Part 7 out of 7
house with the former home, remembering the loss of friends and
fortune, to say nothing of the unmasking of those whom she believed
were her nearest and dearest, he wondered and admired more than
ever. He understood how very hard it must have been for her to
write that letter to him, a letter in which she justified his
course at the cost of her own father's honor. He longed to tell
her that he understood and appreciated.
At last he could not resist the temptation.
"Miss Warren," he said, "please excuse my speaking of this, but I
must; I must thank you for writing me as you did. It was not
necessary, it was too much to expect, too hard a thing for you to
do. It makes me feel guilty. I--"
"Please don't!" she interrupted. "Don't speak in that way. It was
right. It was what I should have done long ago."
"But it was not necessary; I understood. I knew you had heard
another version of the story and that you felt I had been
ungrateful and mean, to say the least, in my conduct toward your
father. I knew that; I have never blamed you. And you writing as
"I did it for my uncle's sake," she broke in, quickly. "You are
his closest friend."
"I know, but I appreciate it, nevertheless. I--I wish you would
consider me your friend as well as his. I do, sincerely."
"Thank you. I need friends, I know. I have few now, which is not
strange," rather bitterly.
He protested earnestly. "I did not mean it in that way," he said.
"It is an honor and a great privilege to be one of your friends. I
had that honor and privilege once. May I have it again?"
"Thank you, Mr. Pearson . . . Now tell me about your novel. I
remember it all so well. And I am very much interested. You must
have it nearly completed. Tell me about it, please."
They were deep in the discussion of the novel when Captain Elisha
walked into the living room. He was surprised, stating his
feelings at their mildest, to find them together, but he did not
express his astonishment. Instead, he hailed Pearson delightedly,
demanded to know if they had dared tackle Cap'n Jim without the
"head doctor's" being on the scene; and insisted upon the author's
admitting him to the "clinic" forthwith. Pearson did not take the
next train, nor the next. Instead, he stayed for dinner and well
into the evening, and when he did go it was after a prompt
acceptance of the captain's invitation to "come again in a mighty
Caroline, when she and her uncle were alone after their visitor's
departure, made no protest against the invitation having been
given. She did not speak of Pearson at all. Captain Elisha also
talked of other things, principally about the sail-boat, the summer
lease of which he had arranged that afternoon. He declared the
sloop to be an "able craft of her tonnage" and that they would have
some good times aboard her or he missed his guess. In his own
room, when ready for bed, he favored his reflection in the glass
with a broad smile and a satisfied wink, from which proceeding it
may be surmised that the day had not been a bad one, according to
Pearson came again a week later, and thereafter frequently. The
sessions with Cap'n Jim and his associates were once more regular
happenings to be looked forward to and enjoyed by the three. As
the weather grew warmer, the sloop--Captain Elisha had the name she
formerly bore painted out and Caroline substituted--proved to be as
great a source of pleasure as her new skipper had prophesied. He
and his niece--and occasionally Pearson--sailed and picnicked on
the Sound, and Caroline's pallor disappeared under the influence of
breeze and sunshine. Her health improved, and her spirits, also.
She seemed, at times, almost happy, and her uncle seldom saw her,
as after the removal to the suburb he so frequently used, with
tears in her eyes and the sadness of bitter memories in her
expression and manner. Her work at the University grew steadily
more difficult, but she enjoyed it thoroughly and declared that she
would not give it up for worlds.
In June two very important events took place. The novel was
finished, and Stephen, his Sophomore year at an end, came home from
college. He had been invited by some classmates to spend a part of
his vacation with them on the Maine coast, and his guardian had
consented to his doing so; but the boy himself had something else
to propose. On an evening soon after his return, when, his sister
having retired, he was alone with the captain, he broached the
"Say," he said, "I've been thinking a good deal while I've been
away this last time."
"Glad to hear it, I'm sure," replied his uncle, dryly.
"Yes. I've been thinking--about a good many things. I'm flat
broke; down and out, so far as money is concerned. That's so,
Captain Elisha looked at him keenly for an instant. Then:
"It appears that way, I'm afraid," he answered. "What made you
"Nothing. I wasn't asking, really; I was just stating the case.
Now, the way I look at it, this college course of mine isn't worth
while. You're putting up for it, and I ought to be much obliged; I
am, of course."
"You're welcome, Stevie."
"I know; but what's the use of it? I've got to go to work when
it's over. And the kind of work I want to do doesn't need
university training. I'm just wasting time; that's what I'm
"Humph! I ain't so sure about that. But what sort of work do you
want to do?"
"I want to be down on the Street, as the governor was. If this
Rubber Company business hadn't knocked us out, I intended, as soon
as I was of age, to take that seat of his and start in for myself.
Well, that chance has gone, but I mean to get in some way, though I
have to start at the foot of the ladder. Now why can't I leave
college and start now? It will be two years gained, won't it?"
Captain Elisha seemed pleased, but he shook his head.
"How do you know you'd like it?" he asked. "You've never tried."
"No, I never have; but I'll like it all right. I know I shall.
It's what I've wanted to do ever since I was old enough to think of
such things. Just let me start in now, right away, and I'll show
you. I'll make good; you see if I don't."
He was very earnest. The captain deliberated before answering.
"Stevie," he said, doubtfully, "I rather like to hear you talk that
way; I own up it pleases me. But, as to your givin' up college--
that's different. Let me think it over for a day or two; that is,
if you can put off the Maine trip so long as that."
"Hang the Maine trip! You let me get into business, the business I
want to get into, and I won't ask for a vacation; you can bet on
"All right then. I'll think, and do some questionin' around, and
report soon's I've decided what's best."
He laid the stump of his cigar in the ash receiver and rose from
his chair. But his nephew had not finished.
"There was something else I intended to say," he announced, but
with less eagerness.
"That so? What?"
"Why--why, just this." He fidgeted with his watch chain, colored
and was evidently uneasy. "I guess--" he hesitated--"I guess that
I haven't treated you as I ought."
"I want to know! You guess that, hey? Why?"
"Oh, you know why. I've been thinking since I went back to New
Haven. I've had a chance to think. Some of the fellows in the set
I used to be thick with up there have learned that I'm broke, and
they--they aren't as friendly as they were. Not all of them, of
course, but some. And I wouldn't chase after them; not much! If
they wanted to drop me they could. You bet I didn't try to hang
on! I was pretty sore for a while and kept to myself and--well, I
did a lot of thinking. I guess Caro is right; you've been mighty
decent to her and me."
He paused, but Captain Elisha made no comment.
"I guess you have," continued Stephen, soberly. "When you first
came, you know, Caroline and I couldn't understand. We thought you
were butting in and weren't our sort, and--and--"
"And a hayseed nuisance generally; I know. Heave ahead, son; you
"Well, we didn't like it. And Mal Dunn and his mother were always
sympathizing and insinuating, and we believed they were our best
friends, and all that. So we didn't try to understand you or--or
even make it livable for you. Then, after the news came that the
money had gone, I acted like a kid, I guess. That business of
making Mal stick to the engagement was pretty silly. I was nearly
desperate, you see, and--and--you knew it was silly. You never
took any stock in it, did you?"
The captain smiled.
"Not a heap," he admitted.
"No. All you wanted was to show them up. Well, you did it, and
I'm glad you did. But Caro and I have talked it over since I've
been home, and we agree that you've been a great deal better to us
than we deserve. You didn't HAVE to take care of us at all, any
more, after the money went. By gad! considering how we treated
you, I don't see why you did. _I_ wouldn't. But you did--and you
are. You've given us a home, and you're putting me through college
"That's all right, son. Good night."
"Just a minute. I--I--well, if you let me, I'd like to thank you
and--and ask your pardon."
"Granted, my boy. And never mind the thanks, either. Just keep on
thinkin' and actin' as you have to-night, and I'll be satisfied. I
want to see my nephew makin' a man of himself--a real man; and,
Steve, you talk more like a man to-night than I've ever heard you.
Stick to it, and you'll do yet. As for goin' to work, you let me
chew on that for a few days."
The next morning he called on Sylvester, who in turn took him to a
friend of his, a broker--employing a good-sized staff of clerks.
The three had a consultation, followed, the day after, by another.
That evening the captain made a definite proposal to Stephen. It
was, briefly, that, while not consenting to the latter's leaving
college, he did consider that a trial of the work in a broker's
office might be a good thing. Therefore, if the young man wished,
he could enter the employ of Sylvester's friend and remain during
July and August.
"You'll leave about the first of September, Steve," he said, "and
that'll give you time for the two weeks vacation that you ought to
have. Then you can go back to Yale and pitch in till the next
summer, when the same job'll be ready for you. After you're
through college for good, if what you've learned about brokerin'
ain't cured you of your likin' for it--if you still want to go
ahead with it for your life job, then--well, then we'll see. What
do you say?"
Stephen had a good deal to say, principally in the line of
objection to continuing his studies. Finding these objections
unavailing, he agreed to his guardian's proposition.
"All right," said the captain; "then you can go to work next
Monday. But you'll HAVE to work, and be just the same as any other
beginner, no better and no worse. There'll be no favoritism, and,
if you're really wuth your salt, you won't want any. Show 'em, and
me, that you're wuth it."
The novel, the wonderful tale which Captain Elisha was certain
would make its author famous, was finished that very day in June
when Stephen came back from New Haven. The question of title
remained, and the "clinic," now re-enforced by Steve--whose dislike
for Pearson had apparently vanished with others of his former likes
and dislikes--considered that at several sessions. At last "The
Man at the Wheel" was selected, as indicating something of the
hero's profession and implying, perhaps, a hint of his character.
Then came the fateful task of securing a publisher. And the first
to whom it was submitted--one of the two firms which had already
expressed a desire to read the manuscript--accepted it, at what,
for a first novel, were very fair terms. During the summer there
was proof to be read and illustrations to be criticized. Captain
Elisha did not wholly approve of the artist's productions.
"Jerushy!" he exclaimed, "look at that mainmast! Look at the rake
of it! More like a yacht than a deep-water bark, she is enough
sight. And the fust mate's got a uniform cap on, like a purser on
a steamboat. Make that artist feller take that cap off him, Jim.
He's got to. I wish he could have seen some of my mates. They
wa'n't Cunarder dudes, but they could make a crew hop 'round like a
sand-flea in a clam bake."
Or, when the picture happened to be a shore view:
"What kind of a house is that? Did you ever see a house like that
Down-East? I'll leave it to anybody if it don't look like a sugar
man's plantation I used to know down Mobile way. All that feller
standin' by the door needs is to have his face blacked; then he'd
start singin' 'S'wanee River.' This ain't 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'
The advance copy, the first one, was ready early in September, and
the author, of course, brought it immediately to his friends. They
found the dedication especially interesting: "To C. W. and E. W.,
consulting specialists at the literary clinics, with grateful
acknowledgments." Probably Captain Elisha was never prouder of
anything, even his first command, than of that dedication.
And the story, when at last it appeared for sale, was almost from
the beginning a success. The reviewers praised it, the reading
public--that final court of appeal which makes or unmakes novels--
took kindly to it, and discussed and recommended it; and, most
important of all, perhaps, it sold and continued to sell. There
was something in it, its humanity, its simplicity, its clearly
marked characters, which made a hit. Pearson no longer needed to
seek publishers; they sought him. His short stories were bid for
by the magazines, and his prices climbed and climbed. He found
himself suddenly planted in the middle of the highway to prosperity,
with a clear road ahead of him, provided he continued to do his best.
In September Stephen gave up his work at the broker's office, spent
the weeks with his friends in Maine, and then returned to Yale. He
gave up the position on the Street with reluctance. He was sure he
liked it now, he declared. It was what he was fitted for, and he
meant, more than ever, to take it up permanently as soon as he was
free. And his employer told Captain Elisha that the youngster was
bright, clever, and apt. "A little conceited, needs taking down
occasionally, but that is the only trouble. He has been spoiled, I
should imagine," he said.
"Yup," replied the captain, with emphasis; "your imagination's a
good one. It don't need cultivatin' any."
The novel being out of the way, and its successor not yet far
enough advanced in plot or general plan for much discussion, the
"literary clinics" were no longer as frequent. But Pearson's
visits to the Warren house were not discontinued. All summer long
he had been coming out, once, and usually twice, a week. Captain
Elisha had told him not to stand on formality, to come any time,
and he did. On most of these occasions he found the captain at
home; but, if only Caroline was there, he seemed quite contented.
She did not remark on the frequency of his visits. In fact, she
mentioned him less and less in conversation with her uncle. But,
as the autumn came and moved towards its prime she seemed, to the
captain's noticing eye, a trifle more grave, a little more desirous
of being by herself. Sometimes he found her sitting by the open
fire--pleasant in the cool October evenings--and gazing very
soberly at the blaze. She had been in good spirits, more merry and
light-hearted than he had ever seen her, during the latter part of
the summer; now her old sadness seemed to be returning. It would
have troubled him, this change in her mood, if he had not believed
he knew the cause.
He was planning a glorious Thanksgiving. At least, it would be
glorious to him, for he intended spending the day, and several
days, at his own home in South Denboro. Abbie Baker had made him
promise to do it, and he had agreed. He would not leave Caroline,
of course; she was going with him. Steve would be there, though he
would not come until Thanksgiving Day itself. Sylvester, also,
would be of the party; he seemed delighted at the opportunity.
"I'm curious to see the place where they raise fellows like you,"
the lawyer said. "It must be worth looking at."
"Graves don't think so," chuckled the captain. "I invited him, and
he said, 'No, thank you' so quick that the words was all telescoped
together. And he shivered, too, when he said it; just as if he
felt that sou'west gale whistlin' between his bones even now. I
told him I'd pretty nigh guarantee that no more trees would fall on
him, but it didn't have any effect."
Pearson was asked and had accepted. His going was so far a settled
thing that he had commissioned Captain Elisha to purchase a
stateroom for him on the Fall River boat; for of course the captain
would not consider their traveling the entire distance by train.
At an interview in the young man's room in the boarding house, only
three days before the date set for the start, he had been almost as
enthusiastic as the Cape Codder himself. The pair had planned
several side excursions, time and weather permitting, among them a
trip across the Sound to Setuckit Point, with the possibility of
some late sea-fowl shooting and a long tramp to one of the life-
saving stations, where Pearson hoped to pick up material for his
new book. He was all anticipation and enthusiasm when the captain
left him, and said he would run out to the house the following day,
to make final arrangements.
That day Sylvester 'phoned, asking Captain Elisha to come to his
office on a matter of business. When, having done so, the captain,
returning, alighted at his home station, he was surprised to see
Pearson standing on the platform.
"Why, hello, Jim!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Just
come, have you?"
His friend shook his head. "No, Captain Warren," he said; "I'm
"Goin'? What for? Been up to the house, of course? Caroline told
you where I'd gone and that I was cal'latin' to hurry back, didn't
"Well, then, course you ain't goin'! You're goin' to stay to
dinner. I've got some things to tell you about that life-savin'
station cruise. I've been thinkin' that I know the cap'n and most
of the crew on the lightship off back of the Point. How'd you like
to go aboard of her? You could get some yarns from those fellers
that might be wuth hearin'."
"I have no doubt I should. But I'm afraid I can't go. The fact
is, Captain, I've decided not to spend Thanksgiving with you, after
"Hey?" Captain Elisha could scarcely believe he had heard correctly.
"You can't go--to South Denboro?"
"Why not, for the land sakes?"
"Well, I've decided--I've decided not to."
"But, Jim! Why, I can't have it so! I'm dreadful disappointed.
I've counted on your goin'. So has Abbie. She's read your book,
and she says she's crazy to see the feller that wrote it. She's
told the minister and a whole lot more, and they're all comin' in
to look at you. 'Tain't often we have a celebrated character in
our town. You've GOT to go."
"Thank you, Captain. I appreciate the invitation and your
kindness, but," with decision, "I can't accept."
"Can't you come later? Say Thanksgivin' mornin'? Or even the day
"But why not? What's the matter with you all of a sudden? Come
here! let me look at you."
He took the young man by the arm and led him, almost by main
strength, close to the lighted window of the station. It was late,
and the afternoon was gloomy. Here, by the lamplight streaming
through the window, he could see his face more clearly. He looked
"Humph!" he grunted, after a moment's scrutiny. "You've made up
your mind; I can see that. Have you told Caroline? Does she
"Yes. You'll have to excuse me, Captain Warren; my train is
"What did she say?"
Pearson smiled, but there was little mirth in the smile. "I think
she agrees with me that it is best," he observed.
"Humph! She does, hey? I want to know! Look here, Jim! have you
He got no further, for Pearson broke away, and, with a hurried
"Good night," strode up the platform to meet the city-bound train.
Captain Elisha watched it go and then walked slowly homeward, his
hands in his pockets, troubled and wondering.
He entered the house by the back door, a remnant of South Denboro
habit, and found Annie in the kitchen.
"Where's Caroline?" he asked.
"She's in the living room, sir, I think. Mr. Pearson has been here
and just gone."
"Um-hm. So I heard. Say, Annie, you needn't hurry dinner; I ain't
ready for it yet awhile."
He hung his coat and hat in the back hall and quietly entered the
living room. The lamp was not lighted, and the room was dark, but
he saw his niece, a shadowy figure, seated by the window. He
crossed to her side.
"Well, Caroline," he said, cheerfully, "I'm home again."
She turned. "I see you are," she answered.
"Humph! your eyes must be better than mine then. I can't see
anything in here. It's darker than a nigger's pocket. Suppose we
turn on the glim."
He struck a match as he said it. By its light he saw her face.
The match burned down to his finger tips and then he extinguished
"I don't know but the dark is just as good and more economical," he
observed. "No use of encouragin' the graspin' ile trust unless
it's necessary. Let's you and me sit here in the dark and talk.
No objection to talkin' to your back country relation, have you?"
"That's good. Well, Caroline, I'm goin' to talk plain again. You
can order me to close my hatch any time you feel like it; that's
skipper's privilege, and you're boss of this craft, you know.
Dearie, I just met Jim Pearson. He tells me he's decided not to go
on this Cape cruise of ours. He said you agreed with him 'twas
best he shouldn't go. Do you mind tellin' me why?"
She did not answer. He waited a minute and then continued.
"Course, I know I ain't got any real right to ask," he went on;
"but I think more of you and Jim than I do of anybody else, and so
maybe you'll excuse me. Have you and he had a fallin' out?"
Still she was silent. He sighed. "Well," he observed, "I see you
have, and I don't blame you for not wantin' to talk about it. I'm
awful sorry. I'd begun to hope that . . . However, we'll change
the subject. Or we won't talk at all, if you'd rather not."
Another pause. Then she laid her hand on his.
"Uncle," she said, "you know I always want to talk to you. And, as
for the right to ask, you have the right to ask anything of me at
any time. And I should have told you, of my own accord, by and by.
Mr. Pearson and I have not quarreled; but I think--I think it best
that I should not see him again."
"You do? Not see him--any more--at all? Why, Caroline!"
"Not for a long, long time, at least. It would only make it harder--
for him; and it's of no use."
Captain Elisha sighed again. "I guess I understand, Caroline. I
presume likely I do. He--he asked somethin' of you--and you
couldn't say yes to him. That was it, I suppose. Needn't tell me
unless you really want to, you understand," he added, hastily.
"But I do. I ought to tell you. I should have told you before,
and perhaps, if I had, he would not have . . . Uncle Elisha, Mr.
Pearson asked me to be his wife."
The captain gave no evidence of surprise.
"Yes," he replied, gravely, "I judged that was it. And you told
him you couldn't, I suppose. Well, dearie, that's a question
nobody ought to answer but the one. She's the only one that knows
what that answer should be, and, when other folks interfere and try
to influence, it generally means trouble. I'm kind of disappointed;
I'll own up to that. I think Jim is a fine, honest, able young man,
and he'd make a good husband, I'm sure. And, so far as his
business, or profession, or whatever you call it, goes, he's doin'
pretty well and sartin to do better. Of course, 'twa'n't that that
kept you from--"
"Uncle Elisha! Am _I_ so rich that I should--"
"There! there, my girl! I know 'twa'n't that, of course. I was
only thinkin' out loud, that's all--tryin' to find reasons. You
didn't care for him enough, I suppose. Caroline, you don't care
for anybody else, do you? You don't still care for that other
"Uncle!" she sprang up, hurt and indignant. "How can you?" she
cried. "How could you ask that? What must you think of me?"
"Please, Caroline," he protested; "please don't. I beg your
pardon. I was a fool! I knew better. Don't go. Tell me the real
reason. Sit down again and let's talk this out. Do sit down!
that's it. Now tell me; was it that you couldn't care for Jim
"Was it?" he repeated.
"I--I like Mr. Pearson very much. I respect and admire him."
"But you don't love him. I see. Well," sadly, "there's another
one of my dreams gone to smash. However, you did just right,
dearie. Feelin' that way, you couldn't marry him, of course."
He would have risen now, and she detained him.
"That was not the reason," she said, in a low tone.
"Hey?" he bent toward her. "What?" he cried. "That wa'n't the
reason, you say? You do care for him?"
She was silent.
"Do you?" he repeated, gently. "And yet you sent him away. Why?"
She faltered, tried to speak, and then turned away. He put his arm
about her and stroked her hair.
"Don't you cry, dearie," he begged. "I won't bother you any more.
You can tell me some other time--if you want to. Or you needn't
tell me at all. It's all right; only don't cry. 'Cause if you
do," with sudden determination, "I shall cry, too; and, bein' as I
ain't used to the exercise, I may raise such a row that Annie'll
send for the constable. You wouldn't want that to happen, I know."
This unexpected announcement had the desired effect; Caroline
laughed hysterically and freed herself from his arm.
"I mustn't be so silly," she said. "I had made up my mind to tell
you everything, and I shall. My not caring for Mr. Pearson was not
my reason for refusing him. The reasons were two--you and Steve."
"Me and Steve? What in the world have we got to do with it?"
"Everything. He would marry me, poor as I am; and perhaps I--
perhaps I should say yes if things were different. Oh, there is no
use my deceiving you, or trying to deceive myself! I know I should
say yes, and be very, very happy. But I can't! and I won't!
"But why? And where, for mercy's sake, do Steve and I come in?"
"Uncle Elisha, I suppose you think I have been perfectly satisfied
to let you take care of me and of my brother, and give us a home
and all that we needed and more. No doubt you thought me selfish
enough to be contented with that and go on as I am--as we are--
living on your bounty. You had reason to think so. But I have not
been contented with that, nor has Steve. He and I have made our
plans, and we shall carry them out. He will leave college in two
years and go to work in earnest. Before that time I shall be ready
to teach. I have been studying with just that idea in view."
"Good land! Why, no, you ain't! You've been studyin' to help me
and Annie run this house."
"That was only part of it--the smallest part. I haven't told you
before, Uncle, but one of the Domestic Science teachers at the
University is a girl I used to know slightly. She is going to be
married next year, and, if all goes well, I may be appointed to her
position when she leaves. I have a conditional promise already.
If I am, why, then, you see, I shall really be earning my own
living; you will not have to give up your own home and all your
interests there to make me comfortable: you can--"
"Here! here!" Captain Elisha put in, desperately; "don't talk so
ridiculous, Caroline. I ain't givin' up anything. I never was
more happy than I've been right here with you this summer. I'm
"I know, but I am not. And neither is Steve. He and I have
planned it all. His salary at first will be small, and so will
mine. But together we can earn enough to live somehow and, later
on, when he earns more, perhaps we may be able to repay a little of
all that you have given us. We shall try. _I_ shall insist upon
"Caroline Warren, is THAT the reason you sent Jim away? Did you
tell him that? Did you tell him you wouldn't marry him on account
"No, of course I did not," indignantly. "I told him--I said I must
not think of marriage; it was impossible. And it is! You KNOW it
is, Uncle Elisha!"
"I don't know any such thing. If you want to make me happy,
Caroline, you couldn't find a better way than to be Jim Pearson's
wife. And you would be happy, too; you said so."
"But I am not thinking of happiness. It is my duty--to you and to
my own self-respect. And not only that, but to Steve. Someone
must provide a home for him. Neither he nor I will permit you to
do it a day longer than is necessary. I am his sister and I shall
not leave him."
"But you won't have to leave him. Steve's future's all fixed.
I've provided for Steve."
"What do you mean?"
"What I say." The captain was very much excited and, for once,
completely off his guard. "I've had plans for Steve all along.
He's doin' fust-rate in that broker's office, learnin' the trade.
Next summer he'll have another whack at it and learn more. When
he's out of college I'm goin' to turn over your dad's seat on the
Stock Exchange to him. Not give it to him, you know--not right
off--but let him try; and then, if he makes a good fist at it,
he'll have it permanent. Steve's got the best chance in the world.
He couldn't ask much better, seems to me. You ain't got to fret
yourself about Steve."
He paused, almost out of breath. He had been speaking rapidly so
as to prevent interruption. Caroline's astonishment was too great
for words, just then. Her uncle anxiously awaited her reply.
"You see, don't you?" he asked. "You understand. Steve's goin' to
have the chance to make a good livin' at the very thing he declares
he's set on doin'. I ain't told him, and I don't want you to, but
it's what I've planned for him and--"
"Wait! wait, Uncle, please! The Stock Exchange seat? Father's
seat? I don't see . . . I don't understand."
"Yes, yes!" eagerly; "your pa's seat. I've meant it for Steve.
There's been chances enough to sell it, but I wouldn't do that.
'Twas for him, Caroline; and he's goin' to have it."
"But I don't see how . . . Why, I thought--"
The door of the dining room opened. Annie appeared on the threshold.
"Dinner is served," she announced.
"Be right there, Annie. Now you see that you ain't got to worry
about Steve, don't you, Caroline?"
His niece did not answer. By the light from the doorway he saw
that she was gazing at him with a strange expression. She looked
as if she was about to ask another question. He waited, but she
did not ask it.
"Well," he said, rising, "we won't talk any more just now. Annie's
soup's gettin' cold, and she'll be in our wool if we don't have
dinner. Afterwards we can have another session. Come, Caroline."
She also rose, but hesitated. "Uncle Elisha," she said, "will you
excuse me if I don't talk any more to-night? And, if you don't
mind, I won't dine with you. I'm not hungry and--and my head
aches. I'll go to my room, I think."
"Yes, yes," he said, hastily, "of course. I'm afraid I've talked
too much as 'tis. You go up and lie down, and Annie can fetch you
some toast and tea or somethin' by and by. But do just answer me
this, Caroline, if you can: When you told Jim marryin' was out of
the question for you, did he take that as final? Was he contented
with that? Didn't he say he was willin' to wait for you, or
"Yes, he said he would wait, always. But I told him he must not.
And I told him he must go and not see me again. I couldn't see him
as I have been doing; Uncle, I couldn't!"
"I know, dearie, I know. But didn't you say anything more? Didn't
you give him ANY hope?"
"I said," she hesitated, and added in a whisper, "I said if I
should ever need him or--or change my mind, I would send for him.
I shouldn't have said it. It was weak and wicked of me, but I said
it. Please let me go now, Uncle dear. Good night."
She kissed him and hurried away. He ate his lonely dinner absent-
mindedly and with little appetite. After it was finished he sat in
the living room, the lamp still unlighted, smoking and thinking.
And in her chamber Caroline, too, sat thinking--not altogether of
the man she loved and who loved her. She thought of him, of
course; but there was something else, an idea, a suspicion, which
over and over again she dismissed as an utter impossibility, but
which returned as often.
The Stock Exchange seat had been a part of her father's estate, a
part of her own and Steve's inheritance. Sylvester had told her
so, distinctly. And such a seat was valuable; she remembered her
brother reading in the paper that one had recently sold for ninety
thousand dollars. How could Captain Warren have retained such a
costly part of the forfeited estate in his possession? For it was
in his possession; he was going to give it to her brother when the
latter left college. But how could he have obtained it? Not by
purchase; for, as she knew, he was not worth half of ninety
thousand dollars. Surely the creditor, the man who had, as was his
right, seized all Rodgers Warren's effects, would not have left
that and taken the rest. Not unless he was a curiously philanthropic
and eccentric person. Who was he? Who was this mysterious man her
father had defrauded? She had never wished to know before; now she
did. And the more she pondered, the more plausible her suspicion
became. It was almost incredible, it seemed preposterous; but, as
she went back, in memory, over the events since her father's death
and the disclosure of his astonishing will, little bits of evidence,
little happenings and details came to light, trifles in themselves,
but all fitting in together, like pieces of an inscription in
mosaic, to spell the truth.
November weather on Cape Cod is what Captain Elisha described as
"considerable chancey." "The feller that can guess it two days
ahead of time," he declared, "is wastin' his talents; he could make
a livin' prophesyin' most anything, even the market price of
cranberries." When Caroline, Sylvester, and the captain reached
South Denboro after what seemed, to the two unused to the leisurely
winter schedule of the railroad, an interminable journey from Fall
River, the girl thought she had never seen a more gloomy sky or a
more forbidding scene. Gray clouds, gray sea, brown bare fields;
the village of white or gray-shingled houses set, for the most
part, along the winding main street; the elms and silver-leaf
poplars waving bare branches in the cutting wind; a picture of the
fag end of loneliness and desolation, so it looked to her. She
remembered Mr. Graves's opinion of the place, as jokingly reported
by Sylvester, and she sympathized with the dignified junior
But she kept her feelings hidden on her uncle's account. The
captain was probably the happiest individual in the state of
Massachusetts that morning. He hailed the train's approach to
Sandwich as the entrance to Ostable County, the promised land, and,
from that station on, excitedly pointed out familiar landmarks and
bits of scenery and buildings with the gusto and enthusiasm of a
"That's Ostable court-house," he cried, pointing. "And see--see
that red-roofed house right over there, just past that white
church? That's where Judge Baxter lives; a mighty good friend of
mine, the Judge is. I stopped to his house to dinner the night
A little further on he added, "'Twas about here that I spoke to
Graves fust. I noticed him sittin' right across the aisle from me,
with a face on him sour as a sasser of green tamarind preserves,
and I thought I'd be sociable. 'Tough night,' I says. 'Umph,'
says he. 'Twa'n't a remark cal'lated to encourage conversation, so
I didn't try again--not till his umbrella turned inside out on the
Denboro platform. Ho! ho! I wish you'd have seen his face THEN."
At Denboro he pointed out Pete Shattuck's livery stable, where the
horse and buggy came from which had been the means of transporting
Graves and himself to South Denboro.
"See!" he cried. "See that feller holdin' up the corner of the
depot with his back! the one that's so broad in the beam he has to
draw in his breath afore he can button his coat. That's Pete.
You'd think he was too sleepy to care whether 'twas to-day or next
week, wouldn't you? Well, if you was a summer boarder and wanted
to hire a team, you'd find Pete was awake and got up early. If a
ten-cent piece fell off the shelf in the middle of the night he'd
hear it, though I've known him to sleep while the minister's barn
burned down. The parson had been preachin' against horse-tradin';
maybe that sermon was responsible for some of the morphine
Sylvester was enjoying himself hugely. Captain Elisha's exuberant
comments were great fun for him. "This is what I came for," he
confided to Caroline. "I don't care if it rains or snows. I could
sit and listen to your uncle for a year and never tire. He's a
wonder. And I'm crazy to see that housekeeper of his. If she
lives up to her reputation there'll be no disappointment in my
Dan, the captain's hired man, met them with the carriage at the
station, and Miss Baker met them at the door of the Warren home.
The exterior of the big, old-fashioned, rambling house was inviting
and homelike, in spite of the gloomy weather, and Caroline cheered
up a bit when they turned in at the gate. Five minutes of Miss
Abigail's society, and all gloom disappeared. One could not be
gloomy where Miss Abbie was. Her smile of welcome was so broad
that, as her employer said, "it took in all outdoor and some of
Punkhorn Neck," a place which, he hastened to add, "was forgot
durin' creation and has sort of happened of itself since."
Abbie conducted Caroline to her room--old-fashioned, like the rest
of the house, but cozy, warm, and cheery--and, after helping in the
removal of her wraps, seized her by both hands and took a long look
at her face.
"You'll excuse my bein' so familiar on short acquaintance, dearie,"
she said, "but I've heard so much about you that I feel's if I knew
you like own folks. And you are own folks, ain't you? Course you
are! Everyone of 'Lisha's letters have had four pages of you to
one of anything else. I begun to think New York was nothin' but
you and a whole lot of ten-story houses. He thinks so much of you
that I'd be jealous, if I had that kind of disposition and the time
to spare. So I must have a good look at you . . . I declare!
you're almost prettier than he said. May I kiss you? I'd like
She did, and they were friends at once.
The rest of that day and evening were busy times. Captain Elisha
showed his visitors about the place, the barn, the cows, the
pigpen--the pig himself had gone to fulfill the unhappy destiny of
pigs, but they would meet him by sections later on, so the captain
assured them. The house and buildings were spotless in paint and
whitewash; the yard was raked clean of every dead leaf and twig;
the whole establishment was so neat that Caroline remarked upon it.
"It looks as if it had been scoured," she said.
"Um-hm," observed her uncle, with a gratified nod; that's Abbie.
She hates dirt worse than she does laziness, and that ain't sayin'
a little. I tell her she'd sand-soap the weather vane if she could
climb up to it; as 'tis, she stays below and superintends Dan while
he does it. If godliness wants to stay next to cleanliness when
she's around it has to keep on the jump. I always buy shirts two
degrees heavier'n I need, 'cause I know she'll have 'em scrubbed
thin in a fortni't. When it comes to REAL Domestic Science,
Caroline, Abbie ain't in the back row of the primer class, now I
Miss Baker had planned that her young guest should sit in state,
with folded hands, in the parlor. She seemed to consider that the
proper conduct for a former member of New York's best society. She
was shocked when the girl volunteered to help her about the house.
"Course I sha'n't let you," she said. "The idea--and you company!
Got more help than I know what to do with, as 'tis. 'Lisha was
determined that I should hire a girl to wash dishes and things
while you was here. Nothin' would do but that. So I got Annabel
Haven's daughter, Etta G. There's fourteen in that family, and the
land knows 'twas an act of charity takin' one appetite out of the
house. Pay her fifty cents a day, I do, and she's out in the
kitchen makin' believe wash windows. They don't need washin', but
she was lookin' out of 'em most of the time, so I thought she might
as well combine business with pleasure."
But Caroline refused to sit in the parlor and be "company." She
insisted upon helping. Miss Baker protested and declared there was
nothing on earth to be done; but her guest insisted that, if there
was not, she herself must sit. As Abbie would have as soon thought
of attending church without wearing her jet earrings as she would
of sitting down before dinner, she gave in, after a while, and
permitted Caroline to help in arranging the table.
"Why, you do fust-rate!" she exclaimed, in surprise. "You know
where everything ought to go, just as if you'd been settin' table
all your life. And you ain't, because 'Lisha wrote you used to
keep hired help, two or three of 'em, all the time."
"I've been studying housekeeping for almost a year," she said.
"Studyin' it! Why, yes, now I remember 'Lisha wrote you'd been
studyin' some kind of science at college. 'Twa'n't settin' table
science, I guess, though. Ha! ha!"
"That was part of it." She explained the course briefly. Abigail
listened in amazement.
"And they teach that--at school?" she demanded. "And take money
for it? And call it SCIENCE? My land! I guess I was brought up
in a scientific household, then. I was the only girl in the
family, and mother died when I was ten years old."
After dinner she consented to sit for a time, though not until she
had donned her Sunday best, earrings and all. Captain Elisha and
Sylvester sat with them, and the big fireplace in the sitting room
blazed and roared as it had not since its owner left for his long
sojourn in the city. In the evening callers came, the Congregational
minister and his wife, and some of the neighbors. The latter were
pleasant country people, another retired sea captain among them, and
they all seemed to have great respect and liking for Captain Elisha
and to be very glad to welcome him home. The two captains spun salt
water yarns, and the lawyer again decided that he was getting just
what he had come for. They left a little after nine, and Caroline
said good night and went to her room. She was tired, mentally and
But she did not fall asleep at once. Her mind was still busy with
the suspicion which her uncle's words concerning his future plans
for Steve had aroused. She had thought of little else since she
heard them. The captain did not mention the subject again;
possibly, on reflection, he decided that he had already said too
much. And she asked no more questions. She determined not to
question him--yet. She must think first, and then ask someone
else--Sylvester. He knew the truth and, if taken by surprise,
might be driven into confession, if there should be anything to
confess. She was waiting for an opportunity to be alone with him,
and that opportunity had not yet presented itself.
The captain would have spoken further with her concerning James
Pearson. He was eager to do that. But her mind was made up; she
had sent her lover away, and it was best for both. She must forget
him, if she could. So, when her uncle would have spoken on that
subject, she begged him not to; and he, respecting her feelings and
believing that to urge would be bad policy, refrained.
But to forget, she found, was an impossibility. In the excitement
of the journey and the arrival amid new surroundings, she had
managed to keep up a show of good spirits, but now alone once more,
with the wind singing mournfully about the gables and rattling the
windows, she was sad and so lonely. She thought what her life had
once promised to be and what it had become. She did not regret the
old life, that life she had known before her father died; she had
been happy in it while he lived, but miserable after his death. As
for happiness, she had been happy that summer, happy with her uncle
and with--him. And with him now, even though they would be poor,
as she was used to reckoning poverty, she knew she could be very
happy. She wondered what he was doing then; if he was thinking of
her. She ought to hope that he was not, because it was useless;
but she wished that he might be, nevertheless. Then she told
herself that all this was wicked; she had made up her mind; she
must be true to the task she had set, duty to her brother and
Her uncle! why had her uncle done all this for her? And why had
her father made him their guardian? These were old questions, but
now she asked them with a new significance. If that strange
suspicion of hers was true it would explain so much; it would
explain almost everything. But it could not be true; if it was,
why had he not told her when the discovery of her father's
dishonesty and of the note forfeiting the estate was made? Why had
he not told her then? That was what troubled her most. It did not
seem like him to do such a thing--not like his character at all.
Therefore, it could not be true. Yet she must know. She resolved
to question Sylvester the next day, if possible. And, so resolving,
she at last fell asleep.
Her opportunity came the following morning, the day before
Thanksgiving. After breakfast Captain Elisha went downtown to call
on some acquaintances. He invited Caroline and the lawyer to
accompany him, but they refused, the latter because he judged his,
a stranger's, presence during the calls would be something of a
hindrance to good fellowship and the discussion of town affairs
which the captain was counting on, and Caroline because she saw her
chance for the interview she so much desired.
After the captain had gone, Sylvester sat down before the fire in
the sitting room to read the Boston Transcript. As he sat there,
Caroline entered and closed the door behind her. Miss Abigail was
in the kitchen, busy with preparations for the morrow's plum
The girl took the chair next that occupied by the lawyer. He put
down his paper and turned to her.
"Well," he asked, "how does this Cape Cod air effect your appetite,
Caroline? I'm ashamed of mine. I'm rather glad to-morrow is
Thanksgiving; on that day, I believe, it is permissible, even
commendable, to eat three times more than a self-respecting person
She smiled, but her answer was in the form of another question, and
"Mr. Sylvester," she said, "I wish you would tell me something
about the value of a seat on the Stock Exchange. What is the price
The lawyer looked at her in surprise.
"The value of a seat on the Stock Exchange?" he repeated.
"Yes; what does it cost to buy one?"
He hesitated, wondering why she should be interested in that
subject. Captain Elisha had not told him a word of the interview
following Pearson's last visit. He wondered, and then surmised a
reason--Stephen, of course. Steve's ambition was to be a broker,
and his sister was, doubtless, with sisterly solicitude and
feminine ignorance of high prices, planning for his future.
"Well," he replied, smiling, "they're pretty expensive, I'm afraid,
"Are they?" innocently.
"Yes. I think the last sale was at a figure between ninety and one
hundred thousand dollars."
"Indeed! Was father's seat worth as much as that?"
"But," with a sigh, "that, I suppose, went with the rest of the
"Into the hands of the man who took it all?"
"Yes; the same hands," with a sly smile at his own private joke.
"Then how does it happen that my uncle has it in his possession?"
The lawyer smiled no more. He turned in his chair and gazed
quickly and keenly at the young lady beside him. And her gaze was
just as keen as his own.
"What did you say?" he asked.
"I asked you how it happened that my uncle now has father's Stock
Exchange seat in his possession."
"Why! . . . Has he?"
"Yes. And I think you know he has, Mr. Sylvester. I know it,
because he told me so himself. Didn't you know it?"
This was a line shot from directly in front and a hard one to
dodge. A lie was the only guard, and he was not in the habit of
lying, even professionally.
"I--I cannot answer these questions," he declared. "They involve
professional secrets and--"
"I don't see that this is a secret. My uncle has already told me.
What I could not understand was how he obtained the seat from the
man to whom it was given as a part of father's debt. Do you know
how he obtained it?"
"Er--well--er--probably an arrangement was made. I cannot go into
details, because--well, for obvious reasons. You must excuse me,
He rose to go.
"One moment more," she said, "and one more question. Mr. Sylvester,
who IS this mysterious person--this stockholder whom father
defrauded, this person who wishes his name kept a secret, but who
does such queer things? Who is he?"
"Caroline, I tell you I cannot answer these questions. He does
wish to remain unknown, as I told you and your brother when we
first learned of him and his claim. If I were to tell you I should
break my faith with him. . . . You must excuse me; you really
"Mr. Sylvester, perhaps you don't need to tell me. Perhaps I can
guess. Isn't he my--"
"Caroline, I cannot--"
"ISN'T HE MY UNCLE, ELISHA WARREN?"
Sylvester was half way to the door, but she was in his path and
looking him directly in the face. He hesitated.
"I thought so," she said. "You needn't answer, Mr. Sylvester; your
face is answer enough. He is."
She turned away, and, walking slowly to the chair from which she
had arisen, sank into it.
"He is," she repeated. "I knew it. I wonder that I didn't know it
from the very first. How could I have been so blind!"
The lawyer, nervous, chagrined, and greatly troubled, remained
standing by the door. He did not know whether to go or stay. He
took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead.
"Whew!" he exclaimed. "Well, by--GEORGE!"
She paid no attention to him, but went on, speaking, apparently, to
"It explains everything," she said. "He was father's brother; and
father, in some way, took and used his money. But father knew what
sort of man he was, and so he asked him to be our guardian. Father
thought he would be kind to us, I suppose. And he has been kind--
he has. But why did he keep it a secret? Why did he . . . I
don't understand that. Of course the money was his; all we had was
his, by right. But to say nothing . . . and to let us believe . . .
It does not seem like him at all. It . . ."
Sylvester interrupted quickly. "Caroline! Caroline!" he said,
"don't make any mistake. Don't misjudge your uncle again. He is a
good man; one of the best men I ever knew. Yes, and one of the
wisest. Don't say or think anything for which you may be sorry.
I am speaking as your friend."
She turned toward him once more, the distressed, puzzled look still
on her face. "But I don't understand," she cried. "He . . . Oh,
Mr. Sylvester, please, now that I do know--now that you have told
me so much--won't you tell me the rest; the reason and--all of it?
The lawyer shook his head, regarding her with an expression of
annoyance and reluctant admiration.
"Now that I'VE told you!" he repeated. "I don't remember that I've
told you anything."
"But you have. Not in words, perhaps, but you have told me. I
know. Please go on and tell me all. If you don't," with
determination, "I shall make Uncle Elisha tell me as soon as he
comes. I shall!"
Sylvester sighed. "Well, by George!" he repeated, feelingly.
"I'll tell you one thing, young woman, you're wasting your talents.
You should be a member of the bar. Anyone who can lead a battle-
scarred veteran of cross-examination like myself into a trap and
then spring it on him, as you have done, is gifted by Providence."
"But will you tell me?"
He hesitated, perplexed and doubtful.
"I ought not to say another word on the subject," he declared,
emphatically. "What Captain Warren will say to me when he finds
this out is unpleasant to consider. But . . . But yet, I don't
know. It may be better for you to learn the real truth than to
know a part and guess wrongly at the rest. I . . . What is it
you want me to tell you?"
"Everything. I want you to sit down here by me and tell me the
whole story, from the beginning. Please."
He hesitated a moment longer and, then, his mind made up, returned
to his chair, crossed his legs and began. "Here it is," he said.
"Caroline, about twenty years ago, or such matter, your father
was a comparatively poor man--poor, I mean, compared to what he
afterward became. But he was a clever man, an able business man,
one who saw opportunities and grasped them. At that time he
obtained a grant in South America for--"
"I know," she interrupted; "the Akrae Rubber Company was formed.
You told Steve and me all about that. What I want to know is--"
"Wait. I did not tell you all about it. I said that another man
invested ten thousand dollars with your father to form that
company. That man, so we now know, was your uncle, Captain Elisha
"I guessed that. Of course it must have been he."
"It was. The captain was older than your father, had lived
carefully, and had saved some money. Also, at that time, he
idolized his brother and believed in his shrewdness and capability.
He invested this ten thousand on Rodgers Warren's word that the
investment was likely to be a good one. That, and to help the
latter in business. For a few years the company did nothing;
during that time your father and uncle disagreed--concerning
another matter, quite unconnected with this one--and they did not
see each other again while Rodgers lived. In that long period the
Akrae Company made millions. But Elisha supposed it to be bankrupt
and worthless; because--well, to be frank, because his brother
wrote him to that effect."
He paused, fearful of the effect which this announcement might have
upon the girl. But she had guessed this part of her father's
dishonor and was prepared for it. She made no comment, and he
"Now we come to the will. Your father, Caroline, was not a bad
man at heart. I knew him well, and I believe that may be said
truthfully. He realized what he had done, how he had defrauded
the brother who had been so kind to him, and he meant, he kept
promising himself, to some day repay the money he had taken. To
insure that, he put that note with the other papers of the Company.
If he did repay, it could be destroyed. If he did not, if he
should die, it would be there to prove--what it did prove. But
always in his mind was the thought of you and Steve, the children
he loved. He had quarreled with his brother it is true; he had
cheated him, but restitution for that cheat he had provided. But
what would become of you, left--in case he died without making
restitution--penniless? He knew his brother, as I said; knew
his character, respected his honesty, and believed in his
conscientiousness and his big heart. So he made his will, and in
it, as you know, he appointed Elisha your guardian. He threw his
children and their future upon the mercy and generosity of the
brother he had wronged. That is his reason, as we surmise it, for
making that will."
He paused again. Caroline did not speak for a moment. Then she
"And no one knew--you or my uncle or anyone--of all this until last
"No. Graves had, with his usual care and patience, pieced together
the evidence and investigated until we were sure that a stockholder
in the Akrae Company existed and that all of your father's estate
belonged to him. Who that stockholder was we did not know until
that day of the meeting at our office. Then Captain Warren told
"But he did not know, either?"
"Not until then. He supposed his Akrae stock worthless, and had
practically forgotten it. When we told him of its value, of the
note, and of the missing shareholder, he knew, of course."
"What did he say?"
"Say? Caroline, he was the most distressed and conscience-stricken
man in the city. One would have thought he was the wrongdoer and
not the wronged. He would have gone straight to you and asked your
pardon, if we would have permitted it."
"But, Mr. Sylvester, now we are coming to the part I cannot
understand. Of course the estate belonged to him, I know that.
It is his. But why didn't he tell Steve and me the truth then,
at once? Why did he let us believe, and employ you to lead us to
believe, that it was not he but someone else? Did he think we would
blame him? Why has he--"
"Caroline! Caroline! don't you understand yet? Do you imagine for
one moment that your uncle intends keeping that money?"
She stared at him in utter amazement.
"Keeping it?" she repeated. "Why not? It is his. It belongs to
"Caroline, I'm afraid you don't know him, even yet. He was for
going to you at once and destroying the note in your presence. He
would have done it, but we persuaded him to wait and think it over
for a day or two. He did think and then decided to wait a little
longer, for your sake."
"For my sake? For mine?" she passed her hand in a bewildered way
across her forehead. "Mr. Sylvester, I don't seem to understand
even now. I--"
"For your sake, Caroline. Remember, at that time you were engaged
to Malcolm Dunn."
Her intent gaze wavered. She drew a long breath. "I see," she
said, slowly. "Oh . . . I see."
"Yes. Captain Warren is one of the best judges of character I ever
met. The Dunns did not deceive him for one moment. He was certain
Malcolm intended marrying you because of your money; for that
matter, so was I. But his was the plan entirely which showed them
to you as they were. He knew you were too honest and straightforward
to believe such things of the man to whom you were engaged if they
were told you; you must see the proof with your own eyes. And he
showed it to you."
"But then," she begged, distractedly, "why couldn't he tell me
after that? I--I am so stupid, I suppose--but, Mr. Sylvester, all
"He might have told you then, but he did not think it best.
Caroline, your uncle has always believed in you. Even when you
sent him from your home he did not blame you; he said you were
deceived, that was all. But, too, he has always declared that you
had been, as he expressed it, 'brought up wrong.' Your money had,
in a way, warped your estimate of people and things. He believed
that, if you were given the opportunity, you would learn that
wealth does not, of itself, mean happiness. So he decided not to
tell you, not to give you back your share of your father's money--
he refuses to consider it his--until another year, until you were
of age, at least. And there was Steve. You know, Caroline, that
money and what it brought was spoiling Steve. He has never been so
much a man as during the past year, when he thought himself poor.
But your uncle has planned for him as well as for you and, when he
believes the time has come, he--"
"Please," she interrupted, falteringly; "please don't say any more.
Let me think. Oh, please let me think, Mr. Sylvester . . . You
say that Uncle Elisha intends giving us all that father took from
him? All of it?"
"Yes, all. He considers himself merely your guardian still and
will accept only his expenses from the estate."
"But--but it is wonderful!"
"Yes, it is. But I have learned to think him a wonderful man."
She shook her head.
"It is wonderful!" she repeated, brokenly. "Even though we cannot
take it, it is wonderful."
"What? Cannot take it?"
"Of course not! Do you suppose that either my brother or I will
take the fortune that our father stole--yes, STOLE from him? After
he has been living almost in poverty all these years and we in
luxury--on HIS money? Of course we shall not take it!"
"But, Caroline, I imagine you will have to take it. I understand
your feelings, but I think he will compel you to take it."
"I shall NOT!" she sprang to her feet. "Of course I shall not!
"What's that you're never goin' to take, Caroline? Measles? or
another trip down in these parts? I hope 'tain't the last, 'cause
I've been cal'latin' you'd like it well enough to come again."
Caroline turned. So did Sylvester. Captain Elisha was standing in
the doorway, his hand on the knob. He was smiling broadly, but as
he looked at the two by the fire he ceased to smile.
"What's all this?" he asked, suspiciously. "Caroline, what--
Sylvester, what have you been tellin' her?"
Neither answered at once. The captain looked from one to the
"Well, what's up?" he demanded. "What's the matter?"
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.
"What's up?" he repeated. "Humph! well, I should say the jig was
up. The murder's out. The cat is no longer in the bag. That's
about the size of it."
"Sylvester!" Caroline had never seen her uncle thoroughly angry
before; "Sylvester," he cried, "have you--Have you dast to tell her
what you shouldn't? Didn't you promise me? If you told that girl,
His niece stepped forward. "Hush, Uncle Elisha," she said. "He
didn't tell me until I knew already. I guessed it. Then I asked
for the whole truth, and he told me."
"The whole truth? CAROLINE!"
He wrung his hands.
"Yes, Uncle, the whole truth. I know you now. I thought I knew
you before; but I didn't--not half. I do now."
"Oh, Caroline!" he stepped toward her and then stopped, frantic and
despairing. "Caroline! Caroline!" he cried again, "can you ever
forgive me? You know--you must know I ain't ever meant to keep it.
It's all yours. I just didn't give it to you right off because . . .
because . . . Oh, Sylvester, tell her I never meant to keep it!
The lawyer shook his head. "I did tell her," he said, with another
shrug, "and she tells me she won't accept it."
"What?" the captain's eyes were starting from his head. "What?
Won't take it? Why, it's hers--hers and Steve's! It always has
been! Do you cal'late I'd rob my own brother's children? DON'T
talk so foolish! I won't hear such talk!"
Caroline was close to tears, but she was firm.
"It isn't ours," she said. "It is yours. Our father kept it from
you all these years. Do you suppose we will keep it any longer?"
Captain Elisha looked at her determined face; then at the lawyer's--
but he found no help there. His chin thrust forward. He nodded
"All right! all right!" he said, grimly. "Sylvester, is your shop
goin' to be open to-morrer?"
"Guess not, Captain," was the puzzled reply. "It's Thanksgiving.
"But Graves'll be to home, won't he? I could find him at his
"I presume you could."
"All right, then! Caroline Warren, you listen to me: I'll give
you till two o'clock to make up your mind to take the money that
belongs to you. If you don't, I swear to the Lord A'mighty I'll
take the fust train, go straight to New York, hunt up Graves, make
him go down to the office and get that note your father made out
turnin' all his property over to that Akrae Company. I'll get that
note and I'll burn it up. Then--THEN you'll have to take the
money, because it'll be yours. Every bit of evidence that'll hold
in law is gone, and nobody but you and Steve'll have the shadow of
a claim. I'll do it, so sure as I live! There! now you can make
up your mind."
He turned, strode to the door and out of the room. A moment later
they heard a scream from Miss Baker in the kitchen: "'Lisha
Warren, what ails you? Are you crazy?" There was no answer, but
the back door closed with a tremendous bang.
Half an hour after his dramatic exit Captain Elisha was pacing up
and down the floor of the barn. It was an old refuge of his, a
place where he was accustomed to go when matters requiring
deliberation and thought oppressed him. He was alone. Dan had
taken the horse to the blacksmith's to be shod.
The captain strode across the floor, turned and strode back again.
Every few moments he looked at his watch. It was a long way to two
o'clock, but each additional moment was another weight piled upon
his soul. As he turned in his stride he saw a shadow move across
the sill of the big, open door. He caught his breath and stopped.
Caroline entered the barn. She came straight to him and put her
hands upon the lapels of his coat. Her eyes were wet and shining.
"Caroline?" he faltered, eagerly.
"You good man!" she breathed, softly. "Oh, you GOOD man!"
"Caroline!" his voice shook, but there was hope in it. "Caroline,
you're goin' to take the money?"
"Yes, Uncle Elisha. Mr. Sylvester has shown me that I must. He
says you will do something desperate if I refuse."
"I sartin would! And you'll take it, really?"
"Yes, Uncle Elisha."
"Glory be! And--and, Caroline, you won't hold it against me, my
makin' you think you was poor, and makin' you live in that little
place, and get along on just so much, and all that? Can you
forgive me for doin' that?"
"Forgive you? Can I ever thank you enough? I know I can't; but I
can try all my life to prove what--"
"S-s-h-h! s-s-h! . . . There!" with a great sigh, almost a sob, of
relief, "I guess this'll be a real Thanksgivin', after all."
But, a few minutes later, another thought came to him. "Caroline,"
he asked, "I wonder if, now that things are as they are, you
couldn't do somethin' else--somethin' that would please me an awful
"What is it, Uncle?"
"It's somethin' perhaps I ain't got any right to ask. You mustn't
say yes if you don't want to. The other day you told me you cared
for Jim Pearson, but that you sent him away 'cause you thought you
had to earn a livin' for you and Steve. Now you know that you
ain't got to do that. And you said you told him if you ever
changed your mind you'd send for him. Don't you s'pose you could
send for him now--right off--so he could get here for this big
Thanksgivin' of ours? Don't you think you could, Caroline?"
He looked down into her face, and she looked down at the barn
floor. But he saw the color creep up over her forehead.
"Send for him--now?" she asked, in a low tone.
"Yes. Now--right off. In time for to-morrow!"
"He could not get here," she whispered.
"Yes, he could. If you send him a telegram with one word in it:
'Come'--and sign it 'Caroline'--he'll be here on to-morrow mornin's
train, or I'll eat my hat and one of Abbie's bonnets hove in.
Think you could, Caroline?"
A moment; then in a whisper, "Yes, Uncle Elisha."
"Hooray! But--but," anxiously, "hold on, Caroline. Tell me truly
now. You ain't doin' this just to please me? You mustn't do that,
not for the world and all. You mustn't send for him on my account.
Only just for one reason--because YOU want him."
He waited for his answer. Then she looked up, blushing still, but
with a smile trembling on her lips.
"Yes, Uncle Elisha," she said, "because _I_ want him."
The clouds blew away that night, and Thanksgiving day dawned clear
and cold. The gray sea was now blue; the white paint of the houses
and fences glistened in the sun; the groves of pitchpine were
brilliant green blotches spread like rugs here and there on the
brown hills. South Denboro had thrown off its gloomy raiment and
was "all dolled up for Thanksgivin'," so Captain Elisha said.
The captain and Sylvester were leaning on the fence by the gate,
looking up the road and waiting for Dan and the "two-seater" to
heave in sight around the bend. The hired man had harnessed early
and driven to the station at least thirty minutes before train
time. Captain Elisha was responsible for the early start. Steve
was coming on that train; possibly someone else was coming. The
captain did not mean they should find no welcome or vehicle at the
The whistle had sounded ten minutes before. It was time for Dan to
appear at the bend.
"I hope to thunder Jim got that telegram," observed the captain for
the twentieth time, at least, since breakfast.
"So do I," replied his friend. "There's no reason why he shouldn't,
"No, no sensible one; but I've scared up no less than a couple of
hundred of the other kind. If he shouldn't come--my, my! she'd be
"You wouldn't feel any disappointment yourself, of course," said
the lawyer, with sarcasm.
"Who? Me? Oh, I'd be sorer'n a scalded wharf rat in a barrel of
pepper. But I don't count. There's the real one up there."
He motioned with his head toward the window of Caroline's room.
Sylvester nodded. "Yes," he said, "I suppose so. Captain, I'm
somewhat surprised that you should be willing to trust that niece
of yours to another man. She's a pretty precious article,
according to your estimate."
"Well, ain't she accordin' to yours?"
"Yes. Pretty precious and precious pretty. Look at her now."
They turned in time to catch a glimpse of the girl as she parted
the curtains and looked out on the road. She saw them looking at
her, smiled, blushed, and disappeared. Both men smoked in silence
for a moment. Then the captain said:
"Waitin'. Hi hum! nothin' like it, when you're waitin' for THE
one, is there?"
"Yup. Well, for a pair of old single hulks our age, strikes me
we're gettin' pretty sentimental. You say you wonder I'd trust
Caroline to another man; I wouldn't to the average one. But Jim
Pearson's all right. You'll say so, too, when you know him as well
as I do."
"I'll trust your judgment, any time. So you won't tell Steve yet
awhile that he's not broke?"
"No. And Caroline won't tell him, either. Steve's doin' fust-rate
as he is. He's in the pickle tub and 'twill do him good to season
a spell longer. But I think he's goin' to be all right by and by.
Say, Sylvester, this New York cruise of mine turned out pretty
good, after all, didn't it?"
"Decidedly good. It was the making of your niece and nephew.
Caroline realizes it now; and so will Steve later on."
"Hope so. It didn't do ME any harm," with a chuckle. "I wouldn't
have missed that little beat up the bay with Marm Dunn for a good
deal. For a spell there we was bows abreast, and 'twas hard to
tell who'd turn the mark first. Heard from the Dunns lately?"
"No. Why, yes, I did hear that they were in a tighter box than
ever, financially. The smash will come pretty soon."
"I'm sorry. The old lady'll go down with colors nailed to the
mast, I'll bet; and she'll leave a lot of suds where she sank. Do
you know, I never blamed her so much. She was built that way.
She's consider'ble like old Mrs. Patience Blodgett, who used to
live up here to the Neck; like her--only there never was two people
more different. Pashy was the craziest blue-ribboner you ever saw.
Her one idea in life was gettin' folks to sign the pledge. She
married Tim Blodgett, who was the wust soak in the county--he'd
have figgered out, if you analyzed him, about like a bottle of
patent medicine, seventy-two per cent alcohol. Well, Pashy married
him to reform him, and she made her brags that she'd get him to
sign the pledge. And she did, but only by puttin' it in front of
him when he was too drunk to read it."
The lawyer laughed heartily. "So you think Mrs. Corcoran Dunn
resembles her, do you," he observed.
"In one way--yes. Both of 'em sacrifice everything else to one
idea. Pashy's was gettin' that pledge signed, and never mind ways
and means. Mrs. Dunn's is money and position--never mind how they
come. See what I'm drivin' at?"
Sylvester laughed again. "I guess so," he said. "Captain Warren,
I never saw you in better spirits. Do you know what I think? I
think that, for a chap who has just given away half of a good-sized
fortune and intends giving away the other half, you're the most
cheerful specimen I ever saw."
The captain laughed, too. "I am, ain't I," he said. "Well, I can
say truthful what I never expected to say in my life--that ONCE I
was wuth ha'f a million dollars. As for the rest of it, I'm like
that millionaire--that . . . Hi! Look! There comes Dan! See
They peered eagerly over the fence. The Warren "two-seater" had
rounded the bend in the road. Dan was driving. Beside him sat a
young fellow who waved his hand.
"Steve!" cried the captain, excitedly. "There's Steve! And--and--
yes, there's somebody on the back seat. It's Jim! He's come!
He was darting out of the gate, but his friend seized his coat.
"Wait," he cried. "I don't want to lose the rest of that sentence.
You said you were like some millionaire. Who?"
"Don't bother me," cried Captain Elisha. "Who? Why, I was goin'
to say I was like that millionaire chap who passes out a library
every time he wakes up and happens to think of it. You know who I
mean. . . . Ahoy there, Jim! Ahoy, Steve!"
He was waving his hand to the passengers in the approaching vehicle.
"Yes," prompted his friend, hastily, "I know who you mean--Carnegie."
"That's the feller. I've come to feel about the way he says he
does--that 'twould be a crime for me to die rich."