Part 3 out of 7
hailed from and the names of their owners. But you've got me on my
beam ends. And yet you knew ME."
"Of course I did. Everybody knows the man that brought the packet
Nat Hammond sniffed impatiently.
"Um--hm!" he grunted. "I cal'late everybody does, and knows a lot
more about that foolishness than I do myself. If ever a craft was
steered by guess and by godfrey, 'twas that old hooker of Zach's
t'other night. Well-- Humph! here's another piece of pilotin'
that bids fair to be a mighty sight harder. Heave ahead, Hannibal!
hope you've got your web feet with you."
They had moved along the edge of the flat a short distance and now
turned into the channel. The horse was wading above its knees;
soon the water reached its belly and began to flow into the body of
"Pick up your feet, shipmate," commanded Nat. "You may get
rheumatiz if you don't. This'll be a treat for those sea clams
back in that bucket amidships. They'll think I've repented and
have decided to turn 'em loose again. They don't know how long
I've been countin' on a sea-clam pie. I'll fetch those clams
ashore if I have to lug 'em with my teeth. Steady, all hands!
we're off the ways."
The cart was afloat. The horse, finding wading more difficult than
swimming, began to swim.
"Now I'm skipper again, sure enough," remarked Hammond. "Ain't
gettin' seasick, are you?"
The minister laughed.
"No," he said.
"Good! she keeps on a fairly even keel, considerin' her build.
THERE she strikes! That'll do, January; you needn't try for a
record voyage. Walkin's more in your line than playin' steamboat.
We're over the worst of it now. Say! you and I didn't head for
port any too soon, did we?"
"No, I should say not. I ought to have known better than to wait
out there so long. I've been warned about this tide. I--"
"S-sh-sh! YOU ought to have known better! What do you think of
me? Born and brought up within sight and smell of this salt puddle
and let myself in for a scrape like this! But it was so mighty
fine off there on the bar I couldn't bear to leave it. I always
said that goin' to sea on land would be the ideal way, and now I've
tried it. But you took bigger chances than I did. Are you a good
"Not too good. I hardly know what might have happened if you
"S-sh-sh! that's all right. Always glad to pick up a derelict, may
be a chance for salvage, you know. Here's the last channel and
it's an easy one. There! now it's plain sailin' for dry ground."
The old horse, breathing heavily from his exertions, trotted over
the stretch of yet uncovered flats and soon mounted the slope of
the beach. The minister prepared to alight.
"Captain Hammond," he said, "you haven't asked me my name."
"No, I seldom do more'n once. There have been times when I'D just
as soon cruise without too big letters alongside my figurehead."
"Well, my name is Ellery."
"Hey? WHAT? Oh, ho! ho! ho!"
He rocked back and forth on the seat. The minister's feelings were
a bit hurt, though he tried not to show it.
"You mustn't mind my laughin'," explained Nat, still chuckling.
"It ain't at you. It's just because I was wonderin' what you'd
look like if I should meet you and now-- Ho! ho! You see, Mr.
Ellery, I've heard of you, same as you said you'd heard of me."
Ellery smiled, but not too broadly.
"Yes," he admitted, "I imagined you had."
"Yes, seems to me dad mentioned your name once or twice. As much
as that, anyhow. Wonder what he'd say if he knew his son had been
takin' you for a mornin' ride?"
"Probably that it would have been much better to have left me where
you found me."
The captain's jolly face grew serious.
"No, no!" he protested. "Not so bad as that. Dad wouldn't drown
anybody, not even a Regular minister. He's a pretty square-built
old craft, even though his spiritual chart may be laid out
different from yours--and mine."
"From yours? Why, I supposed--"
"Yes, I know. Well, WHEN I go to meetin', I generally go to the
chapel to please father. But when it comes right down to a
confession of faith, I'm pretty broad in the beam. Maybe I'd be
too broad even for you, Mr. Ellery."
The minister, who had jumped to the ground, looked up.
"Captain Hammond," he said, "I'm very glad indeed that I met you.
Not alone because you helped me out of a bad scrape; I realize how
bad it might have been and that--"
"Shsh! shh! Nothin' at all. Don't be foolish."
"But I'm glad, too, because I've heard so many good things about
you that I was sure you must be worth knowing. I hope you won't
believe I went to your father's meeting with any--"
"No, no! Jumpin' Moses, man! I don't find fault with you for
that. I understand, I guess."
"Well, if you don't mind the fact that I am what I am, I'd like to
shake hands with you."
Nat reached down a big brown hand.
"Same here," he said. "Always glad to shake with a chap as well
recommended as you are. Yes, indeed, I mean it. You see, you've
got a friend that's a friend of mine, and when she guarantees a man
to be A. B., I'll ship him without any more questions."
"Well, then, good-by. I hope we shall meet again and often. And I
certainly thank you for--"
"That's all right. Maybe you'll fish ME out of the drink some day;
you never can tell. So long! Git dap, Gen'ral Scott!"
He drove off up the beach, but before he turned the corner of the
nearest dune he called back over his shoulder:
"Say, Mr. Ellery, if you think of it you might give my regards to--
to--er--the lady that's keepin' house for you."
Breakfast had waited nearly an hour when the minister reached home.
Keziah, also, was waiting and evidently much relieved at his safe
"Sakes alive!" she exclaimed, as she met him at the back door.
"Where in the world have you been, Mr. Ellery? Soakin' wet again,
Ellery replied that he had been for a walk out to the bar. He sat
down on the step to remove the borrowed boots. A small rivulet of
salt water poured from each as he pulled them off.
"For a walk! A swim, you mean. How could you get in up to your
waist if you just walked? Did you fall down?"
"No, not exactly. But I waited too long and the tide headed me
"Mercy on us! you mustn't take chances on that tide. If you'd told
me you was goin', I'd have warned you to hurry back."
"Oh, I've been warned often enough. It was my own fault, as usual.
I'm not sure that I don't need a guardian."
"Humph! well, I ain't sure either. Was the channels very deep?"
"Deep enough. The fact is, that I might have got into serious
trouble if I hadn't been picked up."
He told briefly the story of his morning's adventure. The
housekeeper listened with growing excitement.
"Heavens to Betsy!" she interrupted. "Was the channel you planned
to swim the one at the end of the flat by the longest weir leader?"
"My soul! there's been two men drowned in that very place at half
tide. And they were good swimmers. After this I shan't dare let
you out of my sight."
"So? Was it as risky as that? Why, Captain Hammond didn't tell me
so. I must owe him more even than I thought."
"Yes, I guess you do. He wouldn't tell you, though; that ain't his
way. Deary me! for what we've received let us be thankful. And
that reminds me that biscuits ought to be et when they're first
made, not after they've been dried up on the back of the stove
forever and ever amen. Go on and change those wet things of yours
and then we'll eat. Tryin' to swim the main channel on the flood!
My soul and body!"
"Captain Nat sent his regards to you, Mrs. Coffin," said the
minister, moving toward the stairs.
"Did, hey?" was the housekeeper's reply. "Want to know!"
IN WHICH THE PARSON AND MR. PEPPER DECLARE THEIR INDEPENDENCE
That afternoon, when dinner was over, the Reverend John decided to
make a few duty calls. The first of these he determined should be
on the Peppers. Lavinia and her brother had called at the
Parsonage several times, but as yet he had not paid them a visit.
It was not a ceremony to which he looked forward with delight, but
it must be performed. Miss Pepper had hinted several times, at
sewing circle and after prayer meeting, of "partiality" and "only
stoppin' in where they had fancy curtains up to the windows." So,
as it could not be put off longer, without causing trouble, he
determined to go through with it.
The Pepper house was situated just off the main road on the lane
leading over the dunes to the ocean and the light. It was a small
building, its white paint dingy and storm beaten, and its little
fenced-in front yard dotted thickly with clumps of silver-leaf
saplings. A sign, nailed crookedly on a post, informed those
seeking such information that within was to be found "Abishai G. W.
Pepper, Tax Collector, Assessor, Boots and Shoes Repaired." And
beneath this was fastened a shingle with the chalked notice, "Salt
Hay for sale."
The boot and shoe portion of the first sign was a relic of other
days. Kyan had been a cobbler once, but it is discouraging to wait
three or four weeks while the pair of boots one has left to be
resoled are forgotten in a corner. Captain Zeb Mayo's pointed
comment, "I want my shoe leather to wear while I'm alive, not to be
laid out in after I die of old age," expressed the general feeling
of the village and explained why custom had left Mr. Pepper and
flown to the more enterprising shoemaker at "The Corners." The tax
collectorship might have followed it, but here Lavinia kept her
brother up to the mark. She went with him on his rounds and it
gave her opportunity to visit, and afterwards comment upon, every
family in town.
The minister walked up the dusty lane, lifted the Pepper gate and
swung it back on its one hinge, shooed away the three or four
languid and discouraged-looking fowls that were taking a sun bath
on the clam-shell walk, and knocked at the front door. No one
coming in answer to the knock, he tried again. Then he discovered
a rusty bell pull and gave it a sharp tug. The knob came off in
his hand and he hurriedly thrust it back again into its place.
Evidently, that bell was solely for ornament.
He came to the conclusion that no one was at home and felt a guilty
sense of relief in consequence. But his conscience would not let
him depart without another try, so he clenched his fist and gave
the cracked door panel a series of tremendous thumps. A thin black
cat, which had evidently been asleep beneath the step, burst from
its concealment and fled in frantic terror. Then from somewhere in
the rear of the house came the sound of a human voice.
"Hi!" it called faintly. "Whoever you be, don't bust that door
down. Come round here."
Ellery walked around the corner of the building. The voice came
"Say!" it wailed, "why don't you answer? Be you comin'? If you're
a peddler, you needn't."
"I'm not a peddler," was the minister's amused reply.
"Oh, ain't ye? All right. Come along, then."
Ellery "came along" as far as the angle where the ell joined the
main body of the house. So far as he could see every door and
window was closed and there were no signs of life. However, he
stepped to the door, a green-painted affair of boards, and ventured
"Don't start that poundin' again!" protested the voice. "Come
round to t'other side where I be."
So around went the Reverend John, smiling broadly. But even on
"t'other side" there was no one to be seen. And no door, for that
"Why!" exclaimed the voice, "if 'tain't Mr. Ellery! How d'ye do?
Glad to see you, Mr. Ellery. Fine day, ain't it? Here I be at
Sure enough; one of the windows on this side of the house was
raised about six inches at the bottom, the shade was up, and
peering beneath the sash the minister discerned the expressive
features of Abishai Pepper--or as much of those features as the
size of the opening permitted to be seen.
"Oh!" exclaimed the visitor, "is that you, Mr. Pepper? Well, I'm
glad to see you, at last. You are rather hard to see, even now."
Kyan was plainly embarrassed. He stammered as he answered.
"Yes," he agreed, "I--I shouldn't wonder if I be. How be you?
"Yes, thank you. I'm well."
"Er--er--come to call, did you?"
"Why, yes, that was my intention."
"Hum! Er--er--Laviny, she's gone over to Thankful Payne's. She
heard that Thankful's cousin up to Middleboro had died--passed
away, I mean--and she thought she'd run over and find out if
Thankful was willed anything. She said she'd be back pretty soon."
"Very well. Then, as she won't be gone long, perhaps I'll come in
He was moving away toward the corner when a shout from beneath the
window sash brought him to a halt.
"Hi!" called Abishai. "Hi, Mr. Ellery! don't go to that door.
'Tain't no use; it's locked."
"Locked? Well, you can unlock it, can't you?"
"No, not very well. That is, I--Mr. Ellery, come back here, won't
ye? I don't want anybody to hear."
The house of the nearest neighbor being several hundred yards away,
the likelihood of being overheard was improbable; but the minister
came back, nevertheless.
"You see, Mr. Ellery," stammered Kyan, "I--I'd like to have you
come in fust rate, but--er--Laviny she's got the key."
Ellery was surprised.
"She has!" he exclaimed.
"Um--hm, she's got it. She took it with her."
"But there are other doors. She didn't take them all, did she?"
"No--o, but-- Well, the fact is, Mr. Ellery, I--I--I'm locked in."
"Yes, locked in this room. She--she-- Oh, consarn it all, Mr.
Ellery, she's locked me in this room a-purpose, so's I won't get
out and go somewheres without her knowin' it."
"Um--h'm; that's what she's done. Did you ever hear of anything
like that in your born days?"
This surprising disclosure was funny enough, but the tone of
grieved indignation in which Mr. Pepper told of his imprisonment
was funnier still. The minister coughed violently and looked the
"She done it a-purpose," continued Kyan, in a burst of confidence.
"She had me put one of them new-fangled spring locks on the door of
this room t'other day, 'cause she said she was afraid of tramps and
wanted some place to shut herself up in if one of em come. And--
and after dinner to-day she sent me in here for somethin' and then
slammed the door on me. Said she cal'lated I'd stay put till she
got back from Thankful's. She knew mighty well I couldn't get out
of the window, 'cause it won't open no further'n 'tis now. I
wa'n't never so provoked in my life. 'Tain't no way to treat your
own brother, lockin' him up like a young one; now, is it?"
Ellery's reply was not made immediately. He had heard numerous
stories concerning this odd household, some of which seemed too
absurd for belief. But this performance was more ridiculous than
anything he had heard.
"'Tain't right, is it, Mr. Ellery?" demanded Kyan.
"Why," answered the caller chokingly, "I--I--it is rather unusual,
that's a fact. May I ask what you've done to--"
"Done? I ain't done nothin'. She's so darned scared some other
woman'll get my money that--you see, a month or so ago I--I--well,
she thought I done somethin', or was plannin' to do somethin' that--
Keziah Coffin never told you anything about me, did she?"
"No, indeed. What could Mrs. Coffin tell me about you?"
"All right. Nothin', nothin'. Only if she did, tain't so. But I
ain't goin' to stand it no more, Mr. Ellery. Bein' shut up in a
darned old--excuse my swearin', I didn't mean to, though I got
reason enough, land knows--bein' shut up in a room full of trunks
and odds and ends is goin' too fur. I never want to smell old
clothes ag'in long's I live. Would you stand it if you was me, Mr.
"Why, of course I mustn't interfere in your family matters, Mr.
Pepper. Perhaps I'd better call some other time. Good afternoon."
"Hold on! hold on! you ain't answered me yet. You're a minister
and I go to your meetin' house. Tell me what you'd do if you was
me. Would you stand it?"
Ellery laughed aloud.
"No," he said, "I suppose I shouldn't."
"I bet you wouldn't! What would you do?"
"I don't know. You're of age, Mr. Pepper, and you must decide for
yourself. I think I should declare my independence. Really, I
must go. I--"
"Don't be in such a hurry. I want advice. I need it. And, so
fur's DECLARIN' goes, that don't do me no good. She can declare
more things in a minute than I can think of in a week. Tongue! I
never heard-- No, no! Never mind the declarin'. What would you
DO? S'posin' you wanted to go outdoor without havin' her tagged to
your coat tails, how'd you stop the taggin'?"
The absurdity of the affair was too much for the visitor. He
roared a "Ha, ha!" that caused Abishai to wave a warning hand
beneath the sash.
"Ss-h-h! sshh!" he hissed. "Folks'll hear ye, and I'd be so
ashamed if they did that I wouldn't dast to show my head. Can't
show much of it, anyhow, just now. By gum! I'll do somethin'
desperate. I--I dunno as I won't pizen her. I--"
"Hush! hush! you mustn't talk that way. I'm afraid you must be
very fascinating, Mr. Pepper. If your sister is so very fearful of
your meeting other women, it must be because she has good reason to
"Stop your foolishness! Oh!--I--I ask your pardon, Mr. Ellery.
That ain't no way to talk to a minister. But I'm goin' to go out
when I want to if I bust a hole through the clapboards. I AIN'T
fascinatin'. You ask any woman--except her--if I be, and see what
they say. What'll I DO?"
"Ha, ha! I don't know, I'm sure. You might lock HER up, I suppose,
just for a change."
"Hey!" There was a sound from behind the pane as if the imprisoned
one had slapped his knee. "By gum! I never thought of that. Would
you now, Mr. Ellery? Would you? Sshh! sshh! somebody's comin'.
Maybe it's her. Run around to the door, Mr. Ellery, quick. And
don't tell her I've seen you, for mercy sakes! Don't now, will ye?
The minister did not run, but he walked briskly around the corner.
Sure enough, Lavinia was there, just unlocking the door. She
expressed herself as very glad to see the caller, ushered him into
the sitting room and disappeared, returning in another moment with
her brother, whom she unblushingly said had been taking a nap.
Abishai did not contradict her; instead, he merely looked
apprehensively at the minister.
The call was a short one. Lavinia did seven eighths of the talking
and Ellery the rest. Kyan was silent. When the visit was over,
Miss Pepper escorted her guest to the door and bade him a voluble
good-by. Over her shoulder the minister saw Kyan making frantic
signs to him; he interpreted the signals as a request for secrecy
concerning the interview by the window.
Several times during the remainder of that week he surprised his
housekeeper by suddenly laughing aloud when there was, apparently,
nothing to laugh at. He explained these outbursts by saying that
he had thought of something funny. Keziah suggested that it must
be mighty funny to make him laugh in the middle of sermon writing.
"I've heard sermons that were funny," she said, "though they wasn't
intended to be; but what I've heard of yours ain't that kind. I
wish you'd let me in on the joke. I haven't been feelin' like
laughin' for the last fortni't."
She had been rather grave and preoccupied, for her, of late.
Bustling and busy she always was, never sitting down to "rest," as
she called it, without a lap full of sewing. The minister's
clothes were mended and his socks darned as they had not been since
his mother's day. And with him, at meal times, or after supper in
the sitting room, she was always cheerful and good-humored. But he
had heard her sigh at her work, and once, when she thought herself
unobserved, he saw her wipe her eyes with her apron.
"No, no," she protested, when he asked if anything had gone wrong.
"I'm all right. Got a little cold or somethin', I guess, that's
She would not give any other explanation and absolutely refused to
see the doctor. Ellery did not press the matter. He believed the
"cold" to be but an excuse and wondered what the real trouble might
be. It seemed to him to date from the evening of his chapel
He told no one, not even her, of Kyan's confidential disclosure,
and, after some speculation as to whether or not there might be a
sequel, put the whole ludicrous affair out of his mind. He worked
hard in his study and at his pastoral duties, and was conscious of
a pleasant feeling that he was gaining his people's confidence and
A week from the following Sunday he dined in state at the Daniels's
table. Captain Elkanah was gracious and condescending. Annabel
was more than that. She was dressed in her newest gown and was so
very gushing and affable that the minister felt rather embarrassed.
When, after the meal was over, Captain Elkanah excused himself and
went upstairs for his Sabbath nap, the embarrassment redoubled.
Miss Annabel spoke very confidentially of her loneliness, without
"congenial society," of how VERY much she did enjoy Mr. Ellery's
intellectual sermons, and especially what a treat it had been to
have him as a guest.
"You must dine here every Sunday," she said. "It will be no
trouble at all, and if you say no, I shall feel that it is because
you don't want to see me--FATHER and me, of course, I mean."
The minister didn't accept this pressing invitation; on the other
hand, he could not refuse it absolutely. He did not like Miss
Daniels overmuch, but she was the daughter of his leading
parishioner and she and her parent did seem to like him. So he
dodged the issue and said she was very kind.
He left the big house as soon as he could without giving offense,
and started back toward the parsonage. But the afternoon was so
fine and the early summer air so delightful that he changed his
mind and, jumping the fence at the foot of Cannon Hill, set off
across the fields toward the bluffs and the bay shore.
The sun was low in the west as he entered the grove of pines on the
bluff. The red light between the boughs made brilliant carpet
patterns on the thick pine needles and the smell was balsamy and
sweet. Between the tree trunks he caught glimpses of the flats,
now partially covered, and they reminded him of his narrow escape
and of Nat Hammond, his rescuer. He had met the captain twice
since then, once at the store and again on the main road, and had
chatted with him. He liked him immensely and wished he might count
him as an intimate friend. But intimacy between a Regular
clergyman and the son of the leader of the Come-Outers was out of
the question. Partisans on both sides would shriek at the idea.
Thinking of the Hammond family reminded him of another member of
it. Not that he needed to be reminded; he had thought of her often
enough since she ran away from him in the rain that night. And the
picture in the doorway was not one that he could forget--or wanted
to. If she were not a Come-Outer, he could meet her occasionally
and they might become friends. She was a disconcerting young
person, who lacked proper respect for one of his profession and
laughed when she shouldn't--but she was interesting, he admitted
And then he saw her. She was standing just at the outer edge of
the grove, leaning against a tree and looking toward the sunset.
She wore a simple white dress and her hat hung upon her shoulders
by its ribbons. The rosy light edged the white gown with pink and
the fringes of her dark hair were crinkly lines of fire. Her face
was grave, almost sad.
John Ellery stood still, with one foot uplifted for a step. The
girl looked out over the water and he looked at her. Then a crow,
one of several whirling above the pines, spied the intruder and
screamed a warning. The minister was startled and stepped back. A
dead limb beneath his foot cracked sharply. Grace turned and saw
"Oh!" she cried. "Who is it?"
Ellery emerged from the shadow.
"Don't be frightened, Miss Van Horne," he said. "It is--er--I."
This statement was neither brilliant nor original; even as an
identification it lacked considerable.
"I?" repeated the girl. "Who? Oh! Why--"
The minister came forward.
"Good afternoon, Miss Van Horne," he stammered. "I'm afraid I
She was looking at him with a queer expression, almost as if she
scarcely believed him real.
"I hope--" he began again. She interrupted him.
"No," she said confusedly, "you didn't frighten me. I was a little
startled when I saw you there behind me. It seemed so odd, because
I was just thinking-- No, I wasn't frightened. What is there to
be frightened of--in Trumet?"
He had extended his hand, but partially withdrew it, not sure how
even such a perfunctory act of friendliness might be received. She
saved him embarrassment by frankly offering her own.
"Not much, that's a fact," he said, in answer to her question. He
would have liked to ask what she had been thinking that made his
sudden appearance seem so odd.
"You came to see the sunset, I suppose?" she said hurriedly, as if
to head off a question. "So did I. It is a beautiful evening for
a walk, isn't it?"
She had said precisely the same thing on that other evening, when
they stood in the middle of "Hammond's Turn-off" in the driving
rain. He remembered it, and so, evidently, did she, for she
colored slightly and smiled.
"I mean it this time," she said. "I'm glad you didn't get cold
from your wetting the other day."
"Oh! I wasn't very wet. You wouldn't let me lend you the umbrella,
so I had that to protect me on the way home."
"Not then; I meant the other morning when Nat--Cap'n Hammond--met
you out on the flats. He said you were wading the main channel and
it was over your boots."
"Over my boots! Is that all he said? Over my head would be the
plain truth. To cross it I should have had to swim and, if what
I've heard since is true, I doubt if I could swim that channel.
Captain Hammond helped me out of a bad scrape."
"Oh, no! I guess not. He said you were cruising without a pilot
and he towed you into port; that's the way he expressed it."
"It was worse than that, a good deal worse. It might have been my
last cruise. I'm pretty certain that I owe the captain my life."
She looked at him uncomprehendingly.
"Your life?" she repeated.
"I believe it. That part of the channel I proposed swimming was
exactly where two men have been drowned, so people say. I'm not a
very strong swimmer, and they were. So, you see."
Grace cried out in astonishment.
"Oh!" she exclaimed. Then pointing toward the bay, she asked: "Out
there, by the end of that leader, was it?"
"Yes, that was it."
She drew a long breath. Then, after a moment:
"And Nat spoke as if it was all a joke," she said.
"No doubt he did. From what I hear of your brother, he generally
refers to his own plucky, capable actions as jokes. Other people
call them something else."
She did not answer, but continued to gaze at the half-submerged
"leader," with the pine bough tied at its landward end to mark the
edge of deep water, and the tide foaming through its lath gratings.
"Your brother--" went on the minister.
"He isn't my brother," she interrupted absently. "I wish he was."
She sighed as she uttered the last sentence.
"No, of course he isn't your real brother; I forgot. But he must
seem like one."
"Yes," rather doubtfully.
"You must be proud of him."
"I am." There was nothing doubtful this time.
"Well, he saved me from drowning. I'm almost certain of that."
"I'm so glad."
She seemed to mean it. He looked at her.
"Thank you," he said drily. "I'm rather glad myself."
"Oh! I didn't mean it exactly that way. Of course I'm glad you
weren't drowned, but I'm especially glad that--that one of our
family saved you. Now you won't believe that Come-Outers are all
"I never believed it."
She shook her head.
"Oh, yes, you did," she affirmed stubbornly. "You've heard nothing
good of us since you came here. Don't tell fibs, Mr. Ellery."
"But I assure you--"
"Nonsense! Does--well, does Cap'n Daniels, or his daughter, say
anything good of us? Be honest, do they?"
"I hardly think--that is, I shouldn't call their opinions
unprejudiced. And, Miss Van Horne, perhaps the prejudice isn't all
on one side. What did your uncle say about Cap'n Nat's meeting me
the other day?"
"Uncle Eben doesn't know. Nat didn't tell anyone but me. He
doesn't boast. And uncle would be glad he helped you. As I told
you before, Mr. Ellery, I'm not ashamed of my uncle. He has been
so good to me that I never can repay him, never! When my own
father was drowned he took me in, a little orphan that would
probably have been sent to a home, and no father could be kinder or
more indulgent than he has been. Anything I asked for I got, and
at last I learned not to ask for too much. No self-denial on his
part was too great, if he could please me. When he needed money
most he said nothing to me, but insisted that I should be educated.
I didn't know until afterwards of the self-sacrifice my four years
at the Middleboro Academy meant to him."
The minister had listened eagerly to this defense of the man whom
he had been led to consider his arch enemy. It was given with
spirit and the girl's head was uplifted and her eyes flashed as she
spoke. Ellery's next remark was uttered without premeditation.
Really, he was thinking aloud.
"So you went away to school?" he mused. "That is why--"
"That is why I don't say 'never done nothin'' and 'be you' and
'hain't neither.' Yes, thank you, that's why. I don't wonder you
The young man blushed.
"You misunderstand me," he protested. "I didn't mean--"
"Oh! yes, you did. Not precisely that, perhaps, but pretty near
it. I suppose you expected me to speak like Josiah Badger or Kyan
Pepper. I try not to. And I try not to say 'immejitly,' too," she
added, with a mischievous twinkle.
Ellery recognized the "immejitly" quotation and laughed.
"I never heard but one person say that," he observed. "And he
isn't a Come-Outer."
"No, he isn't. Well, this lesson in English can't be very
interesting to you, Mr. Ellery, and I must go. But I'm very glad
Nat helped you the other day and that you realize the sort of man
he is. And I'm glad I have had the opportunity to tell you more
about Uncle Eben. I owe him so much that I ought to be glad--yes,
glad and proud and happy, too, to gratify his least wish. I must!
I know I must, no matter how I-- What am I talking about? Yes,
Mr. Ellery, I'm glad if I have helped you to understand my uncle
better and why I love and respect him. If you knew him as I do,
you would respect him, too. Good-by."
She was going, but the minister had something to say. He stepped
forward and walked beside her.
"Just a minute, please," he urged. "Miss Van Horne, I do
understand. I do respect your uncle. We have a mutual friend, you
and I, and through her I have come to understand many things."
Grace turned and looked at him.
"A mutual friend?" she repeated. "Oh! I know. Mrs. Coffin?"
"Yes; Mrs. Coffin. She's a good woman and a wise one."
"She's a dear! Do you like her, too?"
"Indeed, I do."
"Has she told you about me--about uncle, I mean?"
"Yes. Why, she told me--"
He began to enumerate some of the things Keziah had told concerning
the Hammond family. They were all good things, and he couldn't
help seeing that the recital pleased her. So he went on to tell
how his housekeeper had helped him, of her advice, of her many acts
of kindness, of what he owed to her. The girl listened eagerly,
asking questions, nodding confirmation, and, in her delight at
hearing Keziah praised, quite forgetting her previous eagerness to
end the interview. And, as he talked, he looked at her, at the red
light on her hair, the shine of her eyes, like phosphorus in the
curl of a wave at night, at her long lashes, and--
"Yes," said Miss Van Horne, "you were saying--"
The minister awoke with a guilty start. He realized that his
sentence had broken off in the middle.
"Why! why--er--yes," he stammered. "I was saying that--that I
don't know what I should have done without Mrs. Coffin. She's a
treasure. Frankly, she is the only real friend I have found in
"I know. I feel the same way about her. She means so much to me.
I love her more than anyone else in the world, except uncle, of
course--and Nat. I miss her very much since--since--"
"Since I came, you mean. I'm sorry. I wish-- I hate to think I
am the cause which separates you two. It isn't my fault, as you
"Oh! I know that."
"Yes, and I object to having others choose my friends for me,
people who, because of a fanatical prejudice, stand in the way of--
If it wasn't for that, you might call and see Mrs. Coffin, just as
you used to do."
Grace shook her head. They had moved on to the bend of the bluff,
beyond the fringe of pines, and were now standing at the very edge
of the high bank.
"If it wasn't for that, you would come," asserted the minister.
"Yes, I suppose so. I should like to come. I miss my talks with
Aunt Keziah more than you can imagine--now especially. But,
somehow, what we want to do most seems to be what we mustn't, and
what we don't like is our duty."
She said this without looking at him, and the expression on her
face was the same sad, grave one he had noticed when he first saw
her standing alone by the pine.
"Why don't you come?" he persisted.
"I can't, of course. You know I can't."
"Why not? If my company is objectionable I can go away when you
come. If you dislike me I--"
"You know I don't dislike you personally."
"I'm awfully glad of that."
"But it's impossible. Uncle respects and is fond of Aunt Keziah,
but he wouldn't hear of my visiting the parsonage."
"But don't you think your uncle might be persuaded? I'm sure he
misunderstands me, just as I should him if it weren't for Mrs.
Coffin--and what you've said. Don't you think if I called on him
and he knew me better it might help matters? I'll do it gladly. I
"No, no. He wouldn't listen. And think of your own congregation."
"Confound my congregation!"
"Why, Mr. Ellery!"
She looked at him in amazement; then her lips began to curl.
"Why, Mr. Ellery!" she repeated.
The minister turned very red and drew his hand across his forehead.
"I--I don't mean that exactly," he stammered. "But I'm not a
child. I have the right to exercise a man's discretion. My parish
committee must understand that. They shall! If I choose to see
you-- Look out!"
She was close to the overhanging edge of the bluff and the sod upon
which she stood was bending beneath her feet. He sprang forward,
caught her about the waist, and pulled her back. The sod broke and
rattled down the sandy slope. She would have had a slight tumble,
nothing worse, had she gone with it. There was no danger; and yet
the minister was very white as he released her.
She, too, was pale for a moment, and then crimson.
"Thank you," she gasped. "I--I must go. It is late. I didn't
realize how late it was. I--I must go."
He did not answer, though he tried to.
"I must go," she said hurriedly, speaking at random. "Good
afternoon. Good-by. I hope you will enjoy your walk."
"I have enjoyed it." His answer was unstudied but emphatic. She
recognized the emphasis.
"Will you come to see Mrs. Coffin?" he asked.
"No, no. You know I can't. Good-by. The sunset is beautiful,
"Yes. I--I think the sunsets from this point are the finest I have
ever seen. I come here every Sunday afternoon to see them."
This remark was given merely to cover embarrassment, but it had an
"You DO?" cried the minister. The next moment he was alone. Grace
Van Horne had vanished in the gloom of the pine thickets.
It was a strange John Ellery who walked slowly back along the path,
one that Keziah herself would not have recognized, to say nothing
of Captain Elkanah and the parish committee. The dignified parson,
with the dignified walk and calm, untroubled brow, was gone, and
here was an absent-minded young fellow who stumbled blindly along,
tripping over roots and dead limbs, and caring nothing, apparently,
for the damage to his Sunday boots and trousers which might result
from the stumbles. He saw nothing real, and heard nothing, not
even the excited person who, hidden behind the bayberry bush,
hailed him as he passed. It was not until this person rushed forth
and seized him by the arm that he came back to the unimportant
affairs of this material earth.
"Why! Why, Mr. Pepper!" he gasped. "Are you here? What do you
"Am I here?" panted Kyan. "Ain't I been here for the last twenty
minutes waitin' to get a chance at you? Ain't I been chasin' you
from Dan to Beersheby all this dummed--excuse me--afternoon? Oh,
my godfreys mighty!"
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Matter? Matter enough! It's all your fault. You got me into the
mess, now you git me out of it."
Usually, when Abishai addressed his clergyman, it was in a tone of
humble respect far different from his present frantic assault. The
Reverend John was astounded.
"What IS the trouble, Mr. Pepper?" he demanded. "Behave yourself,
man. What IS it?"
"You--you made me do it," gurgled Kyan. "Yes, sir, 'twas you put
me up to it. When you was at our house t'other day, after Laviny
locked me up, you told me the way to get square was to lock her up,
too. And I done it! Yes, sir, I done it when she got back from
meetin' this noon. I run off and left her locked in. And--and"--
he wailed, wringing his hands--"I--I ain't dast to go home sence.
WHAT'll I do?"
IN WHICH MISS DANIELS DETERMINES TO FIND OUT
The hysterical Mr. Pepper doubtless expected his clergyman to be
almost as much upset as he was by the news of his action. But John
Ellery was provokingly calm. As a matter of fact he scarcely
grasped the purport of the little man's disjointed story. He had
been wandering in dreamland, his head among the clouds, and the
explosion of Keziah's bomb disturbed, but did not clear the air.
"What will you do?" he repeated. "Why--er--I don't know, I'm
Kyan was staggered.
"You don't know?" he shouted. "YOU don't? Then who does, for the
land sakes? Didn't you tell me to lock her up? Didn't I do it
'CAUSE you told me? Didn't--didn't--"
He seemed to be on the verge of apoplexy. Also he had raised his
voice to a yell. The minister seized him by the arm and shook him
"Hush! hush!" he commanded. "Wait a minute. Let me understand
this thing. Some one is locked up, you say. Who is it? Where--"
"WHO is it? Ain't I tellin' you. It's Laviny. She went into that
spare room where I was t'other day and I slammed the spring lock to
on her. Then I grabbed the key and run. That was afore three this
afternoon; now it's 'most night and I ain't dast to go home.
What'll she say when I let her out? I got to let her out, ain't I?
She can't starve to death in there, can she? And YOU told me to do
it! YOU did! Oh--"
The apoplectic attack was once more imminent.
"Stop it, Mr. Pepper," ordered Ellery. "I don't remember telling
you to lock your sister up, though-- Why, yes, I may have said
something or other, as a joke, but I didn't expect you would
seriously consider doing such a thing. Ha, ha! This is the most
idiotic piece of business that I ever--"
"Be you laughin'?" demanded the shocked Abishai. "LAUGHIN'? Why,
my godfreys mighty! Idiotic? Well, who's the idiot? 'Tain't me!
I'D never have thought of such a fool trick. But you said--"
"Hush! Let me think. Have you told anybody?"
"TOLD anybody! I guess NOT. And nobody'll never know if they wait
for me to tell 'em."
"Well, then, I don't see why you can't go home and--hum--I don't
like to advise your telling a lie, but you might let her infer that
it was an accident. OR, if you really mean to be your own master,
you can tell her you did it purposely and will do it again if she
ever tries the trick on you."
"I tell her that! I tell her! O Mr. Ellery, DON'T talk so. You
don't know Laviny; she ain't like most women. If I should tell her
that she'd--I don't know's she wouldn't take and horsewhip me. Or
commit suicide. She's said she would afore now if--if--"
"Nonsense! She won't do that, you needn't worry." He burst into
another laugh, but checked himself, as he saw the look of absolute
distress on poor Kyan's face.
"Never mind, Mr. Pepper," he said. "We'll think of some plan to
smooth matters over. I'll go home with you now and we'll let her
"Will you, Mr. Ellery? Will you, honest? Say, by godfreys mighty,
I'd get down on my knees and thank you this minute if--if I wa'n't
in such a hurry. Come right on; come quick!"
It was a silent procession of two that wended its way out of the
pines and across the fields, by the brook and the pond, where the
evening mists were rising and the frogs chanting their good-night
song, through the gathering twilight shades, across the main road
and up the lighthouse lane. Kyan, his mind filled with fearful
forebodings, was busily trying to think of a reasonable excuse for
the "accidental" imprisonment of his sister. John Ellery was
thinking, also, but his thoughts were not of the Peppers.
The little house was dark and still as they approached it. No
welcoming light in the dining-room windows, no open door, no shrill
voice demanding to know where the wandering brother had been "all
this everlastin' time." Even the hens had gone to roost. Abishai
"Oh, dear!" he wailed. "I'm scart to death. Where is she? You
don't cal'late she's done it, do ye?"
"Done it? Done what?"
"Done the suicidin'. She said she would if-- O Laviny!"
"Hush! Be quiet. She's all right. She's in the room where you
left her, of course. She couldn't get out, could she? You've got
the key. Come in."
They entered the house. The dining room was dark and quiet. So
was the sitting room. The clock ticked, solemn and slow. Kyan
clutched at his companion's arm.
"I don't hear her," he whispered. "You don't s'pose she HAS done
it? Godfreys mighty!"
The gloom and mystery were having their effect, even on Mr.
Ellery's nerves. His answer also was given in a tense whisper, but
with some irritation.
"Hush!" he murmured. "Let go of my wrist. You've pinched it black
and blue. Which room did you leave her in? Show me at once."
Kyan's trembling knees managed to carry him to the little hall
leading from the sitting room toward the ell at the side of the
house. This hall was almost pitch black. The minister felt his
guide's chin whisker brush his ear as the following sentence was
literally breathed into it:
"Here--here 'tis," panted Kyan. "Here's the door. I don't hear
nothin', do you? Listen!"
They listened. Not a sound, save the dismal tick of the clock in
the room they had left. Ellery knocked on the door.
"Miss Pepper," he said; "Miss Pepper, are you there?"
Kyan caught his breath. No answer.
"Miss Pepper," repeated the minister. "Miss Pepper!"
Silence, absolute. Abishai could stand it no longer. He groaned
and collapsed on his knees.
"She has!" he moaned. "She's done it and there ain't nothin' in
there but her remains. Oh, my soul!"
Ellery, now rather frightened himself, shook him violently.
"Be quiet, you idiot!" he commanded. "We must go in. Give me the
After repeated orders and accompanying shakings, Kyan produced a
key. The minister snatched it from his trembling fingers, felt for
the keyhole and threw the door open. The little room was almost as
dark as the hall and quite as still. There was a distinct smell of
old clothes and camphor.
"A match," demanded Ellery. "Quick!"
"I ain't got none," quavered Mr. Pepper. "They're all in the box
in the settin' room. Oh, my godfreys mighty! What'll I do? What
undertaker'll I have? Solon Tripp's the reg'lar one, but Laviny
and he had a row and she said she'd come back and ha'nt me if I
ever let him touch her rema-- Where you goin'? DON'T LEAVE ME
The minister was going after a match, and said so. In a moment he
returned with several. One of these he lit. The brimstone
sputtered, burned blue and fragrant, then burst into a yellow
The little room was empty.
John Ellery drew a breath of relief. Then he laughed.
"Humph!" he exclaimed. "She's gone."
"GONE? Why, she ain't nuther! Where could she go?"
"I don't know, but she has gone--somewhere. At any rate, she's not
Kyan rose to his feet. His alarm had changed to paralyzed
"How could she go?" he repeated. "That window won't open more'n
six inches. Laviny ain't what you'd call fleshy, but she never
could squeeze through that in this world. And I locked the door,
'cause I heard the click. I--I--I--do you b'lieve in spirits, Mr.
"Nonsense! Come into the sitting room, light a lamp, and let's
talk it over."
The lamp was found and lighted at last. Its radiance brightened
the dingy sitting room.
"Do you b'lieve in spirits?" repeated Kyan. "I've heard yarns
about folks bein' spirited away, but I never took much stock in
'em. "And," he added with conviction, "'twould take a pretty husky
spirit to handle Laviny if she had her mad up. She-- Hush! hear
The sound of wheels was heard in the lane by the front gate. A
vehicle stopped. Then some one called a hurried good night. Mr.
Pepper's fear returned.
"It's her!" he cried. "She's been ahuntin' for me. NOW I'll get
it! You stand by me, Mr. Ellery. You got to. You said you would.
But how on earth did she get--"
The minister motioned him to silence.
"I'll stand by you," he whispered. "Don't speak. Leave it to me."
A step sounded on the back step. The dining-room door was
hurriedly thrown open.
"'Bishy," called Miss Pepper eagerly. "'Bish, where are you?"
"Here--here I be, Laviny," faltered Kyan.
His sister appeared on the threshold. She was dressed in her
Sunday best, flowered poke bonnet, mitts, imitation India shawl,
rustling black bombazine gown. She looked at Mr. Pepper then at
"O Mr. Ellery!" she exclaimed, "be you here?"
The Reverend John admitted his presence. Miss Pepper's demeanor
surprised him. She did not seem angry; indeed, she acted
embarrassed and confused, as if she, and not her brother, were the
"I'm afraid I'm awful late, 'Bishy," she said. "Have you had your
Kyan was too perturbed to venture a reply. The sword above his
head was quivering on its single hair and he was preparing to dodge
the fall. But it did not fall.
"You haven't had any supper, have you?" purred Miss Pepper
pityingly. "It's too bad. You poor thing! you must be awful
She moved across the room and kissed him. Abishai, who had
prepared himself for a different sort of greeting, clutched his
chair with both hands. He looked as if he might faint. The
minister gazed open-mouthed.
"I'm awful sorry, Mr. Ellery," gushed Lavinia, removing the bonnet.
"You see, I was invited out to ride this afternoon and--and--I
She glanced at her brother, reddened--yes, almost blushed--and
"You know, 'Bishy," she said "Thankful Payne's cousin's home
avisitin' her. He come about that cousin's will--the other cousin
that's just died. He's a reel nice man--her live cousin is--keeps
a shoe store up to Sandwich, and I used to know him years ago.
When I was over to Thankful's t'other day, him and me had quite a
talk. We got speakin' of what nice drives there was around Trumet
and--and--er--well, he asked me if I wouldn't like to go to ride
next Sunday afternoon--that's to-day. And a ride bein' a good deal
of a treat to me, I said I would. Thankful was goin', too, but--
er--er--she couldn't very well. So Caleb--that's his name, you
remember, 'Bishy--he come round with his horse and team about ha'f
past three and we started. But I'd no IDEE 'twas so late. I--I--
meant to tell you I was goin', 'Bish, but I forgot."
Kyan had listened to this recital, or explanation, or apology, with
a curious succession of expressions passing over his face. He
swallowed two or three times, but did not interrupt.
"I'm so sorry I kept you waitin' supper," gushed Lavinia. "I'll
get you a good one now. Oh, well, deary me! I must be gettin'
absent-minded. I ain't asked you where you've been all the
Abishai's eyes turned beseechingly toward his promised backer.
Ellery could not resist that mute appeal.
"Your brother has been with me for some time, Miss Pepper," he
"Oh, has he? Ain't that nice! He couldn't have been in better
comp'ny, I'm sure. But oh, say, 'Bishy! I ain't told you how nigh
I come to not gettin' out at all. Just afore Mr. Payne come, I was
in that spare room and--you remember I put a spring lock on that
It was here at last. The long-dreaded explosion was imminent.
Kyan's chin shook. He braced himself for the blow. The minister
prepared to come to the rescue.
"Yes," went on Lavinia. "I--I put a lock on that door so's I--I
could shut the room up when I wanted to. Well, when I was in there
this afternoon the wind blew the door shut and-- Hey?"
"I--I never said nothin'," panted Kyan.
"Yes, it blew to, the lock clicked, and there I was. If I hadn't
had the other key in my pocket I don't know's I wouldn't have been
in there yet. That would have been a pretty mess, wouldn't it!
He! he! he!"
She laughed shrilly. The minister looked at her, then at her
brother, and he, too, burst into a shout of laughter. Kyan did not
laugh; yet his grip upon the chair relaxed, and over his
countenance was spreading a look of relief, of hope and peace, like
a clear sunrise after a stormy night.
"Well, I must go and get supper," declared Lavinia. "You'll
forgive me for leavin' you so, won't you, 'Bishy?"
Mr. Pepper sighed.
"Yes," he said slowly. "I'll forgive you, Laviny."
"I knew you would. I hope you ain't been too lonesome. Did you
miss me? Was you worried?"
"Hey? Yes, I--I missed you consider'ble. I WAS gettin' sort of
worried. I didn't s'pose you'd go off to ride with--with a feller
and leave me all alone. But I forgive you." He stopped, drew his
hand across his forehead, and then added, "I s'pose I hadn't ought
to complain. Maybe I'd better get used to it; I guess likely this
is only the beginnin'."
Lavinia blushed furiously.
"Why, 'Bish!" she exclaimed. "How you do talk! Ain't he awful,
The Reverend John did not answer. He could not trust himself to
speak just then. When he did it was to announce that he must be
getting toward home. No, he couldn't stay for supper.
Miss Pepper went into the kitchen, and Abishai saw the visitor to
the door. Ellery extended his hand and Kyan shook it with
"Wa'n't it fine?" he whispered. "Talk about your miracles!
Godfreys mighty! Say, Mr. Ellery, don't you ever tell a soul how
it really was, will you?"
"No, of course not."
"No, I know you won't. You won't tell on me and I won't tell on
you. That's a trade, hey?"
The minister stopped in the middle of his step.
"What?" he said, turning.
Mr. Pepper merely smiled, winked, and shut the door. John Ellery
reflected much during his homeward walk.
The summer in Trumet drowsed on, as Trumet summers did in those
days, when there were no boarders from the city, no automobiles or
telephones or "antique" collectors. In June the Sunday school had
its annual picnic. On the morning of the Fourth of July some
desperate spirits among the younger set climbed in at the church
window and rang the bell, in spite of the warning threats of the
selectmen, who had gone on record as prepared to prosecute all
disturbers of the peace to the "full extent of the law." One of
the leading citizens, his name was Daniels, awoke to find the
sleigh, which had been stored in his carriage house, hoisted to the
roof of his barn, and a section of his front fence tastefully
draped about it like a garland. The widow Rogers noticed groups of
people looking up at her house and laughing. Coming out to see
what they were laughing at, she was provoked beyond measure to find
a sign over the front door, announcing "Man Wanted Imediate.
inquire Within." The door of the Come-Outer chapel was nailed fast
and Captain Zeb Mayo's old white horse wandered loose along the
main road ringed with painted black stripes like a zebra. Captain
Zeb was an angry man, for he venerated that horse.
The storm caused by these outbreaks subsided and Trumet settled
into its jog trot. The stages rattled through daily, the packet
came and went every little while, occasionally a captain returned
home from a long voyage, and another left for one equally long.
Old Mrs. Prince, up at the west end of the town, was very anxious
concerning her son, whose ship was overdue at Calcutta and had not
been heard from. The minister went often to see her and tried to
console, but what consolation is there when one's only child and
sole support is nobody knows where, drowned and dead perhaps,
perhaps a castaway on a desert island, or adrift with a desperate
crew in an open boat? And Mrs. Prince would say, over and over
"Yes, yes, Mr. Ellery. Thank you. I'm sure you mean to encourage
me, but oh, you don't know the things that happen to seafarin' men.
I do. I went to sea with my husband for fourteen year. He died on
a voyage and they buried him over the vessel's side. I can't even
go to his grave. The sea got him, and now if it's taken my Eddie--"
The young clergyman came away from these calls feeling very young,
indeed, and woefully inadequate. What DID he know of the great
sorrows of life?
The Sunday dinners with the Daniels family were almost regular
weekly functions now. He dodged them when he could, but he could
not do so often without telling an absolute lie, and this he would
not do. And, regularly, when the solemn meal was eaten, Captain
Elkanah went upstairs for his nap and the Reverend John was left
alone with Annabel. Miss Daniels did her best to be entertaining,
was, in fact, embarrassingly confidential and cordial. It was hard
work to get away, and yet, somehow or other, at the stroke of four,
the minister always said good-by and took his departure.
"What is your hurry, Mr. Ellery?" begged Annabel on one occasion
when the reading of Moore's poems had been interrupted in the
middle by the guest's sudden rising and reaching for his hat. "I
don't see why you always go so early. It's so every time you're
here. Do you call at any other house on Sunday afternoons?"
"No," was the prompt reply. "Oh, no."
"Then why can't you stay? You know I--that is, pa and I--would
LOVE to have you."
"Thank you. Thank you. You're very kind. But I really must go.
Good afternoon, Miss Daniels."
"Mrs. Rogers said she saw you going across the fields after you
left here last Sunday. Did you go for a walk?"
"Er--er--yes, I did."
"I wish you had mentioned it. I love to walk, and there are SO few
people that I find congenial company. Are you going for a walk
"Why, no--er--not exactly."
"I'm sorry. GOOD-by. Will you come again next Sunday? Of COURSE
you will. You know how dreadfully disappointed I--we--shall be if
"Thank you, Miss Daniels. I enjoyed the dinner very much. Good
He hurried down the path. Annabel watched him go. Then she did an
odd thing. She passed through the sitting room, entered the front
hall, went up the stairs, tiptoed by the door of her father's room,
and then up another flight to the attic. From here a steep set of
steps led to the cupola on the roof. In that cupola was a
Annabel opened a window a few inches, took the spyglass from its
rack, adjusted it, laid it on the sill of the open window and
knelt, the glass at her eye. The floor of the cupola was very
dusty and she was wearing her newest and best gown, but she did not
seem to mind.
Through the glass she saw the long slope of Cannon Hill, with the
beacon at the top and Captain Mayo's house near it. The main road
was deserted save for one figure, that of her late caller. He was
mounting the hill in long strides.
She watched him gain the crest and pass over it out of sight. Then
she shifted the glass so that it pointed toward the spot beyond the
curve of the hill, where the top of a thick group of silver-leafs
hid the parsonage. Above the tree tops glistened the white steeple
of the Regular church. If the minister went straight home she
could not see him. But under those silver-leafs was the beginning
of the short cut across the fields where Didama had seen Mr. Ellery
walking on the previous Sunday.
So Annabel watched and waited. Five minutes, then ten. He must
have reached the clump of trees before this, yet she could not see
him. Evidently, he had gone straight home. She drew a breath of
Then, being in a happier frame of mind, and the afternoon clear and
beautiful, she moved the glass along the horizon, watching the
distant white specks across the bay on the Wellmouth bluffs--houses
and buildings they were--the water, the shore, the fish weirs, the
pine groves. She became interested in a sloop, beating into
Wellmouth harbor, and watched that. After a time she heard, in the
house below, her father shouting her name.
She gave the glass one more comprehensive sweep preparatory to
closing it and going downstairs. As she did this a moving speck
came into view and vanished.
Slowly she moved the big end of the spyglass back along the arc it
had traveled. She found the speck and watched it. It was a man,
striding across the meadow land, a half mile beyond the parsonage,
and hurrying in the direction of the beach. She saw him climb a
high dune, jump a fence, cross another field and finally vanish in
the grove of pines on the edge of the bluff by the shore.
The man was John Ellery, the minister. Evidently, he had not gone
home, nor had he taken the short cut. Instead he had walked
downtown a long way and THEN turned in to cross the fields and work
his way back.
Annabel put down the glass and, heedless of her father's calls, sat
thinking. The minister had deliberately deceived her. More than
that, he had gone to considerable trouble to avoid observation.
Why had he done it? Had he done the same thing on other Sunday
afternoons? Was there any real reason why he insisted on leaving
the house regularly at four o'clock?
Annabel did not know. Her eyes snapped and her sharp features
looked sharper yet as she descended the steps to the attic. She
did not know; but she intended to find out.
IN WHICH KEZIAH'S TROUBLES MULTIPLY
Keziah was getting worried about her parson. Not concerning his
popularity with his congregation. She had long since ceased to
worry about that. The young minister's place in his people's
regard was now assured, the attendance was increasing, and the
Regular church was now on a firmer footing, financially and
socially, than it had been in years. Even Mrs. Rogers and Lavinia
Pepper had ceased to criticise, except as pertained to unimportant
incidentals, and were now among the loudest of the praise chanters.
And as Captain Zeb Mayo said: "When Didama and Laviny stops fault-
findin', the millennium's so nigh port a feller ought to be
overhaulin' his saint uniform."
But what worried Mrs. Coffin was John Ellery's personal appearance
and behavior. He had grown perceptibly thinner during the past
month, his manner was distrait, and, worst of all in the
housekeeper's eyes, his appetite had fallen off. She tried all
sorts of tempting dishes, but the result was discouraging.
"What!" she exclaimed. "Don't want but one piece of huckleberry
pie? Why, a week ago you ate three and looked kind of disappointed
'cause the dish was empty. What is the matter? Are you sick?"
"No, Mrs. Coffin," replied the Reverend John. No, I'm not sick. I
just don't feel hungry, that's all."
"Hum! Well, I've usually noticed that when a healthy man don't
feel hungry at dinner time, 'specially in the huckleberry season,
his healthiness is pretty shaky. What does ail you, Mr. Ellery?
Got somethin' on your mind? If you have, I'd heave it overboard.
Or you might unload it onto me and let me prescribe. I've had
consider'ble experience in that kind of doctorin'."
But the answer was unsatisfactory. Mr. Ellery laughed, changed the
subject, and wandered out into the garden, where Keziah saw him,
shortly afterwards, intently regarding nothing in particular with a
rapt stare. She watched him for a few moments and then, with a
puzzled shake of the head, returned to her work. She believed that
he was troubled about something and was herself troubled in
His absent-mindedness was most acute on Sunday evenings, before
prayer meeting, and after he had returned from the afternoon at
"Say, Mr. Ellery," she said, on one of these Sunday evenings, "do
you know, it seems to me that Elkanah's meals must go to your head.
Don't have any of his granddad's New England rum, do you? They
tell me he's got some of that down cellar that he doles out
occasional to his very particular friends. That's the common yarn
around town, though I couldn't swear 'twas gospel."
The minister smiled and denied acquaintanceship with the New
"Humph! Then it must be the other thing. You ain't in love, are
The young man started, colored, and was plainly embarrassed.
"In love?" he repeated. "In love, Mrs. Coffin?"
"Yes, in love. Annabel hasn't landed a male at last, has she?
She's a line over the side for a long time."
The hearty laugh with which this was received settled the question
of Annabel's success. Keziah was relieved.
"Well, I'm glad of that," she said. "I ain't got any grudge
against Annabel, but neither have I got one against you. Another
man in that family would have an easy time in one way, he wouldn't
have to do any thinkin' for himself--Elkanah and his daughter would
do all that was necessary. So you're not in love. Then I don't
know what does ail you. I'll say this, though, for a body that
ain't in love you certainly stay with the Danielses a long time.
You went there right after meetin' this noon and now it's seven
o'clock and you've just got home. And 'twas the same last Sunday
and the one before. Been there all the time, have you?"
She knew he had not, because she had seen him pass the parsonage,
on the opposite side of the road, two hours before. But she was
curious to learn what his reply would be. It was noncommittal.
"No," he said slowly. "Not all the time. I--er--went for a short
Before she could inquire concerning that walk he had entered the
study and closed the door after him.
During the week which followed this particular conversation he was
more absent-minded than ever. There were evenings when he spoke
scarcely a word, but sat silent in his chair, while Keziah, looking
up from her mending, watched him and guessed and wondered. After
he had gone to his room for the night, she would hear him pacing
the floor, back and forth, back and forth. She asked no more
questions, however; minding her own business was a specialty of
Keziah's, and it was a rare quality in Trumet.
Sunday was a cloudy, warm day, "muggy," so Captain Zeb described
it. After the morning service Mr. Ellery, as usual, went home with
Captain Daniels and Annabel. Keziah returned to the parsonage, ate
a lonely dinner, washed the dishes, and sat down to read a library
book. She read for an hour and then, finding it difficult to keep
her mind on the story, gave it up, closed the book and, rising,
walked to the window. But the misty, hot loneliness of the
afternoon, was neither interesting nor cheerful, so she turned away
and went upstairs to her own room. Her trunk was in one corner of
this room and she unlocked it, taking from a compartment of the
tray a rosewood writing case, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, a
present from her father, who had brought it home from sea when she
was a girl.
From the case she took a packet of letters and a daguerreotype.
The latter was the portrait of a young man, in high-collared coat,
stock, and fancy waistcoat. His hair, worn long over the ears, was
smooth with a shine that suggested oil, and in his shirt front was
a large pin, which might possibly have been mistaken by a credulous
observer for a diamond. Mrs. Coffin looked at the daguerreotype,
sighed, shuddered, and laid it aside. Then she opened the packet
of letters. Selecting one from the top of the pile, she read it
slowly. And, as she read, she sighed again.
She did not hear the back door of the parsonage open and close
softly. Nor did she hear the cautious footsteps in the rooms
below. What aroused her from her reading was her own name, spoken
at the foot of the stairs.
"Keziah! Keziah, are you there?"
She started, sprang up, and ran out into the hall, the letter still
in her hand.
"Who is it?" she asked sharply. "Mr. Ellery, is that you?"
"No," was the answer. "It's me--Nat. Are you busy, Keziah? I
want to see you for a minute."
The housekeeper hurriedly thrust the letter into her waist.
"I'll be right down, Nat," she answered. "I'm comin'."
He was in the sitting room when she entered. He was wearing his
Sunday suit of blue and his soft felt hat was on the center table.
She held out her hand and he shook it heartily.
"Well!" she observed, smiling, "I declare if I don't believe you've
got the tiptoe habit. This is the second time you've sneaked into
the house and scared me 'most to death. I asked you before if you
wa'n't ashamed of yourself and now I ask it again."
Before he could reply she caught a glimpse of his face.
"What is it?" she asked. "What is the matter? Is anybody sick?
Is your father--"
"No, he's all right. That is, he's as well as he has been lately,
though that isn't sayin' much."
"No, she's all right, too, I guess. Been sort of quiet and
sorrowful for the last few weeks--or I've seemed to notice that she
has--but I cal'late it's nothin' serious. I wouldn't wonder if the
same thing that's troublin' her is what ails me."
"But what is it? Why don't you tell me?"
"I'm goin' to tell you, Keziah. That's what I come here for. I--"
"Sit down, can't you? Don't stand up there like a lighthouse,
shuttin' out the whole broadside of the room. You are the BIGGEST
Captain Hammond selected the most substantial chair in the
apartment and sat down upon it. He looked at his friend and shook
"No use, Keziah," he said. "If I was as deep down in the blues as
the bottom of the Whale Deep, a look at that face of yours would
pull me to the top again. You're a good woman!"
"Thanks! When I have spare time on my hands I'll practice tryin'
to believe that. But what is the trouble, Nat? Out with it."
"Well, Keziah, it's trouble enough. Dad and I have had a fallin'
Mrs. Coffin's mouth and eyes opened.
"What?" she cried, in utter astonishment.
"Yes. It's true. We had what was next door to a real quarrel
after dinner to-day. It would have been a real one if I hadn't
walked off and left him. He's as set as the rock of Gibraltar,
"And your foundations ain't given to slippin' much. Nat Hammond,
I'm surprised at you! What was it all about? Religion?"
"No, not a sliver of religion in it. If 'twas that, I could dodge,
or haul down my colors, if I had to. But it's somethin' worse,
enough sight worse. Somethin' I can't do--even for dad--and won't
either. Keziah, he's dead set on my marryin' Grace. Says if I
don't he'll know that I don't really care a tin nickel for him, or
for his wishes, or what becomes of the girl after he's gone."
"It's a fact. You see, dad realizes, better'n I thought he did,
that his health is pretty shaky and that he is likely to founder
'most any time. He says that don't worry him; if he knew Grace and
I were provided for he'd slip his cable with a clean manifest. But
the dream of his life, he says, has been that we should marry. And
he wants to see it done."
Keziah was silent for a moment. Then she said slowly:
"And Grace herself? How does she feel about it? Has he spoken to
"I don't know. I guess likely he has. Perhaps that's why she's
been so sort of mournful lately. But never mind whether he has or
not; I won't do it and I told him so. He got red hot in a jiffy.
I was ungrateful and stubborn and all sorts of things. And I,
bein' a Hammond, with some of the Hammond balkiness in me, I set my
foot down as hard as his. And we had it until--until--well, until
I saw him stagger and tremble so that I actually got scared and
feared he was goin' to keel over where he stood.
"'Why can't you?' he kept sayin'. 'But WHY can't you? Ain't she a
girl anyone would be proud to have for a wife?' 'Course there was
no answer to that but yes. Then back he comes again with 'Then why
can't you?' At last, bein' frightened, as I said, that he might
have another shock or somethin', I said I'd think it over and come
away and left him. And I come straight to you. Keziah, what shall
I do? What can you say to help me?"
Keziah was silent. She was looking, not at her companion, but at
the carpet center of one of the braided rugs on the floor. Her
face was very grave and the lines about her mouth seemed to deepen.
Her hands, clasped in her lap, tightened one upon the other. But
her voice was calm when, at last, she spoke.
"Nat," she said, "there's only one thing I can say. And that's
what your father said: Why can't you?"
The captain sprang from his chair.
"What?" he cried incredulously. "What are you sayin'?"
"Just what your father said, Nat. Why can't you marry Grace?
She's a dear, good girl and--"
"That be--keelhauled! Keziah Coffin, you sit there and ask me why
I can't marry her! YOU do?"
"Keziah, you're crazy! Don't talk to me like that. We're not
jokin' now. You know why I can't marry her, nor anyone else in
this round world but you."
"Nat, I can't marry you."
"I know, I know. You're always sayin' that. But you don't mean
it. You can't mean it. Why, you and me have been picked out for
each other by the Almighty, Keziah. I swear I believe just that.
We went together when we were boy and girl, to parties and such.
We was promised when I first went to sea. If it hadn't been for
that fool row we had--and 'twas all my fault and I know it--you
never would have let that da--that miserable Anse Coffin come near
you. And when 'twas too late and you'd married him, the mean,
"Hush, Nat! hush! Stop it!"
"He was, and you know he was. Yes, and worse besides. Runnin' off
and leavin' a wife like you to-- Oh, my God! when I think I might
have been your husband to look out for you and take care of you!
That you might have been with me on board my ships. That, when I
come down the companion on stormy nights I might have found you
there to comfort me and-- O Keziah! we aren't young any more.
What's the use of foolin'? I want you. I'm goin' to have you.
Coffin is dead these ten years. When I heard he was drowned off
there in Singapore, all I could say was: 'Serve him right!' And I
say it now. I come home then more determined to get you. Say yes,
and let's be happy. Do!"
"I can't, Nat."
"Why not? For Heaven sakes! why not? Don't you care for me?
You've let me think--well, at any rate, I have thought you did.
You used to. Don't you?"
"Nat, I--I care for you more than anybody else on earth. But I
can't marry you. Oh, don't keep askin' it! Please don't. I can't
marry you, Nat. No!"
"Well, not now, maybe. Not this month, or even this year, perhaps,
but some day--"
"No, Nat. You must listen. There's no use of this goin' on any
longer. I mean it. I can't marry you."
"You won't, you mean."
"Well, if you wish to think so. Then I won't."
"But by and by--"
"No, not by and by. Never, Nat. Never."
He drew his hand across his forehead.
"Never!" he repeated, more to himself than to her.
"Never. Yes, Nat."
"Then, by the everlastin'! I'll do somethin'--"
"No, no, you won't. Nat Hammond, I know you. You're a great big,
brave-hearted, sensible man. You won't be foolish. You'll do--
yes, I think you'd better do just what your father asks you to do.
Marry Grace, if she wants you and will have you. She'll make you a
good wife; you'll learn to care for her, and I know she'll have the
best husband that a girl could hope for. And you and I will be
friends, just as we've always been, and--"
"Keziah, stop that! Stop it, do you hear! I don't want to listen
to such stuff. I tell you I'm past soft soap, and I didn't think
you'd give it to me."
"Oh, yes, 'Nat'! A lot you care for 'Nat'! Not a reason on God's
footstool why you won't have me--except one, and that one that you
don't want me."
"Please, Nat! I can hardly believe this is you. This trouble with
your father has upset you. You don't mean what you say. You're
not talkin' like yourself and--"
"Stop it, I tell you. I don't feel like myself. I banked on you,
Keziah. I've lived for you. And now-- O Keziah, take it back!
Give me a little hope, just enough to keep my head above water."
"I'd like to, Nat. I only wish I could. But 'twouldn't be any
use. I can't do it."
He snatched his hat from the table and strode to the door.
Turning, he looked at her.
"All right," he said chokingly. "All right. Good-by."
His steps sounded on the oilcloth of the kitchen. Then the back
door slammed. He was gone.
Keziah started, as if the slam of the door had been an electric
shock. During the interview she had been pale and grave but
outwardly calm. Now she sank wearily down in the chair from which
she had risen and her head dropped forward upon her arms on the
table. The letter she had been reading before Captain Nat's
arrival fell from her waist to the floor and lay there, its badly
spelled and blotted lines showing black and fateful against the
white paper. And she cried, tears of utter loneliness and despair.
The clouds thickened as the afternoon passed. The setting sun was
hidden behind them; over the horizon of ocean and bay the fog banks
were rolling in tumbled, crumpled masses. The shadows in the
lonely sitting room deepened. There came a knock at the dining-
Keziah sprang from her chair, smoothed her hair, hastily wiped her
eyes, picked up the dropped letter and went to admit the visitor,
whoever he or she might be. She was glad of the shadows, they
prevented her face from being seen too plainly.
"Good afternoon," she said, opening the door. "Oh! it's you, is
"Yes," admitted Abishai Pepper, standing on the stone step, and
shifting uneasily from one foot to the other. "Yes, Keziah, it's--
it's me, thank you."
"Don't mention it. Well, is Laviny with you?"
"No--o, she ain't. She--she didn't come."
"Hum! Did she know you was comin'?"
"No--o, I don't cal'late she did."
"I see. Well, what do you want?"
Mrs. Coffin's welcome was not too cordial. She had laughed many
times over Abishai's proposal of marriage, but she had never quite
forgiven him for making her ridiculous on that occasion.
Incidentally, she did not feel like laughing.
"What do you want?" she repeated.
Kyan was plainly nervous.
"I only wanted to see Mr. Ellery," he announced. "It's all right,
Keziah. You needn't be afraid."
"Afraid! What on earth should I be afraid of?"
"Why--why, I didn't know but you might be afraid I was goin' to--to
talk about what we talked about when I--I talked to you that day up
"There! that'll do. It ain't me that would have reason to be
afraid if THAT was what you come for. What do you want? Don't
stand there dancin' a jig."
"I only wanted to see Mr. Ellery."
"He's out. Good day."
"But I won't keep him but a minute."
"He's out, I tell you. Do you want to leave a message?"
"No--o. No, I guess not."
"Was it important?"
"Oh! I don't know. Kind of, maybe. I wanted to ask his advice
about somethin'. It's a secret. Only him and me know about it.
"Shall I tell him you'll call again? Or ask him to come up to your
Mr. Pepper, who had started to go, now hurried back to the steps.
"No, no," he protested, in alarm. "Don't you tell him that. I
wouldn't have him come there for no money. Why, Laviny, she--"
"Oh, Laviny isn't in the secret, then?" Keziah smiled in spite of
"Not exactly. That is, not much. Don't you tell her I come here,
will you? I'll find Mr. Ellery. I know where he is."
"I wouldn't go to the Danielses', if I was you. Elkanah might not
like to have you chasin' after his visitors."
"Oh, the minister ain't at the Danielses', not as late's this, he
ain't. I know where he is."
"You do?" The housekeeper looked at him keenly.
"Yes, sir, I do. I know where he goes Sunday afternoons--and why
he goes, too. Mr. Ellery and me's good friends. We understand
"Look here, Kyan Pepper! What are you talkin' about?"
"Nothin', nothin'. Good day."
"Stop! Stand still! Come in the house here. I want you to."
"No, no, Keziah. Really, I'd love to, but I can't stop."
"Come in, I tell you."
Reluctantly, but lacking the strength of mind to refuse, Mr. Pepper
entered the dining room. Then Mrs. Coffin turned upon him.
"What do you mean," she demanded, "by throwin' out hints that the
minister and you are in some sort of secret? How dare you go round
tellin' people such yarns as that?"
"They ain't yarns. And I never told nobody afore, anyhow. I got
to move along. I'll--"
"Stay where you are. I guess I'll run right up and ask your sister
about this. Perhaps she might--"
"Ss-sh! ss-sh! don't talk that way, Keziah. Don't! Laviny don't
know what I mean. Don't go askin' HER things."
"But you said--"
"I just said I knew where Mr. Ellery goes every Sunday afternoon.
He don't know anybody knows, but I do. That's all there is to it.
I shan't tell. So--"
"Tell? Do you mean there's somethin' Mr. Ellery wouldn't want
told? Don't you dare--I WILL see Laviny!"
"No, no, no, no! 'Tain't nothin' much. I just know where he goes
after he leaves Elkanah's and who he goes to meet. I-- Lordy! I
hadn't ought to said that! I-- Keziah Coffin, don't you ever tell
I told you. I've said more'n I meant to. If it comes out there'd
be the biggest row in the church that ever was. And I'd be
responsible! I would! I'd have to go on the witness stand and
then Laviny'd find out how I-- Oh, oh, oh! what SHALL I do?"
The poor frightened creature's "jig" had, by this time, become a
distracted fandango. But the housekeeper had no mercy on him. She
was beginning to fear for her parson and, for the time, everything
else, her own trouble and the recent interview with Nat, was pushed
"What is it?" she persisted. "WHAT would bring on the row in the
church? WHO does Mr. Ellery meet? Out with it! What do you
"I mean that the minister meets that Van Horne girl every Sunday
afternoon after he leaves Elkanah's. There, now! It's out, and I
don't give a darn if they hang me for it."
Keziah turned white. She seized Mr. Pepper by the lapel of his
Sunday coat and shook him.
"Grace Van Horne!" she cried. "Mr. Ellery meets Grace Van Horne on
Sunday afternoons? Where?"
"Down in them pines back of Peters's pastur', on the aidge of the
bank over the beach. He's met her there every Sunday for the last
six weeks--longer, for what I know. I've watched 'em."
"You HAVE? YOU have! You've dared to spy on-- I think you're
lyin' to me. I don't believe it."
"I ain't lyin'! It's so. I'll bet you anything they're there now,
walkin' up and down and talkin'. What would I want to lie for?
You come with me this minute and I'll show 'em to you."
In the desire to prove his veracity he was on his way to the door.
But Keziah stepped in front of him.
"'Bish Pepper," she said slowly and fiercely, shaking a forefinger
in his face, "you go straight home and stay there. Don't you
breathe a word to a livin' soul of what you say you've seen. Don't
you even think it, or--or dream it. If you do I'll--I'll march
straight to Laviny and tell her that you asked me to marry you. I
will, as sure as you're shakin' in front of me this minute. Now
you swear to me to keep still. Swear!"
"How--HOW'll I swear?" begged Kyan. "What do you say when you
swear? I'll say it, Keziah! I'll say anything! I'll--"
"All right. Then mind you remember. Now clear out quick. I want
to think. I MUST think. GO! Get out of my sight!"
Kyan went, glad to escape, but frightened to the soul of him.