Part 5 out of 6
tree. I used to put down everything that happened, and-- Where
Miss Dawes had risen and was peering out of the window.
"I was looking to see if my driver was anywhere about," she
replied. "I thought perhaps he would drive over to Mrs. Atwood's
and get the diary for you. But I don't see him."
Just then, from around the corner of the house, peeped an agitated
face; an agitated forefinger beckoned. Debby stepped to the window
beside her visitor, and the face and finger went out of sight as if
pulled by a string.
Miss Phoebe smiled.
"I think I'll go out and look for him," she said. "He must be near
here. I'll be right back, Mrs. Beasley."
Without stopping to put on her jacket, she hurried through the
dining room, out of the door, and around the corner. There she
found Mr. Bangs in a highly nervous state.
"Why didn't you tell me 'twas Debby Beasley you was comin' to see?"
he demanded. "If you'd mentioned that deef image's name you'd
never got ME to drive you, I tell you that!"
"Yes," answered the teacher sweetly. "I imagined that. That's why
I didn't tell you, Mr. Bangs. Now I want you to do me a favor.
Will you drive over to Trumet Center, and deliver a note and get a
package for me? Then you can come back here, and I shall be ready
to start for home."
"Drive! Drive nothin'! The blacksmith's out, and won't be back
for another hour. His boy's there, but he's a big enough lunkhead
to try bailin' out a dory with a fork, and that buggy axle is bent
so it's simply got to be fixed. I'd no more go home to Ketury with
that buggy as 'tis than I'd-- Oh! my land of love!"
The ejaculation was almost a groan. There at the corner, ear
trumpet adjusted, and spectacles glistening, stood Debby Beasley.
Bailey appeared to wilt under her gaze as if the spectacles were
twin suns. Miss Dawes looked as if she very much wanted to laugh.
The widow stared in silence.
"How--how d'ye do, Mrs. Beasley?" faltered Mr. Bangs, not
forgetting to raise his voice. "I hope you're lookin' as well as
you feel. I mean, I hope you're smart."
Mrs. Beasley nodded decisively.
"Yes," she answered. "I'm pretty toler'ble, thank you. What was
the matter, Mr. Bangs? Why didn't you come in? Do you usually
make your calls round the corner?"
The gentleman addressed seemed unable to reply. The schoolmistress
came to the rescue.
"You mustn't blame Mr. Bangs, Mrs. Beasley," she explained. "He
wasn't responsible for what happened at Captain Whittaker's. He is
the gentleman who drove me over here. I was going to send him to
Mrs. Atwood's for the diary."
"Who said I was blamin' him?" queried the widow. "If 'twas that
little Tidditt thing I might feel different. But, considerin' that
I got this horn from Mr. Bangs, I'm willin' to let bygones be past.
It helps my hearin' a lot. Them ear-fixin's was good while they
lasted, but they got out of kilter quick. _I_ shan't bother Mr.
Bangs. If he can square his own conscience, I'm satisfied."
Bailey's conscience was not troubling him greatly, and he seemed
relieved. Phoebe told of the damaged buggy.
"Humph!" grunted the widow. "The horse didn't get bent, too, did
Mr. Bangs indignantly declared that the horse was all right.
"Um--hum. Well, then, I guess I can supply a carriage. My fust
cousin Ezra that died used to be doctor here, and he give me his
sulky when he got a new one. It's out in the barn. Go fetch your
horse, and harness him in. I'll be ready time the harnessin's
"You?" gasped the teacher. "You don't need to go, Mrs. Beasley. I
wouldn't think of giving you that trouble."
"No trouble at all. I wouldn't trust nobody else with them trunks.
And besides, I always do enjoy ridin'. You could go, too, Miss
Dorcas, but the sulky seat's too narrer for three. You can set in
the settin' room till we get back. 'Twon't take us long. Don't
say another word; I'm A-GOIN'."
A REMARKABLE DRIVE AND WHAT FOLLOWED
The number of reasons given by Mr. Bangs one after the other, to
prove that it would be quite impossible for him to be Mrs.
Beasley's charioteer was a credit to the resources of his
invention. The blacksmith might be back any minute; it was dinner
time, and he was hungry; Henry, the horse, was tired; it wasn't a
nice day for riding, and he would come over some other time and
take the widow out; he-- But Debby had a conclusive answer for
"You said yourself the blacksmith wouldn't be back for an hour,"
she observed. "And you can leave word with the boy what he's to do
when he does come. As for dinner, I'll be real glad to give you
and Miss Dorcas a snack soon's we get back. I don't mind if it
ain't a pleasant day; a little fresh air 'll do me good. I been
shut up here house-cleanin' ever since I got back from out West.
Now, hurry right along, and fetch your horse. I'll unlock the
"But, Mrs. Beasley," put in the schoolmistress, "why couldn't you
give us a note to Mrs. Atwood and let us stop for the diary on our
way home? I could return it to you by mail. Or you might get it
yourself some other day and mail it to me."
"No, no! Never put off till to-morrer what you can do to-day. My
husband was a great hand to put off and put off. For the last
eight years of his life I was at him to buy a new go-to-meetin'
suit of clothes. The one he had was blue to start with, but it
faded to a brown, and, toward the last of it, I declare if it
didn't commence to turn green. Nothin' I could say would make him
heave it away even then. Seemed to think more of it than ever.
Said he wanted to hang to it a spell and see what 'twould turn
next. But he died and was laid out in that same suit, and I was so
mortified at the funeral I couldn't think of nothin' else. No,
I'll go after them papers and the diary while they're fresh in my
mind. And besides, do you s'pose I'd let Sarah Ann Atwood rummage
through my trunks? I guess not!"
Phoebe began to be sorry she had thought of sending for the diary,
particularly as the chance of its containing valuable information
was so remote. Mrs. Beasley went into the house to dress for the
ride. The schoolmistress went with her as far as the sitting room.
The perturbed Bailey stalked off, muttering, to the blacksmith's.
In a little while he returned, leading Henry by the bridle. Debby,
adorned with the beflowered bonnet she had worn when she arrived at
the Cy Whittaker place, and with a black cloth cape over her lean
shoulders, was waiting for him by the open door of the barn. The
cape had a fur collar--"cat fur," so Mr. Bangs said afterwards in
"Pull the sulky right out," commanded the widow.
Bailey stared into the black interior of the barn.
"Which is it?" he shouted.
Mrs. Beasley pointed with her ear trumpet.
"Why, that one there, of course. 'Tother's a truck cart. You
wouldn't expect me to ride in that, would you?"
Mr. Bangs entered the barn, seized the vehicle indicated by the
shafts, and drew it out into the yard. He inspected it deliberately,
and then sat weakly down on the chopping block near by. Apparently
he was overcome by emotion.
The "sulky" bequeathed by the late doctor had been built to order
for its former owner. It was of the "carryall" variety, except
that it had but a single narrow seat. Its top was square and was
curtained, the curtains being tightly buttoned down. Altogether it
was something of a curiosity. Miss Dawes, who had come out to see
the start, looked at the "sulky," then at Mr. Bangs's face, and
turned her back. Her shoulders shook:
"It used to be a real nice carriage when Ezra had it," commented
the widow admiringly. "It needs ilin' and sprucin' up now, but I
guess 'twill do. Come!" to Bailey, who had not risen from the
chopping block. "Hurry up and harness or we'll never get started.
Thought you wanted to get back for dinner?"
Mr. Bangs stood up and heaved a sigh.
"I did," he answered slowly, "but," with a glance at the sulky,
"somethin' seems to have took away my appetite. Teacher, do you
But Miss Dawes had withdrawn to the corner of the house, from which
viewpoint she seemed to be inspecting the surrounding landscape.
Bailey seized Henry by the bridle and backed him into the shafts.
"Back up!" he roared. "Back up, I tell you! You needn't look at
me that way," he added, in a lower tone. "_I_ can't help it. You
ain't any worse ashamed than I am. There! the ark's off the ways.
Turning to the expectant widow, he "boosted" her, not too tenderly,
up to the narrow seat. Then he climbed in himself. Two on that
seat made a tight fit. Bailey took up the reins. Debby leaned
forward and peered around the edge of the curtains.
"You!" she shouted. "You, Miss What's-your-name--Dorcas! Come
here a minute. I want to tell you somethin'."
The schoolmistress, her face red and her eyes moist, approached.
"I just wanted to say," explained Debby, "that I ain't real sure as
that diary's there. I burnt up a lot of my old letters and things
a spell ago, and seems to me I burnt some old diaries, too, but
maybe that wan't one of 'em. Anyhow, I can get them Arizona
papers, and I do want you to see 'em. They're the most INTERESTIN'
things. Now," she added, turning to her companion on the seat,
"you can git dap just as soon as you want to."
Whether or not Mr. Bangs wanted to "git dap" is a doubtful
question. But at all events he did. Before the astonished Miss
Dawes could think of an answer to the observation concerning the
diary, the carriage, its long unused axles shrieking protests,
moved out of the yard. The schoolmistress watched it go. Then she
returned to the sitting room and collapsed in a rocking chair.
Once out from the shelter of the house and on the open road, the
sulky received the full force of the wind. The first gust that
howled in from the bay struck its curtained side with a sudden
burst of power that caused Mrs. Beasley to clutch her driver's arm.
"Good land of mercy!" she screamed. "It blows real hard, don't
Mr. Bangs's answer was in the form of delicate sarcasm, bellowed
into the ear trumpet.
"Sho!" he exclaimed. "I want to know! You don't say! Now you
mention it, seems as if I had noticed a little air stirrin'."
Another gust tilted the carriage top. Debby clutched the arm still
"Why, it blows awful hard!" she cried. "I'd no idee it blew like
"Want to 'bout ship and go home again?" whooped Bailey, hopefully.
But the widow didn't intend to give up the rare luxury of a "ride"
which a kind Providence had cast in her way.
"No, no!" she answered. "I guess if you folks come all the way
from Bayport I can stand it as fur's the Center. But hurry all you
can, won't you? I'm kind of 'fraid of the springs."
"Springs? What springs? Let go my arm, will you? It's goin' to
Mrs. Beasley let go of the arm momentarily.
"I mean the springs on this carriage," she explained. "Last time
I lent it to anybody--Solon Davis, 'twas--he said the bolts
underneath was pretty nigh rusted out, and about all that held the
wagon part on was its own weight. So we'll have to be kind of
"Well--I--swan--to--MAN!" was Mr. Bangs's sole comment on the
amazing disclosure; however, as an expression of concentrated and
profound disgust it was quite sufficient. He spoke but once during
the remainder of the trip to the "Center." Then, when his
passenger begged to know if "that Whittaker man" had been well
since she left, he shouted: "Yes--EVER since," and relapsed into
his former gloomy silence.
The widow's stop at the Atwood house, which was in the immediate
rear of the Atwood store, was of a half hour's duration. Bailey
refused to leave the seat of the sulky and sat there, speaking to
no one; not even replying to the questions of a group of loungers
who gathered to inspect the ancient vehicle, and professed to be
in doubt as to whether it had been washed in with the tide or been
"left" to him in a will.
At last Debby made her appearance, her arms filled with newspapers.
The latter she piled under the carriage seat, and then climbed to
her former place beside the driver. Henry, in response to a slap
from the reins, got under way once more. The axles squeaked and
"Gee!" cried one youngster, from the steps of the store. "It's the
steam calliope. When's the rest of the show comin'?"
"Hi!" yelled another. "See how close they're hugged up together.
Ain't they lovin'! It's a weddin'!"
"Shut up!" roared the tortured Bailey, whose hat had blown back
into the body of the sulky, leaving his bald head exposed to the
The audience begged him to give them a lock of his hair, and added
other remarks of a personal nature concerning the youth and beauty
of the bridal couple and their chariot. Mr. Bangs was in a state
of dumb frenzy. Debby, who, without her trumpet, had heard nothing
of all this, was smiling and garrulous.
"I found all the papers," she said. "They're right under the seat.
I'm goin' to look 'em over so's to have the interestin' parts all
ready to show Miss Dorcas when we get home. Ain't it nice I found
In spite of her driver's remonstrances, unheard because of the
nonadjustment of the trumpet, she reached under the seat and
brought out the pile of Blazeton weeklies. With her feet upon the
pile to keep it from blowing away, she proceeded to unfold one of
the papers. It crackled and snapped in the wind like a loose
"Keep that dratted thing out of my face, won't you?" shrieked the
agonized Bailey. "How'm I goin' to see to steer with that smackin'
me between the eyes every other second?"
"Hey? Did you speak to me?" asked the widow sweetly.
"Did I SPEAK? No, I screeched! What in tunket--"
"I want you to see this picture of the mayor's house in Blazeton.
Eva, my husband's niece, lives right acrost the road from him.
Many's the time I've set on their piazza and seen him come out and
go to the City Hall."
"Keep it out of my face, I tell you! Reef it! Furl it, you--you
woman! I wish to thunder the piazza had caved in on you! I never
see such an old fool in my born days. TAKE IT AWAY!"
Mrs. Beasley removed the paper, but only to substitute another.
"Here's Eva's brother-in-law," she screamed. "He's one of the
prominent business men out there, so they put him in the paper.
Ain't he nice lookin'?"
Bailey's comments on the prominent business man's appearance were
anything but flattering. Debby continued to reach for more papers,
carefully replacing those she had inspected in the pile beneath her
feet. The wind blew as hard as ever; even harder, for it was now
almost dead ahead. Henry plodded along. They were in the hollow
at the foot of the last long hill, that from which the blacksmith
shop had first been sighted.
"I know what I'll do," declared the passenger. "I'll hunt for that
missin' husband advertisement of Desire Higgins's. Let's see now!
'Twill be down at the bottom of the pile, 'cause the paper it's in
is a last year one."
She bobbed down behind the high dashboard. Mr. Bangs stood up in
order that her gymnastics might interfere, to a lesser degree, with
his driving. The equipage began to move up the slope of the hill,
bouncing and twisting in the frozen ruts.
"Here 'tis!" exclaimed Debby. "I remember it's in this number,
'cause there's a picture of the Palace Hotel on the front page.
Let's see--'Dog lost'--no, that ain't it. 'Corner lot for sale'--
wish I had money enough to buy it; I'd like nothin' better than to
live out there. 'Information wanted of my husband'--Here 'tis!
She straightened up and eagerly began reading the advertisement.
The hill was very steep just at its top, and the sulky slanted
backward at a sharp angle. A terrific burst of wind tore around
the corner of the bluff. It eddied through the sulky between the
dashboard and the curtained sides. The widow, in her excitement at
finding the advertisement, had inadvertently removed her feet from
the pile of papers. In an instant the air was filled with whirling
copies of the Blazeton Weekly Courier.
Henry, the horse, was a sober animal who had long ago reached the
age of discretion. But to have his old ears and eyes suddenly
blanketed with a flapping white thing swooping apparently from
nowhere was too much even for his sedate nerves. He jumped
sidewise. The reins were jerked from the driver's hands and fell
in the road.
"Mercy on us!" shrieked Debby, clutching her companion about the
"Let go of me!" howled Bailey, pushing her violently aside. "Whoa!
But Henry refused to stand still. The flapping paper still clung
to his agitated head. He reared and pranced, jerking the sulky
back and forth, its wheels still wedged in the ruts. Bailey sprang
to the ground to pick up the reins. He seized them, but fell as he
did so. The tug at his bits turned Henry's head, literally and
figuratively. He reared and whirled about. The sulky rose on two
wheels. The screaming Mrs. Beasley collapsed against its downward
side. Another moment, and the whole upper half of the sulky--body,
seat, curtains, and Debby--tilted over the lower wheels, and, the
rusted bolts failing to hold, slid with a thump to the frozen road.
The wind, catching it underneath as it slid, tipped it backward.
Then Henry ran away.
Miss Dawes, left alone in the house at the foot of the hill, had
amused herself for a time with the Beasley library, which partially
filled a shelf in the sitting room. But "The Book of Martyrs" and
"A Believer's Thoughts on Death" were not cheering literature,
particularly as the author of the latter volume "thought" so
dismally concerning the future of all who did not believe precisely
as he did. So the teacher laid down the book, with a shudder, and
wandered about the room, inspecting the late Mr. Beasley's
portrait, the photographs in splintwork frames, the "alum basket"
on the mantel, the blue castles, blue trees, and blue people
pictured on the window shades, and other works of art in the
apartment. She even peeped into the parlor, but the musty, shut-up
smell of that dusky tomb was too much for her, and she sat down by
the sitting-room window, under the empty bird cage, to look up the
road and watch for the return of the sulky and its occupants.
Sitting there, she was a witness of the alarming catastrophe on the
hilltop, and reached the front gate just in time to see Henry go
galloping by, dragging the four wheels and springs of the sulky,
while, sprawled across the rear axle and still clinging to the
reins, hung a familiar, howling, and most wickedly profane
individual by the name of Bangs.
The runaway dashed on toward the blacksmith shop. Phoebe,
bareheaded and coatless, ran up the hill. Before she reached the
crest, she was aware of muffled screams, which sounded as if the
screamer was shut up in a trunk.
"O-o-oh!" screamed Mrs. Beasley. "O-o-oh! Ow! Let me out! Help!
I'm stuck! My back's broke! He-e-lp!"
The upper part of the sulky, with its boxlike curtained top, lay on
its side in the road. From somewhere within the box came the
groans and screams. The gale swept the hilltop, and, for a quarter
mile to leeward, the scenery was animated by soaring, fluttering
copies of the Blazeton Courier, that swooped and ducked like
mammoth white butterflies.
The panting and alarmed teacher stooped and peered into the dark
shadow between the dashboard and the back curtain. All she could
make out at first were a pair of thin ankles and "Congress" shoes
in agitated motion. These bobbed up and down behind the overturned
seat and its displaced cushion.
"O Mrs. Beasley!" screamed Phoebe. "Are you hurt?"
Debby, of course, did not hear the question. She continued to
groan and scream for help. Her lungs were not injured, at all
events. The schoolmistress, dropping on her knees, reached into
the sulky top and tugged at the seat. It was rather tightly
wedged, but she managed to loosen it and pull it toward her.
The widow raised herself on an elbow and looked out between the
flowers of her smashed bonnet.
"Who is it?" she demanded. "Oh, is that you, Miss Dorcas? Oh, my
soul and body! Oh, my stars! Oh, my goodness me!"
"Are you hurt?" shrieked Phoebe.
"Hey? I don't know! I don't know WHAT I be! I don't know
"Can you help yourself? Can you get up?"
"Hey? I don't know. Maybe I can if you haul that everlastin' seat
out of the way. Oh, my sakes alive!"
Her rescuer pulled the seat forward, and, with an effort, tumbled
it clear of the curtains. Debby raised herself still higher.
"Oh!" she groaned. "Talk about-- Land sakes! who's comin'? Men,
ain't it? Let me out of here quick! QUICK!"
She scrambled out of her prison on hands and knees, and jumped to
her feet with reassuring alacrity. Her fur-collared cape was
draped in a roll about her neck, and her bonnet hung jauntily over
her left eye.
"I'm a sight, ain't I?" she asked. "Haul this bunnet straight,
quick's ever you can. Hurt? No, no! I ain't hurt none but my
feelin's. Hurry UP! S'pose I want them men folks to see me with
everything all hind side to?"
Miss Dawes, relieved to find that the accident had had no serious
consequences, and trying her hardest not to laugh, assisted the
widow to rearrange her wearing apparel. The blacksmith and his
helper came running up the hill.
"Hello, Debby!" hailed the former. "What's the matter? Hurt, be
Mrs. Beasley, whether she heard or not, did not deign to reply.
"Get my horn out of that carriage," she ordered. "Don't stand
there gapin'. Get it."
The ear trumpet was resurrected from the interior of the vehicle.
The widow adjusted it with dignity.
"Had a spill, didn't you, Debby?" inquired the blacksmith. "Upset,
Debby glared at him.
"No," she replied with sarcasm. "Course I didn't upset! Just
thought I'd roll round in the road for the fun of it. Smart
question, that is! Where's that Bailey Bangs gone to with the rest
of my carriage?"
The blacksmith pointed to his shop in the hollow. Before it stood
Mr. Bangs, holding Henry by the bridle, and staring in their
"He's all right," volunteered the "helper." "The horse stopped
runnin' soon's he got to the foot of the next hill."
Mrs. Beasley was not, apparently, overjoyed at the news.
"Humph!" she grunted. "I 'most wish he'd broke his neck! Pesky,
careless thing! gettin' us run away with and upset. Who's goin' to
pay for fixin' my sulky, I want to know?"
"Mr. Bangs will pay for it, I'm sure," said Phoebe soothingly. "If
he doesn't, I will. Oh, Mrs. Beasley! did you find the diary?"
"Diary? No, no! I told you I was afraid I'd burnt it up. Well, I
had, and a whole lot more of them old ones. But I did get all them
Arizona papers, and took the trouble to tote 'em all the way here
so's you could look at 'em. And now"--she shook with indignation
and waved her hand toward a section of horizon where little white
dots indicated the whereabouts of the Couriers--"now look where
they be! Blowed from Dan to Beersheby! Come on to the house and
let me set down. I been standin' on my head till I'm tired. Here,
Jabez," to the blacksmith, "you tend to that carriage, will you?"
She stalked off down the hill. The schoolmistress turning to
follow her, caught a glimpse of the "helper" doubled up with silent
laughter, and the blacksmith grinning broadly as he stooped toward
the capsized sulky.
Phoebe was downcast and disappointed. She was convinced, in her
own mind, that the Honorable Atkins had some hidden motive for his
espousal of the Thomas cause. Asaph's fruitless quest in Orham had
not shaken her faith. Captain Cy had refused to seek Debby Beasley
for information concerning the Thayers, and so she, on her own
responsibility, had done so. And this was the ridiculous ending of
her journey. The diary had been a forlorn hope; now that was
burned. Poor Bos'n! and poor--some one else!
Debby marching down the hill, continued to sputter about the lost
"It's an everlastin' shame!" she declared. "I'd just found the one
with that advertisement in it and was readin' it. I remember the
part I read, plain as could be. While we're eatin' dinner I'll
tell you about it."
But Miss Dawes did not care for dinner. Like Mr. Tidditt and the
captain, she had had about all the Debby Beasley she wanted.
"Yes, yes, you will stop, too," affirmed the widow. "I want to
tell you more about Blazeton. I can see that advertisement this
minute, right afore my eyes--'Information wanted of my husband,
Edward Higgins. Five foot eight inches tall, sandy complected,
brown hair, and yellowish mustache; not lame, but has a peculiar
slight limp with his left foot--'"
"What?" asked the schoolmistress, stopping short.
"Hey? 'Has a peculiar limp with his left foot.' I remember how
Desire used to talk about that limp. She said 'twas almost as if
he stuttered with his leg. He hurt it when he was up in Montana,
"Oh!" cried Miss Dawes. The color had left her face.
"Yes. You see he used to be a miner or somethin' up there. He'd
never say much about his younger days, but one time he did tell
that. I'd just got as far as that limp when the sulky upset. Talk
about bein' surprised! I never was so surprised in my life as when
that horse critter rared up and--"
Phoebe interrupted. Her color had come back, and her eyes were
"Mrs. Beasley," she cried, "I think I shall change my mind. I
believe I will stay to dinner after all. I'm EVER so much
interested in Arizona."
Bailey and the teacher began their long drive home about four
o'clock. The buggy axle had been fixed, and the wind was less
violent. Mr. Bangs was glum and moody. He seemed to be thinking.
"Say, teacher," he said at length, "I'd like to ask a favor of you.
If it ain't necessary, I wish you wouldn't say nothin' about that
upsettin' business to the folks to home. It does sound so dum
foolish! I'll never hear the last of it."
Miss Dawes, who had been in high spirits, now took a moment for
"All right!" she said, nodding vigorously. "We won't mention it,
then. We won't tell a soul. You can say that I called at the
Atwoods', if you want to; that will be true, because I did. And
we'll have Mrs. Beasley for our secret--yours and mine--until we
decide to tell. It's a bargain, Mr. Bangs. We must shake hands on
They shook hands, and Bailey, looking in her face, thought he never
saw her look so well or as young. She was pretty, he decided.
Then he thought of his own choice of a wife, and--well, if he had
any regrets, he hasn't mentioned them, not even to his fellow-
member of the Board of Strategy.
THE CAPTAIN REMEMBERS HIS AGE
December was nearly over. Christmas had come. Bos'n had hung up
her stocking by the base-burner stove, and found it warty and
dropsical the next morning, with a generous overflow of gifts piled
on the floor beneath it. The Board of Strategy sent presents; so
did Miss Dawes and Georgianna. As for Captain Cy he spent many
evening hours, after the rest of his household was in bed, poring
over catalogues of toys and books, and the orders he sent to the
big shops in Boston were lengthy and costly. The little girl's
eyes opened wide when she saw the stocking and the treasures heaped
on the floor. She sat in her "nighty" amidst the wonders, books,
and playthings in a circle about her, and the biggest doll of all
hugged close in her arms. Captain Cy, who had arisen at half past
five in order to be with her on the great occasion, was at least as
happy as she.
"Like 'em, do you?" he asked, smiling.
"like 'em! O Uncle Cy! What makes everybody so good to me?"
"I don't know. Strange thing, ain't it--considerin' what a hard
little ticket you are."
Bos'n laughed. She understood her "Uncle Cy," and didn't mind
being called a "hard ticket" by him.
"I--I--didn't believe anybody COULD have such a nice Christmas. I
never saw so many nice things."
"Humph! What do you like best?"
The answer was a question, and was characteristic.
"Which did you give me?" asked Bos'n.
The captain would have dodged, but she wouldn't let him. So one by
one the presents he had given were indicated and put by themselves.
The remainder were but few, but she insisted that the givers of
these should be named. When the sorting was over she sat silently
hugging her doll and, apparently, thinking.
"Well?" inquired the amused captain. "Made up your mind yet?
Which do you like best?"
The child nodded.
"Why, these, of course," she declared with emphasis, pointing with
her dollie's slippered foot at Captain Cy's pile.
"So? Do, hey? Didn't know I could pick so well. All right; the
first prize is mine. Who takes the second?"
This time Bos'n deliberated before answering. At last, however,
she bent forward and touched the teacher's gifts.
"These," she said. "I like these next best."
Captain Cy was surprised.
"Sho!" he exclaimed. "You don't say!"
"Yes. I think I like teacher next to you. I like Georgianna and
Mr. Tidditt and Mr. Bangs, of course, but I like her a little
better. Don't you, uncle Cyrus?"
The captain changed the subject. He asked her what she should name
The Board of Strategy came in during the forenoon, and the presents
had to be shown to them. While the exhibition was in progress Miss
Dawes called. And before she left Gabe Lumley drove up in the
depot wagon bearing a big express package addressed to "Miss Emily
"Humph!" exclaimed Captain Cy. "Somethin' more for Bos'n, hey!
Who in the world sent it, do you s'pose?"
Asaph and Bailey made various inane suggestions as to the sender.
Phoebe said nothing. There was a frown on her face as she watched
the captain get to work on the box with chisel and hammer. It
contained a beautiful doll, fully and expensively dressed, and
pinned to the dress was a card--"To dear little Emmie, from her
The Board of Strategy looked at the doll in wonder and astonishment.
Captain Cy strode away to the window.
"Well!" exclaimed Mr. Bangs. "I didn't believe he had that much
heart inside of him. I bet you that cost four or five dollars;
ain't that so, Cy?"
The captain did not answer.
"Don't you think so, teacher?" repeated Bailey, turning to Phoebe.
"What ails you? You don't seem surprised."
"I'm not," replied the lady. "I expected something of that sort."
Captain Cy wheeled from the window.
"You DID?" he asked.
"Yes. Miss Phinney said the other day she had heard that that man
was going to give his daughter a beautiful present. She was very
enthusiastic about his generosity and self-sacrifice. I asked who
told her and she said Mr. Simpson."
"Oh! Tad? Is that so!" The captain looked at her.
"Yes. And I think there is no doubt that Simpson had orders to
make the 'generosity' known to as many townspeople as possible."
"Hum! I see. You figure that Thomas cal'lates 'twill help his
popularity and make his case stronger; is that it?"
"Not exactly. I doubt if he ever thought of such a thing himself.
But some one thought for him--and some one must have supplied the
"Well, they say he's to work up in Boston."
"I know. But no one can tell where he works. Captain Whittaker,
this is Mr. Atkins's doing--you know it. Now, WHY does he, a busy
man, take such an interest in getting this child away from you?"
Captain Cy shook his head and smiled.
"Teacher," he said, "you're dead set on taggin' Heman with a
mystery, ain't you?"
"Miss Dawes," asked the forgetful Bailey, "when you and me went
drivin' t'other day did you find out anything from--"
Phoebe interrupted quickly.
"Mr. Bangs," she said, "at what time do we distribute Christmas
presents at your boarding house? I suppose you must have many
Christmas secrets to keep. You keep a secret SO well."
Mr. Bangs turned red. The hint concerning secret keeping was not
wasted. He did not mention the drive again.
A little later Captain Cy found Bos'n busily playing with the doll
he had given her. The other, her father's gift, was nowhere in
"I put her back in the box," said the child in reply to his
question. "She was awful pretty, but I think I'm goin' to love
this one best."
The remark seems a foolish thing to give comfort to a grown man,
but Captain Cy found comfort in it, and comfort was what he needed.
He needed it more as time went on. In January the court gave its
decision. The captain's appointment as guardian was revoked. With
the father alive, and professedly anxious to provide for the
child's support, nothing else was to be expected, so Mr. Peabody
said. The latter entered an appeal which would delay matters for a
time, two or three months perhaps; meanwhile Captain Cy was to
retain custody of Bos'n.
But the court's action, expected though it was, made the captain
very blue and downcast. He could see no hope. He felt certain
that he should lose the little girl in the end, in spite of the
long succession of appeals which his lawyer contemplated. And what
would become of her then? What sort of training would she be
likely to have? Who would her associates be, under the authority
of a father such as hers? And what would he do, alone in the old
house, when she had gone for good? He could not bear to think of
it, and yet he thought of little else.
The evenings, after Bos'n had gone to bed, were the worst. During
the day he tried his best to be busy at something or other. The
doll house was finished, and he had begun to fashion a full-rigged
ship in miniature. In reality Emily, being a normal little girl,
was not greatly interested in ships, but, because Uncle Cy was
making it, she pretended to be vastly concerned about this one. On
Saturdays and after school hours she sat on a box in the wood shed,
where the captain had put up a small stove, and watched him work.
The taboo which so many of our righteous and Atkins-worshiping
townspeople had put upon the Whittaker place and its occupants
included her, and a number of children had been forbidden to play
with her. This, however, did not prevent their tormenting her
about her father and her disreputable guardian.
But the captain's evenings were miserable. He no longer went to
Simmons's. He didn't care for the crowd there, and knew they were
all "down" on him. Josiah Dimick called occasionally, and the
Board of Strategy often, but their conversation was rather
tiresome. There were times when Captain Cy hated Bayport, the
house he had "fixed up" with such interest and pride, and the old
sitting room in particular. The mental picture of comfort and
contentment which had been his dream through so many years of
struggle and wandering, looked farther off than ever. Sometimes he
was tempted to run away, taking Bos'n with him. But the captain
had never run away from a fight yet; he had never abandoned a ship
while there was a chance of keeping her afloat. And, besides,
there was another reason.
Phoebe Dawes had come to be his chief reliance. He saw a great
deal of her. Often when she walked home from school, she found him
hanging over the front gate, and they talked of various things--of
Bos'n's progress with her studies, of the school work, and similar
topics. He called her by her first name now, although in this
there was nothing unusual--after a few weeks' acquaintance we
Bayporters almost invariably address people by their "front" names.
Sometimes she came to the house with Emily. Then the three sat by
the stove in the sitting room, and the apartment became really
cheerful, in the captain's eyes.
Phoebe was in good spirits. She was as hopeful as Captain Cy was
despondent. She seemed to have little fear of the outcome of the
legal proceedings, the appeals and the rest. In fact, she now
appeared desirous of evading the subject, and there was about her
an air of suppressed excitement. Her optimism was the best sort of
bracer for the captain's failing courage. Her advice was always
good, and a talk with her left him with shoulders squared,
mentally, and almost happy.
One cold, rainy afternoon, early in February, she came in with
Bos'n, who had availed herself of the shelter of the teacher's
umbrella. Georgianna was in the kitchen baking, and Emily had been
promised a "saucer pie"--so the child went out to superintend the
construction of that treat.
"Set down, teacher," said Captain Cy, pushing forward a rocker.
"My! but I'm glad to see you. 'Twas bluer'n a whetstone 'round
here to-day. What's the news--anything?"
"Why, no," replied Phoebe, accepting the rocker and throwing open
her wet jacket; "there's no news in particular. But I wanted to
ask if you had seen the Breeze?"
"Um--hum," was the listless answer. "I presume likely you mean the
news about the appropriation, and the editorial dig at yours truly?
Yes, I've seen it. They don't bother me much. I've got more
important things on my mind just now."
Congressman Atkins's pledge in his farewell speech, concerning the
mighty effort he was to make toward securing the appropriation for
Bayport harbor, was in process of fulfillment--so he had written to
the local paper. But, alas! the mighty effort was likely to prove
unavailing. In spite of the Honorable Heman's battle for his
constituents' rights it seemed certain that the bill would not
provide the thirty thousand dollars for Bayport; at least, not this
year's bill. Other and more powerful interests would win out and,
instead, another section of the coast be improved at the public
expense. The congressman was deeply sorry, almost broken-hearted.
he had battled hard for his beloved town, he had worked night and
day. But, to be perfectly frank, there was little or no hope.
Few of us blamed Heman Atkins. The majority considered his letter
"noble" and "so feeling." But some one must be blamed for a
community disappointment like this, and the scapegoat was on the
premises. How about that "committee of one" self-appointed at town
meeting? How about the blatant person who had declared HE could
have gotten the appropriation? What had the "committee" done?
Nothing! nothing at all! He had not even written to the Capital--
so far as anyone could find out--much less gone there.
So, at Simmons's and the sewing circle, and after meeting on
Sunday, Cy Whittaker was again discussed and derided. And this
week's Breeze, out that morning, contained a sarcastic editorial
which mentioned no names, but hinted at "a certain now notorious
person" who had boasted loudly, but who had again "been weighed in
the balance of public opinion and found wanting."
Miss Dawes did not seem pleased with the captain's nonchalant
attitude toward the Breeze and its editorial. She tapped the
braided mat with her foot.
"Captain Cyrus," she said, "if you intended doing nothing toward
securing that appropriation why did you accept the responsibility
for it at the meeting?"
Captain Cy looked up. Her tone reminded him of their first
meeting, when she had reproved him for going to sleep and leaving
Bos'n to the mercy of the Cahoon cow.
"Well," he said, "afore this Thomas business happened, to knock all
my plans on their beam ends, I'd done consider'ble thinkin' about
that appropriation. It seemed to me that there must be some reason
for Heman's comin' about so sudden. He was sartin sure of the
thirty thousand for a spell; then, all to once, he begun to take in
sail and go on t'other tack. I don't know much about politics, but
I know HE knows all the politics there is. And it seemed to me
that if a live man, one with eyes in his head, went to Washington
and looked around he might find the reason. And, if he did find
it, maybe Heman could be coaxed into changin' his mind again.
Anyhow, I was willin' to take the risk of tryin'; and, besides, Tad
and Abe Leonard had me on the griddle at that meetin', and I spoke
up sharp--too sharp, maybe."
"But you still believe that you MIGHT help if you went to
"Yes. I guess I do. Anyhow, I'd ask some pretty p'inted questions.
You see, I ain't lived here in Bayport all my life, and I don't
swaller ALL the bait Heman heaves overboard."
"Then why don't you go?"
"Hey? Why don't I go? And leave Bos'n and--"
"Emily would be all right and perfectly safe. Georgianna thinks
the world of her. And, Captain Whittaker, I don't like to hear
these people talk of you as they do. I don't like to read such
things in the paper, that you were only bragging in order to be
popular, and meant to shirk when the time came for action. I know
they're not true. I KNOW it!"
Captain Cy was gratified, and his gratification showed in his
"Thank you, Phoebe," he said. "I am much obliged to you. But, you
see, I don't take any interest in such things any more. When I
realize that pretty soon I've got to give up that little girl for
good I can't bear to be away from her a minute hardly. I don't
like to leave her here alone with Georgianna and--"
"I will keep an eye on her. You trust me, don't you?"
"Trust YOU? By the big dipper, you're about the only one I CAN
trust these days. I don't know how I'd have pulled through this if
you hadn't helped. You're diff'rent from Ase and Bailey and their
kind--not meanin' anything against them, either. But you're broad-
minded and cool-headed and--and-- Do you know, if I'd had a woman
like you to advise me all these years and keep me from goin' off
the course, I might have been somebody by now."
"I think you're somebody as it is."
"Don't talk that way. I own up I like to hear you, but I'm 'fraid
it ain't true. You say I amount to somethin'. Well, what? I come
back home here, with some money in my pocket, thinkin' that was
about all was necessary to make me a good deal of a feller. The
old Cy Whittaker place, I said to myself, was goin' to be a real Cy
Whittaker place again. And I'd be a real Whittaker, a man who
should stand for somethin', as my dad and granddad did afore me.
The town should respect me, and I'd do things to help it along.
And what's it all come to? Why, every young one on the street is
told to be good for fear he'll grow up like me. Ain't that so?
Course it's so! I'm--"
"You SHALL not speak so! Do you imagine that you're not respected
by everyone whose respect counts for anything? Yes, and by others,
too. Don't you suppose Mr. Atkins respects you, down in his heart--
if he has one? Doesn't your housekeeper, who sees you every day,
respect and like you? And little Emily--doesn't she love you more
than she does all the rest of us together?"
"Well, I guess Bos'n does care for the old man some, that's a fact.
She says she likes you next best, though. Did you know that?"
But Miss Dawes was indignant.
"Captain Whittaker," she declared, "one would think you were a
hundred years old to hear you. You are always calling yourself an
old man. Does Mr. Atkins call himself old? And he is older than
"Well, I'm over fifty, Phoebe." In spite of the habit for which he
had just been reproached, the captain found this a difficult
statement to make.
"I know. But you're younger than most of us at thirty-five. You
see, I'm confessing, too," she added with a laugh and a little
Captain Cy made a mental calculation.
"Twenty years," he said musingly. "Twenty years is a long time.
No, I'm old. And worse than that, I'm an old fool, I guess. If I
hadn't been I'd have stayed in South America instead of comin' here
to be hooted out of the town I was born in."
The teacher stamped her foot.
"Oh, what SHALL I do with you!" she exclaimed. "It is wicked for
you to say such things. Do you suppose that Mr. Atkins would find
it necessary to work as he is doing to beat a fool? And, besides,
you're not complimentary to me. Should I, do you think, take such
an interest in one who was an imbecile?"
"Well, 'tis mighty good of you. Your comin' here so to help Bos'n's
fight along is--"
"How do you know it is Bos'n altogether? I--" She stopped
suddenly, and the color rushed to her face. She rose from the
rocker. "I--really, I don't see how we came to be discussing such
nonsense," she said. "Our ages and that sort of thing! Captain
Cyrus, I wish you would go to Washington. I think you ought to
But the captain's thoughts were far from Washington at that moment.
His own face was alight, and his eyes shone.
"Phoebe," he faltered unbelievingly, "what was you goin' to say?
Do you mean that--that--"
The side door of the house opened. The next instant Mr. Tidditt, a
dripping umbrella in his hand, entered the sitting room.
"Hello, Whit!" he hailed. "Just run in for a minute to say howdy."
Then he noticed the schoolmistress, and his expression changed.
"Oh! how be you, Miss Dawes?" he said. "I didn't see you fust off.
Don't run away on my account."
"I was just going," said Phoebe, buttoning her jacket. Captain Cy
accompanied her to the door.
"Good-by," she said. "There was something else I meant to say, but
I think it is best to wait. I hope to have some good news for you
soon. Something that will send you to Washington with a light
heart. Perhaps I shall hear to-morrow. If so, I will call after
school and tell you."
"Yes, do," urged the captain eagerly. "You'll find me here
waitin'. Good news or not, do come. I--I ain't said all I wanted
He returned to the sitting room. The town clerk was standing by
the stove. He looked troubled.
"What's the row, Ase?" asked Cy cheerily. He was overflowing with
"Oh, nothin' special," replied Mr. Tidditt. "You look joyful
enough for two of us. Had good company, ain't you?"
"Why, yes; 'bout as good as there is. What makes you look so
"Phoebe was here yesterday, too, wan't she?" he asked.
"Yup. What of it?"
"And the day afore that?"
"No, not for three days afore that. But what OF it, I ask you?"
"Well, now, Cy, you mustn't get mad. I'm a friend of yours, and
friends ought to be able to say 'most anything to each other. If--
if I was you, I wouldn't let Phoebe come so often--not here, you
know, at your house. Course, I know she comes with Bos'n and all,
"Out with it!" The captain's tone was ominous. "What are you
The caller fidgeted.
"Well, Whit," he stammered, "there's consider'ble talkin' goin' on,
"Talkin'? What kind of talkin'?"
"Well, you know the kind. This town does a good deal of it,
'specially after church and prayer meetin'. Seem's if they thought
'twas a sort of proper place. _I_ don't myself; I kind of like to
keep my charity and brotherly love spread out through the week,
"Ase, are the folks in this town sayin' a word against Phoebe Dawes
because she comes here to see--Bos'n?"
"Don't--don't get mad, Whit. Don't look at me like that. _I_
ain't said nothin'. Why, a spell ago, at the boardin' house, I--"
He told of the meal at the perfect boarding house where Miss Dawes
championed his friend's cause. Also of the conversation which
followed, and his own part in it. Captain Cy paced the floor.
"I wouldn't have her come so often, Cy," pleaded Asaph. "Honest, I
wouldn't. Course, you and me know they're mean, miser'ble liars,
but it's her I'm thinkin' of. She's a young woman and single. And
you're a good many years older'n she is. And so, of course, you
and she ain't ever goin' to get married. And have you thought what
effect it might have on her keepin' her teacher's place? The
committee's a majority against her as 'tis. And--you know _I_
don't think so, but a good many folks do--you ain't got the best
name just now. Darn it all! I ain't puttin' this the way I'd
ought to, but YOU know what I mean, don't you, Cy?"
Captain Cy was leaning against the window frame, his head upon his
arm. He was not looking out, because the shade was drawn. Tidditt
waited anxiously for him to answer. At last he turned.
"Ase," he said, "I'm much obliged to you. You've pounded it in
pretty hard, but I cal'late I'd ought to have had it done to me.
I'm a fool--an OLD fool, just as I said a while back--and nothin'
nor NOBODY ought to have made me forget it. For a minute or so I--
but there! don't you fret. That young woman shan't risk her job
nor her reputation on account of me--nor of Bos'n, either. I'll
see to that. And see here," he added fiercely, "I can't stop
women's tongues, even when they're as bad as some of the tongues in
this town, BUT if you hear a MAN say one word against Phoebe Dawes,
only one word, you tell me his name. You hear, Ase? You tell me
his name. Now run along, will you? I ain't safe company just
Asaph, frightened at the effect of his words, hurriedly departed.
Captain Cy paced the room for the next fifteen minutes. Then he
opened the kitchen door.
"Bos'n," he called, "come in and set in my lap a while; don't you
want to? I'm--I'm sort of lonesome, little girl."
The next afternoon, when the schoolmistress, who had been delayed
by the inevitable examination papers, stopped at the Cy Whittaker
place, she was met by Georgianna; Emily, who stood behind the
housekeeper in the doorway, was crying.
"Cap'n Cy has gone away--to Washin'ton," declared Georgianna.
"Though what he's gone there for's more'n I know. He said he'd
send his hotel address soon's he got there. He went on the three
Phoebe was astonished.
"Gone?" she repeated. "So soon! Why, he told me he should
certainly be here to hear some news I expected to-day. Didn't he
leave any message for me?"
The housekeeper turned red.
"Miss Phoebe," she said, "he told me to tell you somethin', and
it's so dreadful I don't hardly dast to say it. I think his
troubles have driven him crazy. He said to tell you that you'd
better not come to this house any more."
In the old days, the great days of sailing ships and land merchant
fleets, Bayport was a community of travelers. Every ambitious man
went to sea, and eventually, if he lived, became a captain. Then
he took his wife, and in most cases his children, with him on long
voyages. To the stay-at-homes came letters with odd, foreign
stamps and postmarks. Our what-nots and parlor mantels were filled
with carved bits of ivory, gorgeous shells, alabaster candlesticks,
and plaster miniatures of the Leaning Tower at Pisa or the Coliseum
at Rome. We usually began a conversation with "When my husband and
I were at Hong Kong the last time--" or "I remember at Mauritius
they always--" New Orleans or 'Frisco were the nearest domestic
ports the mention of which was considered worth while.
But this is so no longer. A trip to Boston is, of course, no
novelty to the most of us; but when we visit New York we take care
to advertise it beforehand. And the few who avail themselves of
the spring "cut rates" and go on excursions to Washington, plan
definite programmes for each day at the Capital, and discuss them
with envious friends for weeks in advance. And if the prearranged
programme is not scrupulously carried out, we feel that we have
been defrauded. It was the regret of Aunt Sophronia Hallett's life
that, on her Washington excursion, she had not seen the "Diplomatic
Corpse." She saw the President and the Monument and Congress and
"the relics in the Smithsonian Institute," but the "Corpse" was not
on view; Aunt Sophronia never quite got over the disappointment.
Probably no other Bayporter, in recent years, has started for
Washington on such short notice or with so ill-defined a programme
as Captain Cy. He went because he felt that he must go somewhere.
After the conversation with Asaph, he simply could not remain at
home. If Phoebe Dawes called, he knew that he must see her, and if
he saw her, what should he say to her? He could not tell her that
she must not visit the Cy Whittaker place again. If he did, she
would insist upon the reason. If he told her of the "town talk,"
he felt sure, knowing her, that she would indignantly refuse to
heed the malicious gossip. And he was firmly resolved not to
permit her to compromise her life and her future by friendship with
a social outcast like himself. As for anything deeper and more
sacred than friendship, that was ridiculous. If, for a moment, a
remark of hers had led him to dream of such a thing, it was because
he was, as he had so often declared, an "old fool."
So Captain Cy had resolved upon flight, and he fled to Washington
because the business of the "committee of one" offered a legitimate
excuse for going there. The blunt message he had intrusted to
Georgianna would, he believed, arouse Phoebe's indignation. She
would not call again. And when he returned to Bos'n, it would be
to take up the child's fight alone. If he lost that fight, or WHEN
he lost it, he would close the Cy Whittaker place, and leave
Bayport for good.
He had been in Washington once before, years ago, when he was first
mate of a ship and had a few weeks' shore leave. Then he went
there on a pleasure trip with some seagoing friends, and had a
jolly time. But there was precious little jollity in the present
visit. He had never felt so thoroughly miserable. In order to
forget, he made up his mind to work his hardest to discover why the
harbor appropriation was not to be given to Bayport.
The city had changed greatly. He would scarcely have known it.
He went to the hotel where he had stayed before, and found a big,
modern building in its place. The clerk was inclined to be rather
curt and perfunctory at first, but when he learned that the captain
was not anxious concerning the price of accommodations, but merely
wanted a "comf'table berth somewheres on the saloon deck," and
appeared to have plenty of money, he grew polite. Captain Cy was
shown to his room, where he left his valise. Then he went down to
After the meal was over, he seated himself in one of the big
leather chairs in the hotel lobby, smoked and thought. In the
summer, before Bos'n came, and before her father had arisen to
upset every calculation and wreck all his plans, the captain had
given serious thought to what he should do if Congressman Atkins
failed, as even then he seemed likely to do, in securing that
appropriation. The obvious thing, of course, would have been to
hunt up Mr. Atkins and question him. But this was altogether too
obvious. In the first place, the strained relations between them
would make the interview uncomfortable; and, in the second, if
there was anything underhand in Heman's backsliding on the
appropriation, Atkins was too wary a bird to be snared with
But Captain Cy had another acquaintance in the city, the son of a
still older acquaintance, who had been a wealthy shipping merchant
and mine owner in California. The son was also a congressman, from
a coast State, and the captain had read of him in the papers. A
sketch of his life had been printed, and this made his identity
absolutely certain. Captain Cy's original idea had been to write
to this congressman. Now he determined to find and interview him.
He inquired concerning him of the hotel clerk, who, like all
Washington clerks, was a walking edition of "Who's Who at the
"Congressman Everdean?" repeated the all-knowing young gentleman.
"Yes. He's in town. Has rooms at the Gloria; second hotel on the
right as you go up the avenue. Only a short walk. What can I do
for you, sir?"
The Gloria was an even bigger hotel than the one where the captain
had his "berth." An inquiry at the desk, of another important
clerk, was answered with a brisk:
"Mr. Everdean? Yes, he rooms here. Don't know whether he's in or
not. Evening, judge. Nice Winter weather we're having."
The judge, who was a ponderous person vaguely suggesting the great
Heman, admitted that the weather was fine, patronizing it as he did
so. The clerk continued the conversation. Captain Cy waited. At
length he spoke.
"Excuse me, commodore," he said; "I don't like to break in until
you've settled whether you have it snow or not, but I'm here to see
Congressman Everdean. Hadn't you better order one of your fo'mast
hands to hunt him up?"
The judge condescended to smile, as did several other men who stood
near. The clerk reddened.
"Do you want to see Mr. Everdean?" he snapped.
"Why, yes, I did. But I can't see him from here without strainin'
The clerk sharply demanded one of the captain's visiting cards. He
didn't get one, for the very good reason that there was none in
"Tell him an old friend of his dad's is here on the main deck
waitin' for him," said Captain Cy. "That'll do first rate. Thank
Word came that the congressman would be down in a few moments. The
captain beguiled the interval by leaning on the rail and regarding
the clerk with an awed curiosity that annoyed its object exceedingly.
The inspection was still on when a tall man, of an age somewhere
in the early thirties, walked briskly up to the desk.
"Who is it that wants to see me?" he asked.
The clerk waved a deprecatory hand in Captain Cy's direction. The
"My name is Everdean," he said. "Are you--hey?--Great Scott! Is
it possible this is Captain Whittaker?"
The captain was immensely pleased.
"Well, I declare, Ed!" he exclaimed. "I didn't believe you'd
remember me after all these years. You was nothin' but a boy when
I saw you out in 'Frisco. Well! well! No wonder you're in
Congress. A man that can remember faces like that ought to be
Everdean laughed as they shook hands.
"Don't suppose I'd forget the chap who used to dine with us and
tell me those sea stories, do you?" he said. "I'm mighty glad to
see you. What are you doing here? The last father and I heard of
you, you were in South America. Given up the sea, they said, and
getting rich fast."
Captain Cy chuckled.
"It's a good thing I learned long ago not to believe all I hear,"
he answered, "else I'd have been so sure I was rich that I'd have
spent all I had, and been permanent boarder at the poorhouse by
now. No, thanks; I've had dinner. Why, yes, I'll smoke, if you'll
help along. How's your father? Smart, is he?"
The congressman insisted that they should adjourn to his rooms. An
unmarried man, he kept bachelor's hall at the hotel during his stay
in Washington. There, in comfortable chairs, they spoke of old
times, when the captain was seafaring and the Everdean home had
been his while his ship was in port at 'Frisco. He told of his
return to Bayport, and the renovation of the old house. Of Bos'n
he said nothing. At last Everdean asked what had brought him to
"Well," said Captain Cy, "I'll tell you. I'm like the feller in
court without a lawyer; he said he couldn't tell whether he was
guilty or not 'count of havin' no professional advice. That's what
I've come to you for, Ed--professional advice."
He told the harbor appropriation story. At the incident of the
"committee of one" his friend laughed heartily.
"Rather put your foot in it that time, Captain, didn't you?" he
"Yup. Then I got t'other one stuck tryin' to get the first clear.
How's it look to you? All straight, do you think? or is there a
nigger in the wood pile?"
Mr. Everdean seemed to reflect.
"Well, Captain," he said, "I can't tell. You're asking delicate
questions. Politicians are like doctors, they usually back up each
other's opinions. Still, you're at least as good a friend of mine
as Atkins is. Queer HE should bob up in this matter! Why, he--but
never mind that now. I tell you, Captain Whittaker, you come
around and have dinner with me to-morrow night. In the meantime
I'll see the chairman of the committee on that bill--one of the so-
called 'pork' bills it is. Possibly from him and some other
acquaintances of mine I may learn something. At any rate, you come
So the invitation was accepted, and Captain Cy went back to his own
hotel and his room. He slept but little, although it was not worry
over the appropriation question which kept him awake. Next morning
he wrote a note to Georgianna, giving his Washington address. With
it he enclosed a long letter to Bos'n, telling her he should be
home pretty soon, and that she must be a good girl and "boss the
ship" during his absence. He sent his regards to Asaph and Bailey,
but Phoebe's name he did not mention. Then he put in a miserable
day wandering about the city. At eight that evening he and his
Western friend sat down at a corner table in the big dining room of
The captain began to ask questions as soon as the soup was served,
but Everdean refused to answer.
"No, no," he said, "pleasure first and business afterwards; that's
a congressional motto. I can't talk Atkins with my dinner and
"Can't, hey? You wouldn't be popular at our perfect boarding house
back home. There they serve Heman hot for breakfast and dinner,
and warm him over for supper. All right, I can wait."
The conversation wandered from Buenos Ayres to 'Frisco and back
again until the cigars and coffee were reached. Then the
congressman blew a fragrant ring into the air and, from behind it,
looked quizzically at his companion.
"Well," he observed, "so far as that appropriation of yours is
He paused and blew a second ring. Captain Cy stroked his beard.
"Um--yes," he drawled, "now that you mention it, seems to me there
was some talk of an appropriation."
Mr. Everdean laughed.
"I've been making inquiries," he said. "I saw the chairman of the
committee on the pork bill. I know him well. He's a good fellow,
"Yes, I know. I've seen lots of politicians like that; they're all
good fellers, but-- If I was in politics I'd make a law to cut
'But' out of the dictionary."
"Well, this chap really is a good fellow. I asked about the thirty
thousand dollars for your town. He asked me why I didn't go to the
congressman from that district, and not bother him about it. I
said perhaps I would go to the congressman later, but I came to him
"Sartin. Same as the feller with a sick mother-in-law stopped in
at the undertaker's on his way to call the doctor. All right;
"Well, we had a rather long conversation. I discovered that the
Bayport item was originally included in the bill, but recently had
been stricken out."
"Yes, I see. Uncle Sam had to economize, hey? Save somethin' for
a rainy day."
"Well, possibly. Still the bill is just as heavy. Now, Captain
Whittaker, I don't KNOW anything about this affair, and it's not my
business. But I've been about to-day, and I asked questions, and--
I'm going to tell you a fairy tale. It isn't as interesting as
your sea yarns, but-- Do you like fairy stories?"
"Land, yes! Tell a few myself when it's necessary. Sometimes I
almost believe 'em. Well?"
"Of course, you must remember this IS a fairy story. Let's suppose
that once on a time--that's the way they always begin--once on a
time there was a great man, great in his own country, who was sent
abroad by his people to represent them among the rulers of the
land. So, in order to typically represent them, he dressed in glad
and expensive raiment, went about in dignity, and--"
"And whiskers. Don't leave out the whiskers!"
"All right--and whiskers. And it came to pass that the people whom
he represented wished to--to--er--bring about a certain needed
improvement in their--their beautiful and enterprising community."
"Sho! sho! how natural that sounds! You must be a mind reader."
"No. But I have to make speeches in my own community occasionally.
Well, the people asked their great man to get the money needed for
this improvement from the rulers of the land aforementioned. And
he was at first all enthusiasm and upon the--the parchment scroll
where such matters are inscribed was written the name of the
beautiful and enterprising community, and the sum of money it asked
for. And the deal was as good as made. Excuse the modern
phraseology; my fairy lingo got mixed there."
"Never mind. I can get the drift just as well--maybe better."
"And the deal was as good as made. But before the vote was taken
another chap came to the great man and said: 'Look here! I want
to get an appropriation of, say, fifty thousand dollars, to deepen
and improve a river down in my State'--a Southern State we'll say.
'I've been to the chairman of the pork bill committee, and he says
it's impossible. The bill simply can't be loaded any further. But
I find that you have an item in there for deepening and improving a
harbor back in your own district. Why don't you cut that item out--
shove it over until next year? You can easily find a satisfactory
explanation for your constituents. AND you want to remember this:
the improvement of this river means that the--the--well, a certain
sugar-growing company--can get their stuff to market at a figure
which will send its stock up and up. And you are said to own a
considerable amount of that stock. So why not drop the harbor item
and substitute my river slice? Then--' Well, I guess that's the
end of the tale."
He paused and relit his cigar. Captain Cy thoughtfully marked with
his fork on the tablecloth.
"Hum!" he grunted. "That's a very interestin' yarn. Yes, yes!
don't know's I ever heard a more interestin' one. I presume likely
there ain't a mite of proof that it's true?"
"Not an atom. I told you it was a fairy tale. And I mustn't be
quoted in the matter. Honestly, the most of it is guess work, at
that. But perhaps a 'committee of one,' dropping a hint at home,
might at least arouse some uncomfortable questioning of a certain
great man. That's about all, though. Proof is quite another
The captain pondered. He was fully aware that the unpopularity of
the "committee" would nullify whatever good its hinting might do.
"Humph!" he grunted again. "It's one thing to smell a rat and
another to nail its tail to the floor. But I'm mighty obliged to
you, all the same. And I'll think it over hard. Say! I can see
one thing--you don't take a very big shine to Heman yourself."
"Not too big--no. Do you?"
"Well, I don't wake up nights and cry for him."
"That's characteristic," he said. "You have your own way of
putting things, Captain, and it's hard to be improved on. Atkins
has never done anything to me. I just--I just don't like him,
that's all. Father never liked him, either, in the old days; and
yet--and it's odd, too--he was the means of the old gentleman's
making the most of his money."
"He? Who? Not Heman?"
"Yes, Heman Atkins. But, so far as that goes, father started him
toward wealth, I suppose. At least, he was poor enough before the
mine was sold."
"What are you talkin' about? Heman got his start tradin' over in
the South Seas. Sellin' the Kanakas glass beads and calico for
pearls and copra--two cupfuls of pearls for every bead. Anyhow,
that's the way the yarn goes."
"I can't help that. He was just a common sailor who had run away
from his ship and was gold mining in California. And when he and
his partner struck it rich father borrowed money, headed a company,
and bought them out. That mine was the Excelsior, and it's just as
productive to-day as it ever was. I rather think Atkins must be
very sorry he sold. I suppose, by right, I should be very grateful
to your distinguished representative."
"Well, I do declare! Sho, sho! Ain't that funny now? He's never
said a word about it at home. I don't believe there's a soul in
Bayport knows that. We all thought 'twas South Sea tradin' that
boosted Heman. And your own dad! I declare, this is a small
"It's odd father never told you about it. It's one of the old
gentleman's pet stories. He came West in 1850, and was running a
little shipping store in 'Frisco. He met Atkins and the other
young sailor, his partner, before they left their ship. They were
in the store, buying various things, and father got to know them
pretty well. Then they ran away to the diggings--you simply
couldn't keep a crew in those times--and he didn't see them again
for a good while. Then they came in one day and showed him
specimens from a claim they had back in the mountains. They were
mighty good specimens, and what they said about the claim convinced
father that they had a valuable property. So he went to see a few
well-to-do friends of his, and the outcome was that a party was
made up to go and inspect. The young fellows were willing to sell
out, for it was a quartz working and they hadn't the money to carry
"The inspection showed that the claim was likely to be even better
than they thought, so, after some bargaining, the deal was
completed. They sold out for seventy-five thousand dollars, and it
was the best trade father ever made. He's so proud of his judgment
and foresight in making it that I wonder he never told you the
"He never did. When was this?"
"In '54. What?"
"I didn't speak. The date seemed kind of familiar to me, that's
all. Seem's as if I heard it recent, but I can't remember when.
Seventy-five thousand, hey? Well, that wan't so bad, was it? With
that for a nest egg, no wonder Heman's managed to hatch a pretty
respectable brood of dollars."
"Oh, the whole seventy-five wasn't his, of course. Half belonged
to his partner. But the poor devil didn't live to enjoy it. After
the articles were signed and before the money was paid over, he was
taken sick with a fever and died."
"Hey? He died? With a FEVER?"
"Yes. But he left a pretty good legacy to his heirs, didn't he.
For a common sailor--or second mate; I believe that's what he was--
thirty-seven thousand five hundred is doing well. It must have
come as a big surprise to them. The whole sum was paid to Atkins,
who-- What's the matter with you?"
Captain Cy was leaning back in his chair. He was as white as the
"Are you ill?" asked the congressman anxiously. "Take some water.
Shall I call--"
The captain waved his hand.
"No, no!" he stammered. "No! I'm all right. Do you--for the
Lord's sake tell me this! What was the name of this partner that
Mr. Everdean looked curiously at his friend before he answered.
"Sure you're not sick?" he asked. "Well, all right. The partner's
name? Why, I've heard it often enough. It's on the deed of sale
that father has framed in his room at home. The old gentleman is
as proud of that as anything in the house. The name was--was--"
"For God sakes," cried Captain Cy, "don't say 'twas John Thayer!
'Cause if you do I shan't believe it."
"That's what it was--John Thayer. How did you guess? Did you know
him? I remember now that he was another Down Easter, like Atkins."
The captain did not answer. He clasped his forehead with both
hands and leaned his elbows on the table. Everdean was plainly
"I'm going to call a doctor," he began, rising. But Captain Cy
waved him back again.
"Set still!" he ordered. "Set still, I tell you! You say the
whole seventy-five thousand was paid to Heman, but that John Thayer
signed the bill of sale afore he died, as half partner? And your
dad's got the original deed and--and--he remembers the whole
"Yes, he's got the deed--framed. It's on record, too, of course.
Remembers? I should say he did! He'll talk for a week on that
subject, if you give him a chance."
The captain sprang to his feet. His chair tipped backward and fell
to the floor. An obsequious waiter ran to right it, but Captain Cy
paid no attention to him.
"Where's my coat?" he demanded. "Where's my coat and hat?"
"What ails you?" asked Everdean. "Are you going crazy?"
"Goin' CRAZY? No, no! I'm goin' to California. When's the next
THE TOPPLING OF A MONUMENT
The Honorable Heman Atkins sat in the library of his Washington
home, before a snapping log fire, reading a letter. Mr. Atkins
had, as he would have expressed it, "served his people" in Congress
for so many years that he had long since passed the hotel stage of
living at the Capital. He rented a furnished house on an eminently
respectable street, and the polished doorplate bore his name in
The library furniture was solid and dignified. Its businesslike
appearance impressed the stray excursionist from the Atkins district,
when he or she visited the great man in whose affairs we felt such a
personal interest. Particularly impressive and significant was a
map of the district hanging over the congressman's desk, and an oil
painting of the Atkins mansion at Bayport, which, with the iron dogs
and urns conspicuous in its foreground, occupied the middle of the
largest wall space.
The cheery fire was very comforting on a night like this, for the
sleet was driving against the windowpanes, the sidewalks were ankle
deep in slush, and the wet, cold wind from the Potomac was whistling
down the street. Somewhere about the house an unfastened shutter
slammed in the gusts. Mr. Atkins should have been extremely
comfortable as he sat there by the fire. He had spent many
comfortable winters in that room. But now there was a frown on his
face as he read the letter in his hand. It was from Simpson, and
stated, among other things, that Cyrus Whittaker had been absent
from Bayport for over two weeks, and that no one seemed to know
where he had gone. "The idea seems to be that he started for
Washington," wrote Tad; "but if that is so, it is queer you haven't
seen him. I am suspicious that he is up to something about that
harbor business. I should keep my eye peeled if I was you."
Alicia, the Atkins hopeful, rustled into the room.
"Papa," she said, "I've come to kiss you good night."
Her father performed the ceremony in a perfunctory way.
"All right, all right," he said. "Now run along to bed and don't
bother me, there's a good girl. I wish," he added testily to the
housekeeper who had followed Alicia into the room, "I wish you'd
see to that loose blind. It makes me nervous. Such things as that
should be attended to without specific orders from me."
The housekeeper promised to attend to the blind. She and the girl
left the library. Heman reread the Simpson letter. Then he
dropped it in his lap and sat thinking and twirling his eyeglasses
at the end of their black cord. His thoughts seemed to be not of
the pleasantest. The lines about his mouth had deepened during the
last few months. He looked older.
The telephone bell rang sharply. Mr. Atkins came out of his
reverie with a start, arose and walked across the room to the wall
where the instrument hung. It was before the days of the
convenient desk 'phone. He took the receiver from its hook and
spoke into the transmitter.
"Hello!" he said. "Hello! Yes, yes! stop ringing. What is it?"
The wire buzzed and purred in the storm. "Hello!" said a voice.
"Hello, there! Is this Mr. Atkins's house?"
"Yes; it is. What do you want?"
"Hey? Is this where the Honorable Heman Atkins lives?"
"Yes, yes, I tell you! This is Mr. Atkins speaking. What do you
"Oh! is that you, Heman? This is Whittaker--Cy Whittaker.
Mr. Atkins understood. Yet for an instant he did not reply. He
had been thinking, as he sat by the fire, of certain persons and
certain ugly, though remote, possibilities. Now, from a mysterious
somewhere, one of those persons was speaking to him. The hand
holding the receiver shook momentarily.
"Hello! I say, Heman, do you understand? This is Whittaker
"I--er--understand," said the congressman, slowly. "Well, sir?"
"I'm here in Washin'ton."
"I have been informed that you were in the city. Well, sir?"
"Oh! knew I was here, did you? Is that so? Who told you? Tad
wrote, I suppose, hey?"
The congressman did not reply immediately. This man, whom he
disliked more than anyone else in the world, had an irritating
faculty of putting his finger on the truth. And the flippancy in
the tone was maddening. Mr. Atkins was not used to flippancy.
"I believe I am not called upon to disclose my source of
information," he said with chilling dignity. "It appears to have
been trustworthy. I presume you have 'phoned me concerning the
appropriation matter. I do not recognize your right to intrude in
that affair, and I shall decline to discuss it. Yes, sir. To my
people, to those who have a right to question, I am and shall
always be willing to explain my position. Good night."
"Wait! Hello! Hold on a minute. Don't get mad, Heman. I only
wanted to say just a word. You'll let me say a word, won't you?"
This was more like it. This was more nearly the tone in which Mr.
Atkins was wont to be addressed. It was possible that the man,
recognizing the uselessness of further opposition, desired to
"I cannot," declared the Honorable, "understand why you should wish
to speak with me. We have very little in common, very little, I'm
thankful to say. However, I will hear you briefly. Go on."
"Much obliged. Well, Heman, I only wanted to say that I thought
maybe you'd better have a little talk with me. I'm here at the
hotel, the Regent. You know where 'tis, I presume likely. I guess
you'd better come right down and see me."
Heman gasped, actually gasped, with astonishment.
"_I_ had better come and see YOU? I--! Well, sir! WELL! I am not
"I know, but I think you'd better. It's dirty weather, and I've
got cold somehow or other. I ain't feelin' quite up to the mark,
so I cal'late I'll stay in port much as I can. You come right
down. I'll be in my room, and the hotel folks 'll tell you where
'tis. I'll be waitin' for you."
Mr. Atkins breathed hard. In his present frame of mind he would
have liked to deliver a blast into that transmitter which would
cause the person at the other end of the line to shrivel under its
heat. But he was a politician of long training, and he knew that
such blasts were sometimes expensive treats. It might be well to
hear what his enemy had to say. But as to going to see him--that
was out of the question.
"I do not," he thundered, "I do not care to continue this
conversation. If--if you wish to see me, after what has taken
place between us, I am willing, in spite of personal repugnance, to
grant you a brief interview. My servants will admit you here at
nine o'clock to-morrow morning. But I tell you now, that your
interference with this appropriation matter is as useless as it is
ridiculous and impudent. It is of a piece with the rest of your
"All right, Heman, all right," was the calm answer. "I don't say
you've got to come. I only say I guess you'd better. I'm goin'
back to Bayport tomorrer, early. And if I was you I'd come and see
"I have no wish to see you. Nor do I care to talk with you further.
"Maybe it ain't all appropriation."
"Then I cannot understand--"
"I know, but _I_ understand. I've come to understand consider'ble
many things in the last fortni't. There! I can't holler into this
machine any longer. I've been clear out to 'Frisco and back in
eleven days, and I got cold in those blessed sleepin' cars. I--"
The receiver fell from the congressman's hand. It was a difficult
object to pick up again. Heman groped for it in a blind, strangely
inadequate way. Yet he wished to recover it very much.
"Wait! wait!" he shouted anxiously. "I--I--I dropped the-- Are
you there, Whittaker? Are you-- Oh! yes! I didn't-- Did you say--
"Yes, San Francisco, California. I've been West on a little
cruise. Had an interestin' time. It's an interestin' place; don't
you think so? Well, I'm sorry you can't come. Good night."
"Wait!" faltered the great man. "I--I--let me think, Cyrus. I do
not wish to seem--er--arrogant in this matter. It is not usual for
me to visit my constituents, but--but--I have no engagement this
evening, and you are not well, and-- Hello! are you there? Hello!
Why, under the circumstances, I think-- Yes, I will come. I'll
The telephone enables one to procure a cab in a short time. Yet,
to Heman Atkins, that cab was years in coming. He paced the
library floor, his hand to his forehead and his brain whirling. It
couldn't be! It must be a coincidence! He had been an idiot to
display his agitation and surrender so weakly. And yet--and yet--
The ride through the storm to the Regent Hotel gave him opportunity
for more thought. But he gained little comfort from thinking. If
it was a coincidence, well and good. If not--
A bell boy conducted him to the Whittaker room "on the saloon
deck." It was a small room, very different from the Atkins
library, and Captain Cy, in a cane-seated chair, was huddled close
to the steam radiator. He looked far from well.
"Evenin', Heman," he said as the congressman entered. "Pretty
dirty night, ain't it? What we'd call a gray no'theaster back
home. Sit down. Don't mind my not gettin' up. This heatin'
arrangement feels mighty comf'table just now. If I get too far
away from it I shiver my deck planks loose. Take off your things."
Mr. Atkins did not remove his overcoat. His hat he tossed on the
bed. He glanced fearfully at his companion. The latter's greeting
had been so casual and everyday that he took courage. And the
captain looked anything but formidable as he hugged the radiator.
Perhaps things were not so bad as he had feared. He resolved not
to seem alarmed, at all events.
"Have a cigar, Heman?" said Captain Cy. "No? Well, all right; I
will, if you don't mind."
He lit the cigar. The congressman cleared his throat.
"Cyrus," he said, "I am not accustomed to run at the beck and call
of my--er--acquaintances, but, even though we have disagreed of
late, even though to me your conduct seems quite unjustifiable,
still, for the sake of our boyhood friendship, and, because you are
not well, I--er--came."
Captain Cy coughed spasmodically, a cough that seemed to be tearing
him to pieces. He looked at his cigar regretfully, and laid it on
the top of the radiator.
"Too bad," he observed. "Tobacco gen'rally iles up my talkin'
machinery, but just now it seems to make me bark like a ship's dog
shut up in the hold. Why, yes, Heman, I see you've come. Much
obliged to you."
This politeness was still more encouraging. Atkins leaned back in
his chair and crossed his legs.
"I presume," he said, "that you wish to ask concerning the
appropriation. I regret--"
"You needn't. I guess we'll get the appropriation."
Heman's condescension vanished. He leaned forward and uncrossed
"Indeed?" he said slowly, his eyes fixed on the captain's placid
"Whittaker, what are you talking about? Do you suppose that I have
been the representative of my people in Congress all these years
without knowing whereof I speak? They left the matter in my hands,
and your interference--"
"I ain't goin' to interfere. I'M goin' to leave it in your hands,
too. And I cal'late you'll be able to find a way to get it.
Um--hum, I guess likely you will."
The visitor rose to his feet. The time had come for another blast
from Olympus. He raised the mighty right arm. But Captain Cy
"Sit down, Heman," said the captain quietly. "Sit down. This
ain't town meetin'. Never mind the appropriation now. There's
other matters to be talked about first. Sit down, I tell you."
Mr. Atkins was purple in the face, but he sat down. The captain
"Heman," he began when the spasm was over, "I asked you to come
here to-night for--well, blessed if I know exactly. It didn't make
much difference to me whether you came or not."
"Then, sir, I must say that, of all the impudent--"
"S-s-h-h! for the land sakes! Speechmakin' must be as bad as the
rum habit, when a feller's got it chronic as you have. No, it
didn't make much difference to me whether you came or not. But,
honest, you've got to be a kind of Bunker Hill monument to the
folks back home. They kneel down at your foundations and look up
at you, and tell each other how many foot high you are, and what it
cost to build you, and how you stand for patriotism and purity,
till--well, _I_ couldn't see you tumble down without givin' you a
chance. I couldn't; 'twould be like blowin' up a church."
The purple had left the Atkins face, but the speechmaking habit is
not likely to be broken.
"Cyrus Whittaker," he stammered, "have you been drinking? Your
language to me is abominable. Why I permit myself to remain here
and listen to such--"
"If you'll keep still I'll tell you why. And, if I was you, I
wouldn't be too anxious to find out. This everlastin' cold don't
make me over 'n' above good-tempered, and when I think of what
you've done to that little girl, or what you tried to do, I have to
hold myself down tight, TIGHT, and don't you forget it! Now, you
keep quiet and listen. It'll be best for you, Heman. Your cards
ain't under the table any longer. I've seen your hand, and I know
why you've been playin' it. I know the whole game. I've been
West, and Everdean and I have had a talk."
Mr. Atkins had again risen from the chair. Now he fell heavily
back into it. His lips moved as if he meant to speak, but he did
not. At the mention of the Everdean name he made a queer, choking
sound in his throat.
"I know the whole business, Heman," went on the captain. "I know
why you was so knocked over when you learned who Bos'n was, the
night of the party. I know why you took up with that blackguard,
Thomas, and why you've spent your good money hirin' lawyers for
him. I know about the mine. I know the whole thing from first to
last. Shall I tell you? Do you want to hear it?"
The great man did not answer. A drop of perspiration shone on his
high forehead, and the veins of his big, white hands stood out as
he clutched the arms of his chair. The monument was tottering on
"It's a dirty mess, the whole of it," continued Captain Cy. "And
yet, I can see--I suppose I can see some excuse for you at the
beginnin'. When old man Everdean and his crowd bought you and John
Thayer out, 'way back there in '54, after John died, and all the
money was put into your hands, I cal'late you was honest then. I
wouldn't wonder if you MEANT to hand over the thirty-seven thousand
five hundred dollars to your partner's widow. But 'twas harder and
more risky to send money East in them days than 'tis now, and so
you waited, thinkin' maybe that you'd fetch it to Emily when you
come yourself. But you didn't come home for some years; you went
tradin' down along the Feejees and around that way. That's how I
reasoned it out these last few days on the train. I give you
credit for bein' honest first along.
"But never mind whether you was or not, you haven't been since.
You never paid over a cent of that poor feller's money--honest
money, that belonged to his heirs, and belongs to 'em now. You've
hung onto it, stole it, used it for yours. And Emily worked and
scratched for a livin' and died poor. And Mary, she died, after
bein' abused and deserted by that cussed husband of hers. And you
thought you was safe, I cal'late. And then Bos'n turns up right in
your own town, right acrost the road from you! By the big dipper!
it's enough to make a feller believe that the Almighty does take a
hand in straightenin' out such things, when us humans bungle 'em--
it is so!
"Course I ain't sure, Heman, what you meant to do when you found
that the child you'd stole that money from was goin' to be under
your face and eyes till you or she died. I cal'late you was afraid
I'd find somethin' out, wan't you? I presume likely you thought
that I, not havin' quite the reverence for you that the rest of the
Bayporters have, might be sharp enough or lucky enough to smell a
rat. Perhaps you suspicioned that I knew the Everdeans. Anyhow,
you wanted to get the child as fur out of your sight and out of my