Part 5 out of 8
cannot go. And Mary is just the companion I need. I am very fond
of her and I think she likes me. I am not going to urge too much,
Captain Gould, but I do hope you will consider the matter with Mr.
Hamilton and let me hear from you soon. And I am hoping you will
consent. I promise to take good care of your girl and bring her
back safe and sound in September. And I shall not say one word of
my great plan to her until you write me that I may."
So Captain Shadrach, the troubled expression still on his face,
returned on the afternoon train to South Harniss to tell his friend
and partner of Miss Pease's plan. Mary, who accompanied him to the
Boston station, wondered why he seemed so preoccupied and quiet. If
she had known what his thoughts were she would have wondered no
Miss Pease planned to travel through Europe during the summer
months, and she had asked the Captain's permission to take Mary with
her as her guest and friend and companion.
If time and space did not matter, and if even more important
happenings in Mary-'Gusta's life were not as close at hand to claim
attention, it would be interesting to describe at length those of
that spring and the summer which followed it. Summarized in
chronological order, they were these: First, the lengthy discussions
between the partners concerning Miss Pease's plan, discussions which
ended by Zoeth, as senior partner, writing Miss Pease:
Shadrach and I say yes. We ought to have said it afore but flesh is
weak and we found it kind of hard to make up our minds to spare our
girl all summer. But we know we ought to spare her and that it will
be a splendid chance for her. So we say she shall go and we thank
you more than we can say. She will need clothes and fixings to take
with her and Shadrach and I wish to ask if you will be kind enough
to help her pick out what she needs. Maybe Mrs. Wyeth will help
too. It will be a great favor if you two will do this, Shadrach and
I not being much good at such things. We will send the money and
will pay for all.
Then came the breaking of the news to Mary herself. At first, after
she could be made to believe the whole idea a perfectly serious one
and realized that a trip to Europe--her dearest day-dream, even when
a little girl, and the favorite play with the dolls in the attic at
South Harniss--when she at last realized the opportunity that was
hers, even then she hesitated to accept it. There were her uncles--
they needed her so much in the store--they would miss her so
dreadfully. She could not go and leave them. The united efforts of
Miss Pease and Mrs. Wyeth could not alter her determination to
remain at home; only a joint declaration, amounting to a command and
signed by both partners of Hamilton and Company, had that effect.
She consented then, but with reluctance.
The steamer sailed from Boston--Miss Pease's civic loyalty forbade
her traveling on a New York boat--on the thirtieth of June, the week
after Commencement. Mary and Mrs. Wyeth attended the Commencement
exercises and festivities as Crawford's guest. Edwin Smith,
Crawford's father, did not come on from Carson City to see his son
receive his parchment from his Alma Mater. He had planned to come--
Crawford had begun to believe he might come--but at the last moment
illness had prevented. It was nothing serious, he wrote; he would
be well and hearty when the boy came West after graduating.
God bless you, son [the letter ended]. If you knew what it means
for your old dad to stay away you'd forgive him for being in the
doctor's care. Come home quick when it's over. There's a four-
pound trout waiting for one of us up in the lake country somewhere.
It's up to you or me to get him.
Crawford showed the letter to Mary. He was disappointed, but not so
much so as the girl expected.
"I never really dared to count on his coming," he explained. "It
has been this way so many times. Whenever Dad has planned to come
East something happens to prevent. Now it has happened again; I was
almost sure it would. It's a shame! I wanted you to meet him. And
I wanted him to meet you, too," he added.
Mary also was a little disappointed. She had rather looked forward
to meeting Mr. Smith. He was her friend's father, of course, and
that of itself made him an interesting personality, but there was
something more--a sort of mystery about him, inspired in her mind by
the photograph which Crawford had shown her, which made her curious.
The man in the photograph resembled Crawford, of course, but she had
the feeling that he resembled someone else even more--someone she
had known or whose picture she had seen. She was sorry she was not
to meet him.
Commencement was a wonderful time. Mary was introduced to dozens of
young fellows, attended spreads and sings and proms, danced a great
deal, was asked to dance ever so much more, chatted and laughed and
enjoyed herself as a healthy, happy, and pretty girl should enjoy a
college commencement. And on the following Tuesday she and Miss
Pease, looking down from the steamer's deck, waved their
handkerchiefs to Mrs. Wyeth and Zoeth and Captain Shadrach and
Crawford who, standing on the wharf, waved theirs in return as the
big ship moved slowly out of the dock and turned her nose toward
Minot's Light and the open sea. For the first time since Hamilton
and Company put up a sign both partners had come to Boston together.
"Annabel's keepin' store," explained Shadrach, "and Isaiah's
helpin'. It'll be the blind leadin' the blind, I cal'late, but we
don't care, do we, Zoeth? We made up our mind we'd see you off,
Mary-'Gusta, if we had to swim to Provincetown and send up sky-
rockets from Race P'int to let you know we was there. Don't forget
what I told you: If you should get as fur as Leghorn be sure and
hunt up that ship-chandler name of Peroti. Ask him if he remembers
Shad Gould that he knew in '65. If he ain't dead I bet you he'll
So Mary-'Gusta sailed away and for ten marvelous weeks daydreams
came true and attic make-believes turned to realities. War had not
yet come to sow its seed of steel and fire and reap its harvest of
blood and death upon the fair valleys and hills of France, and the
travelers journeyed leisurely from village to cathedral town and
from the Seine to the Loire. They spent three weeks in Switzerland
and two in Italy, returning for the final week to London where,
under Miss Pease's expert guidance, Mary visited the shops, the big
ones on Regent and Oxford Streets and the smaller, equally
fascinating--and more expensive--ones on Bond Street and Piccadilly,
buying presents and remembrances for the folks at home. And, at
last, came the day when, leaning upon the rail, she saw the misty
headlands of Ireland sink beneath the horizon and realized that her
wonderful holiday was over and that she was homeward bound.
The voyage was rather rough and stormy, as westerly voyages are
likely to be, but the ship was comfortable and speedy and they made
good time. Mary spent but one day in Boston and, on the morning of
the next, started for South Harniss. She had one week before school
opened and that week was to be spent with her uncles; no one else,
she vowed, should have a minute of it.
Great were the rejoicings in the white house by the shore that day,
and marvelous was the dinner Isaiah served in honor of the occasion.
Mary was obliged to relate the story of her trip from start to
finish, while three rapt listeners nodded and exclaimed in sympathy
or broke in to ask questions. She had written faithfully, but, as
Isaiah said, "writin' ain't tellin'." So Mary told and her uncles
and Mr. Chase listened and questioned. It was twelve o'clock that
night before anyone thought of going to bed, and next morning at the
breakfast table the questioning began all over again.
"Mrs. Wyeth was down at the dock, I presume likely, to meet you when
your ship made port?" queried Zoeth.
"Yes, she was there," replied Mary.
"Anybody else? How about that young Smith feller? Wa'n't he there,
too?" asked Captain Shadrach with elaborate innocence.
Mary colored just a little. She knew it was foolish; there was no
reason in the world why she should be embarrassed, but she could not
"No, Uncle Shad," she answered. "He wasn't there. He has not
returned from the West yet, but he will be in Boston next week when
the Medical College opens."
"Been havin' a good time out West there, has he?" inquired the
Captain, still with studied unconcern.
"Yes. At least he writes me that he has." She looked from one to
the other of her trio of listeners and then added: "I have some of
his letters here with me. If you'd like to hear them I'll read them
"No, no, you needn't do that," protested Shadrach hastily. But
after another look at him Mary said, "I think I will," and departed
in search of the letters.
Captain Shad, looking a trifle guilty, glanced at his partner.
"She needn't read 'em unless she wants to, need she, Zoeth?" he
said. "I--I didn't mean for her to do that."
Mr. Hamilton's face expressed doubt and disapproval.
"Humph!" he said and that was all.
Mary returned bearing the packet of letters, some of which she
proceeded to read. Crawford had spent the summer either at his home
in Carson City or in camping with his father in the Sierras, where
he had shot and fished and apparently enjoyed himself hugely. The
letters were frank and straightforward, full of fun and exuberance,
the sort of letters a robust, clean-minded young fellow ought to
write and sometimes does. They were not sentimental; even Isaiah,
with what Captain Shadrach termed his "lovesick imagination," would
not have called them so.
The partners and Mr. Chase listened with interest to the reading of
the letters and expressed their approval. Shadrach's applause was
loudest of all, but he seemed to find difficulty in meeting his
niece's eye. Just before bedtime, after Zoeth and Isaiah had gone
upstairs and he was locking up for the night, Mary, whom he supposed
had gone also, reentered the dining-room and stood before him.
"Uncle Shad," she said severely, "come here a minute and sit down.
I want to talk with you."
She led him to the big rocker. Then she took the little one beside
"Now, look me in the face," she commanded. "No," not out of the
window--here. Um . . . yes. I don't wonder you turn red. I should
think you might be ashamed."
"I--I--what's that?" stammered Shadrach, turning redder than ever.
"What do you mean? Turnin' red! Who's turnin' red?"
"You are," said the young lady, firmly, "and you know it. Now, look
me straight in the eye. Uncle Shad Gould, don't you think it would
have been more honorable, if you wished to know whether Crawford
Smith and I corresponded, to have asked me instead of hinting?
Don't you think it would?"
"Hintin'? Why--why, Mary-'Gusta, what-what--?"
His face was a study in expression. Mary bit her lip, but she
managed to appear solemn.
"Yes, hinting," she said. "Instead of asking if Crawford and I had
written each other you hinted. Well, now you know that we did
write, and have heard his letters to me, have you any objection?"
"Objection? No, no, course not. Why--I--I think 'twas a fine
thing. I--I like to get letters; a heap better than I do to write
'em," he added truthfully.
"And aren't you ashamed?" repeated Mary.
"Why--why, yes, by the jumpin' fire, I am! There! I was ashamed
when I done it."
"Then why did you do it?"
"Well--well, you see, Mary-'Gusta, I just wanted to know. Your
Uncle Zoeth and me have been actin' as your pilots for a
consider'ble spell. Course you're gettin' big enough now to cruise
on your own hook--that is, in reason, you understand--but--but--
well, we've got so used to takin' an observation every noontime,
seein' how you're layin' your course, you know, that it's hard to
lose the habit. Not that Zoeth was in on this," he added honestly.
"He didn't do any of the hintin', as you call it. I imagine he'll
preach my head off for doin' it, when he gets me alone."
"You deserve to have it preached off--or partly off, at any rate.
Do you beg my pardon?"
"Sartin sure. I'd beg it on my bended knees if 'twa'n't for the
"And you won't hint any more?"
"Nary a hint."
"That's right. If you want me to tell you anything, please ask.
You must trust me, Uncle Shad. I shall always tell--when there is
anything to tell."
"I know you will, Mary-'Gusta. I'm ashamed of my hintin'. God
bless you, dearie. Now kiss me good night."
He kissed her and, holding her in his arms, looked fondly down into
her eyes. And, as she returned his look, suddenly she blushed
crimson and hid her face in his jacket. Then she broke away and
with a good night ran from the room and up the stairs.
Shadrach looked after her, sighed, and, after finishing his locking
up, went upstairs himself. There was a light in his partner's room
and he entered to find Mr. Hamilton sitting at the little table with
several sheets of paper covered with figures spread out before him.
The Captain was so busy with his own thoughts that, for the moment,
he did not notice the papers.
"Zoeth," he said, "our Mary-'Gusta's changed into a grown-up woman.
Even this last summer has changed her. She don't look any older,
and she's prettier than ever, but she thinks different, and I have a
notion that, no matter how much we may want to, you and me ain't
goin' to be able to keep her to ourselves as we-- Eh?" suddenly
becoming aware of his friend's occupation. "Are you still fussin'
over those things? Didn't I tell you not to worry any more, but to
turn in and sleep?"
Zoeth shook his head. His usually placid, gentle face had lost some
of its placidity. He looked worn and worried and the shadows thrown
by the lamp deepened the lines in his forehead. He looked up over
"Shadrach," he said, "I can't help it. I try not to worry and I try
to heave my burdens onto the Almighty, same as we're commanded, but
I can't seem to heave the whole of 'em there. If things don't pick
up pretty soon, I don't know--I don't know--and I don't dare think,"
he added despairingly.
The sheet of paper he was holding rattled as his hand shook.
Captain Shad scowled.
"If we didn't have our winter goods to buy," he muttered. "Our
credit's good, that's one comfort."
"It is up to now, because the Boston folks don't know. But WE know,
or we're afraid we know, and that makes it worse. How can we go on
buyin' from folks that has stood our friends ever since we went into
business, knowin' as we do that--"
His partner interrupted.
"We don't know anything yet," he declared. "Keep a stiff upper lip,
Zoeth. Nine chances to one we'll weather it all right. WHAT a
summer this has been! And when I think," he added savagely, "of how
well we got along afore those new stores came it makes me nigh
crazy. I'll go out with a card of matches some night and burn 'em
down. Damn pirates! Callin' themselves good Cape Cod names--names
that don't belong to 'em! Baker's Bazaar! Ugh! Rheinstein's
Robbers' Roost would be nigher the truth. . . . Say, Zoeth, we
mustn't hint a word to Mary-'Gusta about this. We've got cash
enough on hand to pay her clearance charges up there at school,
"Yes, Shadrach, I've looked out for that. I don't know's I'd ought
to. The money maybe had ought to go somewheres else, but--but right
or wrong it's goin' for her and I hope the Lord'll forgive me. And
what you say's true, she mustn't know we're worried. She's so
conscientious she might be for givin' up her schoolin' and comin'
down here to help us. She'd be just as liable to do it as not."
"You're right, she would. Good thing she thinks she's got money of
her own and that that money is payin' her schoolin' bills. She'd be
frettin' all the time about the expense if 'twa'n't for that. You
and I must pretend everything's lovely and the goose hangin' high
when she's around. And we mustn't let Isaiah drop any hints."
"No. Isaiah has asked me two or three times lately if the new
stores was hurtin' our trade. I shouldn't wonder if he had some
suspicions down inside him."
"Umph! Well, that's all right, so long as they stay inside. If I
see signs of one of those suspicions risin' above his Adam's apple
I'll choke 'em down again. I'll put a flea in Isaiah's ear, and
I'll put mucilage on its feet so's 'twill stick there."
So although Mary did notice that the two new shops in the village
seemed to be prospering and that business at Hamilton and Company's
was not rushing even for September, the answers to her questions
were so reassuring that her uneasiness was driven away. Her Uncle
Zoeth evaded direct reply and Captain Shadrach prevaricated whole-
heartedly and cheerfully. Even Isaiah declared that "everything and
all hands was doin' fine." But Mary made him promise that should it
ever be otherwise than fine he would write her immediately. He gave
the promise with some reluctance.
"I cal'late if Cap'n Shad caught me tellin' tales out of school he'd
go to work and turn to and bust me over the head with a
marlinespike," said Mr. Chase, with the air of one stating a fact.
Mary laughed. "Oh, no, he wouldn't," she declared. "I'll stand
back of you, Isaiah. Now mind, you are to keep me posted on JUST
how things are here."
Mary went back to Boston and to school, where old acquaintances were
renewed and new ones made. The Misses Cabot welcomed her with fussy
and dignified condescension. Barbara Howe hugged and kissed her and
vowed she had not seen a girl all summer who was half so sweet.
"Why in the world someone doesn't run off with you and marry you
this very minute I cannot see," declared the vivacious young lady.
"If I were a man I should."
Mary, who was used to Miss Howe's outbursts, merely smiled.
"Oh, no, you wouldn't," she replied. "I should hope you would be
more sensible. No one will run off with me; at least I wouldn't run
off with them."
"Why not? Don't you think an elopement is perfectly splendid--so
romantic and all that? Suppose you were head over heels in love
with someone and his people were dead set against his marrying you,
wouldn't you elope then?"
"I think I shouldn't. I think I should try to find out why they
were so opposed to me. Perhaps there might be some good reason. If
there were no good reason, then--why, then--well, I don't know. But
I should hesitate a long while before I came between a person and
his family. It must be dreadful to do that."
Barbara laughed. "Nonsense!" she cried. "It's done every day in
the best families, my dear. And then the reconciliation is all the
sweeter. You just wait! Some of these days I expect to read:
'Elopement in South Harniss High Life. Beautiful Society Maiden
Weds Famous Former Football--er--er--I want another F-- Oh, yes,
Famous Former Football Favorite.' Isn't that beautiful? Dear me,
how you blush! Or is it sunburn? At any rate, it's very becoming."
The Famous Former Football Favorite called at Mrs. Wyeth's on the
evening following that of Mary's return to Boston. He was as big
and brown as ever and declared that he had had a wonderful vacation.
"And you're looking awfully well, too," he exclaimed, inspecting her
from head to foot. "She is, isn't she, Mrs. Wyeth?"
Mrs. Wyeth admitted that she thought so. Crawford nodded
"By George, you are!" he repeated.
There was no doubt of his sincerity. In fact, the admiration in his
voice and look was so obvious and unconcealed that Mary, although
she could not help being pleased, was a little embarrassed. The
embarrassment wore away, however, when he began to tell of his
summer in the Sierras and to ask for additional particulars
concerning her European trip. He stayed longer than usual that
evening and came again a few evenings later--to show them some
photographs he had taken in the mountains, so he said. And the
following Sunday he dropped in to accompany them to church. And--
but why particularize? Perhaps it will be sufficient to say that
during that fall and winter the boy and girl friendship progressed
as such friendships are likely to do. Miss Pease, the romantic,
nodded and looked wise and even Mrs. Wyeth no longer resented her
friend's looks and insinuations with the same indignant certainty of
"I don't know, Letitia," she admitted. "I don't know. I'm
beginning to think he cares for her and may be really serious about
it. Whether or not she cares for him is quite another thing and I
am sure I shan't presume to guess. If she does she keeps it to
herself, as she does so many other things. She knows how to mind
her own business and that is a gift possessed by few, Letitia
Mary went home for the Christmas vacation and spent the holidays, as
she had spent those of the previous year, in helping her uncles at
the store. The Christmas trade, although not so brisk as she had
seen it, was not so bad as to alarm her, and the partners were
optimistic as ever. Isaiah, who had been talked to like a Dutch
uncle by Captain Shad and was consequently in deadly fear of the
latter's wrath, declared that as far as he could see everything was
all right. So Mary left South Harniss and returned to school and
the duties of the winter term with few misgivings concerning matters
at home. Crawford met her at the train and came to the Pinckney
Street house that evening to hear the news from the Cape. It was
surprising, the interest in Cape Cod matters manifested of late by
that young man.
On a day in early April, Mary, hurrying to Mrs. Wyeth's after
school, found a letter awaiting her. She glanced at the postmark,
which was South Harniss, and the handwriting, which was Isaiah's,
and then laid it aside to be read later on at her leisure. After
many postponements and with considerable reluctance she had accepted
an invitation to dine with Barbara Howe at the latter's home in
Brookline and this evening was the time appointed. It would be her
first plunge into society--the home life of society, that is. The
Howes were an old family, wealthy and well-connected, and Mary could
not help feeling somewhat nervous at the ordeal before her. She
knew something of the number and variety of expensive gowns
possessed by her young hostess and her own limited wardrobe seemed
doubly limited and plain by comparison. But she summoned her
unfailing common sense to her rescue and found consolation in the
fact that Barbara and her people knew she was, comparatively
speaking, a poor girl, and therefore could hardly have invited her
with the expectation of seeing her arrayed in fine clothes. And if
they had done so--here was a bit of the old Mary-'Gusta philosophy--
their opinion was not worth consideration anyhow, and the sooner
they and she reached mutual disgust and parting the better.
But although her best gown was not new nor expensive, and her jewels
were conspicuous by their absence, the picture she made as she stood
before the mirror giving the last touches to her hair was distinctly
not an unpleasing one. Maggie, the maid, who entered the room to
announce a caller, was extravagant in her praises.
"Ah, sure, Miss, you look fine," she declared. "You're that sweet
one look at you would sugar a cup of tea. Ah, he'll be that proud
of you and he ought to be, too. But he's a fine young man, and--"
"Who? What are you talking about, Maggie?" interrupted Mary. "Who
will be proud of me and who is a fine young fellow?"
"Who? Why, Mr. Smith, of course; who else? He's down in the parlor
waitin' for you now. I'll tell him you'll be down."
Before Mary could stop her she had left the room and was on her way
downstairs. Mary followed a moment later. She had not expected a
visit from Crawford, who had called already that week. She wondered
why he had come.
She found him in the parlor. Mrs. Wyeth was out shopping with Miss
Pease, and he and she were alone. He rose to meet her as she
"Why, Crawford," she said, "what is the matter? Has anything
happened? Why do you look so serious?"
He smiled ruefully. "I guess because I am rather serious," he
answered. "I've had some news and I came to tell you about it."
Then, noticing her gown, he added: "But you're going out, aren't
"I am going out by and by. I am going to dine and spend the evening
with Barbara Howe. But I am not going yet. Won't you sit down?"
"I will if you're sure you can spare the time. I hope you can,
because--well, because I do want to talk to you. I've had bad news
from home. My father is ill--and in the doctor's care."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I hope it isn't serious."
"I don't know whether it is or not. It can't be desperately
serious, because he wrote the letter himself. But at any rate it's
serious enough for me. He wants me to give up my work here at the
Harvard Medical and come West."
Mary gasped. "Give it up!" she repeated. "Give up your studies?
Give up medicine? Surely he doesn't want you to do that!"
Crawford shook his head. "No, not quite that," he replied. "I
wouldn't do that, even for him. But he writes that he is not well
and is not likely to be better for a good while, if ever, and he
would be very much happier if I were nearer at hand. He wants me to
give up here at the Harvard Med. and take up my work again at Denver
or Salt Lake City or somewhere out there. Even Chicago would seem
much nearer, he says. It's a pitiful sort of letter. The old chap
seems dreadfully down in the dumps. He wants me, that's plain
enough, and he seems to think he needs me. Says if I were at Denver
I could come home every little while, whereas here I can't. What
ought I to do? I hate to say no, and I hate just as much to say
"I think you must decide for yourself," she said after a moment.
"You have your career to consider, of course."
"Yes, I have. But, to be perfectly honest, I suppose my career
would not be influenced greatly if I went. There are plenty of good
medical colleges in the West. It is only that I am a Harvard man
and I hoped to finish at the Harvard school, that is all. But I
COULD go. What do you advise?"
Again Mary took time for consideration. Her face now was as grave
as his. At last she said, without raising her eyes: "I think you
ought to go."
He groaned. "I was afraid you would say that," he admitted. "And I
suppose you are right."
"Yes, I think I am. If your father needs you and wants you, and if
your career will not be influenced for harm, I--well, I think you
should do as he wishes."
"And my own wishes shouldn't count, I suppose?"
"Why, no, not in this case; not much, at any rate. Do you think
"Perhaps not. But--but yours?"
"Yes. Do YOU want me to go away?" He leaned forward in his chair
and repeated earnestly: "Do you, Mary?"
She looked at him and her eyes fell before the look in his. Her
heart began to beat quickly and she glanced apprehensively toward
the partly opened door. He rose and closed it. Then he came close
"Mary," he said, earnestly, "do you know why this appeal of Dad's
has hit me so very hard? Why it is going to be so mighty difficult
to say yes and leave here? It isn't because I hate to give up
Harvard. I do hate that, of course, but I'd do it in a minute for
Dad. It isn't that. It's because I can't--I just can't think of
leaving you. You have come to be--"
She interrupted. "Please don't," she begged. "Please!"
He went on, unheeding:
"You have come to mean about all there is in life for me," he
declared. "It isn't money or success or reputation I've been
working and plugging for these last few months; it's just you. I
didn't think so once--I used to think such things were just in
books--but now I know. I love you, Mary."
Again she protested. "Oh, Crawford," she begged, "please!"
"No; you've got to hear me. It's true; I love you, and if you can
care for me, I am going to marry you. Not now, of course; I've got
my way to make first; but some day, if I live."
His teeth set in the determined fashion she had learned to know
meant unswerving purpose. She looked up, saw the expression of his
face, and for the instant forgot everything except her pride in him
and her joy that she should have awakened such feelings. Then she
remembered other things, things which she had spent many hours of
many nights in debating and considering. As he bent toward her she
evaded him and rose.
"Don't, Crawford! Please!" she said again. "You mustn't say such
things to me. It isn't right that you should."
He looked puzzled. "Why not?" he asked. "At any rate, right or
wrong, I must say them, Mary. I've been holding them in for months
and now I've just got to say them. I love you and I want to marry
you. May I?"
"Oh, no, Crawford! No! It is impossible."
"Impossible! Why? Is it--is it because you don't care for me?
Don't you, Mary?"
She did not answer.
"Don't you?" he repeated. "Look at me! Can't you care, Mary?"
She was silent. But when he took a step toward her she raised her
hands in protest.
"Please don't!" she pleaded. "No, you mustn't--we mustn't think--
Oh, no, it is impossible!"
"It isn't impossible. If you love me as I do you it is the only
possible thing in the world. Listen, dear--"
"Hush! I mustn't listen. Be sensible, Crawford! think! We are
both so young. You are only beginning your studies. It will be
years before you can--before you should consider marrying."
"But we can wait. I am willing to wait if you will only promise to
wait for me. I'll work--HOW I'll work!--and--"
"I know, but we both have others besides ourselves to consider. I
have my uncles. They have done everything for me. And you have
your father. Does he know--about me--about what you have just said
And now Crawford hesitated. Not long, but long enough for Mary to
know what the answer would be before it was spoken.
"He doesn't know," she said. "I thought not. Do you think he will
"I hope he will. There is every reason why he should and absolutely
none why he shouldn't. Of course he'll approve; he's sensible."
"Yes, but he may have plans of his own for you, and your marrying an
Eastern girl may not be one of them. You have often told me how
prejudiced he is against the East and Eastern people. He may
Crawford squared his shoulders. There was no hesitation or doubt in
his next speech.
"If he does it will make no difference," he declared. "I care a
whole lot for Dad and I'd do anything on earth for him--anything but
the one thing, that is: I won't give you up--provided you care for
me--for him or for anyone else. That's final."
He certainly looked as if it were. But Mary only shook her head.
In the new thoughts and new imaginings which had come to her during
the past winter there had been a vague foreshadowing of a possible
situation somewhat like this. She had her answer ready.
"Oh, no, it isn't," she said. "You are his son, his only child,
Crawford. He cares so much for you. You have often told me that,
and--and I know he must. And you and he have been so happy
together. Do you think I would be the cause of breaking that
He waved the question aside and asked one of his own.
"Do you love me, Mary?" he asked.
"You mustn't ask me, Crawford. Write your father. Tell him
everything. Will you?"
"Yes, I will. I should have done it, anyway. If I go home, and I
suppose I must, I shall tell him; it will be better than writing.
But I want your answer before I go. Won't you give it to me?"
He looked very handsome and very manly, as he stood there pleading.
But Mary had made up her mind.
"I can't, Crawford," she said. "Perhaps I don't know. I do know
that it would not be right for me to say what you want me to say--
now. Go home to your father; he needs you. Tell him everything and
He looked at her, a long, long look. Then he nodded slowly.
"All right," he said; "I will. I will tell him that I mean to marry
you. If he says yes--as he will, I'm sure--then I'll write you
that. If he says no, I'll write you that. But in either case, Mary
Lathrop, I shall marry you just the same. Your own no will be the
only thing that can prevent it. And now may I come and see you
"Not tomorrow, Crawford. When will you start for home?"
"Saturday, I think. May I come the day after tomorrow? Just to say
good-by, you know."
Mary was troubled. She could not deny him and yet she was certain
it would be better for them both if he did not come.
"Perhaps," she said doubtfully. "But only to say good-by. You must
There was a ring at the bell. Then Maggie, the maid, appeared to
announce that the Howe motor car was waiting at the curb. A few
moments later Mary was in her room adjusting her new hat before the
mirror. Ordinarily, adjusting that hat would have been an absorbing
and painstaking performance; just now it was done with scarcely a
thought. How devoutly she wished that the Howe car and the Howe
dinner were waiting for anyone in the wide world but her! She did
not wish to meet strangers; she did not wish to go anywhere, above
all she did not wish to eat. That evening, of all evenings in her
life, she wished to be alone. However, accepted invitations are
implied obligations and Mary, having adjusted the hat, gave her eyes
a final dab with a handkerchief and cold water and hastened down to
answer the call to social martyrdom.
It was not excruciating torture, that dinner in the Howe dining-
room, even to a young lady who had just listened to a proposal of
marriage and desired to think of nothing less important. Mr. Howe
was big and jolly. Mrs. Howe was gray-haired and gracious and
Barbara was--Barbara. Also, there was a friend of Mr. Howe's, an
elderly gentleman named Green, who it seemed was one of a firm of
wholesale grocers downtown, and who told funny stories and, by way
of proving that they were funny, laughed heartiest of all at the
ending of each. He sat next Mrs. Howe during dinner, but later,
when they were all in the handsome drawing-room, he came over and
seated himself upon the sofa next Mary and entered into conversation
"You are not a born Bostonian, I understand, Miss Lathrop," he
observed. "An importation, eh? Ho, ho! Yes. Well, how do you
Mary smiled. "Oh, I like Boston very much, Mr. Green," she
answered. "I know it better than any other American city, perhaps
that is why. It was the only city I had ever seen until quite
recently. I am imported--as you call it--from not so far away. My
home is on Cape Cod."
Mr. Green regarded her with interest.
"So?" he said. "From Cape Cod, eh? That's rather peculiar. I have
been very much interested in the Cape for the past day or so.
Something has occurred in connection with my business which brought
the Cape to mind. My attention has been--er--as you may say,
gripped by the strong right arm of Massachusetts. Eh? Ho, ho!"
He chuckled at his own joke. Mary was rather bored, but she tried
not to show it.
"What part of the Cape has interested you, Mr. Green?" she inquired
for the sake of saying something.
"Eh? Oh--er--South Harniss. Little town down near the elbow. Do
you know it?"
Mary was surprised, of course. The answer which was on the tip of
her tongue was naturally, "Why, yes, I live there." But she did not
make that answer, although she has often wondered, since, why. What
she said was: "Yes, I know South Harniss."
"Do you, indeed?" went on Green. "Well, I don't, but I have known
some people who live there for ever so long. My father knew them
before me. They were customers of his and they have been buying of
our firm for years. Two old chaps who keep what I believe they
would call a 'general store.' Fine old fellows, both of them!
Different as can be, and characters, but pure gold inside. I have
had some bad news concerning them. They're in trouble and I'm
Mary was bored no longer. She leaned forward and asked
"What are their names, Mr. Green?"
"Eh? Oh, the firm name is Hamilton and Company. That is simple and
sane enough, but the names of the partners were cribbed from the
book of Leviticus, I should imagine--Zoeth and Shadrach! Ho, ho!
Think of it! Think of wishing a name like Shadrach upon a helpless
infant. The S. P. C. A. or C. C. or something ought to be told of
it. Ho, ho!"
He laughed aloud. Mary did not laugh.
"They--you said they were in trouble," she said slowly. "What sort
"Eh? Oh, the usual kind. The kind of goblin, young lady, which is
likely to get us business men if we don't watch out--financial
trouble. The firm of Hamilton and Company has not kept abreast of
the times, that's all. For years they did a good business and then
some new competitors with up-to-date ideas came to town and--puff!--
good-by to the old fogies. They are in a bad way, I'm afraid, and
will have to go under, unless--eh? But there! you aren't
particularly interested, I dare say. It was your mention of Cape
Cod which set me going."
"Oh, but I am interested; I am, really. They must go under, you
say? Fail, do you mean?"
"Yes, that is what I mean. I am very sorry. Our firm would go on
selling them goods almost indefinitely for, as I have said, they
are old customers and in a way old friends. But they are
absolutely honest and they will not buy what they cannot pay for.
We have some pitiful letters from them--not whining, you know, but
straightforward and frank. They don't ask favors, but tell us just
where they stand and leave it to us to refuse credit if we see fit.
It is just one of the little tragedies of life, Miss Lathrop, but
I'm mighty sorry for those two old friends of my father's and mine.
And the worst of it is that, from inquiries I have made, it would
seem that they have been sacrificing themselves by spending their
money lavishly and uselessly on someone else. They have a girl in
the family, a sort of adopted niece, whatever that is, and, not
content with bringing her up like a sensible, respectable country
girl, they must dress her like a millionaire's daughter and send
her off to some extravagantly expensive seminary where-- Why, what
is the matter? Eh? Good heavens! What have I been saying? You
don't know these people, do you?"
Mary turned a very white face toward his.
"They are my uncles," she said. "My home is at South Harniss.
Please excuse me, Mr. Green."
She rose and walked away. A few minutes later, when Mr. Howe
approached the sofa, he found his friend sitting thereon, staring at
nothing in particular and fervently repeating under his breath, "The
devil! The devil! The devil!"
Mary got away as soon as she could. Her looks attracted Barbara's
attention and the young lady asked if she were not feeling well.
Mary replied that she was not, and although it was not serious
please might she be permitted to go home at once? She was sent home
in the automobile and when she reached her own room her first act
was to find and open Isaiah's letter which had arrived that
afternoon. With trembling fingers she held it beneath the gas jet
and this is what she read:
DEAR MARY AUGUSTA:
I had not ought to write you this and your Uncles would pretty nigh
kill me if they knew I done so but I am going to just the same.
Busines has gone to rack and ruin. Hamilton & Co. thanks to those
and other darned stores, ain't making enough to keep boddy and soul
together and they are making themselves sick over it. I don't know
what will become of them to if something or someboddy does not think
up some way to help them over the shoals. They do not tell anyone
and least of all they wouldent want you to be told, but I think you
ought to be. They have done a whole lot for you. Can't you think
up some way to do something for them. For god Sakes write right
People grow older, even on the Cape, where hurry--except by the
automobiles of summer residents--is not considered good form and
where Father Time is supposed to sit down to rest. Judge Baxter,
Ostable's leading attorney-at-law, had lived quietly and comfortably
during the years which had passed since, as Marcellus Hall's lawyer,
he read the astonishing letter to the partners of Hamilton and
Company. He was over seventy now, and behind his back Ostable folks
referred to him as "old Judge Baxter"; but although his spectacles
were stronger than at that time, his mental faculties were not
perceptibly weaker, and he walked with as firm, if not so rapid, a
stride. So when, at eleven in the forenoon of the day following
Mary's dinner at the Howes' home, the Judge heard someone enter the
outer room of his offices near the Ostable courthouse, he rose from
his chair in the inner room and, without waiting for his clerk to
announce the visitor, opened the door himself.
The caller whose question the clerk was about to answer, or would
probably have answered as soon as he finished staring in awestruck
admiration, was a young lady. The Judge looked at her over his
spectacles and then through them and decided that she was a
stranger. He stepped forward.
"I am Judge Baxter," he said. "Did you wish to see me?"
She turned toward him. "Yes," she said simply. "I should like to
talk with you for a few moments if you are not too busy."
The Judge hesitated momentarily. Only the week before a persistent
and fluent young female had talked him into the purchase of a set of
"Lives of the Great Jurists," the same to be paid for in thirty-five
installments of two dollars each. Mrs. Baxter had pronounced the
"Great Jurists" great humbugs, and her husband, although he
pretended to find the "Lives" very interesting, was secretly
inclined to agree with her. So he hesitated. The young woman,
evidently noticing his hesitation, added:
"If you are engaged just now I shall wait. I came to see you on a
matter of business, legal business."
Judge Baxter tried to look as if no thought of his visitor's having
another purpose had entered his mind.
"Oh, yes, certainly! Of course!" he said hastily, and added: "Will
you walk in?"
She walked in--to the private office, that is--and the Judge,
following her, closed the door. His clerk stared wistfully at his
own side of that door for a full minute, then sighed heavily and
resumed his work, which was copying a list of household effects
belonging to a late lamented who had willed them, separately and
individually, to goodness knew how many cousins, first, second, and
In the private office the Judge asked his visitor to be seated. She
took the chair he brought forward. Then she said:
"You don't remember me, I think, Judge Baxter. I am Mary Lathrop."
The Judge looked puzzled. The name sounded familiar, but he could
not seem to identify its owner.
"Perhaps you would remember me if I told you my whole name,"
suggested the latter. "I am Mary Augusta Lathrop. I think perhaps
you used to call me Mary'-Gusta; most people did."
Then the Judge remembered. His astonishment was great.
"Mary-'Gusta Lathrop!" he repeated. "Mary-'Gusta! Are you--? Why,
it scarcely seems possible! And yet, now that I look, I can see
that it is. Bless my soul and body! How do you do? It must be
almost--er--seven or eight years since I have seen you. South
Harniss is only a few miles off, but I am getting--er--older and I
don't drive as much as I used to. But there! I am very glad to see
you now. And how are Captain Gould and Mr. Hamilton? There is no
need to ask how you are. Your looks are the best answer to that."
Mary thanked him and said she was very well. Her uncles, too, were
well, she added, or they were when she last heard.
"I am on my way home to them now," she added. "For the past two
years I have been at school in Boston. I left there this morning
and got off the train here because I wished very much to see you,
Judge Baxter. Yesterday--last evening--I heard something--I was
told something which, if it is true, is--is--"
She bit her lip. She was evidently fighting desperately not to lose
self-control. The Judge was surprised and disturbed.
"Why, Mary!" he exclaimed. "I suppose I may call you Mary still; as
an old friend I hope I may. What is the matter? What did you hear?
What do you wish to see me about?"
She was calm enough now, but her earnestness was unmistakable.
"I heard something concerning myself and my uncles which surprised
and shocked me dreadfully," she said. "I can hardly believe it, but
I must know whether it is true or not. I must know at once! You
can tell me the truth, Judge Baxter, if you only will. That is why
I came here this morning. Will you tell it to me? Will you promise
that you will answer my questions, every one, with the exact truth
and nothing else? And answer them all? Will you promise that?"
The Judge looked even more surprised and puzzled. He rubbed his
chin and smiled doubtfully.
"Well, Mary," he said, "I think I can promise that if I answer your
questions at all I shall answer them truthfully. But I scarcely
like to promise to answer them without knowing what they are. A
lawyer has a good many secrets intrusted to him and he is obliged to
"I know. But this is a secret in which I am interested. I am
interested in it more than anyone else. I must know the truth about
it! I MUST! If you won't tell me I shall find out somehow. WILL
Judge Baxter rubbed his chin again.
"Don't you think you had better ask your questions?" he suggested.
"Yes; yes, I do. I will. How much money did my stepfather, Captain
Marcellus Hall, have when he died?"
The Judge's chin-rubbing ceased. His eyebrows drew together.
"Why do you want to know?" he asked, after a moment.
"Because I do. Because it is very important that I should. It is
my right to know. Was he a rich man?"
"Um--er--no. I should not call him that. Hardly a rich man."
"Was he very poor?"
"Mary, I don't exactly see why--"
"I do. Oh, Judge Baxter, please don't think I am asking this for
any selfish reasons. I am not, indeed I'm not! All my life, ever
since I was old enough to think of such things at all, I have
supposed--I have been led to believe that my stepfather left me
plenty of money--money enough to pay my uncles for taking care of
me, for my clothes and board, and now, during these last two years,
for my studies in Boston. I never, never should have consented to
go to that school if I hadn't supposed I was paying the expenses
myself. I knew my uncles were not well-to-do; I knew they could not
afford to--to do what they had already done for me, even before
that. And now--last night--I was told that--that they were in great
financial trouble, that they would probably be obliged to fail in
business, and all because they had been spending their money on me,
sacrificing themselves and their comfort and happiness in order that
'an adopted niece with extravagant ideas' might be educated above
her station; that is the way the gentleman who told me the story put
it. Of course he didn't know he was talking to the niece," she
added, with a pathetic little smile; "but, oh, Judge, can't you see
now why I must know the truth--all of the truth?'
Her fingers clasped and unclasped in her lap. The Judge laid his
own hand upon them.
"There, there, my dear," he said soothingly. "Tut, tut, tut!
What's all this about your uncles failing in business? That isn't
possible, is it? Tell me the whole thing, just as it was told to
So Mary told it, concluding by exhibiting Isaiah Chase's letter.
"It must be very bad, you see," she said. "Isaiah never would have
written if it had not been. It is hard enough to think that while I
was enjoying myself in Europe and at school they were in such
trouble and keeping it all to themselves. That is hard enough, when
I know how they must have needed me. But if it should be true that
it is their money--money they could not possibly spare--that I have
been spending--wasting there in Boston, I--I-- Please tell me,
Judge Baxter! Have I any money of my own? Please tell me."
The Judge rose and walked up and down the floor, his brows drawn
together and his right hand slapping his leg at each turn. After
seven or eight of these turns he sat down again and faced his
"Mary," he said, "suppose this story about your uncles' financial
and business troubles should be true, what will you do?"
Mary met his look bravely. Her eyes were moist, but there was no
hesitation in her reply.
"I shall stay at home and help them in any way I can," she said.
"There will be no more Boston and no more school for me. They need
me there at home and I am going home--to stay."
"Whether it is your money or theirs which has paid for your
"Certainly. Of course I never should have gone away at all if I had
not supposed my own money were paying the expenses. Judge, you
haven't answered my question--and yet I think--I am afraid that you
have answered it. It was their money that paid, wasn't it?"
Judge Baxter was silent for a moment, as if in final deliberation.
Then he nodded, solemnly.
"Yes, Mary," he said, "it was their money. In fact, it has been
their money which has paid for most things in your life. Shadrach
Gould and Zoeth Hamilton aren't, maybe, the best business men in the
world, but they come pretty near to being the best MEN, in business
or out of it, that I have met during seventy odd years on this
planet. I think, perhaps, it will be well for you to know just how
good they have been to you. Now, listen!"
He began at the beginning, at the day of Marcellus Hall's funeral,
when he read the letter to Shadrach and Zoeth, the letter intrusting
Mary-'Gusta to their care. He told of Marcellus's unfortunate
investments, of the loss of the latter's fortune, and how, when the
estate was settled, there were but a few hundreds where it was
expected there might be a good many thousands.
"Don't make any mistake, Mary," he said earnestly. "Your uncles
knew there was little or no money when they decided to take you.
They took you simply for yourself, because they cared so much for
you, not because they were to make a cent from the guardianship.
Everything you have had for the past two years their money has paid
for and you may be absolutely certain they never have grudged a
penny of it. The last time I saw Captain Gould he was glorying in
having the smartest and best girl in Ostable County. And Mr.
She interrupted him. "Don't, please!" she said chokingly. "Please
don't tell me any more just now. I--I want to think."
"There isn't any more to tell," he said gently. "I am going into
the next room. I shall be back in a few minutes. Then, if you care
to, we can talk a little more."
When he returned she had risen and was standing by the window
looking out into the back yard. She was calm and even smiled a
little as he entered, although the smile was a rather pitiful one.
Of the two the Judge looked the more perturbed.
"Whew!" he exclaimed, after carefully closing the door behind him.
"I've been doing a little thinking my self, young lady, since I left
you here. I've been thinking that I had better take a trip to
Canada or China or somewhere and start in a hurry, too. When your
uncles find out that I told you this thing they have succeeded in
keeping from you all this time--well, it will be high time for me to
be somewhere else." He laughed and then added gravely: "But I still
think I was right in telling you. Under the circumstances it seems
to me that you should know."
"Of course I should. If you had not told me I should have found it
out, now that my suspicions were aroused. Thank you, Judge Baxter.
Now I must go."
"Go? Go where?"
"Home--to South Harniss."
"Nonsense! You're not going to South Harniss yet awhile. You're
going to have dinner with my wife and me."
"Thank you. I can't. I must go at once. By the next train."
"There isn't any train until nearly four o'clock." Then, noticing
her look of disappointment, he went on to say: "But that shan't make
any difference. I'll send you over in my nephew's automobile. I'm
not sufficiently up-to-date to own one of the cussed--excuse me
things, but he does and I borrow it occasionally. I don't drive it;
good heavens, no! But his man shall drive you over and I'll
guarantee you beat the train. If you don't, it won't be because you
go too slow. Now, of course, you'll stay to dinner."
But Mary shook her head. "You're very kind, Judge," she said, "and
I thank you very much, but--"
"Well, but what?"
"But I--I can't. I--I--Oh, don't you see? I couldn't eat, or even
try to--now. I want to get home--to them."
"And so you shall, my dear. And in double-quick time, too. Here,
Jesse," opening the door to the outer office and addressing the
clerk, "you step over and tell Samuel that I want to borrow his car
and Jim for two hours. Tell him I want them now. And if his car is
busy go to Cahoon's garage and hire one with a driver. Hurry!"
"And now, Mary," turning to her, "can you tell me any more about
your plans, provided you have had time to make any? If this story
about your uncles' business troubles is true, what do you intend
doing? Or don't you know?"
Mary replied that her plans were very indefinite, as yet.
"I have some ideas," she said; "some that I had thought I might use
after I had finished school and come back to the store. They may
not be worth much; they were schemes for building up the business
there and adding some other sorts of business to it. The first
thing I shall do is to see how bad the situation really is."
"I hope it isn't bad. Poor Zoeth certainly has had trouble enough
in his life."
There was a significance in his tone which Mary plainly did not
"What trouble do you mean?" she asked.
The Judge looked at her, coughed, and then said hastily: "Oh,
nothing in particular; every one of us has troubles, I suppose.
But, Mary, if--if you find that the story is true and--ahem--a
little money might help to--er--tide the firm over--why, I--I think
perhaps that it might be--ahem--arranged so that--"
He seemed to be having difficulty in finishing the sentence. Mary
did not wait to hear the end.
"Thank you, Judge," she said quickly. "Thank you, but I am hoping
it may not be so bad as that. I am going back there, you know, and--
well, as Uncle Shadrach would say, we may save the ship yet. At
any rate, we won't call for help until the last minute."
Judge Baxter regarded her with admiration.
"Shadrach and Zoeth are rich in one respect," he declared; "they've
got you. But it is a wicked shame that you must give up your school
and your opportunities to--"
She held up her hand.
"Please don't!" she begged. "If you knew how glad I am to be able
to do something, if it is only to give up!"
The car and Jim were at the door a few minutes later and Mary,
having said good-by to the Judge and promised faithfully to keep him
posted as to events at home, climbed into the tonneau and was
whizzed away. Jim, the driver, after a few attempts at
conversation, mainly concerning the "unseasonableness" of the
weather, finding responses few and absently given, relapsed into
silence. Silence was what Mary desired, silence and speed, and Jim
obliged with the latter.
Over the road by which, a dozen years before, she had driven in the
old buggy she now rode again. Then, as now, she wondered what she
should find at her journey's end. Here, however, the resemblance
ceased, for whereas then she looked forward, with a child's
anticipations, to nothing more definite than new sights and new and
excitingly delightful adventures, now she saw ahead--what? Great
care and anxiety and trouble certainly, these at the best; and at
the worst, failure and disappointment and heartbreak. And behind
her she was leaving opportunity and the pleasant school life and
friends, leaving them forever.
She was leaving Crawford, too, leaving him without a word of
explanation. She had had no time to write even a note. Mrs. Wyeth,
after protesting vainly against her guest's decision to leave for
the Cape by the earliest train in the morning, had helped to pack a
few essential belongings; the others she was to pack and send later
on, when she received word to do so. The three, Mrs. Wyeth, Miss
Pease, and Mary, had talked and argued and planned until almost
daylight. Then followed an hour or two of uneasy sleep, a hurried
breakfast, and the rush to the train. Mary had not written
Crawford; the shock of what she had been told at the Howes' and her
great anxiety to see Judge Baxter and learn if what she had heard
was true had driven even her own love story from her mind. Now she
remembered that she had given him permission to call, not this
evening but the next, to say good-by before leaving for the West.
He would be disappointed, poor fellow. Well, she must not think of
that. She must not permit herself to think of anyone but her uncles
or of anything except the great debt of love and gratitude she owed
them and of the sacrifice they had made for her. She could repay a
little of that sacrifice now; at least she could try. She would
think of that and of nothing else.
And then she wondered what Crawford would think or say when he found
she had gone.
The main street of South Harniss looked natural enough as the motor
car buzzed along it. It was but a few months since Mary had been
there, yet it seemed ever so much more. She felt so much older than
on those Christmas holidays. When the store of Hamilton and Company
came in sight she sank down on the back seat in order not to be
seen. She knew her uncles were, in all probability, there at the
store, and she wished to see Isaiah and talk with him before meeting
Isaiah was in the kitchen by the cookstove when she opened the door.
He turned, saw her, and stood petrified. Mary entered and closed
the door behind her. By that time Mr. Chase had recovered
sufficiently from his ossification to speak.
"Eh--eh--by time!" he gasped. "I snum if it ain't you!"
Mary nodded. "Isaiah," she asked quickly, "are you alone? Are my
uncles, both of them, at the store?"
But the cook and steward had not yet completely got over the effect
of the surprise. He still stared at her.
"It IS you, ain't it!" he stammered. "I--I--by time, I do believe
you've come home, same as I asked you to."
"Of course I've come home. How in the world could I be here if I
hadn't? DON'T stare at me like that, with your mouth open like a--
like a codfish. Tell me, are Uncle Shad and Uncle Zoeth at the
"Eh-- Yes, I cal'late they be. Ain't neither of 'em come home to
dinner yet. I'm expectin' one of 'em 'most any minute. I'll run up
and fetch 'em. Say! How in the nation did you get here this time
"I shall tell you by and by. No, I don't want you to get my uncles.
I want to talk with you alone first. Now, Isaiah, sit down! Sit
down in that chair. I want you to tell me just how bad things are.
Tell me everything, all you know about it, and don't try to make the
situation better than it is. And please HURRY!"
Isaiah, bewildered but obedient, sat down. The command to hurry had
the effect of making him so nervous that, although he talked enough
to have described the most complicated situation, his ideas were
badly snarled and Mary had to keep interrupting in order to untangle
them. And, after all, what he had to tell was not very definite.
Business was bad at the store; that was plain to everyone in town.
"All hands" were trading at the new stores where prices were lower,
stocks bigger and more up-to-date, and selling methods far, far in
advance of those of Hamilton and Company.
"About the only customers that stick by us," declared Isaiah, "are
folks like 'Rastus Young and the rest of the deadbeats. THEY
wouldn't leave us for nothin'--and nothin's what they pay, too,
The partners had not told him of their troubles, but telling was not
necessary. He had seen and heard enough.
"They are right on the ragged edge of goin' on the rocks," vowed
Isaiah. "Zoeth, he's that thin and peaked 'twould make a sick
pullet look fleshy alongside of him. And Cap'n Shad goes around
with his hands rammed down in his beckets--"
"In his what?"
"In his britches pockets, and he don't scurcely speak a word for
hours at a stretch. And they're up all times of the night, fussin'
over account books and writin' letters and I don't know what all.
It's plain enough what's comin'. Everybody in town is on to it.
Why, I was up to the store t'other day settin' outside on the steps
and Ab Bacheldor came along. He hates Cap'n Shad worse'n pizen, you
know. 'Hello, Isaiah!' he says to me, he says. 'Is that you?' he
says. 'Course it's me,' says I. Who'd you think 'twas?' 'I didn't
know but it might be the sheriff,' he says. 'I understand he's
settin' round nowadays just a-waitin'.' And Zoeth was right within
"Oh!" exclaimed Mary indignantly.
"Yup, that's what he said," went on Isaiah. "But I got in one dig
on my own hook. 'The sheriff don't wait much down to your house,
Abner, does he?' says I. 'You bet he don't,' says he; 'he don't
have to.' 'Well, he'd starve to death if he waited there long,'
says I. Ho, ho! His wife's the stingiest woman about her cookin'
that there is on the Cape. Why, one time she took a notion she'd
keep boarders and Henry Ryder, that drives the fruit cart, he
started to board there. But he only stayed two days. The fust day
they had biled eggs and the next day they had soup made out of the
shells. Course that probably ain't true--Henry's an awful liar--but
all the same--"
"Never mind Henry Ryder, or Abner Bacheldor, either," interrupted
Mary. "How did you happen to send for me, Isaiah?"
"Eh? Oh, that just came of itself, as you might say. I kept
gettin' more and more tittered up and worried as I see how things
was goin' and I kept wishin' you was here, if 'twas only to have
somebody to talk it over with. But I didn't dast to write and when
you was home Christmas I never dast to say nothin' because Cap'n
Shad had vowed he'd butcher me if I told tales to you about any home
troubles. That's it, you see! All through this their main idea has
been not to trouble you. 'She mustn't know anything or she'll
worry,' says Zoeth, and Cap'n Shad he says, 'That's so.' They think
an awful sight of you, Mary-'Gusta."
Mary did not trust herself to look up.
"I know," she said. "Go on, Isaiah."
"Well, I kept thinkin' and thinkin' and one day last week Ezra
Hopkins, that's the butcher cart feller, he and me was talkin' and
he says: 'Trade ain't very brisk up to the store, is it?' he says.
'Everybody says 'tain't.' 'Then if everybody knows so much what
d'ye ask me for?' says I. 'Oh, don't get mad,' says he. 'But I
tell you this, Isaiah,' he says, 'if Mary-'Gusta Lathrop hadn't gone
away to that fool Boston school things would have been different
with Hamilton and Company. She's a smart girl and a smart business
woman. I believe she'd have saved the old fellers,' he says. 'She
was up-to-date and she had the know-how,' says he. Well, I kept
thinkin' what he said and--and--well, I wrote. For the land sakes
don't tell Shad nor Zoeth that I wrote, but I'm glad I done it. I
don't know's you can do anything, I don't know's anybody can, but
I'm mighty glad you're here, Mary-'Gusta."
Mary sighed. "I'm glad I am here, too, Isaiah," she agreed,
"although I, too, don't know that I can do anything. But," she
added solemnly, "I am going to try very hard. Now we mustn't let
Uncle Shad or Uncle Zoeth know that I have heard about their
trouble. We must let them think I am at home for an extra holiday.
Then I shall be able to look things over and perhaps plan a little.
When I am ready to tell what I mean to do I can tell the rest. . . .
Sshh! Here comes one of them now. It's Uncle Zoeth. Look happy,
Isaiah! HAPPY--not as if you were choking to death! Well, Uncle
Zoeth, aren't you surprised to see me?"
Surprised he certainly was; at first, like Isaiah, he could scarcely
believe she was really there. Then, naturally, he wished to know
WHY she was there. She dodged the questions as best she could and
Zoeth, innocent and truthful as always, accepted without a suspicion
her vague explanation concerning an opportunity to run down and see
them for a little while. Dinner was put on the table and then
Isaiah hastened up to relieve Shadrach at the store in order that
the partners and Mary might eat together.
The Captain arrived a few minutes later, red-faced, vociferous, and
"Well," he shouted, throwing his arms about her and kissing her with
a smack which might have been heard in Abner Bacheldor's yard, "if
THIS ain't a surprise! Zoeth said this mornin' he felt as if
somethin' was goin' to happen, and then Isaiah upset the tea kittle
all over both my feet and I said I felt as if it HAD happened. But
it hadn't, had it! Well, if it ain't good to look at you, Mary-
'Gusta! How'd you happen to come this time of year? Has the
Mary repeated the excuse she had given Mr. Hamilton. It was
sufficient. The partners were too happy at having her with them to
be overcurious concerning her reasons for coming. Captain Shad
talked and joked and laughed and Zoeth nodded and smiled in his
quiet way. If Mary had not known their secret she would not have
guessed it but, as it was, she noticed how pale and worn Mr.
Hamilton looked and how the Captain had become prone to fits of
unwonted silence from which he seemed to arouse himself with an
effort and, after a glance at her, to talk and laugh louder than
ever, Once she ventured to ask how business was and it would have
been almost funny if it had not been so pathetic, the haste with
which they both assured her that it was about the same.
After dinner she announced her intention of going up to the store.
Her uncles exchanged looks and then Zoeth said:
"What makes you do that, Mary-'Gusta? Nice day like this I'd be out
of door if I was you. We don't need you at the store, do we,
"Not more'n a fish needs a bathin' suit," declared the Captain, with
conviction. "You go see some of the girls and have a good time,
But Mary declined to go and see any of the girls. She could have a
better time at the store than anywhere else, she said. She went to
the store and spent the afternoon and evening there, watching and
listening. There was not much to watch, not more than a dozen
customers during the entire time, and those bought but little. The
hardest part of the experience for her was to see how eager her
uncles were to please each caller and how anxiously each watched the
other's efforts and the result. To see Zoeth at the desk poring
over the ledger, his lips moving and the pencil trembling in his
fingers, was as bad as, but no worse than, to see Captain Shadrach,
a frown on his face and his hands in his pockets, pace the floor
from the back door to the front window, stop, look up the road, draw
a long breath that was almost a groan, then turn and stride back
At six o'clock Mary, who had reasons of her own for wishing to be
left alone in the store, suggested that she remain there while her
uncles went home for supper. Neither Mr. Hamilton nor the Captain
would consent, so she was obliged to go to the house herself and
send Isaiah up once more to act as shopkeeper. But at eleven that
night, after unmistakable sounds from their rooms were furnishing
proofs that both partners of Hamilton and Company were asleep, she
tiptoed downstairs, put on her coat and hat, took the store keys
from the nail where Zoeth always hung them, and went out. She did
not return until almost three.
The next day she spent, for the most part, at the store. She wrote
several letters and, in spite of her uncles' protests, waited upon
several customers. That evening, as she sat behind the counter
thinking, a boy whom Captain Shadrach identified as Zenas Atkins'
young-one rushed breathlessly into the store to announce between
gasps that "Mary-'Gusta Lathrop's wanted on the phone. It's long
distance, too, and--and--you've got to scrabble 'cause they're
holdin' the wire." Mary hurried out and to the telephone office.
She had not answered Shadrach's question as to who she thought was
calling. She did not know, of course, but she suspected, and for a
cool-headed young business woman, a girl who had ruthlessly driven
all thoughts except those of business from her mind, her heart beat
surprisingly fast as she entered the closet which acted as a
substitute for a telephone booth, and took down the receiver. Yet
her tone was calm enough as she uttered the stereotyped "Hello."
The wire hummed and sang, fragments of distant conversation became
audible and were lost, and then a voice, the voice which she was
expecting but, in a way, dreading to hear, asked: "Hello! Is this
"Mary, is that you?"
"I have just called at Mrs. Wyeth's and learned that you had gone.
I am awfully disappointed. I leave for home tomorrow and I had
counted on seeing you before I went. Why did you go without a word
"Didn't Mrs. Wyeth tell you?"
"She told me a good deal, but I want to know more. Is it true--that
about your uncles?"
"I am afraid it is."
"Great Scott, that's too bad! I am mighty sorry to hear it. Look
here, isn't there something I can do? Do they need--"
"Sshh! we mustn't talk about it over the phone. No, there is
nothing you can do. I have some plans partially worked out;
something may come of them. Please don't ask more particulars now."
"All right, I understand; I won't. But mayn't I come down and see
you? I can start West the day after tomorrow just as well and that
would give me time--"
"No, Crawford, no. You mustn't come."
"I've a good mind to, whether or no."
"If you do I shall not see you--then or at any other time. But you
won't, will you?"
"No, Mary, I won't. It's mighty hard, though."
Perhaps it was quite as hard for her, but she did not reply.
"Will you write me--every day?" he went on. . . . "Why don't you
"I was thinking what would be best for me to do," she said; "best
for us both, I mean. I shall write you one letter surely."
"One surely. I want you to understand just what my coming here
means and what effect it may have upon my future. You should know
that. Afterward, whether I write you or not will depend."
"Depend! Of course you'll write me! Depend on what?"
"On what seems right to me after I have had time to think, and after
you have seen your father. I must go, Crawford. Thank you for
calling me. I am glad you did. Good-by."
"Wait! Mary, don't go! Let me say this--"
"Please, Crawford! I'd rather you wouldn't say any more. You
understand why, I'm sure. I hope you will have a pleasant trip home
and find your father's health much improved. Good-by."
She hung up the receiver and hastened back to the store. Shadrach
and Zoeth looked at her questioningly. Finally the former said:
"Anything important, was it?"
"No, Uncle Shad, not very important."
A short interval of silence, then--
"Mrs. Wyeth callin', I presume likely, eh?"
"No, Uncle Shad."
Shadrach asked no more questions, and Zoeth asked none. Neither of
them again mentioned Mary's call to the phone, either to her or to
each other. And she did not refer to it. She had promised her
Uncle Shadrach, when he questioned her the year before concerning
Crawford, to tell him "when there was anything to tell." But was
there anything to tell now? With the task which she had set herself
and the uncertainty before her she felt that there was not. Yet to
keep silence troubled her. Until recently there had never been a
secret between her uncles and herself; now there were secrets on
At twelve o'clock on a night late in the following week Captain
Shadrach, snoring gloriously in his bed, was awakened by his
partner's entering the room bearing a lighted lamp. The Captain
blinked, raised himself on his elbow, looked at his watch which was
on the chair by the bed's head, and then demanded in an outraged
"What in the nation are you prowlin' around this hour of the night
for? You don't want to talk about those divilish bills and credits
and things, I hope. What's the use? Talkin' don't help none!
Jumpin' fire! I went to bed so's to forget 'em and I was just
beginnin' to do it. Now you--"
Zoeth held up his hand. "Sshh! sshh!" he whispered. "Hush,
Shadrach! I didn't come to talk about those things. Shadrach,
there's--there's somethin' queer goin' on. Get up!"
The Captain was out of bed in a moment.
"What's the matter?" he demanded, in a whisper. "What's queer?"
"I--I don't exactly know. I heard somebody movin' downstairs and--"
Shadrach grunted. "Isaiah!" he exclaimed. "Walkin' in his sleep
again, I'll bet a dollar!"
"No, no! It ain't Isaiah. Isaiah ain't walked in his sleep since
he was a child."
"Well, he's pretty nigh his second childhood now, judgin' by the way
he acts sometimes. It was Isaiah of course! Who else would be
walkin' around downstairs this time of night?"
"That's what I thought, so I went and looked. Shadrach, it was
Mary-'Gusta. Hush! Let me tell you! She had her things on, hat
and all, and she took the lantern and lit it and went out."
"Yes, and--and up the road. Now, where--?"
Shadrach's answer was to stride to the window, pull aside the shade
and look out. Along the lane in the direction of the village a
fiery spark was bobbing.
"There she goes now," he muttered. "She's pretty nigh to the corner
already. What in the world can she be up to? Where is she bound--
at twelve o'clock?"
Zoeth did not answer. His partner turned and looked at him.
"Humph!" he exclaimed. "Why don't you tell me the whole of it while
you're about it? You're keepin' somethin' back. Out with it! Do
YOU know where she's bound?"
Zoeth looked troubled--and guilty. "Why, no, Shadrach," he
faltered, "I don't know, but--but I kind of suspect. You see, she--
she did the same thing last night."
"She DID! And you never said a word?"
"I didn't know what to say. I heard her go and I looked out of the
window and saw her. She come back about three. I thought sure
she'd speak of it this mornin', but she didn't and--and-- But
tonight I watched again and--Shadrach, she's taken the store keys.
Anyhow, they're gone from the nail."
The Captain wiped his forehead. "She's gone to the store, then," he
muttered. "Jumpin'! That's a relief, anyhow. I was afraid--I
didn't know-- Whew! I don't know WHAT I didn't know! But what on
earth has she gone to the store for? And last night too, you say?"
"Yes. Shadrach, I've been thinkin' and all I can think of is that--
"That--that she suspicions how things are with us--somebody that
does suspicion has dropped a hint and she has--has gone up to--"
"To do what? Chuck it overboard! Speak it out! To do what?"
"To look at the books or somethin'. She knows the combination of
the safe, you recollect."
Captain Shadrach's eyes and mouth opened simultaneously. He made a
dive for the hooks on the bedroom wall.
"Jumpin' fire of brimstone!" he roared. "Give me my clothes!"
A half-hour later an interested person--and, so far as that goes, at
least every second person in South Harniss would have been
interested had he or she been aware of what was going on--an
interested and, of course, unscrupulous person peeping in under the
shades of Hamilton and Company's window would have seen a curious
sight. This person would have seen two elderly men sitting one upon
a wooden chair and the other upon a wooden packing case and wearing
guilty, not to say hang-dog, expressions, while a young woman
standing in front of them delivered pointed and personal remarks.
Captain Shadrach and Zoeth, following their niece to the store, had
peeped in and seen her sitting at the desk, the safe open, and
account books and papers spread out before her. A board in the
platform creaked beneath the Captain's weighty tread and Mary looked
up and saw them. Before they could retreat or make up their minds
what to do, she had run to the door, thrown it open, and ordered
them to come in. Neither answered--they could not at the moment.
The certainty that she knew what they had tried so hard to conceal
kept them tongue-tied.
"Come in!" repeated Mary. "Come in! And shut the door!"
They came in. Also Captain Shadrach shut the door. Just why he
obeyed orders so meekly he could not have told. His niece gave him
little time to think.
"I did not exactly expect you," she said, "but, on the whole, I am
glad you came. Now sit down, both of you, and listen to me. What
do you mean by it?"
Zoeth sat, without a word. Shadrach, however, made a feeble attempt
"What do WE mean by it?" he repeated. "What do YOU mean, you mean!
Perusin' up here in the middle of the night without a word to your
Uncle Zoeth and me, and--and haulin' open that safe--and--"
Again Mary interrupted.
"Be still, Uncle Shad!" she commanded. "Sit down! Sit down on that
box and listen to me! That's right. Now tell me! Why have you
been telling me fibs for almost a year? Answer me! Why have you?"
Zoeth looked at Shadrach and the latter looked at him.
"Fibs?" stammered Mr. Hamilton. "Fibs? Why--why, Mary-'Gusta!"
"Yes, fibs. I might use a stronger word and not exaggerate very
much. You have led me to think that business was good, that you
were doing as well or better than when I was here with you. I asked
you over and over again and you invariably gave me that answer. And
now I know that during all that time you have scarcely been able to
make ends meet, that you have been worrying yourselves sick, that
Captain Shad could stand it no longer.
"We ain't, neither!" he declared. "I never was better in my life.
I ain't had a doctor for more'n a year. And then I only had him for
the heaves--for the horse--a horse doctor, I mean. What are you
talkin' about! Sick nothin'! If that swab of an Isaiah has--"
"Stop, Uncle Shad! I told you to listen. And you needn't try to
change the subject or to pretend I don't know what I am talking
about. I do know. And as for pretending--well, there has been
pretending enough. What do you mean--you and Uncle Zoeth--by
sending me off to school and to Europe and declaring up and down
that you didn't need me here at home?"
"We didn't need you, Mary-'Gusta," vowed Zoeth eagerly. "We got
along fust-rate without you. And we wanted you to go to school and
to Europe. You see, it makes us feel proud to know our girl is
gettin' a fine education and seein' the world. It ain't any more
than she deserves, but it makes us feel awful pleased to know she's
"And as for the store," broke in the Captain, "I cal'late you've
been pawin' over them books and they've kind of--kind of gone to
your head. I don't wonder at it, this time of night! Hamilton and
Company's all right. We may be a little mite behind in some of our
bills, but--er--but. . . . DON'T look at me like that, Mary-'Gusta!
What do you do it for? Stop it, won't you?"
Mary shook her head.
"No, Uncle Shad," she said, "I shan't stop it. I know all about
Hamilton and Company's condition; perhaps I know it better than you
do. This is the fifth night that I have been working over those
books and I should know, at least."
"The FIFTH night! Do you mean to say--"
"I mean that I knew you wouldn't tell me what I wanted to know; I
had to see these books for myself and at night was the only time I
could do it. But never mind that now," she added. "We'll talk of
that later. Other things come first. Uncle Shad and Uncle Zoeth, I
know not only about the affairs of Hamilton and Company, but about
my own as well."
Zoeth leaned forward and stared at her. He seemed to catch the
significance of the remark, for he looked frightened, whereas
Shadrach was only puzzled.
"You--you know what, Mary-'Gusta?" faltered Zoeth. "You mean--"
"I mean," went on Mary, "that I know where the money came from which
has paid my school bills and for my clothes and my traveling things
and all the rest. I know whose money has paid all my bills ever
since I was seven years old."
Shadrach rose from his chair. He was as frightened as his partner
"What are you talkin' about, Mary-'Gusta Lathrop?" he shouted. "You
know! You don't know nothin'! You stop sayin' such things! Why
don't you stop her, Zoeth Hamilton?"
Zoeth was speechless. Mary went on as if there had been no
"I know," she said, "that I haven't a penny of my own and never did
have and that you two have done it all. I know all about it--at
If these two men had been caught stealing they could not have looked
more guilty. If, instead of being reminded that their niece had
spent their money, they had been accused of misappropriating hers
they could not have been more shaken or dumbfounded. Captain
Shadrach stood before her, his face a fiery red and his mouth
opening and shutting in vain attempts at articulation. Zoeth, his
thin fingers extended in appeal, was the first to speak.
"Mary-'Gusta," he stammered, "don't talk so! PLEASE don't!"
Mary smiled. "Oh, yes, I shall, Uncle Zoeth," she said. "I mean to
do more than talk from now on, but I must talk a little first. I'm
not going to try to tell you what it means to me to learn after all
these years that I have been dependent on you for everything I have
had, home and luxuries and education and opportunities. I realize
now what sacrifices you must have made--"
"We ain't, neither!" roared the Captain, in frantic protest. "We
ain't, I tell you. Somebody's been tellin' lies, ain't they, Zoeth?
"Hush, Uncle Shad! Someone HAS been telling me--er--fibs--I said
that at the beginning; but they're not going to tell me any more. I
know the truth, every bit of it, about Father's losing his money in
stocks and--Uncle Shad, where are you going?"
Captain Shad was halfway to the door. He answered over his
"I'm goin' home," he vowed, "and when I get there I'm goin' to choke
that dummed tattle-tale of an Isaiah Chase! I'll talk to YOU after
I've done it."
Mary ran after him and caught his arm.
"Come back, Uncle Shad!" she ordered. "Come back, sit down, and
don't be foolish. I don't want you to talk to me! I am going to
talk to you, and I'm not half through yet. Besides, it wasn't
Isaiah who told me, it was Judge Baxter."
"Judge Baxter! Why, the everlastin' old--"
"Hush! He couldn't help telling me, I made him do it. Be still,
both of you, and I'll tell you all about it."
She did tell them, beginning with her meeting with Mr. Green at the
Howe dinner, then of her stop at Ostable and the interview with
"So I have found it all out, you see," she said. "I'm not going to
try to thank you--I couldn't, if I did try. But I am going to take
my turn at the work and the worry. To begin with, of course, you
understand that I am through with Boston and school, through
There was an excited and voluble protest, of course, but she paid no
heed whatever to commands or entreaties.
"I am through," she declared. "I shall stay here and help you. I
am only a girl and I can't do much, perhaps, but I truly believe I
can do something. I am a sort of silent partner now; you understand
that, don't you?"
Shadrach looked doubtful and anxious.
"If I had my way," he declared, "you'd go straight back to that
school and stay there long's we could rake or scrape enough together
to keep you there. And I know Zoeth feels the same."
"I sartin do," agreed Zoeth.
Mary laughed softly. "But you haven't your way, you see," she said.
"You have had it for ever so long and now I am going to have mine.
Your new silent partner is going to begin to boss you."
For the first time since he entered the door of his store that
night--or morning--Shadrach smiled. It wasn't a broad smile nor a
very gay one, but it was a smile.
"Um--ya-as," he drawled. "I want to know, Mary'-Gusta! I am
gettin' some along in years, but my memory ain't failed much. If I
could remember any day or hour or minute since Zoeth and me h'isted
you into the old buggy to drive you from Ostable here--if I could
remember a minute of that time when you HADN'T bossed us, I--well,
I'd put it down in the log with a red ink circle around it. No,
sir-ee! You've been OUR skipper from the start."
Even Zoeth smiled now and Mary laughed aloud.
"But you haven't objected; you haven't minded being--what shall I
call it?--skipped--by me, have you?" she asked.
The Captain grinned. "Mind it!" he exclaimed. "Umph! The only
time when we really minded it was these last two years when we ain't
had it. We minded missin' it, that's what we minded."
"Well, you won't miss it any more. Now help me put these things
back in the safe and we'll go home. Yes, home! Tomorrow morning--
this morning, I mean--we'll talk and I'll tell you some of my plans.
Oh, yes! I have plans and I am in hopes they may do great things
for Hamilton and Company. But no more talk tonight. Remember, the
skipper is back on board!"
So to the house they went and to bed, the Captain and Mr. Hamilton
Neither Mary nor the Captain nor Mr. Hamilton slept much of the few
hours until daylight, and Captain Shadrach, who was devoured with
curiosity concerning the plans, would have asked particulars before
breakfast, but Mary would not listen to questions. It was not until
breakfast was over and they were back in the store that she
consented to discuss the subject.
The safe was reopened and the books and papers spread out upon the
desk. Mary took up one of the sheets of paper; it was covered with
rows of figures in her handwriting.
"Now," she said, "it seems to me that the first thing is to find out
exactly where we stand. When I say 'we,'" she added, with a nod of
great importance, "I mean 'we,' because, as I told you last night, I
am a silent partner in the business now."
"Don't seem to be so terrible much silence," observed Shadrach
"Hush! Another remark of that kind and I shall set you to sweeping
out, Uncle Shad. Now, Uncle Zoeth, according to the books this is
what we owe."
She read from the paper in her hand.
"That is the total, Uncle Zoeth, isn't it?" she asked. Zoeth
groaned and admitted that he cal'lated it was nigh enough.
"Yes. But this," holding up another sheet of paper, "is what is
owed us, and it is almost as much as the other."
It was Shadrach's turn to groan. "'Tis if we could get a-hold of
it," he muttered. "The heft of the gang on that list ain't got a
cent and the bulk of the rest of 'em wouldn't have if they paid what
Mary nodded determinedly.
"There are some that can pay," she said. "Jeremiah Clifford, for
instance. According to the books he owes us over a hundred and ten
dollars and part of the account is three years old. Mr. Clifford
owns property. He can't be a poor man."
The Captain sniffed. "His wife owns the property," he said. "Every
stick's in her name. Jerry Clifford's got enough, but he loves it
too well to let go of it. Mean! Why, say! In the old days, when
fishin' schooners used to run from South Harniss here, Jerry he was
owner and skipper of a little hooker and Solon Black went one v'yage
with him. There was another fo'mast hand besides Jerry and Solon
aboard and Solon swears that all the hearty provision Jerry put on
board for a four-day trip was two sticks of smoked herrin'. For two
days, so Solon vows, they ate the herrin' and the other two they
chewed the sticks. That may be stretchin' it a mite, but anyhow it
goes to show that Jerry Clifford don't shed money same as a cat does
Zoeth put in a word.
"He says he'll pay pretty soon," he observed plaintively. "He's
been sayin' it for over a year, though."
"Humph!" grunted Shadrach. "There's only a difference of one letter
between 'sayin'' and 'payin',' but there ain't but two between
'trust' and 'bust.'"
Mary spoke. "Never mind," she said. "I shall see Mr. Clifford
myself. And I shall see some of these others, too. Now about our
own bills--those we owe. I have a list of the principal creditors.
Mr. Green's firm is one of them; we owe them most of all, it seems.
I think I shall go and see Mr. Green myself."
"For the land sakes, what for?" demanded Shadrach. "He knows how
we're fixed, Zoeth wrote him."
"Yes, but I want to talk with him, nevertheless."
"But what for? You ain't goin' beggin' him to--"
"I'm not going begging at all. When I talked with him at the Howes'
he, not knowing in the least who I was or that I was your niece,
expressed sympathy for Hamilton and Company and wished there were
some way of helping us out of our trouble--something he could do,
you know. I'm not sure there isn't something he can do. At any
rate, I am going to see him. I shall start for Boston Monday
Zoeth ventured an observation.
"He'll be considerable surprised to see you, won't he?" he said.
Mary laughed. "I think he will," she replied. "Surprised and a
little embarrassed. But I imagine his embarrassment will make him
all the more anxious to be of service to me, and that's what I want