Part 4 out of 7
it's an 'error'--hey? Somethin' to be forgot."
The lady resented the interruption, and the contempt nettled her.
"Not at all!" she retorted. "We city dwellers have our duties,
"Is that a fact? I want to know!"
"Certainly it is a fact," tartly. "I have my duties and many of
"Um! So? Well, I s'pose you do feel you must dress just so, and
live just so, and do just such and such things. If you call those
"I do. What else are they, pray?"
Mrs. Dunn was finding it difficult to keep her temper. To be
catechised in this contemptuously lofty manner by one to whom she
considered herself so immensely superior, was too much. She forgot
the careful plan of campaign which she had intended to follow in
this interview, and now interrupted in her turn. And Captain
Elisha, who also was something of a strategist, smiled at the fire.
"We do have our social duties, our duties to society," snapped the
widow, hotly. "They are necessary ones. Having been born--or
risen to--a certain circle, we recognize the responsibilities
attached to it. We ARE careful with whom we associate; we have to
be. As for dress, we dress as others of our friends do."
"And maybe a little better, if you can, hey?"
"If we can--yes. I presume--" with crushing irony--"dress in South
Denboro counts but little."
"You wouldn't say that if you ever went to sewin' circle," with a
chuckle. "Still, compared to the folks at your meetin'-house this
morning, our congregation would look like a flock of blackbirds
alongside of a cage full of Birds of Paradise. But most of us--the
women folks especial--dress as well as we can."
"As well as you can!" triumphantly. "There! you see? And you live
as well as you can, don't you?"
"If you mean style, why, we don't set as much store by it as you
"Nonsense! We are obliged to be," with a slight shudder at the
vulgarism, "STYLISH. If we should lapse, if we should become
shabby and behind the fashion or live in that way, people would
wonder and believe it was because we could not afford to do
"Well, s'pose they did, you'd know better yourselves. Can't you be
"No. Not unless you are very, very rich; then it might be
considered an eccentricity. Independence is a costly luxury, and
few can afford it."
"But suppose you can't afford the other thing?"
"Then we must pretend we can. Oh, you DON'T understand! So MUCH
depends upon a proper appearance. Everything depends upon it--
one's future, one's children's future--everything."
"Humph!" with the same irritating smile, "I should think that might
mean some plannin'. And plans, the best of 'em, are likely to go
wrong. You talk about the children in your--in what you call your
'circle.' How can you plan what they'll do? You might when they
was little, perhaps; but when they grow up it's different."
"It is not. It CAN'T be! And, if they have been properly reared
and understand their responsibilities, they plan with you."
"Land sakes! You mean--why, s'pose they take a notion to get
married? I'm an old bach, of course, but the average young girl or
feller is subject to that sort of ailment, 'cordin' to the records.
S'pose one of your circle's daughters gets to keepin' company with
a chap who's outside the ring? A promisin', nice boy enough, but
poor, and a rank outsider? Mean to say she sha'n't marry him if
she wants to."
"Certainly! That sort of marriage is never a happy one, unless, of
course, the girl is wealthy enough not to care. And even then it
is not advisable. All their customs and habits of thought are
different. No! Emphatically, no! And the girl, if she is
sensible and well reared, as I have said, will understand it is
"My soul and body! Then you mean to tell me that she MUST look out
for some chap in her crowd? If she ain't got but just enough to
keep inside the circle--this grand whirlamagig you're tellin' me
about--if she's pretendin' up to the limit of her income or over,
then it's her duty, and her ma and pa's duty, to set her cap for a
man who's nigher the center pole in the tent and go right after
him? Do you tell me that? That's a note, I must say!"
Mrs. Dunn's foot beat a lively tattoo on the rug. "I don't know
what you mean by a 'note,'" she commented, with majestic indignation.
"I have not lived in South Denboro, and perhaps my understanding of
English is defective. But marriages among cultivated people,
SOCIETY people, intelligent, ambitious people are, or should be,
the result of thought and planning. Others are impossible!"
"How about this thing we read so much about in novels?--Love, I
believe they call it."
"Love! Love is well enough, but it does not, of itself, pay for
proper clothes, or a proper establishment, or seats at the opera,
or any of the practical, necessary things of modern life. You
can't keep up a presentable appearance on LOVE! If I had a
daughter who lacked the brains to understand what I had taught her,
that is, her duty as a member of good society, and talked of making
a love match, I would . . . But there! You can't understand, I
She rose and shook the wrinkles from her gown. Captain Elisha
straightened in his chair. "Why, yes, ma'am," he drawled, quietly;
"yes, ma'am, I guess I understand fust-rate."
And suddenly Mrs. Dunn also understood. Her face, which had grown
almost too red for one attached to a member of polite society, grew
redder still. She turned away and walked to the window.
"What nonsense we've been talking!" she said, after a moment's
silence. "I don't see what led us into this silly discussion.
Malcolm and your niece must be having a delightful ride. I almost
wish I had gone with them."
She did wish it, devoutly. Captain Elisha still remained by the
"Automobiles are great things for hustlin' around in," he observed.
"Pity they're such dangerous playthings. Yet I s'pose they're one
of the necessities of up-to-date folks, same as you said, Mrs.
"Surely," she asked coldly, "you don't condemn automobiles, Captain
Warren? What would you--return to stage coaches?"
"Not a mite! But I was thinkin' of that poor Moriarty man."
"His death was due to an accident. And accidents," she turned and
looked directly at him, "when they involve financial damages, may
be paid for."
The captain nodded. "Yes," he said.
"And when arrangements for such payment is made, HONORABLE people--
at least, in the circle of which you and I have been speaking--
consider the matter settled and do not refer to it again, either
among themselves--or elsewhere."
"Yes, ma'am." He nodded again. She did know; Malcolm, evidently,
had told her. "Yes, ma'am. That's the way any decent person would
feel--and act--if such a thing happened--even if they hailed from
He pushed back his chair and stood up. She continued to look him
over, much as if she were taking a mental inventory of his
character, or revising an old one.
"I hope," she said, lightly, but with deliberation, "our little
argument and--er--slight disagreement concerning--er--duty will not
make us enemies, Captain Warren."
"Enemies! Land sakes, no! I respect anybody's havin' opinions and
not bein' afraid to give 'em. And I think I can understand some of
how you feel. Maybe if I was anchored here on Fifth Avenue, same
as you are, instead of bein' blown in by an unexpected no'theaster,
I'd be feelin' the same way. It's all accordin', as I've said so
often. Enemies? No, indeed!"
She laughed again. "I'm so glad!" she said. "Malcolm declares
he'd be quite afraid of me--as an enemy. He seems to think I
possess some mysterious and quite diabolical talent for making my
un-friends uncomfortable, and declares he would compromise rather
than fight me at any time. Of course it's ridiculous--just one of
his jokes--and I'm really harmless and very much afraid. That's
why I want you and me to be friends, Captain Warren."
"Sure!" Captain Elisha nodded emphatically. "That's what I want,
But that evening, immediately after his return to the apartment,
when--Caroline having gone to her own room to remove her wraps--he
and the butler were alone, he characteristically unburdened his
"Mr. Warren, sir," said Edwards, "a young gentleman left a note
here for you this afternoon. The elevator man gave it to me, sir.
It's on your dressing table, sir."
The captain's answer had nothing whatever to do with the note. He
had been thinking of other things.
"Commodore," he said, "I've got the answer."
"To the note? Already, sir? I didn't know you'd seen it."
"I ain't. I've got the answer to the conundrum. It's Mother!"
"Mother, sir? I--I don't know what you mean."
"I do. The answer's Mother. Sonny don't count, though he may
think he does. But Mother's the whole team and the dog under the
wagon. And, Commodore, we've got to trot some if we want to keep
ahead of that team! Don't you forget it!"
He went to his room, leaving the bewildered butler to retire to the
kitchen, where he informed the cook that the old man was off his
head worse than common tonight.
"Blessed if he don't think he's a trotting horse!" said Edwards.
The note on the dining room table proved, to the captain's delight,
to be from James Pearson. It was brief and to the point.
"Why don't you come and see me?" wrote the young man. "I've been
expecting you, and you promised to come. Have you forgotten my
address? If so, here it is. I expect to be in all day to-morrow."
The consequence of this was that eleven o'clock the next day found
Captain Elisha pulling the bell at a brick house in a long brick
block on a West Side street. The block had evidently been, in its
time, the homes of well-to-do people, but now it was rather dingy
and gone to seed. Across the street the first floors were, for the
most part, small shops, and in the windows above them doctors'
signs alternated with those of modistes, manicure artists, and
The captain had come a roundabout way, stopping in at the Moriarty
flat, where he found Mrs. Moriarty in a curious state of woe and
tearful pride. "Oh, what will I do, sir?" she moaned. "When I
think he's gone, it seems as if I'd die, too. But, thanks to you
and Miss Warren--Mary make it up to her!--my Pat'll have the finest
funeral since the Guinny saloon man was buried. Ah, if he could
have lived to see it, he'd have died content!"
The pull at the boarding-house bell was answered by a rather
slatternly maid, who informed the visitor that she guessed Mr.
Pearson was in; he 'most always was around lunch time. So Captain
Elisha waited in a typical boarding-house parlor, before a grate
with no fire in it and surrounded by walnut and plush furniture,
until Pearson himself came hurrying downstairs.
"Say, you're a brick, Captain Warren!" he declared, as they shook
hands. "I hoped you'd come to-day. Why haven't you before?"
The captain explained his having mislaid the address.
"Oh, was that it? Then I'm glad I reminded you. Rather a cheeky
thing to do, but I've been a reporter, and nerve is necessary in
that profession. I began to be afraid living among the blue-bloods
had had its effect, and you were getting finicky as to your
"You didn't believe any such thing."
"Didn't I? Well, perhaps I didn't. Come up to my room. I think
we can just about squeeze in, if you don't mind sitting close."
Pearson's room was on the third flight, at the front of the house.
Through the window one saw the upper half of the buildings
opposite, and above them a stretch of sky. The bed was a small
brass and iron affair, but the rest of the furniture was of good
quality, the chairs were easy and comfortable, and the walls were
thickly hung with photographs, framed drawings, and prints.
"I put those up to cover the wall paper," explained the host. "I
don't offer them as an art collection, but as a screen. Sit down.
Put your coat on the bed. Shall I close the window? I usually
keep the upper half open to let out the pipe smoke. Otherwise I
might not be able to navigate without fog signals."
His visitor chuckled, followed directions with his coat and hat,
and sat down. Pearson took the chair by the small flat-topped
"How about that window?" he asked. "Shall I shut it?"
"No, no! We'll be warm enough, I guess. You've got steam heat, I
"You mean you hear. Those pipes make noise enough to wake the
dead. At first I thought I couldn't sleep because of the racket
they made. Now I doubt if I could without it. Would you consider
a cigar, Captain?"
"Hum! I don't usually stop to consider. But I tell you, Jim--just
now you said something about a pipe. I've got mine aboard, but I
ain't dared to smoke it since I left South Denboro. If you
"Not a bit. Tobacco in this jar on the desk. I keep a temporary
supply in my jacket pocket. Matches? Here you are! What do you
think of my--er--stateroom?"
"Think it makes nice, snug quarters," was the prompt answer.
"Humph! Snug is a good word. Much like living in an omnibus, but
it answers the purpose. I furnished it myself, except for the bed.
The original bureau had pictures of cauliflowers painted on each
drawer front. Mrs. Hepton--my landlady--was convinced that they
were roses. I told her she might be right, but, at all events,
looking at them made me hungry. Perhaps she noticed the effect on
my appetite and was willing for me to substitute."
The captain laughed. Then, pointing, he asked: "What's that
The "handbill" was a fair-sized poster announcing the production at
the "Eureka Opera House" of the "Thrilling Comedy-Drama, The Golden
Gods." Pearson looked at it, made a face, and shook his head.
"That," he said, "is my combined crusher and comforter. It is the
announcement of the first, and next to the last, performance of a
play I wrote in my calf days. The 'Eureka Opera Houses is--or was,
if the 'gods' weren't too much for it--located at Daybury,
Illinois. I keep that bill to prevent my conceit getting away with
me. Also, when I get discouraged over my novel, it reminds me
that, however bad the yarn may turn out to be, I have committed
This led to the captain's asking about the novel and how it was
progressing. His companion admitted having made some progress,
more in the line of revision than anything else. He had remodeled
his hero somewhat, in accordance with his new friend's suggestions
during their interview at the Warren apartment, and had introduced
other characters, portrait sketches from memory of persons whom he
had known in his boyhood days in the Maine town. He read a few
chapters aloud, and Captain Elisha waxed almost enthusiastic over
Then followed a long discussion over a point of seamanship, the
handling of a bark in a gale. It developed that the young author's
knowledge of saltwater strategy was extensive and correct in the
main, though somewhat theoretical. That of his critic was based
upon practice and hard experience. He cited this skipper and that
as examples, and carried them through no'theasters off Hatteras and
typhoons in the Indian Ocean. The room, in spite of the open
window, grew thick with pipe smoke, and the argument was punctuated
by thumps on the desk and chair arms, and illustrated by diagrams
drawn by the captain's forefinger on the side of the dresser. The
effects of oil on breaking rollers, the use of a "sea-anchor" over
the side to "hold her to it," whether or not a man was justified in
abandoning his ship under certain given circumstances, these were
debated pro and con. Always Pearson's "Uncle Jim" was held up as
the final authority, the paragon of sea captains, by the visitor,
and, while his host pretended to agree, with modest reservations,
in this estimate of his relative, he was more and more certain that
his hero was bound to become a youthful edition of Elisha Warren
himself--and he thanked the fates which had brought this fine,
able, old-school mariner to his door.
At length, Captain Elisha, having worked "Uncle Jim" into a safe
harbor after a hundred mile cruise under jury jig, with all hands
watch and watch at the pumps, leaned forward in triumph to refill
his pipe. Having done so, his eyes remained fixed upon a photograph
standing, partially hidden by a leather collar box, upon the
dresser. He looked at it intently, then rose and took it in his
"Well, I swan!" he exclaimed. "Either what my head's been the
fullest of lately has struck to my eyesight, or else--why, say,
Jim, that's Caroline, ain't it?"
Pearson colored and seemed embarrassed. "Yes," he answered, "that
is Miss Warren."
"Humph! Good likeness, too! But what kind of rig has she got on?
I've seen her wear a good many dresses--seems to have a different
one for every day, pretty nigh--but I never saw her in anything
like that. Looks sort of outlandish; like one of them foreign
girls at Geneva--or Leghorn, say."
"Yes. That is an Italian peasant costume. Miss Warren wore it at
a fancy dress ball a year ago."
"Want to know! I-talian peasant, hey! Fifth Avenue peasant with
diamonds in her hair. Becomin' to her, ain't it."
"I thought so."
"Yup. She looks pretty ENOUGH! But she don't need diamonds nor
hand-organ clothes to make her pretty."
Then, looking up from the photograph, he asked, "Give you this
picture, did she?"
His friend's embarrassment increased. "No," he answered shortly.
Then, after an instant's hesitation. "That ball was given by the
Astorbilts and was one of the most swagger affairs of the season.
The Planet--the paper with which I was connected--issues a Sunday
supplement of half-tone reproductions of photographs. One page was
given up to pictures of the ball and the costumes worn there."
"I see. Astonishin' how folks do like to get their faces into
print. I used to know an old woman--Aunt Hepsibah Tucker, her name
was--she's dead now. The pride of Aunt Hepsy's heart was that she
took nineteen bottles of 'Balm of Burdock Tea' and the tea folks
printed her picture as a testimonial that she lived through it.
Ho, ho! And society big-bugs appear to have the same cravin'."
"Some of them do. But that of your niece was obtained by our
society reporter from the photographer who took it. Bribery and
corruption, of course. Miss Warren would have been at least
surprised to see it in our supplement. I fancied she might not
care for so much publicity and suppressed it."
"Um-hm. Well, I guess you did right. I'll thank you for her. By
the way, I told Caroline where I was cal'latin' to go this mornin',
and she wished to be remembered to you."
Pearson seemed pleased, but he made no comment. Captain Elisha
blew a smoke ring from his pipe.
"And say, Jim," he added, embarrassed in his turn, "I hope you
won't think I'm interferin' in your affairs, but are you still set
against comin' up to where I live? I know you said you had a
reason, but are you sure it's a good one?"
He waited for an answer but none came. Pearson was gazing out of
the window. The captain looked at his watch and rose.
"I guess I'll have to be goin'," he said. "It's after twelve now."
His host swung around in his chair. "Sit down, Captain," he said.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking since I saw you, and I'm not
sure about that reason. I believe I'll ask your advice. It is a
delicate matter, and it involves your brother. You may see it as
he did, and, if so, our friendship ends, I suppose. But I'm going
to risk it.
"Mr. Rodgers Warren and I," he went on, "were well acquainted
during the latter part of my newspaper work. I was financial man
on the Planet, and some articles I wrote took your brother's fancy.
At all events, he wrote me concerning them in highly complimentary
terms and asked me to call and see him at his office. I did so
and--well, we became very friendly, so much so that he invited me
to his house. I dined there several times, was invited to call
often, and--I enjoyed it. You see, I had few friends in the city,
outside my journalistic acquaintances, and I suppose I was
flattered by Mr. Warren's kindness and the fancy he seemed to have
taken to me. And I liked Miss Warren--no one could help that--and
I believed she liked me."
"She does like you," interrupted his companion, with surprise.
"Caroline's a good girl."
"Yes, she is. However, she isn't in this story, except as a side-
issue. At this time my ambitions were for a newspaper career, and
I thought I was succeeding. And her father's marked interest and
the things he said to me promised more than an ordinary success.
He was a well known man on the street, and influential. So my head
began to swell, and I dreamed--a lot of foolishness. And then--"
He paused, put down his empty pipe, and sighed.
"Well, then," he continued, "came the upset. I judged from what
you said at our previous conversation, Captain, that you were well
enough acquainted with Wall Street to know that queer operations
take place there. Did you read about the South Shore Trolley
Captain Elisha considered. "Why, yes," he said, slowly, "seem's if
I did. One of those consolidations with 'holdin' companies' and
franchises and extensions and water by the hogshead. Wa'n't that
it? I remember now; the Boston papers had considerable about it,
and I presume likely the New York ones had more. One of those all-
accordin'-to-law swindles that sprout same as toadstools in a dark
place, but die out if the light's turned on too sudden. This one
didn't come to nothin' but a bad smell, if I remember right."
"You do. And I suppose I'm responsible for the smell. I got wind
of the thing, investigated, found out something of what was going
on, and printed a preliminary story in the Planet. It caused a
He paused once more. Captain Elisha, for the sake of saying
something, observed, "I shouldn't wonder."
"It certainly did. And the morning on which it appeared, Mr.
Rodgers Warren 'phoned me. He wished to see me at once. I went
down to his office. Captain, I dislike to tell you this. Mr.
Warren was your brother."
"I know he was. And I'm his executor. Both those reasons make me
'specially anxious to have you tell me the truth. Heave ahead now,
to oblige me."
"Well, I found him very polite and cordial, at first. He said that
a ridiculous and sensational story concerning the Trolley Combine
had appeared in the Planet, and he would like to have me contradict
it and suppress further falsehoods of the kind. I told him I
couldn't do that, because the story was true. I had written it
myself. He was angry, and I could see that he was holding himself
in by main strength. I went on to explain that it was the duty of
an honest paper, as I saw it, to expose such trespass upon the
people's rights. He asked me if I knew who was behind the scheme.
I said I knew some of the backers. They were pretty big men, too.
Then he informed me that he himself was deeply interested.
"I was knocked off my feet by that, you can imagine. And, to be
frank, Captain, if I had known it at first I'm not sure that I,
personally, would have taken the matter up. Yet I might; I can't
tell. But now that I had done it and discovered what I had, I
couldn't give it up. I must go on and learn more. And I knew
enough already to be certain that the more I learned the more I
should write and have published. It was one of those things which
had to be made public--if a fellow had a conscience about him and a
pride in the decency of his profession.
"All this was going through my head as I sat there in his private
office. And he took my surprise and hesitation as symptoms of
wavering and went at me, hard. Of course I knew, he said, that the
operation was absolutely within the law. I did, but that didn't
make it more honest or moral or just. He went on to say that in
large financial deals of this nature petty scruples must be lost
sight of. Good of the business, rights of stockholders, all that
sort of stuff; he rang the changes. All the papers cared for was
sensation; to imperil the fortune of widows and orphans whose
savings were invested in the South Shore Stock, for the sake of
sensation, was a crime. He should have known better than to say
that to me; it is such an ancient, worn-out platitude."
"I know. I've been to political meetin's. The widows and orphans
are always hangin' on the success of the Republican party--or the
Democratic, whichever way you vote. The amount of tears shed over
their investments by fellers you wouldn't trust with a brass five-
cent piece, is somethin' amazin'. Go on; I didn't mean to
"Then he switched to a more personal appeal. He said he had taken
a fancy to me; had liked me from the very beginning. He recognized
my unusual genius at first sight and had gone as far as to make
plans bearing directly on my future. He was associated with men of
wealth and business sagacity. Large deals, of which the Trolley
Combine was but one, were on foot. He and his friends needed a
representative on the press--a publicity agent, so to speak. Some
of the greatest corporations employed men of that kind, and the
salaries paid were large and the opportunities afforded greater
still. Well, that's true enough. I know writers who are doing
just that thing and getting rich at it. I suppose they've squared
their consciences somehow and are willing to write lies and
misleading articles for what there is in it. I can't, that's all;
I'm not built that way, and I told him so.
"It ended in an open break. He reminded me of the favors he had
done me. He had treated me almost like a son, had introduced me to
his family, entertaining me at his table. Where was my gratitude?
That was another bad break on his part, for it made me mad. I told
him I had not asked to be adopted or fed by him; if I had supposed
his kindness had an ulterior motive, I would have seen him at the
devil before I accepted a favor. My career as a financial visitor
was ended. Get out of his office! I got. But the Trolley Combine
did not go through. The Planet and the other papers kept up the
fight and--and the widows and orphans are bankrupt, I presume."
Captain Elisha's pipe had gone out long since. He absently rubbed
the warm bowl between his palms.
"Humph!" he muttered. "So 'Bije was deep in that business, was
"He was. Very deep indeed, I found out afterwards. And, I
declare, I almost pitied him at the time. He acted as if his
whole fortune was staked on the gamble. His hands shook, and the
perspiration stood on his forehead as he talked. I felt as if I
had been the means of ruining him. But of course, I hadn't. He
lived for some time after that, and, I understand, died a rich
"Yes. He left what I'd call a heap of money. My nephew and niece
don't seem to think so, but I do."
"So you see, Captain, why I stopped calling on the Warrens, and why
I did not accept Miss Warren's invitation."
"I see . . . I see . . . And yet I don't know. 'Bije may have took
to you for business reasons, but the children didn't. They liked
you for yourself. Caroline as much as said so. And their father
never told 'em a word about the row, neither. Of course you
couldn't have called when he was alive, but he's gone, and I'm--
well, I'm sort of temporary skipper there now. And _I_ want you to
"But if Miss Warren did know? She should know, I think."
"I ain't sure that she should. I guess there's consider'ble in her
pa's life she ain't acquainted with. And she's as straight and
honest and upright as a schooner's fo'mast. You did nothin' to be
'shamed of. It's the other way 'round, 'cordin' to my notion. But
leave her out of it now. I've sacrificed some few things to take
the job I've got at present, but I can't afford to sacrifice my
friends. I count on you as a friend, and I want you to come and
see ME. Will you?"
"I don't know, Captain Warren. I must think it over a while, I
"All right--think. But the invitation stands--MY invitation. And,
if you want to shift responsibility, shift it on to me. Some day,
if it'll make you feel better, I'll tell Caroline and Stevie the
whole story. But I want them to know you and the world--and me--a
little better first. 'Cordin' to my notion, they need education
just along that line. They've got teachers in other branches,
but . . . There! I've GOT to be goin'. There's the dinner bell
The string of Japanese gongs, hung in the lower hall, sounded
sonorously. Captain Elisha reached for his coat and hat, but
Pearson caught his arm.
"No, you don't!" he declared. "You're going to stay and have lunch
with me--here. If you say no, I shall believe it is because you
are afraid of a boarding-house meal."
His guest protested, but the protests were overruled, and he and
his host went down to the dining room. The captain whispered as
they entered, "Land sakes, Jim, this takes me back home. It's
pretty nigh a twin to the dinin' room at the Centre House in South
All boarding-house dining rooms bear a family likeness, so the
comment was not far wrong. A long table, rows of chairs on each
side, ancient and honorable pictures on the walls, the landlady
presiding majestically over the teapot, the boarders' napkins in
rings--all the familiar landmarks were present.
Most of the male "regulars" were in business about the city and
therefore lunched elsewhere, but the females were in evidence.
Pearson introduced his guest. The captain met Mrs. Hepton, the
landlady, plump, gray-haired, and graciously hospitable. She did
not look at all like a business woman, but appearances are not
always to be trusted; Mrs. Hepton had learned not to trust them--
also delinquent boarders, too far. He met Miss Sherborne, whose
coiffure did not match in spots, but whose voice, so he learned
afterward, had been "cultivated abroad." Miss Sherborne gave music
lessons. Mrs. Van Winkle Ruggles also claimed his attention and
held it, principally because of the faded richness of her apparel.
Mrs. Ruggles was a widow, suffering from financial reverses; the
contrast between her present mode of living and the grandeur of the
past formed her principal topic of conversation.
There were half a dozen others, including an artist whose aversion
to barbers was proclaimed by the luxuriant length of his locks, a
quiet old gentleman who kept the second-hand book store two doors
below; his wife, a neat, trim little body; and Mr. and Mrs. C.
Dickens, no less.
Mr. Dickens was bald, an affliction which he tried to conceal by
brushing the hair at the sides of his head across the desert at the
top. He shaved his cheeks and wore a beard and mustache. Mrs.
Dickens addressed him as "C.," and handed him the sauce bottle, the
bread, or whatever she imagined he desired, as if she were offering
sacrifice to an idol.
She sat next to Captain Elisha and imparted information concerning
her lord and master in whispers, during the intervals between
"My husband will be pleased to meet you, Captain Warren," she
murmured. "Any friend of Mr. Pearson is certain to be an
acquisition. Mr. Pearson and my husband are congenial spirits;
they are members of the same profession."
"I want to know, ma'am."
"Yes. What is it, 'C.' dear? Oh, the butter! Margaret--" to the
waitress--"Mr. Dickens wishes another butter-ball. Yes, Captain
Warren, Mr. Dickens is an author. Haven't you noticed the--er--
resemblance? It is considered quite remarkable."
Captain Elisha looked puzzled. "Why," he said, "I hadn't noticed
it 'special. Jim's--Mr. Pearson's--eyes and his are some the same
"Oh, no! not the resemblance to Mr. Pearson. I didn't mean THAT.
The resemblance to his more famous namesake. Surely you notice it
The captain shook his head. "I--I'm afraid I'm thick-headed,
ma'am," he admitted. "I'm out of soundin's."
"But the nose, and his beard, and his manner. Don't they remind
you of the English Dickens?"
"O-oh!" Captain Elisha inspected the great man with interest. He
had a vague memory of a portrait in a volume of "Pickwick" at home.
"Oh, I see! Yes, yes."
"Of course you see! Everyone does. Mr. Dickens often says--it
is one of his favorite jokes--that while other men must choose a
profession, his was chosen for him by fate. How, with such a name,
could he do anything except write?"
"I don't know, ma'am. But names are risky pilots, ain't they?
I've run against a consider'ble number of Solomons, but there
wa'n't one of 'em that carried more'n a deckload of wisdom. They
christened me Elisha, but I can't even prophesy the weather with
sartinty enough to bet. However, I daresay in your husband's case
it's all right."
The lady had turned away, and he was afraid he might have offended
her. The fear was groundless; she was merely offering another
sacrifice, the sugar this time.
"Yes?" she asked, turning, "you were saying--"
"Why--er--nothin' of account. I cal'late the C. stands for
"No-o. Mr. Dickens's Christian name is Cornelius; but don't
mention it before him, he is very sensitive on that point."
The Dickenses "tickled" the captain exceedingly, and, after the
meal was over, he spoke of them to Pearson.
"Say," he said, "you're in notorious company, ain't you, Jim?
What has Cornelius Charles turned out so far, in the way of
Pearson laughed. "I believe he is employed by a subscription
house," he replied. "Doing hack work on an encyclopedia. A great
collection of freaks, aren't they, Captain Warren?"
"Kind of. But that old book-shop man and his wife seem nice folks.
And, as for freaks, the average boardin' house, city or country,
seems to draw 'em like flies. I guess most anybody would get queer
if they boarded all the time."
"Perhaps so. Or, if they weren't queer, they wouldn't board
permanently from choice. There are two or three good fellows who
dine and breakfast here. The food isn't bad, considering the
"No, it ain't. Tasted more like home than any meal I've had for a
good while. I'm afraid I never was cut out for swell livin'."
Mrs. Hepton approached them as they stood in the hall. She wished
to know if Mr. Pearson's friend was thinking of finding lodgings.
Because Mr. Saks--the artist's name--was giving up the second floor
back in a fortnight, and it was a very pleasant room. "We should
be delighted to add you to our little circle, Captain Warren."
Pearson told her that his companion was already lodged, and she
said good-by and left them. The captain smiled broadly.
"Everything in New York seems to be circles," he declared. "Well,
Jim, you come up and circulate with me, first chance you get. I'm
dependin' on you to call, remember."
The young man was still doubtful.
"I'll see," he said. "I can't promise yet--perhaps I will."
"You will--after you've thought it out to a finish. And come soon.
I'm gettin' interested in that second edition of your Uncle Jim,
and I want to keep along with him as fast as you write. Good-by.
Much obliged for the dinner--there I go again!--luncheon, I mean."
Pearson called. He appeared at the apartment a week after the
luncheon at the boarding house and was welcomed by the Captain
Elisha, who, hearing his voice, strode into the hall, sent the
shocked Edwards to the right-about in a hurry, seized his friend's
hand, and ushered him into the library. Pearson said nothing
concerning his change of mind, the course of reasoning which led
him to make the visit, and the captain asked no questions. He took
it for granted that the young fellow's common sense had turned the
trick, and, the result being what it was, that was sufficient.
They spent a pleasant afternoon together. Caroline was out, and
they had the library to themselves. The newest chapters of the
novel were read and discussed, and the salty flavor of the talk was
as pronounced as ever. Pearson left early, but promised to come
again very soon.
When Caroline returned her uncle told her of his visitor. She
seemed unfeignedly pleased, but regretted that she had not been
there. "He was such a friend of father's," she said, "that seeing
him here would be almost like the old days. And so many of those
whom we thought were his friends and ours have left us."
This was true. Rodgers Warren and his children had had many
acquaintances, had been active in church and charitable work, and
their former home was a center of entertainment and gayety while he
lived. But his death and the rumors of shrinkage in the family
fortune, the giving up of the Fifth Avenue residence, the period of
mourning which forbade social functions, all these helped to bring
about forgetfulness on the part of the many; and Caroline's
supersensitiveness and her firm resolve not to force her society
where it might be unwelcome had been the causes of misunderstanding
in others, whose liking and sympathy were genuine. "I don't see
what has come over Caroline Warren," declared a former girl friend,
"she isn't a bit as she used to be. Well, I've done my part. If
she doesn't wish to return my call, she needn't. _I_ sha'n't annoy
her again. But I'm sorry, for she was the sweetest girl I knew."
Stephen had never been very popular, and his absence at college
still further reduced the number of young people who might be
inclined to call. Their not calling confirmed Caroline's belief
that she and her brother were deliberately shunned because of their
change in circumstances, and she grew more sensitive and proudly
resentful in consequence. Naturally she turned for comfort to
those who remained faithful, the Dunns in particular. They were
loyal to her. Therefore, with the intensity of her nature, she
became doubly loyal to them. The rector of St. Denis dropped in
frequently, and others occasionally, but she was lonely. She
craved the society of those nearer her own age.
Pearson's coming, then, was psychologically apt. When he made his
next call upon Captain Elisha, to find the latter out but his niece
at home, she welcomed him cordially and insisted upon his waiting
until her guardian returned. The conversation was, at first,
embarrassing for the ex-reporter; she spoke of her father, and
Pearson--the memory of his last interview with the latter fresh in
his mind, and painfully aware that she knew nothing of it--felt
guilty and like a hypocrite. But soon the subject changed, and
when the captain entered the library he found the pair laughing and
chatting like old acquaintances, as, of course, they were.
Captain Elisha, paying no attention to his friend's shakes of the
head, invited his niece to be present at the reading of the latest
addition to what he called "mine and Jim's record-breakin' sea
"It's really mine, you understand, Caroline," he observed, with a
wink. "I'm silent partner in the firm--if you can call the one
that does all the talkin' silent--and Jim don't do nothin' but make
it up and write it and get the profits. Course, you mustn't
mention this to him, 'cause he thinks he's the author, and 'twould
hurt his feelin's."
"He's quite right," declared Pearson, emphatically. "If the thing
is ever finished and published he will deserve all the credit. His
advice had already remade it. This uncle of yours, Miss Warren,"
he added, turning to her, "is like the admiral Kipling wrote about--
he has 'lived more stories' than ever I could invent."
The captain, fearful that his niece might take the statement
seriously, hastened to protest.
"He's just foolin', Caroline," he said. "All I've done is set and
talk and talk and talk. I've used up more of his time and the
surroundin' air than you'd believe was possible. When I get next
to salt water, even in print, it's time to muzzle me, same as a dog
in July. The yarn is Jim's altogether, and it's mighty interestin'--
to me anyhow."
"I'm sure it will be to me, also," declared the young lady.
"Captain Warren has told me all about it, Mr. Pearson, and I'm very
eager to hear the new portion."
"There!" Captain Elisha slapped his knee. "There, Jim!" he
exclaimed, "you hear that? Now you've GOT to read it. Anchor's
apeak! Heave ahead and get under way."
So, because he could not well refuse, the author reluctantly began
to read. And, as usual, his nautical friend to interrupt and
comment. Caroline listened, her eyes twinkling. When the reading
and the arguments were at an end, she declared it was all splendid;
"Just like being at sea one's self," she said. "I positively
refuse to permit another installment to be submitted unless I am--
on deck. That's the proper phrase, isn't it, Captain?"
"Aye, aye, ma'am! Jim, we've shipped a new second mate, and she's
goin' to be wuth her salt. You hear ME!"
She proved to be worth all of that, at least in Pearson's opinion.
His calls and the readings and discussions became more and more
frequent. Each of the trio enjoyed them greatly, Caroline quite as
much as the others. Here was something new and fresh, something to
furnish a real interest. The story advanced rapidly, the character
of the nautical hero shaped itself better and better, and the
heroine, also, heretofore a somewhat shadowy and vague young woman,
began to live and breathe. She changed surprisingly, not only in
mental but in physical characteristics.
Captain Elisha was first to notice the latter peculiarity.
"Say, Jim!" he interrupted, one afternoon, "what was that you just
read about Mary? Her hat blowin' off to leeward and her brown hair
blowin' after it? Or somethin' of that sort?"
Caroline laughed merrily. The author turned to the passage
"Not exactly, Captain," he replied, smiling. "I said her hat had
blown away, and her brown curls tossed in the wind. What's wrong
with that? Hats do blow away in a sou'wester; I've seen them."
"Perhaps he thinks she should have been more careful in pinning it
on," suggested the feminine member of the advisory board.
Captain Elisha shook his head. "No," he observed calmly, "but why
was she wearin' that kind of hair? She's pretty young to use a
switch, ain't she?"
"Switch?" repeated "Mary's" creator, with some indignation. "What
are you talking about? When I first described her, I said that her
hair was luxuriant and one of her chief beauties."
"That's a fact! So you did. What made her dye it?"
"Dye it? What do you think she is--a chorus girl?"
"If I remember right she's a postmaster's daughter. But why is she
wearin' brown hair, if it ain't neither false or dyed? Back in the
third chapter 'twas BLACK, like her eyes."
Caroline burst into another laugh. Pearson blushed to his forehead.
"Well, by George!" he admitted, "you're right. I believe I did
have it black, at first."
"You sartin did! I ain't got any objections to either color, only
it ought to stay put, hadn't it? In a town of the size she's
livin' in, a girl with changeable hair is likely to be kind of
conspicuous. I tell you! maybe it bleached out in the sun. Ho,
The writer made a note on the margin of his manuscript and declared
that his heroine's tresses and eyes should be made to correspond at
all stages. They did, but they remained brown. Captain Elisha
chuckled inwardly, but offered no further comments. Caroline,
whose own hair and eyes were brown, did not refer to the matter at
She and the young man became better acquainted at each succeeding
"literary clinic," as the latter called them. When Rodgers Warren
first introduced him at their former home he had impressed her
favorably, largely because of her desire to like anyone whom her
father fancied. She worshiped the dead broker, and his memory to
her was sacred. She would have forgiven and did forgive any wrong
he might have done her, even his brother's appointment as guardian,
though that she could not understand. Unlike Stephen, who fiercely
resented the whole affair and said bitter things concerning his
parent, she believed he had done what he considered right. Her
feeling against Captain Elisha had been based upon the latter's
acceptance of that appointment when he should have realized his
unfitness. And his living with them and disgracing them in the
eyes of their friends by his uncouth, country ways, made her blind
to his good qualities. The Moriarty matter touched her conscience,
and she saw more clearly. But she was very far from considering
him an equal, or other than what Mrs. Corcoran Dunn termed him, an
"encumbrance," even yet. She forced herself to be kind and
tolerant and gave him more of her society, though the church-going
experience was not repeated, nor did she accompany him on his walks
or out-of-door excursions.
If Pearson's introductions had been wholly as a friend of her
guardian, her feeling toward him might have been tinged with the
same condescension or aversion, even. But, hallowed as he was by
association with her father, she welcomed him for the latter's
sake. And, as she became interested in the novel and found that
her suggestions concerning it were considered valuable, she looked
forward to his visits and was disappointed if, for any reason, they
were deferred. Without being aware of it, she began to like the
young author, not alone because he wrote entertainingly and
flattered her by listening respectfully to her criticisms, or
because her father had liked him, but for himself.
Captain Elisha was much pleased.
"I told you, Jim!" he said. "She's just as glad to see you as I
am. Now don't you see how foolish it was to stay away 'cause you
and 'Bije had a spat? Think of all the good times we'd have
missed! And we needed a female aboard your Uncle Jim's craft, to
help with 'Mary' and the rest."
His friend nodded. "She has been a great help, certainly," he
answered. "But I can't help feeling guilty every time I come here.
It is too much like obtaining her friendship under false pretenses.
She should know the whole thing, I believe."
"She shall know it, when I think it's time for her to. But I want
her to know you first. Then she'll be able to judge without so
much prejudice. I told you I'd take the responsibility. You leave
the ship in my charge for a spell."
In spite of this confident assertion, the captain also felt a
trifle guilty. He realized that selfishness was involved in his
keeping Pearson's secret from his niece. He was thoroughly
enjoying himself with these two, and he could not bear to risk the
breaking up which might follow disclosure.
One evening, while a "clinic" was in progress and the three were
deep in consultation, Edwards entered to announce Mrs. Corcoran
Dunn and Mr. Malcolm. The butler's giving the lady precedence in
his announcing showed that he, too, realized who was ranking
officer in that family, even though the captain's "conundrum" had
puzzled him. Mrs. Dunn and her son entered at his heels.
The lady took in the group by the table at a glance: Pearson, with
the manuscript in his hands; Captain Elisha leaning back in his
chair, frowning at the interruption; Caroline rising to welcome the
guests, and coloring slightly as she did so. All these details
Mrs. Dunn noted, made an entry in her mental memorandum-book, and
underscored it for future reference.
If she discerned unpleasant possibilities in the situation, she
did not allow them to disturb her outward serenity. She kissed
Caroline and called her "dear child" as fondly as usual, shook
hands graciously with Captain Elisha, and bowed condescending
recognition of Pearson.
"And how is the novel coming on? Do tell me!" she begged. "I'm
sure we interrupted a reading. It's too bad of us, really! But
Malcolm insisted upon coming. He has been very busy of late--some
dreadful 'corner' or other on the exchange--and has neglected his
friends--or thinks he has. I told him I had explained it all to
you, Caroline, but he WOULD come tonight. It is the first call he
has made in weeks; so you SEE! But there! he doesn't consider
running in here a call."
Call or not, it spoiled the evening for at least two of the
company. Pearson left early. Captain Elisha excused himself soon
after and went to his room, leaving the Dunns to chat with Caroline
for an hour or more. Malcolm joked and was languid and cynical.
His mother asked a few carefully guarded questions.
"Quite a clever person, this young author friend of yours seems to
be, Caroline," she observed. "Almost brilliant, really."
"He isn't a friend of mine, exactly," replied the girl. "He and
Captain Warren are friendly, and father used to know and like him,
as I have told you. The novel is great fun, though! The people in
it are coming to seem almost real to me."
"I daresay! I was a great reader myself once, before my health--my
heart, you know--began to trouble me. The doctors now forbid my
reading anything the least bit exciting. Has this--er--Mr. Pearson
"I know very little of him, personally, but I think not. He used
to be connected with the Planet, and wrote things about Wall
Street. That was how father came to know him."
"Live in an attic, does he?" inquired Malcolm. "That's what all
authors do, isn't it? Put up in attics and sleep on pallets--
whatever they are--and eat crusts, don't they? Jolly life--if you
like it! I prefer bucking wheat corners, myself."
Mrs. Dunn laughed, and Caroline joined her, though not as heartily.
"How ridiculous you are, Malcolm!" exclaimed his mother. "Mr.
Pearson isn't that kind of an author, I'm sure. But where does he
"Somewhere on West 18th Street, I believe. He has rooms there, I
"Oh! Really? And how is this wonderful novel of his progressing?
When does he expect to favor us with it?"
"I don't know. But it is progressing very well at present. He has
written three chapters since last Wednesday. He was reading them
to us when you came."
"Indeed! Since last Wednesday? How interesting!"
Malcolm did not seem to find the topic interesting, for he
smothered a yawn. His mother changed the subject. On their way
home, however, she again referred to it.
"You must make it a point to see her every day," she declared. "No
matter what happens, you must do it."
"Oh, Lord!" groaned her son, "I can't. There's the deuce and all
on 'Change just now, and the billiard tournament's begun at the
Club. My days and nights are full up. Once a week is all she
should expect, I think."
"No matter what you think or what she expects, you must do as I
"Because I don't like the looks of things."
"Oh, rubbish! You're always seeing bugaboos. Uncle Hayseed is
pacified, isn't he? I've paid the Moriarty crowd off. Beastly big
bills they were, too!"
"Humph! Uncle Hayseed, as you call him, is anything but a fool.
But he isn't the particular trouble at present. He and I
understand each other, I believe, and he will be reasonable. But--
there is this Pearson. I don't like his calling so frequently."
Malcolm laughed in huge scorn. "Pearson!" he sneered. "Why, he's
nothing but a penny-a-liner, without the penny. Surely you're not
afraid Caroline will take a fancy to him. She isn't an idiot."
"She's a young girl, and more romantic than I wish she was. At her
age girls do silly things, sometimes. He called on Wednesday--you
heard her say so--and was there again to-night. I don't like it, I
"Her uncle is responsible for--"
"It is more than that. She knew him long before she knew her uncle
existed. Her father introduced him--her FATHER. And to her mind,
whatever her father did was right."
"Witness his brilliant selection of an executor. Oh, Mater, you
weary me! I used to know this Pearson when he was a reporter down
town, and . . . Humph!"
"What is it?"
"Why, nothing, I guess. It seemed as if I remember Warren and
Pearson in some sort of mix-up. Some . . . Humph! I wonder."
He was silent, thinking. His mother pressed his arm excitedly.
"If you remember anything that occurred between Rodgers Warren and
this man, anything to this Pearson's disadvantage, it may pay us to
investigate. What was it?"
"I don't know. But it seemed as if I remembered Warren's . . . or
a friend of his telling me . . . saying something . . . but it
couldn't be of importance, because Caroline doesn't know it."
"I'm not so sure that it may not be important. And, if you recall,
on that day when we first met him at Caroline's, she seemed hurt
because he had not visited them since her father died. Perhaps
there WAS a reason. At any rate, I should look into the matter."
"All right, Mater, just as you say. Really you ought to join a
Don't Worry Club."
"One member in the family is quite sufficient. And I expect you to
devote yourself to Caroline from now on. That girl is lonely, and
when you get the combination of a lonely romantic young girl and a
good-looking and interesting young fellow, even though he is as
poor as a church mouse, ANYTHING may happen. Add to that the
influence of an unpractical but sharp old Yankee relative and
guardian--then the situation is positively dangerous."
An important event was about to take place. At least, it seemed
important to Captain Elisha, although the person most intimately
concerned appeared to have forgotten it entirely. He ventured to
remind her of it.
"Caroline," he said, "Sunday is your birthday, ain't it?"
His niece looked at him in surprise. "Yes," she answered, "it is.
How did you know?"
"Why, I remembered, that's all. Graves, the lawyer man, told me
how old you and Stevie were, fust time I met him. And his partner,
Mr. Sylvester, gave me the date one day when he was goin' over your
pa's will. You'll be twenty years old Sunday, won't you?"
It was late in the afternoon, and she had been out since ten
o'clock shopping with Mrs. Dunn, lunching down town with the latter
and Malcolm, and motoring for an hour or two. The weather for the
season was mild and sunny, and the crisp air had brightened her
cheeks, her eyes sparkled, her fur coat and cap were very becoming,
and Captain Elisha inspected her admiringly before making another
"My! My!" he exclaimed, after an instant's pause. "Twenty years
old! Think of it! 'Bije's girl's a young woman now, ain't she? I
cal'late he was proud of you, too. He ought to have been. I
presume likely HE didn't forget your birthday."
He rose to help her with the heavy coat. As he lifted it from her
shoulders, he bent forward and caught a glimpse of her face.
"There! there!" he said, hastily. "Don't feel bad, dearie. I
didn't mean to hurt your feelin's. Excuse me; I was thinkin' out
loud, sort of."
She did not answer at once, but turned away to remove her cap.
Then she answered, without looking at him.
"He never forgot them," she said.
"Course he didn't. Well, you see I didn't forget, either."
It was an unfortunate remark, inasmuch as it drew, in her mind, a
comparison between her handsome, dignified father and his rude,
uncultured brother. The contrast was ever present in her thoughts,
and she did not need to be reminded of it. She made no reply.
"I was thinkin'," continued the captain, conscious of having made a
mistake, "that maybe we might celebrate somehow, in a quiet way."
"No. I am not in the mood for--celebrations."
"Oh, I didn't mean fireworks and the town band. I just thought--"
"Please don't. I remember other birthdays too well." They had
been great occasions, those birthdays of hers, ever since she was a
little girl. On the eighteenth she made her debut in society, and
the gown she wore on that memorable evening was laid away upstairs,
a cherished memento, to be kept as long as she lived. Each year
Rodgers Warren took infinite pains to please and surprise his
idolized daughter. She could not bear to think of another
birthday, now that he had been taken from her.
Her guardian pulled his beard. "Well," he observed ruefully, "then
my weak head's put my foot in it again, as the feller said. If I
ain't careful I'll be like poor cracked Philander Baker, who lives
with his sister over at Denboro Centre. The doctor told Philander
he was threatened with softenin' of the brain, and the sister
thanked him for the compliment. You see, Caroline, I wrote on my
own hook and asked Stevie to come home Saturday and stay till
Monday. I kind of thought you'd like to have him here."
"Oh, I should like THAT! But will he come? Has he written you?"
"Hey? Yes, I cal'late he'll be on deck. He's--er--yes, he's
He smiled as he answered. As a matter of fact, the correspondence
between Stephen and himself had been lengthy and voluminous on the
part of the former, and brief and business-like on his own. The
boy, on his return to college, had found "conditions" awaiting him,
and the amount of hard work involved in their clearance was not at
all to his taste. He wrote his guardian before the first week was
over, asserting that the whole business was foolishness and a waste
of time. He should come home at once, he said, and he notified the
captain that such was his intention. Captain Elisha replied with
promptness and decision. If he came home he would be sent back,
that was all. "I realize you've got a job ahead of you, Son,"
wrote the captain, "but you can do it, if you will. Fact is, I
guess you've got to. So sail in and show us what you're made of."
Stephen's answer was a five page declaration of independence. He
refused to be bullied by any living man. He had made arrangements
to come to New York on the following Monday, and he was coming. As
to being sent back, he wished his uncle to understand that it was
one thing to order and another to enforce obedience. To which he
received the following note:
"I can't stop you from coming, Steve, except by going to New Haven
and holding you by main strength. That I don't propose to do, for
two reasons: first, that it is too much trouble, and second that it
ain't necessary. You can come home once in a while to see your
sister, but you mustn't do it till I say the word. If you do, I
shall take the carfare out of your allowance, likewise board while
you are here, and stop that allowance for a month as a sort of fine
for mutiny. So you better think it over a spell. And, if I was
you, I wouldn't write Caroline that I was coming, or thinking of
coming, till I had my mind made up. She believes you are working
hard at your lessons. I shouldn't disappoint her, especially as it
wouldn't be any use.
"Your affectionate uncle,
The result of all this was that Stephen, whose finances were
already in a precarious condition, did think it over and decided
not to take the risk. Also, conscious that his sister sided with
their guardian to the extent of believing the university the best
place for him at present, he tore up the long letter of grievance
which he had written her, and, in that which took its place,
mentioned merely that he was "grinding like blazes," and the only
satisfaction he got from it was his removal from the society of the
"old tyrant from Cape Cod."
He accepted the tyrant's invitation to return for the week-end and
his sister's birthday with no hesitation whatever; and his letter
of acceptance was so politic as to be almost humble.
He arrived on an early train Saturday morning. Caroline met him at
the station, and the Dunns' car conveyed them to the latter's
residence, where they were to spend the day. The Dunns and Caroline
had been together almost constantly since the evening when Malcolm
and his mother interrupted the reading of the novel. The former,
while professing to be harassed by business cares, sacrificed them
to the extent of devoting at least a part of each twenty-four hours
to the young lady's society. She was rarely allowed to be alone
with her uncle, a circumstance which troubled her much less than it
did him. He missed the evenings which he had enjoyed so much, and
the next consultation over the adventures of Pearson's "Uncle Jim"
and his "Mary" seemed flat and uninteresting without criticism and
The author himself noticed the difference.
"Rot!" he exclaimed, throwing the manuscript aside in disgust.
"It's rot, isn't it! If I can't turn out better stuff than that,
I'd better quit. And I thought it was pretty decent, too, until
Captain Elisha shook his head. "It don't seem quite so shipshape,
somehow," he admitted, "but I guess likely it's 'cause my head's
full of other things just now. I'm puzzled 'most to death to know
what to get for Caroline's birthday. I want to get her somethin'
she'll like, and she's got pretty nigh everything under the sun.
Say, Jim, you've been workin' too hard, yourself. Why don't you
take to-morrow off and cruise around the stores helpin' me pick out
a present. Come ahead--do!"
They spent the next afternoon in that "cruise," visiting department
stores, jewelers, and art shops innumerable. Captain Elisha was
hard to please, and his comments characteristic.
"I guess you're right, Jim," he said, "there's no use lookin' at
pictures. Let alone that the walls are so covered with 'em now a
fly can't scarcely light without steppin' on some kind of scenery--
let alone that, my judgment on pictures ain't any good. I cal'late
that's considered pretty fine, ain't it?" pointing to a painting in
the gallery where they then were.
"Yes," replied the dealer, much amused. "That is a good specimen
of the modern impressionist school."
"Humph! Cookin' school, I shouldn't wonder. I'd call it a
portrait of a plate of scrambled eggs, if 'twa'n't for that green
thing that's either a cow or a church in the offin'. Out of
soundin's again, I am! But I knew she liked pictures, and so . . .
However, let's set sail for a jewelry store."
The sixth shop of this variety which they visited happened to be
one of the largest and most fashionable in the city. Here the
captain's fancy was taken by a gold chain for the neck, set with
"That's pretty--sort of--ain't it, Jim?" he asked.
"Yes," replied his companion, with emphasis, "it is. And I think
you'll find it is expensive, also."
"That so? How much?" turning to the salesman.
The latter gave the price of the chain. Captain Elisha whistled.
"Whew! Jerushy!" he exclaimed. "And it wouldn't much more than go
around my wrist, at that. All the same size, are they?"
"No. Some are longer. The longer ones are higher priced, of
"Sartin! They're for fleshy folks, I s'pose. Mrs. Thoph Kenney
down home, she'd have to splice three of 'em together to make the
round trip. Thoph's always scared he won't get his money's wuth
in a trade, but he couldn't kick when he got her. To give the
minister a dollar and walk off with two hundred and eighty pounds
of wife is showin' some business sagacity, hey? To do him justice,
I will say that HE seems to be satisfied; she's the one that does
the complainin'. I guess this is the most expensive counter in the
store, ain't it, Mister?"
The clerk laughed. "No, indeed," he said. "These are all moderate
priced goods. I wonder," turning to Pearson, "if your friend
wouldn't like to see some of our choice pieces. It is a quiet day
here, and I shall be glad to show them."
He led the way to a set of show cases near the door on the Fifth
Avenue side. There before Captain Elisha's dazzled eyes were
displayed diamond necklaces and aigrettes, tiaras and brooches, the
figures on their price tags running high into the thousands.
Pearson and the good-natured clerk enjoyed themselves hugely.
"Jim," said the captain after a little of this, "is there a police
officer lookin' this way?"
Pearson laughed. "I guess not," he answered. "Why? The
temptation isn't getting too much for your honesty, is it?"
"No," with a sigh, "but I'm carryin' a forty dollar watch and
wearin' a ring that cost fifteen. I thought they was some punkins
till I begun to look at this stuff. Now they make me feel so mean
and poverty-struck that I expect to be took up for a tramp any
minute. Mister," to the clerk, "you run right along and wrap up
that chain I was lookin' at. Hurry! or I'll be ashamed to carry
anything so cheap."
"Think she'll like it, do you, Jim?" he asked, when they were once
more out of doors with the purchase in his inside pocket.
"She ought, certainly," replied Pearson. "It's a beautiful thing."
"Yes. Well, you see," apologetically, "I wanted to give her
somethin' pretty good. 'Bije always did, and I didn't want to fall
too fur behind. But," with a chuckle, "you needn't mention the
price to anybody. If Abbie--my second cousin keepin' house for me,
she is--if Abbie heard of it she'd be for puttin' me in an asylum.
Abbie's got a hair breastpin and a tortoise shell comb, but she
only wears 'em to the Congregationalist meetin'-house, where she's
reasonably sure there ain't likely to be any sneak-thieves. She
went to a Unitarian sociable once, but she carried 'em in a bag
inside her dress."
Captain Elisha planned to surprise his niece with the gift at
breakfast on the morning of her birthday, but, after reflection,
decided to postpone the presentation until dinner time. The
inevitable Dunns had taken upon themselves the duty of caring for
the girl and her brother during the major part of the day. The
yellow car appeared at the door at ten o'clock and bore the two
away. Caroline assured her guardian, however, that they would
return in season for the evening meal.
The captain spent lonely but busy hours until dinner time came. He
had done some scheming on his own hook and, after a long argument
with the cook, re-enforced by a small sum in cash, had prevailed
upon that haughty domestic to fashion a birthday cake of imposing
exterior and indigestible make-up. Superintending the icing of
this masterpiece occupied some time. He then worried Edwards into
a respectful but stubborn fury by suggesting novelties in the way
of table arrangement. Another bestowal of small change quelled the
disturbance. Then came, by messenger, a dozen American Beauty
roses with Mr. Pearson's card attached. These the captain decided
should be placed in the center of the festive board. As a center
piece had been previously provided, there was more argument. The
cook took the butler's side in the debate, and the pair yielded
only when Captain Elisha again dived into his pocket.
"But I warn you, all hands," he observed, "that this is the last
time. My right fist's got a cramp in it this minute, and you
couldn't open it again with a cold chisel."
At last, however, everything was as it should be, and he sat down
in the library to await the coming of the young people. The gold
chain in its handsome leather case, the latter enclosed in the
jeweler's box, was carefully laid beside Caroline's place at the
table. The dinner was ready, the cake, candles and all--the
captain had insisted upon twenty candles--was ready, also. There
was nothing to do but wait--and he waited.
Six-thirty was the usual dinner hour. It passed. Seven o'clock
struck, then eight, and still Captain Elisha sat alone in the
library. The cook sent word that the dinner was ruined. Edwards
respectfully asked, "What shall I do, sir?" twice, the second time
being sent flying with an order to "Go for'ard and keep your hatches
closed!" The nautical phraseology was lost upon the butler, but the
tone and manner of delivery were quite understandable.
Several times the captain rose from his chair to telephone the Dunn
house and ask the reason for delay. Each time he decided not to do
so. No doubt there were good reasons; Caroline and her brother had
been detained; perhaps the automobile had broken down--the things
were always breaking down just at the most inconvenient times;
perhaps . . . Well, at any rate, he would not 'phone just yet; he
would wait a little longer.
At last the bell rang. Captain Elisha sprang up, smiling, his
impatience and worry forgotten, and, pushing the butler aside,
hurried to open the door himself. He did so and faced, not his
niece and nephew, but Pearson.
"Good evening, Captain," hailed the young man, cheerily. "Didn't
expect me, did you? I dropped in for a moment to shake hands with
you and to offer congratulations to Miss Warren." Then, noticing
the expression on his friend's face, he added, "What's the matter?
Anything wrong? Am I intruding?"
"No, no! Course not. You're as welcome as another egg in a poor
man's hen-house. Come right in and take off your things. I'm glad
to see you. Only--well, the fact is I thought 'twas Caroline
comin' home. She and Stevie was to be here over two hours ago, and
I can't imagine what's keepin, 'em."
He insisted upon his visitor's remaining, although the latter, when
he understood the situation, was reluctant to do so.
"Caroline'll be real glad to see you, Jim, I know," the captain
said. "And I want you to stay for my sake. Between pacifyin' the
Commodore and frettin' over what couldn't possibly happen, I was
half dead of the fidgets. Stay and cheer me up, there's a good
feller. I'd just about reached the stage where I had the girl and
boy stove to flinders under that pesky auto. I'd even begun to
figger on notifyin' the undertaker. Tell me I'm an old fool and
then talk about somethin' else. They'll be here any minute."
But a good many minutes passed, and still they did not come.
Pearson, aware of his companion's growing anxiety, chatted of the
novel, of the people at the boarding house, of anything and
everything he could think of likely to divert attention from the
one important topic. The answers he received were more and more
brief and absent. At last, when Edwards again appeared,
appealingly mute, at the entrance to the dining room, Captain
Elisha, with a sigh which was almost a groan, surrendered.
"I guess," he said, reluctantly, "I guess, Jim, there ain't any use
waitin' any longer. Somethin's kept 'em, and they won't be here
for dinner. You and I'll set down and eat--though I ain't got the
appetite I cal'lated to have."
Pearson had dined hours before, but he followed his friend, resolved
to please the latter by going through the form of pretending to eat.
They sat down together. Captain Elisha, with a rueful smile,
pointed to the floral centerpiece.
"There's your posies, Jim," he observed. "Look pretty, don't they.
She ain't seen 'em yet, but she'll like 'em when she does. And
that over there, is her present from me. Stevie gave her a box of
gloves, and I expect, from what Mrs. Dunn hinted, that she and that
son of hers gave her somethin' fine. She'll show us when she gets
here. What's this, Commodore? Oysters, hey? Well, they ought to
taste like home. They're 'Cape Cods'; I wouldn't have anything
"We won't touch the birthday cake, Jim," he added, a little later.
"She's got to cut that herself."
The soup was only lukewarm, but neither of them commented on the
fact. The captain had scarcely tasted of his, when he paused, his
spoon in air.
"Hey?" he exclaimed. "Listen! What's that? By the everlastin',
it IS. Here they are, at LAST!"
He sprang up with such enthusiasm that his chair tipped backwards
against the butler's devoted shins. Pearson, almost as much
pleased, also rose.
Captain Elisha paid scant attention to the chair incident.
"What are you waitin' for?" he demanded, whirling on Edwards, who
was righting the chair with one hand and rubbing his knee with the
other. "Don't you hear 'em at the door? Let 'em in!"
He reached the library first, his friend following more leisurely.
Caroline and Stephen had just entered.
"Well!" he cried, in his quarter-deck voice, his face beaming with
relief and delight, "you ARE here, ain't you! I begun to think . . .
Why, what's the matter?"
The question was addressed to Stephen, who stood nearest to him.
The boy did not deign to reply. With a contemptuous grunt, he
turned scornfully away from his guardian.
"What is it, Caroline?" demanded Captain Elisha. "HAS anything
The girl looked coldly at him. A new brooch--Mrs. Corcoran Dunn's
birthday gift--sparkled at her throat.
"No accident has happened, if that is what you mean," she said.
"But--why, yes, that was what I meant. You was so awful late, and
you know you said you'd be home for dinner, so--"
"I changed my mind. Come, Steve."
She turned to leave the room. Pearson, at that moment, entered it.
Stephen saw him first.
"WHAT?" he cried. "Well, of all the nerve! Look, Caro!"
"Jim--Mr. Pearson, I mean--ran in a few minutes ago," explained
Captain Elisha, bewildered and stammering. "He thought of course
we'd had dinner and--and--he just wanted to wish you many happy
Pearson had extended his hand and a "Good evening" was on his lips.
Stephen's strange behavior and language caused him to halt. He
flushed, awkward, surprised, and indignant.
Caroline turned and saw him. She started, and her cheeks also grew
crimson. Then, recovering, she looked him full in the face, and
deliberately and disdainfully turned her back.
"Come, Steve!" she said again, and walked from the room.
Her brother hesitated, glared at Pearson, and then stalked
haughtily after her.
Captain Elisha's bewilderment was supreme. He stared, open-
mouthed, after his nephew and niece, and then turned slowly to his
"What on earth, Jim," he stammered. "What's it MEAN?"
Pearson shrugged his shoulders. "I think I know what it means," he
said. "I presume that Miss Warren and her brother have learned of
my trouble with their father."
"Hey? No! you don't think THAT'S it."
"I think there's no doubt of it."
"I don't know how. What I do know is that I should not have come
here. I felt it and, if you will remember, I said so. I was a
fool. Good night, Captain."
Hot and furiously angry at his own indecision which had placed him
in this humiliating situation, he was striding towards the hall.
Captain Elisha seized his arm.
"Stay where you are, Jim!" he commanded. "If the trouble's what
you think it is, I'm more to blame than anybody else, and you
sha'n't leave this house till I've done my best to square you."
"Thank you; but I don't wish to be 'squared.' I've done nothing to
be ashamed of, and I have borne as many insults as I can stand.
"No, you ain't. Not yet. I want you to stay."
At that moment Stephen's voice reached them from the adjoining
"I tell you I shall, Caro!" it proclaimed, fiercely. "Do you
suppose I'm going to permit that fellow to come here again--or to
go until he is made to understand what we think of him and why?
No, by gad! I'm the man of this family, and I'll tell him a few
Pearson's jaw set grimly.
"You may let go of my wrist, Captain Warren," he said; "I'll stay."
Possibly Stephen's intense desire to prove his manliness made him
self-conscious. At any rate, he never appeared more ridiculously
boyish than when, an instant later, he marched into the library and
confronted his uncle and Pearson.
"I--I want to say--" he began, majestically; "I want to say--"
He paused, choking, and brandished his fist.
"I want to say--" he began again.
"All right, Stevie," interrupted the captain, dryly, "then I'd say
it if I was you. I guess it's time you did."
"I want to--to tell that fellow THERE," with a vicious stab of his
forefinger in the direction of Pearson, "that I consider him an--an
ingrate--and a scoundrel--and a miserable--"
"Steady!" Captain Elisha's interruption was sharp this time.
"Steady now! Leave out the pet names. What is it you've got to
"I--my sister and I have found out what a scoundrel he is, that's
what! We've learned of the lies he wrote about father. We know
that he was responsible for all that cowardly, lying stuff in the
Planet--all that about the Trolley Combine. And we don't intend
that he shall sneak into this house again. If he was the least
part of a man, he would never have come."
"Mr. Warren--" began Pearson, stepping forward. The captain
"Hold on, Jim!" he said. "Just a minute now. You've learned
somethin', you say, Stevie. The Dunns told you, I s'pose."
"Never mind who told me!"
"I don't--much. But I guess we'd better have a clear understandin',
all of us. Caroline, will you come in here, please?"
He stepped toward the door. Stephen sprang in front of him.
"My sister doesn't intend to cheapen herself by entering that man's
presence," he declared, hotly. "I'll deal with him, myself!"
"All right. But I guess she'd better be here, just the same.
Caroline, I want you."
"She sha'n't come!"
"Yes, she shall. Caroline!"
The boy would have detained him, but he pushed him firmly aside and
walked toward the door. Before he reached it, however, his niece
"Well?" she said, coldly. "What is it you want of me?"
"I want you to hear Mr. Pearson's side of this business--and mine--
before you do anything you'll be sorry for."
"I think I've heard quite enough of Mr. Pearson already. Nothing
he can say or do will make me more sorry than I am, or humiliate me
more than the fact that I have treated him as a friend."
The icy contempt in her tone was cutting. Pearson's face was
white, but he spoke clearly and with deliberation.
"Miss Warren," he said, "I must insist that you listen for another
moment. I owe you an apology for--"
"Apology!" broke in Stephen, with a scornful laugh. "Apology!
Well, by gad! Just hear that, Caro!"
The girl's lip curled. "I do not wish to hear your apology," she
"But I wish you to hear it. Not for my attitude in the Trolley
matter, nor for what I published in the Planet. Nor for my part in
the disagreement with your father. I wrote the truth and nothing
more. I considered it right then--I told your father so--and I
have not changed my mind. I should act exactly the same under
"You blackguard!" shouted Stephen. Pearson ignored him utterly.
"I do owe you an apology," he continued, "for coming here, as I
have done, knowing that you were ignorant of the affair. I believe
now that you are misinformed as to the facts, but that is immaterial.
You should have been told of my trouble with Mr. Warren. I should
have insisted upon it. That I did not do so is my fault and I
apologize; but for that only. Good evening."
He shook himself free from the captain's grasp, bowed to the trio,
and left the room. An instant later the outer door closed behind
Caroline turned to her brother. "Come, Steve," she said.
"Stay right where you are!" Captain Elisha did not request now, he
commanded. "Stevie, stand still. Caroline, I want to talk to
The girl hesitated. She had never been spoken to in that tone
before. Her pride had been already deeply wounded by what she had
learned that afternoon; she was fiercely resentful, angry, and
rebellious. She was sure she never hated anyone as she did this
man who ordered her to stay and listen to him. But--she stayed.
"Caroline," said Captain Elisha, after a moment of silence, "I
presume likely--of course I don't know for sartin, but I presume
likely it's Mrs. Dunn and that son of hers who've told you what you
think you know."
"It doesn't concern you who told us!" blustered Stephen, pushing
forward. He might have been a fly buzzing on the wall for all the
attention his uncle paid him.
"I presume likely the Dunns told you, Caroline," he repeated,
His niece met his gaze stubbornly.
"Well," she answered, "and if they did? Wasn't it necessary we
should know it? Oh!" with a shudder of disgust, "I wish I could
make you understand how ashamed I feel--how WICKED and ashamed I
feel that I--_I_ should have disgraced father's memory by . . .
Oh, but there! I can't! Yes; Mrs. Dunn and Malcolm did tell us--
many things. Thank God that we HAVE friends to tell us the truth!"
"Amen!" quietly. "I'll say amen to that, Caroline, any time. Only
I want you to be sure those you call friends are real ones and that
the truths they tell ain't like the bait on a fishhook, put on FOR
bait and just thick enough to cover the barb."
"Do you mean to insinuate--" screamed the irrepressible nephew,
wild at being so completely ignored. His uncle again paid not the
"But that ain't neither here nor there now," he went on. "Caroline,
Mr. Pearson just told you that his coming to this house without
tellin' you fust of his quarrel with 'Bije was his fault. That ain't
so. The fault was mine altogether. He told me the whole story;
told me that he hadn't called since it happened, on that very
account. And I took the whole responsibility and ASKED him to come.
I did! Do you know why?"
If he expected an answer none was given. Caroline's lids drooped
disdainfully. "Steve," she said, "let us go."
"Stop! You'll stay here until I finish. I want to say that I
didn't tell you about the Trolley fuss because I wanted you to
learn some things for yourself. I wanted you to know Mr. Pearson--
to find out what sort of man he was afore you judged him. Then,
when you had known him long enough to understand he wasn't a liar
and a blackguard, and all that Steve has called him, I was goin' to
tell you the whole truth, not a part of it. And, after that, I was
goin' to let you decide for yourself what to do. I'm a lot older
than you are; I've mixed with all sorts of folks; I'm past the
stage where I can be fooled by--by false hair or soft soap. You
can't pour sweet oil over a herrin' and make me believe it's a
sardine. I know the Pearson stock. I've sailed over a heap of
salt water with one of the family. And I've kept my eyes open
since I've run acrost this particular member. And I knew your
father, too, Caroline Warren. And I say to you now that, knowin'
Jim Pearson and 'Bije Warren--yes, and knowin' the rights and
wrongs of that Trolley business quite as well as Malcolm Dunn or
anybody else--I say to you that, although 'Bije was my brother, I'd
bet my life that Jim had all the right on his side. There! that's
the truth, and no hook underneath it. And some day you'll realize
He had spoken with great vehemence. Now he took a handkerchief
from his pocket and wiped his forehead. When he again looked at
his niece, he found her staring intently at him; and her eyes
"Have you quite finished--now?" she demanded. "Steve, be quiet!"
"Why, yes, I guess so, pretty nigh. I s'pose there ain't much use
to say more. If I was to tell you that I've tried to do for you
and Steve in this--same as in everything else since I took this
job--as if you were my own children, you wouldn't believe it. If I
was to tell you, Caroline, that I'd come to think an awful lot of
you, you wouldn't believe that, either. I did hope that since our
other misunderstandin' was cleared up, and you found I wa'n't what
you thought I was, you'd come to me and ask questions afore passin'
judgment; but perhaps--"
And now she interrupted, bursting out at him in a blast of scorn
which took his breath away.
"Oh, stop! stop!" she cried. "Don't say any more. You have
insulted father's memory, and defended the man who slandered him.
Isn't that enough? Why must you go on to prove yourself a greater
hypocrite? We learned, my brother and I, to-day more than the
truth concerning your FRIEND. We learned that you have lied--yes,
"Steady, Caroline! be careful. I wouldn't say what I might be
sorry for later."
"Sorry! Captain Warren, you spoke of my misjudging you. I thought
I had, and I was sorry. To-day I learned that your attitude in
that affair was a lie like the rest. YOU did not pay for Mr.
Moriarty's accident. Mr. Dunn's money paid those bills. And you
allowed the family--and me--to thank YOU for your generosity. Oh,
I'm ashamed to be near you!"
"There! There! Caroline, be still. I--"
"I shall not be still. I have been still altogether too long. You
are our guardian. We can't help that, I suppose. Father asked you
to be that, for some reason; but did he ask you to LIVE here where
you are not wanted? To shame us before our friends, ladies and
gentlemen so far above you in every way? And to try to poison our
minds against them and sneer at them when they are kind to us and
even try to be kind to you? No, he did not! Oh, I'm sick of it
all! your deceit and your hypocritical speeches and your pretended
love for us. LOVE! Oh, if I could say something that would make
you understand how thoroughly we despise you, and how your presence,
ever since you forced it upon Steve and me, has disgraced us!
If I only could! I--I--"
She had been near to tears ever since Mrs. Corcoran Dunn, in the
kindness of her heart, told her the "truth" that afternoon. But
pride and indignation had prevented her giving way. Now, however,
she broke down.
"Oh--oh, Steve!" she cried, and, turning to her brother, sobbed
hysterically on his shoulder. "Oh, Steve, what shall we do?"
Stephen put his arm about her waist. "It's all right, Sis," he
said soothingly. "Don't cry before HIM! I guess," with a glance
at his uncle, "you've said enough to make even him understand--at
Captain Elisha looked gravely at the pair. "I guess you have," he
said slowly. "I guess you have, Caroline. Anyhow, I can't think
offhand of anything you've left out. I could explain some things,
but what's the use? And," with a sigh, "you may be right in a way.
Perhaps I shouldn't have come here to live. If you'd only told me
plain afore just how you felt, I'd--maybe I'd--but there! I didn't
know--I didn't know. You see, I thought . . . However, I guess
that part of your troubles is over. But," he added, firmly,
"wherever I am, or wherever I go, you must understand that I'm your
guardian, just the same. I considered a long spell afore I took
the place, and I never abandoned a ship yet, once I took command of
her. And I'll stick to this one! Yes, sir! I'll stick to it in
spite of the devil--or the Dunns, either. Till you and your
brother are of age I'm goin' to look out for you and your interests
and your money; and nothin' nor nobody shall stop me. As for
forcin' my company on you, though, that well, that's different. I
cal'late you won't have to worry any more. Good night."
He thrust his hands into his pockets and walked slowly from the
Stephen, the "man of the family," was the only member of the
household, servants excepted, who slept soundly that night.
Conscious of having done his duty in the affair with Pearson and
his guardian, and somewhat fatigued by the disagreeable task of
soothing his hysterical sister, he was slumbering peacefully at
nine the next morning when awakened by a series of raps on his
"Ah! What? Well, what is it?" he demanded, testily opening his
eyes. "Edwards, is that you? What the devil do you mean by making
such a row?"
The voice which answered was not the butler's, but Caroline's.
"Steve! Oh, Steve!" she cried. "Do get up and come out! Come,
"What's the matter?" inquired the young man, sitting up in bed.
"Is the house afire?"
"No, no! But do come! I want you. Something has happened."
"Happened? What is it?"
"I can't tell you here. Please dress and come to me as quick as
Stephen, wondering and somewhat alarmed, dressed with unusual
promptitude and obeyed. He found his sister standing by the
library window, a letter in her hand. She looked troubled and
"Well, Caro," observed the boy, "here I am. What in the world's up
"Oh, Steve!" she exclaimed, "he's gone!"
"Captain Warren. He's gone."
"Gone? Gone where? Caro, you don't mean he's--DEAD?"
"No, he's gone--gone and left us."
Her brother's expression changed to incredulous joy.
"What?" he shouted. "You mean he's quit? Cleared out? Left here
"Hurrah! Excuse me while I gloat! Hurrah! We got it through his
skull at last! Is it possible? But--but hold on! Perhaps it's
too good to be true. Are you sure? How do you know?"
"He says so. See."
She handed him the letter. It was addressed to "My dear Caroline"
and in it Captain Elisha stated his intentions succinctly. After
the plain speaking of the previous evening he should not, of
course, burden them with his society any longer. He was leaving
that morning, and, as soon as he "located permanent moorings
somewhere else" would notify his niece and nephew of his
"For," he added, "as I told you, although I shall not impose my
company on you, I am your guardian same as ever. I will see that
your allowance comes to you regular, including enough for all
household bills and pay for the hired help and so on. If you need
any extras at any time let me know and, if they seem to me right
and proper, I will send money for them. You will stay where you
are, Caroline, and Stevie must go back to college right away.
Tell him I say so, and if he does not I shall begin reducing his
allowance according as I wrote him. He will understand what I
mean. I guess that is all until I send you my address and any
other sailing orders that seem necessary to me then. And,
Caroline, I want you and Stevie to feel that I am your anchor to
windward, and when you get in a tight place, if you ever do, you
can depend on me. Last night's talk has no bearing on that
whatever. Good-by, then, until my next.
Stephen read this screed to the end, then crumpled it in his fist
and threw it angrily on the floor.
"The nerve!" he exclaimed. "He seems to think I'm a sailor on one
of his ships, to be ordered around as he sees fit. I'll go back to
college when I'm good and ready--not before."
Caroline shook her head. "Oh, no!" she said. "You must go to-day.
He's right, Steve; it's the thing for you to do. He and I were
agreed as to that. And you wouldn't stay and make it harder for
me, would you, dear?"
He growled a reluctant assent. "I suppose I shall have to go," he
said, sullenly. "My allowance is too beastly small to have him