Part 7 out of 8
mean but one thing: his father had still refused consent and he had
come to tell her so and to beg her to wait for him in spite of it.
If only he had written saying he was coming, if she had been
forewarned, then she might have been more ready, more prepared. Now
she must summon all her resolution and be firm and unwavering. Her
purpose was as set and strong as ever, but ah, it would be so hard
to tell him! To write the letter she had meant to write would have
been easy compared to this. However, it must be done--and done now.
She went down the stairs and entered the sitting-room.
He was sitting in the rocker by the window and when she came into
the room he sprang to his feet and came toward her. His face, or so
it seemed to her, showed some traces of the trouble and anxiety
through which he had passed so recently. He was a little thinner
and he looked less boyish. He held out his hands.
"Well, Mary," he cried, eagerly, "here I am. Aren't you glad to see
He seized both her hands in his. She disengaged them gently. Her
manner seemed odd to him and he regarded her in a puzzled way.
"AREN'T you glad?" he repeated. "Why, Mary, what is the matter?"
She smiled sadly and shook her head. "Oh, Crawford," she said, "why
did you come? Or, at least, why didn't you write me you were
He laughed. "I didn't write," he answered, "because I was afraid if
I did you would write me not to come."
"I certainly should."
"Of course you would. So I took no chances but just came instead."
"But why did you come?"
"Why? To see you, of course."
"Oh, Crawford, please don't joke. You know I asked you not to come
here. When we last spoke together, over the telephone, I told you
that if you came here I should not see you. And yet you came."
His manner changed. He was serious enough now.
"I came," he said, "because--well, because I felt that I must. I
had many things to tell you, Mary, and something to ask. And I
could neither tell nor ask in a letter. Dad and I have quarreled--
we've parted company."
She had expected to hear it, but it shocked and grieved her,
nevertheless. She knew how he had loved his father.
"Sit down, Crawford," she said gently. "Sit down and tell me all
He told her. There was little more to tell than he had written.
His father had not become more reconciled to the idea of his
marrying Mary. Instead his opposition was just as violent and, to
his son's mind, as unreasonably absurd. Day after day Crawford
waited, hoping that time would bring a change or that his own
arguments might have an effect, but neither time nor argument
softened Edwin Smith's obstinacy.
"He behaved like a madman at times," declared Crawford. "And at
others he would almost beg me on his knees to give you up. I asked
him why. I told him over and over again that he should be proud to
have such a girl for his daughter-in-law. I said everything I
could. I told him I would do anything for him--anything he asked--
except give you up. That I would not do. And it was the only thing
he seemed to wish me to do. Talked about bringing shame and
disgrace on his head and mine--and all sorts of wild nonsense. When
I asked what he meant by disgrace he could not tell me. Of course
That was true, of course he could not tell. Mary knew, and she
realized once more the tortures which the man must have suffered,
must be suffering at that moment.
"So at last we parted," said Crawford. "I left word--left a letter
saying that, so far as I could see, it was best that I went away.
We could not agree apparently, he and I, upon the one point which,
as I saw it, was the most important decision of my life. And I had
made that decision. I told him how much I hated to leave him; that
I loved him as much as I ever did. 'But,' I said, 'I shall not give
up my happiness and my future merely to gratify your unreasonable
whim.' Then I came away and started East to you."
He paused, evidently expecting Mary to make some comment or ask a
question, but she was silent. After a moment he went on.
"I haven't made any definite plans as yet," he said. "I have
another year at the Medical School--or should have it. I am hoping
that I may be able to go back to the Harvard Med. here in Boston and
work my way through. Other chaps have done it and I'm sure I can.
And after that--well, after that I must take my chance at finding a
location and a practice, like any other young M.D. But first of
all, Mary, I want you to tell me that you will wait for me. It's a
lot to ask; I know how much. But will you, Mary dear? That's what
I've come here for--to get you to say that you will. After that I
can face anything--yes, and win out, too."
Mary looked at him. His face was aglow with earnestness and his
voice shook as he finished speaking. He rose and held out his
"Will you, Mary?" he begged.
She looked at him no longer. She was afraid to do so--afraid of her
own weakness. But no sign of that weakness showed itself in her
tone as she answered.
"I'm sorry, Crawford," she said, gently. "I wish I could, but I
"Can't! Can't wait for me?"
"I could wait for you, it isn't that. If it were merely a question
of waiting--if that were all--how easy it would be! But it isn't.
Crawford, you must go back to your father. You must go back to him
and forget all about me. You must."
He stared at her for a moment. Then he laughed.
"Forget you!" he repeated. "Mary, are you--"
"Oh, please, Crawford! Don't make this any harder for both of us
than it has to be. You must go back to your father and you must
forget me. I can not marry you, I can't."
He came toward her.
"But, Mary," he cried, "I--I-- Of course I know you can't--now. I
know how you feel about your duty to your uncles. I know they need
you. I am not asking that you leave them. I ask only that you say
you will wait until--until by and by, when--"
"Please, Crawford! No, I can't."
"Mary! You-- Oh, but you must say it! Don't tell me you don't
She was silent. He put his hands upon her shoulders. She could
feel them tremble.
"Don't you love me, Mary?" he repeated. "Look up! Look at me!
DON'T you love me?"
She did not look up, but she shook her head.
"No, Crawford," she said. "I'm afraid not. Not enough."
She heard him catch his breath, and she longed--Oh, how she longed!--
to throw her arms about him, tell him that it was all a lie, that
she did love him. But she forced herself not to think of her own
love, only of those whom she loved and what disgrace and shame and
misery would come upon them if she yielded.
"Not enough?" she heard him repeat slowly. "You--you don't love me?
She shook her head.
"I am sorry, Crawford," she said. "I can't tell you how sorry.
Please--please don't think hardly of me, not too hardly. I wish--I
wish it were different."
Neither spoke for a moment. Then he said:
"I'm afraid I don't understand. Is there someone else?"
"Oh, no, no! There isn't anyone."
"Then-- But you told me-- You have let me think--"
"Please! I told you I was not sure of my own feelings. I--I am
sure now. I am so sorry you came. I should have written you. I
had begun the letter."
Again silence. Then he laughed, a short, bitter laugh with anything
but mirth in it.
"I am a fool," he said. "WHAT a fool I have been!"
"Please, Crawford, don't speak so. . . . Oh, where are you going?"
"I? I don't know. What difference does it make where I go? Good-
"Stop, Crawford! Wait! It makes a difference to your father where
you go. It makes a difference to me. I--I value your friendship
very highly. I hoped I might keep that. I hoped you would let me
be your friend, even though the other could not be. I hoped that."
The minute before she had asked him to forget her, but she did not
remember that, nor did he. He was standing by the door, looking
out. For a moment he stood there. Then he turned and held out his
"Forgive me, Mary," he said. "I have behaved like a cad, I'm
afraid. When a fellow has been building air castles and all at once
they tumble down upon his head he--well, he is likely to forget
other things. Forgive me."
She took his hand. She could keep back the tears no longer; her
"There is nothing for me to forgive," she said. "If you will
forgive me, that is all I ask. And--and let me still be your
"Of course. Bless you, Mary! I--I can't talk any more now.
You'll--" with an attempt at a smile--"you'll have to give me a
little time to get my bearings, as your Uncle Shad would say."
"And--and won't you go back to your father? I shall feel so much
happier if you do."
He hesitated. Then he nodded.
"If you wish it--yes," he said. "I suppose it is the thing I ought
to do. Dad will be happy, at any rate. Oh, Mary, CAN'T you?"
"No, Crawford, no. Yes, your father will be happy. And--and by and
by you will be, too, I know. Are you going?"
"Yes, I think I had better. I don't feel like meeting anyone and
your Uncle Shad will be here soon, I suppose. Your man here--
Isaiah--told me of Mr. Hamilton's sickness. I'm sorry."
"Yes, poor Uncle Zoeth! He is gaining a little, however. Crawford,
I won't ask you to stay. Perhaps it will be best for both of us if
you do not. But won't you write me just once more? Just to tell me
that you and your father are reconciled? I should like to know
that. And do forgive me--Oh, do! I HAD to say it, Crawford!"
"I forgive you, Mary. Of course you had to say it. . . . But . . .
Well, never mind. Yes, I'll write, of course. I hope . . . No, I
can't say that, not now. I'd better go at once, I think, before
I . . . Good-by."
He seized her hand, pressed it tightly, took his hat from the table
and his bag from the floor and swung out of the door. In the
doorway she stood looking after him. At the gate he turned, waved
his hand, and hurried on. He did not look back again.
When at half-past six Captain Shadrach, having left Annabel and the
boy in charge of the store, came home for supper, Isaiah had some
news to tell him. It was surprising news.
"You don't say!" exclaimed the Captain. "Well, well, I want to
know! All the way from out West, eh? Sho! Where is he now?"
Isaiah shook his head. "That's the funny part of it, he's gone," he
"Gone? Gone where?"
"I don't know. All I know is he come and said he wanted to see
Mary-'Gusta--I went up and told her and she come down to see him. I
stayed up along of Zoeth until Debby T. came back from her shoppin'
cruise. Then I come downstairs again and his hat and bag was gone.
There wan't nobody here."
"Where was Mary-'Gusta? Where is she now?"
"Up in her room, I cal'late. I heard her movin' round there a spell
Shadrach went up the stairs, along the hall, and knocked at Mary's
"Who is it?" asked a faint voice within.
"It's your Uncle Shad, Mary-'Gusta. Can I come in?"
He entered. There was no lamp and the room was dark.
"Where are you?" he demanded.
"Here, by the window, Uncle Shad."
She was sitting in the rocker by the window. He could not see her
face, but as he bent and kissed her cheek he found it wet.
"Mercy on us! You've been cryin'!" he declared.
"Oh--Oh, no, I haven't! I--"
"Rubbish! Yes, you have, too. Settin' alone up here in the dark
and cryin'! Mary-'Gusta Lathrop, come here!"
She had risen from the rocking-chair, but he seized her in his arms,
sat down in the chair himself, and lifted her to his knee just as he
used to do when she was the little Mary-'Gusta.
"Now there, dearie," he said. "You'll tell your Uncle Shad. What
"Oh, nothing, Uncle Shad, dear. I was--I'm feeling just a little
silly this afternoon, I guess. You mustn't ask me."
"All right, I won't ask--I'll tell. That young feller from out
West, the feller with the uncommon name--Brown--Jones--Oh, no,
Smith, that was it--he came cruisin' around here and--"
"Uncle Shad, how did you know?"
"A little bird told me. A long-legged bird without much hair on
top--a bald-headed eagle, I cal'late he must be. Hops round our
kitchen daytimes and roosts in the attic nights."
"Isaiah! Of course he would tell."
"Of course he would--BEIN' Isaiah. Well, this Smith critter, he
came and--and--well, I guess you'll have to tell me the rest."
"There isn't much to tell. He came and--and then he went away
"Out to Carson City, I suppose."
"Ain't he comin' back any more?"
"Why? Don't you want him to come, Mary-'Gusta?"
"Oh, Uncle Shad, please don't. I don't feel as if I could answer.
Don't ask me."
"There, there, dearie; don't you answer nothin'. You set still here
and be my baby. I ain't had a chance to baby you for a long spell
and it seems good."
Silence. Suddenly the Captain felt the head which nestled against
his shoulder stir.
"Uncle Shadrach," said Mary-'Gusta, "what do you do when you want to
"Eh? Want to forget? Oh, I don't know! Cal'late I turn to and
sail in and work a little harder, maybe. Why?"
"Oh, nothing. . . But I am much obliged for the suggestion. Now I
am going to work. I shall begin tomorrow morning. I wish it was
tomorrow right now."
"Don't. Jumpin' fire! Don't wish time away; some of us ain't got
too much to spare. But ain't you BEEN workin', for mercy sakes? I
should say you had."
Another interval of silence. Then Mary said:
"Uncle Shad, a good while ago, when you asked me about--about him, I
promised you I would tell when there was anything to tell. I am
going to keep my promise. He came today and asked me--asked me to
marry him--not now, of course, but by and by."
Shadrach was not greatly surprised. Nevertheless it was a moment
before he spoke. Mary felt his arms tighten about her and she
realized a little of the struggle he was making. Yet his tone was
brave and cheerful.
"Yes," he said. "Well, I--I kind of cal'lated that would come some
day or other. It's all right, Mary'-Gusta. Zoeth and me have
talked it over and all we want is to see you happy. If you said yes
to him, Zoeth and I'll say 'God bless you' to both of you."
She reached for his hand and lifted it to her lips. "I know you
would," she said. "All your lives you have been thinking of others
and not of yourselves. But I didn't say yes, Uncle Shad. I am not
going to be married now or by and by. I don't want to be. I am the
silent partner of Hamilton and Company. I am a business woman and I
am going to work--REALLY work--from now on. No, you mustn't ask me
any more questions. We'll try to forget it all. Kiss me, Uncle
Shad, dear. That's it. Now you go down to supper. I shall stay
here; I am not hungry tonight."
Captain Shad did ask more questions, of course. He asked no more
that evening--he judged it wisest not to do so; but the next day,
seizing an opportunity when he and his niece were alone, he
endeavored to learn a little more concerning her reasons for
dismissing Crawford. The Captain liked young Smith, he had believed
Mary liked him very much, and, although he could not help feeling a
guilty sense of relief because the danger that he and Zoeth might
have to share her affections with someone else was, for the time at
least, out of the way, he was puzzled and troubled by the abruptness
of the dismissal. There was something, he felt sure, which he did
"Of course, Mary-'Gusta," he said, "I ain't askin' anything--that
is, I don't mean to put my oar in about what you told me last night,
but--well, you see, Zoeth and me was beginnin' to feel that 'twas
pretty nigh a settled thing between you and that young man."
Mary was sitting at the desk--she and her uncle were at the store
together--and she looked up from the ledger over which she had been
bending and shook her head reproachfully. She looked tired and
worn, so it seemed to Captain Shadrach, as if she had not slept well
the night before, or perhaps for several nights.
"Uncle Shad," she said, "what did I tell you?"
"Eh? Why, you told me-- You know what you told me, Mary-'Gusta.
What do you ask that for?"
"Because I think you have forgotten the most important part of it.
I told you we were going to forget it all. And we are. We are not
going to speak of it again."
"But, Mary-'Gusta, why--"
"No, Uncle Shad."
"But do just tell me this much; if you don't I shan't rest in peace:
you didn't send him away on account of Zoeth and me? It wan't just
because you thought we needed you?"
"No, Uncle Shad."
"That's all. It's over with; it's done with forever. If you really
care about me, Uncle Shad--and sometimes, you know, I almost suspect
that you really do--you will never, NEVER say another word about it.
Now come here and tell me about this account of Heman Rodger's.
Isn't it time we tried to get a payment from him?"
The Captain, although still uneasy and far from satisfied, asked no
more questions of his niece. It was evident that nothing was to be
gained in that way. He did, however, question Isaiah to learn if
the latter had noticed anything unusual in Crawford's manner or if
Crawford had said anything concerning his reason for coming on at
that time, but Isaiah had noticed nothing.
"Umph!" grunted Shadrach, rather impatiently, for the mystery in the
affair irritated him. "Of course, you didn't notice. YOU wouldn't
notice if your head came off."
Mr. Chase drew himself up. "If I hove out such a statement as
that," he observed, scornfully, "you'd call me a fool. 'If my head
come off!' How could I notice anything if my head was off? You
tell me that!"
His employer grinned. "I cal'late you could do it about as well as
you can with it on, Isaiah," he said, and walked away, leaving the
cook and steward incoherently anxious to retort but lacking
So Shadrach was obliged to give up the riddle. Lovers' quarrels
were by no means unusual, he knew that, and many young love affairs
came to nothing. Mary had never told him that she cared for
Crawford. But she had never said she did not care for him. And now
she would say nothing except that it was "done with forever." The
Captain shook his head and longed for Zoeth's counsel and advice.
But Zoeth would not be able to counsel or advise for months.
And now Mary seemed bent upon proving the truth of her statement
that she was henceforth to be solely a business woman. The summer
being over--and it had been, everything considered, a successful one
for Hamilton and Company--it became time to buy fall and winter
goods, also goods for the holidays. Mary went to Boston on a buying
expedition. When she returned and informed her uncle what and how
much she had bought, he looked almost as if he had been listening to
the reading of his death warrant.
"Jumpin' Judas!" he exclaimed. "You don't mean to tell me you
bought all them things and--and got TRUSTED for 'em?"
"Of course I did, Uncle Shad. It is the only way I could buy them;
and, so far as that goes, everyone was glad to sell me. You see,
our paying our bills up there in a shorter time than I asked for has
made a very good impression. I could have bought ever and ever so
much more if I had thought it best."
"Jumpin' fire! Well, I'm glad you didn't think it best. What in
the nation we're goin' to do with all we have got I don't see."
"Do with it? Why, sell it, of course."
"Urn--yes, I cal'lated that was the idea, probably; but who's goin'
to buy it?"
"Oh, lots of people. You'll see. I am going to advertise this
fall, advertise in the papers. Oh, we'll make Baker's Bazaar and
the rest worry a little before we're through."
The Captain was inclined to fear that the most of the worrying would
be done by Hamilton and Company, but he expressed no more
misgivings. Besides, if anyone could sell all those goods, that one
was his Mary-'Gusta, he was perfectly sure of that. He believed her
quite capable of performing almost any miracle. Had she not pulled
the firm off the rocks where he and his partner had almost wrecked
it? Wasn't she the most wonderful young woman on earth? Old as he
was, Captain Shad would probably have attempted to thrash any person
who expressed a doubt of that.
And the goods were sold, all of them and more. The advertisements,
temptingly worded, appeared in the county weeklies, and circulars
were sent through the mails. Partly by enterprise and partly
through influence--Mr. Keith helped here--Mary attained for Hamilton
and Company the contract for supplying the furniture and draperies
for the new hotel which a New York syndicate was building at Orham
Neck. It was purely a commission deal, of course--everything was
purchased in Boston--and Hamilton and Company's profit was a
percentage, but even a small percentage on so large a sale made a
respectable figure on a check and helped to pay more of the firm's
debts. And those debts, the old ones, were now reduced to an almost
The secondhand horse and wagon still continued to go upon their
rounds, but the boy had been replaced by an active young fellow
whose name was Crocker and who was capable of taking orders as well
as delivering them. When Captain Shadrach was told--not consulted
concerning but told--the wages this young man was to receive, he
was, as he confided to Isaiah afterward, "dismasted, stove in, down
by the head and sinkin' fast."
"Mary-'Gusta Lathrop!" he cried, in amazement. "Are you goin' stark
loony? Payin' that Simmie Crocker fourteen dollars a WEEK for
drivin' team and swappin' our good sugar and flour for sewin'-circle
lies over folks' back fences! I never heard such a thing in my
life. Why, Baker's Bazaar don't pay the man on their team but ten a
week. I know that 'cause he told me so himself. And Baker's
Bazaar's got more trade than we have."
"Yes. And that is exactly why we need a better man than they have,
so that WE can get more trade. Simeon Crocker is an ambitious young
chap. He isn't going to be contented with fourteen long."
"Oh, he ain't, eh? Well, I ain't contented with it now, I tell you
that. Fourteen dollars a week for drivin' cart! Jumpin' fire!
Why, the cart itself ain't worth more'n fifteen and for twenty-five
I'd heave in the horse for good measure. But I'd never get the
chance," he added, "unless I could make the trade in the dark."
Mary laughed and patted his shoulder.
"Never mind, Uncle Shad," she said, confidently, "Sim Crocker at
fourteen a week is a good investment. He will get us a lot of new
business now, and next summer--well, I have some plans of my own for
The Christmas business was very good indeed. Shadrach, Mary,
Annabel, and Simeon were kept busy. Customers came, not only from
South Harniss, but from West and East Harniss and even from Orham
and Bayport. The newspaper advertisements were responsible for this
in the beginning, but those who first came told others that the best
stock of Christmas goods in Ostable County was to be found at the
store of Hamilton and Company, in South Harniss, and so the
indirect, word-of-mouth advertising, which is the best and most
convincing kind, spread and brought results.
Christmas itself was a rather dreary day. Zoeth, although
improving, was not yet strong enough to leave his room, and so the
Christmas dinner lacked his presence at the table. Mary and
Shadrach sat with him for an hour or so, but the doctor and nurse
had cautioned them against exciting him, so, although the Captain
joked continually, his jokes were rather fickle and in his mind was
his partner's prophecy of two years before--that the tide which had,
up to that time, been coming in for them, would soon begin to go
out. Shadrach could not help feeling that it had been going out,
for poor Zoeth at any rate. The doctor declared it was coming in
again, but how slowly it came! And how far would it come? This was
the first Christmas dinner he had eaten in years without seeing Mr.
Hamilton's kindly, patient face at the other side of the table.
And Mary, although she tried to appear gay and lighthearted,
laughing at her uncle's jokes and attempting a few of her own, was
far from happy. Work, Captain Shad's recipe for producing
forgetfulness, had helped, but it had not cured. And when, as on a
holiday like this, or at night after she had gone to bed, there was
no work to occupy her mind, she remembered only too well. Crawford
had written her, as he promised, after his return home. He wrote
that he and his father were reconciled and that he had resumed his
studies. The letter was brave and cheerful, there was not a hint of
whining or complaint in it. Mary was proud of him, proud of his
courage and self-restraint. She could read between the lines and
the loneliness and hopelessness were there but he had done his best
to conceal them for her sake. If he felt resentment toward her, he
did not show it. Lonely and hopeless as she herself was, her heart
went out to him, but she did not repent her decision. It was
better, ever and ever so much better, as it was. He would forget
and be happy by and by, and would never know his father's shameful
story. And poor Uncle Zoeth would never know, either. As for her--
well, she must work, work harder than ever. Thank God there were
six working days in the week!
She did not answer that letter. After much deliberation she fought
down the temptation and decided not to do so. What was the use? If
one wished to forget, or wished someone else to forget, if it was a
real wish and not merely pretending, the way to bring about that
result was to do nothing to cause remembrance. Letters, even the
letters of friends, the most platonic letters, were reminders. She
had begged for Crawford's friendship--she could not bring herself to
let him go without hearing that he forgave her and would think of
her as a friend--but now she vowed she would not be so silly and
childish as to torture him or herself unnecessarily. She would not
do it. And so she did not write.
After Christmas came the long, dull winter. It was the most
discouraging season the silent partner of Hamilton and Company had
yet put in in her capacity as manager. There were no cottagers to
help out with their custom, very few new customers, no fresh faces
in the store, the same dreary, deadly round from morning till night.
She tried her hardest and, with the able assistance of Sim Crocker
who was proving himself a treasure, did succeed in making February's
sales larger than January's and those of March larger than either.
But she looked forward to April and the real spring with impatience.
She had a plan for the spring.
It was in March that she experienced a great satisfaction and gave
Shadrach the surprise and delight of his life by collecting the
firm's bill against Mr. Jeremiah Clifford. Mr. Clifford, it will be
remembered, had owed Hamilton and Company one hundred and ten
dollars for a long time. There was every indication that he was
perfectly satisfied with the arrangement and intended to owe it
forever. Mary had written, had called upon him repeatedly, had even
journeyed to Ostable and consulted her friend Judge Baxter. The
Judge had promised to look into the matter and he did so, but his
letter to her contained little that was hopeful.
There is money there [wrote the Judge]. The man Clifford appears to
be in very comfortable circumstances, but he is a shrewd [there were
indications here that the word "rascal" had been written and then
erased] person and, so far as I can learn, there is not a single
item of property, real or otherwise, that is in his own name. If
there were, we might attach that property for your debt, but we
cannot attach Mrs. Clifford's holdings. All I can advise is to
discontinue selling him more goods and to worry him all you can
about the old bill. He may grow tired of being dunned and pay, if
not all, at least something on account.
When Mary read this portion of the letter to her Uncle Shadrach his
scorn was outspoken.
"Get tired!" he scoffed. "Jerry Clifford get tired of bein' dunned!
DON'T talk so foolish! Why, he gets fat on that kind of thing; it's
the main excitement he has, that and spendin' a cent twice a day for
newspapers. Did you ever watch Jerry buy a paper? No? Well, you
go up to Ellis's some day when the mornin' papers are put out for
sale and watch him. He'll drive up to the door with that old
hoopskirt of a horse of his--that's what the critter looks like, one
of them old-fashioned hoop-skirts; there was nothin' to them but
framework and a hollow inside, and that's all there is to that
horse.--Well, Jerry he'll drive up and come in to the paper counter,
his eyes shinin' and his nerves all keyed up and one hand shoved
down into his britches pocket. He'll stand and look over the papers
on the counter, readin' as much of every one as he can for nothin',
and then by and by that hand'll come out of his pocket with a cent
in it. Then the other hand'll reach over and get hold of the paper
he's cal'latin' to buy, get a good clove hitch onto it, and then for
a minute he'll stand there lookin' first at the cent and then at the
paper and rubbin' the money between his finger and thumb--he's
figgerin' to have a little of the copper smell left on his hand even
if he has to let go of the coin, you see--and--"
"Uncle Shad," she exclaimed, "what ridiculous nonsense you do talk!"
"No nonsense about it. It's dead serious. It ain't any joke to
Jerry, you can bet on that. Well, after a spell, he kind of gets
his spunk up to make the plunge, as you might say, lays down the
penny--Oh, he never throws it down; he wouldn't treat real money as
disrespectful as that--grabs up the paper and makes a break for
outdoors, never once lookin' back for fear he might change his mind.
When he drives off in his buggy you can see that he's all het up and
trembly, like one of them reckless Wall Street speculators you read
about. He's spent a cent, but he's had a lovely nerve-wrackin' time
doin' it. Oh, a feller has to satisfy his cravin' for excitement
somehow, and Jerry satisfies his buyin' one-cent newspapers and
seein' his creditors get mad. Do you suppose you can worry such a
critter as that by talkin' to him about what he owes? Might as well
try to worry a codfish by leanin' over the rail of the boat and
hollerin' to it that it's drownin'."
Mary laughed again. "I'm afraid you may be right, Uncle Shad," she
said, "but I shan't give up hope. My chance may come some day, if I
wait and watch for it."
It came unexpectedly and in a rather odd manner. One raw, windy
March afternoon she was very much surprised to see Sam Keith walk
into the store. Sam, since his graduation from college, was, as he
expressed it, "moaning on the bar" in Boston--that is to say, he was
attending the Harvard Law School with the hope, on his parents'
part, that he might ultimately become a lawyer.
"Why, Sam!" exclaimed Mary. "Is this you?"
Sam grinned cheerfully. "'Tis I," he declared. "I am here. That
is to say, the handsome youth whose footfalls you hear approaching
upon horseback is none other than our hero. Mary, you are, as
usual, a sight to be thankful for. How do you do?"
Mary admitted that she was in good health and then demanded to know
what he was doing down on the Cape at that time of the year. He sat
down in a chair by the stove and propped his feet against the hearth
"Why! Haven't you guessed?" he asked, in mock amazement. "Dear me!
I'm surprised. I should have thought the weather would have
suggested my errand. Hear that zephyr; doesn't it suggest bathing
suits and outing flannels and mosquitoes and hammock flirtations?
The zephyr was a sixty-mile-an-hour March gale. Sam replied to his
"Answer," he said, "it does not. Right, my child; go up head. But,
honest Injun, I am down here on summer business. That Mr. Raymond,
Dad's friend, who was visiting us this summer is crazy about the
Cape. He has decided to build a summer home here at South Harniss,
and the first requisite being land to build it on he has asked Dad
to buy the strip between our own property and the North Inlet,
always provided it can be bought. Dad asked me to come down here
and see about it, so here I am."
Mary considered. "Oh, yes," she said, after a moment, "I know the
land you mean. Who owns it?"
"That's what I didn't know," said Sam. "But I do know now. I asked
the first person I met after I got off the train and oddly enough he
turned out to be the owner himself. It was old Clifford--Isaiah,
Elisha, Hosea--Jeremiah, that's it. I knew it was one of the
"So Mr. Clifford owns that land. I didn't know that."
"Neither did I. He didn't tell me at first that he did own it.
Asked me what I wanted to know for."
"Did you tell him?" asked Mary.
For the first time since Mr. Keith's arrival that young gentleman's
easy assurance seemed a little shaken. He appeared to feel rather
"Why, yes, to be honest, I did," he admitted. "I was an idiot, I
suppose, but everyone asks about everyone's else business down here
and I didn't think. He kept talking and pumping and before I
realized it I told him about Raymond's being so anxious to get that
property, being dead set on it and all that, and about my being
commissioned to buy at any reasonable figure. And then, after a
while, he astonished me by saying he owned the land himself.
Confound it! I suppose he'll jam the price away up after what I
"Oh, then you haven't bought?"
"Not yet. I was willing, but for some reason he wouldn't sell at
once--wouldn't even talk price. Wanted to think it over, he said.
I can't wait now, but I am coming down again on Monday and we shall
close the deal then."
That evening Mary told Shadrach what Sam had said. The Captain
"I didn't know Jerry Clifford owned that land," he said. "I don't
believe he does."
"Of course he does, Uncle Shad. He wouldn't have told Sam he did
own it if he didn't. What in the world would he gain by that?"
"Why, nothin', I presume likely. But he must have bought it mighty
recent. Last I heard Jimmie G. owned that piece. 'Twas part of the
property his father left him. Next time I see Jimmie I'll ask him."
So, three days later, when Jimmie G.--his last name was Peters--
passed the store the Captain hailed him and, inviting him in, went
straight to the point.
"When did you sell Jerry Clifford that North Inlet land of yours,
Jim?" he asked.
Jimmie G. looked surprised. "How in time did you know I had sold
it?" he demanded. "It beats all how things get around in this town.
I never sold that land until day afore yesterday evenin' and the
deed didn't pass till yesterday, and yet you know the whole
business. Not that I care; 'twas Jerry wanted it kept still. Who
Captain Shad whistled. "I see," he said slowly. "I see. Yes, yes.
When Jerry told Sam he owned that land he . . . Humph! It's just
another case of the boy lied, that's all. Tut, tut, tut! When you
get ahead of Jerry Clifford you've got to turn out early, ain't you?
I hope you got a good price for the land, Jim."
"Well, I didn't; that is, not very big. What's up, anyway? What
are you hintin' at, Cap'n Shad?"
Before the Captain could answer, Mary, who had been listening to the
conversation, broke in to ask a question.
"Mr. Peters," she cried eagerly, "would you mind telling me this:
Whose name is the new deed in, Mr. Clifford's or his wife's?"
Jimmie G. laughed. "Why, that was kind of funny, too," he said.
"You know Jerry, Cap'n Shad; he never has nothin' in his own name--
it's all in his wife's. That's a principle of his."
"I'd call it a lack of principle," grunted Shadrach. "Never mind,
Jim; go on."
"But he was in a terrible rush to close the sale, for some reason or
other," went on Peters, "and I forgot, myself, and had the deed made
in the name of Jeremiah Clifford. He made a big row at first, but
it seemed as if he couldn't wait for me to have it changed, so he
handed over his check and--"
"Wait! Wait, please, Mr. Peters!" broke in Mary, her eyes flashing
with excitement. "Just tell me if I understand you correctly. You
sold that land to Mr. Clifford and he owns it now IN HIS OWN NAME?"
Mary waited to hear no more. She ran out of the store and to the
post-office. A few minutes later she was talking with Judge Baxter
over the telephone. When she returned the Captain was curious to
know where she had been, but she would not tell him.
"Wait," she said. "Wait, Uncle Shad; I think something is going to
It happened on Monday morning. Mary was at the desk; Simeon was in
the back room getting ready his early morning orders, and Captain
Shad was standing by the window looking out. Suddenly Mary heard
him utter an exclamation.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
"You spoke as if you were in pain."
"No wonder. I'm lookin' at somethin' that gives me a pain. That
wizened-up landshark of a Jerry Clifford is in sight, bound to the
post-office, I cal'late. Goin' to put a one-cent stamp on a letter
and let the feller that gets it pay the other cent, I suppose. He
always asks the postmaster to lick the stamp, so's to save the wear
and tear on his own tongue. That's a fact. . . . No," he added, a
moment later, "he ain't goin' to the office; he's turnin' down the
lane here. . . . Eh! Jumpin' fire of brimstone, I do believe--
WHAT in the world?"
For Mr. Clifford's step was upon the platform of the store and in
another moment the door opened and the tight-fisted one himself
appeared. Shadrach said nothing; he could only stare in amazement.
It had been more than two years since Jeremiah had crossed that
But he crossed it now. And, after a look about the place, ignoring
the Captain completely, he walked over to the desk. He did not look
happy. Mary, on the contrary, looked very much pleased.
"Good morning, Mr. Clifford," she said.
Jeremiah, who was a little thin man, looked up at her from under his
heavy gray eyebrows and above his spectacles. He did not
acknowledge the salutation.
"Umph!" he grunted savagely. "You think you're smart, don't ye?"
Shadrach started forward.
"Why, you--" he began. Mary held up her hand.
"Don't interfere, Uncle Shad," she ordered. "This is Mr. Clifford's
affair and mine. We understand each other perfectly." Then,
turning to the frowning Jeremiah, she said: "Why, yes, thank you,
Mr. Clifford, I do think I am rather clever--just now. Don't you
think I am, yourself?"
Again the visitor ignored the question.
"What did you go and stick an attachment on that land of mine for?"
"Surely you don't need to ask me that, Mr. Clifford. The amount is
one hundred and ten dollars and sixty-three cents. I remember it
and I should imagine you must; certainly it has been called to your
attention often enough."
"Umph! Well, you can keep your darned old attachment."
"Very well; and you can keep your land--what is left, I mean. I
think you will keep it for some time--after I tell Mr. Keith the
facts. He will be here this afternoon, you know."
It was evident that Jeremiah was quite aware of the time of Sam
Keith's arrival. His teeth--the few remaining--snapped together
and, as Captain Shadrach said afterwards, he looked as if undecided
whether to bite or put back his head and howl. Apparently he
decided that howling was safer.
"I was cal'latin' to pay that bill of yours, anyhow," he said.
"Of course, and we were calculating that you would," said Mary
sweetly. "Your calculations and ours are proving true, Mr.
Clifford. That's nice, isn't it?"
From the direction of the back room, where Simeon was busy with his
orders, came the sound of a smothered laugh. Shadrach, upon whom
understanding of the situation was just beginning to dawn, slapped
his knee. Mr. Clifford looked positively venomous.
"If I pay that bill--that--what was it?--that hundred and ten
dollars you say I owe you--do I get that attachment off my land
right away?" he demanded.
"If you pay the one hundred and ten dollars--and the sixty-three
cents--I shall phone Judge Baxter the next minute," said Mary
Jeremiah hesitated no longer. He had considered the situation in
all its phases before leaving home and the one hundred and ten
dollars was but a small item compared to his expected profit on the
sale of the North Inlet land. He reached into his pocket, produced
a long, dingy leather pocketbook wound about with twine, unwound the
twine, opened the pocketbook and produced a blank check.
"Give me a pen and ink," he snarled, "and I'll fill this in."
The Captain reached for the pen and ink bottle, but Mary interfered.
"Cash, if you please," she said sweetly.
Jeremiah looked at her steadily for what seemed a long time. Then
she was surprised to see the corner of his lip twitch and notice a
grim twinkle in his eye. Also there was a grudging note of
admiration in his voice when he next spoke.
"Ain't takin' no chances, be you?" he said dryly.
"No. Don't you think we've taken enough already?"
Mr. Clifford did not answer. He replaced the blank check in his
pocketbook and, from another compartment, extracted some bills
rolled in a tight little cylinder and wound about with elastic.
"There you be," he said shortly. Then, turning to Shadrach, he
added: "Don't I get nothin' off for payin' cash?"
From the back room came a vigorous "Haw, haw!" Even Mary laughed
aloud. As for Captain Shad, he could only stare, struck speechless
by his visitor's audacity. Mary, when she had finished laughing,
answered for him.
"We shall deduct the interest we might have charged you, Mr.
Clifford," she said. "Thank you. There is your change and there is
the receipted bill. Now, I shall call up Judge Baxter."
When she returned from the post-office Jeremiah was still there.
Shadrach, all smiles, was doing up parcels.
"What are those, Uncle Shad?" asked Mary. Mr. Clifford answered.
"Oh, I thought I might as well buy a little sugar and flour and
such," he said. "Always come in handy, they do. Send 'em up when
you get to it. Good-by."
His hand was on the door, but Mary called to him.
"Mr. Clifford," she called; "just a minute, please. Are you in any
hurry for these things--the sugar and the rest of it?"
"No, don't know's I be, 'special'; why?"
"Oh, nothing, except that if you were in a hurry I should advise
your paying for them. I told you, you remember, that we weren't
For an instant Jeremiah stood there glowering. Then he did another
astonishing thing. He took out the pocketbook once more and from it
extracted a two-dollar bill.
"Take it out of that," he said, "and send me a receipted bill
afterwards. I always cal'late to know what I've paid for. And say,
you--what's your name--Mary'-Gusta, if you get tired of workin' for
Shad Gould and Zoeth Hamilton, come round and see me. I've got--I
mean my wife's got--two or three mortgages that's behind on the
interest. I ain't been able to collect it for her yet, but--but, by
time, I believe YOU could!"
He went out and the next moment Mary was almost smothered in her
"After this--after THIS," roared Shadrach, "I'll believe anything's
possible if you've got a hand in it, Mary'-Gusta. If YOU'D been
Jonah you'd have put the whale in your pocket and swum ashore."
Early in April, when Mary announced that she was ready to put into
operation her biggest and most ambitious plan, suggested the year
before by Barbara Howe--the tea-room and gift-shop plan--the Captain
did not offer strenuous opposition.
"I can't see much sense in it," he admitted. "I don't know's I know
what it's all about. Nigh as I can make out you're figgerin' to
open up some kind of a high-toned eatin' house. Is that it?"
"Why, no, Uncle Shad, not exactly," explained Mary.
"Then what is it--a drinkin' house? I presume likely that's it,
bein' as you call it a 'tea-room.' Kind of a temperance saloon, eh?
Can't a feller get coffee in it, if he wants to? I don't wake up
nights much hankerin' for tea myself."
"Listen, Uncle Shad: A tea-room--at least a tearoom of the sort I
intend to have--is a place where the summer people, the women and
girls especially, will come and sit at little tables and drink tea
and eat cakes and ice cream and look off at the ocean, if the
weather is pleasant--"
"Yes, and at the fog, if 'tain't; and talk about their neighbor's
clothes and run down the characters of their best friends. Yes,
yes, I see; sort of a sewin' circle without the sewin'. All right,
heave ahead and get your tea-room off the ways if you want to. If
anybody can make the thing keep afloat you can, Mary-'Gusta."
So Mary, thus encouraged, went on to put her scheme into effect.
She had been planning the details for some time. About halfway down
the lane leading to the house from the store was another small
story-and-a-half dwelling of the old-fashioned Cape Cod type. It
stood upon a little hill and commanded a wide view of ocean and
beach and village. There were some weather-beaten trees and a
tangle of shrubs about it. It had been untenanted for a good while
and was in rather bad repair.
Mary arranged with the owner, a Bayport man, to lease this house and
land at a small rental for three years. In the lease was included
consent to the making of necessary alterations and repairs and the
privilege of purchasing, at a price therein named, at the end of the
three years, should the tenant wish to do so.
Then with the aid of soap and water, white paint and whitewash,
attractive but inexpensive wall papers, and odds and ends of quaint
old furniture, of which the parlor and best bedroom of the Gould-
Hamilton home supplied the larger quantity, she proceeded to make
over the interior of the little building. To every bit of nautical
bric-a-brac, pictures of old sailing ships and sea curios she gave
especial prominence. Then the lawn was mowed, the tangled shrubbery
untangled and clipped and pruned; cheap but pretty lattices made to
look like the shrouds of a ship, over which climbing roses were
supposed--some day--to twine, were placed against the walls, and
rustic tables set about under the trees and the grape arbor with
ship lanterns hung above them. The driveway down to the lane was
rolled and hardened, and a sign, painted by Joshua Bemis, the local
"House, Boat and Sign Painter, Tinsmith and Glazier"--see Mr.
Bemis's advertisement in the Advocate--was hung on a frame by the
Captain Shad's remarks when he first saw that sign may be worth
quoting. Mary had not consulted him concerning it; she deemed it
best not to do so. When it was in place, however, she led him out
to inspect. Shadrach adjusted his spectacles and read as follows:
THE FOR'ARD LOOKOUT
TEA AND GIFTS
DAINTY THINGS TO EAT
PRETTY THINGS TO BUY
There was the picture of a full-rigged ship, with every stitch set
alow and aloft, sailing through a sea of thick green and white paint
toward a kind of green wall with green feather dusters growing out
Shadrach subjected this work of art to a long and searching stare.
At last he spoke.
"Carryin' every rag she can h'ist," he observed; "nobody at the
wheel, land dead ahead and breakers under the bows. Looks to me as
if 'twas liable to be a short v'yage and a lively one. But the
for'ard lookout says all's well and he ought to know; he's had more
experience aboard gift-shop ships, I presume likely, than I have.
What's those bristly things stickin' up along shore there--eel grass
or tea grounds?"
For the first few weeks after the tea-room was really "off the ways"
the optimistic declaration of the For'ard Lookout seemed scarcely
warranted by the facts. Mary was inclined to think that all was by
no means well. In fitting out the new venture she had been as
economical as she dared, but she had been obliged to spend money and
to take on a fresh assortment of debts. Then, too, she had engaged
the services of a good cook and two waitresses, so there was a
weekly expense bill to consider. And the number of motor cars which
turned in at the new driveway was disappointingly small.
But the number grew larger. As people had talked about Hamilton and
Company's assortment of Christmas goods, so now they began to talk
about the "quaintness and delightful originality" of the For'ard
Lookout. The tea was good; the cakes and ices were good; on
pleasant days the view was remarkably fine, and the pretty things in
the gift shop were temptingly displayed. So, as May passed and June
came, and the cottages and hotels began to open, the business of the
new tea-room and gift shop grew from fair to good and from that to
very good indeed.
Mary divided her time between the store and the tearoom, doing her
best to keep a supervising eye on each. She was in no mood to meet
people and kept out of the way of strangers as much as possible;
even of her former acquaintances who came to the For'ard Lookout she
saw but few. If she had not been too busy she might have found it
amusing, the contrasting studies in human nature afforded by these
former acquaintances in their attitude toward her.
For instance, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Mullet and daughter, Irene,
the latter now through school and "finished" until her veneering
actually glittered, sat drinking tea at a table on the lawn. Said
"And THIS is what it's come to; after all the airs and frills and
the goin' to Europe and I don't know what all. Here she is keepin'
an eatin' house. An eatin' house--just THINK of it! If that ain't
a comedown! Wouldn't you think she'd be ashamed, 'Rena?"
Miss Mullet drooped a weary eyelid and sighed a hopeless sigh.
"Oh, Mother," she drawled, in deep disgust, "CAN'T you stop calling
me by that outlandish name? I was christened Irene, I believe.
PLEASE remember it."
"All right, 'Re--all right, Irene; I won't forget again. Oh,
there's Mary-'Gusta, now! Showin' herself out here with all these
city folks, when she's nothin' but a hired help--a table girl, as
you might say! I shan't notice her, anyway. I may buy her tea and
stuff, but I-- Who's that runnin' up to her and--and kissin' her--
and--mercy on us! You'd think they was sisters, if you didn't know.
Who is it? Looks kind of common, she does to me. Don't you think
so, 'Rena--Irene, I mean?"
"That," she said with cutting emphasis, "is Barbara Howe. Her
people are building that big summer house at Osterville and her
father is a millionaire, so they say. And her people wouldn't let
her come to the school you sent me to because they thought it wasn't
good enough for her. That's how common SHE is. I met her once, but
she doesn't know me now, although she is perfectly crazy over that
Mary Lathrop. I--Oh, there's Father drinking out of his saucer
again! For heaven's sake, let's go home!"
And just then Barbara was enthusiastically hugging her former
schoolmate and exclaiming:
"You did it! I knew you would if you would only try. I said it
required a knack or a genius or something and that I was certain you
had it. It's the dearest place of the kind I've ever seen, my dear,
and if every single person I know who is in this vicinity doesn't
come here at least once a week and spend lots and lots of money I'll
never speak to them again. I'm going to turn myself into a walking
phonograph, my dear, with just one record: 'If you love me visit the
For'ard Lookout.' And of course everyone loves me--how can they
help it? So--well, just wait and see what happens."
So far as spreading abroad the praises of the new tea-room was
concerned, she was as good as her word. In August the patronage was
so great and continuous that Mary found it necessary to hire three
more waitresses and a salesgirl for the gift shop. She spent more
of her own time there, leaving the care of the store to Shadrach,
Simeon Crocker and a new clerk, who had been hired to help with the
summer custom. When early September brought the beginning of the
season's end the books of both the Lookout and of Hamilton and
Company showed a substantial profit.
While all this was going on Zoeth was steadily gaining in health and
strength. In July he was sitting in the sunshine upon the front
porch. In August he was able to climb to the buggy seat and be
driven up to the store, where day after day he sat in his armchair
behind the counter, watching what was going on, listening to his
partner's happy chatter--for Shadrach was in high spirits now--and
occasionally saying a word or two himself. On pleasant Sundays he
was driven to church and the Captain and Mary accompanied him. He
was white and frail and thin, but the doctor assured them that, so
far as he could see, there was no reason to expect anything but a
It did seem to Captain Shad, however, that his partner had something
on his mind. He seemed often to be thinking deeply and at times to
be troubled and disturbed. The Captain had never asked, never
attempted by questioning to learn what the cause of the trouble--
provided there was any--might be. He had been told often enough
that the patient must not be excited, so he meant to take no risks,
but Zoeth's long silences and the expression on his face as he sat
there in the chair, evidently thinking deeply, puzzled and worried
his friend and partner. He noticed the same expression at times
when Mary was in the room. Zoeth's eyes would follow her as she
moved about and in them was the look the Captain could not
Shadrach had told his friend of Mary's sending young Smith away.
Zoeth had asked concerning Crawford almost as soon as he was
permitted to take part in a lengthy conversation. He appeared
greatly interested, even eager.
"But, Shadrach," he said, "are you sure she sent him away because
she didn't care for him? Are you sure that was the reason?"
"What other reason could there be?" demanded the Captain. "She as
much as told me that was it, herself. I was some surprised, of
course, for I'd rather cal'lated 'twas as good as settled between
'em, but it turned out that I didn't know what I was talkin' about.
That HAS happened afore in my life, strange as it may seem," he
Zoeth sighed. "I wish--" he said slowly, "I wish I knew--"
"What do you wish you knew?"
"Eh? Oh, nothin'. If--if I was only a little mite stronger I'd try
to talk with Mary-'Gusta myself. I'd like--I'd like to have her
tell me about it."
"Meanin' you don't believe me, eh? There, there, shipmate, it's all
right. I was only jokin'. But I wouldn't ask Mary-'Gusta about
that, if I was you. Course I know she cares as much or more for her
Uncle Zoeth than for anybody on earth, and she'd tell him anything
if he asked her; but I don't believe-- Well, I wouldn't ask, if I
was you. You understand?"
"Yes, yes, Shadrach, I think I understand. You mean she felt bad to
have to say--what she did say--to that young man and she wouldn't
want to be reminded of it?"
"That's about it, Zoeth."
Silence for some minutes. Both partners were occupied with their
thoughts. Then Zoeth said:
He did not finish the sentence. The Captain ventured to remind him.
"Yes, Zoeth, what is it?" he asked.
"Nothin'. I--I can't tell you now. By and by, if the good Lord
gives me strength again, I'll-- Never mind, now. Don't ask me,
So Shadrach did not ask, but he was puzzled and a little anxious.
What was it his partner had to tell and found the telling so
It was not until a day in mid-September that Captain Shadrach
learned his partner's secret. He and Zoeth and Mary were at the
store together. Business was still good, but the rush was over.
The summer cottages were closing and most of the Cape hotels had
already closed. The For'ard Lookout had taken down its sign at the
end of the previous week. Its voyage for that year was over. It
had been a prosperous one.
Mary was sorry that the busy season was at an end. She was very,
very tired; she had allowed herself no rest, had taken no holidays,
had done her best to think of nothing except matters connected with
Hamilton and Company or the tea-room. These, fortunately, had given
her enough to think of; other thoughts she resolutely crowded from
her mind. Now there would be no tea-room to plan for, and, thanks
to Sim Crocker and the competent way in which he had assumed care of
the store, she no longer felt the absolute necessity of remaining
there from daylight until late in the evening. Her Uncle Zoeth was
almost well, also; she would no longer have his health as an
additional burden upon her mind. She was in danger of being forced
to think of herself, and that she knew she must not do. Thinking of
herself would surely mean thinking of someone else and of what might
have been. And what useless, hopeless thinking that would be! No,
no! She must find something else to keep her thoughts occupied.
So she was planning the making over and enlarging of the store
front, putting in larger and better windows and strengthening the
platform. She was discussing the plan with Shadrach and Zoeth when
John Keith entered. The Keiths were leaving South Harniss rather
early that year and the head of the family had dropped in to say
good-by. Mr. Keith's liking for Mary was as strong as ever, and for
her uncles he had, by this time, a very real regard, a feeling which
was reciprocated by them.
Conversation began in the way the majority of conversations begin,
with a discussion of the weather, its recent past, present, and
probable future, shifted to the tea-room and its success and then to
the visitor's recent trip to New York, from which city he had just
returned. It was near the noon hour and there were few customers to
interrupt. Those who did come were taken care of by Mr. Crocker.
"Anything new happenin' over there?" inquired Captain Shadrach,
asking news of the metropolis exactly as he would have asked
concerning the gossip of Harniss Center. "Meet anybody you knew,
Keith smiled. "Why, yes," he said. "I met the people I went to
see. Mine was a business trip. I didn't meet anyone unexpectedly,
if that's what you mean."
The Captain nodded. "Didn't get down on South Street, did you?" he
asked. "No, I thought not. If you had you'd have met plenty. When
I was goin' to sea I bet I never went cruisin' down South Street in
my life that I didn't run afoul of somebody I wan't expectin' to.
Greatest place for meetin' folks in the world, I cal'late South
Street is. Lots of seafarin' men have told me so."
Keith's smile broadened as he was handed this nugget of wisdom.
Then he said:
"You remind me, Captain, that I did meet someone, after all. In
Boston, not in New York, and I met him only yesterday. It was
someone you know, too, and Mary here used to know him quite well, I
think--young Crawford Smith, Sam's Harvard friend. He visited us
here in South Harniss one summer."
Shadrach was the only one of the trio of listeners who made any
comment at all on this speech. Even he did not speak for a moment,
glancing apprehensively at Mary before doing so. Mary said nothing,
and Zoeth, leaning back in his chair, his face hidden from his
partner's gaze by the end of the counter, did not speak.
"Sho!" exclaimed the Captain. "Sho! So you met him, did you! In
Boston? That's funny. I had an idea he was out West somewheres."
"So did I. The last I heard concerning him he had given up his
studies in the East here--he was studying medicine, as perhaps you
know--and had gone back to his home in Nevada. His father, who was
not at all well, asked him to do so. He had written Sam once or
twice from out there. So I was surprised enough to see him in
Boston. I met him in the South Station and we chatted for a few
moments. He told me that his father was dead."
From behind the end of the counter where Zoeth sat came an odd
sound, a sort of gasp. Shadrach leaned forward quickly.
"What's the matter, Zoeth?" he asked. Before Zoeth could answer
"Dead!" she repeated. "Mr. Keith, I--did--did you say Crawford
Smith's father was DEAD?"
Her tone was so strange that even Mr. Keith could not help noticing
it. He looked at her, seemed about to ask a question, and then
answered hers instead.
"Why, yes," he said; "he is dead. He had been in poor health for
some time, so his son told me, and about two weeks ago he died.
Crawford did not tell me any particulars, nor did he say what had
brought him East. In fact, he didn't seem anxious to talk; acted as
if he had something on his mind. Of course I said I was sorry and
he thanked me and inquired regarding Mrs. Keith and Edna and Sam.
Then I had to hurry for my train. . . . Oh, are you going, Mary?
Well, then, I must say good-by until next summer; we leave tomorrow
Mary explained, rather hurriedly, that she must speak with Simeon
for a few minutes, said good-by, shook hands and hastened out.
Keith looked after her.
"I hope I haven't made a blunder," he said, "in speaking of young
Smith. She and he were quite--er--friendly at one time, weren't
they. I understood so from some remarks of Sam's. Didn't put my
foot in it by mentioning the boy's name, did I? I certainly hope
Zoeth did not speak. Shadrach hastened to reassure him.
"No, no!" he said. "There was one time when even me and Zoeth
figgered there might be--er--well, we didn't know but what he and
she was liable to be more'n just friends. But it's all off now,
seems so. They don't even write each other, I guess. I cal'late
maybe Mary'-Gusta got tired of him," he explained. "He was a real
nice young feller, but he probably wan't quite good enough for her.
Fur's that goes," he added, with the emphasis of absolute
conviction, "I never laid eyes on one that was."
Keith looked relieved. "Well, I'm glad if I didn't make a mistake,"
he said. "She seemed so startled when I said that the man was dead
and her manner was so odd. Didn't you notice it yourself, Captain?"
"I noticed she seemed sort of sot all aback," he said, "but I don't
know's that's so strange when you consider that she and Crawford
used to be such friends. More'n probable she's heard him talk a
good deal about his father."
"Well, perhaps so. No doubt that is it. I'm afraid she is working
too hard and worrying too much over her various enterprises here.
She is succeeding wonderfully, of course, but I don't like to see
her losing those roses in her cheeks. They're much too precious to
lose. Keep your eye on her, Captain, and don't let her wear herself
He soon said good-by. Captain Shadrach accompanied him to the door.
Zoeth remained where he was, not rising even when he shook hands
with his departing friend. But when the Captain turned back he saw
his partner standing by the end of the counter and clutching it with
one hand while he beckoned with the other. Shadrach gave him one
look and then crossed the space between them in two strides.
"For the land sakes, Zoeth," he begged, "what's the matter?"
Zoeth waved him to silence. "Sshh! sshh!" he pleaded in a whisper.
"Don't holler so; she'll hear you. Shadrach, I--I--"
"What IS it?" broke in his friend. "What's the matter, Zoeth?
Shall I fetch the doctor?"
"No, no. I'm--I'm all right, Shadrach. I've just had--had a kind
of shock--a surprise, that's all. I ain't very strong yet and it--
it kind of upset me. But, Shadrach, I want to talk to you. I want
to tell you somethin' right away. I can't keep it to myself any
longer. Can't we go home--to my room or somewheres--where we can
talk? Please, Shadrach!"
"There, there, shipmate; take it easy. Go home? Course we can!
Hey, Sim!" shouting to Mr. Crocker, who was in the back room. "You
and Mary can take care of the store, can't you? Zoeth and me are
goin' home for dinner."
Simeon replied that Mary was not there; she had gone out the back
way, down to the house, he thought. "But you go ahead, Cap'n Shad,"
he added. "I can take care of the store all right."
At home, and in Mr. Hamilton's room, the Captain pulled forward the
most comfortable chair, forced his partner to sit in it, closed and
locked the door, sat down on the edge of the bed, and said:
"There! Now we're all taut and shipshape and nobody can get aboard
to interrupt. Fire away, Zoeth. What is it you've got to tell?"
Zoeth, his hand trembling, reached into the inside pocket of his
coat, took out an old-fashioned wallet and from it produced a much-
"Shadrach," he said, "I don't hardly know how to begin. It seems so
strange to think that you and me, who've been so close to each other
all these years, should have a secret between us, if only for a
little while. It seems wicked. I guess 'tis wicked, and I'm the
wicked one for keepin' it from you."
The Captain laughed.
"You couldn't be wicked if you was apprenticed to the Old Harry for
ten years, Zoeth," he said. "You don't know how to be and the devil
himself couldn't teach you. Now, don't waste time tellin' me I'm
speaking lightly of sacred things," he added. "For one thing, the
Old Scratch ain't sacred, as I know of, and for another I want to
hear that secret. What is it?"
Zoeth shook his head. "I am wicked, all the same," he said, "but I
guess I've been punished. There wan't any real reason why I
shouldn't have told you afore, but somehow I couldn't make up my
mind to speak of it. I just couldn't. But I'm goin' to tell you
He held up the crumpled envelope.
"You remember when I was took sick?" he said. "You remember I was
struck down all of a heap in the kitchen? Yes; well, did you ever
wonder what it was struck me down? I'll tell you. 'Twas a letter
that came to me in the mail that morning. This was the letter. I
managed to put it in my inside vest pocket that time when Isaiah run
off after you and left me lyin' there. I didn't want him to see it.
I didn't want anybody to--not then. Now I want you to read it,
Shadrach. But before you do, let me warn you. You should ask the
Almighty to give you strength. You're goin' to be surprised,
Shadrach, surprised and shocked. Here it is; read it."
He handed the envelope to his partner. The latter took it,
wonderingly, and looked at the inscription.
"Nobody's handwritin' that I know," he said.
"You knew it once well enough."
"I did? And it was mailed out in Carson City, Nevada. Why, that's
where the Crawford Smith boy lives, ain't it? What on earth?"
He opened the envelope and from it took several sheets closely
covered with finely written lines. He began to read and, as he
read, his expression changed from curiosity to wonder, to amazement,
to anger, to a mixture of the last three. The final sheet fell from
his fingers to the floor. He looked up with a very white face.
"My God!" he said solemnly.
A half-hour later they were still talking. Shadrach had not
entirely recovered from the surprise, but now he could think and
speak more coherently, although the wonder of it all was
"It seems as if the hand of the Lord was in it," he declared.
"It is," agreed Zoeth, with absolute conviction. "See how it worked
out accordin' to His promise. The wicked flourished for a time, but
God sent the punishment in due season, didn't He? Can't you see the
poor feller's agonizin' in every line of that letter?"
"POOR feller! Good Lord above, Zoeth Hamilton, you ain't pityin'
HIM, are you? You ain't sorry for him--YOU?"
Zoeth nodded. "I wan't at first," he said. "At first the whole
thing, comin' on me out of a clear sky as you might say, knocked me
flat. The doctor, when he came, said he thought I must have had a
sudden shock. I did; that was it, that letter. But later on, when
I was gettin' better and could think again, and when I was alone and
had the chance and could read the letter again, I began to--to--
well, not forgive him for what he done--I don't suppose I can ever
"I should say not! Damn him!"
"Hush, Shadrach; he's dead."
"So he is. I forgot. Then he's damned, I guess, without any orders
"He was damned here on earth, Shadrach. All his life--the last part
of it, anyhow--must have been a torment. He must have idolized that
boy of his. He says so in the letter, but it's plain on every line
of the writin' without his sayin' it. And can't you just imagine
him as the boy grew up and they loved each other more and more,
tremblin' and scared every minute for fear that somehow or other his
son'll learn that the father he loves and respects is a--a thief--
and--and worse? Seems to me I can imagine it. And then all at once
the boy comes to him and says he wants to marry--Oh, my soul!
Shadrach, think of it!--he wants to marry your girl and mine--
Marcellus's stepdaughter. Why, it must have driven him nigh crazy.
And then they quarrel, and the boy, the only bein' on earth he's
livin' for, goes off and leaves him. And he knows he's comin' here--
to us--and that some time or other he's sartin to learn everything.
No wonder he wrote that letter. No wonder--"
The Captain interrupted.
"Writin' you, of all people!" he said. "Writin' you and beggin' you
not to let Mary-'Gusta marry his son: and for what? To save the boy
from somethin' bad? No! For all he knew, Mary-'Gusta might be what
she is, the best and finest girl on earth. What he was beggin' for
was himself--that his son shouldn't know what HE was, that's all.
No, Zoeth, I can't pity him much. He's dead, and that's a good
thing, too. The wonder of it is that he's been alive all this time
and we didn't know. And to think--but there; it's all wonderful."
Both were silent for a moment. Then Zoeth said:
"The one thing that's troubled me most in all this, Shadrach, is
about Mary-'Gusta herself. How does she really feel towards
Crawford? She sent him away, you told me that, but are you sure she
did it because she didn't care enough for him to marry him? Are you
sure there wan't any other reason?"
"She gave me to understand there wan't. What other reason could
"Well--well, Shadrach, it all depends, seems to me. You know Mary-
'Gusta; the last person she thinks about on earth is herself. If
she did think a sight of Crawford, if she thought ENOUGH of him, she
wouldn't let him suffer on account of her, would she? She knew,
probably, that he loved and respected his father and a father's good
name must mean a lot to a son. Then, there is us--you and me,
Shadrach. She wouldn't let us suffer, if she could help it. Do you
see what I mean?"
"Humph!" mused the Captain, thinking aloud, "I cal'late I do, Zoeth.
You mean if Mary-'Gusta had found out the facts about Ed Farmer, who
he was and what he done, and if she knew Crawford Smith's dad WAS Ed
Farmer and that Crawford didn't know it and we didn't know it--you
mean that, BEIN' Mary-'Gusta, rather than bring sorrow and trouble
on Crawford and on us, she'd sacrifice her own feelin's and--and
would pretend she didn't care for him so as to get him to go away
and save him and us. That's what you mean, I presume likely."
"That's it, Shadrach."
"Um--yes. Well, there's just one thing that makes that notion seem
consider'ble more than unlikely. How in the world could she have
found out that there ever was an Edgar Farmer--"
"Good many folks in South Harniss could have told her that if they'd
had a mind to."
"Maybe so; but they couldn't have told her that Edwin Smith, of
Carson City, Nevada, was ever Edgar Farmer. No, sir, they couldn't!
Nobody knew it--but Ed Farmer himself. How could our Mary-'Gusta
"I don't know, Shadrach, unless--she's awful smart, you know--
somethin' might have put her on the track and she puzzled it out. I
know that ain't likely; but, Shadrach, if she does care for Crawford
and he cares for her, I--I want 'em to have each other. I do. They
Shadrach stared at him.
"Zoeth Hamilton," he exclaimed, "do you know what you're sayin'?
You want our girl to marry the son of the man that--that--"
"I know what he did, Shadrach; you don't need to tell me. But he's
dead, and his boy is a good boy--you liked him and so did I. And
Shadrach, I've been thinkin' an awful lot about this since I got the
letter and have been well enough to think. And I've made up my mind
to just this: There has been sorrow and trouble enough brought on
already by that wickedness. There shan't be any more. What wrecked
all our lives thirty-five years ago shan't wreck these two, if I can
help it. If Mary-'Gusta cares for him and he for her they must have
each other and be happy. And you and I will be happy watchin' their
He paused and then added:
"So I wish, Shadrach, there was some way of findin' out for sure
that she sent him away because she didn't care for him and not for
any other reason."
Shadrach rose from his chair and laid his hand on his friend's
shoulder. He cleared his throat once or twice before speaking and
there was still a shake in his voice as he said:
"Zoeth, you're a better man than I ever hope to be. I declare you
make me ashamed of myself."
Neither of them ate much dinner, although Isaiah had prepared a
cranberry pie, made from the first fruit of the fall season, and was
correspondingly disappointed when both of his employers left it
"Ain't a mite of use my slavin' myself to death cookin' fancy
vittles for this crew," he grumbled. "I stood over that cookstove
this mornin' until I got so everlastin' hot that every time the cold
air blowed onto me I steamed. And yet I can't satisfy."
"Oh, yes, you can," observed Captain Shad, rising from the table.
"You satisfied us too quick, that was the trouble. We was satisfied
afore we got to the pie."
"Umph! I want to know! Well, Mary-'Gusta was satisfied afore that.
She didn't eat hardly anything. Said she wan't hungry. I swan if
it ain't discouragin'! What's the use of you folks havin' a cook?
If you're goin' to have canary-bird appetites, why don't you feed on
bird seed and be done with it? And I do believe I never made a
better pie than that!"
"Where's Mary-'Gusta?" asked Zoeth.
"I don't know. She went up to her room. She may be there yet, or
she may have come down and gone out again--I don't know. If she did
come down I didn't see her."
Shadrach looked out of the window. It had been a dark, gloomy
morning and now it was beginning to rain. The wind was whining
through the tops of the silver-leafs and the moan of the breakers on
the bar sounded with a clearness which denoted the approach of a
"Dirty weather," observed the Captain. "And it'll be dirtier yet
before night. You better stay here in snug harbor this afternoon,
Zoeth. Simmie and the boy and Mary-'Gusta and I can tend store all
right. Yes, yes, you stay right here and keep dry. Hope Mary-
'Gusta took an umbrella when she went."
"I don't know as she has gone," said Isaiah. "She may be upstairs
in her room yet. That's where she was."
Shadrach, after calling "Mary-'Gusta" several times at the foot of
the stairs, went up to make sure. The door of Mary's room was
closed but, as he received no answer to his knock, he opened it and
entered. Mary was not there, although it was evident that she had
been there very recently.
Apparently she had been writing a letter, for her writing case was
spread out upon the table. Also the drawer in which she kept it had
been left open, an unusual act of carelessness on her part, for,
generally speaking, as her Uncle Shad said, "Nothin's ever out of
place in Mary-'Gusta's room except some of the places, and that's
the carpenter's fault, not hers."
The Captain stepped over to close the drawer. As he did so his
attention was attracted by a photograph lying upon a pile of
photographs in a box inside the drawer. He picked up the photograph
and looked at it. It was that of Edwin Smith, taken when he seemed
to be recovering from his illness, the one which showed him without
Shadrach's eyes opened wide as he looked at the photograph. He
uttered an exclamation, stepped to the door of the upper hall and
called, "Zoeth!" Then he returned to the table and took from the
drawer the next photograph upon the pile in the box. It was the
old, faded picture of the partners of Hall and Company.
Isaiah came stumbling up the stairs.
"Anythin' I can do for you, Cap'n Shad?" he asked. "Zoeth, he's
gone out to shut up the barn door. Rain was liable to beat in, he
said. I told him I'd do it, but-- Godfreys mighty!"
The Captain had paid no attention to him and he had entered the room
and approached his employer from behind. Now over the latter's
shoulder he saw the two photographs.
"Godfreys mighty!" cried the startled Isaiah.
Shadrach turned and looked at him.
"Well," he demanded, "what's the matter? What are you starin' like
"Them--them pictures," gasped Mr. Chase.
"Well, what about 'em? Where did Mary-'Gusta get 'em, do you know?
Did-- Here! Where are you goin'?"
"I--I ain't goin' anywheres. I'm a-goin' downstairs. I got my
dishwashin' to do. I--let go of me, Cap'n Shad! I got to go this
minute, I tell you."
But the Captain did not let go of him. Instead, keeping a firm hold
upon the collar of the frightened cook and steward, he twisted him
around until he could look him straight in the eye. This was
difficult, for Isaiah plainly did not wish to be looked at in that
"Humph!" grunted Captain Shad, after a moment's inspection. "Humph!
I cal'late I've got the right pig by the ear this time. Set down in
that chair, Isaiah Chase; I want to talk to you."
The northeaster was developing. It was now raining hard and the
wind was rising. The gusts swept across the top of the little hill
and the window sashes of the For'ard Lookout rattled and the hinges
of the ancient blinds squeaked. The yard, which had been so
attractive, was shorn of its decorations. The tables had been
carried inside; the lanterns taken down; the wonderful sign, pride
of the talented Mr. Bemis, had been tenderly conveyed to the attic.
Cook, waitresses and salesgirl had departed. The tea-room and gift
shop had gone into winter quarters to hibernate until the following
The rooms inside had been thoroughly swept and cleaned and most of
the furniture and the best of the old prints covered with dust
cloths. Some of the smaller articles, however, were still upon the
shelves of the gift shop, Mary having ordered her assistants to
leave them there, as she wished to look them over herself before
putting them away. Some of her selections for stock had sold
remarkably well and she had been obliged to reorder many times;
others of which she had been quite confident when purchasing had not
sold at all. Both good sellers and bad she meant to list as a guide
to future choosing.
She was listing them now. Alone in the room which had once been the
sacred best parlor of the little house, she was seated at the table,
pencil in hand and memorandum books and paper before her. There was
no particular reason why the listing should have been done that day;
it might have been done any day until the weather became too cold to
work in an unheated house. That morning she had had no idea of
doing it that afternoon. She was doing it now because she felt that
she must do something to occupy her mind, and because she wished to
be alone. Up there at the For'ard Lookout she could combine the
two--work and seclusion.
When Mr. Keith told, at the store that morning, the news of Edwin
Smith's--or Edgar Farmer's--death she had been dreadfully shaken by
it. It was so sudden, so unexpected--when she last heard the man
was, so the doctors said, almost well. She had thought of him often
enough during the past year; or, rather, she had thought of Crawford
as being with him and of the father's joy in his son's return to him
and the knowledge that his own disgraceful secret would not be
revealed. And she had pictured Crawford as finding solace for his
disappointed love in his father's society. That Edgar Farmer had
been what Isaiah called him--a blackguard--she realized perfectly,
but she was equally sure that, as Edwin Smith, he had been the
kindest and most loving of fathers. And Crawford, although he had
been willing to leave him because of her, loved him dearly.
And now he was dead, and Crawford was left alone. Somehow she felt
responsible for the death. That it had been hastened by the
terrible alarm and stress of the previous year was, of course,
certain. She thought of Crawford alone and with this new sorrow,
and this thought, and that of her responsibility, was almost more
than she could bear.
She felt that she must write him, that he must know she had heard
and was thinking of him. So, after leaving the store, she had
hastened down to the house and up the back stairs to her room.
There she had written a few lines, not more than a note, but the
composing of that note had been a difficult task. There was so much
she longed to say and so little she could say. When it was written
she remembered that Crawford was in Boston and she did not know his
address. She determined to send the letter to the Nevada home and
trust to its being forwarded.
She took from the back of the drawer the box of photographs and
looked them over. As she was doing so Isaiah called her to dinner.
Then she heard her uncles come in and, because she felt that she
could talk with no one just then, she avoided them by hastily going
down the front stairs. She made a pretense of eating and left the
house. Isaiah did not see her go. After stopping at the store long
enough to tell Mr. Crocker she would be at the tea-room that
afternoon, she climbed the hill, unlocked the door of the For'ard
Lookout, entered and began her work.
The wind howled and whined and the rain beat against the windows.
The blinds creaked, the sashes rattled, the gusts moaned in the
chimney above the fireplace, and all the hundred and one groanings
and wailings, the complaints of an old house in a storm, developed.
All these sounds Mary heard absently, her mind upon her work. Then,
little by little as they drew nearer, she became conscious of other
sounds, footfalls; someone was coming up the walk.
She did not rise from her chair nor look up from her work when the
outside door opened. Even when the footsteps sounded in the little
hall behind her she did not turn.
"Yes, Uncle Shad," she said. "I am here, and I'm safe and I'm
perfectly dry. Also I'm very, very busy. Now, why did you come out
in the rain to hunt me up? And I'm quite sure you haven't put on
And then the voice behind her said: "Mary."
She turned now--turned, looked, and rose to her feet. Her face went
white, then flushed red, and then paled again.
"Oh!" she gasped.
Crawford Smith was standing there. His light overcoat--it was not a
raincoat--dripped water; so did the hat in his hand. He stood there
and looked--and dripped.
"Mary," he said again.
She caught her breath, almost with a sob.
"You!" she exclaimed. "YOU! Oh, how could you? WHY did you come?"
He took a step toward her. "Because I felt that I must," he said.
"I had to come. I came to see you once more. You must forgive me."
She did not speak. He continued:
"You must forgive me for coming," he said again. "There was a
question I had to ask and only you could answer it. It isn't the
question I asked before, although perhaps that-- But first I must
tell you: Mary, my father is dead."
She nodded. She could scarcely trust herself to speak, but she
"Yes, yes," she faltered. "I--I know."
"You know?" he repeated.
"Yes, Mr. Keith told us this morning. He said he met you in
"Yes, I had forgotten; so he did."
"That is how I knew. Oh, Crawford, I am so sorry for you. I have
been writing you. But WHY did you come here again? It--it makes it
so much harder for--for both of us."
He did not answer the question. "You knew my father was dead," he
said again. "I wonder"--he was speaking slowly and his gaze was
fixed upon her face--"I wonder how much more you know."
She started back. "How much--" she repeated, "How much more-- Oh,
what do you mean?"
"I mean how much did you know about my father when you and I were
together--when I came on here and asked you to marry me?"
She put a hand to her throat. "Oh!" she cried breathlessly. "YOU
know! He told you!"
"Yes, Mary, he told me. Before he died he told me everything. And
you knew it! I know now why you would not marry me--the son of a
She looked at him in pained astonishment. The tears sprang to her
eyes. "Oh, how can you!" she exclaimed. "How can you say that to
me? How can you think it? As if that would make any difference! I
learned your father's name and--and what he had done--by accident.
It was only the night before you came. It would have made no
difference to me. For myself I didn't care--but-- Oh, Crawford,
how can you think it was because he was--that?"
His eyes were shining.
"I don't think it," he cried triumphantly. "I never have thought
it, Mary. I believe--ever since I knew, I have dared to believe
that you sent me away because you were trying to save me from
disgrace. You had learned who and what my father had been and I did
not know. And you feared that if you married me the secret might
come out and I would be ashamed, my career would be spoiled, and all
that. I have dared to believe this and that is why I came back to
you--to ask if it was true. Can't you see? I HAD to come. IS it
He came toward her. She would have run away if she could, but there
was nowhere to run.
"Look at me, Mary," he commanded. "Look at me, and tell me this: It
wasn't because you didn't love me that you sent me away? It wasn't
really that, was it? Tell me the truth. Look at me now, and tell
She tried to look and she tried to speak, but her glance faltered
and fell before his and the words would not come. She could feel
the blood rushing to her cheeks. She put up her hands in mute
protest, but the protest was unavailing. His arms were about her,
his kisses were upon her lips, and he was telling her the things
which are told in times like these. And she struggled no longer,
but permitted herself to listen, to believe, to accept, and to be
swept away by the wonderful current of love and destiny against
which she had fought so long.
But the struggle was not entirely over. She made one more effort.
"Oh, Crawford!" she cried a little later. "Oh, Crawford, dear, this
is all wrong. It can't be. It mustn't be. Don't you see it
mustn't? We have forgotten Uncle Zoeth. He doesn't know whose son
you are. If he should learn, it would bring back the old story and
the old trouble. He isn't well. The shock might kill him."
But Crawford merely smiled.
"He does know, Mary," he said. "Father wrote him. I shall tell you
the whole story just as Dad told it to me. Heaven knows it was not
a pleasant one for a son to hear, but I am glad I heard it. The
past was bad, but it is past. You and I have the future for our own
and I mean to make it a clean one and a happy one for us both, God
Shadrach came up the path to the tea-house, leading Isaiah by the
arm. Mr. Chase moved reluctantly, as if led to execution or, at the
very least, to immediate trial for his life.
"Now then," commanded Shadrach, "furl that umbrella and come along
in here with me. I want you to make Mary-'Gusta understand that
you've told me the whole business, about your tellin' her the Ed
Farmer yarn and all. After that you can clear out, because I want
to talk to her myself."
He opened the door and, still holding his captive by the arm, strode
into the parlor. There he stood stock still, staring.
Crawford held out his hand and the Captain found himself shaking it
"Captain Gould," he said, "I know now what I did not know until two
weeks ago, how greatly my father wronged you and your partners. I
know the whole miserable story. But, in spite of it, I am here
because I love Mary and I want to marry her. She has told me that
she loves me. I don't know how you feel about it, but I hope--"
The Captain interrupted. "Wait a minute!" he ordered. "Heave to
and come up into the wind a minute; let me get my bearin's. Young
feller, if you're goin' to drop down out of the skies unexpected
like this, you-- Tut! tut! tut! Whew!" He waited a moment, then
"Mary-'Gusta, come here."
He held out his arms. She came to him and he held her close.
"Is it so?" he asked. "Do you care for this young feller enough for
that? Do you, Mary-'Gusta?"
He put his finger beneath her chin and lifted her head to look down
into her face. The face was crimson.
"Do you, Mary-'Gusta?" he asked.
Mary looked up, wet-eyed but smiling.
"Yes, Uncle Shad," she said, "I think I do."
"And you want to cruise in his company all your life, eh?"