Part 5 out of 7
cutting it; and the old shark would do that very thing; he'd take
delight in doing it, confound him! Well, he knows what we think of
him, that's some comfort."
She did not answer. He looked at her curiously.
"Why, hang it all, Caro!" he exclaimed in disgust; "what ails you?
Blessed if I sha'n't begin to believe you're sorry he's gone. You
act as if you were."
"No, I'm not. Of course I'm not. I'm--I'm glad. He couldn't
stay, of course. But I'm afraid--I can't help feeling that you and
I were too harsh last night. We said things--dreadful things--"
"Be hanged! We didn't say half enough. Oh, don't be a fool, Caro!
I was just beginning to be proud of your grit. And now you want to
take it all back. Honestly, girls are the limit! You don't know
your own minds for twelve consecutive hours. Answer me now! ARE
you sorry he's gone?"
"No. No, I'm not, really. But I--I feel somehow as if--as if
everything was on my shoulders. You're going away, and he's gone,
and--What is it, Edwards?"
The butler entered, with a small parcel in his hand.
"I beg your pardon, Miss Caroline," he said. "I should have given
you this last evening. It was by your place at the table. I think
Captain Warren put it there, miss."
Caroline took the parcel and looked at it wonderingly.
"For me?" she repeated.
"Yes, Miss Caroline. It is marked with your name. And breakfast
is served, when you and Mr. Stephen are ready."
He bowed and retired. The girl sat turning the little white box in
"HE left it for me," she said. "What can it be?"
Her brother snatched it impatiently.
"Why don't you open it and find out?" he demanded. "Perhaps it's
his latch key. Here! I'll do it myself."
He cut the cord and removed the cover of the little box. Inside
was the jeweler's leather case. He took it out and pressed the
spring. The cover flew up.
"Whew!" he whistled. "It's a present. And rather a decent one,
too, by gad! Look, Caro!"
He handed her the open case. She looked at the chain, spread
carefully on the white satin lining. Inside the cover was fitted a
card. She turned it over and read: "To my niece, Caroline. With
wishes for many happy returns, and much love, from her Uncle Elisha
She sat gazing at the card. Stephen bent down, read the inscription,
and then looked up into her face.
"WHAT?" he cried. "I believe--You're not CRYING! Well, I'll be
hanged! Sis, you ARE a fool!"
The weather that morning was fine and clear. James Pearson,
standing by the window of his rooms at the boarding house, looking
out at the snow-covered roofs sparkling in the sun, was miserable.
When he retired the night before it was with a solemn oath to
forget Caroline Warren altogether; to put her and her father and
the young cad, her brother, utterly from his mind, never to be
thought of again. As a preliminary step in this direction, he
began, the moment his head touched the pillow, to review, for the
fiftieth time, the humiliating scene in the library, to think of
things he should have said, and--worse than all--to recall, word
for word, the things she had said to him. In this cheerful
occupation he passed hours before falling asleep. And, when he
woke, it was to begin all over again.
Why--Why had he been so weak as to yield to Captain Elisha's
advice? Why had he not acted like a sensible, self-respecting man,
done what he knew was right, and persisted in his refusal to visit
the Warrens? Why? Because he was an idiot, of course--a hopeless
idiot, who had got exactly what he deserved! Which bit of
philosophy did not help make his reflections less bitter.
He went down to breakfast when the bell rang, but his appetite was
missing, and he replied only in monosyllables to the remarks
addressed to him by his fellow boarders. Mrs. Hepton, the
landlady, noticed the change.
"You not ill, Mr. Pearson, I hope?" she queried. "I do hope you
haven't got cold, sleeping with your windows wide open, as you say
you do. Fresh air is a good thing, in moderation, but one should
be careful. Don't you think so, Mr. Carson?"
Mr. Carson was a thin little man, a bachelor, who occupied the
smallest room on the third story. He was a clerk in a department
store, and his board was generally in arrears. Therefore, when
Mrs. Hepton expressed an opinion he made it a point to agree with
her. In this instance, however, he merely grunted.
"I say fresh air in one's sleeping room is a good thing in
moderation. Don't you think so, Mr. Carson?" repeated the
Mr. Carson rolled up his napkin and inserted it in the ring. His
board, as it happened, was paid in full to date. Also, although he
had not yet declared his intention, he intended changing lodgings
at the end of the week.
"Humph!" he sniffed, with sarcasm, "it may be. I couldn't get none
in MY room if I wanted it, so I can't say sure. Morning."
He departed hurriedly. Mrs. Hepton looked disconcerted. Mrs. Van
Winkle Ruggles smiled meaningly across the table at Miss Sherborne,
who smiled back.
Mr. Ludlow, the bookseller, quietly observed that he hoped Mr.
Pearson had not gotten cold. Colds were prevalent at this time of
the year. "'These are the days when the Genius of the weather sits
in mournful meditation on the threshold,' as Mr. Dickens tells us,"
he added. "I presume he sits on the sills of open windows, also."
The wife of the Mr. Dickens there present pricked up her ears.
"When did you write that, 'C.' dear?" she asked, turning to her
husband. "I remember it perfectly, of course, but I have
forgotten, for the moment, in which of your writings it appears."
The illustrious one's mouth being occupied with a section of
scorching hot waffle, he was spared the necessity of confession.
"Pardon me," said Mr. Ludlow. "I was not quoting our Mr. Dickens
this time, but his famous namesake."
The great "C." drowned the waffle with a swallow of water.
"Maria," he snapped, "don't be so foolish. Ludlow quotes from--er--
'Bleak House.' I have written some things--er--similar, but not
that. Why don't you pass the syrup?"
The bookseller, who was under the impression that he had quoted
from the "Christmas Carol," merely smiled and remained silent.
"My father, the Senator," began Mrs. Van Winkle Ruggles, "was
troubled with colds during his political career. I remember his
saying that the Senate Chamber at the Capitol was extremely
draughty. Possibly Mr. Pearson's ailment does come from sleeping
in a draught. Not that father was accustomed to SLEEP during the
sessions--Oh, dear, no! not that, of course. How absurd!"
She laughed gayly. Pearson, who seemed to think it time to say
something, declared that, so far as he knew, he had no cold or any
symptoms of one.
"Well," said Mrs. Hepton, with conviction, "something ails you, I
know. We can all see it; can't we?" turning to the rest of the
company. "Why, you've scarcely spoken since you sat down at the
table. And you've eaten next to nothing. Perhaps there is some
trouble, something on your mind which is worrying you. Oh, I HOPE
"No doubt it is the preoccupation of genius," remarked Mrs.
Dickens. "I'm sure it must be that. When 'C.' is engaged with
some particularly trying literary problem he frequently loses all
his appetite and does not speak for hours together. Isn't it so,
"C.," who was painfully conscious that he might have made a miscue
in the matter of the quotation, answered sharply.
"No," he said. "Not at all. Don't be silly, Maria."
Miss Sherborne clasped her hands. "_I_ know!" she exclaimed in
mock rapture; "Mr. Pearson is in love!"
This suggestion was received with applause and hilarity. Pearson
pushed back his chair and rose.
"I'm much obliged for this outburst of sympathy," he observed,
dryly. "But, as I say, I'm perfectly well, and the other diagnoses
are too flattering to be true. Good morning."
Back in his room he seated himself at his desk, took the manuscript
of his novel from the drawer, and sat moodily staring at it. He
was in no mood for work. The very sight of the typewritten page
disgusted him. As he now felt, the months spent on the story were
time wasted. It was ridiculous for him to attempt such a thing; or
to believe that he could carry it through successfully; or to dream
that he would ever be anything better than a literary hack, a cheap
edition of "C." Dickens, minus the latter's colossal self-
He was still sitting there, twirling an idle pencil between his
fingers, when he heard steps outside his door. Someone knocked.
"Well, what is it?" he asked.
His landlady answered.
"Mr. Pearson," she said, "may I see you?"
He threw down the pencil and, rising, walked to the door and opened
it. Mrs. Hepton was waiting in the hall. She seemed excited.
"Mr. Pearson," she said, "will you step downstairs with me for a
moment? I have a surprise for you."
"A surprise? What sort of a surprise?"
"Oh, a pleasant one. At least I think it is going to be pleasant
for all of us. But I'm not going to tell you what it is. You must
come down and see for yourself."
She led the way downstairs, the young man following her, wondering
what the surprise might be, and fairly certain it, nor anything
else, could be pleasant on that day.
He supposed, of course, that he must descend to the parlor to reach
the solution of the mystery, but he was mistaken. On the second
floor Mrs. Hepton stopped and pointed.
"It's in there," she said, pointing.
"There" was the room formerly occupied by Mr. Saks, the long-haired
artist. Since his departure it had been vacant. Pearson looked at
the closed door and then at the lady.
"A surprise for me in THERE?" he repeated. "What's the joke, Mrs.
By way of answer she took him by the arm, and, leading him to the
door, threw the latter open.
"Here he is!" she said.
"Hello, Jim!" hailed Captain Elisha Warren, cheerfully. "Ship
ahoy! Glad to see you."
He was standing in the middle of the room, his hat on the table and
his hands in his pockets.
Pearson was surprised; there was no doubt of that--not so much at
the sight of his friend--he had expected to see or hear from the
captain before the day was over--as at seeing him in that room. He
could not understand what he was doing there.
Captain Elisha noted his bewildered expression, and chuckled.
"Come aboard, Jim!" he commanded. "Come in and inspect. I'll see
you later, Mrs. Hepton," he added, "and give you my final word. I
want to hold officer's council with Mr. Pearson here fust."
The landlady accepted the broad hint and turned to go.
"Very well," she said, "but I do hope for all our sakes that word
will be YES, Mr. Warren--Excuse me, it is Captain Warren, isn't
"It used to be, yes, ma'am. And at home it is yet. 'Round here
I've learned to be like a barroom poll-parrot, ready to answer to
most everything. There!" as the door closed after her; "now we can
be more private. Set down, Jim! How are you, anyway?"
Pearson sat down mechanically. "I'm well enough--everything
considered," he replied, slowly. "But what--what are you in here
for? I don't understand."
"You will in a minute. What do you think of this--er--saloon
cabin?" with a comprehensive sweep of his arm.
The room was of fair size, furnished in a nondescript, boarding-
house fashion, and with two windows overlooking the little back
yard of the house and those of the other adjoining it. Each yard
contained an assortment of ash cans, and there was an astonishing
number of clothes lines, each fluttering a variety of garments
peculiarly personal to their respective owners.
"Pretty snug, ain't it?" continued the captain. "Not exactly up to
that I've been luxuriatin' in lately, but more fittin' to my build
and class than that was, I shouldn't wonder. No Corot paintin's
nor five thousand dollar tintypes of dory codders; but I can manage
to worry along without them, if I try hard. Neat but not gaudy, I
call it--as the architect feller said about his plans for the
addition to the county jail at Ostable. Hey? Ho! Ho!"
Pearson began to get a clue to the situation.
"Captain Warren," he demanded, "have you--Do you mean to say you've
taken this room to LIVE in?"
"No, I ain't said all that yet. I wanted to talk with you a little
afore I said it. But that was my idea, if you and I agreed on
"You've come here to live! You've left your--your niece's house?"
"Ya-as, I've left. That is, I left the way the Irishman left the
stable where they kept the mule. He said there was all out doors
in front of him and only two feet behind. That's about the way
'twas with me."
"Have your nephew and niece--"
"Um-hm. They hinted that my room was better than my company, and,
take it by and large, I guess they was right for the present,
anyhow. I set up till three o'clock thinkin' it over, and then I
decided to get out afore breakfast this mornin'. I didn't wait for
any good-bys. They'd been said, or all I cared to hear--Captain
Elisha's smile disappeared for an instant--"last evenin'. The dose
was sort of bitter, but it had the necessary effect. At any rate,
I didn't hanker for another one. I remembered what your landlady
told me when I was here afore, about this stateroom bein' vacated,
and I come down to look at it. It suits me well enough; seems like
a decent moorin's for an old salt water derelict like me; the price
is reasonable, and I guess likely I'll take it. I GUESS I will."
"Why do you guess? By George, I hope you will!"
"Do you? I'm much obliged. I didn't know but after last night,
after the scrape I got you into, you might feel--well, sort of as
if you'd seen enough of me."
The young man smiled bitterly. "It wasn't your fault," he said.
"It was mine entirely. I'm quite old enough to decide matters for
myself, and I should have decided as my reason, and not my
inclinations, told me. You weren't to blame."
"Yes, I was. If you're old enough, I'm TOO old, I cal'late. But I
did think--However, there's no use goin' over that. I ask your
pardon, Jim. And you don't hold any grudge?"
"Indeed I don't. I may be a fool--I guess I am--but not that
"Thanks. Well, there's one objection out of the way, then,
only I don't want you to think that I've hove overboard that
'responsibility' I was so easy and fresh about takin' on my
shoulders. It's there yet; and I'll see you squared with Caroline
afore this v'yage is over, if I live."
His friend frowned.
"You needn't mind," he said. "I prefer that you drop the whole
"Well, maybe, but--Jim, you've taken hold of these electric
batteries that doctors have sometimes? It's awful easy to grab the
handles of one of those contraptions, but when you want to drop 'em
you can't. They don't drop easy. I took hold of the handles of
'Bije's affairs, and, though it might be pleasanter to drop 'em, I
can't--or I won't."
"Then you're leaving your nephew and niece doesn't mean that you've
given up the guardianship?"
Captain Elisha's jaw set squarely.
"I don't remember sayin' that it did," he answered, with decision.
Then, his good-nature returning, he added, "And now, Jim, I'd like
your opinion of these new quarters that I may take. What do you
think of 'em? Come to the window and take a look at the scenery."
Pearson joined him at the window. The captain waved toward the
clothes-lines and grinned.
"Looks as if there was some kind of jubilee, don't it," he
observed. "Every craft in sight has strung the colors."
Pearson laughed. Then he said:
"Captain, I think the room will do. It isn't palatial, but one can
live in worse quarters, as I know from experience."
"Yup. Well, Jim, there's just one thing more. Have I disgraced
you a good deal, bein' around with you and chummin' in with you the
way I have? That is, do you THINK I've disgraced you? Are you
ashamed of me?"
"I? Ashamed of YOU? You're joking!"
"No, I'm serious. Understand now, I'm not apologizin'. My ways
are my ways, and I think they're just as good as the next feller's,
whether he's from South Denboro or--well, Broad Street. I've got a
habit of thinkin' for myself and actin' for myself, and when I take
off my hat it's to a bigger MAN than I am and not to a more stylish
hat. But, since I've lived here in New York, I've learned that,
with a whole lot of folks, hats themselves count more than what's
underneath 'em. I haven't changed mine, and I ain't goin' to.
Now, with that plain and understood, do you want me to live here,in
the same house with you? I ain't fishin' for compliments. I want
an honest answer."
He got it. Pearson looked him squarely in the eye.
"I do," he said. "I like you, and I don't care a damn about your
hat. Is that plain?"
Captain Elisha's reply was delivered over the balusters in the
"Hi!" he called. "Hi, Mrs. Hepton."
The landlady had been anxiously waiting. She ran from the dining
room to the foot of the stairs.
"Yes?" she cried. "What is it?"
"It's a bargain," said the captain. "I'm ready to engage passage."
Thus Captain Elisha entered another of New York's "circles," that
which centered at Mrs. Hepton's boarding house. Within a week he
was as much a part of it as if he had lived there for years. At
lunch, on the day of his arrival, he made his appearance at the
table in company with Pearson, and when the landlady exultantly
announced that he was to be "one of our little party" thereafter,
he received and replied to the welcoming salutations of his fellow
boarders with unruffled serenity.
"How could I help it?" he asked. "Human nature's liable to
temptation, they tell us. The flavor of that luncheon we had last
time I was here has been hangin' 'round the edges of my mouth and
tantalizin' my memory ever since."
"We had a souffle that noon, if I remember correctly, Captain,"
observed the flattered Mrs. Hepton.
"Did you? Well, I declare! I'd have sworn 'twas a biled-dinner
hash. Knew 'twas better than any I ever ate afore, but I'd have
bet 'twas hash, just the same. Tut! tut! tut! Now, honest, Mrs.
Hepton, ain't this--er--whatever-you-call-it a close relation--a
sort of hash with its city clothes on, hey?"
The landlady admitted that a souffle was something not unlike a
hash. Captain Elisha nodded.
"I thought so," he declared. "I was sartin sure I couldn't be
mistaken. What is it used to be in the song book? 'You can smash--
you can--' Well, I don't remember. Somethin' about your bein'
able to smash the vase if you wanted to, but the smell of the
posies was there yet."
Mr. Ludlow, the bookseller, supplied the quotation.
"'You may break, you may shatter
The vase if you will,
But the scent of the roses
Will cling to it still,'
he said, smiling.
"That's it. Much obliged. You can warm up and rechristen the hash
if you will; but the corned beef and cabbage stay right on deck.
Ain't that so, Mr. Dickens?"
The illustrious "C." bowed.
"Moore?" he observed, with dignity.
"Yes. That's what _I_ said--'More!' Said it twice, I believe.
Glad you agree with me. The hymn says that weakness is sin, but
there's no sin in havin' a weakness for corned-beef hash."
Miss Sherborne and Mrs. Van Winkle Ruggles were at first inclined
to snub the new boarder, considering him a country boor whose
presence in their select society was almost an insult. The captain
did not seem to notice their hints or sneers, although Pearson grew
red and wrathful.
"Laura, my dear," said Mrs. Ruggles, addressing the teacher of
vocal culture, "don't you feel quite rural today? Almost as if you
were visiting the country?"
"I do, indeed," replied Miss Sherborne. "Refreshing, isn't it?
"It is if one cares for such things. I am afraid _I_ don't
appreciate them. They may be well enough in their place, but--"
She finished with a shrug of her shoulders. Captain Elisha smiled.
"Yes, ma'am," he said politely, joining in the conversation;
"that's what the boy said about the cooky crumbs in the bed. You
don't care for the country, I take it, ma'am"
"I do NOT!"
"So? Well, it's a mercy we don't think alike; even Heaven would be
crowded if we did--hey? You didn't come from the country, either?"
turning to Miss Sherborne.
The young lady would have liked to answer with an uncompromising
negative. Truth and the fact that some of those present were
acquainted with it compelled her to forego this pleasure.
"I was born in a--a small town," she answered coldly. "But I came
to the city as soon as I possibly could."
"Um-hm. Well, I came when I couldn't possibly stay away. We can
agree on one thing--we're all here. Yes, and on another--that that
cake is fust-rate. I'll take a second piece, if you've no
objection, Mrs. Hepton."
When they were alone once more, in the captain's room, Pearson
vented his indignation.
"Why didn't you give them as good as they sent?" he demanded.
"Couldn't you see they were doing their best to hurt your feelings?"
"Ya-as. I could see it. Didn't need any specs to see that."
"Then why didn't you answer them as they deserved?"
"Oh, I don't know. What's the use? They've got troubles of their
own. One of 'em's a used-to-be, and the other's a never-was.
Either disease is bad enough without addin' complications."
Pearson laughed. "I don't get the whole of that, Captain," he
said. "Mrs. Van is the used-to-be, I suppose. But what is it that
Miss Sherborne never was?"
"Married," was the prompt reply. "Old maiditis is creepin' on her
fast. You want to be careful, Jim; a certain kind of female gets
desperate about her stage."
Pearson laughed again.
"Oh, get out!" he exclaimed, turning to go.
"All right! I will, when you and she are together and you give me
the signal. But I tell you honest, I'd hate to do it. Judgin' by
the way she smiles and looks up under her eye-winkers at you,
you're in danger of kidnappin'. So long. I'll see you again after
I get my dunnage unpacked."
The snubbing and sneering came to an abrupt end. Pearson, in
conversation with Mrs. Ruggles, casually imparted the information
that Captain Elisha was the brother of A. Rodgers Warren, late
society leader and wealthy broker. Also, that he had entire charge
of the latter's estate. Thereafter Mrs. Ruggles treated the
captain as one whose rank was equal to her own, and, consequently,
higher than anyone's else in the boarding-house. She made it a
point to publicly ask his advice concerning "securities" and
"investments," and favored him with many reminiscences of her
distinguished father, the Senator. Miss Sherborne, as usual,
followed her lead. Captain Elisha, when Pearson joked him on the
altered behavior of the two ladies, merely grinned.
"You may thank me for that, Captain," said the young man. "When I
told Mrs. Ruggles who and what you were she almost broke down and
sobbed. The fact that she had risked offending one so closely
connected with the real thing on Fifth Avenue and Wall Street was
too dreadful. But she's yours devotedly now. There's an 18-karat
crown on your head."
"Yup. I suppose so. Well, I ain't so sot up with pride over
wearin' that crown. It used to belong to 'Bije, and I never did
care much for second-hand things. Rather have a new sou'wester of
my own, any day in the week. When I buy a sou'wester I know what
it's made of."
"Mrs. Ruggles knows what the crown is made of--gold, nicely padded
with bonds and preferred stock."
"Humph! Sometimes I wonder if the paddin's waterproof. As for the
gold--well, you can make consider'ble shine with brass when you're
dealin' with nigh-sighted folks . . . and children."
To this indirect reference to Miss Warren and her brother Pearson
made no reply. The pair conversed freely on other subjects, but
each avoided this one. The novel, too, was laid on the shelf for
the present. Its author had not yet mustered sufficient courage to
return to it. Captain Elisha once or twice suggested a session
with "Cap'n Jim," but, finding his suggestions received with more
or less indifference, did not press them. His mind was busy with
other things. A hint dropped by Sylvester, the lawyer, was one of
these. It suggested alarming possibilities, and his skepticism
concerning the intrinsic worth of his inherited "crown" was
increased by it.
He paid frequent visits to the offices of Sylvester, Kuhn, and
Graves in Pine Street. Upon the senior partner, whom he esteemed
and trusted not only as a business adviser but a friend, he
depended for information concerning happenings at the Warren
Caroline sent him regular statements of her weekly expenditures,
also bills for his approval, but she had written him but once,
and then only a brief note. The note brought by a messenger,
accompanied a package containing the chain which he and Pearson
selected with such deliberation and care at the Fifth Avenue
jeweler's. Under the existing circumstances, the girl wrote, she
felt that she did not wish to accept presents from him and
therefore returned this one. He was alone when the note and
package came and sat by the window of his room, looking out at the
dismal prospect of back yards and clothes-lines, turning the
leather case over and over in his hands. Perhaps this was the most
miserable afternoon he had spent since his arrival in the city. He
tried to comfort himself by the exercise of his usual philosophy,
but it was cold comfort. He had no right to expect gratitude, so
he told himself, and the girl undoubtedly felt that she was justified
in her treatment of him; but it is hard to be misunderstood and
misjudged, even by one whose youth is, perhaps, an excuse. He
forgave Caroline, but he could not forgive those who were
responsible for her action.
After Pearson had departed, on the morning when the conversation
dealing with Mrs. Van Winkle Ruggles and her change of attitude
took place, Captain Elisha put on his hat and coat and started for
his lawyer's office. Sylvester was glad to see him and invited him
"No, thank you," replied the captain. "I just run down to ask if
there was anything new in the offin'. Last time I see you, you
hinted you and your mates had sighted somethin' or other through
the fog, and it might turn out to be a rock or a lighthouse, you
couldn't tell which. Made up your mind yet?"
Sylvester shook his head. "No," he said, slowly; "it is still
foggy. We're busy investigating, but we're not ready to report."
"Humph! Well, what's the thing look like? You must be a little
nigher to it by now."
The lawyer tapped his desk with a pencil. "I don't know what it
looks like," he answered. "That is to say, I don't--I can't
believe it is what it appears, at this distance, to be. If it is,
it is the most--"
He paused. Captain Elisha waited for him to go on and, when he did
not do so, asked another question.
"The most what?" he demanded. "Is it likely to be very bad?"
"Why--why--well, I can't say even that yet. But there! as I told
you, I'm not going to permit it to worry me. And you mustn't
worry, either. That's why I don't give you any further particulars.
There may be nothing in it, after all."
His visitor smiled. "Say, Mr. Sylvester," he said, "you're like
the young-ones used to be when I was a boy. There'd be a gang of
'em waitin' by the schoolhouse steps and when the particular victim
hove in sight they'd hail him with, 'Ah, ha! YOU'RE goin' to get
it!' 'Wait till teacher sees you!' and so on. Course the victim
would want to know what it meant. All the satisfaction he got from
them was, 'That's all right! You'll find out! You just wait!'
And the poor feller put in the time afore the bell rung goin' over
all the things he shouldn't have done and had, and wonderin' which
it was this time. You hinted to me a week ago that there was a
surprisin' possibility loomin' up in 'Bije's financial affairs.
And ever since then I've been puzzlin' my brains tryin' to guess
what could happen. Ain't discovered any more of those Cut Short
bonds, have you?"
The bonds to which he referred were those of a defunct Short Line
railroad. A large number of these bonds had been discovered among
A. Rodgers Warren's effects; part of his "tangled assets," the
captain had termed them, differentiating from the "tangible"
"Abbie, my housekeeper, has been writin' me," he went on, "about
havin' the sewin' room papered. She wants my advice concernin' the
style of paper; says it ought to be pretty and out of the common,
but not too expensive. I judge what she wants is somethin' that
looks like money but ain't really wuth more than ten cents a mile.
I've been thinkin' I'd send her a bale or so of those bonds; they'd
fill the bill in those respects, wouldn't they?"
Sylvester laughed. "They certainly would, Captain," he replied.
"No, we haven't unearthed any more of that sort. And, as for this
mystery of ours, I'll give you the answer--if it's worth giving at
all, in a very short time. Meanwhile, you go home and forget it."
"Well, I'll try. But I guess it sticks out on my face, like a four
days' toothache. But I WON'T worry about that. You know best
whether to tell me now or not, and--well, I'm carryin' about all
the worry my tonnage'll stand, as 'tis."
He drew a long breath. Sylvester regarded him sympathetically.
"You mustn't take your nephew's and niece's treatment too much to
heart," he said.
"Oh, I don't. That is, I pretend I don't. And I do try not to.
But I keep thinkin', thinkin', and wonderin' if 'twould have been
better if I hadn't gone there to live at all. Hi hum! a man of my
age hadn't ought to mind what a twenty-year-old girl says, or does;
'specially when her kind, advisin' friends have shown her how she's
been deceived and hypocrit-ted. By the way, speakin' of hypocrites,
I suppose there's just as much 'Dunnin'' as ever goin' on up there?"
"Yes. A little more, if anything, I'm afraid. Your niece and Mrs.
Dunn and her precious son are together now so constantly that
people are expecting--well, you know what they expect."
"I can guess. I hope they'll be disapp'inted."
"So do I, but I must confess I'm fearful. Malcolm himself isn't so
wise, but his mother is--"
"A whole Book of Proverbs, hey? I know. She's an able old frigate.
I did think I had her guns spiked, but she turned 'em on me
unexpected. I thought I had her and her boy in a clove hitch. I
knew somethin' that I was sartin sure they wouldn't want Caroline to
know, and she and Malcolm knew I knew it. Her tellin' Caroline of
it, HER story of it, when I wasn't there to contradict, was as smart
a piece of maneuverin' as ever was. It took the wind out of my
sails, because, though I'm just as right as I ever was, Caroline
wouldn't listen to me, nor believe me, now."
"She'll learn by experience."
"Yup. But learnin' by experience is a good deal like shippin'
green afore the mast; it'll make an able seaman of you, if it don't
kill you fust. When I was a boy there was a man in our town name
of Nickerson Cummin's. He was mate of a ship and smart as a red
pepper poultice on a skinned heel. He was a great churchgoer when
he was ashore and always preachin' brotherly love and kindness and
pattin' us little shavers on the head, and so on. Most of the
grown folks thought he was a sort of saint, and I thought he was
more than that. I'd have worshiped him, I cal'late, if my
Methodist trainin' would have allowed me to worship anybody who
wa'n't named in Scriptur'. If there'd been an apostle or a prophet
christened Nickerson I'd have fell on my knees to this Cummin's
man, sure. So, when I went to sea as a cabin boy, a tow-headed
snub-nosed little chap of fourteen, I was as happy as a clam at
highwater 'cause I was goin' in the ship he was mate of."
He paused. There was a frown on his face, and his lower jaw was
thrust forward grimly.
"Well?" inquired Sylvester. "What happened?"
"Hey? Oh, excuse me. When I get to thinkin' of that v'yage I
simmer inside, like a teakettle on a hot stove. The second day
out--seasick and homesick and so miserable I wished I could die all
at once instead of by lingerin' spasms--I dropped a dish on the
cabin floor and broke it. Cummin's was alone with me, eatin' his
dinner; and he jumped out of his chair when I stooped to pick up
the pieces and kicked me under the table. When I crawled out, he
kicked me again and kept it up. When his foot got tired he used
his fist. 'There!' says he between his teeth, 'I cal'late that'll
learn you that crockery costs money.'
"It did. I never broke anything else aboard that ship. Cummin's
was a bully and a sneak to everybody but the old man, and a toady
to him. He never struck me or anybody else when the skipper was
around, but there was nothin' too mean for him to do when he
thought he had a safe chance. And he took pains to let me know
that if I ever told a soul at home he'd kill me. I'd learned by
experience, not only about the price of crockery, but other things,
things that a youngster ought not to learn--how to hate a man so
that you can wait years to get even with him, for one. I'm sorry I
learned that, and," dryly, "so was Cummin's, later. But I did
learn, once and for all, not to take folks on trust, nor to size
'em up by their outside, or the noise they make in prayer-meetin',
nor the way they can spread soft soap when they think it's
necessary. I'd learned that, and I'd learned it early enough to be
of use to me, which was a mercy.
"It was a hard lesson for me," he added, reflectively; "but I
managed to come out of it without lettin' it bitter my whole life.
I don't mind so much Caroline's bein' down on me. She'll know
better some day, I hope; and if she don't--well, I'm only a side-
issue in her life, anyhow, hove in by accident, like the section of
dog collar in the sassage. But I do hope her learnin' by
experience won't come too late to save her from . . . what she'll
be awful sorry for by and by."
"It must," declared the lawyer, with decision. "You must see to
it, Captain Warren. You are her guardian. She is absolutely under
your charge. She can do nothing of importance unless you consent."
"Yup. That's so--for one more year; just one, remember! Then
she'll be of age, and I can't say 'Boo!' And her share of 'Bije's
money'll be hers, too. And don't you believe that that fact has
slipped Sister Dunn's memory. I ain't on deck to head her off now;
if she puts Malcolm up to gettin' Caroline to give her word, and
Caroline gives it--well, I know my niece. She's honorable, and
she'll stick to her promise if it runs her on the rocks. And Her
Majesty Dunn knows that, too. Therefore, the cat bein' away, she
cal'lates now's the time to make sure of the cheese."
"But the cat can come back. The song says it did, you know."
"Um-hm. And got another kick, I shouldn't wonder. However, my
claws'll stay sharp for a year or thereabouts, and, if it comes to
a shindy, there'll be some tall scratchin' afore I climb a tree.
Keep a weather eye on what goes on, won't you?"
"I will. You can depend on me."
"I do. And say! for goodness' sakes put me out of my misery
regardin' that rock or lighthouse on 'Bije's chart, soon's ever you
settle which it is."
"Certainly! And, remember, don't worry. It may be a lighthouse,
or nothing at all. At all events, I'll report very soon."
But, in spite of his promise, Sylvester did not report during the
following week or the next. Meanwhile, his client tried his best
to keep the new mystery from troubling his thoughts, and succeeded
only partially. The captain's days and evenings were quiet and
monotonous. He borrowed a book or two from Mrs. Hepton's meager
library, read, walked a good deal, generally along the water front,
and wrote daily letters to Miss Baker. He and Pearson were
together for at least a portion of each day. The author, fighting
down his dejection and discouragement, set himself resolutely to
work once more on the novel, and his nautical adviser was called
in for frequent consultation. The story, however, progressed but
slowly. There was something lacking. Each knew what that
something was, but neither named it.
One evening Pearson entered the room tenanted by his friend to find
the latter seated beside the table, his shoes partially unlaced,
and a pair of big slippers ready for putting on.
"Captain," said the visitor, "you look so comfortable I hate to
Captain Elisha, red-faced and panting, desisted from the unlacing
and straightened in his chair.
"Whew!" he puffed. "Jim, your remarks prove that your experience
of the world ain't as big as it ought to be. When you get to my
age and waist measure you'll realize that stoopin' over and comfort
don't go together. I hope to be comfortable pretty soon; but I
sha'n't be till them boots are off. Set down. The agony'll be
over in a minute."
Pearson declined to sit. "Not yet," he said. "And you let those
shoes alone, until you hear what I've got to say. A newspaper
friend of mine has sent me two tickets for the opera to-night. I
want you to go with me."
Captain Elisha was surprised.
"To the opera?" he repeated. "Why, that's a--a sort of singin'
theater ain't it?"
"Yes, you're fond of music; you told me so. And Aida is beautiful.
Come on! it will do us both good."
"Hum! Well, I don't know."
"I do. Get ready."
The captain looked at his caller's evening clothes.
"What do you mean by gettin' ready?" he asked. "You've got on your
regimentals, open front and all. My uniform is the huntin' case
kind; fits in better with church sociables and South Denboro
no'theasters. If I wore one of those vests like yours Abbie'd make
me put on a red flannel lung-protector to keep from catchin'
pneumonia. And she'd think 'twas sinful waste besides, runnin' the
risk of sp'ilin' a clean biled shirt so quick. Won't I look like
an undertaker, sittin' alongside of you?"
"Not a bit. If it will ease your mind I'll change to a business
"I don't care. You know how I feel; we had a little talk about
hats a spell ago, you remember. If you're willin' to take me 'just
as I am, without a plea,' as the hymn-tune says, why, I cal'late
I'll say yes and go. Set down and wait while I get on my
He retired to the curtain alcove, and Pearson heard him rustling
about, evidently making a hurried change of raiment. During this
process he talked continuously.
"Jim," he said, "I ain't been to the theater but once since I
landed in New York. Then I went to see a play named 'The Heart of
a Sailor.' Ha! ha! that was a great show! Ever take it in, did
"No. I never did."
"Well, you'd ought to. It's a wonder of it's kind. I learned more
things about life-savin' and 'longshore life from that drayma than
you'd believe was possible. You'd have got some p'ints for your
Cap'n Jim yarn from that play; you sartin would! Yes, indeed! Way
I happened to go to it was on account of seein' a poster on a fence
over nigh where that Moriarty tribe lived. The poster pictured a
bark ashore, on her beam ends, in a sea like those off the Horn.
On the beach was a whole parcel of life-savers firin' off rockets
and blue lights. Keepin' the Fourth of July, I judged they was,
for I couldn't see any other reason. The bark wa'n't more'n a
hundred foot from 'em, and if all hands on board didn't know they
was in trouble by that time, then they deserved to drown. Anyhow,
they wa'n't likely to appreciate the celebration. Ho! ho! Well,
when I run afoul of that poster I felt I hadn't ought to let
anything like that get away; so I hunted up the theater--it wa'n't
but a little ways off--and got a front seat for that very afternoon."
"Was it up to the advertising?" asked Pearson.
"WAS it? Hi hum! I wish you'd been there. More 'special I wished
some of the folks from home had been there, for the whole business
was supposed to happen on the Cape, and they'd have realized how
ignorant we are about the place we live in. The hero was a
strappin' six-footer, sort of a combination fisherman and parson,
seemed so. He wore ileskins in fair weather and went around
preachin' or defyin' folks that provoked him and makin' love to
the daughter of a long-haired old relic that called himself an
inventor. . . . Oh, consarn it!"
"What's the matter?"
"Dropped my collar button, as usual. Collar buttons are one of the
Old Harry's pet traps. I'll bet their responsible for 'most as
many lapses from grace as tangled fishlines. Where . . . Ow! . . .
All right; I found it with my bare foot, and edge up, of course."
A series of grunts and short-breathed exclamations followed,
indicating that the sufferer was struggling with a tight collar.
"Go on," commanded Pearson. "Tell me some more about the play."
"Hey? Oh, the play. Where was I?"
"You were saying that the heroine's father was an inventor."
"That's what HE said he was, though he never furnished any proof.
His daughter helped him with his inventions, but if she'd cut his
hair once in a while 'twould have been a better way of puttin' in
the time, 'cordin' to my notion. And there was a rich squire, who
made his money by speculatin' in wickedness, and a mortgage, and--I
don't know what all. And those Cape Cod folks! and the houses they
lived in! and the way they talked! Oh, dear! oh, dear! I got my
money's wuth that afternoon."
"What about the wreck? How did that happen?"
"Don't know. It happened 'cause it had to be in the play, I
cal'late. The mortgage, or an 'invention' or somethin', was on
board the bark and just naturally took a short cut for home, way I
figgered it out. But, Jim, you ought to have seen that hero! He
peeled off his ileskin-slicker--he'd kept it on all through the
sunshine, but now, when 'twas rainin' and rainin' and wreckin' and
thunderin', he shed it--and jumped in and saved all hands and the
ship's cat. 'Twas great business! No wonder the life-savers set
off fireworks! And thunder! Why, say, it never stopped thunderin'
in that storm except when somebody had to make a heroic speech;
then it let up and give 'em a chance. Most considerate thunder
ever I heard. And the lightnin'! and the way the dust flew from
the breakers! I was glad I went. . . . There!" appearing fully
dressed from behind the curtains. "I'm ready if you are. Did I
talk your head off? I ask your pardon; but that 'Heart of a
Sailor' touched mine, I guess. I know I was afraid I'd laugh until
it stopped beatin'. And all around the people were cryin'. It was
enough sight damper amongst the seats than in those cloth waves."
The pair walked over to Broadway, boarded a street car, and
alighted before the Metropolitan Opera House. Pearson's seats were
good ones, well down in the orchestra. Captain Elisha turned and
surveyed the great interior and the brilliantly garbed audience.
"Whew!" he muttered. "This is considerable of a show in itself,
Jim. They could put our town hall inside here and the folks on the
roof wouldn't be so high as those in that main skys'l gallery up
aloft there. Can they see or hear, do you think?"
"Oh, yes. The accepted idea is that they are the real music
lovers. THEY come for the opera itself. Some of the others come
because--well, because it is the proper thing."
"Yes, yes; I see. That's the real article right over our heads, I
"Yes. That's the 'Diamond Horseshoe.'"
"All proper things there, hey?"
"Why--er--yes, I suppose so. What makes you ask?"
"Nothing much. I was thinking 'twas better Abbie wa'n't along on
this cruise. She'd probably want to put an 'im' in front of that
'proper.' I envy those women, Jim; THEY didn't have to stop to
hunt up collar buttons, did they."
He was silent during the first act of the opera. When the curtain
fell his companion asked how he liked it.
"Good singin'," he replied; "best I ever heard. Do you understand
what they say?"
"No. But I'm familiar with the story of Aida, of course. It's a
favorite of mine. And the words don't really matter."
"I suppose not. It's the way they say it. I had an Irishman
workin' round my barn once, and Tim Bailey drove down from Bayport
to see me. I was out and Tim and the Irishman run afoul of each
other. Tim stuttered so that he made a noise when he talked like
one of these gasoline bicycles goin' by. He watched Mike sweepin'
out the horse stall and he says, 'You're a pup--pup . . . I say
you're a pup--.' He didn't get any further 'cause Mike went for
him with the broom. Turned out later that he was tryin' to
compliment that Irishman by sayin' he was a particular sort of
feller. These folks on the stage might be sayin' most anythin',
and I wouldn't know it. But I sha'n't knock 'em down, for I like
the way it's said. When the Almighty give us music he more than
made up for makin' us subject to toothache, didn't he."
Pearson bought a copy of the libretto, and the captain followed the
performance of the next two acts with interest.
"Say, Jim," he whispered, with a broad grin, "it's a good thing
this opera idea ain't carried into real life. If you had to sing
every word you said 'twould be sort of distressin', 'specially if
you was in a hurry. A fust-rate solo when you was orderin' the
crew to shorten sail would be a high old brimstone anthem, I'll bet
you. And think of the dinner table at our boardin' house! Mrs.
Van and C. Dickens both goin' at once, and Marm Hepton serenadin'
the waiter girl! Ho! ho! A cat fight wouldn't be a circumstance."
Between the third and the fourth acts the pair went out into the
foyer, where, ascending to the next floor, they made the round of
the long curve behind the boxes, Pearson pointing out to his friend
the names of the box lessees on the brass plates.
"There!" he observed, as, the half circle completed, they turned
and strolled back again, "isn't that an imposing list, Captain?
Don't you feel as if you were close to the real thing?"
"Godfreys mighty!" was the solemn reply; "I was just thinkin' I
felt as if I'd been readin' one of those muck-rakin' yarns in the
The foyer had its usual animated crowd, and among them Pearson
recognized a critic of his acquaintance. He offered to introduce
the captain, but the latter declined the honor, saying that he
cal'lated he wouldn't shove his bows in this time. "You heave
ahead and see your friend, Jim," he added. "I'll come to anchor by
this pillar and watch the fleet go by. I'll have to write Abbie
about all this; she'll want to know how the female craft was
Left alone, he leaned against the pillar and watched the people
pass and repass just behind him. Two young men paused just behind
him. He could not help overhearing their conversation.
"I presume you've heard the news?" asked one, casually.
"Yes," replied the other, "I have. That is, if you mean the news
concerning Mal Dunn. The mater learned it this afternoon and
sprung it at dinner. No one was greatly surprised. Formal
announcement made, and all that sort of thing, I believe. Mal's
to be congratulated."
"His mother is, you mean. She managed the campaign. The old lady
is some strategist, and I'd back her to win under ordinary
circumstances. But I understand these were not ordinary; wise owl
of a guardian to be circumvented, or something of that sort."
"From what I hear the Dunns haven't won so much after all. There
was a big shrinkage when papa died, so they say. Instead of three
or four millions it panned out to be a good deal less than one. I
don't know much about it, because our family and theirs have
drifted apart since they moved."
"Humph! I imagine whatever the pan-out it will be welcome. The
Dunns are dangerously close to the ragged edge; everybody has been
on to that for some time. And it takes a few ducats to keep Mal
going. He's no Uncle Russell when it comes to putting by for the
"Well, on the whole, I'm rather sorry for--the other party. Mal is
a good enough fellow, and he certainly is a game sport; but--"
They moved on, and Captain Elisha heard no more. But what he had
heard was quite sufficient. He sat through the remainder of the
opera in silence and answered all his friend's questions and
remarks curtly and absently.
As they stepped into the trolley Pearson bought an evening paper,
not the Planet, but a dignified sheet which shunned sensationalism
and devoted much space to the doings of the safe, sane, and ultra-
respectable element. Perceiving that his companion, for some
reason, did not care to talk, he read as the car moved downtown.
Suddenly Captain Elisha was awakened from his reverie by hearing
his friend utter an exclamation. Looking up, the captain saw that
he was leaning back in the seat, the paper lying unheeded in his
"What's the matter?" asked the older man, anxiously.
Pearson started, glanced quickly at his friend, hesitated, and
looked down again.
"Nothing--now," he answered, brusquely. "We get out here. Come."
He rose, picked up the paper with a hand that shook a little, and
led the way to the door of the car. Captain Elisha followed, and
they strode up the deserted side street. Pearson walked so rapidly
that his companion was hard pushed to keep pace with him. When
they stood together in the dimly lit hall of the boarding house,
the captain spoke again.
"Well, Jim," he asked in a low tone, "what is it? You may as well
tell me. Maybe I can guess, anyhow."
The young man reached up and turned the gas full on. In spite of
the cold from which they had just come, his face was white. He
folded the paper in his hand, and with his forefinger pointed to
its uppermost page.
"There it is," he said. "Read it."
Captain Elisha took the paper, drew his spectacle case from his
pocket, adjusted his glasses and read. The item was among those
under the head of "Personal and Social." It was what he expected.
"The engagement is to-day announced of Miss Caroline Warren,
daughter of the late A. Rodgers Warren, the well-known broker, to
Mr. Malcolm Corcoran Dunn, of Fifth Avenue. Miss Warren, it will
be remembered, was one of the most charming of our season-before-
last's debutantes and--" etc.
The captain read the brief item through.
"Yes," he said, slowly, "I see."
Pearson looked at him in amazement.
"You SEE!" he repeated. "You--Why! DID YOU KNOW IT?"
"I've been afraid of it for some time. To-night, when you left me
alone there in the quarter-deck of that opera house, I happened to
hear two young chaps talkin' about it. So you might say I knew--
"Good heavens! and you can stand there and--What are you going to
do about it?"
"I don't know--yet."
"Are you going to permit her to marry that--THAT fellow?"
"Well, I ain't sartin that I can stop her."
"My God, man! Do you realize--and SHE--your niece--why--"
"There! there! Jim. I realize it all, I cal'late. It's my
business to realize it."
"And it isn't mine. No, of course it isn't; you're right there."
He turned and strode toward the foot of the stairs.
"Hold on!" commanded the captain. "Hold on, Jim! Don't you go off
ha'f cocked. When I said 'twas my business to realize this thing,
I meant just that and nothin' more. I wa'n't hintin', and you
ought to know it. You do know it, don't you?"
The young man paused. "Yes," he answered, after an instant's
struggle with his feelings; "yes, I do. I beg your pardon,
"All right. And here's somethin' else; I just told you I wasn't
sartin I could stop the marriage. That's the truth. But I don't
recollect sayin' I'd actually hauled down the colors, not yet.
"Good night, Captain. I shouldn't have misunderstood you, of
course. But, as you know, I respected and admired your niece.
And this thing has--has--"
"Sort of knocked you on your beam ends, I understand. Well, Jim,"
with a sigh, "I ain't exactly on an even keel myself."
They separated, Pearson going to his room. As Captain Elisha was
passing through the hall on the second floor, he heard someone
calling him by name. Turning, he saw his landlady's head,
bristling with curl papers, protruding from behind the door at
the other end of the passage.
"Captain Warren," she asked, "is that you?"
"Yes, ma'am," replied the captain, turning back.
"Well, I've got a message for you. A Mr. Sylvester has 'phoned you
twice this evening. He wishes to see you at his office at the
earliest possible moment. He says it is VERY important."
Nine o'clock is an early hour for a New York lawyer of prominence
to be at his place of business. Yet, when Captain Elisha asked the
office boy of Sylvester, Kuhn and Graves if the senior partner was
in, he received an affirmative answer.
"Yes, sir," said Tim, respectfully. His manner toward the captain
had changed surprisingly since the latter's first call. "Yes, sir;
Mr. Sylvester's in. He expects you. I'll tell him you're here.
Sit down and wait, please."
Captain Elisha sat down, but he did not have to wait long. The
boy returned at once and ushered him into the private office.
Sylvester welcomed him gravely.
"You got my message, then," he said. "I spent hours last evening
chasing you by 'phone. And I was prepared to begin again this
"So? That's why you're on deck so early? Didn't sleep here, did
you? Well, I cal'late I know what you want to talk about. You
ain't the only one that reads the newspapers."
"The newspapers? Great heavens! it isn't in the newspapers, is it?
It can't be!"
He seemed much perturbed. Captain Elisha looked puzzled.
"Course it is," he said. "But I heard it afore I saw it. Perhaps
you think I take it pretty easy. Maybe I act as if I did. But you
expected it, and so did I, so we ain't exactly surprised. And,"
seriously, "I realize that it's no joke as well as you do. But
we've got a year to fight in, and now we must plan the campaign.
I did cal'late to see Caroline this mornin'. Then, if I heard from
her own lips that 'twas actually so, I didn't know's I wouldn't
drop in and give Sister Corcoran-Queen-Victoria-Dunn a few plain
facts about it not bein' a healthy investment to hurry matters.
You're wantin' to see me headed me off, and I come here instead."
The lawyer looked at him in astonishment.
"See here, Captain Warren," he demanded, "what do you imagine I
asked you to come here for?"
"Why, to talk about that miserable engagement, sartin. Poor girl!
I've been awake ha'f the night thinkin' of the mess she's been led
into. And she believes she's happy, I suppose."
Sylvester shook his head. "I see," he said, slowly. "You would
think it that, naturally. No, Captain, it isn't the engagement.
It's more serious than that."
"More serious than--MORE serious! Why, what on earth? Hey? Mr.
Sylvester, has that rock-lighthouse business come to somethin'
The lawyer nodded. "It has," he replied.
"I want to know! And I'd almost forgot it, not hearin' from you.
It's a rock, too, I judge, by the looks of your face. Humph! . . .
Is it very bad?"
"I'm afraid so."
The captain pulled his beard. "Well," he said, wearily, after a
moment, "I guess likely I can bear it. I've had to bear some
things in my time. Anyhow, I'll try. Heave ahead and get it over
with. I'm ready."
Instead of answering, Sylvester pushed an electric button on his
desk. The office boy answered the ring.
"Have Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Graves arrived?" asked the lawyer.
"Yes, sir. Both of them, sir."
"Tell them Captain Warren is here, and ask them to join us in the
inner room. Remind Mr. Graves to bring the papers. And, Tim,
remember that none of us is to be disturbed. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," said Tim and departed.
Captain Elisha regarded his friend with some dismay.
"Say!" he exclaimed, "this MUST be serious, if it takes the skipper
and both mates to handle it."
Sylvester did not smile. "It is," he answered. "Come."
He led the way into the room opening from the rear of his own. It
was a large apartment with a long table in the center. Mr. Kuhn,
brisk and business-like, was already there. He shook hands with
his client. As he did so, Graves, dignified and precise as ever,
entered, carrying a small portfolio filled with papers.
"Mornin', Mr. Graves," said the captain; "glad to see you, even
under such distressin' circumstances, as the undertaker said to the
sick man. Feelin' all right again, I hope. No more colds or
nothin' like that?"
"No. Thank you. I am quite well, at present."
"That's hearty. If you and me don't do any more buggy ridin' in
Cape Cod typhoons, we'll last a spell yet, hey? What you got
there, the death warrant?" referring to the portfolio and its
Mr. Graves evidently did not consider this flippancy worth a reply,
for he made none.
"Sit down, gentlemen," said Sylvester.
The four took chairs at the table. Graves untied and opened the
portfolio. Captain Elisha looked at his solemn companions, and his
"You'll excuse me," he observed, "but I feel as if I was goin' to
be tried for piracy on the high seas. Has the court any objection
to tobacco smoke? I'm puttin' the emphasis strong on the 'tobacco,'"
he added, "because this is a cigar you give me yourself, Mr.
Sylvester, last time I was down here."
"No, indeed," replied the senior partner. "Smoke, if you wish. No
one here has any objection, unless it may be Graves."
"Oh, Mr. Graves ain't. He and I fired up together that night we
fust met. Hot smoke tasted grateful after all the cold water we'd
had poured onto us in that storm. Graves is all right. He's a
sportin' character, like myself. Maybe he'll jine us. Got another
cigar in my pocket."
But the invitation was declined. The "sporting character" might
deign to relax amid proper and fitting surroundings, but not in the
sacred precincts of his office. So the captain smoked alone.
"Well," he observed, after a few preliminary puffs, "go on! Don't
keep me in suspenders, as the feller said. Where did the lightnin'
strike, and what's the damage?"
Sylvester took a card from his pocket and referred to a penciled
memorandum on its back.
"Captain Warren," he began, slowly, "as you know, and as directed
by you, my partners here and I have been engaged for months in
carefully going over your brother's effects, estimating values,
tabulating and sorting his various properties and securities,
separating the good from the worthless--and there was, as we saw
at a glance, a surprising amount of the latter--"
"Um-hm," interrupted the captain, "Cut Short bonds and the like of
that. I know. Excuse me. Go on."
"Yes. Precisely. And there were many just as valueless. But we
have been gradually getting those out of the way and listing and
appraising the remainder. It was a tangle. Your brother's
business methods, especially of late years, were decidedly
unsystematic and slipshod. It may have been the condition of his
health which prevented his attending to them as he should. Or," he
hesitated slightly, "it may have been that he was secretly in great
trouble and mental distress. At all events, the task has been a
hard one for us. But, largely owing to Graves and his patient
work, our report was practically ready a month ago."
He paused. Captain Elisha, who had been listening attentively,
"Yes," he said; "you told me 'twas. What does the whole thing tot
up to? What's the final figger, Mr. Graves?"
The junior partner adjusted his eyeglasses to his thin nose.
"I have them here," he said. "The list of securities, et cetera,
is rather long, but--"
"Never mind them now, Graves," interrupted Kuhn. "The amount,
roughly speaking, is close to over our original estimate, half a
The captain drew a breath of relief. "Well," he exclaimed, "that's
all right then, ain't it? That's no poorhouse pension."
Sylvester answered. "Yes," he said, "that's all right, as far as
"Humph! Well, I cal'late _I_ could make it go to the end of the
route; and then have enough left for a return ticket. Say!" with
another look at the solemn faces of the three, "what IS the row?
If the estate is wuth ha'f a million, what's the matter with it?"
"That is what we are here this morning to discuss, Captain. A
month ago, as I said, we considered our report practically ready.
Then we suddenly happened on the trail of something which, upon
investigation, upset all our calculations. If true, it threatened,
not to mention its effect upon the estate, to prove so distressing
and painful to us, Rodgers Warren's friends and legal advisers,
that we decided not to alarm you, his brother, by disclosing our
suspicions until we were sure there was no mistake. I did drop you
a hint, you will remember--"
"I remember. NOW we're comin' to the rock!"
"Yes. Captain Warren, I think perhaps I ought to warn you that
what my partners and I are about to say will shock and hurt you.
I, personally, knew your brother well and respected him as an
honorable business man. A lawyer learns not to put too much trust
in human nature, but, I confess, this--this--"
He was evidently greatly disturbed. Captain Elisha, regarding him
"I judge it's sort of hard for you to go on, Mr. Sylvester," he
said. "I'll help you all I can. You and Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Graves
here have found out somethin' that ain't exactly straight in
'Bije's doin's? Am I right?"
"Yes, Captain Warren, you are."
"Somethin' that don't help his character, hey?"
"Somethin's he's, done that's--well, to speak plain, that's crooked?"
"I'm afraid there's no doubt of it."
"Humph!" The captain frowned. His cigar had gone out, and he idly
twisted the stump between his fingers. "Well," he said, with a
sigh, "our family, gen'rally speakin', has always held its head
pretty high. Dad was poor, but he prided himself on bein' straight
as a plumb line. And, as for mother, she . . . " Then, looking up
quickly, he asked, "Does anybody outside know about this?"
"No one but ourselves--yet."
"Yet? Is it goin' to be necessary for anybody else to know it?"
"We hope not. But there is a possibility."
"I was thinkin' about the children."
"Of course. So are we all."
"Um-hm. Poor Caroline! she put her father on a sort of altar and
bowed down afore him, as you might say. Any sort of disgrace to
his name would about kill her. As for me," with another sigh, "I
ain't so much surprised as you might think. I know that sounds
tough to say about your own brother, but I've been afraid all
along. You see, 'Bije always steered pretty close to the edge of
the channel. He had ideas about honesty and fair dealin' in
business that didn't jibe with mine. We split on just that, as I
told you, Mr. Graves, when you and I fust met. He got some South
Denboro folks to invest money along with him; sort of savin's
account, they figgered it; but I found out he was usin' it to
speculate with. So that's why we had our row. I took pains to see
that the money was paid back, but he and I never spoke afterwards.
Fur as my own money was concerned, I hadn't any kick, but . . .
However, I'm talkin' too much. Go on, Mr. Sylvester, I'm ready to
hear whatever you've got to say."
"Thank you, Captain. You make it easier for me. It seems that
your brother's first step toward wealth and success was taken about
nineteen years ago. Then, somehow or other, probably through a
combination of luck and shrewdness, he obtained a grant, a
concession from the Brazilian Government, the long term lease of a
good-sized tract of land on the upper Amazon. It was very valuable
because of its rubber trees."
"Hey?" Captain Elisha leaned forward. "Say that again!" he
Sylvester repeated his statement. "He got the concession by paying
twenty thousand dollars to the government of Brazil," he continued.
"To raise the twenty thousand he formed a stock company of two
hundred and fifty shares at one hundred dollars each. One hundred
of these shares were in his own name. Fifty were in the name of
one 'Thomas A. Craven,' a clerk at that time in his office. Craven
was only a dummy, however. Do you understand what I mean by a
"I can guess. Sort of a wooden image that moved when 'Bije pulled
the strings. Like one of these straw directors that clutter up the
insurance companies, 'cordin' to the papers. Yes, yes; I understand
well enough. Go ahead! go ahead!"
"That's it. The fifty shares were in Craven's name, but they were
transferred in blank and in Mr. Warren's safe. Together with his
own hundred, they gave him control and a voting majority. That
much we know by the records."
"I see. But this rubber con--contraption wa'n't really wuth
anything, was it?"
"Worth anything! Captain Warren, I give you my word that it was
worth more than all the rest of the investments that your brother
made during his lifetime."
"NO!" The exclamation was almost a shout.
"Why, yes, decidedly more. Does that surprise you, Captain?"
Captain Elisha did not answer. He was regarding the lawyer with a
dazed expression. He breathed heavily.
"What's the matter?" demanded the watchful Kuhn, his gaze fixed
upon his client's face. "Do you know anything--"
The captain interrupted him. "Go on!" he commanded. "But tell me
this fust: What was the name of this rubber concern of 'Bije's?"
"The Akrae Rubber Company."
"I see. . . . Yes, yes. . . . Akry, hey! . . . Well, what about
it? Tell me the rest."
"For the first year or two this company did nothing. Then, in
March, of the third year, the property was released by Mr. Warren
to persons in Para, who were to develop and operate. The terms of
his new lease were very advantageous. Royalties were to be paid on
a sliding scale, and, from the very first, they were large. The
Akrae Company paid enormous dividends."
"Did, hey? I want to know!"
"Yes. In fact, for twelve years the company's royalties averaged
"Whe-e-w!" Captain Elisha whistled. "Fifty thousand a year!" he
repeated slowly. "'Bije! 'Bije!"
"Yes. And three years ago the Akrae Company sold its lease, sold
out completely to the Para people, for seven hundred and fifty
"Godfreys mighty! Well," after a moment, "that's what I'd call a
middlin' fair profit on a twenty thousand dollar investment--not to
mention the dividends."
"Captain," Sylvester leaned forward now; "Captain," he repeated,
"it is that sale and the dividends which are troubling us. I told
you that the Akrae Company was organized with two hundred and fifty
shares of stock. Your brother held one hundred in his own name and
fifty transferred to him by his dummy, Craven. What I did not tell
you was that there were another hundred shares, held by someone,
someone who paid ten thousand dollars for them--we know that--and
was, therefore, entitled to two-fifths of every dollar earned by
the company during its existence, and two-fifths of the amount
received for the sale of the lease. So far as we can find out,
this stockholder has never received one cent."
The effect of this amazing announcement upon the uniniated member
of the council was not as great as the lawyers expected it to be.
"You don't tell me!" was his sole comment.
Graves broke in impatiently: "I think, Captain Warren," he declared,
"that you probably do not realize what this means. Besides proving
your brother dishonest, it means that this stockholder, whoever
he may have been--"
"Hey? What's that? Don't you know who he was?"
"No, we do not. The name upon the stub of the transfer book has
been scratched out."
Captain Elisha looked the speaker in the face, then slowly turned
his look upon the other two faces.
"Scratched out?" he repeated. "Who scratched it out?"
Graves shrugged his shoulders.
"Yes, yes," said the captain. "You don't know, but we're all
entitled to guess, hey? . . . Humph!"
"If this person is living," began Sylvester, "it follows that--"
"Hold on a minute! I don't know much about corporations, of
course--that's more in your line than 'tis in mine--but I want to
ask one question. You say this what-d'ye-call-it--this Akrae
thingamajig--was sold out, hull, canvas and riggin', to a crowd in
Brazil? It's gone out of business then? It's dead?"
"Wait! Ain't it customary, when a sale like this is made, to turn
over all the stock, certificates and all? Sometimes you get stock
in the new company in exchange; I know that. But to complete the
trade, wouldn't this extry hundred shares be turned in? Or some
sharp questionin' done if 'twa'n't?"
He addressed the query to Sylvester. The latter seemed more
troubled than before.
"That," he said with some hesitation, "is one of the delicate
points in this talk of ours, Captain Warren. A certificate for the
missing hundred shares WAS turned in. It was dated at the time of
the original issue, made out in the name of one Edward Bradley, and
transferred on the back by him to your brother. That is, it was
presumably so transferred."
"Presumably. Pre-sumably? You mean--?"
"I mean that this certificate is--well, let us say, rather queer.
To begin with, no one knows who this Bradley is, or was. His name
appears nowhere except on that certificate, unless, of course, it
did appear on the stub where the scratching has been done; we doubt
that, for reasons. Nobody ever heard of the man; and his transfer
to your brother was made, and the certificate signed by him, only
three years ago, when the Akrae Company sold out. It will take too
long to go into details; but thanks to the kindness of the Para
concern, which has offices in this city--we have been able to
examine this Bradley certificate. Experts have examined it, also.
And they tell us--"
"Well, what do they tell?" demanded the captain.
"They tell us that--that, in their opinion, the certificate was
never issued at the time when, by this date, it presumes to have
been. It was made out no longer ago than five years, probably
less. The signature of Bradley on the back is--is--well, I hate
to say it, Captain Warren, but the handwriting on that signature
resembles very closely that of your brother."
Captain Elisha was silent for some moments. The others did not
speak, but waited. Even Graves, between whom and his client there
was little in common, felt the general sympathy.
At length the captain raised his head.
"Well," he said slowly, "we ain't children. We might as well call
things by their right names. 'Bije forged that certificate."
"I'm afraid there is no doubt of it."
"Dear! dear! dear! Why, they put folks in state's, prison for
"Yes. But a dead man is beyond prisons."
"That's so. Then I don't see--"
"You will. You don't grasp the full meaning of this affair even
yet. If the Bradley certificate is a forgery, a fraud from
beginning to end, then the presumption is that there was never any
such person as Bradley. But SOMEONE paid ten thousand dollars for
one hundred Akrae shares when the company was formed. THAT
certificate has never been turned in. Some person or persons,
somewhere, hold one hundred shares of Akrae Rubber Company stock.
Think, now! Suppose that someone turns up and demands all that he
has been cheated out of for the past seventeen years! Think of
"Well . . . I am thinkin' of it. I got the scent of what you was
drivin' at five minutes ago. And I don't see that we need to be
afraid. He could have put 'Bije in jail; but 'Bije is already
servin' a longer sentence than he could give him. So that disgrace
ain't bearin' down on us. And, if I understand about such things,
his claim is against the Akrae Company, and that's dead--dead as
the man that started it. Maybe he could put in a keeper, or a
receiver, or some such critter, but there's nothin' left to keep or
receive. Ain't I right?"
"You are. Or you would be, but for one thing, the really
inexplicable thing in this whole miserable affair. Your brother,
Captain Warren, was dishonest. He took money that didn't belong to
him, and he forged that certificate. But he must have intended to
make restitution. He must have been conscience-stricken and more
to be pitied, perhaps, than condemned. No doubt, when he first
began to withhold the dividends and use the money which was not
his, he intended merely to borrow. He was always optimistic and
always plunging in desperate and sometimes rather shady speculations
which, he was sure, would turn out favorably. If they had--if, for
instance, the South Shore Trolley Combine had been put through--You
knew of that, did you?"
"I've been told somethin' about it. Go on!"
"Well, it was not put through, so his hopes there were frustrated.
And that was but one of his schemes. However, when the sale of the
Company was consummated, he did an extraordinary thing. He made
out and signed his personal note, payable to the Akrae Company, for
every cent he had misappropriated. And we found that note in his
safe after his death. That was what first aroused our suspicions.
NOW, Captain Warren, do you understand?"
Captain Elisha did not understand, that was evident. His look of
wondering amazement traveled from one face to the others about the
"A NOTE!" he repeated. "'Bije put his NOTE in the safe? A note
promisin' to pay all he'd stole! And left it there where it could
be found? Why, that's pretty nigh unbelievable, Mr. Sylvester! He
might just as well have confessed his crookedness and be done with
"Yes. It is unbelievable, but it is true. Graves can show you the
The junior partner produced a slip of paper from the portfolio and
regarded it frowningly.
"Of all the pieces of sheer lunacy," he observed, "that ever came
under my observation, this is the worst. Here it is, Captain
He extended the paper. Captain Elisha waved it aside.
"I don't want to see it--not yet," he protested. "I want to think.
I want to get at the reason if I can. Why did he do it?"
"That is what we've been tryin' to find--the reason, remarked Kuhn,
"and we can only guess. Sylvester has told you the guess. Rodgers
Warren intended, or hoped, to make restitution before he died."
"Yes. Knowin' 'Bije, I can see that. He was weak, that was his
main trouble. He didn't mean to be crooked, but his knees wa'n't
strong enough to keep him straight when it come to a hard push.
But he made his note payable to a Company that was already sold
out, so it ain't good for nothin'. Now, why--"
Graves struck the table with his open hand.
"He doesn't understand at all," he exclaimed, impatiently.
"Captain Warren, listen! That note is made payable to the Akrae
Company. Against that company some unknown stockholder has an
apparent claim for two-fifths of all dividends ever paid and two-
fifths of the seven hundred and fifty thousand received for the
sale. With accrued interest, that claim amounts to over five
hundred thousand dollars."
"That note binds Rodgers Warren's estate to pay that claim. His
own personal estate! And that estate is not worth over four
hundred and sixty thousand dollars! If this stockholder should
appear and press his claim, your brother's children would be, not
only penniless, but thirty thousand dollars in debt! There! I
think that is plain enough!"
He leaned back, grimly satisfied with the effect of his statement.
Captain Elisha stared straight before him, unseeingly, the color
fading from his cheeks. Then he put both elbows on the table and
covered his face with his hands.
"You see, Captain," said Sylvester, gently, "how very serious the
situation is. Graves has put it bluntly, but what he says is
literally true. If your brother had deliberately planned to hand
his children over to the mercy of that missing stockholder, he
couldn't have done it more completely."
Slowly the captain raised his head. His expression was a strange
one; agitated and shocked, but with a curious look of relief,
almost of triumph.
"At last!" he said, solemnly. "At last! Now it's ALL plain!"
"All?" repeated Sylvester. "You mean--?"
"I mean everything, all that's been puzzlin' me and troublin' my
head since the very beginnin'. All of it! NOW I know why! Oh,
'Bije! 'Bije! 'Bije!"
Kuhn spoke quickly.
"Captain," he said, "I believe you know who the owner of that one
hundred shares is. Do you?"
Captain Elisha gravely nodded.
"Yes," he answered. "I know him."
"Who is it?
The questions were blurted out together. The captain looked at the
three excited faces. He hesitated and then, taking the stub of a
pencil from his pocket, drew toward him a memorandum pad lying on
the table and wrote a line upon the uppermost sheet. Tearing off
the page, he tossed it to Sylvester.
"That's the name," he said.
Two more hours passed before the lawyers and their client rose from
their seats about the long table. Even then the consultation was
not at an end. Sylvester and the Captain lunched together at the
Central Club and sat in the smoking room until after four, talking
earnestly. When they parted, the attorney was grave and troubled.
"All right, Captain Warren," he said; "I'll do it. And you may be
right. I certainly hope you are. But I must confess I don't look
forward to my task with pleasure. I think I've got the roughest
"It'll be rough, there's no doubt about that. Rough for all hands,
I guess. And I hope you understand, Mr. Sylvester, that there
ain't many men I'd trust to do what I ask you to. I appreciate
your doin' it more'n I can tell you. Be as--as gentle as you can,
"I will. You can depend upon that."
"I do. And I sha'n't forget it. Good-by, till the next time."
They shook hands. Captain Elisha returned to the boarding house,
where he found a letter awaiting him. It was from Caroline,
telling him of her engagement to Malcolm Dunn. She wrote that,
while not recognizing his right to interfere in any way, she felt
that perhaps he should know of her action. He did not go down to
supper, and, when Pearson came to inquire the reason, excused
himself, pleading a late luncheon and no appetite. He guessed he
would turn in early, so he said. It was a poor guess.
Next morning he went uptown. Edwards, opening the door of the
Warren apartment, was surprised to find who had rung the bell.
"Mornin', Commodore!" hailed the captain, as casually as if he were
merely returning from a stroll. "Is Miss Caroline aboard ship?"
"Why--why, I don't know, sir. I'll see."
"That's all right. She's aboard or you wouldn't have to see. You
and me sailed together quite a spell, so I know your little habits.
I'll wait in the library, Commodore. Tell her there's no
His niece was expecting him. She had anticipated his visit and was
prepared for it. From the emotion caused by his departure after
the eventful birthday, she had entirely recovered, or thought she
had. The surprise and shock of his leaving and the consequent
sense of loneliness and responsibility overcame her at the time,
but Stephen's ridicule and Mrs. Corcoran Dunn's congratulations
on riddance from the "encumbrance" shamed her and stilled the
reproaches of her conscience. Mrs. Dunn, as always, played the
diplomat and mingled just the proper quantity of comprehending
sympathy with the congratulations.
"I understand exactly how you feel, my dear," she said. "You have
a tender heart, and it pains you to hurt anyone's feelings, no
matter how much they deserve to be hurt. Every time I dismiss an
incompetent or dishonest servant I feel that I have done wrong;
sometimes I cry, actually shed tears, you know, and yet my reason
tells me I am right. You feel that you may have been too harsh
with that guardian of yours. You remember what you said to him and
forget how hypocritically he behaved toward you. I can't forgive
him that. I may forget how he misrepresented Malcolm and me to
you--that I may even pardon, in time--but to deceive his own
brother's children and introduce into their society a creature who
had slandered and maligned their father--THAT I never shall forget
or forgive. And--you'll excuse my frankness, dear--you should
never forget or forgive it, either. You have nothing with which to
reproach yourself. You were a brave girl, and if you are not proud
of yourself, _I_ am proud of you."
So, when her uncle was announced, Caroline was ready. She entered
the library and acknowledged his greeting with a distant bow. He
regarded her kindly, but his manner was grave.
"Well, Caroline," he began, "I got your letter."
"Yes, I presumed you did."
"Um-hm. I got it. It didn't surprise me, what you wrote, because
I'd seen the news in the papers; but I was hopin' you'd tell me
yourself, and I'm real glad you did. I'm much obliged to you."
She had not expected him to take this tone, and it embarrassed her.
"I--I gave you my reasons for writing," she said. "Although I do
not consider that I am, in any sense, duty bound to refer matters,
other than financial, to you; and, although my feelings toward you
have not changed--still, you are my guardian, and--and--"
"I understand. So you're really engaged?"
"Engaged to Mr. Dunn?"
"And you're cal'latin' to marry him?"
"One might almost take that for granted," impatiently.
"Almost--yes. Not always, but generally, I will give in. You're
goin' to marry Malcolm Dunn. Why?"
"Why?" she repeated the question as if she doubted his sanity.
"Yes. Be as patient with me as you can, Caroline. I ain't askin'
these things without what seems to me a good reason. Why are you
goin' to marry him?"
"Why because I choose, I suppose."
"Um-hm. Are you sure of that?"
"Am I sure?" indignantly. "What do you mean?"
"I mean are you sure that it's because you choose, or because HE
does, or maybe, because his mother does?"
She turned angrily away. "If you came here to insult me--" she
began. He interrupted her.
"No, no," he protested gently. "Insultin' you is the last thing I
want to do. But, as your father did put you in my charge, I want
you to bear with me while we talk this over together. Remember,
Caroline, I ain't bothered you a great deal lately. I shouldn't
now if I hadn't thought 'twas necessary. So please don't get mad,
but answer me this: Do you care for this man you've promised to
This was a plain question. It should have been answered without
the slightest hesitation. Moreover, the girl had expected him to
ask it. Yet, for a moment, she did hesitate.
"I mean," continued Captain Elisha, "do you care for him ENOUGH?"
Enough to live with him all your life, and see him every day, and
be to him what a true wife ought to be? See him, not with his
company manners on or in his automobile, but at the breakfast
table, and when he comes home tired and cross, maybe. When you've
got to be forbearin' and forgivin' and--"
"He is one of my oldest and best friends--" she interrupted. Her
uncle went on without waiting for her to end the sentence.
"I know," he said. "One of the oldest, that's sure. But
friendship, 'cordin' to my notion, is somethin' so small in
comparison that it hardly counts in the manifest. Married folks
ought to be friends, sartin sure; but they ought to be a whole lot
more'n that. I'm an old bach, you say, and ain't had no experience.
That's true; but I've been young, and there was a time when _I_ made
plans . . . However, she died, and it never come to nothin'. But I
KNOW what it means to be engaged, the right kind of engagement. It
means that you don't count yourself at all, not a bit. You're
ready, each of you, to give up all you've got--your wishes, comfort,
money and what it'll buy, and your life, if it should come to that,
for that other one. Do you care for Malcolm Dunn like that,
She answered defiantly.
"Yes, I do," she said.
"You do. Well, do you think he feels the same way about you?"
"Yes," with not quite the same promptness, but still defiantly.
"You feel sartin of it, do you?"
She stamped her foot. "Yes! yes! YES!" she cried. "Oh, DO say
what you came to say, and end it!"
Her uncle rose to his feet.
"Why, I guess likely I've said it," he observed. "When two people
care for each other like that, they OUGHT to be married, and the
sooner the better. I knew that you'd been lonesome and troubled,
maybe; and some of the friends you used to have had kind of dropped
away--busy with other affairs, which is natural enough--and, you
needin' sympathy and companionship, I was sort of worried for fear
all this had influenced you more'n it ought to, and you'd been led
into sayin' yes without realizin' what it meant. But you tell me
that ain't so; you do realize. So all I can say is that I'm awful
glad for you. God bless you, my dear! I hope you'll be as happy
as the day is long."
His niece gazed at him, bewildered and incredulous. This she had
"Thank you," she stammered. "I did not know--I thought--"
"Of course you did--of course. Well, then, Caroline, I guess
that's all. I won't trouble you any longer. Good-by."
He turned toward the door, but stopped, hesitated, and turned back
"There is just one thing more," he said solemnly. "I don't know's
I ought to speak, but--I want to--and I'm goin' to. And I want you
to believe it! I do want you to!"
He was so earnest, and the look he gave her was so strange, that
she began to be alarmed.
"What is it?" she demanded.