Part 3 out of 4
stood up to make a speech.
"'Feller citizens,' says he, 'I rise to drink a toast. 'Ere's to
the beautchous Lobelia 'Ankins, and may she long hornament the
lovely island where she now--'
"The Malay at the wheel behind us gave an awful screech. We all
turned sudden, and there, standing on the companion ladder, with
her head and shoulders out of the hatch, was Lobelia 'Ankins, as
large as life and twice as natural.
"Hammond dropped the jug and it smashed into finders. We all stood
stock-still for a minute, like folks in a tableau. The half-breed
skipper stood next to me, and I snum if you couldn't see him
shrivel up like one of them things they call a sensitive plant.
"The tableau lasted while a feller might count five; then things
happened. Hammond and me dodged around the deckhouse; the Malays
broke and run, one up the main rigging, two down the fo'castle
hatch and one out on the jib-boom. But the poor skipper wa'n't
satisfied with any of them places; he started for the lee rail, and
Lobelia 'Ankins started after him.
"She caught him as he was going to jump overboard and yanked him
back like he was a bag of meal. She shook him, she boxed his ears,
she pulled his hair, and all the time he was begging and pleading
and she was screeching and jabbering at the top of her lungs.
Hammond pulled me by the sleeve.
"'It'll be our turn next,' says he; 'get into the boat! Quick!'
"The little boat that the crew had come in was towing behind the
schooner. We slid over the stern and dropped into it. Hammond cut
the towline and we laid to the oars. Long as we was in the hearing
of the schooner the powwow and rumpus kept up, but just as we was
landing on the little island that the Malays had left, she come
about on the port tack and stood off to sea.
"'Lobelia's running things again,' says Hammond.
"Three days after this we was took off by a Dutch gunboat. Most of
the time on the island we spent debating how Lobelia come to be on
the schooner. Finally we decided that she must have gone aboard to
sleep that night, suspecting that we'd try to run away in the
schooner just as we had tried to. We talked about Whiskers and his
crew and guessed about how they came to abandon their boat in the
first place. One thing we was sartin sure of, and that was that
they'd left Lobelia aboard on purpose. We knew mighty well that's
what we'd a-done.
"What puzzled us most was what relation Lobelia was to the skipper.
She wa'n't his wife, 'cause he'd said so, and she didn't look
enough like him to be his mother or sister. But as we was being
took off in the Dutchman's yawl, Hammond thumps the thwart with his
fist and says he:
"'I've got it!' he says; 'she's 'is mother-in-law!'
"''Course she is!' says I. 'We might have known it!'"
THE MEANNESS OF ROSY
Cap'n Jonadab said that the South Seas and them islands was full of
queer happenings, anyhow. Said that Eri's yarn reminded him of one
that Jule Sparrow used to tell. There was a Cockney in that yarn,
too, and a South Sea woman and a schooner. But in other respects
the stories was different.
"You all know Wash Sparrow, here in Wellmouth," says the Cap'n.
"He's the laziest man in town. It runs in his family. His dad was
just the same. The old man died of creeping paralysis, which was
just the disease he'd pick out TO die of, and even then he took six
years to do it in. Washy's brother Jule, Julius Caesar Sparrow, he
was as no-account and lazy as the rest. When he was around this
neighborhood he put in his time swapping sea lies for heat from the
post-office stove, and the only thing that would get him livened up
at all was the mention of a feller named 'Rosy' that he knew while
he was seafaring, way off on t'other side of the world. Jule used
to say that 'twas this Rosy that made him lose faith in human
"The first time ever Julius and Rosy met was one afternoon just as
the Emily--that was the little fore-and-aft South Sea trading
schooner Jule was in--was casting off from the ramshackle landing
at Hello Island. Where's Hello Island? Well, I'll tell you. When
you get home you take your boy's geography book and find the map of
the world. About amidships of the sou'western quarter of it you'll
see a place where the Pacific Ocean is all broke out with the
measles. Yes; well, one of them measle spots is Hello Island.
"'Course that ain't the real name of it. The real one is spelt
with four o's, three a's, five i's, and a peck measure of h's and
x's hove in to fill up. It looks like a plate of hash and that's
the way it's pronounced. Maybe you might sing it if 'twas set to
music, but no white man ever said the whole of it. Them that tried
always broke down on the second fathom or so and said 'Oh, the
hereafter!' or words to that effect. 'Course the missionaries see
that wouldn't do, so they twisted it stern first and it's been
Hello Island to most folks ever since.
"Why Jule was at Hello Island is too long a yarn. Biled down it
amounts to a voyage on a bark out of Seattle, and a first mate like
yours, Eri, who was a kind of Christian Science chap and cured sick
sailors by the laying on of hands--likewise feet and belaying pins
and ax handles and such. And, according to Jule's tell, he DID
cure 'em, too. After he'd jumped up and down on your digestion a
few times you forgot all about the disease you started in with and
only remembered the complications. Him and Julius had their final
argument one night when the bark was passing abreast one of the
Navigator Islands, close in. Jule hove a marlinespike at the
mate's head and jumped overboard. He swum ashore to the beach and,
inside of a week, he'd shipped aboard the Emily. And 'twas aboard
the Emily, and at Hello Island, as I said afore, that he met Rosy.
"George Simmons--a cockney Britisher he was, and skipper--was
standing at the schooner's wheel, swearing at the two Kanaka
sailors who were histing the jib. Julius, who was mate, was
roosting on the lee rail amid-ships, helping him swear. And old
Teunis Van Doozen, a Dutchman from Java or thereabouts, who was
cook, was setting on a stool by the galley door ready to heave in a
word whenever 'twas necessary. The Kanakas was doing the work.
That was the usual division of labor aboard the Emily.
"Well, just then there comes a yell from the bushes along the
shore. Then another yell and a most tremendous cracking and
smashing. Then out of them bushes comes tearing a little man with
spectacles and a black enamel-cloth carpetbag, heaving sand like a
steam-shovel and seemingly trying his best to fly. And astern of
him comes more yells and a big, husky Kanaka woman, about eight
foot high and three foot in the beam, with her hands stretched out
and her fingers crooked.
"Julius used to swear that that beach was all of twenty yards wide
and that the little man only lit three times from bush to wharf.
And he didn't stop there. He fired the carpetbag at the schooner's
stern and then spread out his wings and flew after it. His fingers
just hooked over the rail and he managed to haul himself aboard.
Then he curled up on the deck and breathed short but spirited. The
Kanaka woman danced to the stringpiece and whistled distress
"Cap'n George Simmons looked down at the wrecked flying machine and
"'Umph!' says he. 'You don't look like a man the girls would run
after. Lady your wife?'
"The little feller bobbed his specs up and down.
"'So?' says George. ''Ow can I bear to leave thee, 'ey? Well,
ain't you ashamed of yourself to be running off and leaving a nice,
'andsome, able-bodied wife that like? Look at 'er now, over there
on 'er knees a praying for you to come back.'
"There was a little p'int making out from the beach close by the
edge of the channel and the woman was out on the end of it, down on
all fours. Her husband raised up and looked over the rail.
"'She ain't praying,' he pants, ducking down again quick. 'She's
a-picking up stones.'
"And so she was. Julius said he thought sure she'd cave in the
Emily's ribs afore she got through with her broadsides. The rocks
flew like hail. Everybody got their share, but Cap'n George got a
big one in the middle of the back. That took his breath so all the
way he could express his feelings was to reach out and give his new
passenger half a dozen kicks. But just as soon as he could he
spoke, all right enough.
"'You mis'rable four-eyed shrimp!' he says. ''Twould serve you
right if I 'ove to and made you swim back to 'er. Blow me if I
don't believe I will!'
"'Aw, don't, Cap'n; PLEASE don't!' begs the feller. 'I'll be awful
grateful to you if you won't. And I'll make it right with you,
too. I've got a good thing in that bag of mine. Yes, sir! A
beautiful good thing.'
"'Oh, well,' says the skipper, bracing up and smiling sweet as he
could for the ache in his back. 'I'll 'elp you out. You trust
your Uncle George. Not on account of what you're going to give me,
you understand,' says he. 'It would be a pity if THAT was the
reason for 'elpin' a feller creat-- Sparrow, if you touch that bag
I'll break your blooming 'ead. 'Ere! you 'and it to me. I'll take
care of it for the gentleman.'
"All the rest of that day the Cap'n couldn't do enough for the
passenger. Give him a big dinner that took Teunis two hours to
cook, and let him use his own pet pipe with the last of Jule's
tobacco in it, and all that. And that evening in the cabin, Rosy
told his story. Seems he come from Bombay originally, where he was
born an innocent and trained to be a photographer. This was in the
days when these hand cameras wa'n't so common as they be now, and
Rosy--his full name was Clarence Rosebury, and he looked it--had a
fine one. Also he had some plates and photograph paper and a jug
of 'developer' and bottles of stuff to make more, wrapped up in an
old overcoat and packed away in the carpetbag. He had landed in
the Fijis first-off and had drifted over to Hello Island, taking
pictures of places and natives and so on, intending to use 'em in a
course of lectures he was going to deliver when he got back home.
He boarded with the Kanaka lady at Hello till his money give out,
and then he married her to save board. He wouldn't talk about his
married life--just shivered instead.
"'But w'at about this good thing you was mentioning, Mr. Rosebury?'
asks Cap'n George, polite, but staring hard at the bag. Jule and
the cook was in the cabin likewise. The skipper would have liked
to keep 'em out, but they being two to one, he couldn't.
"'That's it,' answers Rosy, cheerful.
"'Why, the things in the grip; the photograph things. You see,'
says Rosy, getting excited, his innocent, dreamy eyes a-shining
behind his specs and the ridge of red hair around his bald spot
waving like a hedge of sunflowers; 'you see,' he says, 'my
experience has convinced me that there's a fortune right in these
islands for a photographer who'll take pictures of the natives.
They're all dying to have their photographs took. Why, when I was
in Hello Island I could have took dozens, only they didn't have the
money to pay for 'em and I couldn't wait till they got some. But
you've got a schooner. You could sail around from one island to
another, me taking pictures and you getting copra and--and pearls
and things from the natives in trade for 'em. And we'd leave a
standing order for more plates to be delivered steady from the
steamer at Suva or somewheres, and--'
"''Old on!' Cap'n George had been getting redder and redder in the
face while Rosy was talking, and now he fairly biled over, like a
teakettle. ''Old on!' he roars. 'Do I understand that THIS is the
good thing you was going to let me in on? Me to cruise you around
from Dan to Beersheby, feeding you, and giving you tobacco to
"''Twas my tobacco,' breaks in Julius.
"'Shut up! Cruising you around, and you living on the fat of--of
the--the water, and me trusting to get my pay out of tintypes of
Kanakas! Was that it? Was it?'
"'Why--why, yes,' answers Rosy. 'But, cap'n, you don't understand--'
"'Then,' says George, standing up and rolling up his pajama
sleeves, 'there's going to be justifiable 'omicide committed right
"Jule said that if it hadn't been that the skipper's sore back got
to hurting him he don't know when him and the cook would have had
their turn at Rosy. 'Course they wanted a turn on account of the
tobacco and the dinner, not to mention the stone bruises. When all
hands was through, that photographer was a spiled negative.
"And that was only the beginning. They ain't much fun abusing
Kanakas because they don't talk back, but first along Rosy would
try to talk back, and that give 'em a chance. Julius had learned a
lot of things from that mate on the bark, and he tried 'em all on
that tintype man. And afterward they invented more. They made him
work his passage, and every mean and dirty job there was to do, he
had to do it. They took his clothes away from him, and, while they
lasted, the skipper had three shirts at once, which hadn't happened
afore since he served his term in the Sydney jail. And he was such
a COMFORT to 'em. Whenever the dinner wa'n't cooked right, instead
of blaming Teunis, they took it out of Rosy. By the time they made
their first port they wouldn't have parted with him for no money,
and they locked him up in the fo'castle and kept him there. And
when one of the two Kanaka boys run away they shipped Rosy in his
place by unanimous vote. And so it went for six months, the Emily
trading and stealing all around the South Seas.
"One day the schooner was off in an out-of-the way part of the
ocean, and the skipper come up from down below, bringing one of the
photographing bottles from the carpetbag.
"'See 'ere,' says he to Rosy, who was swabbing decks just to keep
him out of mischief, 'w'at kind of a developer stuff is this? It
has a mighty familiar smell.'
"'That ain't developer, sir,' answers Rosy, meek as usual. 'That's
alcohol. I use it--'
"'Alcohol!' says George. 'Do you mean to tell me that you've 'ad
alcohol aboard all this time and never said a word to one of us?
If that ain't just like you! Of all the ungrateful beasts as ever
"When him and the other two got through convincing Rosy that he was
ungrateful, they took that bottle into the cabin and begun
experimenting. Julius had lived a few months in Maine, which is a
prohibition State, and so he knew how to make alcohol 'splits'--
one-half wet fire and the rest water. They 'split' for five days.
Then the alcohol was all out and the Emily was all in, being stove
up on a coral reef two mile off shore of a little island that
nobody'd ever seen afore.
"They got into the boat--the four white men and the Kanaka--histed
the sail, and headed for the beach. They landed all right and was
welcomed by a reception committee of fifteen husky cannibals with
spears, dressed mainly in bone necklaces and sunshine. The
committee was glad to see 'em, and showed it, particular to Teunis,
who was fat. Rosy, being principally framework by this time,
wa'n't nigh so popular; but he didn't seem to care.
"The darkies tied 'em up good and proper and then held a committee
meeting, arguing, so Julius cal'lated, whether to serve 'em plain
or with greens. While the rest was making up the bill of fare, a
few set to work unpacking the bags and things, Rosy's satchel among
'em. Pretty soon there was an awful jabbering.
"'They've settled it,' says George, doleful. 'Well, there's enough
of Teunis to last 'em for one meal, if they ain't 'ogs. You're a
tough old bird, cooky; maybe you'll give 'em dyspepsy, so they
won't care for the rest of us. That's a ray of 'ope, ain't it?'
"But the cook didn't seem to get much hope out of it. He was busy
telling the skipper what he thought of him when the natives come
up. They was wildly excited, and two or three of 'em was waving
square pieces of cardboard in their hands.
"And here's where the Emily's gang had a streak of luck. The
Kanaka sailor couldn't talk much English, but it seems that his
granddad, or some of his ancestors, must have belonged to the same
breed of cats as these islanders, for he could manage to understand
a little of their lingo.
"'Picture!' says he, crazy-like with joy. 'Picture, cappy;
"When Rosy was new on board the schooner, afore George and the rest
had played with him till he was an old story, one of their games
was to have him take their photographs. He'd taken the cap'n's
picture, and Julius's and Van Doozen's. The pictures was a Rogues'
Gallery that would have got 'em hung on suspicion anywhere in
civilization, but these darkies wa'n't particular. Anyhow they
must have been good likenesses, for the committee see the
resemblance right off.
"'They t'ink witchcraft,' says the Kanaka. 'Want to know how
"'Lord!' says George. 'You tell 'em we're witches from Witch
Center. Tell 'em we make them kind of things with our eyes shut,
and if they eat us we'll send our tintypes to 'aunt 'em into their
graves. Tell 'em that quick.'
"Well, I guess the Kanaka obeyed orders, for the islanders was all
shook up. They jabbered and hurrahed like a parrot-house for ten
minutes or so. Then they untied the feet of their Sunday dinners,
got 'em into line, and marched 'em off across country, prodding 'em
with their spears, either to see which was the tenderest or to make
'em step livelier, I don't know which.
"Julius said that was the most nervous walk ever he took. Said
afore 'twas done he was so leaky with spear holes that he cast a
shadder like a skimmer. Just afore sunset they come to the other
side of the island, where there was a good sized native village,
with houses made of grass and cane, and a big temple-like in the
middle, decorated fancy and cheerful with skulls and spareribs.
Jule said there was places where the decorations needed repairs,
and he figgered he was just in time to finish 'em. But he didn't
take no pride in it; none of his folks cared for art.
"The population was there to meet 'em, and even the children looked
hungry. Anybody could see that having company drop in for dinner
was right to their taste. There was a great chair arrangement in
front of the temple, and on it was the fattest, ugliest, old liver-
colored woman that Julius ever see. She was rigged up regardless,
with a tooth necklace and similar jewelry; and it turned out that
she was the queen of the bunch. Most of them island tribes have
chiefs, but this district was strong for woman suffrage.
"Well, the visitors had made a hit, but Rosy's photographs made a
bigger one. The queen and the head men of the village pawed over
'em and compared 'em with the originals and powwowed like a sewing
circle. Then they called up the Kanaka sailor, and he preached
witchcraft and hoodoos to beat the cars, lying as only a feller
that knows the plates are warming for him on the back of the stove
can lie. Finally the queen wanted to know if the 'long pigs' could
make a witch picture of HER.
"'Tell 'er yes,' yells George, when the question was translated to
him. 'Tell 'er we're picture-makers by special app'intment to the
Queen and the Prince of Wales. Tell 'er we'll make 'er look like
the sweetest old chocolate drop in the taffy-shop. Only be sure
and say we must 'ave a day or so to work the spells and put on the
"So 'twas settled, and dinner was put off for that night, anyhow.
And the next day being sunny, Rosy took the queen's picture. 'Twas
an awful strain on the camera, but it stood it fine; and the
photographs he printed up that afternoon was the most horrible
collection of mince-pie dreams that ever a sane man run afoul of.
Rosy used one of the grass huts for a dark room; and while he was
developing them plates, they could hear him screaming from sheer
fright at being shut up alone with 'em in the dark.
"But her majesty thought they was lovely, and set and grinned proud
at 'em for hours at a stretch. And the wizards was untied and fed
up and given the best house in town to live in. And Cap'n George
and Julius and the cook got to feeling so cheerful and happy that
they begun to kick Rosy again, just out of habit. And so it went
on for three days.
"Then comes the Kanaka interpreter--grinning kind of foolish.
"'Cappy,' says he, 'queen, she likes you. She likes you much lot.'
"'Well,' says the skipper, modest, 'she'd ought to. She don't see
a man like me every day. She ain't the first woman,' he says.
"'She like all you gentlemen,' says the Kanaka. 'She say she want
witch husband. One of you got marry her."
"'HEY?' yells all hands, setting up.
"'Yes, sir. She no care which one, but one white man must marry
her to-morrow. Else we all go chop plenty quick.'
"'Chop' is Kanaka English for 'eat.' There wa'n't no need for the
boy to explain.
"Then there was times. They come pretty nigh to a fight, because
Teunis and Jule argued that the skipper, being such a ladies' man,
was the natural-born choice. Just as things was the warmest; Cap'n
George had an idea.
"'ROSY!' says he.
"'Hey?' says the others. Then, 'Rosy? Why, of course, Rosy's the
"But Rosy wa'n't agreeable. Julius said he never see such a
stubborn mule in his life. They tried every reasonable way they
could to convince him, pounding him on the head and the like of
that, but 'twas no go.
"'I got a wife already,' he says, whimpering. 'And, besides,
cap'n, there wouldn't be such a contrast in looks between you and
her as there would with me.'
"He meant so far as size went, but George took it the other way,
and there was more trouble. Finally Julius come to the rescue.
"'I tell you,' says he. 'We'll be square and draw straws!'
"'W'at?' hollers George. 'Well, I guess not!'
"'And I'll hold the straws,' says Jule, winking on the side.
"So they drew straws, and, strange as it may seem, Rosy got stuck.
He cried all night, and though the others tried to comfort him,
telling him what a lucky man he was to marry a queen, he wouldn't
cheer up a mite.
"And next day the wedding took place in the temple in front of a
wood idol with three rows of teeth, and as ugly almost as the
bride, which was saying a good deal. And when 'twas over, the
three shipmates come and congratulated the groom, wishing him luck
and a happy honeymoon and such. Oh, they had a bully time, and
they was still laughing over it that night after supper, when down
comes a file of big darkies with spears, the Kanaka interpreter
"'Cappy,' says he. 'The king say you no stay in this house no
more. He say too good for you. Say, bimeby, when the place been
clean up, maybe he use it himself. You got to go.'
"'Who says this?' roars Cap'n George, ugly as could be.
"'The king, he say it.'
"'The queen, you mean. There ain't no king.'
"'Yes, sir. King AND queen now. Mr. Rosy he king. All tribe
proud to have witch king.'
"The three looked at each other.
"'Do you mean to say,' says the skipper, choking so he could hardly
speak, 'that we've got to take orders from 'IM?'
"'Yes, sir. King say you no mind, we make.'
"Well, sir, the language them three used must have been something
awful, judging by Jule's tell. But when they vowed they wouldn't
move, the spears got busy and out they had to get and into the
meanest, dirtiest little hut in the village, one without hardly any
sides and great holes in the roof. And there they stayed all night
in a pouring rain, the kind of rains you get in them islands.
"'Twa'n't a nice night. They tried huddling together to keep dry,
but 'twa'n't a success because there was always a row about who
should be in the middle. Then they kept passing personal remarks
to one another.
"'If the skipper hadn't been so gay and uppish about choosing
Rosy,' says Julius, 'there wouldn't have been no trouble. I do
hate a smart Aleck.'
"'Who said draw straws?' sputters George, mad clean through. 'And
who 'eld 'em? 'Ey? Who did?'
"'Well,' says Teunis, '_I_ didn't do it. You can't blame me.'
"'No. You set there like a bump on a log and let me and the mate
put our feet in it. You old fat 'ead! I--'
"They pitched into the cook until he got mad and hit the skipper.
Then there was a fight that lasted till they was all scratched up
and tired out. The only thing they could agree on was that Rosy
was what the skipper called a 'viper' that they'd nourished in
"Next morning 'twas worse than ever. Down comes the Kanaka with
his spear gang and routs 'em out and sets 'em to gathering
breadfruit all day in the hot sun. And at night 'twas back to the
leaky hut again.
"And that wa'n't nothing to what come later. The lives that King
Rosy led them three was something awful. 'Twas dig in and work day
in and day out. Teunis had to get his majesty's meals, and nothing
was ever cooked right; and then the royal army got after the
steward with spear handles. Cap'n George had to clean up the
palace every day, and Rosy and the queen--who was dead gone on her
witch husband, and let him do anything he wanted to--stood over him
and found fault and punched him with sharp sticks to see him jump.
And Julius had to fetch and carry and wait, and get on his knees
whenever he spoke to the king, and he helped up again with a kick,
like as not.
"Rosy took back all his own clothes that they'd stole, and then he
took theirs for good measure. He made 'em marry the three ugliest
old women on the island--his own bride excepted--and when they
undertook to use a club or anything, he had THEM licked instead.
He wore 'em down to skin and bone. Jule said you wouldn't believe
a mortal man could treat his feller creatures so low down and mean.
And the meanest part of it was that he always called 'em the names
that they used to call him aboard ship. Sometimes he invented new
ones, but not often, because 'twa'n't necessary.
"For a good six months this went on--just the same length of time
that Rosy was aboard the Emily. Then, one morning early, Julius
looks out of one of the holes in the roof of his house and, off on
the horizon, heading in, he sees a small steamer, a pleasure yacht
'twas. He lets out a yell that woke up the village, and races head
first for the Emily's boat that had been rowed around from the
other side of the island, and laid there with her oars and sail
still in her. And behind him comes Van Doozen and Cap'n George.
"Into the boat they piled, while the islanders were getting their
eyes open and gaping at the steamer. There wa'n't no time to get
up sail, so they grabbed for the oars. She stuck on the sand just
a minute; and, in that minute, down from the palace comes King
Rosy, running the way he run from his first wife over at Hello. He
leaped over the stern, picked up the other oar, and off they put
across the lagoon. The rudder was in its place and so was the
tiller, but they couldn't use 'em then.
"They had a good start, but afore they'd got very far the natives
had waked up and were after 'em in canoes.
"''Ere!' screams Cap'n George. 'This won't do! They'll catch us
sure. Get sail on to 'er lively! Somebody take that tiller.'
"Rosy, being nearest, took the tiller and the others got up the
sail. Then 'twas nip and tuck with the canoes for the opening of
the barrier reef at the other side of the lagoon. But they made it
first, and, just as they did, out from behind the cliff comes the
big steam-yacht, all white and shining, with sailors in uniform on
her decks, and awnings flapping, and four mighty pretty women
leaning over the side. All of the Emily gang set up a whoop of
joy, and 'twas answered from the yacht.
"'Saved!' hollers Cap'n George. 'Saved, by thunder! And now,'
says he, knocking his fists together, 'NOW to get square with that
four-eyed thief in the stern! Come on, boys!'
"Him and Julius and Teunis made a flying leap aft to get at Rosy.
But Rosy see 'em coming, jammed the tiller over, the boom swung
across and swept the three overboard pretty as you please.
"There was a scream from the yacht. Rosy give one glance at the
women. Then he tossed his arms over his head.
"'Courage, comrades!' he shouts. 'I'll save you or die with you!'
"And overboard he dives, 'kersplash!'
"Julius said him and the skipper could have swum all right if Rosy
had give 'em the chance, but he didn't. He knew a trick worth two
of that. He grabbed 'em round the necks and kept hauling 'em under
and splashing and kicking like a water-mill. All hands was pretty
well used up when they was pulled aboard the yacht.
"'Oh, you brave man!' says one of the women, stooping over Rosy,
who was sprawled on the deck with his eyes shut, 'Oh, you HERO!'
"'Are they living?' asks Rosy, faint-like and opening one eye.
'Good! Now I can die content.'
"'Living!' yells George, soon's he could get the salt water out of
his mouth. 'Living! By the 'oly Peter! Let me at 'im! I'll show
'im whether I'm living or not!'
"'What ails you, you villain?' says the feller that owned the
yacht, a great big Englishman, Lord Somebody-or-other. 'The man
saved your lives.'
"'He knocked us overboard!' yells Julius.
"'Yes, and he done it a-purpose!' sputters Van Doozen, well as he
could for being so waterlogged.
"'Let's kill him!' says all three.
"'Did it on purpose!' says the lord, scornful. 'Likely he'd throw
you over and then risk his life to save you. Here!' says he to the
mate. 'Take those ungrateful rascals below. Give 'em dry clothes
and then set 'em to work--hard work; understand? As for this poor,
brave chap, take him to the cabin. I hope he'll pull through,'
"And all the rest of the voyage, which was to Melbourne, Julius and
his two chums had to slave and work like common sailors, while
Rosy, the hero invalid, was living on beef tea and jelly and
champagne, and being petted and fanned by the lord's wife and the
other women. And 'twas worse toward the end, when he pretended to
be feeling better, and could set in a steamer-chair on deck and
grin and make sarcastic remarks under his breath to George and the
other two when they was holystoning or scrubbing in the heat.
"At Melbourne they hung around the wharf, waiting to lick him, till
the lord had 'em took up for vagrants. When they got out of the
lockup they found Rosy had gone. And his lordship had given him
money and clothes, and I don't know what all.
"Julius said that Rosy's meanness sickened him of the sea. Said
'twas time to retire when such reptiles was afloat. So he come
home and married the scrub-woman at the Bay View House. He lived
with her till she lost her job. I don't know where he is now."
* * * * * *
'Twas purty quiet for a few minutes after Jonadab had unloaded this
yarn. Everybody was busy trying to swaller his share of the
statements in it, I cal'late. Peter T. looked at the Cap'n,
admiring but reproachful.
"Wixon," says he. "I didn't know 'twas in you. Why didn't you
"Oh," says Jonadab, "I ain't responsible. 'Twas Jule Sparrow that
told it to me."
"Humph!" says Peter. "I wish you knew his address. I'd like to
hire him to write the Old Home ads. I thought MY invention was
A 1, but I'm in the kindergarten. Well, let's go to bed before
somebody tries to win the prize from Sparrow."
'Twas after eleven by then, so, as his advice looked good, we
We've all got a crazy streak in us somewheres, I cal'late, only the
streaks don't all break out in the same place, which is a mercy,
when you come to think of it. One feller starts tooting a fish
horn and making announcements that he's the Angel Gabriel. Another
poor sufferer shows his first symptom by having his wife's
relations come and live with him. One ends in the asylum and
t'other in the poorhouse; that's the main difference in them cases.
Jim Jones fiddles with perpetual motion and Sam Smith develops a
sure plan for busting Wall Street and getting rich sudden. I take
summer boarders maybe, and you collect postage stamps. Oh, we're
all looney, more or less, every one of us.
Speaking of collecting reminds me of the "Antiquers"--that's what
Peter T. Brown called 'em. They put up at the Old Home House--
summer before last; and at a crank show they'd have tied for the
blue ribbon. There was the Dowager and the Duchess and "My
Daughter" and "Irene dear." Likewise there was Thompson and Small,
but they, being nothing but husbands and fathers, didn't count for
much first along, except when board was due or "antiques" had to be
The Dowager fetched port first. She hove alongside the Old Home
one morning early in July, and she had "My Daughter" in tow. The
names, as entered on the shipping list, was Mrs. Milo Patrick
Thompson and Miss Barbara Millicent Thompson, but Peter T. Brown he
had 'em re-entered as "The Dowager" and "My Daughter" almost as
soon as they dropped anchor. Thompson himself come poking up to
the dock on the following Saturday night; Peter didn't christen
him, except to chuck out something about Milo's being an "also
The Dowager was skipper of the Thompson craft, with "My daughter"--
that's what her ma always called her--as first mate, and Milo as
general roustabout and purser.
'Twould have done you good to see the fleet run into the breakfast
room of a morning, with the Dowager leading, under full sail,
Barbara close up to her starboard quarter, and Milo tailing out a
couple of lengths astern. The other boarders looked like quahaug
dories abreast of the Marblehead Yacht Club. Oh, the Thompsons won
every cup until the Smalls arrived on a Monday; then 'twas a dead
Mamma Small was built on the lines of old lady Thompson, only more
so, and her daughter flew pretty nigh as many pennants as Barbara.
Peter T. had 'em labeled the "Duchess" and "Irene dear" in a jiffy.
He didn't nickname Small any more'n he had Thompson, and for the
same reasons. Me and Cap'n Jonadab called Small "Eddie" behind his
back, 'count of his wife's hailing him as "Edwin."
Well, the Dowager and the Duchess sized each other up, and,
recognizing I jedge, that they was sister ships, set signals and
agreed to cruise in company and watch out for pirates--meaning
young men without money who might want to talk to their daughters.
In a week the four women was thicker than hasty-pudding and had
thrones on the piazza where they could patronize everybody short of
the Creator, and criticize the other boarders. Milo and Eddie got
friendly too, and found a harbor behind the barn where they could
smoke and swap sympathy.
'Twas fair weather for pretty near a fortni't, and then she
thickened up. The special brand of craziness in Wellmouth that
season was collecting "antiques," the same being busted chairs and
invalid bureaus and sofys that your great grandmarm got ashamed of
and sent to the sickbay a thousand year ago. Oh, yes, and dishes!
If there was one thing that would drive a city woman to counting
her fingers and cutting paper dolls, 'twas a nicked blue plate with
a Chinese picture on it. And the homelier the plate the higher the
price. Why there was as many as six families that got enough money
for the rubbage in their garrets to furnish their houses all over
with brand new things--real shiny, hand-painted stuff, not
haircloth ruins with music box springs, nor platters that you had
to put a pan under for fear of losing cargo.
I don't know who fetched the disease to the Old Home House. All
I'm sartain of is that 'twan't long afore all hands was in that
condition where the doctor'd have passed 'em on to the parson.
First along it seemed as if the Thompson-Small syndicate had been
vaccinated--they didn't develop a symptom. But one noon the
Dowager sails into the dining-room and unfurls a brown paper
"I've captured a prize, my dear," says she to the Duchess. "A
veritable prize. Just look!"
And she dives under the brown paper hatches and resurrects a pink
plate, suffering from yaller jaundice, with the picture of a pink
boy, wearing curls and a monkey-jacket, holding hands with a pink
girl with pointed feet.
"Ain't it perfectly lovely?" says she, waving the outrage in front
of the Duchess. "A ginuwine Hall nappy! And in SUCH condition!"
"Why," says the Duchess, "I didn't know you were interested in
"I dote on 'em," comes back the Dowager, and "my daughter" owned up
that she "adored" 'em.
"If you knew," continues Mrs. Thompson, "how I've planned and
contrived to get this treasure. I've schemed-- My! my! My
daughter says she's actually ashamed of me. Oh, no! I can't tell
even you where I got it. All's fair in love and collecting, you
know, and there are more gems where this came from."
She laughed and "my daughter" laughed, and the Duchess and "Irene
dear" laughed, too, and said the plate was "SO quaint," and all
that, but you could fairly hear 'em turn green with jealousy. It
didn't need a spyglass to see that they wouldn't ride easy at their
own moorings till THEY'D landed a treasure or two--probably two.
And sure enough, in a couple of days they bore down on the
Thompsons, all sail set and colors flying. They had a pair of
plates that for ugliness and price knocked the "ginuwine Hall
nappy" higher 'n the main truck. And the way they crowed and
bragged about their "finds" wa'n't fit to put in the log. The
Dowager and "my daughter" left that dinner table trembling all
Well, you can see how a v'yage would end that commenced that way.
The Dowager and Barbara would scour the neighborhood and capture
more prizes, and the Duchess and her tribe would get busy and go
'em one better. That's one sure p'int about the collecting
business--it'll stir up a fight quicker'n anything I know of,
except maybe a good looking bachelor minister. The female
Thompsons and Smalls was "my dear-in'" each other more'n ever, but
there was a chill setting in round them piazza thrones, and some of
the sarcastic remarks that was casually hove out by the bosom
friends was pretty nigh sharp enough to shave with. As for Milo
and Eddie, they still smoked together behind the barn, but the
atmosphere on the quarter-deck was affecting the fo'castle and
there wa'n't quite so many "old mans" and "dear boys" as there
used to was. There was a general white frost coming, and you
didn't need an Old Farmer's Almanac to prove it.
The spell of weather developed sudden. One evening me and Cap'n
Jonadab and Peter T. was having a confab by the steps of the
billiard-room, when Milo beats up from around the corner. He was
smiling as a basket of chips.
"Hello!" hails Peter T. cordial. "You look as if you'd had money
left you. Any one else remembered in the will?" he says.
Milo laughed all over. "Well, well," says he, "I AM feeling pretty
good. Made a ten-strike with Mrs. T. this afternoon for sure.
"That so?" says Peter. "What's up? Hooked a prince?"
A friend of "my daughter's" over at Newport had got engaged to a
mandarin or a count or something 'nother, and the Dowager had been
preaching kind of eloquent concerning the shortness of the nobility
crop round Wellmouth.
"No," says Milo, laughing again. "Nothing like that. But I have
got hold of that antique davenport she's been dying to capture."
One of the boarders at the hotel over to Harniss had been out
antiquing a week or so afore and had bagged a contraption which
answered to the name of a "ginuwine Sheriton davenport." The
dowager heard of it, and ever since she'd been remarking that some
people had husbands who cared enough for their wives to find things
that pleased 'em. She wished she was lucky enough to have that
kind of a man; but no, SHE had to depend on herself, and etcetery
and so forth. Maybe you've heard sermons similar.
So we was glad for Milo and said so. Likewise we wanted to know
where he found the davenport.
"Why, up here in the woods," says Milo, "at the house of a queer
old stick, name of Rogers. I forget his front name--'twas longer'n
"Not Adoniram Rogers?" says Cap'n Jonadab, wondering.
"That's him," says Thompson.
Now, I knew Adoniram Rogers. His house was old enough, Lord knows;
but that a feller with a nose for a bargain like his should have
hung on to a salable piece of dunnage so long as this seemed 'most
too tough to believe.
"Well, I swan to man!" says I. "Adoniram Rogers! Have you seen
the--the davenport thing?"
"Sure I've seen it!" says Milo. "I ain't much of a jedge, and of
course I couldn't question Rogers too much for fear he'd stick on
the price. But it's an old davenport, and it's got Sheriton lines
and I've got the refusal of it till to-morrow, when Mrs. T's going
up to inspect."
"Told Small yet?" asked Peter T., winking on the side to me and
Milo looked scared. "Goodness! No," says he. "And don't you tell
him neither. His wife's davenport hunting too."
"You say you've got the refusal of it?" says I. "Well, I know
Adoniram Rogers, and if _I_ was dickering with him I'd buy the
thing first and get the refusal of it afterwards. You hear ME?"
"Is that so?" repeats Milo. "Slippery, is he? I'll take my wife
up there first thing in the morning."
He walked off looking worried, and his tops'ls hadn't much more'n
sunk in the offing afore who should walk out of the billiard room
behind us but Eddie Small.
"Brown," says he to Peter T., "I want you to have a horse and buggy
harnessed up for me right off. Mrs. Small and I are going for a
little drive to--to--over to Orham," he says.
'Twas a mean, black night for a drive as fur as Orham and Peter
looked surprised. He started to say something, then swallered it
down, and told Eddie he'd see to the harnessing. When Small was
out of sight, I says:
"You don't cal'late he heard what Milo was telling, do you, Peter?"
Peter T. shook his head and winked, first at Jonadab and then at
And the next day there was the dickens to pay because Eddie and the
Duchess had driven up to Rogers' the night afore and had bought the
davenport, refusal and all, for twenty dollars more'n Milo offered
Adoniram brought it down that forenoon and all hands and the cook
was on the hurricane deck to man the yards. 'Twas a wonder them
boarders didn't turn out the band and fire salutes. Such ohs and
ahs! 'Twan't nothing but a ratty old cripple of a sofy, with one
leg carried away and most of the canvas in ribbons, but four men
lugged it up the steps and the careful way they handled it made you
think the Old Home House was a receiving tomb and they was laying
in the dear departed.
'Twas set down on the piazza and then the friends had a chance to
view the remains. The Duchess and "Irene dear" gurgled and gushed
and received congratulations. Eddie stood around and tried to look
modest as was possible under the circumstances. The Dowager sailed
over, tilted her nose up to the foretop, remarked "Humph"' through
it and come about and stood at the other end of the porch. "My
daughter" follers in her wake, observes "Humph!" likewise and makes
for blue water. Milo comes over and looks at Eddie.
"Well?" says Small. "What do you think of it?"
"Never mind what I think of IT," answers Thompson, through his
teeth. "Shall I tell you what I think of YOU?"
I thought for a minute that hostilities was going to begin, but
they didn't. The women was the real battleships in that fleet, the
men wa'n't nothing but transports. Milo and Eddie just glared at
each other and sheered off, and the "ginuwine Sheriton" was lugged
into the sepulchre, meaning the trunk-room aloft in the hotel.
And after that the cold around the thrones was so fierce we had to
move the thermometer, and we had to give the families separate
tables in the dining-room so's the milk wouldn't freeze. You see
the pitcher set right between 'em, and-- Oh! I didn't expect you'd
The "antiquing" went on harder than ever. Every time the Thompsons
landed a relic, they'd bring it out on the veranda or in to dinner
and gloat over it loud and pointed, while the Smalls would pipe all
hands to unload sarcasm. And the same vicy vercy when 'twas
t'other way about. 'Twas interesting and instructive to listen to
and amused the populace on rainy days, so Peter T. said.
Adoniram Rogers had been mighty scurce 'round the Old Home sense
the davenport deal. But one morning he showed up unexpected. A
boarder had dug up an antique somewheres in the shape of a derelict
plate, and was displaying it proud on the piazza. The Thompsons
was there and the Smalls and a whole lot more. All of a sudden
Rogers walks up the steps and reaches over and makes fast to the
"Look out!" hollers the prize-winner, frantic. "You'll drop it!"
Adoniram grunted. "Huh!" says he. "'Tain't nothing but a blue
dish. I've got a whole closet full of them."
"WHAT?" yells everybody. And then: "Will you sell 'em?"
"Sell 'em?" says Rogers, looking round surprised. "Why, I never
see nothing I wouldn't sell if I got money enough for it."
Then for the next few minutes there was what old Parson Danvers
used to call a study in human nature. All hands started for that
poor, helpless plate owner as if they was going to swoop down on
him like a passel of gulls on a dead horse-mack'rel. Then they
come to themselves and stopped and looked at each other, kind of
shamefaced but suspicious. The Duchess and her crowd glared at the
Dowager tribe and got the glares back with compound interest.
Everybody wanted to get Adoniram one side and talk with him, and
everybody else was determined they shouldn't. Wherever he moved
the "Antiquers" moved with him. Milo watched from the side lines.
Rogers got scared.
"Look here," says he, staring sort of wild-like at the boarders.
"What ails you folks? Are you crazy?"
Well, he might have made a good deal worse guess than that. I
don't know how 'twould have ended if Peter T. Brown, cool and sassy
as ever, hadn't come on deck just then and took command.
"See here, Rogers," he says, "let's understand this thing. Have
you got a set of dishes like that?"
Adoniram looked at him. "Will I get jailed if I say yes?" he
"Maybe you will if you don't," says Peter. "Now, then, ladies and
gentlemen, this is something we're all interested in, and I think
everybody ought to have a fair show. I jedge from the defendant's
testimony that he HAS got a set of the dishes, and I also jedge,
from my experience and three years' dealings with him, that he's
too public-spirited to keep 'em, provided he's paid four times what
they're worth. Now my idea is this; Rogers will bring those dishes
down here tomorrer and we'll put 'em on exhibition in the hotel
parlor. Next day we'll have an auction and sell 'em to the highest
cash bidder. And, provided there's no objection, I'll sacrifice my
reputation and be auctioneer."
So 'twas agreed to have the auction.
Next day Adoniram heaves alongside with the dishes in a truck
wagon, and they was strung out on the tables in the parlor. And
such a pawing over and gabbling you never heard. I'd been
suspicious, myself, knowing Rogers, but there was the set from
platters to sassers, and blue enough and ugly enough to be as
antique as Mrs. Methusalem's jet earrings. The "Antiquers" handled
'em and admired 'em and p'inted to the three holes in the back of
each dish--the same being proof of age--and got more covetous every
minute. But the joy was limited. As one feller said, "I'd like
'em mighty well, but what chance'll we have bidding against green-
back syndicates like that?" referring to the Dowager and the
Milo and Eddie was the most worried of all, because each of 'em had
been commissioned by their commanding officers not to let t'other
That auction was the biggest thing that ever happened at the Old
Home. We had it on the lawn out back of the billiard room and
folks came from Harniss and Orham and the land knows where. The
sheds and barn was filled with carriages and we served thirty-two
extra dinners at a dollar a feed. The dishes was piled on a table
and Peter T. done his auctioneer preaching from a kind of pulpit
made out of two cracker boxes and a tea chest.
But there wa'n't any real bidding except from the Smalls and
Thompsons. A few of the boarders and some of the out-of-towners
took a shy long at first, but their bids was only ground bait.
Milo and Eddie, backed by the Dowager and the Duchess, done the
The price went up and up. Peter T. whooped and pounded and all but
shed tears. If he'd been burying a competition hotel keeper he
couldn't have hove more soul into his work. 'Twas, "Fifty! Do I
hear sixty? Sixty do I hear? Fifty dollars! THINK of it? Why,
friends, this ain't a church pound party. Look at them dishes!
LOOK at 'em! Why, the pin feathers on those blue dicky birds in
the corners are worth more'n that for mattress stuffing. Do I hear
sixty? Sixty I'm bid. Who says seventy?"
Milo said it, and Eddie was back at him afore he could shake the
reefs out of the last syllable. She went up to a hundred, then to
one hundred and twenty-five, and with every raise Adoniram Roger's
smile lengthened out. After the one-twenty-five mark the tide rose
slower. Milo'd raise it a dollar and Eddie'd jump him fifty cents.
And just then two things happened. One was that a servant girl
come running from the Old Home House to tell the Duchess and "Irene
dear" that some swell friends of theirs from the hotel at Harniss
had driven over to call and was waiting for 'em in the parlor. The
female Smalls went in, though they wa'n't joyful over it. They
give Eddie his sailing orders afore they went, too.
The other thing that happened was Bill Saltmarsh's arriving in
port. Bill is an "antiquer" for revenue only. He runs an antique
store over at Ostable and the prices he charges are enough to
convict him without hearing the evidence. I knew he'd come.
Saltmarsh busts through the crowd and makes for the pulpit. He
nods to Peter T. and picks up one of the plates. He looks at it
first ruther casual; then more and more careful, turning it over
and taking up another.
"Hold on a minute, Brown," says he. "Are THESE the dishes you're
"Sure thing," comes back Peter. "Think we're serving free lunch?
No, sir! Those are the genuine articles, Mr. Saltmarsh, and you're
cheating the widders and orphans if you don't put in a bid quick.
One thirty-two fifty, I'm bid. Now, Saltmarsh!"
But Bill only laughed. Then he picks up another plate, looks at
it, and laughs again.
"Good day, Brown," says he. "Sorry I can't stop." And off he puts
towards his horse and buggy.
Eddie Small was watching him. Milo, being on the other side of the
pulpit, hadn't noticed so partic'lar.
"Who's that?" asks Eddie, suspicious. "Does he know antiques?"
I remarked that if Bill didn't, then nobody did.
"Look here, Saltmarsh!" says Small, catching Bill by the arm as he
shoved through the crowd. "What's the matter with those dishes--
Bill turned and looked at him. "Why, no," he says, slow. "They're
all right--of their kind." And off he put again.
But Eddie wa'n't satisfied. He turns to me. "By George!" he says.
"What is it? Does he think they're fakes?"
I didn't know, so I shook my head. Small fidgetted, looked at
Peter, and then run after Saltmarsh. Milo had just raised the bid.
"One hundred and thirty-three" hollers Peter, fetching the tea
chest a belt. "One thirty-four do I hear? Make it one thirty-
three fifty. Fifty cents do I hear? Come, come! this is highway
robbery, gentlemen. Mr. Small--where are you?"
But Eddie was talking to Saltmarsh. In a minute back he comes,
looking more worried than ever. Peter T. bawled and pounded and
beckoned at him with the mallet, but he only fidgetted--didn't know
what to do.
"One thirty-three!" bellers Peter. "One thirty-three! Oh, how can
I look my grandmother's picture in the face after this? One
thirty-three--once! One thirty-three--twice! Third and last call!
Then Eddie begun to raise his hand, but 'twas too late.
"One thirty-three and SOLD! To Mr. Milo Thompson for one hundred
and thirty-three dollars!"
And just then come a shriek from the piazza; the Duchess and "Irene
dear" had come out of the parlor.
Well! Talk about crowing! The way that Thompson crowd rubbed it
in on the Smalls was enough to make you leave the dinner table.
They had the servants take in them dishes, piece by piece, and
every single article, down to the last butter plate, was steered
straight by the Small crowd.
As for poor Eddie, when he come up to explain why he hadn't kept on
bidding, his wife put him out like he was a tin lamp.
"Don't SPEAK to me!" says she. "Don't you DARE speak to me."
He didn't dare. He just run up a storm sail and beat for harbor
back of the barn. And from the piazza Milo cackled vainglorious.
Me and Cap'n Jonadab and Peter T. felt so sorry for Eddie, knowing
what he had coming to him from the Duchess, that we went out to see
him. He was setting on a wrecked hencoop, looking heart-broke but
"'Twas that Saltmarsh made me lose my nerve," he says. "I thought
when he wouldn't bid there was something wrong with the dishes.
And there WAS something wrong, too. Now what was it?"
"Maybe the price was too high," says I.
"No, 'twa'n't that. I b'lieve yet he thought they were imitations.
Oh, if they only were!"
And then, lo and behold you, around the corner comes Adoniram
Rogers. I'd have bet large that whatever conscience Adoniram was
born with had dried up and blown away years ago. But no; he'd
resurrected a remnant.
"Mr. Small," stammered Mr. Rogers, "I'm sorry you feel bad about
not buying them dishes. I--I thought I'd ought to tell you--that
is to say, I-- Well, if you want another set, I cal'late I can get
it for you--that is, if you won't tell nobody."
"ANOTHER set?" hollers Eddie, wide-eyed. "Anoth-- Do you mean to
say you've got MORE?"
"Why, I ain't exactly got 'em now, but my nephew John keeps a
furniture store in South Boston, and he has lots of sets like that.
I bought that one off him."
Peter T. Brown jumps to his feet.
"Why, you outrageous robber!" he hollers. "Didn't you say those
dishes were old?"
"I never said nothing, except that they were like the plate that
feller had on the piazza. And they was, too. YOU folks said they
was old, and I thought you'd ought to know, so--"
Eddie Small threw up both hands. "Fakes!" he hollers. "Fakes!
AND THOMPSON PAID ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE DOLLARS FOR 'EM!
Boys, there's times when life's worth living. Have a drink."
We went into the billard-room and took something; that is, Peter
and Eddie took that kind of something. Me and Jonadab took cigars.
"Fellers," said Eddie, "drink hearty. I'm going in to tell my
wife. Fake dishes! And I beat Thompson on the davenport."
He went away bubbling like a biling spring. After he was gone
Rogers looked thoughtful.
"That's funny, too, ain't it?" he says.
"What's funny?" we asked.
"Why, about that sofy he calls a davenport. You see, I bought that
off John, too," says Adoniram.
HIS NATIVE HEATH
I never could quite understand why the folks at Wellmouth made me
selectman. I s'pose likely 'twas on account of Jonadab and me and
Peter Brown making such a go of the Old Home House and turning
Wellmouth Port from a sand fleas' paradise into a hospital where
city folks could have their bank accounts amputated and not suffer
more'n was necessary. Anyway, I was elected unanimous at town
meeting, and Peter was mighty anxious for me to take the job.
"Barzilla," says Peter, "I jedge that a selectman is a sort of
dwarf alderman. Now, I've had friends who've been aldermen, and
they say it's a sure thing, like shaking with your own dice. If
you're straight, there's the honor and the advertisement; if you're
crooked, there's the graft. Either way the house wins. Go in, and
glory be with you."
So I finally agreed to serve, and the very first meeting I went to,
the question of Asaph Blueworthy and the poorhouse comes up. Zoeth
Tiddit--he was town clerk--he puts it this way:
"Gentlemen," he says, "we have here the usual application from
Asaph Blueworthy for aid from the town. I don't know's there's
much use for me to read it--it's tolerable familiar. 'Suffering
from lumbago and rheumatiz'--um, yes. 'Out of work'--um, just so.
'Respectfully begs that the board will'--etcetery and so forth.
Well, gentlemen, what's your pleasure?"
Darius Gott, he speaks first, and dry and drawling as ever. "Out
of work, hey?" says Darius. "Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask if
anybody here remembers the time when Ase was IN work?"
Nobody did, and Cap'n Benijah Poundberry--he was chairman at that
time--he fetches the table a welt with his starboard fist and comes
"Feller members," says he, "I don't know how the rest of you feel,
but it's my opinion that this board has done too much for that lazy
loafer already. Long's his sister, Thankful, lived, we couldn't
say nothing, of course. If she wanted to slave and work so's her
brother could live in idleness and sloth, why, that was her
business. There ain't any law against a body's making a fool of
herself, more's the pity. But she's been dead a year, and he's
done nothing since but live on those that'll trust him, and ask
help from the town. He ain't sick--except sick of work. Now, it's
my idea that, long's he's bound to be a pauper, he might's well be
treated as a pauper. Let's send him to the poorhouse."
"But," says I, "he owns his place down there by the shore, don't
All hands laughed--that is, all but Cap'n Benijah. "Own nothing,"
says the cap'n. "The whole rat trap, from the keel to maintruck,
ain't worth more'n three hundred dollars, and I loaned Thankful
four hundred on it years ago, and the mortgage fell due last
September. Not a cent of principal, interest, nor rent have I got
since. Whether he goes to the poorhouse or not, he goes out of
that house of mine to-morrer. A man can smite me on one cheek and
maybe I'll turn t'other, but when, after I HAVE turned it, he finds
fault 'cause my face hurts his hand, then I rise up and quit; you
Nobody could help hearing him, unless they was deefer than the
feller that fell out of the balloon and couldn't hear himself
strike, so all hands agreed that sending Asaph Blueworthy to the
poorhouse would be a good thing. 'Twould be a lesson to Ase, and
would give the poorhouse one more excuse for being on earth.
Wellmouth's a fairly prosperous town, and the paupers had died, one
after the other, and no new ones had come, until all there was left
in the poorhouse was old Betsy Mullen, who was down with creeping
palsy, and Deborah Badger, who'd been keeper ever since her husband
The poorhouse property was valuable, too, specially for a summer
cottage, being out on the end of Robbin's Point, away from the
town, and having a fine view right across the bay. Zoeth Tiddit
was a committee of one with power from the town to sell the place,
but he hadn't found a customer yet. And if he did sell it, what to
do with Debby was more or less of a question. She'd kept poorhouse
for years, and had no other home nor no relations to go to.
Everybody liked her, too--that is, everybody but Cap'n Benijah.
He was down on her 'cause she was a Spiritualist and believed in
fortune tellers and such. The cap'n, bein' a deacon of the Come-
Outer persuasion, was naturally down on folks who wasn't broad-
minded enough to see that his partic'lar crack in the roof was the
only way to crawl through to glory.
Well, we voted to send Asaph to the poorhouse, and then I was
appointed a delegate to see him and tell him he'd got to go. I
wasn't enthusiastic over the job, but everybody said I was exactly
the feller for the place.
"To tell you the truth," drawls Darius, "you, being a stranger, are
the only one that Ase couldn't talk over. He's got a tongue that's
buttered on both sides and runs on ball bearings. If I should see
him he'd work on my sympathies till I'd lend him the last two-cent
piece in my baby's bank."
So, as there wa'n't no way out of it, I drove down to Asaph's that
afternoon. He lived off on a side road by the shore, in a little,
run-down shanty that was as no account as he was. When I moored my
horse to the "heavenly-wood" tree by what was left of the fence, I
would have bet my sou'wester that I caught a glimpse of Brother
Blueworthy, peeking round the corner of the house. But when I
turned that corner there was nobody in sight, although the bu'sted
wash-bench, with a cranberry crate propping up its lame end, was
shaking a little, as if some one had set on it recent.
I knocked on the door, but nobody answered. After knocking three
or four times, I tried kicking, and the second kick raised, from
somewheres inside, a groan that was as lonesome a sound as ever I
heard. No human noise in my experience come within a mile of it
for dead, downright misery--unless, maybe, it's Cap'n Jonadab
trying to sing in meeting Sundays.
"Who's that?" wails Ase from 'tother side of the door. "Did
"Knock!" says I. "I all but kicked your everlasting derelict out
of water. It's me, Wingate--one of the selectmen. Tumble up,
there! I want to talk to you."
Blueworthy didn't exactly tumble, so's to speak, but the door
opened, and he comes shuffling and groaning into sight. His face
was twisted up and he had one hand spread-fingered on the small of
"Dear, dear!" says he. "I'm dreadful sorry to have kept you
waiting, Mr. Wingate. I've been wrastling with this turrible
lumbago, and I'm 'fraid it's affecting my hearing. I'll tell you--"
"Yes--well, you needn't mind," I says; "'cordin' to common tell,
you was born with that same kind of lumbago, and it's been getting
no better fast ever since. Jest drag your sufferings out onto this
bench and come to anchor. I've got considerable to say, and I'm in
Well, he grunted, and groaned, and scuffled along. When he'd got
planted on the bench he didn't let up any--kept on with the misery.
"Look here," says I, losing patience, "when you get through with
the Job business I'll heave ahead and talk. Don't let me interrupt
the lamentations on no account. Finished? All right. Now, you
listen to me."
And then I told him just how matters stood. His house was to be
seized on the mortgage, and he was to move to the poorhouse next
day. You never see a man more surprised or worse cut up. Him to
the poorhouse? HIM--one of the oldest families on the Cape? You'd
think he was the Grand Panjandrum. Well, the dignity didn't work,
so he commenced on the lumbago; and that didn't work, neither. But
do you think he give up the ship? Not much; he commenced to
explain why he hadn't been able to earn a living and the reasons
why he'd ought to have another chance. Talk! Well, if I hadn't
been warned he'd have landed ME, all right. I never heard a better
sermon nor one with more long words in it.
I actually pitied him. It seemed a shame that a feller who could
argue like that should have to go to the poorhouse; he'd ought to
run a summer hotel--when the boarders kicked 'cause there was
yeller-eyed beans in the coffee he would be the one to explain that
they was lucky to get beans like that without paying extra for 'em.
Thinks I, "I'm an idiot, but I'll make him one more offer."
So I says: "See here, Mr. Blueworthy, I could use another man in
the stable at the Old Home House. If you want the job you can have
it. ONLY, you'll have to work, and work hard."
Well, sir, would you believe it?--his face fell like a cook-book
cake. That kind of chance wa'n't what he was looking for. He
shuffled and hitched around, and finally he says: "I'll--Ill
consider your offer," he says.
That was too many for me. "Well, I'll be yardarmed!" says I, and
went off and left him "considering." I don't know what his
considerations amounted to. All I know is that next day they took
him to the poorhouse.
And from now on this yarn has got to be more or less hearsay. I'll
have to put this and that together, like the woman that made the
mince meat. Some of the facts I got from a cousin of Deborah
Badger's, some of them I wormed out of Asaph himself one time when
he'd had a jug come down from the city and was feeling toler'ble
philanthropic and conversationy. But I guess they're straight
Seems that, while I was down notifying Blueworthy, Cap'n Poundberry
had gone over to the poorhouse to tell the Widow Badger about her
new boarder. The widow was glad to hear the news.
"He'll be somebody to talk to, at any rate," says she. "Poor old
Betsy Mullen ain't exactly what you'd call company for a sociable
body. But I'll mind what you say, Cap'n Benijah. It takes more
than a slick tongue to come it over me. I'll make that lazy man
work or know the reason why."
So when Asaph arrived--per truck wagon--at three o'clock the next
afternoon, Mrs. Badger was ready for him. She didn't wait to shake
hands or say: "Glad to see you." No, sir! The minute he landed
she sent him out by the barn with orders to chop a couple of cords
of oak slabs that was piled there. He groaned and commenced to
develop lumbago symptoms, but she cured 'em in a hurry by remarking
that her doctor's book said vig'rous exercise was the best physic,
for that kind of disease, and so he must chop hard. She waited
till she heard the ax "chunk" once or twice, and then she went into
the house, figgering that she'd gained the first lap, anyhow.
But in an hour or so it come over her all of a sudden that 'twas
awful quiet out by the woodpile. She hurried to the back door, and
there was Ase, setting on the ground in the shade, his eyes shut
and his back against the chopping block, and one poor lonesome slab
in front of him with a couple of splinters knocked off it. That
was his afternoon's work.
Maybe you think the widow wa'n't mad. She tip-toed out to the
wood-pile, grabbed her new boarder by the coat collar and shook him
till his head played "Johnny Comes Marching Home" against the
"You lazy thing, you!" says she, with her eyes snapping. "Wake up
and tell me what you mean by sleeping when I told you to work."
"Sleep?" stutters Asaph, kind of reaching out with his mind for a
life-preserver. "I--I wa'n't asleep."
Well, I don't think he had really meant to sleep. I guess he just
set down to think of a good brand new excuse for not working, and
kind of drowsed off.
"You wa'n't hey?" says Deborah. "Then 'twas the best imitation
ever _I_ see. What WAS you doing, if 'tain't too personal a
"I--I guess I must have fainted. I'm subject to such spells. You
see, ma'am, I ain't been well for--"
"Yes, I know. I understand all about that. Now, you march your
boots into that house, where I can keep an eye on you, and help me
get supper. To-morrer morning you'll get up at five o'clock and
chop wood till breakfast time. If I think you've chopped enough,
maybe you'll get the breakfast. If I don't think so you'll keep on
chopping. Now, march!"
Blueworthy, he marched, but 'twa'n't as joyful a parade as an Odd
Fellers' picnic. He could see he'd made a miscue--a clean miss,
and the white ball in the pocket. He knew, too, that a lot
depended on his making a good impression the first thing, and
instead of that he'd gone and "foozled his approach," as that city
feller said last summer when he ran the catboat plump into the end
of the pier. Deborah, she went out into the kitchen, but she
ordered Ase to stay in the dining room and set the table; told him
to get the dishes out of the closet.
All the time he was doing it he kept thinking about the mistake
he'd made, and wondering if there wa'n't some way to square up and
get solid with the widow. Asaph was a good deal of a philosopher,
and his motto was--so he told me afterward, that time I spoke of
when he'd been investigating the jug--his motto was: "Every hard
shell has a soft spot somewheres, and after you find it, it's
easy." If he could only find out something that Deborah Badger was
particular interested in, then he believed he could make a ten-
strike. And, all at once, down in the corner of the closet, he see
a big pile of papers and magazines. The one on top was the Banner
of Light, and underneath that was the Mysterious Magazine.
Then he remembered, all of a sudden, the town talk about Debby's
believing in mediums and spooks and fortune tellers and such. And
he commenced to set up and take notice.
At the supper table he was as mum as a rundown clock; just set in
his chair and looked at Mrs. Badger. She got nervous and fidgety
after a spell, and fin'lly bu'sts out with: "What are you staring
at me like that for?"
Ase kind of jumped and looked surprised. "Staring?" says he. "Was
"I should think you was! Is my hair coming down, or what is it?"
He didn't answer for a minute, but he looked over her head and then
away acrost the room, as if he was watching something that moved.
"Your husband was a short, kind of fleshy man, as I remember,
wa'n't he?" says he, absent-minded like.
"Course he was. But what in the world--"
"'Twa'n't him, then. I thought not."
"HIM? My husband? What DO you mean?"
And then Asaph begun to put on the fine touches. He leaned acrost
the table and says he, in a sort of mysterious whisper: "Mrs.
Badger," says he, "do you ever see things? Not common things, but
"Mercy me!" says the widow. "No. Do YOU?"
"Sometimes seems's if I did. Jest now, as I set here looking at
you, it seemed as if I saw a man come up and put his hand on your
Well, you can imagine Debby. She jumped out of her chair and
whirled around like a kitten in a fit. "Good land!" she hollers.
"Where? What? Who was it?"
"I don't know who 'twas. His face was covered up; but it kind of
come to me--a communication, as you might say--that some day that
man was going to marry you."
"Land of love! Marry ME? You're crazy! I'm scart to death."
Ase shook his head, more mysterious than ever. "I don't know,"
says he. "Maybe I am crazy. But I see that same man this
afternoon, when I was in that trance, and--"
"Trance! Do you mean to tell me you was in a TRANCE out there by
the wood-pile? Are you a MEDIUM?"
Well, Ase, he wouldn't admit that he was a medium exactly, but he
give her to understand that there wa'n't many mediums in this
country that could do business 'longside of him when he was really
working. 'Course he made believe he didn't want to talk about such
things, and, likewise of course, that made Debby all the more
anxious TO talk about 'em. She found out that her new boarder was
subject to trances and had second-sight and could draw horoscopes,
and I don't know what all. Particular she wanted to know more
about that "man" that was going to marry her, but Asaph wouldn't
say much about him.
"All I can say is," says Ase, "that he didn't appear to me like a
common man. He was sort of familiar looking, and yet there was
something distinguished about him, something uncommon, as you might
say. But this much comes to me strong: He's a man any woman would
be proud to get, and some time he's coming to offer you a good
home. You won't have to keep poorhouse all your days."
So the widow went up to her room with what you might call a case of
delightful horrors. She was too scart to sleep and frightened to
stay awake. She kept two lamps burning all night.
As for Asaph, he waited till 'twas still, and then he crept
downstairs to the closet, got an armful of Banners of Light and
Mysterious Magazines, and went back to his room to study up. Next
morning there was nothing said about wood chopping--Ase was busy
making preparations to draw Debby's horoscope.
You can see how things went after that. Blueworthy was star
boarder at that poorhouse. Mrs Badger was too much interested in
spooks and fortunes to think of asking him to work, and if she did
hint at such a thing, he'd have another "trance" and see that
"man," and 'twas all off. And we poor fools of selectmen was
congratulating ourselves that Ase Blueworthy was doing something
toward earning his keep at last. And then--'long in July 'twas--
Betsy Mullen died.
One evening, just after the Fourth, Deborah and Asaph was in the
dining room, figgering out fortunes with a pack of cards, when
there comes a knock at the door. The widow answered it, and there
was an old chap, dressed in a blue suit, and a stunning pretty girl
in what these summer women make believe is a sea-going rig. And
both of 'em was sopping wet through, and as miserable as two hens
in a rain barrel.
It turned out that the man's name was Lamont, with a colonel's
pennant and a million-dollar mark on the foretop of it, and the
girl was his daughter Mabel. They'd been paying six dollars a day
each for sea air and clam soup over to the Wattagonsett House, in
Harniss, and either the soup or the air had affected the colonel's
head till he imagined he could sail a boat all by his ownty-donty.
Well, he'd sailed one acrost the bay and got becalmed, and then the
tide took him in amongst the shoals at the mouth of Wellmouth
Crick, and there, owing to a mixup of tide, shoals, dark, and an
overdose of foolishness, the boat had upset and foundered and the
Lamonts had waded half a mile or so to shore. Once on dry land,
they'd headed up the bluff for the only port in sight, which was
the poorhouse--although they didn't know it.
The widow and Asaph made 'em as comfortable as they could; rigged
'em up in dry clothes which had belonged to departed paupers, and
got 'em something to eat. The Lamonts was what they called
"enchanted" with the whole establishment.
"This," says the colonel, with his mouth full of brown bread, "is
delightful, really delightful. The New England hospitality that we
read about. So free from ostentation and conventionality."
When you stop to think of it, you'd scurcely expect to run acrost
much ostentation at the poorhouse, but, of course, the colonel
didn't know, and he praised everything so like Sam Hill, that the
widow was ashamed to break the news to him. And Ase kept quiet,
too, you can be sure of that. As for Mabel, she was one of them
gushy, goo-gooey kind of girls, and she was as struck with the
shebang as her dad. She said the house itself was a "perfect
And after supper they paired off and got to talking, the colonel
with Mrs. Badger, and Asaph with Mabel. Now, I can just imagine
how Ase talked to that poor, unsuspecting young female. He sartin
did love an audience, and here was one that didn't know him nor his
history, nor nothing. He played the sad and mysterious. You could
see that he was a blighted bud, all right. He was a man with a
hidden sorrer, and the way he'd sigh and change the subject when it
come to embarrassing questions was enough to bring tears to a
graven image, let alone a romantic girl just out of boarding
Then, after a spell of this, Mabel wanted to be shown the house, so
as to see the "sweet, old-fashioned rooms." And she wanted papa to
see 'em, too, so Ase led the way, like the talking man in the dime
museum. And the way them Lamonts agonized over every rag mat, and
corded bedstead was something past belief. When they was saying
good-night--they HAD to stay all night because their own clothes
wa'n't dry and those they had on were more picturesque than
stylish--Mabel turns to her father and says she:
"Papa, dear," she says, "I believe that at last we've found the
very thing we've been looking for."
And the colonel said yes, he guessed they had. Next morning they
was up early and out enjoying the view; it IS about the best view
alongshore, and they had a fit over it. When breakfast was done
the Lamonts takes Asaph one side and the colonel says:
"Mr. Blueworthy," he says, "my daughter and I am very much pleased
with the Cape and the Cape people. Some time ago we made up our
minds that if we could find the right spot we would build a summer
home here. Preferably we wish to purchase a typical, old-time,
Colonial homestead and remodel it, retaining, of course, all the
original old-fashioned flavor. Cost is not so much the
consideration as location and the house itself. We are--ahem!--
well, frankly, your place here suits us exactly."
"We adore it," says Mabel, emphatic.
"Mr. Blueworthy," goes on the colonel, "will you sell us your home?
I am prepared to pay a liberal price."
Poor Asaph was kind of throwed on his beam ends, so's to speak. He
hemmed and hawed, and finally had to blurt out that he didn't own
the place. The Lamonts was astonished. The colonel wanted to know
if it belonged to Mrs. Badger.
"Why, no," says Ase. "The fact is--that is to say--you see--"
And just then the widow opened the kitchen window and called to
"Colonel Lamont," says she, "there's a sailboat beating up the
harbor, and I think the folks on it are looking for you."
The colonel excused himself, and run off down the hill toward the
back side of the point, and Asaph was left alone with the girl. He
see, I s'pose, that here was his chance to make the best yarn out
of what was bound to come out anyhow in a few minutes. So he
fetched a sigh that sounded as if 'twas racking loose the
foundations and commenced.
He asked Mabel if she was prepared to hear something that would
shock her turrible, something that would undermine her confidence
in human natur'. She was a good deal upset, and no wonder, but she
braced up and let on that she guessed she could stand it. So then
he told her that her dad and her had been deceived, that that house
wa'n't his nor Mrs. Badger's; 'twas the Wellmouth poor farm, and he
was a pauper.
She was shocked, all right enough, but afore she had a chance to
ask a question, he begun to tell her the story of his life. 'Twas
a fine chance for him to spread himself, and I cal'late he done it
to the skipper's taste. He told her how him and his sister had
lived in their little home, their own little nest, over there by
the shore, for years and years. He led her out to where she could
see the roof of his old shanty over the sand hills, and he wiped
his eyes and raved over it. You'd think that tumble-down shack was
a hunk out of paradise; Adam and Eve's place in the Garden was a
short lobster 'longside of it. Then, he said, he was took down
with an incurable disease. He tried and tried to get along, but
'twas no go. He mortgaged the shanty to a grasping money lender--
meanin' Poundberry--and that money was spent. Then his sister
passed away and his heart broke; so they took him to the poorhouse.
"Miss Lamont," says he, "good-by. Sometimes in the midst of your
fashionable career, in your gayety and so forth, pause," he says,
"and give a thought to the broken-hearted pauper who has told you
his life tragedy."
Well, now, you take a green girl, right fresh from novels and music
lessons, and spring that on her--what can you expect? Mabel, she
cried and took on dreadful.
"Oh, Mr. Blueworthy!" says she, grabbing his hand. "I'm SO glad
you told me. I'm SO glad! Cheer up," she says. "I respect you
more than ever, and my father and I will--"
Just then the colonel comes puffing up the hill. He looked as if
he'd heard news.
"My child," he says in a kind of horrified whisper, "can you
realize that we have actually passed the night in the--in the
Mabel held up her hand. "Hush, papa," she says. "Hush. I know
all about it. Come away, quick; I've got something very important
to say to you."
And she took her dad's arm and went off down the hill, mopping her
pretty eyes with her handkerchief and smiling back, every once in a
while, through her tears, at Asaph.
Now, it happened that there was a selectmen's meeting that
afternoon at four o'clock. I was on hand, and so was Zoeth Tiddit
and most of the others. Cap'n Poundberry and Darius Gott were
late. Zoeth was as happy as a clam at high water; he'd sold the
poorhouse property that very day to a Colonel Lamont, from Harniss,
who wanted it for a summer place.
"And I got the price we set on it, too," says Zoeth. "But that
wa'n't the funniest part of it. Seems's old man Lamont and his
daughter was very much upset because Debby Badger and Ase
Blueworthy would be turned out of house and home 'count of the
place being sold. The colonel was hot foot for giving 'em a check
for five hundred dollars to square things; said his daughter'd made
him promise he would. Says I: 'You can give it to Debby, if you
want to, but don't lay a copper on that Blueworthy fraud.' Then I
told him the truth about Ase. He couldn't hardly believe it, but I
finally convinced him, and he made out the check to Debby. I took
it down to her myself just after dinner. Ase was there, and his
eyes pretty nigh popped out of his head.
"'Look here,' I says to him; 'if you'd been worth a continental you
might have had some of this. As it is, you'll be farmed out
somewheres--that's what'll happen to YOU.'"
And as Zoeth was telling this, in comes Cap'n Benijah. He was
"I cal'late the Lamonts must be buying all the property alongshore,"
he says when he heard the news. "I sold that old shack that I took
from Blueworthy to that Lamont girl to-day for three hundred and
fifty dollars. She wouldn't say what she wanted of it, neither, and
I didn't care much; _I_ was glad to get rid of it."
"_I_ can tell you what she wanted of it," says somebody behind us.
We turned round and 'twas Gott; he'd come in. "I just met Squire
Foster," he says, "and the squire tells me that that Lamont girl
come into his office with the bill of sale for the property you
sold her and made him deed it right over to Ase Blueworthy, as a
present from her."
"WHAT?" says all hands, Poundberry loudest of all.
"That's right," said Darius. "She told the squire a long
rigamarole about what a martyr Ase was, and how her dad was going
to do some thing for him, but that she was going to give him his
home back again with her own money, money her father had given her
to buy a ring with, she said, though that ain't reasonable, of
course--nobody'd pay that much for a ring. The squire tried to
tell her what a no-good Ase was, but she froze him quicker'n--
Where you going, Cap'n Benije?"
"I'm going down to that poorhouse," hollers Poundberry. "I'll find
out the rights and wrongs of this thing mighty quick."
We all said we'd go with him, and we went, six in one carryall. As
we hove in sight of the poorhouse a buggy drove away from it, going
in t'other direction.
"That looks like the Baptist minister's buggy," says Darius. "What
on earth's he been down here for?"
Nobody could guess. As we run alongside the poorhouse door, Ase
Blueworthy stepped out, leading Debby Badger. She was as red as an
"By time, Ase Blueworthy!" hollers Cap'n Benijah, starting to get
out of the carryall, "what do you mean by-- Debby, what are you
holding that rascal's hand for?"
But Ase cut him short. "Cap'n Poundberry," says he, dignified as a
boy with a stiff neck, "I might pass over your remarks to me, but
when you address my wife--"
"Your WIFE?" hollers everybody--everybody but the cap'n; he only
sort of gurgled.
"My wife," says Asaph. "When you men--church members, too, some of
you--sold the house over her head, I'm proud to say that I, having
a home once more, was able to step for'ard and ask her to share it
with me. We was married a few minutes ago," he says.
"And, oh, Cap'n Poundberry!" cried Debby, looking as if this was
the most wonderful part of it--"oh, Cap'n Poundberry!" she says,
"we've known for a long time that some man--an uncommon kind of
man--was coming to offer me a home some day, but even Asaph didn't
know 'twas himself; did you, Asaph?"
We selectmen talked the thing over going home, but Cap'n Benijah
didn't speak till we was turning in at his gate. Then he fetched
his knee a thump with his fist, and says he, in the most disgusted
tone ever I heard:
"A house and lot for nothing," he says, "a wife to do the work for
him, and five hundred dollars to spend! Sometimes the way this
world's run gives me moral indigestion."
Which was tolerable radical for a Come-Outer to say, seems to me.
'Twas Peter T. Brown that suggested it, you might know. And, as
likewise you might know, 'twas Cap'n Jonadab that done the most of
"They ain't no sense in it, Peter," says he. "Education's all
right in its place, but 'tain't no good out of it. Why, one of my
last voyages in the schooner Samuel Emory, I had a educated cook,
feller that had graduated from one of them correspondence schools.
He had his diploma framed and hung up on the wall of the galley
along with tintypes of two or three of his wives, and pictures cut
out of the Police News, and the like of that. And cook! Why, say!
one of the fo'mast hands ate half a dozen of that cook's saleratus
biscuit and fell overboard. If he hadn't been tangled up in his
cod line, so we could haul him up by that, he'd have been down yet.
He'd never have riz of his own accord, not with them biscuits in
him. And as for his pie! the mate ate one of them bakeshop paper
plates one time, thinking 'twas under crust; and he kept sayin' how
unusual tender 'twas, at that. Now, what good was education to
that cook? Why--"
"Cut it out!" says Peter T., disgusted. "Who's talking about
cooks? These fellers ain't cooks--they're--"
"I know. They're waiters. Now, there 'tis again. When I give an
order and there's any back talk, I want to understand it. You take
a passel of college fellers, like you want to hire for waiters.
S'pose I tell one of 'em to do something, and he answers back in
Greek or Hindoo, or such. _I_ can't tell what he says. I sha'n't
know whether to bang him over the head or give him a cigar. What's
the matter with the waiters we had last year? They talked Irish,
of course, but I understood the most of that, and when I didn't
'twas safe to roll up my sleeves and begin arguing. But--"
"Oh, ring off!" says Peter. "Twenty-three!"
And so they had it, back and forth. I didn't say nothing. I knew
how 'twould end. If Peter T. Brown thought 'twas good judgment to
hire a mess of college boys for waiters, fellers who could order up
the squab in pigeon-English and the ham in hog-Latin, I didn't
care, so long as the orders and boarders got filled and the payroll
didn't have growing pains. I had considerable faith in Brown's
ideas, and he was as set on this one as a Brahma hen on a plaster
"It'll give tone to the shebang," says he, referring to the hotel;
"and we want to keep the Old Home House as high-toned as a ten-
story organ factory. And as for education, that's a matter of
taste. Me, I'd just as soon have a waiter that bashfully admitted
'Wee, my dam,' as I would one that pushed 'Shur-r-e, Moike!' edge-
ways out of one corner of his mouth and served the lettuce on top
of the lobster, from principle, to keep the green above the red.
When it comes to tone and tin, Cap'n, you trust your Uncle Pete; he
hasn't been sniffling around the tainted-money bunch all these days
with a cold in his head."
So it went his way finally, as I knew it would, and when the Old
Home opened up on June first, the college waiters was on hand. And
they was as nice a lot of boys as ever handled plates and wiped
dishes for their board and four dollars a week. They was poor, of
course, and working their passage through what they called the
"varsity," but they attended to business and wa'n't a mite set up
by their learning.
And they made a hit with the boarders, especially the women folks.
Take the crankiest old battle ship that ever cruised into breakfast
with diamond headlights showing and a pretty daughter in tow, and
she would eat lumpy oatmeal and scorched eggs and never sound a
distress signal. How could she, with one of them nice-looking
gentlemanly waiters hanging over her starboard beam and purring,
"Certainly, madam," and "Two lumps or one, madam?" into her ear?
Then, too, she hadn't much time to find fault with the grub, having
to keep one eye on the daughter. The amount of complaints that
them college boys saved in the first fortnight was worth their
season's wages, pretty nigh. Before June was over the Old Home was
full up and we had to annex a couple of next-door houses for the
I was skipper for one of them houses, and Jonadab run the other.
Each of us had a cook and a waiter, a housekeeper and an up-stairs
girl. My housekeeper was the boss prize in the package. Her name
was Mabel Seabury, and she was young and quiet and as pretty as the
first bunch of Mayflowers in the spring. And a lady--whew! The
first time I set opposite to her at table I made up my mind I
wouldn't drink out of my sasser if I scalded the lining off my
She was city born and brought up, but she wa'n't one of your common
"He! he! ain't you turrible!" lunch-counter princesses, with a head
like a dandelion gone to seed and a fish-net waist. You bet she
wa'n't! Her dad had had money once, afore he tried to beat out
Jonah and swallow the stock exchange whale. After that he was
skipper of a little society library up to Cambridge, and she kept
house for him. Then he died and left her his blessing, and some of
Peter Brown's wife's folks, that knew her when she was well off,
got her the job of housekeeper here with us.
The only trouble she made was first along, and that wa'n't her
fault. I thought at one time we'd have to put up a wire fence to
keep them college waiters away from her. They hung around her like
a passel of gulls around a herring boat. She was nice to 'em, too,
but when you're just so nice to everybody and not nice enough to
any special one, the prospect ain't encouraging. So they give it
up, but there wa'n't a male on the place, from old Dr. Blatt, mixer
of Blatt's Burdock Bitters and Blatt's Balm for Beauty, down to the
boy that emptied the ashes, who wouldn't have humped himself on all
fours and crawled eight miles if she'd asked him to. And that
includes me and Cap'n Jonadab, and we're about as tough a couple of
women-proof old hulks as you'll find afloat.
Jonadab took a special interest in her. It pretty nigh broke his
heart to think she was running my house instead of his. He thought
she'd ought to be married and have a home of her own.
"Well," says I, "why don't she get married then? She could drag
out and tie up any single critter of the right sex in this
neighborhood with both hands behind her back."
"Humph!" says he. "I s'pose you'd have her marry one of these
soup-toting college chaps, wouldn't you? Then they could live on
Greek for breakfast and Latin for dinner and warm over the leavings
for supper. No, sir! a girl hasn't no right to get married unless
she gets a man with money. There's a deck-load of millionaires
comes here every summer, and I'm goin' to help her land one of 'em.
It's my duty as a Christian," says he.
One evening, along the second week in July 'twas, I got up from the
supper-table and walked over toward the hotel, smoking, and
thinking what I'd missed in not having a girl like that set
opposite me all these years. And, in the shadder of the big bunch
of lilacs by the gate, I see a feller standing, a feller with a
leather bag in his hand, a stranger.
"Good evening," says I. "Looking for the hotel, was you?"
He swung round, kind of lazy-like, and looked at me. Then I
noticed how big he was. Seemed to me he was all of seven foot high
and broad according. And rigged up--my soul! He had on a wide,
felt hat, with a whirligig top onto it, and a light checked suit,
and gloves, and slung more style than a barber on Sunday. If I'D
wore them kind of duds they'd have had me down to Danvers, clanking
chains and picking straws, but on this young chap they looked fine.
"Good evening," says the seven-footer, looking down and speaking to
me cheerful. "Is this the Old Ladies' Home--the Old Home House, I
"Yes, sir," says I, looking up reverent at that hat.
"Right," he says. "Will you be good enough to tell me where I can
find the proprietor?"
"Well," says I, "I'm him; that is, I'm one of him. But I'm afraid
we can't accommodate you, mister, not now. We ain't got a room
nowheres that ain't full."
He knocked the ashes off his cigarette. "I'm not looking for a
room," says he, "except as a side issue. I'm looking for a job."
"A job!" I sings out. "A JOB?"
"Yes. I understand you employ college men as waiters. I'm from
"A waiter?" I says, so astonished that I could hardly swaller. "Be
you a waiter?"
"_I_ don't know. I've been told so. Our coach used to say I was
the best waiter on the team. At any rate I'll try the experiment."
Soon's ever I could gather myself together I reached across and
took hold of his arm.
"Son," says I, "you come with me and turn in. You'll feel better
in the morning. I don't know where I'll put you, unless it's the
bowling alley, but I guess that's your size. You oughtn't to get
this way at your age."
He laughed a big, hearty laugh, same as I like to hear. "It's
straight," he says. "I mean it. I want a job."
"But what for? You ain't short of cash?"
"You bet!" he says. "Strapped."
"Then," says I, "you come with me to-night and to-morrer morning
you go somewheres and sell them clothes you've got on. You'll make
more out of that than you will passing pie, if you passed it for a
He laughed again, but he said he was bound to be a waiter and if I
couldn't help him he'd have to hunt up the other portion of the
proprietor. So I told him to stay where he was, and I went off and