Part 4 out of 8
an umbrella when it rained. If he caught cold there was the
medicine Doctor Harley had prescribed. He must not sit up after ten
o'clock; he must not try to read the paper without first hunting for
his spectacles. These were a few of his orders. Shadrach's list
was even longer. It included going to church every other Sunday:
keeping his Sunday shoes blacked: not forgetting to change his
collar every morning: to get his hair cut at least once in six
weeks: not to eat pie just before going to bed, "because you know if
you do, you always have the nightmare and groan and moan and wake up
everyone but yourself": not to say "Jumpin'" or "Creepin' Judas" any
oftener than he could help: to be sure and not cut prices in the
store just because a customer asked him to do so--and goodness knows
how much more.
As for Isaiah Chase, his list was so lengthy and varied that the
responsibility quite overwhelmed him.
"Gosh t'mighty!" exclaimed Isaiah, desperately. "I'll never be able
to live up to all them sailin' orders and I know it. I've put some
of 'em down on a piece of paper, but I ain't even got them straight,
and as for the million or two others--whew! I'm to dust every day,
and sweep every other day, and change the tablecloth, and see that
the washin' goes when it ought to, and feed the horse the cat--no,
no, feed the cat oats--Oh, consarn it! Feed the cat and the horse
and the hens their reg'lar vittles at reg'lar times and--and--Oh, my
soul! Yes, and let alone my own self and all that's laid onto me, I
must keep an eye on Captain Shad and Zoeth and see that they do
what's been laid onto THEM. I swan to man! I'm a hard-workin',
painstakin' feller of my age, but I ain't as young as I used to be,
and I'm human and not a walkin' steam-engyne. I'll do the best I
can, but--but first thing you know I'll be drove into heavin' up my
job. THEN this craft'll be on its beam ends, I bet you! They'll
appreciate me then, when it's too late."
The farewells at the railway station were brief. They were very
hard to say and neither the partners nor Mary-'Gusta could trust
themselves to talk more than was necessary. The train drew up
beside the platform; then it moved on. A hand waved from the car
window; Shadrach and Zoeth waved in return. The rear car
disappeared around the curve by Solomon Higgins' cranberry shanty.
Mr. Hamilton sighed heavily.
"She's gone, Shadrach," he said. "Mary-'Gusta's gone."
Shadrach echoed the sigh.
"Yes, she's gone," he agreed. "I feel as if the best part of you
and me had gone along with her. Well, t'other parts have got to go
back to the store and wait on customers, I presume likely. Heave
ahead and let's do it. Ah, hum! I cal'late we'd ought to be
thankful we've got work to do, Zoeth. It'll help take up our minds.
There are goin' to be lonesome days for you and me, shipmate."
There were lonely days for Mary-'Gusta also, those of that first
month at Mrs. Wyeth's and at the Misses Cabot's school. For the
first time in her life she realized what it meant to be homesick.
But in the letters which she wrote to her uncles not a trace of the
homesickness was permitted to show and little by little its keenest
pangs wore away. She, too, was thankful for work, for the study
which kept her from thinking of other things.
The Misses Cabot--their Christian names were Priscilla and Hortense--
she found to be middle-aged maiden ladies, eminently prim and
proper, and the educational establishment over which they presided a
sort of Protestant nunnery ruled according to the precepts of the
Congregational Church and the New England aristocracy. Miss
Priscilla was tall and thin and her favorite author was Emerson; she
quoted Emerson extensively and was certain that real literature died
when he did. Miss Hortense was younger, plumper, and more romantic.
She quoted Longfellow and occasionally Oliver Wendell Holmes,
although she admitted she considered the latter rather too frivolous
at times. Both sisters were learned, dignified, and strict
disciplinarians. Also, in the eyes of both a male person younger
than forty-five was labeled "Danger--Keep Away." But one creature
of the masculine gender taught in their school; he was white-haired
Doctor Barnes, professor of the dead languages. It was the
prevailing opinion among the scholars that Doctor Barnes, when at
home, occupied an apartment in the Greek Antiquity section of the
Art Museum, where he slept and ate surrounded by the statues and
busts of his contemporaries.
As for the scholars themselves, there were about forty of them,
girls--or young ladies: the Misses Cabot invariably referred to and
addressed them as "young ladies"--from Boston and New York and
Philadelphia, even from Chicago and as far south as Baltimore.
Almost all were the daughters of well-to-do parents, almost all had
their homes in cities. There were very few who, like Mary-'Gusta,
had lived all their lives in the country. Some were pretty, some
were not; some were giddy and giggly, some solemn and studious, some
either according to mood; some were inclined to be snobbish, others
simple and "everyday." In short, the school was like almost any
school of its kind.
Mary-'Gusta entered this school and, doing so, ceased to be Mary-
'Gusta, becoming Miss Lathrop to her instructors and Mary to her
intimates among the scholars. And at Mrs. Wyeth's she was Mary or
Miss Lathrop or Miss Mary, according to the age, length of
acquaintance, or station of the person addressing her. But she
always thought of herself as Mary-'Gusta and her letters written to
Uncle Shad or Uncle Zoeth were so signed.
She found, after the hard work of beginning, that she could keep
abreast of her class in studies without undue exertion. Also she
found that, the snobs excepted, the girls at the Misses Cabot's
school were inclined to be sociable and friendly. She made no bid
for their friendship, being a self-respecting young person whose
dislike of imitation was as strong as ever, but, perhaps because she
did not bid or imitate but continued to be simply and sincerely
herself, friends came to her. Most of these friends received
monthly allowances far greater than hers, and most of them wore more
expensive gowns and in greater variety, but she showed no envy nor
offered apologies, and if she sometimes wished, being human, that
her wardrobe was a trifle more extensive she kept that wish to
Her liking for Mrs. Wyeth grew into a real affection. And the prim
and practical matron grew more and more fond of her. The girl came
to be considered, and almost to consider herself, one of the family.
The "family" consisted of Mrs. Wyeth, Mary, Miss Pease, the other
"paying guest," and Maggie, the maid, and Nora, the cook. Miss
Pease was an elderly spinster without near relatives, possessed of
an income and a love of travel which she gratified by occasional
European trips. She and her closest friend, Mrs. Wyeth, disagreed
on many subjects, but they united in the belief that Boston was a
suburb of Paradise and that William Ellery Channing was the greatest
of religious leaders. They at-tended the Arlington Street Unitarian
Church, and Mary often accompanied them there for Sunday morning or
The conviction of the Misses Cabot that youthful manhood was
dangerous and to be shunned like the plague Mary soon discovered was
not shared by the majority of the young ladies. If Miss Priscilla
and Miss Hortense had had their way Harvard University and the
Institute of Technology would have been moved forthwith to some
remote spot like the North Pole or San Francisco. There were
altogether too many "cousins" or "sons of old family friends"
calling at the school to deliver messages from parents or guardians
or the said friends. These messengers, young gentlemen with budding
mustaches and full-blown raiment, were rigidly inspected and their
visits carefully chaperoned: but letters came and were treasured and
the cheerful inanity of their contents imparted, in strict secrecy,
to bosom friends of the recipients.
Mary received no such letters. No cousins or family friends called
to deliver messages to her. No photographs of young fellows in
lettered sweaters were hidden among her belongings. Her friends in
the school thought this state of affairs very odd and they sometimes
asked pointed questions.
Miss Barbara Howe, whose home was in Brookline and whose father was
the senior partner of an old and well-known firm of downtown
merchants, was the leading questioner. She liked Mary and the
latter liked her. Barbara was pretty and full of spirits and,
although she was the only child, and a rather spoiled one, in a
wealthy family, there was no snobbishness in her make-up.
"But I can't see," she declared, "what you have been doing all the
time. Where have you been keeping yourself? Don't you know
Mary smiled. "Oh, yes," she replied, "I know a good many people."
"You know what I mean. Don't you know any of the fellows at
Harvard, or Tech, or Yale, or anywhere? I know dozens. And you
must know some. You know Sam Keith; you said you did."
Mary admitted that she knew Sam slightly.
"Isn't he fun! Sam and I are great chums. Doesn't he dance
"I don't know. I never saw him dance."
"Then you've missed something. Do you know his friend, the one on
the football team--Crawford Smith, his name is--do you know him?"
Mary nodded. "I--I've met him," she said.
"You HAVE? Don't you think he is perfectly splendid?"
"I don't know. Is he?"
"Of course he is. Haven't you read about him in the papers? He
made that long run for a touchdown in the Yale game. Oh, you should
have seen it! I couldn't speak for two days after that game. He
was just as cool and calm. All the Yale men were trying to get him
and he dodged--I never saw anyone so cool and who kept his head so
"I thought the papers spoke most of the way he kept his feet."
"Then you did read about it! Of course you did! I'm just dying to
know him. All the girls are crazy about him. Where did you meet
him? Tell me!"
Mary smiled. On the occasion of her only meeting with Crawford
Smith that young fellow had been anything but cool.
"I met him in my uncle's store at South Harniss," she said. "It was
three years ago."
"And you haven't seen him since? He is a great friend of Sam's.
And Sam's people have a summer home at the Cape. Perhaps you'll
meet him there again."
"Goodness! One would think you didn't want to."
"Why, I don't know that I do, particularly. Why should I?"
"Why should you! Mary Lathrop, I do think you are the queerest
girl. You don't talk like a girl at all. Sometimes I think you are
as old as--as Prissy." "Prissy" was the disrespectful nickname by
which the young ladies referred, behind her back, to Miss Priscilla
Mary laughed. "Not quite, I hope," she said. "But I don't see why
I should be so very anxious to meet Crawford Smith. And I'm sure he
isn't anxious to meet me. If all the other girls are crazy about
him, that ought to be enough, I should think."
This astonishing profession of indifference to the fascination of
the football hero, indifference which Miss Barbara declared to be
only make-believe, was made on a Saturday. The next day, as Mrs.
Wyeth and Mary were on their way home from church, the former made
"We are to have a guest, perhaps guests, at dinner this noon," she
said. Sunday dinner at Mrs. Wyeth's was served, according to New
England custom, at one o'clock.
"Samuel, Mr. John Keith's son, is to dine with us," continued Mrs.
Wyeth. "He may bring a college friend with him. You have met
Samuel, haven't you, Mary?"
Mary said that she had. She was a trifle embarrassed at the
prospect of meeting Sam Keith in her new surroundings. At home, in
South Harniss, they had met many times, but always at the store. He
was pleasant and jolly and she liked him well enough, although she
had refused his invitations to go on sailing parties and the like.
She knew perfectly well that his mother and sister would not have
approved of these invitations, for in the feminine Keith mind there
was a great gulf fixed between the summer resident and the native.
The latter was to be helped and improved but not encouraged socially
beyond a certain point. Mary sought neither help nor improvement of
that kind. Sam, it is true, had never condescended or patronized,
but he had never called at her home nor had she been asked to visit
And now she was to meet him in a house where she was considered one
of the family. His father had been influential in bringing her
there. Did Sam know this and, if he did, what influence would the
knowledge have upon his manner toward her? Would he be lofty and
condescending or, on the other hand, would he pretend a familiar
acquaintanceship which did not exist? Alone in her room she
considered these questions and then put them from her mind.
Whatever his manner might be, hers, she determined, should be what
it had always been. And if any embarrassment was evident to others
at this meeting it should not be on her part.
When she came downstairs, Mrs. Wyeth called to her to come into the
parlor. As she entered the room two young men rose from the chairs
beside the mahogany center table. One of these young men was Sam
Keith; she had expected to see Sam, of course. But the other--the
other was the very individual in whose daring deeds and glorified
personality she had expressed a complete lack of interest only the
day before, the young fellow whom she had last seen racing madly
across the fields in the rear of Hamilton and Company's store with
the larger portion of a sheet of sticky fly paper attached to his
white flannels. Mr. Crawford Smith was taller and broader than on
that memorable occasion but she recognized him instantly.
It was evident that he did not recognize her. Mrs. Wyeth came to
"Mary," she said, "you know Samuel, I think. You and he have met
before. Samuel, will you introduce your friend?"
Sam was staring at Mary with eyes which expressed a variety of
emotions, intense surprise the most prominent. He was in a state
which Barbara Howe would have described as "fussed," one most
unusual for him. He had known of Mary's presence in the house;
after the affair was settled John Keith told his family what he had
done, facing with serene philosophy his wife's displeasure and
prophecies of certain regrets. Sam had vivid and pleasing
recollections of the pretty country girl in the South Harniss store.
He had not told his college friend that they were to meet her that
day, one reason being that he was not certain they would meet, and
the other a secret misgiving that it might be well to wait and
inspect and listen before boasting of previous acquaintanceship.
Sam's mother had lectured him on the subject before he left home.
"Don't be too familiar, Sam," was her warning. "You may be sorry if
you do. The girl is well enough here in South Harniss, where she is
accustomed to her surroundings, but in Boston she may be quite out
of place and impossible. I have told your father so, but he won't
listen, of course. Don't YOU be foolish, for my sake."
But here was no green country girl. The self-possessed young woman
who stood before him looked no more out of place and impossible in
Mrs. Wyeth's dignified and aristocratic parlor than she had in the
store where he had last seen her. Her gown was simple and
inexpensive but it was stylish and becoming. And her manner--well,
her manner was distinctly more at ease than his at that moment.
Mary had been but eight weeks among the Misses Cabot's young ladies,
but she had used her eyes and her brain during that time; she was
adaptable and had learned other things than those in the curriculum.
Also, she was prepared for this meeting and had made up her mind to
show no embarrassment.
So the usually blase Samuel was the embarrassed party. He looked
and stammered. Mrs. Wyeth was surprised and shocked.
"Samuel," she said sharply, "what is the matter with you? Why don't
you speak and not stand there staring?"
Sam, with an effort, recovered some of his self-possession.
"Was I staring?" he said. "I beg your pardon, Cousin Emily. Er--
How do you do, Miss Lathrop?"
Mrs. Wyeth sniffed.
"Mercy!" she exclaimed. "Is your acquaintance as formal as that? I
thought you knew each other. The boys and girls of this generation
are beyond me. 'Miss Lathrop,' indeed!"
Mary smiled. "Perhaps he didn't expect to see me here, Mrs. Wyeth,"
she said. "How do you do, Sam?"
She and Sam shook hands. Mrs. Wyeth asked another question.
"Didn't you know Mary was with me, Samuel?" she asked.
"Oh, yes, Cousin Emily, I knew. I knew she was here, of course.
But--but I didn't--by George!" with a sudden outburst of his real
feelings, "I hardly knew her, though. Really, I didn't."
Mary laughed. "Have I grown so much older in two months?" she
"Oh, you haven't changed that way. I--I--" The young man,
realizing that he was getting into deep water, seized an opportunity
to scramble out. "Oh, I forgot!" he exclaimed. "Sorry, Crawford.
Mary--Miss Lathrop, I want to present my friend, Crawford Smith.
He's my roommate at college."
Mary and Crawford shook hands.
"I have met Mr. Smith, too, before," she said.
The young gentlemen, both of them, looked astonished.
"Have you?" cried Sam. "Oh, I say! I didn't know that. When was
His friend, too, was plainly puzzled. "I hardly think so," he said.
"I don't believe I should have forgotten it. I don't remember--"
"Don't you remember coming into my uncles' store at South Harniss
with Miss Keith, Sam's sister? You bought some"--with a mischievous
twinkle--"some marshmallows, among other things. I sold them to
"You? Great Scott! Are you--why that girl's name was--what was
"It was the same as mine, Mary Augusta Lathrop. But in South
Harniss they call me Mary-'Gusta."
"That was it! And you are Mary-'Gusta? Yes, of course you are!
Well, I ought to be ashamed, I suppose, but I didn't recognize you.
I AM ashamed. I was awfully obliged to you that day. You helped me
out of a scrape."
Sam, who had been listening with increasing curiosity, broke in.
"Say, what's all this?" he demanded. "When was this, Crawford?
What scrape? You never told me."
"And you didn't tell me that Miss Lathrop was here. You didn't say
a word about her."
"Eh? Didn't I? I must have forgotten to mention it. She--she IS
here, you know." Mrs. Wyeth shook her head.
"Samuel, you're perfectly idiotic today," she declared. "Of course
she is here; anyone with eyes can see she is. She is--ahem--
visiting me and she is attending the Misses Cabot's school. There!
Now, Mr. Smith understands, I hope. And dinner is ready. Don't any
of you say another word until we are at the table. My father used
to say that lukewarm soup was the worst sort of cold reception and I
agree with him."
During dinner Sam was tremendously curious to discover how and where
his friend and Mary had met and what the scrape might be to which
Crawford had referred. But his curiosity was unsatisfied. Mr.
Smith refused to tell and Mary only smiled and shook her head when
The young people furnished most of the conversation during the meal.
The recent football season and its triumphant ending were discussed,
of course, and the prospects of the hockey team came in for its
share. Sam, it appeared, was out for a place on the hockey squad.
"You must see some of the games, Mary," he said. "I'll get tickets
for you and Cousin Emily. You're crazy about sports, aren't you,
Mrs. Wyeth regarded him through her eyeglasses.
"I imagine," she observed, "that that remark is intended as a joke.
I saw one football game and the spectacle of those boys trampling
each other to death before my eyes, and of you, Samuel Keith,
hopping up and down shrieking, 'Tear 'em up' and 'Smash 'em' was the
nearest approach to insanity I ever experienced. Since that time I
have regarded Doctor Eliot as President Emeritus of an asylum and
NOT a university."
Sam was hugely delighted. "That's football," he declared. "I will
admit that no one but lunatics like Crawford here play football.
Hockey, now, is different. I play hockey."
Crawford seemed surprised.
"Do you?" he asked, with eager interest. "No one has ever guessed
it, not even the coach. You shouldn't keep it a secret from HIM,
Miss Pease, having been invited out that day, was not present at
dinner. After the coffee was served the irrepressible Sam proposed
"You won't care to go, Cousin Emily," he said, "but I'm sure Mary
will. It is a fine afternoon and she needs the air. Crawford isn't
much of a walker; he can stay and keep Cousin Emily company. We
won't be long."
Before Mary could decline this disinterested invitation Mrs. Wyeth
saved her the trouble.
"Thank you, Samuel," she said, crisply. "Your kindness is
appreciated, particularly by Mr. Smith and myself. I can see that
he is delighted with the idea. But Mary and I are going to the
afternoon service at the Arlington Street church. So you will have
to excuse us."
This should have been a squelcher, but it was not. Sam announced
that he and Crawford would go with them. "We were thinking of going
to church, weren't we, Crawford? It is just what I suggested, you
Mrs. Wyeth said "Humph," and that was all. She and Mary went to
their rooms to get ready. Sam, surprised at the unexpected success
of his sudden inspiration and immensely tickled, chuckled in
triumph. But his joy was materially lessened when the quartette
left the house.
"These sidewalks are too narrow for four," declared Mrs. Wyeth.
"Samuel, you may walk with me. Mary, you and Mr. Smith must keep
close at our heels and walk fast. I never permit myself or my
guests to be late at church."
During the walk Crawford asked a number of questions. How long had
his companion been in the city? How long did she intend staying?
Did she plan returning to the school for another year? Where would
she spend the Christmas vacation? Mary said she was going home, to
South Harniss, for the holidays.
"It's a bully old place, Cape Cod," declared Crawford. "I never had
a better time than I did on that visit at Sam's. Wish I were going
there again some day."
"Why don't you?" asked Mary.
The young man shook his head. "Orders from home," he said. "Father
insists on my coming home to him the moment the term closes. I made
that visit to Sam's on my own responsibility and I got fits for
doing it. Dad seems to have a prejudice against the East. He won't
come here himself and he doesn't like to have me stay any longer
than is absolutely necessary. When I wrote him I was at South
Harniss he telegraphed me to come home in a hurry. He is Eastern
born himself, lived somewhere this way when he was young, but he
doesn't talk about it and has more prejudices against Eastern ways
and Eastern people than if he'd lived all his life in Carson City.
Won't even come on to see me play football. I doubt if he comes to
Commencement next spring; and I graduate, too."
"I wonder he permitted you to go to Harvard," said Mary.
"He had to permit it. I've always been for Harvard ever since I
thought about college. Dad was all for a Western university, but I
sat back in the stirrups and pulled for Harvard and finally he gave
in. He generally gives in if I buck hard enough. He's a bully old
Dad and we're great pals, more like brothers than father and son.
The only point where we disagree is his confounded sectional
prejudice. He thinks the sun not only sets in the West but rises
The girl learned that he intended entering the Harvard Medical
School in the fall.
"I had to fight for that, too," he said, with a laugh. "I've always
wanted to be a doctor but Dad wouldn't give in for ever so long. He
is interested in mining properties there at home and it was his idea
that I should come in with him when I finished school. But I
couldn't see it. I wanted to study medicine. Dad says there are
almost as many starving doctors as there are down-at-the-heel
lawyers; if I go in with him, he says, I shall have what is
practically a sure thing and a soft snap for the rest of my days.
That doesn't suit me. I want to work; I expect to. I want to
paddle my own canoe. I may be the poorest M.D. that ever put up a
sign, but I'm going to put that sign up just the same. And if I
starve I shan't ask him or anyone else to feed me."
He laughed again as he said it, but there was a determined ring in
his voice and a square set to his chin which Mary noticed and liked.
He meant what he said, that was evident.
"I think a doctor's profession is one of the noblest and finest in
the world," she said.
"Do you? Good for you! So do I. It doesn't bring in the dollars
as fast as some others, but it does seem a man's job to me. The big
specialists make a lot of money too, but that isn't exactly what I
mean. Some of the best men I've met were just country doctors,
working night and day in all sorts of weather and getting paid or
not, just as it happened. That old Doctor Harley down in your town
is one of that kind, I think. I saw something of his work while I
"Did you? I shouldn't have thought you had time for that, with all
the picnics and sailing parties."
"I did, though. I met him at Sam's. Mrs. Keith had a cold or a
cough or something. He and I got to talking and he asked me to come
and see him. I went, you bet! Went out with him on some of his
drives while he made his calls, you know. He told me a lot of
things. He's a brick."
"It's queer," he went on, after a moment, "but I felt really at home
down there in that little place. Seemed as if I had been there
before and--and--by George, almost as if I belonged there. It was
my first experience on and around salt water, but that seemed
natural, too. And the people--I mean the people that belong there,
not the summer crowd--I liked them immensely. Those two fine old
cards that kept the store--Eh, I beg pardon; they are relatives of
yours, aren't they? I forgot."
"They are my uncles," said Mary, simply. "I have lived with them
almost all my life. They are the best men in the world."
"They seemed like it. I'd like to know them better. Hello! here's
that confounded church. I've enjoyed this walk ever so much. Guess
I've done all the talking, though. Hope I haven't bored you to
death gassing about my affairs."
"No, you haven't. I enjoyed it."
"Did you really? Yes, I guess you did or you wouldn't say so. You
don't act like a girl that pretends. By George! It's a relief to
have someone to talk to, someone that understands and appreciates
what a fellow is thinking about. Most girls want to talk football
and dancing and all that. I like football immensely and dancing
too, but there is something else in life. Even Sam--he's as good as
they make but he doesn't care to listen to anything serious--that
is, not long."
Mary considered. "I enjoyed listening," she said, "and I was glad
to hear you liked South Harniss and my uncles."
On the way home, after the service, it was Sam Keith who escorted
Mary, while Mrs. Wyeth walked with Mr. Smith. Sam's conversation
was not burdened with seriousness. Hockey, dances, and good times
were the subjects he dealt with. Was his companion fond of dancing?
Would she accompany him to one of the club dances some time? They
were great fun. Mrs. Wyeth could chaperon them, of course.
Mary said she was afraid she would be too busy to accept. As a
matter of fact, knowing what she did of his mother's feelings, she
would have accepted no invitations from Sam Keith even if nothing
else prevented her doing so.
"My studies take a good deal of my time," she said.
Sam laughed. "You'll get over that," he declared. "I studied like
blue blazes my freshman year, but after that--I should worry. Say,
I'm mighty glad I came over here today. I'm coming again. I'll be
a regular boarder."
The young men said good-by at the Wyeth door. Mrs. Wyeth did not
ask them in, although the persistent Samuel threw out some pointed
Crawford Smith and Mary shook hands.
"I've had an awfully good time," declared the former. Then, turning
to Mrs. Wyeth, he asked: "May I call occasionally?"
Mrs. Wyeth's answer was, as usual, frank and unmistakable.
"Yes," she said. "I shall be very glad to see you--occasionally."
Crawford turned to Mary.
"May I?" he asked.
Mary scarcely knew how to reply. There was no real reason why he
should not call; she liked him so far. His frankness and
earnestness of purpose appealed to her. And yet she was not at all
sure that it was wise to continue the acquaintance. In her mind
this coming to Boston to school was a very serious matter. Her
uncles had sent her there to study; they needed her at home, but
that need they had sacrificed in order that she might study and
improve. Nothing else, friendships or good times or anything, must
interfere with the purpose with which she had accepted the
So she hesitated.
"May I?" repeated Crawford.
"Why, I don't know. I imagine I shall be very busy most of the
"That's all right. If you're busy you can send word for me to
vamoose. That will be part of the bargain. Good-by."
Mrs. Wyeth's first remark, after entering, was concerning Sam's
"I rather like that young person," she said. "Samuel idolizes him,
of course, but Samuel would worship a hyena if it played football.
But this Smith boy"--in Mrs. Wyeth's mind any male under thirty was
a boy--"seems to have some common sense and a mind of his own. I
don't approve of his name nor the howling wilderness he comes from,
but he can't help those drawbacks, I suppose. However, if he is to
call here we must know something about him. I shall make inquiries."
The school term ended on a Saturday morning in mid-December. Mary's
trunk was packed and ready, and she and it reached the South Station
long before train time. She was going home, home for the holidays,
and if she had been going on a trip around the world she could not
have been more delighted at the prospect. And her delight and
anticipations were shared in South Harniss. Her uncles' letters for
the past fortnight had contained little except joyful announcements
of preparations for her coming.
We are counting the minutes [wrote Zoeth]. The first thing Shadrach
does every morning is to scratch another day off the calendar. I
never saw him so worked up and excited and I calculate I ain't much
different myself. I try not to set my heart on things of this world
more than I ought to, but it does seem as if I couldn't think of
much else but our girl's coming back to us. I am not going to worry
the way Shadrach does about your getting here safe and sound. The
Lord's been mighty good to us and I am sure He will fetch you to our
door all right. I am contented to trust you in His hands.
P.S. One or both of us will meet you at the depot.
Captain Shad's epistle was more worldly but not more coherent.
Be sure and take the train that comes right on through [he wrote].
Don't take the one that goes to Woods Hole. Zoeth is so fidgety and
nervous for fear you will make a mistake that he keeps me on pins
and needles. Isaiah ain't much better. He swept out the setting-
room twice last week and if he don't roast the cat instead of the
chicken he is calculating to kill, it will be a mercy. I am the
only one aboard the ship that keeps his head and I tell them not to
worry. Be sure you take that through train. And look out for them
electric cars, if you come to the depot in one. Better settle on
the one you are going to take and then take the one ahead of it so
as to be sure and not be late. Your train leaves the dock at
quarter-past four. The Woods Hole one is two minutes earlier. Look
out and not take that. Zoeth is afraid you will make a mistake, but
I laugh at him. Don't take the wrong train.
Mary laughed when she read these letters, but there was a choke in
the laugh. In spite of the perils of travel by the electrics and
the New Haven railroad, she reached South Harniss safe, sound, and
reasonably on time. The first person she saw on the platform of the
station was Captain Shadrach. He had been pacing that platform for
at least forty minutes.
He spied her at the same time and came rushing to greet her, both
"And here you be!" he exclaimed with enthusiasm.
Mary laughed happily.
"Yes, Uncle Shad, here I am," she said. "Are you glad to see me?"
Shadrach looked at her.
"JUMPIN'!" was the only answer he made, but it was fervent and
They rode home together in the old buggy. As they reached the
corner by the store Mary expected the vehicle to be brought to a
halt at the curb, but it was not. The Captain chirruped to the
horse and drove straight on.
"Why, Uncle Shad!" exclaimed the girl. "Aren't you going to stop?"
"Eh? Stop? What for?"
"Why, to see Uncle Zoeth, of course. He's at the store, isn't he?"
Shadrach shook his head.
"No, he ain't," he said. "He's to home."
Mary was amazed and a trifle alarmed. One partner of Hamilton and
Company was there in the buggy with her. By all the rules of
precedent and South Harniss business the other should have been at
the store. She knew that her uncles had employed no clerk or
assistant since she left.
"But--but is Uncle Zoeth sick?" she asked.
"Sick? No, no, course he ain't sick. If he didn't have no better
sense than to get sick the day you come home I'd--I'd--I don't
know's I wouldn't drown him. HE ain't sick--unless," he added, as
an afterthought, "he's got Saint Vitus dance from hoppin' up and
down to look out of the window, watchin' for us."
"But if he isn't sick, why isn't he at the store? Who is there?"
The Captain chuckled.
"Not a solitary soul," he declared. "That store's shut up tight and
it's goin' to stay that way this whole blessed evenin'. Zoeth and
me we talked it over. I didn't know but we'd better get Abel Snow's
boy or that pesky Annabel or somebody to stay while we was havin'
supper. You see, we was both sot on eatin' supper with you tonight,
no matter store or not, and Isaiah, he was just as sot as we was.
But all to once Zoeth had an idea. 'Shadrach,' he says, 'in
Scriptur' times when people was real happy, same as we are now, they
used to make a sacrifice to the Almighty to show how glad and
grateful they was. Let's you and me make a sacrifice; let's
sacrifice this evenin's trade--let's shut up the store on account of
our girl's comin' home.' 'Good idea!' says I, so we did it."
Mary looked at him reproachfully.
"Oh, Uncle Shad," she said, "you shouldn't have done that. It was
dear and sweet of you to think of it, but you shouldn't have done
it. It didn't need any sacrifice to prove that you were glad to see
Shadrach winked over his shoulder.
"Don't let that sacrifice worry you any," he observed. "The
sacrifice is mainly in Zoeth's eye. Fur's I'm concerned--well,
Jabez Hedges told me yesterday that Rastus Young told him he
cal'lated he'd have to be droppin' in at the store some of these
nights to buy some rubber boots and new ileskins. We sold him the
ones he's got four years ago and he ain't paid for 'em yet. No, no,
Mary-'Gusta, don't you worry about that sacrifice. I can sacrifice
Rastus Young's trade eight days in the week and make money by it.
Course I didn't tell Zoeth that; have to humor these pious folks
much as we can, you know."
Mary smiled, but she shook her head. "It's no use your talking to
me in that way, Uncle Shad," she said. "I know you too well. And
right in the Christmas season, too!"
Zoeth's welcome was as hearty, if not as exuberant, as Captain
Shad's. He met her at the door and after the first hug and kiss
held her off at arm's length and looked her over.
"My! my! my!" he exclaimed. "And this is our little Mary-'Gusta
come back again! It don't seem as if it could be, somehow."
"But it is, Uncle Zoeth," declared Mary, laughing. "And ISN'T it
good to be here! Well, Isaiah," turning to Mr. Chase, who, aproned
and shirtsleeved as usual, had been standing grinning in the
background, "haven't you anything to say to me?"
Isaiah had something to say and he said it.
"Glad to see you," he announced. "Feelin' pretty smart? Got a new
hat, ain't you? Supper's ready."
During the meal Mary was kept busy answering questions concerning
school and her life at Mrs. Wyeth's. In her letters she had
endeavored to tell every possible item of news which might be
interesting to her uncles, but now these items were one by one
recalled, reviewed, and discussed.
"'Twas kind of funny, that young Smith feller's turnin' up for
dinner that time," observed Mr. Hamilton. "Cal'late you was some
surprised to see him, wan't you?"
Mary smiled. "Why, yes," she said, "but I think he was more
surprised to see me, Uncle Zoeth."
Captain Shad laughed heartily. "Shouldn't wonder," he admitted.
"Didn't bring any fly paper along with him, did he? No? Well, that
was an oversight. Maybe he thought fly time was past and gone. He
seemed to be a real nice kind of young feller when he was down here
that summer. He's older now; does he seem that way yet?"
"Why, yes, I think so. I only saw him for a little while."
Isaiah seemed to think it time for him to put in a question.
"Good lookin' as ever, I cal'late, ain't he?" he observed.
Mary was much amused. "Why, I suppose he is," she answered. "But
why in the world are you interested in his good looks, Isaiah?"
Mr. Chase did his best to assume an expression of deep cunning. He
winked at his employers.
"Oh, I ain't interested--not 'special," he declared, "but I didn't
know but SOME folks might be. Ho, ho!"
He roared at his own pleasantry. Captain Shadrach, however, did not
"Some folks?" he repeated, tartly. "What are you talkin' about?
"Oh, I ain't sayin' what folks. I'm just sayin' SOME folks. Ho,
ho! You know what I mean, don't you, Mary-'Gusta?"
Before Mary could reply the Captain cut in again.
"No, she don't know what you mean, neither," he declared, with
emphasis. "That's enough of that now, Isaiah. Don't be any bigger
fool than you can help."
The self-satisfied grin faded from Isaiah's face and was succeeded
by a look of surprised and righteous indignation.
"Wha--what's that?" he stammered. "What's that you're callin' me?"
"I ain't callin' you nothin'. I'm givin' you some free advice,
that's all. Well, Mary-'Gusta, I cal'late, if you've had supper
enough, you and me and Zoeth will go into the settin'-room, where we
can all talk and I can smoke. I can always talk better under a full
head of steam. Come on, Zoeth, Isaiah wants to be clearin' the
But Mr. Chase's thoughts were not concerned with table clearing just
then. He stepped between Captain Shadrach and the door leading to
"Cap'n Shad Gould," he sputtered, "you--you said somethin' about a
fool. Who's a fool? That's what I want to know--who's a fool?"
The Captain grunted.
"Give it up," he observed. "I never was any hand at riddles. Come,
come, Isaiah! Get out of the channel and let us through."
"You hold on, Cap'n Shad! You answer me afore you leave this room.
Who's a fool? I want to know who's a fool."
Captain Shad grinned.
"Well, go up to the post-office and ask some of the gang there," he
suggested. "Tell 'em you'll give 'em three guesses. There, there!"
he added, good-naturedly, pushing the irate Mr. Chase out of the
"channel." "Don't block the fairway any longer. It's all right,
Isaiah. You and me have been shipmates too long to fight now. You
riled me up a little, that's all. Come on, folks."
Two hours later, after Mary had answered the last questions even
Captain Shad could think of, had received answers to all her own,
and had gone to her room for the night, Mr. Hamilton turned to his
partner and observed mildly:
"Shadrach, what made you so dreadful peppery to Isaiah this evenin'?
I declare, I thought you was goin' to take his head off."
The Captain grunted. "I will take it off some time," he declared,
"if he don't keep the lower end of it shut when he'd ought to. You
heard what he said, didn't you?"
"Yes, I heard. That about the Smith boy's good looks, you mean?"
"Sartin. And about Mary-'Gusta's noticin' how good-lookin' he was.
"Yes--yes, I know, but Isaiah was only jokin'."
"Jokin'! Well, he may LOOK like a comic almanac, but he needn't try
to joke like one while that girl of ours is around. Puttin' notions
about fellers and good looks and keepin' company into her head! You
might expect such stuff from them fool drummers that come to the
store, but an old leather-skinned image like Isaiah Chase ought to
have more sense. We don't want such notions put in her head, do
Zoeth rubbed his chin. He did not speak and his silence seemed to
irritate his partner.
"Well, do we?" repeated the latter, sharply.
Zoeth sighed. "No, Shadrach," he admitted. "I guess likely we
"Well, we've got to realize that those kind of notions come--come
sort of natural to young folks Mary-'Gusta's age."
"Rubbish! I don't believe that girl's got a single one of 'em in
"Maybe not, but they'll be there some day. Ah, well," he added, "we
mustn't be selfish, you and me, Shadrach. It'll be dreadful hard to
give her up to somebody else, but if that somebody is a good man,
kind and straight and honest, why, I for one will try not to
complain. But, Oh, Shadrach! Suppose he should turn out to be the
other thing. Suppose SHE makes the mistake that I--"
His friend interrupted.
"Shh! shh!" he broke in, quickly. "Don't talk so, Zoeth. Come on
to bed," he added, rising from his chair. "This very evenin' I was
callin' Isaiah names for talkin' about 'fellers' and such, and here
you and I have been sittin' talkin' nothin' else. If you hear me
say 'fool' in my sleep tonight just understand I'm talkin' to
myself, that's all. Come on aloft, Zoeth, and turn in."
The following morning Mary astonished her uncles by announcing that
as soon as she had helped Isaiah with the breakfast dishes and the
bed making she was going up to the store.
"What for?" demanded Captain Shad. "Course we'll be mighty glad to
have your company, but Zoeth and me presumed likely you'd be for
goin' round callin' on some of the other girls today."
"Well, I'm not. If they want to see me they can call on me here.
I'm going up to the store with you and Uncle Zoeth. I want to help
sell those Christmas goods of ours."
The partners looked at each other. Even Zoeth was moved to protest.
"Now, Mary-'Gusta," he said, "it ain't likely that your Uncle
Shadrach and I are goin' to let you sell goods in that store. We
won't hear of it, will we, Shadrach?"
"Not by a thunderin' sight!" declared Shadrach, vehemently. "The
"Why not? I've sold a good many there."
"I don't care if you have. You shan't sell any more. 'Twas all
right when you was just a--a girl, a South Harnisser like the rest
of us, but now that you're a Boston young lady, up to a fin--er--
"Finishin' school, Shadrach," corrected Mr. Hamilton.
"Well, whatever 'tis; I know 'twould be the end of ME if I had to
live up to the style of it. 'Anyhow, now that you're there, Mary-
'Gusta, a young lady, same as I said, we ain't--"
But Mary interrupted. "Hush, Uncle Shad," she commanded. "Hush,
this minute! You're talking nonsense, I AM a South Harniss girl and
I'm NOT a Boston young lady. My chief reasons for being so very
happy at the thought of coming home here for my Christmas vacation
were, first, that I should see you and Uncle Zoeth and Isaiah and
the house and the horse and the cat and the hens, and, next, that I
could help you with the Christmas trade at the store. I know
perfectly well you need me. I'm certain you have been absolutely
lost without me. Now, really and truly, haven't you?"
"Not a mite," declared the Captain, stoutly, spoiling the effect of
the denial, however, by adding, although his partner had not spoken:
"Shut up, Zoeth! We ain't, neither."
Mary laughed. "Uncle Shad," she said, "I don't believe you. At any
rate, I'm going up there this minute to see for myself. Come
She made no comment on what she saw at the store, but for the
remainder of the forenoon she was very busy. In spite of the
partners' protests, in fact paying no more attention to those
perturbed men of business than if they were flies to be brushed
aside when bothersome, she went ahead, arranging, rearranging,
dusting, writing price tickets, lettering placards, doing all sorts
of things, and waiting on customers in the intervals. At noon, when
she and her Uncle Zoeth left for home and dinner, she announced
herself in a measure satisfied. "Of course there is a great deal to
do yet," she said, "but the stock looks a little more as if it were
meant to sell and less as if it were heaped up ready to be carted
off and buried."
That afternoon the store of Hamilton and Company was visited by a
goodly number of South Harniss residents. That evening there were
more. The news that Mary-'Gusta Lathrop was at home and was
"tendin' store" for her uncles spread and was much discussed. The
majority of those who came did so not because they contemplated
purchasing extensively, but because they wished to see what effect
the fashionable finishing school had had upon the girl. The general
opinion seemed to be that it "hadn't changed her a mite." This
result, however, was considered a desirable one by the majority, but
was by some criticized. Among the critics was Mrs. Rebecca Mullet,
whose daughter Irene also was away at school undergoing the
"Well!" declared Mrs. Mullet, with decision, as she and her husband
emerged from the store together. "Well! If THAT'S a sample of what
the school she goes to does for them that spend their money on it,
I'm mighty glad we didn't send our Rena there, ain't you,
Mr. Chris Mullet, who had received that very week a bill for his
daughter's "extras," uttered a fervent assent.
"You bet you!" he said. "It costs enough where Rena is, without
sendin' her to no more expensive place."
This was not exactly the reply his wife had expected.
"Umph!" she grunted, impatiently. "I do wish you could get along
for two minutes without puttin' on poor mouth. I suppose likely you
tell everybody that you can't afford a new overcoat account of
Rena's goin' away to school. You'd ought to be prouder of your
daughter than you are of an overcoat, I should think."
Mr. Mullet muttered something to the effect that he was dum sure he
was not proud of his present overcoat. His wife ignored the
"And you'll be proud of Irene when she comes home," she declared.
"She won't be like that Mary-'Gusta, standin' up behind the counter
and sellin' goods."
"Why, now, Becky, what's the matter with her doin' that? She always
used to sell goods, and behind that very counter, too. And she
certainly can SELL 'em!" with a reminiscent chuckle.
Mrs. Mullet glared at him. "Yes," she drawled, with sarcasm, "so
she can--to some folks. Look at you, with all that Christmas junk
under your arm! You didn't need to buy that stuff any more'n you
needed to fly. What did you buy it for? Tell me that."
Chris shook his head. "Blessed if I know," he admitted. "I hadn't
any idea of buyin' it, but she and me got to talkin', and she kept
showin' the things to me, and I kept lookin' at 'em and--"
"Yes, and kept lookin' at her, too! Don't talk to ME! There's no
fool like an old fool--and an old man fool is the worst of all."
Her husband, usually meek and long-suffering under wifely
discipline, evinced unwonted spirit.
"Well, I tell you this, Becky," he said. "Fur's I can see, Mary-
'Gusta's all right. She's as pretty as a picture, to begin with;
she's got money of her own to spend; and she's been away among folks
that have got a lot more. All them things together are enough to
spoil 'most any girl, but they haven't spoiled her. She's come home
here not a mite stuck-up, not flirty nor silly nor top-lofty, but
just as sensible and capable and common-folksy as ever she was, and
that's sayin' somethin'. If our Rena turns out to be the girl Mary-
'Gusta Lathrop is I WILL be proud of her, and don't you forget it!"
Which terminated conversation in the Mullet family for that evening.
But if the few, like Mrs. Mullet, were inclined to criticize, the
many, like her husband, united in declaring Mary to be "all right."
And her rearranging and displaying of the Christmas goods helped her
and her uncles to dispose of them. In fact, for the three days
before Christmas it became necessary to call in the services of
Annabel as assistant saleslady. The store was crowded, particularly
in the evenings, and Zoeth and Captain Shad experienced for the
first time in months the sensation of being the heads of a
"Looks good to see so many young folks in here, don't it, Zoeth?"
observed the Captain. "And not only girls, but fellers, too. Don't
know when I've seen so many young fellers in here. Who's that young
squirt Mary'-Gusta's waitin' on now? The one with the whittled-in
back to his overcoat. Say, Solomon in all his glory wasn't arrayed
like one of him! Must be some city feller, eh? Nobody I know."
Zoeth looked at his niece and her customer.
"Humph!" he said. "Guess you ain't rubbed your glasses lately,
Shadrach. That's Dan Higgins."
Mr. Higgins it was, home for a few days' relaxation from the
fatigues of coffin selling, and garbed as usual in city clothes the
splendor of which, as Captain Shad said afterwards, "would have
given a blind man eyestrain." Daniel's arms were filled with
purchases and he and Mary were standing beside the table where the
toys and games were displayed. Mary was gazing at the toys; Mr.
The partners regarded the pair for a moment. Shadrach frowned.
"Humph!" he grunted.
"Daniel's tryin' to find somethin' his little brother'll like,"
"Yes," observed the Captain, dryly. "Well, he looks as if he'd
found somethin' HE liked pretty well. Here, Mary-'Gusta, I'll
finish waitin' on Dan. You just see what Mrs. Nickerson wants, will
Christmas Eve ended the rush of business for Hamilton and Company.
The following week, the last of Mary's vacation, was certain to be
dull enough. "Nothin' to do but change presents for folks,"
prophesied Captain Shad. "Give them somethin' they want and take
back somethin' we don't want. That kind of trade is like shovelin'
fog up hill, more exercise than profit."
Christmas was a happy day at the white house by the shore, a day of
surprises. To begin with, there were the presents which were beside
the plates at breakfast. Mary had brought gifts for all, Captain
Shadrach, Zoeth, and Isaiah. There was nothing expensive, of
course, but each had been chosen to fit the taste and liking of the
recipient and there was no doubt that each choice was a success.
Isaiah proudly displayed a jacknife which was a small toolchest,
having four blades, a corkscrew, a screwdriver, a chisel, a button-
hook and goodness knows what else besides.
"Look at that!" crowed Isaiah, exhibiting the knife, bristling like
a porcupine, on his open palm. "Look at it! By time, there ain't
nothin' I can't do with that knife! Every time I look at it I find
somethin' new. Now, I wonder what that is," pointing to a
particularly large and ferocious-looking implement which projected
from the steel tangle. "I cal'late I've sized up about everything
else, but I can't seem to make out what that's for. What do you
cal'late 'tis, Cap'n Shad?"
"Why, that's simple," he said, gravely. "That's a crust crowbar."
"A crust crowbar. For openin' one of them cast-iron pies same as
you made for us last week. You drill a hole in the crust nigh the
edge of the plate and then put that thing in and pry the upper deck
loose. Good idea, Isaiah! I--"
"Aw, go to grass!" interrupted the indignant Mr. Chase. "I notice
you always eat enough of my pies, decks--yes, and hull and riggin',
Then there was THE great surprise, that which the partners had
prepared for their idolized niece. Mary found beside her plate a
small, oblong package, wrapped in tissue paper and labeled, "To
Mary-'Gusta, from Uncle Shadrach and Uncle Zoeth, with a Merry
Christmas." Inside the paper was a pasteboard box, inside that a
leather case, and inside THAT a handsome gold watch and chain. Then
there was much excited exclaiming and delighted thanks on Mary's
part, and explanations and broad grins on that of the givers.
"But you shouldn't have done it! Of course you shouldn't!"
protested Mary. "It's perfectly lovely and I wanted a watch more
than anything; but I KNOW this must have cost a great deal."
"Never, neither," protested the Captain. "We got it wholesale.
Edgar Emery's nephew is in the business up to Providence and he
picked it out for us. Didn't begin to cost what we cal'lated
'twould, did it, Zoeth? When you buy things wholesale that way you
can 'most always cal'late to get 'em lower than you cal'late to."
Mary smiled at this somewhat involved statement, but she shook her
"I'm sure it cost a great deal more than you should have spent," she
"But you like it, don't you?" queried Zoeth, hopefully.
"Like it! Oh, Uncle Zoeth, don't you KNOW I like it! Who could
help liking such a beautiful thing?"
"How's it show up alongside the watches the other girls have up to
that Boston school?" asked Shadrach, with ill-concealed anxiety.
"We wouldn't want our girl's watch to be any cheaper'n theirs, you
The answer was enthusiastic enough to satisfy even the Captain and
"I'm sure there isn't another girl in the school whose watch means
to her what this will mean to me," declared Mary. "I shall keep it
and love it all my life."
The partners heaved a sigh of relief. Whether or not the watch was
fine enough for their Mary-'Gusta had been a source of worriment and
much discussion. And then Isaiah, with his customary knack of
saying the wrong thing, tossed a brickbat into the puddle of general
"That's so," he said; "that's so, Mary-'Gusta. You can keep it all
your life, and when you get to be an old woman and married and have
grandchildren then you can give it to them."
Captain Shadrach, who had taken up his napkin preparatory to tucking
it under his chin, turned in his chair and glared at the unconscious
"Well, by the jumpin' fire!" he exclaimed, with conviction. "The
feller is sartinly possessed. He's lovesick, that's what's the
matter with him. All he can talk about is somebody's gettin'
married. Are YOU cal'latin' to get married, Isaiah?"
"Me? What kind of fool talk is that?"
"Who's the lucky woman?"
"There ain't no lucky woman. Don't talk so ridic'lous! All I said
was that when Mary-'Gusta was old and married and had--"
"There you go again! Married and children! Say, did it ever run
acrost your mind that you was a little mite previous?"
"I never said children. What I said was when she was old and had
"Grandchildren! Well, that's a dum sight MORE previous. Let's have
breakfast, all hands, for the land sakes! Isaiah'll have us
cruisin' along with the third and fourth generation in a few
minutes. I'M satisfied with this one!"
That evening, at bedtime, as the partners separated in the upper
hall to go to their respective rooms, Zoeth said:
"Shadrach, this has been a mighty nice Christmas for us all, ain't
Captain Shad nodded emphatically. "You bet!" he declared. "Don't
seem to me I ever remember a nicer one."
"Nor I, neither. I--I wonder--"
"Well, heave ahead. What are you waitin' for? What do you wonder?"
"I was just wonderin' if 'twas right for us to be so happy."
"Yes. Have we been--well, good enough this past year to deserve
happiness like this?"
"I ain't puttin' in any testimony on my own hook," he said, dryly,
"but I don't seem to remember your bein' desperately wicked, Zoeth.
Course you MAY have got drunk and disorderly that time when Mary-
'Gusta and I left you and went to Boston, but I kind of doubt it."
"Hush, hush, Shadrach! Don't joke about serious things. What I
mean is have you and I walked the Lord's way as straight as we'd
ought to? We've tried--that is, seems 's if we had--but I don't
know. Anyhow, all this afternoon I've had a funny feelin' that you
and me and Mary-'Gusta was--well was as if the tide had been comin'
in for us all these years since she's been livin' with us, and as if
now 'twould begin to go out again."
The Captain laughed. "And that's what you call a FUNNY feelin'!" he
exclaimed. "Zoeth, I've got a funny feelin', too, but I know what's
the reason for it--the reason is turkey and plum puddin' and mince
pie and the land knows what. When a couple of old hulks like you
and me h'ist in a cargo of that kind it's no wonder we have
feelin's. Good night, shipmate."
The day after New Year's Mary went back to Boston and to school.
The long winter term--the term which Madeline Talbott, whose father
was a judge, called "the extreme penalty"--began. Boston's famous
east winds, so welcome in summer and so raw and penetrating in
winter, brought their usual allowance of snow and sleet, and the
walks from Pinckney Street to the school and back were not always
pleasant. Mrs. Wyeth had a slight attack of tonsillitis and Miss
Pease a bronchial cold, but they united in declaring these
afflictions due entirely to their own imprudence and not in the
least to the climate, which, being like themselves, thoroughly
Bostonian, was expected to maintain a proper degree of chill.
Mary, fortunately, escaped colds and illness. The walks in all
sorts of weather did her good and her rosy cheeks and clear eyes
were competent witnesses to her state of health. She was getting on
well with her studies, and the Misses Cabot, not too easy to please,
were apparently pleased with her. At home--for she had come to
consider Mrs. Wyeth's comfortable house a home, although not of
course to be compared with the real home at South Harniss--at Mrs.
Wyeth's she was more of a favorite than ever, not only with the
mistress of the house, but with Miss Pease, who was considered
eccentric and whose liking was reported hard to win. The two ladies
had many talks concerning the girl.
"She is remarkable," declared Miss Pease on one occasion.
"Considering her lack of early advantages, I consider her ease of
manner and self-possession remarkable. She is a prodigy."
Mrs. Wyeth sniffed. She enjoyed hearing Mary praised, but she
objected to her friend's choice of words.
"For mercy sake, Letitia," she said, "don't call her that. The word
'prodigy' always reminds me of the Crummles infant, the one with the
green parasol and the white--er--lingerie, in 'Nicholas Nickleby.'"
Miss Pease smiled with the superiority of the corrected who is about
"I don't see why that should bring the individual you mention to
mind," she said. "If I remember correctly--and I was brought up on
Dickens--she was a 'phenomenon,' not a prodigy. However, it makes
no material difference what you and I call Mary Lathrop, the fact
remains that she is an exceptionally well-behaved, good-mannered,
"Sweet, healthy girl," interrupted Mrs. Wyeth, finishing the
sentence. "I know that as well as you do, Letitia Pease. And you
know I know it. Now, what have you in your mind concerning Mary? I
know there is something, because you have been hinting at it for
more than a week. What is it?"
Miss Pease looked wise.
"Oh, I have a plan," she said. "I can't tell even you, Emily, just
what it is as yet. You see, it isn't really a plan, but only an
idea so far. She doesn't know it herself, of course."
"Hum! Is it a pleasant plan--or idea, whichever you call it? That
is, will she think it pleasant when she learns what it is?"
"I certainly hope so."
"Look here, Letitia," with sudden suspicion, "you aren't planning
some ridiculous sentimental nonsense for that child, are you?
You're not trying to make a match for her, I hope?"
"Match? What are you talking about? If you mean am I trying to get
her married to some MAN," with a scornful emphasis on the word, "I
most certainly am not.
"Humph! Well, if she ever is married, I presume it will be to a
man, or an imitation of one. All right, Letitia. I am glad your
great idea isn't that, whatever it is."
"It is not. You know my opinion of marriage, Emily Wyeth. And, so
far as matchmaking is concerned, I should say you were a more likely
subject for suspicion. That young relative of yours, Sam Keith,
appears to be coming here a great deal of late. He MAY come solely
to see you, but I doubt it."
Mrs. Wyeth smiled grimly.
"Samuel has been rather prevalent recently," she admitted, "but
don't let that trouble you, Letitia. I have had my eye on the young
man. Samuel is as susceptible to pretty girls as children are to
the measles. And his attacks remind me of the measles as much as
anything, sudden outbreak, high fever and delirium, then a general
cooling off and a rapid recovery. This seizure isn't alarming and
there is absolutely no danger of contagion. Mary doesn't take him
seriously at all."
"And how about that other young man?--Smith, I think his name is.
He has called here twice since Christmas."
Mrs. Wyeth seemed to be losing patience.
"Well, what of it?" she demanded.
"Why, nothing that I know of, except, perhaps--"
"There is no perhaps at all. The Smith boy appears to be a very
nice young fellow, and remarkably sensible for a young person in
this hoity-toity age. From what I can learn, his people, although
they do live out West--down in a mine or up on a branch or a ranch
or something--are respectable. Why shouldn't he call to see Mary
occasionally, and why shouldn't she see him? Goodness gracious!
What sort of a world would this be if young people didn't see each
other? Don't tell me that you never had any young male
acquaintances when you were a girl, Letitia, because I shan't
Miss Pease straightened in her chair.
"It is not likely that I shall make any such preposterous
statement," she snapped.
So the "young male acquaintance" called occasionally--not too often--
Mrs. Wyeth saw to that; probably not so often as he would have
liked; but he did call and the acquaintanceship developed into
friendship. That it might develop into something more than
friendship no one, except possibly the sentimental Miss Pease,
seemed to suspect. Certainly Mary did not, and at this time it is
doubtful if Crawford did, either. He liked Mary Lathrop. She was a
remarkably pretty girl but, unlike other pretty girls he had known--
and as good-looking college football stars are privileged beyond the
common herd, he had known at least several--she did not flirt with
him, nor look admiringly up into his eyes, nor pronounce his jokes
"killingly funny," nor flatter him in any way. If the jokes WERE
funny she laughed a healthy, genuine laugh, but if, as sometimes
happened, they were rather feeble, she was quite likely to tell him
so. She did not always agree with his views, having views of her
own on most subjects, and if he asked her opinion the answer he
received was always honest, if not precisely what he expected or
"By George! You're frank, at any rate," he observed, rather
ruefully, after asking her opinion as to a point of conduct and
receiving it forthwith.
"Didn't you want me to be?" asked Mary. "You asked me what I
thought you should have done and I told you."
"Yes, you did. You certainly told me."
"Well, didn't you want me to tell you?"
"I don't know that I wanted you to tell me just that."
"But you asked me what I thought, and that is exactly what I think.
Don't YOU think it is what you should have done?"
Crawford hesitated; then he laughed. "Why yes, confound it, I do,"
he admitted. "But I hoped you would tell me that what I did do was
"Whether I thought so or not?"
"Why--well--er--yes. Honestly now, didn't you know I wanted you to
say the other thing?"
It was Mary's turn to hesitate; then she, too, laughed.
"Why, yes, I suppose--" she began; and finished with, "Yes, I did."
"Then why didn't you say it? Most girls would."
"Perhaps that is why. I judge that most girls of your acquaintance
say just about what you want them to. Don't you think it is good
for you to be told the truth occasionally?"
It was good for him, of course, and, incidentally, it had the
fascination of novelty. Here was a girl full of fun, ready to take
a joke as well as give one, neither flattering nor expecting
flattery, a country girl who had kept store, yet speaking of that
phase of her life quite as freely as she did of the fashionable
Misses Cabot's school, not at all ashamed to say she could not
afford this or that, simple and unaffected but self-respecting and
proud; a girl who was at all times herself and retained her poise
and common sense even in the presence of handsome young demigod who
had made two touchdowns against Yale.
It was extremely good for Crawford Smith to know such a girl. She
helped him to keep his feet on the ground and his head from
swelling. Not that there was much danger of the latter happening,
for the head was a pretty good one, but Mary Lathrop's common sense
was a stimulating--and fascinating--reenforcement to his own. As he
had said on the Sunday afternoon of their first meeting in Boston,
it was a relief to have someone to talk to who understood and
appreciated a fellow's serious thoughts as well as the frivolous
ones. His approaching graduation from Harvard and the work which he
would begin at the Medical School in the fall were very much in his
mind just now. He told Mary his plans and she and he discussed
them. She had plans of her own, principally concerning what she
meant to do to make life easier for her uncles when her school days
were over, and these also were discussed.
"But," he said, "that's really nonsense, after all, isn't it?"
"Why, the idea of your keeping store again. You'll never do that."
"Indeed I shall! Why not?"
"Because--well, because I don't think you will, that's all. Girls
like you don't have to keep a country store, you know--at least, not
The remark was intended to please; it might have pleased some girls,
but it did not please this one. Mary's dignity was offended.
Anything approaching a slur upon her beloved uncles, or their place
of business, or South Harniss, or the Cape Cod people, she resented
with all her might. Her eyes snapped.
"I do not HAVE to keep store at any time," she said crisply, "in the
country or elsewhere. I do it because I wish to and I shall
continue to do it as long as I choose. If my friends do not
understand that fact and appreciate my reasons, they are not my
friends, that is all."
Crawford threw up both hands. "Whew!" he exclaimed. "Don't shoot;
I'll come down! Great Scott! If you take a fellow's head off like
that when he pays you a compliment what would you do if he dared to
"Was that remark of yours intended as a compliment?"
"Not exactly; more as a statement of fact. I meant--I meant--Oh,
come now, Mary! You know perfectly well what I meant. Own up."
Mary tried hard to be solemn and severe, but the twinkle in his eye
was infectious and in spite of her effort her lips twitched.
"Own up, now," persisted Crawford. "You know what I meant. Now,
"Well--well, I suppose I do. But I think the remark was a very
silly one. That is the way Sam Keith talks."
"Eh? Oh, does he!"
"Yes. Or he would if I would let him. And he does it much better
than you do."
"Well, I like that!"
"I don't. That is why I don't want you to do it. I expect you to
be more sensible. And, besides, I won't have you or anyone making
fun of my uncles' store."
"Making fun of it! I should say not! I have a vivid and most
respectful memory of it, as you ought to know. By the way, you told
me your uncles had sent you their photographs. May I see them?"
Mary brought the photographs from her room. They had been taken by
the photographer at Ostable in compliance with what amounted to an
order on her part, and the results showed two elderly martyrs
dressed in respectable but uncomfortable Sunday clothes and
apparently awaiting execution. On the back of one mournful exhibit
was written, "Mary Augusta from Uncle Shadrach," and on the other,
"Uncle Zoeth to Mary Augusta, with much love."
"Now, don't laugh," commanded Mary, as she handed the photographs to
Crawford. "I know they are funny, but if you laugh I'll never
forgive you. The poor dears had them taken expressly to please me,
and I am perfectly sure either would have preferred having a tooth
out. They ARE the best men in the world and I am more certain of it
Crawford did not laugh at the photographs. He was a young gentleman
of considerable discretion and he did not smile, not even at Captain
Shad's hands, the left with fingers separated and clutching a knee
as if to keep it from shaking, the right laid woodenly upon a
gorgeously bound parlor-table copy of "Lucille." Instead of
laughing he praised the originals of the pictures, talked
reminiscently of his own visit in South Harniss, and finally
produced from his pocketbook a small photographic print, which he
laid upon the table beside the others.
"I brought that to show you," he said. "You were asking about my
father, you know, and I told you I hadn't a respectable photograph
of him. That was true; I haven't. Dad has another eccentricity
besides his dislike of the East and Eastern ways of living; he has a
perfect horror of having his photograph taken. Don't ask me why,
because I can't tell you. It isn't because he is ugly; he's a
mighty good-looking man for his age, if I do say it. But he has a
prejudice against photographs of himself and won't even permit me to
take a snapshot if he can prevent it. Says people who are always
having their pictures taken are vain, conceited idiots, and so on.
However, I catch him unawares occasionally, and this is a snap I
took last summer. He and I were on a fishing trip up in the
mountains. We're great pals, Dad and I--more than most fathers and
sons, I imagine."
Mary took the photograph and studied it with interest. Mr. Smith,
senior, was a big man, broad-shouldered and heavy, with a full gray
beard and mustache. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, which shaded his
forehead somewhat, but his eyes and the shape of his nose were like
Mary looked at the photograph and Crawford looked at her.
"Well, what do you think of him?" asked the young man after an
"Think?" repeated Mary absently, still staring at the photograph.
"Why, I--I don't know what you mean."
"I mean what is your opinion of my respected dad? You must have one
by this time. You generally have one on most subjects and you've
been looking at that picture for at least five minutes."
"Have I? I beg your pardon; I didn't realize. The picture
interested me. I have never seen your father, have I? No, of
course I haven't. But it almost seems as if I had. Perhaps I have
seen someone who looks like him."
"Shouldn't wonder. Myself, for instance."
"Of course. That was stupid of me, wasn't it? He looks like an
interesting man, one who has had experiences."
"He has. Dad doesn't talk about himself much, even to me, but he
had some hard rubs before he reached the smooth places. Had to
fight his way, I guess."
"He looks as if he had. But he got his way in the end, I should
imagine. He doesn't look like one who gives up easily."
"He isn't. Pretty stubborn sometimes, Dad is, but a brick to me,
just the same."
"Was your mother an Eastern woman?"
"No. She was a Westerner, from California. Dad was married twice.
His first wife came from New England somewhere, I believe. I didn't
know there had been another wife until I was nearly fifteen years
old, and then I found it out entirely by accident. She was buried
in another town, you see. I saw her name first on the gravestone
and it made an impression on me because it was so odd and old-
fashioned--'Patience, wife of Edwin Smith.' I only mention this to
show you how little Dad talks about himself, but it was odd I should
find it out that way, wasn't it? But there! I don't suppose you're
interested in the Smith genealogy. I apologize. I never think of
discussing my family affairs with anyone but you, not even Sam. But
you--well, somehow I seem to tell you everything. I wonder why?"
"Perhaps because I ask too many questions."
"No, it isn't that. It is because you act as if you really cared to
have me talk about my own affairs. I never met a girl before that
did. Now, I want to ask you about that club business. There's
going to be the deuce and all to pay in that if I'm not careful.
Have you thought it over? What would you do if you were I?"
The matter in question was a somewhat delicate and complicated one,
dealing with the admission or rejection of a certain fellow to one
of the Harvard societies. There was a strong influence working to
get him in and, on the other hand, there were some very good
objections to his admission. Crawford, president of the club and
one of its most influential members, was undecided what to do. He
had explained the case to Mary upon the occasion of his most recent
visit to the Pinckney Street house, and had asked her advice. She
had taken time for consideration, of course--she was the old Mary'-
Gusta still in that--and now the advice was ready.
"It seems to me," she said, "that I should try to settle it like
She explained her plan. Crawford listened, at first dubiously and
then with steadily growing enthusiasm.
"By George!" he exclaimed, when she had finished. "That would do
it, I honestly believe. How in the world did you ever think of that
scheme? Say, you really are a wonder at managing. You could manage
a big business and make it go, I'm sure. How do you do it? Where
do you get your ideas?"
Mary laughed. His praise pleased her.
"I don't know," she answered. "I just think them out, I guess. I
do like to manage things for people. Sometimes I do it more than I
should, perhaps. Poor Isaiah Chase, at home in South Harniss, says
I boss him to death. And my uncles say I manage them, too--but they
seem to like it," she added.
"I don't wonder they do. I like it, myself. Will you help manage
my affairs between now and Commencement? There'll be a whole lot to
manage, between the club and the dance and all the rest of it. And
then when you go to Commencement you can see for yourself how they
"Go to Commencement? Am I going to Commencement?"
"Of course you are! You're going with me, I hope. I thought that
was understood. It's a long way off yet, but for goodness' sake
don't say you won't come. I've been counting on it."
Mary's pleasure showed in her face. All she said, however, was:
"Thank you very much. I shall be very glad to come."
But Commencement was, as Crawford said, still a good way off and in
the meantime there were weeks of study. The weeks passed, some of
them, and then came the Easter vacation. Mary spent the vacation in
South Harniss, of course, and as there was no Christmas rush to make
her feel that she was needed at the store, she rested and drove and
visited and had a thoroughly happy and profitable holiday. The
happiness and profit were shared by her uncles, it is unnecessary to
state. When she questioned them concerning business and the outlook
for the coming summer, they seemed optimistic and cheerful.
"But Isaiah says there are two new stores to be opened in the
village this spring," said Mary. "Don't you think they may hurt
your trade a little?"
Captain Shadrach dismissed the idea and his prospective competitors
with a condescending wave of the hand. "Not a mite," he declared
scornfully. "Not a mite, Mary-'Gusta. Hamilton and Company's a
pretty able old craft. She may not show so much gilt paint and
brass work as some of the new ones just off the ways, but her
passengers know she's staunch and they'll stick by her. Why, Isaiah
was sayin' that a feller was tellin' him only yesterday that it
didn't make any difference how many new stores was started in this
town, he'd never trade anywheres but with Hamilton and Company.
That shows you, don't it?"
"Who was it said that, Uncle Shad?" asked Mary.
"Eh? Why, I don't know. Isaiah was tellin' me about it and we was
interrupted. Who was it, Isaiah?"
"'Twas Rastus Young," replied Mr. Chase promptly.
Even the Captain was obliged to laugh, although he declared that Mr.
Young's constancy was a proof that the firm's prospects were good.
"Rats'll always leave a sinkin' ship," he said, "and if Zoeth and me
was goin' under Rat Young would be the first to quit."
Zoeth, when his niece questioned him, expressed confidence that the
new competitors would not prove dangerous. "The Almighty has looked
after us so far," he added, "unworthy as we be, and I guess he'll
carry us the rest of the way. Put your trust in Him, Mary'-Gusta; I
hope they teach you that up to school."
So Mary, who had been rather troubled at the news of Hamilton and
Company's rivals in the field, dismissed her fears as groundless.
Her uncles were old-fashioned and a little behind the times in
business methods, but no doubt those methods were suited to South
Harniss and there was no cause for worry concerning the firm's
future. She made Isaiah promise to keep her posted as to
developments and went back to Boston and her schoolwork.
The spring term was an interesting one and there were other
interests as well. Crawford called more frequently, the plans for
Commencement requiring a great deal of discussion. Mary's fondness
for managing was, or should have been, gratified, for the talent was
in constant demand. Sam Keith, who, after meeting Mary at his
cousin's house, had at first developed an amazing fondness for that
relative's society, now came less often. He was in the second stage
of the pretty-girl disease mentioned by his aunt; the fever and
delirium had passed, and he was now cooling off. It cannot be said
that the fever had been in the least encouraged. Mary was pleasant
and agreeable when he called, but she would not treat him as a
confidant or an intimate; she did not accept any of his invitations
to dances or the theater, and she would not flirt even the least
little bit. The last was the most unsatisfactory drawback, because
the susceptible Samuel was fond of flirtations and usually managed
to keep at least three going at the same time. Therefore, the
cooling-off process was, in this case, a bit more rapid than usual.
Sam's calls and dinners at his cousin Emily's residence had
decreased from two or three times a week to an uncertain once a
fortnight. Mary, of course, noticed this, but she felt no regret.
Crawford, Sam's roommate, must have noticed it also, but if he felt
regret he managed to conceal the feeling remarkably well.
Early in May Captain Shadrach came up to the city to buy summer
goods for the store. He positively refused to make his headquarters
at Mrs. Wyeth's, although that lady sent an urgent invitation to him
to do so. And, even when Mary added her own plea to that of her
landlady, the Captain still refused.
Don't ask me, Mary-'Gusta [he wrote]. For the dear land sakes don't
ask me to come to that place and stay. I'd do 'most anything for
you, and I will do that if you are dead sot on it, but I do hope you
ain't. I will come up there and see you of course and I'll even
stay to supper if I get asked, but DON'T ask me to drop anchor and
stay there night and day. I couldn't stand it. My backbone's
sprung backwards now from settin' up so straight last time I was
So Mary had pity upon him and he took a room at the Quincy House
where, as he said, he didn't have to keep his nose dead on the
course every minute, but could "lay to and be comf'table" if he
wanted to. He was invited to supper at the Wyeth house, however,
and while there Mrs. Wyeth found an opportunity to take him aside
and talk with him on a subject which he found interesting and a
"Now mind," said the lady, "I am by no means convinced that the
affair is anything but a mere boy and girl friendship, or that it is
ever likely to be more than that. But I did think I ought to tell
you about it and that you should meet the young man. You have met
him, you say?"
"Yes, ma'am," said Shadrach, "I've met him. 'Twan't much more'n
that--he just came into our store down home, that's all. But I did
meet him and I must say I thought he was a real likely young
"I am glad you thought so. So do I. Has Mary written you of his
"Oh, yes, ma'am, she's written. She ain't the kind of girl to keep
anything back from us; at least, if she is, she's changed a heap
since she came away to school. She's told us about his comin' here
and about you and him and her goin' to that--what-d'ye-call-it--
hookey game. She wrote all about that 'way last February."
"Yes, we did go to the hockey game. Samuel, my cousin John Keith's
boy, played in it. Now, Captain Gould, I have a suggestion to make.
It has been some years since you met Crawford Smith and I think,
everything considered, you should meet him again and decide for
yourself whether or not you still consider him a proper young person
to call upon your niece. Suppose you dine with us again tomorrow
evening and I invite young Smith also. Then--"
But the Captain interrupted. He had a plan of his own for the
following evening and another meal at Mrs. Wyeth's was not a part of
"Er--er--excuse me, ma'am," he cut in hastily, "but I had a--a kind
of notion that Mary-'Gusta and me might get our supper at a--a
eatin'-house or somewhere tomorrow night and then maybe we'd take
in--I mean go to a show--a theater, I should say. I didn't know but
I'd ask this young Smith feller to go along. And--and--"
remembering his politeness, "of course we'd be real glad if you'd
come, too," he added.
But Mrs. Wyeth, although she thanked him and expressed herself as
heartily in favor of the supper and theater party, refused to become
a member of it. The Captain bore the shock of the refusal with, to
say the least, manful resignation. He had a huge respect for Mrs.
Wyeth, and he liked her because his beloved Mary-'Gusta liked her so
well, but his liking was seasoned with awe and her no in this case
was a great relief.
So the following evening at six Mary and her uncle met Crawford at
the Quincy House and the three dined together, after which they saw
the performance of "The Music Master" at the Tremont Theater.
Crawford found the dinner quite as entertaining as the play.
Captain Shadrach was in high good humor and his remarks during the
meal were characteristic. He persisted in addressing the dignified
waiter as "Steward" and in referring to the hotel kitchen as the
"galley." He consulted his young guests before ordering and
accepted their selections gracefully if not always silently.
"All right, Mary-'Gusta," he observed. "All right, just as you say.
You're the skipper of this craft tonight, and me and Crawford here
are just passengers. If you say we've got to eat--what is it?--
consummer soup--why, I suppose likely we have. I'll take my chances
if Crawford will. Course, if I was alone here, I'd probably stick
to oyster stew and roast beef. I know what they are. And it's some
comfort to be sure of what you're gettin', as the sick feller said
when the doctor told him he had the smallpox instead of the measles.
You don't mind my callin' you 'Crawford,' do you?" he added, turning
to that young gentleman. "I'm old enough to be your father, for one
thing, and for another a handle's all right on a jug or a sasspan,
but don't seem as if 'twas necessary to take hold of a friend's name
by. And I hope we're goin' to be friends, we three."
Crawford said he hoped so, too, and he said it with emphasis.
"Good!" exclaimed the Captain with enthusiasm. "And we'll cement
the friendship--the book fellers are always tellin' about cementin'
friendships--with this supper of ours, eh? If we only had some of
Isaiah's last batch of mincemeat we could sartinly do it with that;
it was the nighest thing to cement ever I saw put on a table. I
asked him if he filled his pies with a trowel and you ought to have
heard him sputter. You remember Isaiah, don't you, Crawford? Tall,
spindlin' critter, sails cook for Zoeth and me at the house down
home. He ain't pretty, but his heart's in the right place. That's
kind of strange, too," he added with a chuckle, "when you consider
how nigh his shoulder-blades are to the top of his legs."
Between his stories and jokes he found time to ask his male guest a
few questions and these questions, although by no means offensively
personal, were to the point. He inquired concerning the young man's
home life, about his ambitions and plans for the future, about his
friends and intimates at college. Crawford, without being in the
least aware that he was being catechized, told a good deal, and
Captain Shadrach's appraising regard, which had learned to judge men
afloat and ashore, read more than was told. The appraisal was
apparently satisfactory for, after the young man had gone and the
Captain and Mary were saying good night in the Wyeth parlor,
"A nice boy, I should say. Yes, sir, a real nice young feller, as
young fellers go. I like him fust-rate."
"I'm glad, Uncle Shad," said Mary. "I like him, too."
Shadrach regarded her with a little of the questioning scrutiny he
had devoted to Crawford during dinner.
"You do, eh?" he mused. "How much?"
"How much?" repeated Mary, puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"I mean how much do you like him? More'n you do your Uncle Zoeth
and me, for instance?"
She looked up into his face. What she saw there brought the color
to her own. He might have said more, but she put her finger-tips
upon his lips.
"Nonsense!" she said hotly. "What wicked, silly nonsense, Uncle
Shad! Don't you ever, ever say such a thing to me again. You KNOW
Shadrach smiled and shook his head.
"All right, Mary-'Gusta," he said; "I won't say it again--not till
you say it to me fust, at any rate. There, there, dearie! Don't
blow me clean out of the water. I was only jokin', the same as
Isaiah was tryin' to that night when you came home for your
"I don't like that kind of joking. I think it's silly."
"I guess maybe 'tis--for a spell, anyhow. We'll heave the jokes
overboard. Yes, I like that Crawford Smith fust-rate. But the
funniest thing about him is the way he reminds me of somebody else.
Who that somebody is I can't make out nor remember. Maybe I'll
think sometime or other, but anyhow I like him now for his own sake.
I asked him to come down and see us sometime this summer. Wonder if
Mary-'Gusta wondered, too, but she would have wondered more had she
known what that coming summer was to mean to her. The morning after
the theater party Captain Shadrach called to say good-by to Mrs.
Wyeth. That lady asked some questions and listened with interest
and approval to his report concerning Crawford Smith.
"I'm glad you were so favorably impressed with the boy," she said.
"As I told you, I like him myself. And you approve of his
friendship with your niece?"
The Captain rubbed his chin. "Why, yes, ma'am," he said. "I
approve of that, all right, and I cal'late Zoeth would, too. Fact
is, where Mary-'Gusta's concerned 'tain't nothin' BUT friendship, so
fur, and I guess likely 'tain't on his part, either. If it ever
should be more, then--well, then, if he turned out to be all that
he'd ought to be I can't see where we old folks have much right to
put our oar in, do you, ma'am?"
Perhaps Mrs. Wyeth was tired of the subject; perhaps she objected to
being addressed as one of the old folks; at any rate, she made no
answer, but asked a question instead.
"Captain Gould," she said, "what plans have you and Mr. Hamilton
made for Mary this summer?"
"Plans, ma'am? Why, I don't know's we've made any. Of course,
we're countin' on her comin' down to South Harniss when she gets
through her school, and--"
"Just a moment, Captain. I have a friend who is very anxious to
have you change that plan for one of hers. Come in, Letitia.
Captain Gould, this is my friend, Miss Pease. Now, Letitia, tell
the Captain your plan--the one you told me last night."
Miss Pease told of her plan and Captain Shad listened, at first with
astonishment, then with a troubled expression and at last with a
combination of both.
"There," said Miss Pease, in conclusion, "that is my plan. It means
a great deal to me and I hope it may mean something to Mary."
"It will be a wonderful opportunity for her," declared Mrs. Wyeth
"What do you think of it, Captain Gould?" asked Miss Pease.
Shadrach drew a long breath. "I--I don't know hardly what to say,
ma'am," he answered. "I can't hardly realize it yet, seems so. It
sartinly would be a wonderful chance for her and it's somethin' me
and Zoeth could never give her or think of givin'. But--but--"
"Of course," said Miss Pease, as he hesitated, "if she is needed
very much at home--if you feel you cannot spare her--"
"'Tain't that, ma'am," interrupted the Captain quickly. "Land knows
Zoeth and me would miss her awful, but we wouldn't let that stand in
the way--not of anything like this. But--but--well, to be right
down honest, ma'am, I don't know's we'd feel like havin' somebody
else do so much for her. Course we ain't well off, Zoeth and I
ain't, but we ain't right down poor, either. We've been used to
doin' for ourselves and--"
And then Miss Pease had an inspiration.
"Oh, dear me!" she broke in hastily. "I do hope you haven't made a
mistake, Captain Gould. I hope you don't think I am offering this
as a charity or purely as a favor to Mary. No, indeed! I am asking
it as a favor to myself. I must have a companion, otherwise I