street; "HIM
passin' the plate! Well," with a grim smile, "whoever picked him
out for the job has got judgment. If HE can't make a body shell
out, nobody can."
He listened to the sermon, the text of which was from the
Beatitudes, with outward solemnity, but with a twinkle in his eye.
After the benediction, when Caroline asked how he enjoyed it, the
cause of the twinkle became apparent.
"Fine!" he declared, with enthusiasm. "He's a smart preacher,
ain't he! And he knew his congregation. You might not guess
they was meek perhaps, but they certainly did look as if they'd
inherited the earth."
He drew a breath of relief as the trio emerged into the open air.
He had enjoyed the novel experience, in a way, but now he felt
rather like one let out of jail. The quiet luncheon at home with
Caroline was a pleasant anticipation.
But Mrs. Corcoran Dunn smashed his anticipation at a blow. She
insisted that he and his niece lunch with her.
"You really must, you know," she declared. "It will be delightful.
Just a little family party."
Captain Elisha looked distressed. "Thank you, ma'am," he stammered;
"it's awful kind of you, but I wouldn't feel right to go puttin' you
to all that trouble. Just as much obliged, but I--I've got a letter
to write, you see."
Mrs. Dunn bore his refusal bravely.
"Very well," she said, "but Caroline MUST come with me. I told
Malcolm I should bring her."
"Sure! Sartin! Caroline can go, of course."
But Caroline also declined. Having misjudged her guardian in the
matter of the Moriarty family, she was in a repentant mood, and had
marked that day on her calendar as one of self-sacrifice.
"No, Captain Warren," she said, "I shall not go unless you do."
"Then the captain will come, of course," declared Mrs. Dunn, with
decision. "I'm sure he will not be so selfish as to deprive me--
and Malcolm--of your company."
So, because he did not wish to appear selfish, Captain Elisha
admitted that his letter might be written later in the afternoon,
accepted the invitation, and braced his spirit for further
It was not as bad as he expected. The Dunns occupied a small,
brown-stone house on Fifth Avenue, somewhat old-fashioned, but
eminently respectable. The paintings and bronzes were as numerous
as those in the Warren apartment, and if the taste shown in their
selection was not that of Rodgers Warren, the connoisseur, they
made quite as much show, and the effect upon Captain Elisha was the
same. The various mortgages on the property were not visible, and
the tradesmen's bills were securely locked in Mrs. Dunn's desk.
The luncheon itself was elaborate, and there was a butler whose
majestic dignity and importance made even Edwards seem plebeian by
Malcolm was at home when they arrived, irreproachably dressed and
languidly non-effusive, as usual. Captain Elisha, as he often
said, did not "set much store" by clothes; but there was something
about this young man which always made him conscious that his own
trousers were a little too short, or his boots too heavy, or
something. "I wouldn't WEAR a necktie like his," he wrote Abbie,
after his first meeting with Malcolm, "but blessed if I don't wish
I could IF I would!"
Caroline, in the course of conversation during the luncheon,
mentioned the Moriartys and their sorrow. The captain tried to
head her off and to change the subject, but with little success.
He was uncomfortable and kept glancing under his brows at Malcolm,
with whom, under the circumstances, he could not help sympathizing
to an extent. But his sympathy was wasted. The young man did not
appear in the slightest degree nervous. The memory of his recent
interview with Captain Elisha did not embarrass him, outwardly at
least, half as much as it did the captain. He declared that old
Pat's death was beastly hard luck, but accidents were bound to
happen. It was a shame, and all that. "If there's anything the
mater and I can do, Caroline, call on us, of course."
"Yes, do, Caroline," concurred his mother. "However, one must be
philosophic in such cases. It is a mercy that people in their
station do not feel grief and loss as we do. Providence, in its
wisdom, has limited their susceptibilities as it has their
intelligence. Don't you agree with me, Captain Warren?"
"Sartin!" was the prompt reply. "It's always a comfort to me, when
I go fishin', to know that the fish ain't got so much brains as I
have. The hook hurts, I presume likely, but they ain't got the
sense to realize what a mean trick's been played on 'em. The one
that's caught's dead, and them that are left are too busy hustlin'
for the next meal to waste much time grievin'. That eases my
Caroline seemed to be the only one who appreciated the sarcasm in
this observation. She frowned slightly. Mrs. Corcoran Dunn
tolerantly smiled, and her son laughed aloud.
"Say, Admiral," he commented, "when it comes to philosophy you go
some yourself, don't you?"
"Um-hm. I can be as philosophical about other folk's troubles as
anybody I ever see." Then, with an involuntary chuckle of
admiration at the young gentleman's coolness, he added, "That is,
anybody I ever see afore I come to New York."
Malcolm opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again. The
captain, noticing his change of purpose and following the direction
of his look, saw Mrs. Dunn shake her head in sharp disapproval. He
ate the remainder of his salad in silence, but he thought a good
"And now," said Mrs. Dunn, rising and leading the way to the
drawing-room, "we must all go for a motor ride. Everyone rides on
Sunday afternoon," she explained, turning to her male guest.
The distressed look returned to Captain Elisha's face. His niece
saw it, understood, and came to his rescue.
"I think Captain Warren prefers to be excused," she said, smiling.
"He has a prejudice against automobiles."
"No!" drawled Malcolm, the irrepressible. "Not really? Admiral,
I'm surprised! In these days, you know!"
"It ain't so much the automobiles," snapped Captain Elisha,
irritation getting the better of his discretion, "as 'tis the
devilish fools that--"
"Yes? Oh, all right, Mater."
"That are careless enough to get in the way of them," finished the
captain, with surprising presence of mind. "Still, if Caroline
wants to go--"
"I have it!" exclaimed Mrs. Dunn. "The young people shall go, and
the others remain at home. Malcolm shall take you for a spin,
Caroline, and Captain Warren and I will stay here and wait until
you return. We'll have a family chat, Captain, won't we?
Because," with a gay laugh, "in a way we ARE like one family, you
And, somewhat to Miss Warren's surprise, her uncle agreed to this
proposition. He did not answer immediately, but, when he did, it
was with heartiness.
"Why, yes," he said, "that's a good idea. That's fust-rate. You
young folks go, and Mrs. Dunn and I'll wait here till you come
back. That's the way of the world--young folks on the go, and the
old folks at home by the fire, hey, Mrs. Dunn?"
The lady addressed did not relish being numbered with "old folks,"
but she smiled sweetly, and said she supposed it was. Malcolm
telephoned to the garage and to Edwards at the Warren apartment,
ordering the butler to deliver his mistress's auto cap and cloak to
the chauffeur, who would call for them. A few minutes later the
yellow car rolled up to the door.
In the hall Mrs. Dunn whispered a reassuring word to her departing
"Now enjoy yourself, dear," she whispered. "Have a nice ride and
don't worry about me. If he--if our encumbrance bores me too much
I shall--well, I shall plead a headache and leave him to his own
devices. Besides, he isn't so VERY dreadful, is he?"
Caroline shook her head. "No," she answered, "he is a good man. I
understand him better than I did and--yes, I like him better, too."
"Oh! . . . Indeed! Well, good-by, dear. Good-by."
The yellow car roared as the chauffeur cranked it, then moved off
up the crowded avenue. Mrs. Dunn watched it until it was out of
sight. Her brows were drawn together, and she seemed puzzled and
just a bit disconcerted. However, when she returned to the
drawing-room, her gracious smile had returned, and her bland
condescension was again in evidence.
Captain Elisha had been standing by the window. She begged him to
be seated. He thanked her, but looked dubiously at the Louis XVI
chair indicated. She noticed the look.
"Suppose we go into the library," she said. "It is much less
formal. And there is a fire--for us OLD folks," with a slight
accent on the word.
The library was more homelike. Not as many books as at the
Warrens', but a great deal of gilt in the bindings and much carving
on the cases. The fire was cheery, and the pair sat down before it
in big easy chairs. Mrs. Dunn looked intently at the glowing
Captain Elisha cleared his throat. Mrs. Dunn leaned forward
expectantly. The captain coughed and sank back in his chair.
"Yes?" purred the lady. "You were about to say?"
"Me? Oh, no, I didn't say anything."
Another period of silence. Mrs. Dunn's foot tapped the rug
impatiently. She wished him to begin the conversation, and he
would not. At length, in desperation, she began it herself.
"I suppose you find New York rather different from--er--North--
"From South Denboro? Yes, ma'am."
"Do you like the city life?"
"Well, I don't know, ma'am."
"Not as well as you do that of the country, doubtless."
"Well, you see, I ain't had so much of it."
"No, of course not. It does so depend upon what one is accustomed
to. Now I fancy I should be perfectly desperate in your village."
One corner of Captain Elisha's mouth curled upward.
"I shouldn't be surprised," he admitted.
"Desperately lonely, I mean."
"Yes'm. I judged that was what you meant. Still, folks can be
lonesome in New York."
"Perhaps. But really I don't see how. With all the whirl and the
crowds and the glorious excitement. The feeling that one is at the
very heart, the center of everything!"
"Yes. If you belong to the machinery, I s'pose it's all right.
But if you've been leanin' over the rail, lookin' on, and get
pushed in unexpected, maybe you don't care so much about bein' nigh
"Then why stay there? Why not get out?"
"If you're caught in the wheels, gettin' out's somethin' of a job."
"But, as I understand it, Captain Warren--I may be misinformed,
for, of course, I haven't been unduly curious concerning your
family affairs--as _I_ understand it, you were not obliged to
remain among the--among the wheels, as you call them. You could
have gotten out quite easily, couldn't you?"
"I presume likely I could. But, you see, ma'am, I had a feelin'
that I'd ought to stay."
Mrs. Dunn laughed lightly. "Ah me!" she exclaimed; "you felt it
your duty, I suppose. Oh, you New England Puritans!"
She shook her head in playful mockery. Then she added, "But, at
all events, it cannot be so very disagreeable--now. I have no
doubt it was--well, not comfortable for you at first. Steve and
Caroline were quite impossible--really quite furious. Your sudden
appearance in the capacity of guardian was too much for them. They
were sure you must be a perfect ogre, Captain. I had to use all my
eloquence to convince them they would not be devoured alive. But
now--what a change! Why, already Caroline accepts you as--well,
almost like an old friend, like myself. In the last few days this
change in her attitude is quite marked. What HAVE you done? Are
you a wizard? Do tell me!"
This appeal, delivered with eloquence and most engaging play of
brow and eye, should have been irresistible. Unfortunately the
captain did not appear to have heard it. Leaning forward, his
hands clasped between his knees, he was gazing into the fire.
And when he spoke, it was as if he were thinking aloud.
"I s'pose 'tis a sort of disease, this duty business," he mused.
"And most diseases ain't cheerful visitations. Still a feller
ought not to growl about it in public. I always did hate for a man
to be goin' about forever complainin' of his sufferin's--whether
they was from duty or rheumatiz."
Mrs. Dunn's lips snapped shut. She pressed them together
impatiently. Evidently her questions, and their diplomatic
prelude, had been unheard and wasted. However, she did not intend
to be sidetracked or discouraged.
"One should not prate of one's duty, of course," she agreed. "Not
that you do--far from it. But, as I was saying, our dear Caroline
"Thank you, ma'am. I hope I don't groan too loud. Do you know,
I believe climate has a bearin' on duty, same as it has on
rheumatics. I s'pose you city folks--"and there was almost
contempt in the words--"are sort of Christian Science, and figger