Part 6 out of 7
"Why--why, just this, Caroline. This is a tough old world we live
in. Things don't always go on in it as we think they'd ought to.
Trouble comes to everybody, and when it all looks right sometimes
it turns out to be all wrong. If--if there should come a time like
that to you and Steve, I want you to remember that you've got me to
turn to. No matter what you think of me, what folks have made you
think of me, just remember that I'm waitin' and ready to help you
all I can. Any time I'm ready--and glad. Just remember that,
won't you, because . . . Well, there! Good-by, Good-by!"
He hurried away. She stood gazing after him, astonished, a little
frightened, and not a little disturbed and touched. His emotion
was so evident; his attitude toward her engagement was so different
from that which she had anticipated; and there was something in his
manner which she could not understand. He had acted as if he
pitied her. Why? It could not be because she was to marry Malcolm
Dunn. If it were that, she resented his pity, of course. But it
could not be that, because he had given her his blessing. What was
it? Was there something else; something that she did not know and
he did? Why was he so kind and forbearing and patient?
All her old doubts and questionings returned. She had resolutely
kept them from her thoughts, but they had been there, in the
background, always. When, after the long siege, she had at last
yielded and said yes to Malcolm, she felt that that question, at
least, was settled. She would marry him. He was one whom she had
known all her life, the son of the dearest friend she had; he and
his mother had been faithful at the time when she needed friends.
As her husband, he would protect her and give her the affection and
companionship she craved. He might appear careless and indifferent
at times, but that was merely his manner. Had not Mrs. Dunn told
her over and over again what a good son he was, and what a kind
heart he had, and how he worshiped her? Oh, she ought to be a very
happy girl! Of course she was happy. But why had her uncle looked
at her as he did? And what did he mean by hinting that when things
looked right they sometimes were all wrong? She wished Malcolm was
with her then; she needed him.
She heard the clang of the elevator door. Then the bell rang
furiously. She heard Edwards hasten to answer it. Then, to her
amazement, she heard her brother's voice.
"Caroline!" demanded Stephen. "Caroline! Where are you?"
He burst into the room, still wearing his coat and hat, and
carrying a traveling bag in his hand.
"Why, Steve!" she said, going toward him. "Why, Steve! what--"
He was very much excited.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "you're all right then! You are all right,
"All right? Why shouldn't I be all right? What do you mean? And
why are you here?"
He returned her look of surprise with one of great astonishment.
"Why am I here?" he repeated.
"Yes. Why did you come from New Haven?"
"Why, because I got the telegram, of course! You expected me to
come, didn't you?"
"_I_ expected you? Telegram? What telegram?"
"Why, the--Good Lord, Caro! what are you talking about? Didn't you
know they telegraphed me to come home at once? I've pretty nearly
broke my neck, and the taxicab man's, getting here from the
station. I thought you must be very ill, or something worse."
"They telegraphed you to come here? Who . . . Edwards, you may
take Mr. Warren's things to his room."
"Just a moment, Steve. Give Edwards your coat and hat. Yes, and
your bag. That will be all, Edwards. We sha'n't need you."
When they were alone, she turned again to her brother.
"Now, Steve," she said, "sit down and tell me what you mean. Who
"Why, old Sylvester, father's lawyer. I've got the message here
somewhere. No, never mind! I've lost it, I guess. He wired me
to come home as early as possible this morning. Said it was very
important. And you didn't know anything about it?"
"No, not a thing. What can it mean?"
"_I_ don't know! That's the bell, isn't it? Edwards!"
But the butler was already on his way to the door. A moment later
"Mr. Sylvester," he announced.
Captain Elisha scarcely left his room, except for meals, during
the remainder of that day and for two days thereafter. He was
unusually silent at table and avoided conversation even with
Pearson, who was depressed and gloomy and made no attempt to force
his society upon his friend. Once, passing the door of the
latter's room, he heard the captain pacing back and forth as if he
were walking the quarter-deck of one of his old ships. As Pearson
stood listening the footsteps ceased; silence, then a deep sigh,
and they began again. The young man sighed in sympathy and wearily
climbed to his den. The prospect of chimneys and roofs across the
way was never more desolate or more pregnant with discouragement.
Several times Captain Elisha descended to the closet where the
telephone was fastened to the wall and held long conversations with
someone. Mrs. Hepton, who knew that her newest boarder was anxious
and disturbed, and was very curious to learn the reason, made it a
point to be busy near that closet while these conversations took
place; but, as the captain was always careful to close the door,
she was disappointed. Once the mysterious Mr. Sylvester called up
and asked for "Captain Warren," and the landlady hastened with the
"I hope it's nothing serious," she observed, feelingly.
"Yes, ma'am," replied the captain, on his way to the stairs. "Much
"It is the same person who was so very anxious to get you the other
night," she continued, making desperate efforts not to be left
behind in the descent. "I declare he quite frightened me! And--
you'll excuse me, Captain Warren, but I take such a real friendly
interest in my boarders--you have seemed to me rather--rather upset
lately, and I DO hope it isn't bad news."
"Well, I tell you, ma'am," was the unsatisfactory answer, given
just before the closet door closed; "we'll do the way the poor
relation did when he got word his uncle had willed him one of his
suits of clothes--we'll hope for the best."
Sylvester had a report to make.
"The other party has been here," he said. "He has just gone."
"The other party? Why--you don't mean--HIM?"
"Was he alone? Nobody along to look after him?"
"He was alone, for a wonder. He had heard the news, too. Apparently
had just learned it."
"He had? I want to know! Who told him?"
"He didn't say. He was very much agitated. Wouldn't say anything
except to ask if it was true. I think we can guess who told him."
"Maybe. Well, what did you say?"
"Nothing of importance. I refused to discuss my clients' affairs."
"Right you are! How did he take that?"
"He went up like a sky-rocket. Said he had a right to know, under
the circumstances. I admitted it, but said I could tell him
nothing--yet. He went away frantic, and I called you."
"Um-hm. Well, Mr. Sylvester, suppose you do see him and his boss.
See 'em and tell 'em some of the truth. Don't tell too much
though; not who was to blame nor how, but just that it looks pretty
bad so fur as the estate's concerned. Then say you want to see 'em
again and will arrange another interview. Don't set any time and
place for that until you hear from me. Understand?"
"I think so, partially. But--"
"Until you hear from me--that's the important part. And, if you
can, convenient, I'd have the fust interview right off; this
afternoon, if it's possible."
"Captain, what have you got up your sleeve? Why don't you come
down here and talk it over?"
"'Cause I'm stickin' close aboard and waitin' developments. Maybe
there won't be any, but I'm goin' to wait a spell and see. There
ain't much up my sleeve just now but goose-flesh; there's plenty of
that. So long."
A development came that evening. Mrs. Hepton heralded it.
"Captain," she said, when he answered her knock, "there's a young
gentleman to see you. I think he must be a relative of yours. His
name is Warren."
Captain Elisha pulled his beard. "A young GENTLEMAN?" he repeated.
"Yes. I showed him into the parlor. There will be no one there
but you and he, and I thought it would be more comfortable."
"Um-hm. I see. Well, I guess you'd better send him up. This is
comfortable enough, and there won't be nobody but him and me here,
either--and I'll be more sartin of it."
The landlady, who considered herself snubbed, flounced away.
Captain Elisha stepped to the head of the stairs.
"Come right up, Steve!" he called.
Stephen came. His uncle ushered him into the room, closed the
door, and turned the key.
"Stevie," he said, kindly, "I'm glad to see you. Take off your
things and set down."
The boy accepted the invitation only to the extent of throwing his
hat on the table. He did not sit or remove his overcoat. He was
pale, his eyes were swollen and red, his hair was disarranged, and
in all respects he looked unlike his usual blase and immaculate
self. His forehead was wet, showing that he had hurried on his way
to the boarding house.
The captain regarded him pityingly.
"Set down, Stevie," he urged. "You're all het up and worn out."
His nephew paid no attention. Instead he asked a question.
"You know about it?" he demanded.
"Yes, Stevie; I know."
"You do? I--I mean about the--the Akrae Company and--and all?"
"Yes. I know all about all of it. Do set down!"
Stephen struck his closed fist into the palm of his other hand. He
wore one glove. What had become of the other he could not have
"You do?" he shouted. "You do? By gad! Then do you know what it
"Yes, I know that, too. Now, Stevie, be a good boy and set down
and keep cool. Yes, I want you to."
He put his hands on his nephew's shoulders and forced him into a
"Now, just calm yourself," urged the captain. "There ain't a mite
of use workin' yourself up this way. I know the whole business,
and I can't tell you--I can't begin to tell you how sorry I feel
for you. Yet you mustn't give up the ship because--"
"Mustn't give up!" Stephen was on his feet again. "Why, what are
you talking about? I thought you said you knew! Do you think that
losing every cent you've got in the world is a JOKE? Do you think
that--See here, do you know who this shareholder is; this fellow
who's going to rob us of all we own? Who is he?"
"Didn't Mr. Sylvester tell you?"
"He said that there was such a man and that he had the estate
cinched. He told us about that note and all the rest. But he
wouldn't tell the man's name. Said he had been forbidden to
mention it. Do you know him? What sort of fellow is he? Don't
you think he could be reasoned with? Hasn't he got any decency--or
He choked, and the tears rushed to his eyes. He wiped them angrily
away with the back of his glove.
"It's a crime!" he cried. "Can't he be held off somehow? Who IS
he? I want to know his name."
Captain Elisha sadly shook his head. "I'm afraid he can't, Stevie,"
he said. "He's got a legal right to all 'Bije left, and more, too.
It may be he won't be too hard; perhaps he'll . . . but there,"
hastily. "I mustn't say that. We've got to face the situation as
'tis. And I can't tell you his name because he don't want it
mentioned unless it's absolutely necessary. And we don't, either.
We don't want--any of us--to have this get into the papers. We
mustn't have any disgrace."
"Disgrace! Good heavens! Isn't there disgrace enough already?
Isn't it enough to know father was a crook as well as an idiot?
I've always thought he was insane ever since that crazy will of his
came to light; but to steal! and then to leave a paper proving it,
so that we've got to lose everything! His children! It's--"
"Now hold on, boy! Your dad didn't mean to take what didn't belong
to him--for good, that is; the note proves that. He did do wrong
and used another man's money, but--"
"Then why didn't he keep it? If you're going to steal, steal like
a man, I say!"
"Steve, Steve! steady now!" The captain's tone was sterner.
"Don't speak that way. You'll be sorry for it later. I tell you I
don't condemn your father ha'f so much as I pity him."
"Oh, shut up! You make me sick. You talk just as Caro does. I'll
never forgive him, no matter how much she preaches, and I told her
so. Pity! Pity him! How about pity for ME? I--I--"
His overwrought nerves gave way, and, throwing himself into the
chair, he broke down completely and, forgetting the manhood of
which he was so fond of boasting, cried like a baby. Captain
Elisha turned away, to hide his own emotion.
"It's hard," he said slowly. "It's awfully hard for you, my boy.
I hate to see you suffer this way." Then, in a lower tone, he
added doubtfully. "I wonder if--if--I wonder--"
His nephew heard the word and interrupted.
"You wonder?" he demanded, hysterically; "you wonder what? What
are you going to do about it? It's up to you, isn't it? You're
our guardian, aren't you?"
"Yes, Stevie, I'm your guardian."
"Yes, you are! But no one would guess it. When we didn't want
you, you wouldn't leave us for a minute. Now, when we need you,
when there isn't a soul for us to turn to, you stay away. You
haven't been near us. It's up to you, I say! and what are you
going to do about it? What are you going to DO?"
His uncle held up his hand.
"S-shh!" he said. "Don't raise your voice like that, son! I can
hear you without that, and we don't want anybody else to hear.
What am I goin' to do? Stevie, I don't know exactly. I ain't made
up my mind yet."
"Well, it's time you did!"
"Yes, I guess likely 'tis. As for my not comin' to see you, you
know the reason for that. I'd have come quick enough, but I wa'n't
sure I'd be welcome. And I told your sister only 'tother day that--
by the way, Steve, how is she? How is Caroline?"
"She's a fool!" The boy sprang up again and shook his fist.
"She's the one I've come here to speak about. If we don't stop her
she'll ruin us altogether. She--she's a damned fool, I tell you!"
"There! there!" the captain's tone was sharp and emphatic. "That's
enough of that," he said. "I don't want to hear you call your
sister names. What do you mean by it?"
"I mean what I say. She IS a fool. Do you know what she's done?
She's written Mal Dunn all about it! I'd have stopped her, but I
didn't know until it was too late. She's told him the whole
"She has? About 'Bije?"
"Well, perhaps she didn't tell him father was a thief, but she did
tell that the estate was gone--that we were flat broke and worse."
"Hum!" Captain Elisha seemed more gratified than displeased.
"Hum! . . . Well, I kind of expected she would. Knowin' her,
I kind of expected it."
"You did?" Stephen glared in wrathful amazement. "You expected
"Yes. What of it?"
"What OF it? Why, everything! Can't you see? Mal's our only
chance. If she marries him she'll be looked out for and so will I.
She needn't have told him until they were married. The wedding
could have been hurried along; the Dunns were crazy to have it as
soon as possible. Now--"
"Hold on, Steve! Belay! What difference does her tellin' him
make? Maybe she hasn't mentioned it to you, but I had a talk with
your sister the other mornin'. She thinks the world of Malcolm,
and he does of her. She told me so herself. Of COURSE she'd go to
him in her trouble. And he'll be proud--yes, and glad to know that
he can help her. As for the weddin', I don't see that this'll have
any effect except to hurry it up a little more, maybe."
Steve looked at him suspiciously, but there was no trace of sarcasm
in the captain's face or voice. The boy scowled.
"Ugh!" he grunted.
"What's the 'ugh' for? See here, you ain't hintin' that young Dunn
was cal'latin' to marry Caroline just for her money, are you? Of
course you ain't! Why, you and he are the thickest sort of chums.
You wouldn't chum with a feller who would play such a trick as that
on your own sister."
Stephen's scowl deepened. He thrust his hands into his pocket, and
shifted his feet uneasily.
"You don't understand," he said. "People don't do things here as
they do where you come from."
"I understand that, all right," with dry emphasis. "I've been here
long enough to understand that. But maybe I don't understand YOU.
Heave ahead, and make it plain."
"Well--well, then--I mean this: I don't know that Mal was after
Caro's money, but--but he had a right to expect SOME. If he
didn't, why, then her not telling him until after they were married
wouldn't have made any difference. And--and if her tellin' him
beforehand SHOULD make a difference and he wanted to break the
engagement, she's just romantic fool enough to let him."
"WELL? If she doesn't marry him, who's going to take care of her?
What's going to become of ME? We haven't a cent. What kind of a
guardian are you? Do you want us to starve?"
He was shouting again. The captain was calm. "Oh," he said, "I
guess it won't reach to the starvation point. I'm a pretty tough
old critter, 'cordin' to your estimate, but I shouldn't let my
brother's children starve. If the wust comes to the wust, there's
always a home and plenty to eat for you both at South Denboro."
This offer did not appear to comfort the young gentleman greatly.
His disgust was evident.
"South Denhoro!" he repeated, scornfully. "Gad! . . . South
"Yup. But we'll let South Denboro alone for now and stick to New
York. What is it you expect me to do? What are you drivin' at?"
Stephen shook a forefinger in his guardian's face.
"I expect you to make her stick to her engagement," he cried. "And
make her make him stick. She can, can't she? It's been announced,
hasn't it? Everybody knows of it! She's got the right--the legal
right to hold him, hasn't she?"
His uncle regarded him with a quizzical smile. "Why, ye-es," he
answered, "I cal'late she has, maybe. Course, there's no danger of
his wantin' to do such a thing, but if he should I presume likely
we could make it uncomfortable for him, anyhow. What are you
hankerin' for, Steve--a breach-of-promise suit? I've always
understood those sort of cases were kind of unpleasant--for
everybody but the newspapers."
The boy was in deadly earnest. "Pleasant!" he repeated. "Is any
of this business pleasant? You make her act like a sensible girl!
You're her guardian, and you make her! And, after that, if he
tries to hedge, you tell him a few things. You can hold him! Do
it! DO it!"
Captain Elisha turned on his heel and began pacing up and down the
room. His nephew watched him eagerly.
"Well," he demanded, after a moment, "what are we going to do? Are
we going to make him make good?"
The captain paused. "Steve," he answered, deliberately, "I ain't
sure as we are. And, as I've said, if he's got a spark of decency,
it won't be necessary for us to try. If it should be--if it should
"Well, IF it should be?"
"Then we can try, that's all. Maybe you run a course a little
different from me, Stevie; you navigate 'cordin' to your ideas, and
I do by mine. But in some ways we ain't so fur apart. Son," with
a grim nod, "you rest easy on one thing--the Corcoran Dunn fleet is
goin' to show its colors."
Caroline sat by the library window, her chin in her hand, drearily
watching the sleet as it beat against the panes, and the tops of
the Park trees lashing in the wind. Below, in the street, the
trolleys passed in their never-ending procession, the limousines
and cabs whizzed forlornly by, and the few pedestrians pushed
dripping umbrellas against the gale. A wet, depressing afternoon,
as hopeless as her thoughts, and growing darker and more miserable
Stephen, standing by the fire, kicked the logs together and sent a
shower of sparks flying.
"Oh, say something, Caro, do!" he snapped testily. "Don't sit
there glowering; you give me the horrors."
She roused from her reverie, turned, and tried to smile.
"What shall I say?" she asked.
"I don't know. But say something, for heaven's sake! Talk about
the weather, if you can't think of anything more original."
"The weather isn't a very bright subject just now."
"I didn't say it was; but it's a subject. I hope to goodness it
doesn't prevent Sylvester's keeping his appointment. He's late, as
"Is he?" wearily. "I hadn't noticed."
"Of course you hadn't. You don't notice anything. It doesn't help
matters to pull a long face and go moping around wiping your eyes.
You've got to use philosophy in times like this. It's just as hard
for me as it is for you; and I try to make the best of it, don't I?"
She might have reminded him that his philosophy was a very recent
acquisition. When the news of their poverty first came he was the
one who raved and sobbed and refused to contemplate anything less
direful than slow starvation or quick suicide. She had soothed and
comforted then. Since the previous evening, when he had gone out,
in spite of her protestations, and left her alone, his manner had
changed. He was still nervous and irritable, but no longer
threatened self-destruction, and seemed, for some unexplained
reason, more hopeful and less desperate. Sylvester had 'phoned,
saying that he would call at the apartment at two, and since
Stephen had received the message he had been in a state of
suppressed excitement, scarcely keeping still for five minutes
at a time.
"It is just as hard for me as it is for you, isn't it?" he repeated.
"Yes, Steve, I suppose it is."
"You suppose? Don't you know? Oh, do quit thinking about Mal Dunn
and pay attention to me."
She did not answer. He regarded her with disgust.
"You are thinking of Mal, of course," he declared. "What's the
use? You know what _I_ think: you were a fool to write him that
"Don't, Steve; please don't."
"Don't you know he didn't get the letter? I was so nervous and
over-wrought that I misdirected it."
"Pooh! Has he ever stayed away from you so long before? Or his
precious mother, either? Why doesn't she come to see you? She
scarcely missed a day before this happened. Nonsense! I guess he
got it all right."
"Steve, stop! stop! Don't dare speak like that. Do you realize
what you are insinuating? You don't believe it! You know you
don't! Shame on you! I'm ashamed of my brother! No! not another
word of that kind, or I shall leave the room."
She had risen to her feet. He looked at her determined face and
"Oh, well," he muttered, sullenly, "maybe you're right. I don't
say you're not. Perhaps he didn't get the letter. You sent it to
his office, and he may have been called out of town. But his
"Mrs. Dunn was not well when I last saw her. She may be ill."
"Perhaps. But if you're so sure about them, why not let it go at
that? What's the use of fretting?"
"I was not thinking of them--then."
As a matter of fact, she had been thinking of her uncle, Elisha
Warren. As the time dragged by, she thought of him more and more--
not as the uncouth countryman whose unwelcome presence had been
forced into her life; nor as the hypocrite whose insult to her
father's memory she never could forgive or whose double-dealing had
been, as she thought, revealed; but as the man who, with the choke
in his voice and the tears in his eyes, bade her remember that,
whenever she needed help, he was ready and glad to give it.
She did not doubt Malcolm's loyalty. Her brother's hints and
insinuations found no echo in her thoughts. In the note which she
had written her fiancee she told of the loss of their fortune,
though not of her father's shame. That she could not tell; nor did
she ask Malcolm to come to her--her pride would not permit that.
She wrote simply of her great trouble and trusted the rest to him.
That he had not come was due--so she kept repeating to herself--
solely to the fact that he had not received her letter. She knew
that was it--she knew it. And yet--and yet he did not come.
So, in her loneliness and misery, her guardian's words returned
again and again to her memory: "Sometimes when things look all
right they turn out to be all wrong. If ever there comes a time
like that to you and Steve, remember you've got me to turn to."
The time had come when she must turn to someone.
She would never go to him; she vowed it. She would not accept his
help if he came to her. But, if he was sincere, if he meant what
he said, why did he not come again to proffer it? Because he was
not sincere, of course. That had been proven long before. She
despised him. But his face, as she last saw it, refused to be
banished from her mind. It looked so strong, and yet gentle and
loving, like the face of a protector, one to be trusted through
good times and bad. Oh, this wicked, wicked world, and the shams
and sorrows in it! "Malcolm, why don't you come to me?"
Stephen uttered an exclamation. Looking up, she saw him hurrying
toward the hall.
"Someone's at the door," he explained. "It's Sylvester, of course.
I'll let him in."
It was not the lawyer but a messenger boy with a note. Stephen
returned to the library with the missive in his hand.
"He couldn't get here, Caro," he said, excitedly. "Wants us to
come right down to his office. Hurry up! Get your things on. The
cab's waiting. Come! Rush! It may be important."
The cab, an electric vehicle, made good time, and they soon reached
the Pine Street offices, where they were ushered at once into the
senior partner's presence.
"Step into the other room," said Mr. Sylvester, "and wait there,
please. I'll join you shortly."
The room was the large one where the momentous conference between
Captain Elisha and the three lawyers had so recently taken place.
Caroline seated herself in one of the chairs. Stephen walked the
"Hope he doesn't keep us waiting long," he fumed. "I thought of
course he was ready or he wouldn't have sent for us."
"Ready?" his sister looked at him, questioningly. "Ready for
what?" she repeated, with sudden suspicion. "Steve, do you know
what Mr. Sylvester wishes to see us about?"
Her brother colored and seemed a bit disconcerted. "How should I
know?" he muttered.
"Is it something new about the estate or that man who owns it? You
do know something! I can see it in your face. What is it?"
"Nothing. How should I know what it is?"
"But you do. I believe you do. Look at me! What does Mr.
Sylvester want of us?"
The boy hesitated; then whirled and faced her. "See here, Caro,"
he said, "maybe I do know something--or I can guess. Now, whatever
happens, you've got to be a sensible girl. Certain things have to
be dealt with in a practical way, and we're practical people.
Sentiment--and pride--and all that sort of stuff, are well enough,
but business is business and an engagement is an engagement. Now
it's right up to you and--"
"Steve, what are you talking about?"
"That's all right. I know what I'm talking about. Somebody in the
family must use common sense, and when it comes to holding a person
to a promise, then--Confound it, Sis, we can't starve, can we?"
"What do you mean?" She rose and advanced toward him. "What do
you mean by a promise? What have you been doing?"
His confusion increased. He avoided her eyes and moved sullenly
toward the other side of the table.
"I haven't done anything," he grumbled, "that is, I've done what
any reasonable fellow would do. I'm not the only one who
thinks . . . Look here! We've got a guardian, haven't we?"
"A guardian! a GUARDIAN! Stephen Warren, have you been to him?
Have you--Was THAT where you were last night?"
"What if I have? Whom else am I to go to? Isn't he--"
"But why did you go to him? What did you say?"
"I said--I said--Never mind what I said. He agrees with me, I can
tell you that. You'll thank your stars I did go, before very long.
I . . . S-sh! Here's Sylvester."
The door of the room opened. The person who entered, however, was
not the lawyer, but the very man of whom they had been speaking,
Captain Elisha himself. He closed the door behind him.
"Hello, Stevie," he said, with a nod to the boy. Then, turning to
his niece, he stepped forward and held out his hand. "Caroline,"
he began, "I don't doubt you're some surprised to see me here; but
I . . . Why, what's the matter?"
The faces of the pair led him to ask the question. Stephen's was
red and he looked embarrassed and guilty. Caroline's was white,
and she glanced from her brother to her guardian and back again,
with flashing eyes.
"What's the matter?" repeated the captain. "Steve," sharply, "have
you been making a fool of yourself again? What is it?"
"Nothing," was the sulky answer; "nothing of consequence. Caro is--
well, I happened to mention that I called on you last night and--
and she doesn't seem to like it, that's all. As I told her,
somebody in the family had to use common sense, and you were our
guardian and naturally, under the circumstances . . . Why, I'll
leave it to anyone!" with a burst of righteous indignation. "You
ARE our guardian."
He proclaimed it as if he expected a denial. Captain Elisha
frowned. "Humph!" he grunted. "That ain't exactly news, is it,
Steve? Seems to me we've taken up that p'int afore; though, as I
remember, you didn't used to be sot on all hands knowin' it," with
dry sarcasm. "I don't need even your common sense to remind me of
it just at this minute. Caroline, your brother did come to see me
last night. I was glad he did."
She ignored him. "Steve," she demanded, still facing the young
man, "was this, too, a part of your plan? Did you bring me here to
"No, I didn't. Sylvester was to come to see us. You know that; he
telephoned. I didn't know--"
The captain interrupted. "There, there, son!" he exclaimed, "let
me say a word. No, Caroline, Stevie didn't know I was to meet you
here. But I thought it was necessary that I should. Set down,
please. I know you must be worn out, poor girl."
"I don't wish to sit. I want to know what my brother called to see
"Well, there was some matters he wanted to talk over."
"What were they? Concerning the estate?"
"Partly? What else? Captain Warren, my brother has hinted--he has
said--What does he mean by holding someone to a promise? Answer me
"I shouldn't answer you any other way, Caroline. Steve seems to be
worried about--now you mustn't mind my speakin' plain, Caroline;
the time's come when I've got to--Steve seems to be worried about
the young man you're engaged to. He seems to cal'late that Mr.
Dunn may want to slip out of that engagement."
His niece looked at him. Then she turned to her brother. "You
went to HIM and . . . Oh, how COULD you!"
Stephen would not meet her gaze. "Well," he muttered rebelliously,
"why wouldn't I? You know yourself that Mal hasn't been near you
since it happened. If he wasn't after--if he was straight, he
would have come, wouldn't he? Mind, I don't say he isn't--perhaps
he doesn't know. But, at any rate, something must be done. We had
to face possibilities, and you wouldn't listen to me. I tried--"
"Stop!" she cut him short, imperiously. "Don't make me hate you.
And you," turning to her uncle, "did YOU listen and believe such
things? Did you encourage him to believe them? Oh, I know what
you think of my friends! I heard it from your own lips. And I
know why you think it. Because they know what you are; because
they exposed you and--"
"There, there! Caroline, you needn't go on. I've heard your
opinion of my character afore. Never mind me for the minute. And,
if you'll remember, _I_ ain't said that I doubted your young man.
You told me that you thought the world and all of him and that he
did of you. That's enough--or ought to be. But your brother says
you wrote him two days ago and he ain't been near you."
"I misdirected the letter. He didn't receive it."
"Um-hm. I see. That would explain."
"Of course it would. That MUST be the reason."
"Yes, seem's if it must."
"It is. What right have you to doubt it? Oh, how can you think
such things? Can you suppose the man I am to marry is so
despicable--so MEAN as to--as to--I'm ashamed to say it. Why do
you presume that money has any part in our engagement? Such
trouble as mine only makes it more binding. Do you suppose if HE
were poor as--as I am, that I would desert HIM? You know I
wouldn't. I should be glad--yes, almost happy, because then I
could show him--could--"
Her voice failed her. She put her handkerchief to her eyes for an
instant and then snatched it away and faced them, her head erect.
The pride in her face was reflected in Captain Elisha's as he
"No, no," he said gently, "I never supposed you'd act but in one
way, Caroline. I knew YOU. And, as Steve'll tell you, I said to
him almost the same words you've been sayin'. If Malcolm's what
he'd ought to be, I said, he'll be glad of the chance to prove how
much he cares for your sister. But Steve appeared to have some
misgivin's, and so--"
He paused, turned toward the door, and seemed to be listening.
Caroline flashed an indignant glance at her brother.
"And so?" she asked, scornfully.
"And so," continued the captain, with a slight change in his tone,
"it seemed to me that his doubts ought to be settled. And,"
rising, as there came a tap at the door, "I cal'late they're goin'
He walked briskly over and opened the door. Sylvester was standing
"Come, have they?" inquired Captain Elisha.
"Fetch 'em right in here. Steve, stand over nigher that corner.
This way, Caroline, if you please."
He took his niece by the arm and led her to the side of the room
not visible from the doorway. She was too astonished to resist,
but asked an agitated question.
"What is it?" she cried. "Who is coming?
"Some friends of yours," was the quiet reply. "Nothin' to be
frightened about. Steve, stay where you are."
The boy was greatly excited. "Is it they?" he demanded. "Is it?
By gad! Now, Sis, be a sensible girl. If he should try to hedge,
you hold him. Hold him! Understand?"
"Steve, be quiet," ordered the captain. . . . "Ah, Mrs. Dunn, good
afternoon, ma'am. Mr. Dunn, good afternoon, sir."
For the pair who, followed by Sylvester, now entered the room were
Mrs. Corcoran Dunn and Malcolm.
They were past the sill before Captain Elisha's greeting caused
them to turn and see the three already there. Mrs. Dunn, who was
in the lead, stopped short in her majestic though creaking march of
entrance, and her florid face turned a brighter crimson. Her son,
strolling languidly at her heels, started violently and dropped his
hat. The lawyer, bringing up in the rear, closed the door and
remained standing near it. Caroline uttered an exclamation of
surprise. Her brother drew himself haughtily erect. Captain
Elisha remained unperturbed and smiling.
"Good afternoon, ma'am," he repeated. "It's been some time since
you and I run across each other. I hope you're feelin' pretty
Mrs. Dunn had faced some unpleasant situations in her life and had
proved equal to them. Usually, however, she had been prepared
beforehand. For this she had not been prepared--as yet. She had
come to the offices of Sylvester, Kuhn, and Graves, at the senior
partner's request, to be told, as she supposed, the full and final
details of the financial disaster threatening the Warren family.
If those details should prove the disaster as overwhelming as it
appeared, then--well, then, certain disagreeable duties must be
performed. But to meet the girl to whom her son was engaged, and
whom she and he had carefully avoided meeting until the lawyers
should acquaint them with the whole truth--to meet this girl, and
her brother, and her guardian, thus unexpectedly and unprepared,
was enough to shake the composure and nerve of even such a veteran
campaigner as Mrs. M. Corcoran Dunn.
But of the three to whom the meeting was an absolute surprise,--
Caroline, Malcolm and herself--she was characteristically the first
to regain outward serenity. For a moment she stood nonplused and
speechless, but only for a moment. Then she hastened, with
outstretched arms, to Caroline and clasped her in affectionate
"My dear child!" she cried; "my dear girl! I'm SO glad to see you!
I've thought of you so much! And I pity you so. Poor Malcolm has--
Malcolm," sharply, "come here! Don't you see Caroline?"
Malcolm was groping nervously for his hat. He picked it up and
obeyed his mother's summons, though with no great eagerness.
"How d'ye do, Caroline," he stammered, confusedly. "I--I--It's a
deuce of a surprise to see you down here. The mater and I didn't
expect--that is, we scarcely hoped to meet anyone but Sylvester.
He sent for us, you know."
He extended his hand. She did not take it.
"Did you get my letter?" she asked, quickly. Mrs. Dunn answered
"Yes, dear, he got it," she said. "The poor fellow was almost
crazy. I began to fear for his sanity; I did, indeed. I did not
dare trust him out of my sight. Oh, if you could but know how we
feel for you and pity you!"
Pity was not what Caroline wanted just then. The word jarred upon
her. She avoided the lady's embrace and once more faced the
"You got my letter?" she cried. "You DID?"
"Yes--er--yes, I got it, Caroline. I--by Jove, you know--"
He hesitated, stammered, and looked thoroughly uncomfortable. His
mother regarded him wrathfully.
"Well," she snapped, "why don't you go on? Caroline, dear, you
really must excuse him. The dear boy is quite overcome."
Captain Elisha stepped forward.
"Excuse me for interruptin', ma'am," he said, addressing the
ruffled matron; "but I know you're sort of surprised to see us all
here and maybe I'd better explain. Mr. Sylvester told me you and
your son had an appointment with him for this afternoon. Now there
was something we--or I, anyhow--wanted to talk with you about, so I
thought we might as well make one job of it. Sylvester's a pretty
busy man, and I know he has other things to attend to; so why not
let him go ahead and tell you what you come to hear, and then we
can take up the other part by ourselves. He's told me what you
wanted to see him about, and it's somethin' we're all interested
in, bein' as we're one family--or goin' to be pretty soon. So
suppose he just tells you now. Ain't that a good idea?"
Mrs. Dunn looked at the speaker, and then at the lawyer, and seemed
to have caught some of her son's embarrassment.
"I--we did have an appointment with Mr. Sylvester," she admitted,
reluctantly; "but the business was not important. And," haughtily,
"I do not care to discuss it here."
The captain opened his eyes. "Hey?" he exclaimed. "Not important?
You surprise me, ma'am. I judged 'twas mighty important. 'Twas
about the real size of your father's estate, Caroline," turning to
the girl. "I thought Mrs. Dunn and Mr. Malcolm must think 'twas
important, for I understand they've been telephonin' and askin' for
appointments for the last two days. Why, yes! and they come way
down here in all this storm on purpose to talk it over with him.
Am I wrong? Ain't that so, ma'am?"
It was so, and Mrs. Dunn could not well deny it. Therefore, she
took refuge in a contemptuous silence. The captain nodded.
"As to discussin' it here," he went on with bland innocence, "why,
we're all family folks, same as I said, and there ain't any secrets
between us on THAT subject. So suppose we all listen while Mr.
Sylvester tells just what he'd have told you and Mr. Malcolm. It's
pretty hard to hear; but bad news is soon told. Heave ahead, Mr.
Mrs. Dunn made one more attempt to avoid the crisis she saw was
"Surely, Caroline," she said testily, "you don't wish your private
affairs treated in this public manner. Come, let us go."
She laid a hand on the girl's arm. Captain Elisha quietly
"No, no," he said. "We'll all stay here. There's nothin' public
Caroline, crimson with mortification, protested indignantly.
"Mr. Sylvester," she said, "it is not necessary to--"
"Excuse me;" her uncle's tone was sharper and more stern; "I think
it is. Go on, Sylvester."
The lawyer looked far from comfortable, but he spoke at once and to
"I should have told you and your son just this, Mrs. Dunn," he
said. "I intimated it before, and Miss Warren had already written
you the essential facts. A new and unexpected development, the
nature of which I am not at liberty to disclose now or later, makes
Abijah Warren's estate absolutely bankrupt. Not only that, but
many thousand dollars in debt. His heirs are left penniless. That
is the plain truth, I'm very sorry to say. There is no hope of
anything better. You'll forgive me, Miss Warren, I hope, for
putting it so bluntly; but I thought it best to avoid every
It was blunt, beyond doubt. Even Captain Elisha winced at the word
"penniless." Stephen muttered under his breath and turned his
back. Caroline, swaying, put a hand on the table to steady
herself. The Dunns looked at each other.
"Thank you, Mr. Sylvester," said the captain, quietly. "I'll see
you again in a few moments."
The lawyer bowed and left the room, evidently glad to escape.
Captain Elisha turned to Mrs. Dunn.
"And now, ma'am," he observed, "that part of the business is over.
The next part's even more in the family, so I thought we didn't
need legal advice. You see just how matters stand. My niece is a
poor girl. She needs somebody to support her and look out for her.
She's got that somebody, we're all thankful to say. She's engaged
to Mr. Malcolm here. And, as you're his ma, Mrs. Dunn, and I'm
Caroline's guardian, us old folks'll take our affairs in hand; they
needn't listen, if they don't want to. I understand from Steve
that Malcolm's been mighty anxious to have the weddin' day hurried
along. I can't say as I blame him. And _I_ think the sooner
they're married the better. Now, how soon can we make it, Mrs.
This unexpected and matter-of-fact query was variously received.
Mrs. Dunn frowned and flushed. Malcolm frowned, also. Steve
nodded emphatic approval. As for Caroline, she gazed at her
guardian in horrified amazement.
"Why!" she cried. "You--you--What do you mean by such--"
"Don't be an idiot, Caro!" cut in her brother. "I told you to be
sensible. Captain Warren's dead right."
"Stevie, you stay out of this." There was no misunderstanding the
captain's tone. "When I want your opinion I'll ask for it. And,
Caroline, I want you to stay out, too. This is my trick at the
wheel. Mrs. Dunn, what d'you say? Never mind the young folks.
You and me know that marriage is business, same as everything else.
How soon can we have the weddin'?"
Mrs. Dunn had, apparently, nothing to say--to him. She addressed
her next remark to Caroline.
"My dear," she said, in great agitation, "this is really too
dreadful. This--er--guardian of yours appears to think he is in
some barbarous country--ordering the savages about. Come! Malcolm,
take her away."
"No," Captain Elisha stepped in front of the door. "She ain't
goin'; and I'd rather you wouldn't go yet. Let's settle this up
now. I ain't askin' anything unreasonable. Caroline's under my
charge, and I've got to plan for her. Your boy's just crazy to
marry her; he's been beggin' for her to name the day. Let's name
it. It needn't be to-morrow. I cal'late you'll want to get out
invitations and such. It needn't be next week. But just say about
when it can be; then I'll know how to plan. That ain't much to
Much or little, neither Mrs. Dunn nor her son appeared ready to
answer. Malcolm fidgeted with his hat and gloves; his mother
fanned herself with her handkerchief. Caroline, frantic with
humiliation and shame, would have protested again, but her
guardian's stern shake of the head silenced her.
"Well, Mr. Dunn," turning to the groom-to-be; "you're one of the
interested parties--what do you say?"
Malcolm ground his heel into the rug. "I don't consider it your
business," he declared. "You're butting in where--"
"No, no, I ain't. It's my business, and business is just WHAT it
is. Your ma knows that. She and I had a real confidential up and
down talk on love and marriage, and she's the one that proved to me
that marryin' in high society, like yours and the kind Caroline's
been circulatin' in, was business and mighty little else. There's
a business contract between you and my niece. We want to know how
soon it can be carried out, that's all."
The young man looked desperately at the door; but the captain's
broad shoulders blocked the way towards it. He hesitated, scowled,
and then, with a shrug of his shoulders, surrendered.
"How can I marry?" he demanded sullenly. "Confound it! my salary
isn't large enough to pay my own way, decently."
"Malcolm!" cried his mother, warningly.
"Well, Mater, what the devil's the use of all this? You know . . .
By Jove! you OUGHT to!"
"Hold on, young feller! I don't understand. Your wages ain't
large enough, you say? What do you mean? You was GOIN' to be
married, wasn't you?"
Mrs. Dunn plunged to the rescue, a forlorn hope, but desperate, and
fighting to the end.
"An outrage!" she blurted. "Malcolm, I forbid you to continue this
disgusting conversation. Caroline, my poor child, I don't blame
you for this, but I call on you to stop it at once. My dear, I--"
She advanced toward the girl with outstretched arms. Caroline
"Don't! don't!" she gasped. Captain Elisha spoke up sharp and
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said, "but I'll be obliged if you'll wait a
minute. Caroline, don't you say a word. You say--you--"
addressing Malcolm, "that you can't support a wife on your wages.
You surprise me some, considerin' the swath you've been cuttin' on
'em--but never mind that. Maybe they won't keep automobiles and--
er--other things I've heard you was interested in, but if you cut
them out and economize a little, same as young married folks I've
known have been glad to do, you could scrape along, couldn't you?
Hey? Couldn't you?"
Malcolm's answer was another scornful shrug. "You belong on Cape
Cod," he sneered. "Mater, let's get out of this."
"Wait! Put it plain now. Do I understand that you cal'late to
break the engagement because my niece has lost her money? Is that
Mrs. Dunn realized that the inevitable was upon them. After all,
it might as well be faced now as later.
"This is ridiculous," she proclaimed. "Every sane person knows--
though BARBARIANS may not--" with a venomous glare at the captain--
"that, in engagements of the kind in which my son shared, a certain
amount of--er--financial--er--that is, the bride is supposed to
have some money. It is expected. Of course it is! Love in a
cottage is--well--a bit passe. My son and I pity your niece from
the bottom of our hearts, but--there! under the circumstances the
whole affair becomes impossible. Caroline, my dear, I'm dreadfully
sorry, dreadfully! I love you like my own child. And poor Malcolm
will be heartbroken--but--you SEE."
She extended her hand in a gesture of utter helplessness. Stephen,
who had been fuming and repressing his rage with difficulty during
the scene, leaped forward with brandished fist.
"By gad!" he shouted. "Mal Dunn, you cad--"
His uncle pushed him back with a sweep of his arm.
"Steve," he ordered, "I'm runnin' this ship." He gave a quick
glance at his niece, and then added, speaking rapidly and addressing
the head of the Dunn family, "I see, ma'am. Yes, yes, I see. Well,
you've forgot one thing, I guess. Caroline's lived in high society,
too. And I've been in it a spell, myself. And Steve's a boy, but
he's got a business head. If there's nothin' in marriage but
business, then an engagement is what I just called it, a business
contract, and it can't be broke without the consent of both sides.
You wanted Caroline's money; maybe she wants yours now. If she
does, and there's such a thing as law, why, perhaps she can get it."
"That's the talk!" cried Stephen exultingly.
"Yup; perhaps she can. She may be a business woman, too, you know.
If money and style and social position's what counts and she wants
to force you to keep your promise, why, I'm her guardian and she
can count on me to back her up. What do you say, Caroline? I'm at
your service. I--"
But Caroline interrupted him.
"Stop!" she cried wildly. "Oh, stop! Do you think--do you suppose
I would marry him now? NOW, after I've seen what he is? Oh," with
a shudder of disgust, "when I think what I might have done, I . . .
Thank God that the money has gone! I'm glad I'm poor! I'm GLAD!"
"Caro, you fool!" shrieked Stephen. She did not heed him.
"Let me go!" she cried. "Let me get away from him; from this room!
I never want to see him or think of him again. Please! PLEASE let
me go! Oh, take me home! Captain Warren, PLEASE let me go home!"
Her uncle was at her side in a moment. "Yes, yes, dearie," he
said, "I'll take you home. Don't give way now! I'll--"
He would have taken her arm, but she shrank from him.
"Not you!" she begged. "Steve!"
The captain's face clouded, but he answered promptly.
"Of course--Steve," he agreed. "Steve, take your sister home. Mr.
Sylvester's got a carriage waitin', and he'll go with you, I don't
doubt. Do as I tell you, boy--and behave yourself. Don't wait;
He held the door open until the hysterical girl and her brother had
departed. Then he turned to the Dunns.
"Well, ma'am," he said, dryly. "I don't know's there's anything
more to be said. All the questions seem to be settled. Our
acquaintance wa'n't so awful long, but it was interestin'. Knowin'
you has been, as the feller said, a liberal education. Don't let
me keep you any longer. Good afternoon."
He stepped away from the door. Malcolm and his mother remained
standing, for an instant, where they were when Caroline left.
The young man looked as if he would enjoy choking someone, the
captain preferably, but said nothing. Then Mrs. Dunn bethought
herself of a way to make their exit less awkward and embarrassing.
"My heart!" she said, gasping, and with a clutch at her breast.
"My poor heart! I--I fear I'm going to have one of my attacks.
Malcolm, your arm--quick!"
With an expression of intense but patient suffering, and leaning
heavily upon her son's arm, she moved past Captain Elisha and from
That evening the captain stood in the lower hall of the apartment
house at Central Park West, undecided what to do next. He wished
more than anything else in the world to go to his niece. He would
have gone to her before--had been dying to go, to soothe, to
comfort, to tell her of his love--but he was afraid. His conscience
troubled him. Perhaps he had been too brutal. Perhaps he shouldn't
have acted as he did. Maybe forcing the Dunn fleet to show its
colors could have been done more diplomatically. He had wanted her
to see those colors for herself, to actually see them. But he might
have overdone it. He remembered how she shrank from him and turned
to her brother. She might hate him more than ever now. If so, then
the whole scheme under which he was working fell to pieces.
He was worried about Steve, too. That young man would, naturally,
be furious with his sister for what he would consider her romantic
foolishness. He had been warned to behave himself; but would he?
Captain Elisha paced up and down the marble floor before the
elevator cage and wondered whether his visiting the apartment would
be a wise move or a foolish one.
The elevator descended, the door of the cage opened, and Stephen
himself darted out. His face was red, he was scowling fiercely,
and he strode toward the street without looking in his guardian's
The captain caught him as he passed.
"Here, boy!" he exclaimed; "where's the fire? Where are you
His nephew, brought thus unexpectedly to a halt, stared at him.
"Oh, it's you!" he exclaimed. "Humph! I'm bound--I don't know
where I'm bound!"
"You don't, hey? Well, you can cruise a long ways on a v'yage like
that. What do you mean?"
"Aw, let me alone! I'm going to the club, I guess, or somewhere.
Anyhow, I won't stay with her. I told her so. Silly little idiot!
By gad, she understands what I think of her conduct. I'll never
speak to her again. I told her so. She--"
"Here! Belay! Stop! Who are you talking about?"
"Caro, of course. She--"
"You've run off and left her alone--to-night? Where is she?"
"Upstairs--and crying, I suppose. She doesn't do anything else.
It's all she's good for. Selfish, romantic--"
He got no further, for Captain Elisha sent him reeling with a push
and ran to the elevator.
"Eighth floor," he commanded.
The door of the apartment was not latched. Stephen, in his rage
and hurry, had neglected such trifles. The captain opened it
quietly and walked in. He entered the library. Caroline was lying
on the couch, her head buried in the pillows. She did not hear him
cross the room. He leaned over and touched her shoulder. She
started, looked, and sat up, gazing at him as though not certain
whether he was a dream or reality.
And he looked at her, at her pretty face, now so white and
careworn, at her eyes, at the tear-stains on her cheeks, and his
whole heart went out to her.
"Caroline, dearie," he faltered, "forgive me for comin' here, won't
you? I had to come. I couldn't leave you alone; I couldn't rest,
thinkin' of you alone in your trouble. I know you must feel harder
than ever towards me for this afternoon's doin's, but I meant it
for the best. I HAD to show you--don't you see? Can you forgive
me? Won't you try to forgive the old feller that loves you more'n
all the world? Won't you try?"
She looked at him, wide-eyed, clasping and unclasping her hands.
"_I_ forgive YOU?" she repeated, incredulously.
"Yes. Try to, dearie. Oh, if you would only believe I meant it
for your good, and nothin' else! If you could only just trust me
and come to me and let me help you. I want you, my girl, I want
She leaned forward. "Do you really mean it?" she cried. "How can
you? after all I've done? after the way I've treated you? and the
things I've said? You must HATE me! Everyone does. I hate
myself! You can't forgive me! You can't!"
His answer was to hold out his arms. Another moment and she was in
them, clinging to his wet coat, sobbing, holding him fast, and
begging him not to leave her, to take her away, that she would
work, that she would not be a burden to him--only take her with him
and try to forgive her, for he was real and honest and the only
friend she had.
And Captain Elisha, soothing her, stroking her hair, and murmuring
words of love and tenderness, realized that his labor and sacrifice
had not been in vain, that here was his recompense; she would never
misunderstand him again; she was his at last.
And yet, in the midst of his joy, his conscience troubled him more
It was April; and May was close at hand. The weather was all that
late April weather should be, and so often is not. Trees, bushes,
and vines were in bud; the green of the new grass was showing
everywhere above the dead brown of the old; a pair of bluebirds
were inspecting the hollow of the old apple tree, with an eye
toward spring housekeeping; the sun was warm and bright, and the
water of the Sound sparkled in the distance. Caroline, sitting by
the living-room window, was waiting for her uncle to return from
In the kitchen Annie Moriarty was preparing dinner. Annie was now
cook as well as chamber-maid, for, of all the Warren servants, she
was the only one remaining. Edwards, the "Commodore," had been
dismissed, had departed, not without reluctance but philosophically,
to seek other employment. "Yes, miss," observed Edwards, when
notified that his services were no longer required; "I understand.
I've been expecting it. I was in a family before that met with
financial difficulties, and I know the signs. All I can say is that
I hope you and Mr. Stephen will get on all right, miss. If there's
anything I can do to help you, by way of friendship, please let me
know. I'd be glad, for old times' sake. And the cook wanted me to
tell you that, being as she's got another job in sight and was paid
up to date, she wouldn't wait for notice, but was leaving immediate.
She's gone already, miss."
The second maid went also. But Annie, Irish and grateful, refused
to go. Her mother came to back her in the refusal.
"Indeed she'll not leave you, Miss Caroline--you nor Captain Warren
neither. Lord love him! Sure, d'ye think we'll ever forget what
you and him done for me and my Pat and the childer? You've got to
have somebody, ain't you? And Annie's cookin' ain't so bad that
it'll kill yez; and I'll learn her more. Never mind what the wages
is, they're big enough. She'll stay! If she didn't, I'd break her
So, when the apartment was given up, and Captain Elisha and his
wards moved to the little house in Westchester County, Annie came
with them. And her cooking, though not by any means equal to that
at Delmonico's, had not killed them yet. Mrs. Moriarty came once
a week to do the laundry work. Caroline acted as a sort of
inexperienced but willing supervising housekeeper.
The house itself had been procured through the kind interest of
Sylvester. Keeping the apartment was, under the circumstances, out
of the question, and Caroline hated it and was only too anxious to
give it up. She had no suggestions to make. She would go anywhere,
anywhere that her guardian deemed best; but might they not please go
at once? She expected that he would suggest South Denboro, and she
would have gone there without a complaint. To get away from the
place where she had been so miserable was her sole wish. And
trusting and believing in her uncle as she now did, realizing that
he had been right always and had worked for her interest throughout,
and having been shown the falseness and insincerity of the others
whom she had once trusted implicitly, she clung to him with an
appeal almost piteous. Her pride was, for the time, broken. She
was humble and grateful. She surrendered to him unconditionally,
and hoped only for his forgiveness and love.
The captain did not suggest South Denboro. He did, however, tell
Sylvester that he believed a little place out of the city would be
the better refuge for the present.
"Poor Caroline's switched clear around," he said to the lawyer,
"and you can't blame her much. She cal'lates New York's nothin'
but a sham from stern to stern, manned by liars and swindlers and
hypocrites and officered by thieves. 'Tain't no use to tell her
'tain't, though she might pretend to believe it, if _I_ told her,
for just now the poor girl thinks I'm Solomon and Saint Peter
rolled into one. The way she agrees to whatever I say and the way
she looks at me and sort of holds on to me, as if I was her only
anchor in a gale, I declare it makes me feel meaner than poorhouse
tea--and that's made of blackberry leaves steeped in memories of
better things, so I've heard say. AM I a low down scamp, playin'
a dirty mean trick on a couple of orphans? What do you think,
"You know what I think, Captain Warren," replied the lawyer.
"You're handling the whole matter better than any other man could
handle it. No one else would have thought of it, to begin with;
and the results so far prove that you're right."
"Yup. Maybe. I wish you was around to say that to me when I wake
up nights and get to thinkin'. However, as I said, Caroline
believes New York is like a sailors' dance hall, a place for decent
folks to steer clear of. And when the feller you've been engaged
to is shown up as a sneak and your own dad as a crook--well, you
can't blame a green hand for holdin' prejudice against the town
that raised 'em. She'll get over it; but just now I cal'late some
little flat, or, better still, a little home out where the back
yards ain't made of concrete, would be a first-class port for us
to make for. Don't know of such a place at a reasonable rent, do
"I might find one. And you may be right; your niece might like it
better, though it will be somewhat of a change. But how about your
nephew? He has no objection to the metropolis, I should judge.
What will he say?"
"Nothin', I guess--unless he says it to himself. Steve's goin'
back to New Haven with things on his mind. He and I had a mornin'
service, and I was the parson. He listened, because when you ain't
got a cent except what the society allows you, it ain't good
orthodoxy to dodge the charity sermon. Steve'll behave, and what
he don't like he'll lump. If he starts to open his mouth his
ear'll ache, I cal'late. I talked turkey to that young man.
Ye-es," with a slight smile, "I'm sort of afraid I lost patience
When Caroline first saw the little house, with its shingled sides,
the dead vines over the porch, and the dry stalks of last year's
flowers in the yard, her heart sank. With the wind blowing and the
bare branches of the old apple tree scraping the roof and whining
dolefully, it looked bleak and forsaken. It was so different, so
unhomelike, and so, to her eyes, small and poverty-stricken. She
made believe that she liked it, exclaimed over the view--which, on
the particular day, was desolate enough--and declared the Dutch
front door was "old-fashioned and dear." But Captain Elisha,
watching her closely, knew that she was only waiting to be alone to
give way to wretchedness and tears. He understood, had expected
that she would feel thus, but he was disappointed, nevertheless.
However, after the front door was passed and they were inside the
house, Caroline looked about her in delighted amazement. The
living room was small, but bright and warm and cheery. On its
walls, hiding the rather vivid paper, were hung some of the best of
Rodgers Warren's pictures--the Corot, the codfisher, and others.
The furniture and rugs were those which had been in the library of
the apartment, those she had been familiar with all her life. The
books, many of them, were there, also. And the dining room, except
for size, looked like home. So did the bedrooms; and, in the
kitchen, Annie grinned a welcome.
"But how could you?" asked Caroline. "How could you keep all these
things, Uncle Elisha? I thought, of course, they must all be sold.
I cried when they took them away that day when we were leaving to
go to the hotel. I was sure I should never see them again. And
here they all are! How could you do it?"
The captain's grin was as wide as Annie's. "Oh," he explained, "I
couldn't let 'em all go. Never intended to. That five thousand
dollar codder up there seemed like own folks, pretty nigh. I'd
have kept HIM, if we had to live in one room and a trunk. And we
ain't got to that--yet. I tell you, dearie, I thought they'd make
you feel more to home. And they do, don't they?"
The look she gave him was answer sufficient.
"But the creditors?" she asked. "That man who--they belong to him,
don't they? I supposed of course they must go with the rest."
Captain Elisha winked. "There's times," he answered, "when I
believe in cheatin' my creditors. This is one of 'em. Never you
mind that feller you mentioned. He's got enough, confound him! He
didn't have the face to ask for any more. Sylvester looked out for
that. Five hundred thousand, droppin' in, as you might say,
unexpected, ought to soften anybody's heart; and I judge even that
feller's got some bowels of mercy."
He changed the subject hastily, but Caroline asked no more
questions. She never alluded to the lost estate, never expressed
any regrets, nor asked to know who it was that had seized her all.
The captain had expected her to ask, had been ready with the same
answer he had given Stephen, but when he hinted she herself had
forbade his continuing. "Don't tell me about it," she begged. "I
don't want to know any more. Father did wrong, but--but I know he
did not mean to. He was a good, kind father to me, and I loved
him. This man whose money he took had a right to it, and now it is
his. He doesn't wish us to know who he is, so Steve says, and I'm
glad. I don't want to know, because if I did I might hate him.
And," with a shudder, "I am trying so hard not to hate anybody."
Her make-believe liking for the little home became more and more
real as spring drew near. She began to take an interest in it, in
the flower garden, in the beds beside the porch, where the peonies
and daffodils were beginning to show green heads above the loam,
and in the household affairs. And she had plans of her own, not
connected with these. She broached them to her uncle, and they
surprised and delighted him, although he would not give his consent
to them entirely.
"You mustn't think," she said, "that, because I have been willing
to live on your money since mine went, that I mean to continue
doing it. I don't. I've been thinking a great deal, and I realize
that I must earn my own way just as soon as I can. I'm not fitted
for anything now; but I can be and I shall. I've thought perhaps I
might learn stenography or--or something like that. Girls do."
He looked at her serious face and choked back his laugh.
"Why, yes," he admitted, "they do, that's a fact. About four
hundred thousand of 'em do, and four hundred thousand more try to
and then try to make business men think that they have. I heard
Sylvester sputterin' about a couple in his office t'other day; said
they was no good and not worth the seven dollars a week he paid
"Seven dollars a WEEK!" she repeated.
"Yes. Course some make three times that and more; but they're the
experienced ones, the good ones. And there's heaps that don't.
What makes you so sot on earnin' a livin', Caroline? Ain't you
satisfied with the kind I'm tryin' to give you?"
She regarded him reproachfully. "Please don't say that," she
protested. "You always treat your kindness as a joke, but to me
"There! there!" quickly. "Don't let's talk foolish. I see what
you mean, dearie. It ain't the livin' but because I'm givin' it to
you that troubles you. I know. Well, _I_ ain't complainin' but I
understand your feelin's and respect 'em. However, I shouldn't
study type-writin', if I was you. There's too much competition in
it to be comfortable, as the fat man said about runnin' races.
I've got a suggestion, if you want to listen to it."
"I do, indeed. What is it?"
"Why, just this. I've been about everythin' aboard ship, but I've
never been a steward. Now I'll say this much for Annie, she tried
hard. She tumbled into general housekeepin' the way Asa Foster
said he fell into the cucumber frame--with a jolt and a jingle; and
she's doin' her best accordin' to her lights. But sometimes her
lights need ile or trimmin' or somethin'. I've had the feelin'
that we need a good housekeeper here. If Annie's intelligence was
as broad and liberal as her shoes, we wouldn't; as 'tis, we do.
I'll hire you, Caroline, for that job, if you say so."
"I? Uncle Elisha, you're joking!"
"No, I ain't. Course I realize you ain't had much experience in
runnin' a house, and I hope you understand I don't want to hire you
as a cook. But I've had a scheme in the back of my head for a
fortni't or more. Somethin' Sylvester said about a young lady
cousin of his made me think of it. Seems over here at the female
college--you know where I mean--they're teachin' a new course that
they've christened Domestic Science. Nigh's I can find out it is
about what our great gran'marms larned at home; that, with up-to-
date trimmin's. All about runnin' a house, it is; how to
superintend servants, and what kind of things to have to eat, and
how they ought to be cooked, and takin' care of children--Humph! we
don't need that, do we?--and, well, everything that a home woman,
rich or poor, ought to know. At least, she ought to 'cordin' to my
old-fashioned notions. Sylvester's cousin goes there, and likes
it; and I judge she ain't figgerin' to be anybody's hired help,
either. My idea was about this: If you'd like to take this
course, Caroline, you could do it afternoons. Mornin's and the
days you had off, you could apply your science here at home, on
Annie. Truly it would save me hirin' somebody else, and--well,
maybe you'd enjoy it, you can't tell."
His niece seemed interested.
"I know of the Domestic Science course," she said. "Several of my
friends--my former friends, were studying it. But I'm afraid,
Uncle, that I don't see where earning my living has any part in it.
It seems to me that it means your spending more money for me,
paying my tuition."
"No more'n I'd spend for a competent housekeeper. Honest,
Caroline, I'd like to do it. You think it over a spell."
She did, visiting the University and making inquiries. What she
was told there decided her. She took up the course and enjoyed it.
It occupied her mind and prevented her brooding over the past. She
might have made many friends among the other students, but she was
careful to treat them only as acquaintances. Her recent experience
with "friends" was too fresh in her mind. She studied hard and
applied her knowledge at home. She and Annie made some odd and
funny mistakes at first, but they were not made twice, and Captain
Elisha noticed a great improvement in the housekeeping. Also,
Caroline's spirits improved, though more slowly.
Most evenings they spent together in the living room. She read
aloud to her uncle, who smoked his cigar and listened, commenting
on the doings of the story folk with characteristic originality and
aptitude. Each night, after the reading was over, he wrote his
customary note to Abbie Baker at South Denboro. He made one flying
trip to that village: "Just to prove to 'em that I'm still alive,"
as he explained it. "Some of those folks down there at the
postoffice must have pretty nigh forgot to gossip about me by this
time. They've had me eloped and married and a millionaire and a
pauper long ago, I don't doubt. And now they've probably forgot me
altogether. I'll just run down and stir 'em up. Good subjects for
yarns are scurce at that postoffice, and they ought to be thankful."
On his return he told his niece that he found everything much as
usual. "Thoph Kenney's raised a beard 'cause shavin's so
expensive; and the Come-Outer minister called the place the other
denominations are bound for 'Hades,' and his congregation are
thinkin' of firin' him for turnin' Free-Thinker. That's about all
the sensations," he said. "I couldn't get around town much on
account of Abbie. She kept me in bed most of the time, while she
sewed on buttons and mended. Said she never saw a body's clothes
in such a state in HER life."
A few of the neighbors called occasionally. And there were other
callers. Captain Elisha's unexpected departure from Mrs. Hepton's
boarding house had caused a sensation and much regret to that
select establishment. The landlady, aided and abetted by Mrs. Van
Winkle Ruggles, would have given a farewell tea in his honor, but
he declined. "Don't you do it," he said. "I like my tea pretty
strong, and farewells are watery sort of things, the best of 'em.
And this ain't a real farewell, anyhow."
"'Say au revoir, but not good-by,'" sang Miss Sherborne
"That's it. Everybody knows what good-by means. We'll say the
other thing--as well as we can--and change it to 'Hello' the very
first time any of you come out to see us."
They were curious to know his reason for leaving. He explained
that his niece was sort of lonesome and needed country air; he was
going to live with her, for the present. Consequently Mrs. Ruggles,
on the trail of aristocracy, was the first to call. Hers was a
stately and ceremonious visit. They were glad when it was over.
Lawton, the bookseller and his wife, came and were persuaded to
remain and dine. Caroline liked them at sight. The most impressive
call, however, was that of Mr. and Mrs. "C." Dickens. The great man
made it a point to dress in the style of bygone years, and his
conversation was a treat. His literary labors were fatiguing and
confining, he admitted, and the "little breath of rural ozone" which
this trip to Westchester County gave him, was like a tonic--yes, as
one might say, a tonic prescribed and administered by Dame Nature
"I formerly resided in the country," he told Caroline.
"Yes," put in his wife, "we used to live at Bayonne, New Jersey.
We had such a pretty house there, that is, half a house; you see it
was a double one, and--"
"Maria," her husband waved his hand, "why trouble our friends with
"But it WAS a pretty house, 'C.,' dear," with a pathetic little
sigh. "I've missed it a great deal since, Miss Warren. 'C.' had a
joke about it--he's such a joker! He used to call it 'Gad's Hill,
"Named after some of David B.'s folks?" asked Captain Elisha
innocently. The answer, delivered by Mr. Dickens, was condescending
Caroline laughed, actually laughed aloud, when the visit was over.
Her uncle was immensely pleased.
"Hooray!" he cried. "I'll invite 'em up to stay a week. That's
the fust time I've heard you laugh for I don't know when."
She laughed again. "I can't help it," she said; "they are so
The captain chuckled. "Yes," he said, "and they don't know it. I
cal'late a person's skull has got room for just about so much in it
and no more. Cornelius Charles's head is so jammed with self-
satisfaction that his sense of humor was crowded out of door long
One boarder at Mrs. Hepton's did not call, nor did Captain Elisha
allude to him. Caroline noticed the latter fact and understood the
reason. Also, when the captain went to the city, as he frequently
did, and remained longer than usual, she noticed that his
explanations of the way in which he spent his time were sometimes
vague and hurried. She understood and was troubled. Yet she
thought a great deal on the subject before she mentioned it.
On the April afternoon when Caroline sat at the window of the
living room awaiting her uncle's return she was thinking of that
subject. But, at last, her mind was made up. It was a hard thing
to do; it was humiliating, in a way; it might--though she sincerely
hoped not--be misconstrued as to motive; but it was right. Captain
Elisha had been so unselfish, so glad to give up every personal
inclination in order to please her, that she would no longer permit
her pride to stand in the way of his gratification, even in little
things. At least, she would speak to him on the matter.
He came on a later than his usual train, and at dinner, when she
asked where he had been, replied, "Oh, to see Sylvester, and--er--
around." She asked him no more, but, when they were together in
the living room, she moved her chair over beside his and said
without looking at him:
"Uncle Elisha, I know where you've been this afternoon. You've
been to see Mr. Pearson."
"Hey?" He started, leaned back and regarded her with astonishment
and some alarm.
"You've been to see Mr. Pearson," she repeated, "haven't you?"
"Why--why, yes, Caroline, I have--to tell you the truth. I don't
see how you knew, but," nervously, "I hope you don't feel bad
'cause I did. I go to see him pretty often. You see, I think a
good deal of him--a whole lot of him. _I_ think he's a fine young
feller. Course I know you don't, and so I never mention him to
you. But I do hope you ain't goin' to ask me not to see him."
She shook her head. "No," she said. "I would have no right to ask
that, even if I wished to. And I do not wish it. Uncle Elisha, if
you were alone here, he would come to see you; I know he would.
Invite him to come, please."
His astonishment was greater than ever.
"Invite him to come HERE?" he asked. "To see you?"
"No," hastily; "to see you. This is your home. I have no right to
keep your friends from visiting it. I know you would sacrifice
everything for me, even them; but I will not be so selfish as to
allow it. Ask him here, please. I really want you to."
He pulled his beard. "Caroline," he answered slowly, "I'm much
obliged to you. I understand why you're doin' this, and I thank
you. But it ain't likely that I'll say yes, is it? And do you
suppose Jim would come if I did ask him? He knows you believe he's
a--well, all that's bad. You told him so, and you sent him away.
I will give in that I'd like to have him here. He's one of the few
men friends I've made since I landed in New York. But, under the
circumstances--you feelin' as you do--I couldn't ask him, and he
wouldn't come if I did."
She remained silent for a time. Then she said:
"Uncle, I want you to tell me the truth about Mr. Pearson and
father--just why they quarreled and the real truth of the whole
affair. Don't spare my feelings; tell me what you believe is the
true story. I know you think Mr. Pearson was right, for you said
The captain was much troubled.
"I--I don't know's I'd better, dearie," he answered. "I think I do
know the truth, but you might think I was hard on 'Bije--on your
father. I ain't. And I sympathize with the way he felt, too. But
Jim did right, as I see it. He acted just as I'd want a son of
mine to do. And . . . Well, I cal'late we'd better not rake up
old times, had we?"
"I want you to tell me. Please do."
"I don't know's I'd better. You have been told the story different,
"I know I have. That is the reason why I ask you to tell it. Oh,"
with a flash of scorn, "I was told many stories, and I want to
forget them. And," sadly, "I can bear whatever you may tell me,
even about father. Since I learned that he was a--a--"
"S-sh, Caroline; don't!"
"After that, I can bear anything, I think. This cannot be worse."
"Worse! No, not! This ain't very bad. I will tell you, dearie.
This is just what happened."
He told her the exact truth concerning the Trolley Combine, his
brother's part in it, and Pearson's. She listened without comment.
"I see," she said when he had finished. "I think I see. Mr.
Pearson felt that, as a newspaper man, an honest one, he must go
on. He knew that the thing was wrong and that innocent people
might lose money in it. It was his duty to expose it, and he did
it, even though it meant the loss of influence and of father's
friendship. I see."
"That was about it, Caroline. I think the hardest part for him was
when 'Bije called him ungrateful. 'Bije had been mighty kind to
him, that's a fact."
"Yes. Father was kind; I know that better than anyone else. But
Mr. Pearson was right. Yes, he was right, and brave."
"So I size it up. And I do sympathize with your father, too. This
wa'n't such an awful lot worse than a good many stock deals. And
poor 'Bije was perfectly desp'rate, I guess. If it had gone
through he'd have been able to square accounts with the Rubber
Company; and just think what that would have meant to him. Poor
feller! poor feller!" He sighed. She reached for his hand and
stroked it gently with her own.
After another interval she said: "How I insulted and wronged him!
How he must despise me!"
"Who? Jim? No, no! he don't do any such thing. He knows you
didn't understand, and who was responsible. Jim's got sense, lots
"But it is my misunderstanding and my insulting treatment of him
which have kept you two apart--here, at any rate."
"Don't let that worry you, Caroline. I see him every once in a
while, up to the city."
"It does worry me; and it will, until it is made right. And," in a
lower tone, but with decision, "it shall be."
She rose and, bending over, kissed him on the forehead. "Good
night, Uncle," she said.
Captain Elisha was disappointed. "What!" he exclaimed. "Goin'
aloft so soon? We ain't had our readin' yet. Pretty early to turn
in, seems to me. Stay a little longer, do."
"Not to-night, dear. I'm going to my room. Please excuse me this
time." She turned to go and then, turning back again, asked a
"You're sure," she said, hesitatingly; "you're quite sure he will
not come here--to you--if you tell him I understand, and--and you
"Well, Caroline, I don't know. You see, I was responsible for his
comin' before. He had some scruples against it then, but I talked
him down. He's sort of proud, Jim is, and he might--might not want
"I see. Good night, Uncle."
The next morning, after breakfast, she came to him again.
"Uncle Elisha," she said, "I have written him."
"What? You've written? Written who?"
"Mr. Pearson. I wrote him, telling him I had learned the true
story of his disagreement with father and that he was right and I
was wrong. I apologized for my behavior toward him. Now, I think,
perhaps, if you ask him, he will come."
The captain looked at her. He realized the sacrifice of her pride
which writing that letter must have meant, and that she had done it
for him. He was touched and almost sorry she had done it. He took
both her hands in his.
"Dearie," he said, "you shouldn't have done that. I didn't expect
you to. I know you did it just for my sake. I won't say I ain't
glad; I am, in one way. But 'twa'n't necessary, and 'twas too
much, too hard for you altogether."
"Don't say that," she begged. "Too much! I never can do enough.
Compared to what you have done for me it--it . . . Oh, please let
me do what little I can. But, Uncle Elisha, promise me one thing;
promise that you will not ask me to meet him, if he should come.
That I couldn't do, even for you."
Promises of that kind are easier to make than to keep. The captain
promised promptly enough, but the Fates were against him. He made
it his business to go to town the very next day and called upon his
friend. He found the young man in a curiously excited and
optimistic frame of mind, radically different from that of the past
few months. The manuscript of the novel was before him on the
desk, also plenty of blank paper. His fountain-pen was in his
hand, although apparently, he had written nothing that morning.
But he was going to--oh, yes, he was going to! He was feeling just
in the mood. He had read his manuscript, and it was not so bad; by
George, some of the stuff was pretty good! And the end was not so
far off. Five or six chapters more and the thing would be finished.
He would have to secure a publisher, of course, but two had already
expressed an interest; and so on.
Captain Elisha drew his own conclusions. He judged that his
niece's letter had reached its destination. He did not mention it,
however, nor did Pearson. But when the captain hinted at the
latter's running out to the house to see him some time or other,
the invitation was accepted.
"That's fine, Jim," declared the visitor. "Come any time. I want
you to see what a nice little place I've got out there. Don't
stand on ceremony, come--er--next week, say." Then, mindful of his
promise, he added, "You and I'll have it all to ourselves. I've
been cal'latin' to hire a sail-boat for the summer; got my eye on a
capable little sloop belongin' to a feller on the Sound shore. If
all goes well I'll close the deal in a few days. I'll meet you at
the depot and we'll have a sail and get dinner at a hotel or
somewheres, and then we'll come up to the house and take a whack at
Cap'n Jim's doin's in the new chapters. Just you and I together in
the settin' room; hey?"
Pearson did not seem so enthusiastic over this programme, although
he admitted that it sounded tip-top.
"How is Miss Warren?" he asked, mentioning the name with a
nonchalance remarkable, considering that he had not done so before
for weeks. "She is well, I hope?"
"Yes, she's fust-rate, thank you. Very well, everything considered.
She keeps to herself a good deal. Don't care to meet many folks,
and you can't hardly blame her."
Pearson admitted that, and the remainder of the call was largely a
monologue by Captain Elisha.
"Well, then, Jim," said the latter, when he rose to go, "you come
up Monday or Tuesday of next week. Will you?"
"Yes. I--I think so."
"Don't think, do it. Let me know what train you're comin' on, and
I'll meet you at the depot."
This last remark was what upset calculations. Pearson came on
Monday, having written the day before. He did not mail the note
himself, but trusted it to Mrs. Hepton, who was going out to attend
evening service. She forgot it until the next day. So it happened
that when he alighted from the train at the suburban station the
captain was not there to meet him. He waited a while, and then,
inquiring the way of the station agent, walked up to the house by
himself. As he turned in at the front walk, Caroline came out of
the door. They met, face to face.
It was a most embarrassing situation, particularly for Caroline;
yet, with feminine resourcefulness, she dissembled her embarrassment
to some extent and acknowledged his stammered, "Good afternoon, Miss
Warren," with a cool, almost cold, "How do you do, Mr. Pearson?"
which chilled his pleasure at seeing her and made him wish devoutly
that he had not been such a fool as to come. However, there he was,
and he hastily explained his presence by telling her of the
captain's invitation for that day, how he had expected to meet him
at the station, and, not meeting him, had walked up to the house.
"Is he in?" he asked.
No, Captain Elisha was not in. He had gone to see the sail-boat
man. Not hearing from his friend, he concluded the latter would
not come until the next day.
"He will be so sorry," said Caroline.
Pearson was rather thankful than otherwise. The captain's absence
afforded him an opportunity to escape from a place where he was
"Oh, never mind," he said. "It is not important. I can run out
another day. Just tell him I called, Miss Warren, please; that I
wrote yesterday, but my letter must have gone astray. Good
He was turning to go, but she stopped him. She had fully made up
her mind that, when he came, she would not meet him--remembering
how she had treated him on the evening of her birthday, she would
be ashamed to look him in the face. Besides, she could not meet him
after writing that letter; it would be too brazen; he would think--
all sorts of things. When he visited her uncle she would remain in
her room, or go to the city or somewhere.
But now she had met him. And he had come in response to her
uncle's invitation, given because she herself had pleaded that it
should be. To let him go away would be rude and ridiculous; and
how could she explain to the captain?
"You mustn't go, Mr. Pearson," she said. "You must come in and
wait; Captain Warren will be back soon, I'm sure."
"Thank you; but I think I won't wait. I can come another time."
"But you must wait. I insist. Uncle Elisha will be dreadfully
disappointed if you don't. There isn't a train for an hour, and he
will return before that, I am sure. Please come in."
Pearson was reluctant, but he could think of no reasonable excuse.
So he entered the house, removed his overcoat and hat, and seated
himself in the living room to await the captain's return. Caroline
excused herself, saying that she had an errand at the shop in the
village. She made that errand as long as she could, but when she
returned he was still there, and Captain Elisha had not appeared.
The conversation was forced, for a time. Each felt the
embarrassment, and Pearson was still resentful of the manner in
which she had greeted him on his arrival. But, as he looked at
her, the resentment vanished, and the other feeling, that which he
had determined to forget, returned. Captain Elisha had told him
how brave she had been through it all, and, contrasting the little