Part 1 out of 6
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THE CAPTAIN'S TOLL-GATE
FRANK R. STOCKTON
_With a Memorial Sketch by Mrs. Stockton_
II. MARIA PORT
III. MRS. EASTERFIELD
IV. THE SON OF AN OLD SHIPMATE
V. OLIVE PAYS TOLL
VI. MR. CLAUDE LOCKER
VII. THE CAPTAIN AND HIS GUEST GO FISHING AND COME HOME HAPPY
VIII. CAPTAIN ASHER IS NOT IN A GOOD HUMOR
IX. MISS PORT TAKES A DRIVE WITH THE BUTCHER
X. MRS. EASTERFIELD WRITES A LETTER
XI. MR. LOCKER IS RELEASED ON BAIL
XII. MR. RUPERT HEMPHILL
XIII. MR. LANCASTER'S BACKERS
XIV. A LETTER FOR OLIVE
XV. OLIVE'S BICYCLE TRIP
XVI. MR. LANCASTER ACCEPTS A MISSION
XVII. DICK IS NOT A PROMPT BEARER OF NEWS
XVIII. WHAT OLIVE DETERMINED TO DO
XIX. THE CAPTAIN AND DICK LANCASTER DESERT THE TOLL-GATE
XX. MR. LOCKER DETERMINES TO RUSH THE ENEMY'S POSITION
XXI. MISS RALEIGH ENJOYS A RARE PRIVILEGE
XXII. THE CONFLICTING SERENADES
XXIII. THE CAPTAIN AND MARIA
XXIV. MR. TOM ARRIVES AT BROADSTONE
XXV. THE CAPTAIN AND MR. TOM
XXVI. A STOP AT THE TOLL-GATE
XXVII. BY PROXY
XXVIII. HERE WE GO! LOVERS THREE!
XXIX. TWO PIECES OF NEWS
XXX. BY THE SEA
XXXI. AS GOOD AS A MAN
XXXII. THE STOCK-MARKET IS SAFE
XXXIII. DICK LANCASTER DOES NOT WRITE
XXXIV. MISS PORT PUTS IN AN APPEARANCE
XXXV. THE DORCAS ON GUARD
XXXVI. COLD TINDER
XXXVII. IN WHICH SOME GREAT CHANGES ARE RECORDED
XXXVIII. "IT HAS JUST BEGUN!"
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Portrait of Prank B. Stockton _Etching by Jacques Reich from a
The Holt, Mr. Stockton's home near Convent, N.J.
Claymont, Mr. Stockton's home near Charles Town, West Virginia.
A corner in Mr. Stockton's study at Claymont.
The upper terraces of Mr. Stockton's garden at Claymont.
A MEMORIAL SKETCH
As this--The Captain's Toll-Gate--is the last of the works of Frank R.
Stockton that will be given to the public, it is fitting that it be
accompanied by some account of the man whose bright spirit illumined
them all. It is proper, also, that something be said of the stories
themselves; of the circumstances in which they were written, the
influences that determined their direction, and the history of their
evolution. It seems appropriate that this should be done by the one who
knew him best; the one who lived with him through a long and beautiful
life; the one who walked hand in hand with him along the whole of a
wonderful road of ever-changing scenes: now through forests peopled with
fairies and dryads, griffins and wizards; now skirting the edges of an
ocean with its strange monsters and remarkable shipwrecks; now on the
beaten track of European tourists, sharing their novel adventures and
amused by their mistakes; now resting in lovely gardens imbued with
human interest; now helping the young to make happy homes for
themselves; now sympathizing with the old as they look longingly toward
a heavenly home; and, oftenest, perhaps, watching girls and young men as
they were trying to work out the problems of their lives. All this, and
much more, crowded the busy years until the Angel of Death stood in the
path; and the journey was ended.
In regard to the present story--The Captain's Toll-Gate--although it is
now after his death first published, it was all written and completed by
Mr. Stockton himself. No other hand has been allowed to add to, or to
take from it. Mr. Stockton had so strong a feeling upon the literary
ethics involved in such matters that he once refused to complete a book
which a popular and brilliant author, whose style was thought to
resemble his own, had left unfinished. Mr. Stockton regarded the
proposed act in the light of a sacrilege. The book, he said, should be
published as the author left it. Knowing this fact, readers of the
present volume may feel assured that no one has been permitted to tamper
with it. Although the last book by Mr. Stockton to be published, it is
not the last that he wrote. He had completed The Captain's Toll-Gate,
and was considering its publication, when he was asked to write another
novel dealing with the buccaneers. He had already produced a book
entitled Buccaneers and Pirates of our Coasts. The idea of writing a
novel while the incidents were fresh in his mind pleased him, and he put
aside The Captain's Toll-Gate, as the other book--Kate Bonnet--was
wanted soon, and he did not wish the two works to conflict in
publication. Steve Bonnet, the crazy-headed pirate, was a historical
character, and performed the acts attributed to him. But the charming
Kate, and her lover, and Ben Greenaway were inventions.
Francis Richard Stockton, born in Philadelphia in 1834, was, on his
father's side, of purely English ancestry; on his mother's side, there
was a mixture of English, French, and Irish. When he began to write
stories these three nationalities were combined in them: the peculiar
kind of inventiveness of the French; the point of view, and the humor
that we find in the old English humorists; and the capacity of the Irish
for comical situations.
Soon after arriving in this country the eldest son of the first American
Stockton settled in Princeton, N.J., and founded that branch of the
family; while the father, with the other sons, settled in Burlington
County, in the same State, and founded the Burlington branch of the
family, from which Frank R. Stockton was descended. On the female side
he was descended from the Gardiners, also of New Jersey. His was a
family with literary proclivities. His father was widely known for his
religious writings, mostly of a polemical character, which had a
powerful influence in the denomination to which he belonged. His
half-brother (much older than Frank) was a preacher of great eloquence,
famous a generation ago as a pulpit orator.
When Frank and his brother John, two years younger, came to the age to
begin life for themselves, they both showed such decided artistic genius
that it was thought best to start them in that direction, and to have
them taught engraving; an art then held in high esteem. Frank chose
wood, and John steel engraving. Both did good work, but their hearts
were not in it, and, as soon as opportunity offered, they abandoned
engraving. John went into journalism; became editorially connected with
prominent newspapers; and had won a foremost place in his chosen
profession; when he was cut off by death at a comparatively early age.
[Illustration: THE HOLT, MR STOCKTON'S HOME NEAR CONVENT. N.J.]
Frank chose literature. He had, while in the engraving business, written
a number of fairy tales, some of which had been published in juvenile
magazines; also a few short stories, and quite an ambitious long story,
which was published in a prominent magazine. He was then sufficiently
well known as a writer to obtain without difficulty a place on the
staff of Hearth and Home, a weekly New York paper, owned by Orange Judd,
and conducted by Edward Eggleston. Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge had charge of
the juvenile department, and Frank went on the paper as her assistant.
Not long after Scribner's Monthly was started by Charles Scribner (the
elder), in conjunction with Roswell Smith, and J.G. Holland. Later Mr.
Smith and his associates formed The Century Company; and with this
company Mr. Stockton was connected for many years: first on the Century
Magazine, which succeeded Scribner's Monthly, and afterward on St.
Nicholas, as assistant to Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, and, still later, when
he decided to give up editorial work, as a constant contributor. After a
few years he resigned his position in the company with which he had been
so pleasantly associated in order to devote himself exclusively to his
own work. By this time he had written and published enough to feel
justified in taking, what seemed to his friends, a bold, and even rash,
step, because so few writers then lived solely by the pen. He was never
very strong physically; he felt himself unable to do his editorial work,
and at the same time write out the fancies and stories with which his
mind was full. This venture proved to be the wisest thing for him; and
from that time his life was, in great part, in his books; and he gave
to the world the novels and stories which bear his name.
I have mentioned his fairy stories. Having been a great lover of fairy
lore when a child, he naturally fell into this form of story writing as
soon as he was old enough to put a story together. He invented a goodly
number; and among them the Ting-a-Ling stories, which were read aloud in
a boys' literary circle, and meeting their hearty approval, were
subsequently published in The Riverside Magazine, a handsome and popular
juvenile of that period; and, much later, were issued by Hurd & Houghton
in a very pretty volume. In regard to these, he wrote long afterward as
"I was very young when I determined to write some fairy tales because my
mind was full of them. I set to work, and in course of time produced
several which were printed. These were constructed according to my own
ideas. I caused the fanciful creatures who inhabited the world of
fairy-land to act, as far as possible for them to do so, as if they were
inhabitants of the real world. I did not dispense with monsters and
enchanters, or talking beasts and birds, but I obliged these creatures
to infuse into their extraordinary actions a certain leaven of common
It was about this time, while very young, that he and his brother
became ambitious to write stories, poems, and essays for the world at
large. They sent their effusions to various periodicals, with the result
common to ambitious youths: all were returned. They decided at last that
editors did not know a good thing when they saw it, and hit upon a
brilliant scheme to prove their own judgment. One of them selected an
extract from Paradise Regained (as being not so well known as Paradise
Lost), and sent it to an editor, with the boy's own name appended,
expecting to have it returned with some of the usual disparaging
remarks, which they would greatly enjoy. But they were disappointed. The
editor printed it in his paper, thereby proving that he did know a good
thing if he did not know his Milton. Mr. Stockton was fond of telling
this story, and it may have given rise to a report, extensively
circulated, that he tried to gain admittance to periodicals for many
years before he succeeded. This is not true. Some rebuffs he had, of
course--some with things which afterward proved great successes--but not
as great a number as falls to the lot of most beginners.
The Ting-a-Ling tales proved so popular that Mr. Stockton followed them
at intervals with long and short stories for the young which appeared in
various juvenile publications, and were afterward published in book
form--Roundabout Rambles. Tales out of School, A Jolly Fellowship,
Personally Conducted, The Story of Viteau, The Floating Prince, and
others. Some years later, after he had begun to write for older readers,
he wrote a series of stories for St. Nicholas, ostensibly for children,
but really intended for adults. Children liked the stories, but the
deeper meaning underlying them all was beyond the grasp of a child's
mind. These stories Mr. Stockton took very great pleasure in writing,
and always regarded them as some of his best work, and was gratified
when his critics wrote of them in that way. They have become famous, and
have been translated into several languages, notably Old Pipes and the
Dryad, The Bee Man of Orne, and The Griffin and the Minor Canon. This
last story was suggested by Chester Cathedral, and he wrote it in that
venerable city. The several tales were finally collected into a volume
under the title: The Bee Man of Orne and Other Stories, which is
included in the complete edition of his novels and stories. During the
whole of his literary career Mr. Stockton was an occasional contributor
of short stories and essays to The Youth's Companion.
Mr. Stockton considered his career as an editor of great advantage to
him as an author. In an autobiographical paper he writes:
"Long-continued reading of manuscripts submitted for publication which
are almost good enough to use, and yet not quite up to the standard of
the magazine, can not but be of great service to any one who proposes a
literary career. Bad work shows us what we ought to avoid, but most of
us know, or think we know, what that is. Fine literary work we get
outside the editorial room. But the great mass of literary material
which is almost good enough to print is seen only by the editorial
reader, and its lesson is lost upon him in a great degree unless he is,
or intends to be, a literary worker."
The first house in which we set up our own household goods stood in
Nutley, N.J. We had with us an elderly _attache_ of the Stockton family
as maid-of-all-work; and to relieve her of some of her duties I went
into New York, and procured from an orphans' home a girl whom Mr.
Stockton described as "a middle-sized orphan." She was about fourteen
years old, and proved to be a very peculiar individual, with strong
characteristics which so appealed to Mr. Stockton's sense of humor that
he liked to talk with her and draw out her opinions of things in
general, and especially of the books she had read. Her spare time was
devoted to reading books, mostly of the blood-curdling variety; and she
read them to herself aloud in the kitchen in a very disjointed fashion,
which was at first amusing, and then irritating. We never knew her real
name, nor did the people at the orphanage. She had three or four very
romantic ones she had borrowed from novels while she was with us, for
she was very sentimental.
Mr. Stockton bestowed upon her the name of Pomona, which is now a
household word in myriads of homes. This extraordinary girl, and some
household experiences, induced Mr. Stockton to write a paper for
Scribner's Monthly which he called Rudder Grange. This one paper was all
he intended to write, but it attracted immediate attention, was
extensively noticed, and much talked about. The editor of the magazine
received so many letters asking for another paper that Mr. Stockton
wrote the second one; and as there was still a clamor for more, he,
after a little time, wrote others of the series. Some time later they
were collected in a book. For those interested in Pomona I will add,
that while the girl was an actual personage, with all the
characteristics given to her by her chronicler, the woman Pomona was a
development in Mr. Stockton's mind of the girl as he imagined she would
become, for the original passed out of our lives while still a girl.
Rudder Grange was Mr. Stockton's first book for adult readers, and a
good deal of comment has been made upon the fact that he had reached
middle life when it was published. His biographers and critics assume
that he was utterly unknown at that time, and that he suddenly jumped
into favor, and they naturally draw the inference that he had until then
vainly attempted to get before the public. This is all a misapprehension
of the facts. It will be seen from what I have previously stated, that
at this time he was already well known as a juvenile writer, and not
only had no difficulty in getting his articles printed, but editors and
publishers were asking him for stories. He had made but few slight
attempts to obtain a larger audience. That he confined himself for so
long a time to juvenile literature can be easily accounted for. For one
thing, it grew out of his regular work of constantly catering for the
young, and thinking of them. Then, again, editorial work makes urgent
demands upon time and strength, and until freed from it he had not the
leisure or inclination to fashion stories for more exacting and critical
readers. Perhaps, too, he was slow in recognizing his possibilities.
Certain it is that the public were not slow to recognize him. He did,
however, experience difficulties in getting the collected papers of
Rudder Grange published in book form. I will quote his own account,
which is interesting as showing how slow he was to appreciate the fact
that the public would gladly accept the writings of a humorist:
"The discovery that humorous compositions could be used in journals
other than those termed comic marked a new era in my work. Periodicals
especially devoted to wit and humor were very scarce in those days, and
as this sort of writing came naturally to me, it was difficult, until
the advent of Puck, to find a medium of publication for writings of this
nature. I contributed a good deal to this paper, but it was only partly
satisfactory, for articles which make up a comic paper must be terse and
short, and I wanted to write humorous tales which should be as long as
ordinary magazine stories. I had good reason for my opinion of the
gravity of the situation, for the editor of a prominent magazine
declined a humorous story (afterward very popular) which I had sent him,
on the ground that the traditions of magazines forbade the publication
of stories strictly humorous. Therefore, when I found an editor at last
who actually _wished_ me to write humorous stories, I was truly
rejoiced. My first venture in this line was Rudder Grange. And, after
all, I had difficulty in getting the series published in book form. Two
publishers would have nothing to do with them, assuring me that although
the papers were well enough for a magazine, a thing of ephemeral nature,
the book-reading public would not care for them. The third publisher to
whom I applied issued the work, and found the venture satisfactory."
The book-reading public cared so much for this book that it would not
remain satisfied with it alone. Again and again it demanded of the
author more about Pomona, Euphemia, and Jonas. Hence The Rudder Grangers
Abroad and Pomona's Travels.
The most famous of Mr. Stockton's stories, The Lady or the Tiger?, was
written to be read before a literary society of which he was a member.
It caused such an interesting discussion in the society that he
published it in the Century Magazine. It had no especial announcement
there, nor was it heralded in any way, but it took the public by storm,
and surprised both the editor and the author. All the world must love a
puzzle, for in an amazingly short time the little story had made the
circuit of the world. Debating societies everywhere seized upon it as a
topic; it was translated into nearly all languages; society people
discussed it at their dinners; plainer people argued it at their
firesides; numerous letters were sent to nearly every periodical in the
country; and public readers were expounding it to their audiences. It
interested heathen and Christian alike; for an English friend told Mr.
Stockton that in India he had heard a group of Hindoo men gravely
debating the problem. Of course, a mass of letters came pouring in upon
A singular thing about this story has been the revival of interest in it
that has occurred from time to time. Although written many years ago, it
seems still to excite the interest of a younger generation; for, after
an interval of silence on the subject of greater or less duration,
suddenly, without apparent cause, numerous letters in relation to it
will appear on the author's table, and "solutions" will be printed in
the newspapers. This ebb and flow has continued up to the present time.
Mr. Stockton made no attempt to answer the question he had raised.
We both spent much time in the South at different periods. The dramatic
and unconsciously humorous side of the negroes pleased his fancy. He
walked and talked with them, saw them in their homes, at their
"meetin's," and in the fields. He has drawn with an affectionate hand
the genial, companionable Southern negro as he is--or rather as he
was--for this type is rapidly passing away. Soon there will be no more
of these "old-time darkies." They would be by the world forgot had they
not been embalmed in literature by Mr. Stockton, and the best Southern
There is one other notable characteristic that should be referred to in
writing of Mr. Stockton's stories--the machines and appliances he
invented as parts of them. They are very numerous and ingenious. No
matter how extraordinary might be the work in hand, the machine to
accomplish the end was made on strictly scientific principles, to
accomplish that exact piece of work. It would seem that if he had not
been an inventor of plots he might have been an inventor of instruments.
This idea is sustained by the fact that he had been a wood-engraver only
a short time when he invented and patented a double graver which cuts
two parallel lines at the same time. It is somewhat strange that more
than one of these extraordinary machines has since been exploited by
scientists and explorers, without the least suspicion on their part that
the enterprising romancer had thought of them first. Notable among these
may be named the idea of going to the north pole under the ice, the one
that the center of the earth is an immense crystal (Great Stone of
Sardis), and the attempt to manufacture a gun similar to the Peace
Compeller in The Great War Syndicate.
In all of Mr. Stockton's novels there were characters taken from real
persons who perhaps would not recognize themselves in the peculiar
circumstances in which he placed them. In the crowd of purely
imaginative beings one could easily recognize certain types modified and
altered. In The Casting away of Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. Aleshine he
introduced two delightful old ladies whom he knew, and who were never
surprised at anything that might happen. Whatever emergency arose, they
took it as a matter of course, and prepared to meet it. Mr. Stockton
amused himself at their expense by writing this story. He was not at
first interested in the Dusantes, and had no intention of ever saying
anything further about them. When there was a demand for knowledge of
the Dusantes Mr. Stockton did not heed it. He was opposed to writing
sequels. But when an author of distinction, whose work and friendship he
highly valued, wrote to him that if he did not write something about the
Dusantes, and what they said when they found the board money in the
ginger jar, he would do it himself, Mr. Stockton set himself to writing
I have been asked to give some account of the places in which Mr.
Stockton's stories and novels were written, and their environments. Some
of the Southern stories were written in Virginia, and, now and then, a
short story elsewhere, as suggested by the locality, but the most of his
work was done under his own roof-tree. He loved his home; it had to be a
country home, and always had to have a garden. In the care of a garden
and in driving, he found his two greatest sources of recreation.
[Illustration: CLAYMONT, MR. STOCKTON'S HOME NEAR CHARLES TOWN, WEST
I have mentioned Nutley, which lies in New Jersey, near New York. His
dwelling there was a pretty little cottage, where he had a garden, some
chickens, and a cow. This was his home in his editorial days, and here
Rudder Grange was written. It was a rented place. The next home we
owned. It stood at a greater distance from New York, at the place called
Convent, half-way between Madison and Morristown, in New Jersey. Here we
lived a number of years after Mr. Stockton gave up editorial work; and
here the greater number of his tales were written. It was a much larger
place than we had at Nutley, with more chickens, two cows, and a much
Mr. Stockton dictated his stories to a stenographer. His favorite spot
for this in summer was a grove of large fir-trees near the house. Here,
in the warm weather, he would lie in a hammock. His secretary would be
near, with her writing materials, and a book of her choosing. The book
was for her own reading while Mr. Stockton was "thinking." It annoyed
him to know he was being "waited for." He would think out pages of
incidents, and scenes, and even whole conversations, before he began to
dictate. After all had been arranged in his mind he dictated rapidly;
but there often were long pauses, when the secretary could do a good
deal of reading. In cold weather he had the secretary and an easy chair
in the study--a room he had built according to his own fancy. A fire of
blazing logs added a glow to his fancies.
I may state here that we always spent a part of every winter in New
York. A certain amount of city life was greatly enjoyed. Mr. Stockton
thus secured much intellectual pleasure. He liked his clubs, and was
fond of society, where he met men noted in various walks of life.
[Footnote 1: Edward Gary, the secretary of the Century Club, in the
obituary notice of Mr. Stockton written by him for the club's annual
report, says of Mr. Stockton as a member: "It was but a dozen years ago
that Frank R. Stockton entered the fellowship of the Century, in which
he soon became exceedingly at home, winning friends here, as he won them
all over the land and in other lands, by the charm of his keen and
kindly mind shining in all that he wrote and said. He had an
extraordinary capacity for work and a rare talent for diversion, and the
Century was honored by his well-earned fame, and fortunate in its share
in his ever fresh and varying companionship."]
I am now nearing the close of a life which had had its trials and
disappointments, its struggles with weak health and with unsatisfying
labor. But these mostly came in the earlier years, and were met with
courage, an ever fresh-springing hope, and a buoyant spirit that would
not be intimidated. On the whole, as one looks back through the long
vista, much more of good than of evil fell to his lot. His life had been
full of interesting experiences, and one of, perhaps, unusual happiness.
At the last there came to pass the fulfilment of a dream in which he had
long indulged. He became the possessor of a beautiful estate containing
what he most desired, and with surroundings and associations dear to his
He had enjoyed The Holt, his New Jersey home, and was much interested in
improving it. His neighbors and friends there were valued companions.
But in his heart there had always been a longing for a home, not
suburban--a place in the _real_ country, and with more land. Finally,
the time came when he felt that he could gratify this longing. He liked
the Virginia climate, and decided to look for a place somewhere in that
State, not far from the city of Washington. After a rather prolonged
search, we one day lighted upon Claymont, in the Shenandoah Valley. It
won our hearts, and ended our search. It had absolutely everything that
Mr. Stockton coveted. He bought it at once, and we moved into it as
speedily as possible.
Claymont is a handsome colonial residence, "with all modern
improvements"--an unusual combination. It lies near the historic old
town of Charles Town, in West Virginia, near Harpers Ferry. Claymont is
itself an historic place. The land was first owned by "the Father of his
Country." This great personage designed the house, with its main
building, two cottages (or lodges), and courtyards, for his nephew
Bushrod, to whom he had given the land. Through the wooded park runs the
old road, now grass grown, over which Braddock marched to his celebrated
"defeat," guided by the youthful George Washington, who had surveyed the
whole region for Lord Fairfax. During the civil war the place twice
escaped destruction because it had once been the property of Washington.
But it was not for its historical associations, but for the place
itself, that Mr. Stockton purchased it. From the main road to the house
there is a drive of three-quarters of a mile through a park of great
forest-trees and picturesque groups of rocks. On the opposite side of
the house extends a wide, open lawn; and here, and from the piazzas, a
noble view of the valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains is obtained.
Besides the park and other grounds, there is a farm at Claymont of
considerable size. Mr. Stockton, however, never cared for farming,
except in so far as it enabled him to have horses and stock. But his
soul delighted in the big, old terraced garden of his West Virginia
home. Compared with other gardens he had had, the new one was like
paradise to the common world. At Claymont several short stories were
written. John Gayther's Garden was prepared for publication here by
connecting stories previously published into a series, told in a garden,
and suggested by the one at Claymont. John Gayther, however, was an
invention. Kate Bonnet and The Captain's Toll-Gate were both written at
[Illustration: A CORNER IN MR. STOCKTON'S STUDY AT CLAYMONT. Showing the
desk at which all his later books were written.]
Mr. Stockton was permitted to enjoy this beautiful place only three
years. They were years of such rare pleasure, however, that we can
rejoice that he had so much joy crowded into so short a space of his
life, and that he had it at its close. Truly life was never sweeter to
him than at its end, and the world was never brighter to him than when
he shut his eyes upon it. He was returning from a winter in New York to
his beloved Claymont, in good health, and full of plans for the summer
and for his garden, when he was taken suddenly ill in Washington, and
died three days later, on April 20, 1902, a few weeks after Kate Bonnet
was published in book form.
Mr. Stockton passed away at a ripe age--sixty-eight years. And yet his
death was a surprise to us all. He had never been in better health,
apparently; his brain was as active as ever; life was dear to him; he
seemed much younger than he was. He had no wish to give up his work; no
thought of old age; no mental decay. His last novels, his last short
stories, showed no falling-off. They were the equals of those written in
younger years. Nor had he lost the public interest. He was always sure
of an audience, and his work commanded a higher price at the last than
ever before. His was truly a passing away. He gently glided from the
homes he had loved to prepare here to one already prepared for him in
heaven, unconscious that he was entering one more beautiful than even he
had ever imagined.
Mr. Stockton was the most lovable of men. He shed happiness all around
him, not from conscious effort but out of his own bountiful and loving
nature. His tender heart sympathized with the sad and unfortunate, but
he never allowed sadness to be near, if it were possible to prevent it.
He hated mourning and gloom. They seemed to paralyze him mentally until
his bright spirit had again asserted itself, and he had recovered his
balance. He usually looked either upon the best, or the humorous side of
life. Pie won the love of every one who knew him--even that of readers
who did not know him personally, as many letters testify. To his friends
his loss is irreparable, for never again will they find his equal in
such charming qualities of head and heart.
[Illustration: THE UPPER TERRACES OF MR. STOCKTON'S GARDEN AT
This is not the place for a critical estimate of the work of Frank R.
Stockton. His stories are, in great part, a reflex of himself. The
bright outlook on life; the courageous spirit; the helpfulness; the
sense of the comic rather than the tragic; the love of domestic life;
the sweetness of pure affection; live in his books as they lived in
himself. He had not the heart to make his stories end unhappily. He knew
that there is much of the tragic in human lives, but he chose to ignore
it as far as possible, and to walk in the pleasant ways which are
numerous in this tangled world. There is much philosophy underlying a
good deal that he wrote, but it has to be looked for; it is not
insistent, and is never morbid. He could not write an impure word, or
express an impure thought, for he belonged to the "pure in heart," who,
we are assured, "shall see God."
[Footnote 2: I may, however, properly quote from the sketch prepared by
Mr. Gary for the Century Club: "He brought to his later work the
discipline of long and rather tedious labor, with the capital amassed by
acute observation, on which his original imagination wrought the
sparkling miracles that we know. He has been called the representative
American humorist. He was that in the sense that the characters he
created had much of the audacity of the American spirit, the thirst for
adventures in untried fields of thought and action, the subconscious
seriousness in the most incongruous situations, the feeling of being at
home no matter what happens. But how amazingly he mingled a broad
philosophy with his fun, a philosophy not less wise and comprehending
than his fun was compelling! If his humor was American, it was also
cosmopolitan, and had its laughing way not merely with our British
kinsmen, but with alien peoples across the usually impenetrable barrier
of translation. The fortune of his jesting lay not in his ears, but in
the hearts of his hearers. It was at once appealing and revealing. It
flashed its playful light into the nooks and corners of our own being,
and wove close bonds with those at whom we laughed. There was no
bitterness in it. He was neither satirist nor preacher, nor of set
purpose a teacher, though it must be a dull reader that does not gather
from his books the lesson of the value of a gentle heart and a clear,
level outlook upon our perplexing world."]
MARIAN E. STOCKTON.
CLAYMONT, _May 15, 1903_.
THE CAPTAIN'S TOLL-GATE
A long, wide, and smoothly macadamized road stretched itself from the
considerable town of Glenford onward and northward toward a gap in the
distant mountains. It did not run through a level country, but rose and
fell as if it had been a line of seaweed upon the long swells of the
ocean. Upon elevated points upon this road, farm lands and forests could
be seen extending in every direction. But there was nothing in the
landscape which impressed itself more obtrusively upon the attention of
the traveler than the road itself. White in the bright sunlight and gray
under the shadows of the clouds, it was the one thing to be seen which
seemed to have a decided purpose. Northward or southward, toward the gap
in the long line of mountains or toward the wood-encircled town in the
valley, it was always going somewhere.
About two miles from the town, and at the top of the first long hill
which was climbed by the road, a tall white pole projected upward
against the sky, sometimes perpendicularly, and sometimes inclined at a
slight angle. This was a turnpike gate or bar, and gave notice to all in
vehicles or on horses that the use of this well-kept road was not free
to the traveling public. At the approach of persons not known, or too
well known, the bar would slowly descend across the road, as if it were
a musket held horizontally while a sentinel demanded the password.
Upon the side of the road opposite to the great post on which the
toll-gate moved, was a little house with a covered doorway, from which
toll could be collected without exposing the collector to sun or rain.
This tollhouse was not a plain whitewashed shed, such as is often seen
upon turnpike roads, but a neat edifice, containing a comfortable room.
On one side of it was a small porch, well shaded by vines, furnished
with a settle and two armchairs, while over all a large maple stretched
its protecting branches. Back of the tollhouse was a neatly fenced
garden, well filled with old-fashioned flowers; and, still farther on, a
good-sized house, from which a box-bordered path led through the garden
to the tollhouse.
It was a remark that had been made frequently, both by strangers and
residents in that part of the country, that if it had not been for the
obvious disadvantages of a toll-gate, this house and garden, with its
grounds and fields, would be a good enough home for anybody. When he
happened to hear this remark Captain John Asher, who kept the toll-gate,
was wont to say that it was a good enough home for him, even with the
toll-gate, and its obvious disadvantages.
It was on a morning in early summer, when the garden had grown to be so
red and white and yellow in its flowers, and so green in its leaves and
stalks, that the box which edged the path was beginning to be
unnoticed, that a girl sat in a small arbor standing on a slight
elevation at one side of the garden, and from which a view could be had
both up and down the road. She was rather a slim girl, though tall
enough; her hair was dark, her eyes were blue, and she sat on the back
of a rustic bench with her feet resting upon the seat; this position she
had taken that she might the better view the road.
With both her hands this girl held a small telescope which she was
endeavoring to fix upon a black spot a mile or more away upon the road.
It was difficult for her to hold the telescope steadily enough to keep
the object-glass upon the black spot, and she had a great deal of
trouble in the matter of focusing, pulling out and pushing in the
smaller cylinder in a manner which showed that she was not accustomed to
the use of this optical instrument.
"Field-glasses are ever so much better," she said to herself; "you can
screw them to any point you want. But now I've got it. It is very near
that cross-road. Good! it did not turn there; it is coming along the
pike, and there will be toll to pay. One horse, seven cents."
She put down the telescope as if to rest her arm and eye. Presently,
however, she raised the glass again. "Now, let us see," she said, "Uncle
John? Jane? or me?" After directing the glass to a point in the air
about two hundred feet above the approaching vehicle, and then to
another point half a mile to the right of it, she was fortunate enough
to catch sight of it again. "I don't know that queer-looking horse," she
said. "It must be some stranger, and Jane will do. No, a little boy is
driving. Strangers coming along this road would not be driven by little
boys. I expect I shall have to call Uncle John." Then she put down the
glass and rubbed her eye, after which, with unassisted vision, she gazed
along the road. "I can see a great deal better without that old thing,"
she continued. "There's a woman in that carriage. I'll go myself." With
this she jumped down from the rustic seat, and with the telescope under
her arm, she skipped through the garden to the little tollhouse.
The name of this girl was Olive Asher. Captain John Asher, who took the
toll, was her uncle, and she had now been living with him for about six
weeks. Olive was what is known in certain social circles as a navy girl.
About twenty years before she had come to her uncle's she had been born
in Genoa, her father at the time being a lieutenant on an American
war-vessel lying in the harbor of Villa Franca. Her first schooldays
were passed in the south of France, and she spent some subsequent years
in a German school in Dresden. Here she was supposed to have finished
her education but when her father's ship was stationed on our Pacific
coast and Olive and her mother went to San Francisco they associated a
great deal with army people, and here the girl learned so much more of
real life and her own country people that the few years she spent in the
far West seemed like a post-graduate course, as important to her true
education as any of the years she had spent in schools.
After the death of her mother, when Olive was about eighteen, the girl
had lived with relatives, East and West, hoping for the day when her
father's three years' cruise would terminate, and she could go and make
a home for him in some pleasant spot on shore. Now, in the course of
these family visits she had come to stay with her father's brother, John
Asher, who kept the toll-gate on the Glenford pike.
Captain John Asher was an older man than his brother, the naval officer,
but he was in the prime of life, and able to hold the command of a ship
if he had cared to do it. But having been in the merchant service for a
long time, and having made some money, he had determined to leave the
sea and to settle on shore; and, finding this commodious house by the
toll-gate, he settled there. There were some people who said that he had
taken the position of toll-gate keeper because of the house, and there
were others who believed that he had bought the house on account of the
toll-gate. But no matter what people thought or said, the good captain
was very well satisfied with his home and his official position. He
liked to meet with people, and he preferred that they should come to him
rather than that he should go to them. He was interested in most things
that were going on in his neighborhood, and therefore he liked to talk
to the people who were going by. Sometimes a good talking acquaintance
or an interesting traveler would tie his horse under the shade of the
maple-tree and sit a while with the captain on the little porch. Certain
it was, it was the most hospitable toll-gate in that part of the
There was a road which branched off from the turnpike, about a mile from
the town, and which, after some windings, entered the pike again beyond
the toll-gate, and although this road was not always in very good
condition, it had seen a good deal of travel, which, in time, gave it
the name of the shunpike. But since Captain Asher had lived at the
toll-gate it was remarked that the shunpike was not used as much as in
former times. There were penurious people who had once preferred to go a
long way round and save money whose economical dispositions now gave way
before the combined attractions of a better road, and a chat with
It had been predicted by some of her relatives that Olive would not be
content with her life in her uncle's somewhat peculiar household. He was
a bachelor, and seldom entertained company, and his ordinary family
consisted of an elderly housekeeper and another servant. But Olive was
not in the least dissatisfied. From her infancy up, she had lived so
much among people that she had grown tired of them; and her good-natured
uncle, with his sea stories, the garden, the old-fashioned house, the
fields and the woods beyond, the little stream, which came hurrying down
from the mountains, where she could fish or wade as the fancy pleased
her, gave her a taste of some of the joys of girlhood which she had not
known when she was really a girl.
Another thing that greatly interested her was the toll-gate. If she had
been allowed to do so, she would have spent the greater part of her time
taking money, making change, and talking to travelers. But this her
uncle would not permit. He did not object to her doing some occasional
toll-gate work, and he did not wonder that she liked it, remembering how
interesting it often was to himself, but he would not let her take toll
So they made a regular arrangement about it. When the captain was at his
meals, or shaving, or otherwise occupied, old Jane attended to the
toll-gate. At ordinary times, and when any of his special friends were
seen approaching, the captain collected toll himself, but when women
happened to be traveling on the road, then it was arranged that Olive
should go to the gate.
Two or three times it had happened that some young men of the town,
hearing their sisters talk of the pretty girl who had taken their toll,
had thought it might be a pleasant thing to drive out on the pike, but
their money had always been taken by the captain, or else by the
wooden-faced Jane, and nothing had come of their little adventures.
The garden hedge which ran alongside the road was very high.
Olive stood impatiently at the door of the little tollhouse. In one hand
she held three copper cents, because she felt almost sure that the
person approaching would give her a dime or two five-cent pieces.
"I never knew horses to travel so slowly as they do on this pike!" she
said to herself. "How they used to gallop on those beautiful roads in
In due course of time the vehicle approached near enough to the
toll-gate for Olive to take an observation of its occupant. This was a
middle-aged woman, dressed in black, holding a black fan. She wore a
black bonnet with a little bit of red in it. Her face was small and
pale, its texture and color suggesting a boiled apple dumpling. She had
small eyes of which it can be said that they were of a different color
from her face, and were therefore noticeable. Her lips were not
prominent, and were closely pressed together as if some one had begun to
cut a dumpling, but had stopped after making one incision.
This somewhat somber person leaned forward in the seat behind her young
driver, and steadily stared at Olive. When the horse had passed the
toll-bar the boy stopped it so that his passenger and Olive were face
to face and very near each other.
"Seven cents, please," said Olive.
The cleft in the dumpling enlarged itself, and the woman spoke. "Bless
my soul," she said, "are you Captain Asher's niece?"
"I am," said Olive in surprise.
"Well, well," said the other, "that just beats me! When I heard he had
his niece with him I thought she was a plain girl, with short frocks and
her hair plaited down her back."
Olive did not like this woman. It is wonderful how quickly likes and
dislikes may be generated.
"But you see I am not," she replied. "Seven cents, please."
"Don't you suppose I know what the toll is?" said the woman in the
carriage. "I'm sure I've traveled over this road often enough to know
that. But what I'm thinkin' about is the difference between what I
thought the captain's niece was and what she really is."
"It does not make any difference what the difference is," said Olive,
speaking quickly and with perhaps a little sharpness in her voice, "all
I want is for you to pay me the toll."
"I'm not goin' to pay any toll," said the other.
Olive's face flushed. "Little boy," she exclaimed, "back that horse!" As
the youngster obeyed her peremptory request Olive gave a quick jerk to a
rope and brought down the toll-gate bar so that it stretched itself
across the road, barely missing in its downward sweep the nose of the
unoffending horse. "Now," said Olive, "if you are ready to pay your
toll you can go through this gate, and if you are not, you can turn
round and go back where you came from."
"I'm not goin' to pay any toll," said the other, "and I don't want to go
through the gate. I came to see Captain Asher.--Johnny, turn your horse
a little and let me get out. Then you can stop in the shade of this tree
and wait until I'm ready to go back.--I suppose the captain's in," she
said to Olive, "but if he isn't, I can wait."
"Oh, he's at home," said Olive, "and, of course, if I had known you were
coming to see him, I would not have asked you for your toll. This way,
please," and she stepped toward a gate in the garden hedge.
"When I've been here before," said the visitor, "I always went through
the tollhouse. But I suppose things is different now."
"This is the entrance for visitors," said Olive, holding open the gate.
Captain Asher had heard the voices, and had come out to his front door.
He shook hands with the newcomer, and then turned to Olive, who was
"This is my niece, my brother Alfred's daughter," he said, "and Olive,
let me introduce you to Miss Maria Port."
"She introduced herself to me," said Miss Port, "and tried to get seven
cents out of me by letting down the bar so that it nearly broke my
horse's nose. But we'll get to know each other better. She's very
different from what I thought she was."
"Most people are," said Captain Asher, as he offered a chair to Miss
Port in his parlor, and sat down opposite to her. Olive, who did not
care to hear herself discussed, quietly passed out of the room.
"Captain," said Miss Port, leaning forward, "how old is she, anyway?"
"About twenty," was the answer.
"And how long is she going to stay?"
"All summer, I hope," said Captain John.
"Well, she won't do it, I can tell you that," remarked Miss Port.
"She'll get tired enough of this place before the summer's out."
"We shall see about that," said the captain, "but she is not tired yet."
"And her mother's dead, and she's wearin' no mournin'."
"Why should she?" said the captain. "It would be a shame for a young
girl like her to be wearing black for two years."
"She's delicate, ain't she?"
"I have not seen any signs of it."
"What did her mother die of?"
"I never heard," said the captain; "perhaps it was the bubonic plague."
Miss Port pushed back her chair and drew her skirts about her.
"Horrible!" she exclaimed. "And you let that child come here!"
The captain smiled. "Perhaps it wasn't that," he said. "It might have
been an avalanche, and that is not catching."
Miss Port looked at him seriously. "It's a great pity she's so
handsome," she said.
"I don't think so; I am glad of it," replied the captain.
Miss Port heaved a sigh. "What that girl is goin' to need," she said,
"is a female guardeen."
"Would you like to take the place?" asked the captain with a grin.
At that instant it might have been supposed that a certain dumpling
which has been mentioned was made of very red apples and that its
covering of dough was somewhat thin in certain places. Miss Port's eyes
were bent for an instant upon the floor.
"That is a thing," she said, "which would need a great deal of
A sudden thrill ran through the captain which was not unlike a moment in
his past career when a gentle shudder had run through his ship as its
keel grazed an unsuspected sand-bar, and he had not known whether it was
going to stick fast or not; but he quickly got himself into deep water
"Oh, she is all right," said he briskly; "she has been used to taking
care of herself almost ever since she was born. And by the way, Miss
Port, did you know that Mr. Easterfield is at his home?"
Miss Port was not pleased with the sudden change in the conversation,
and she remembered, too, that in other days it had been the captain's
habit to call her Maria.
"I did not know he had a home," she answered. "I thought it was her'n.
But since you've mentioned it, I might as well say that it was about him
I came to see you. I heard that he came to town yesterday, and that her
carriage met him at the station, and drove him out to her house. I
hoped he had stopped a minute as he drove through your toll-gate, and
that you might have had a word with him, or at least a good look at him.
Mercy me!" she suddenly ejaculated, as a look of genuine disappointment
spread over her face; "I forgot. The coachman would have paid the toll
as he went to town, and there was no need of stoppin' as they went back.
I might have saved myself this trip."
The captain laughed. "It stands to reason that it might have been that
way," he said, "but it wasn't. He stopped, and I talked to him for about
The face of Miss Port now grew radiant, and she pulled her chair nearer
to Captain Asher. "Tell me," said she, "is he really anybody?"
"He is a good deal of a body," answered the captain. "I should say he is
pretty nearly six feet high, and of considerable bigness."
"Well!" exclaimed Miss Port, "I'd thought he was a little dried-up sort
of a mummy man that you might hang up on a nail and be sure you'd find
him when you got back. Did he talk?"
"Oh, yes," said the captain, "he talked a good deal."
"And what did he tell you?"
"He did not tell me anything, but he asked a lot of questions."
"What about?" said Miss Port quickly.
"Everything. Fishing, gunning, crops, weather, people."
"Well, well!" she exclaimed. "And don't you suppose his wife could have
told him all that, and she's been livin' here--this is the second
summer. Did he say how long he's goin' to stay?"
"And you didn't ask him?"
"I told you he asked the questions," replied the captain.
"Well, I wish I'd been here," Miss Port remarked fervently. "I'd got
something out of him."
"No doubt of that," thought the captain, but he did not say so.
"If he expects to pass himself off as just a common man," continued Miss
Port, "that's goin' to spend the rest of his summer here with his
family, he can't do it. He's first got to explain why he never came near
that young woman and her two babies for the whole of last summer, and,
so far as I've heard, he was never mentioned by her. I think, Captain
Asher, that for the sake of the neighborhood, if you don't care about
such things yourself, you might have made use of this opportunity. As
far as I know, you're the only person in or about Glenford that's spoke
The captain smiled. "Sometimes, I suppose," said he, "I don't say
enough, and sometimes I say too much, but--"
"Then I wish he'd struck you more on an average," interrupted Miss Port.
"But there's no use talkin' any more about it. I hired a horse and a
carriage and a boy to come out here this mornin' to ask you about that
man. And what's come of it? You haven't got a single thing to tell
anybody except that he's big."
The captain changed the subject again. "How is your father?" he asked.
"Pop's just the same as he always is," was the answer. "And now, as I
don't want to lose the whole of the seventy-five cents I've got to pay,
suppose you call in that niece of yours, and let me have a talk with
her. Perhaps I can get something interesting out of her."
The captain left the room, but he did not move with alacrity. He found
Olive with a book in a hammock at the back of the house. When he told
her his errand she sat up with a sudden bounce, her feet upon the
"Uncle," she said, "isn't that woman a horrid person?"
The captain was a merry-minded man, and he laughed. "It is pretty hard
for me to answer that question," said he; "suppose you go in and find
out for yourself."
Olive hesitated; she was a girl who had a very high opinion of herself
and a very low opinion of such a person as this Miss Port seemed to be.
Why should she go in and talk to her? Still undecided, she left the
hammock and made a few steps toward the house. Then, with a sudden
exclamation, she stopped and dropped her book.
"Buggy coming," she exclaimed, "and that thing is running to take the
toll!" With these words she started away with the speed of a colt.
An approaching buggy was on the road; Miss Maria Port, walking rapidly,
had nearly reached the back door of the tollhouse when Olive swept by
her so closely that the wind of her fluttering garments almost blew
away the breath of the elder woman.
"Seven cents!" cried Olive, standing in the covered doorway, but she
might have saved herself the trouble of repeating this formula, for the
man in the buggy was not near enough to hear her.
When Olive saw it was a man, she turned, and perceiving her uncle
approaching the tollhouse, she hurried by him up the garden path,
looking neither to the right nor to the left.
"A pretty girl that is of yours!" exclaimed Miss Port. "She might just
as well have slapped me in the face!"
"But what were you going to do in here?" asked Captain Asher. "You know
that's against the rules."
"The rules be bothered," replied the irate Maria. "I thought it was Mr.
Smiley. He's been away from his parish for a week, and there are a good
many things I want to ask him."
"Well, it is the Roman Catholic priest from Marlinsville," said Captain
Asher, "and he wouldn't tell you anything if you asked him."
The captain had a cheerful little chat with the priest, who was one of
his most valued road friends; and when he returned to his garden he
found Miss Port walking up and down the main path in a state of
"I should think," said she, "that the company would have something to
say about your takin' up your time talkin' to people on the road. I've
heard that sometimes they get out, and spend hours talkin' and smokin'
with you. I guess that's against the rules."
"It is all right between the company and me," replied the captain. "You
know I am a stockholder in a small way."
"You are!" exclaimed Miss Port. "Well, I've got somethin' by comin'
here, anyway." Stowing away this bit of information in regard to the
captain's resources in her mind for future consideration, she continued:
"I don't think much of that niece of your'n. Has she never lived
anywhere where the people had good manners?"
Olive, who had gone to her room in order to be out of the way of this
queer visitor, now sat by an upper window, and it was impossible that
she should fail to hear this remark, made by Miss Port in her most
querulous tones. Olive immediately left the window, and sat down on the
other side of the room.
"Good manners!" she ejaculated, and fell to thinking. Her present
situation had suddenly presented itself to her in a very different light
from that in which she had previously regarded it. She was living in a
very plain house in a very plain way, with a very plain uncle who kept a
tollhouse; but she liked him; and, until this moment, she had liked the
life. But now she asked herself if it were possible for her longer to
endure it if she were to be condemned to intercourse with people like
that thing down in the garden. If her uncle's other friends in Glenford
were of that grade she could not stay here. She smiled in spite of her
irritation as she thought of the woman's words--"Anywhere where the
people had good manners."
Good manners, indeed! She remembered the titled young officers in
Germany with whom she had talked and danced when she was but seventeen
years old, and who used to send her flowers. She remembered the people
of rank in the army and navy and in the state who used to invite her
mother and herself to their houses. She remembered the royal prince who
had wished to be presented to her, and whose acquaintance she had
declined because she did not like what she had heard of him. She
remembered the good friends of her father in Europe and America, ladies
and gentlemen of the army and navy. She remembered the society in which
she had mingled when living with her Boston aunt during the past winter.
Then she thought of Miss Port's question. Good manners, indeed!
"Well," said the perturbed Maria, after having been informed by the
captain that his niece was accustomed to move in the best circles, "I
don't want to go into the house again, for if I was to meet her, I'm
sure I couldn't keep my temper. But I'll say this to you, Captain Asher,
that I pity the woman that's her guardeen. And now, if you'll help my
boy turn round so he won't upset the carriage, I'll be goin'. But before
I go I'll just say this, that if you'd been in the habit of takin'
advantage of the chances that come to you, I believe that you'd be a
good deal better off than you are now, even if you do own shares in the
It was not difficult for the captain to recognize some of the chances to
which she alluded; one of them she herself had offered him several
"Oh, I am very well off as I am," he answered, "but perhaps some day I
may have something to tell you of the Easterfields and about their
doings up on the mountain."
"About her doin's, you might as well say," retorted Miss Port. "No
matter what you tell me, I don't believe a word about his ever doin'
anything." With this she walked to the little phaeton, into which the
captain helped her.
"Uncle John," said Olive, a few minutes later, "are there many people
like that in Glenford?"
"My dear child," said the captain, "the people in Glenford, the most of
them, I mean, are just as nice people as you would want to meet. They
are ladies and gentlemen, and they are mighty good company. They don't
often come out here, to be sure, but I know most of them, and I ought to
be ashamed of myself that I have not made you acquainted with them
before this. As to Maria Port, there is only one of her in Glenford,
and, so far as I know, there isn't another just like her in the whole
world. Now I come to think of it," he continued, "I wonder why some of
the young people have not come out to call on you. But if that Maria
Port has been going around telling them that you are a little girl in
short frocks it is not so surprising."
"Oh, don't bother yourself, Uncle John, about calls and society," said
Olive. "If you can only manage that that woman takes the shunpike
whenever she drives this way, I shall be perfectly satisfied with
everything just as it is."
On the side of the mountain, a few miles to the west of the gap to which
the turnpike stretched itself, there was a large estate and a large
house which had once belonged to the Sudley family. For a hundred years
or more the Sudleys had been important people in this part of the
country, but it had been at least two decades since any of them had
lived on this estate. Some of them had gone to cities and towns, and
others had married, or in some other fashion had melted away so that
their old home knew them no more.
Although it was situated on the borders of the Southern country, the
house, which was known as Broadstone, from the fact that a great flat
rock on the level of the surrounding turf extended itself for many feet
at the front of the principal entrance, was not constructed after
ordinary Southern fashions. Some of the early Sudleys were of English
blood and proclivities, and so it was partly like an English house; some
of them had taken Continental ideas into the family, and there was a
certain solidity about the walls; while here and there the narrowness of
the windows suggested southern Europe. Some parts of the great stone
walls had been stuccoed, and some had been whitewashed. Here and there
vines climbed up the walls and stretched themselves under the eaves. As
the house stood on a wide bluff, there was a lawn from which one could
see over the tree tops the winding river sparkling far below. There were
gardens and fields on the open slopes, and beyond these the forests rose
to the top of the mountains.
The ceilings of the house were high, and the halls and rooms were wide
and airy; the trees on the edge of the woods seemed always to be
rustling in a wind from one direction or another, and a lady; Mrs.
Easterfield; who several years before had been traveling in that part of
the country; declared that Broadstone was the most delightful place for
a summer residence that she had ever seen, either in this country or
across the ocean. So, with the consent and money of her husband, she had
bought the estate the summer before the time of our story, and had gone
there to live.
Mr. Easterfield was what is known as a railroad man, and held high
office in many companies and organizations. When his wife first went to
Broadstone he was obliged to spend the summer in Europe, and had agreed
with her that the estate on the mountains would be the best place for
her and the two little girls while he was away. This state of affairs
had occasioned a good deal of talk, especially in Glenford, a town with
which the Easterfields had but little to do, and which therefore had
theorized much in order to explain to its own satisfaction the conduct
of a comparatively young married woman who was evidently rich enough to
spend her summers at any of the most fashionable watering-places, but
who chose to go with her young family to that old barracks of a house,
and who had a husband who never came near her or his children, and who,
so far as the Glenford people knew, she never mentioned.
Mrs. Margaret Easterfield was a very fine woman, both to look at and to
talk to, but she did not believe that her duty to her fellow-beings
demanded that she should devote her first summer months at her new place
to the gratification of the eyes and ears of her friends and
acquaintances, so she had gone to Broadstone with her family--all
females--with servants enough, and for the whole of the summer they had
all been very happy.
But this summer things were going to be a little different at
Broadstone, for Mrs. Easterfield had arranged for some house parties.
Her husband was very kind and considerate about her plans, and promised
her that he would make one of the good company at Broadstone whenever it
was possible for him to do so.
So now it happened that he had come to see his wife and children and the
house in which they lived; and, having had some business at a railroad
center in the South, he had come through Glenford, which was unusual, as
the intercourse between Broadstone and the great world was generally
maintained through the gap in the mountains.
With his wife by his side and a little girl on each shoulder, Mr. Tom
Easterfield walked through the grounds and the gardens and out on the
lawn, and looked down over the tops of the trees upon the river which
sparkled far below, and he said to his wife that if she would let him do
it he would send a landscape-gardener, with a great company of Italians,
and they would make the place a perfect paradise in about five days.
"It could be ruined a great deal quicker by an army of locusts," she
said, "and so, if you do not mind, I think I will wait for the locusts."
It was not time yet for any of the members of the house parties to make
their appearance, and it was the general desire of his family that Mr.
Easterfield should remain until some of the visitors arrived, but he
could not gratify them. Three days after his arrival he was obliged to
be in Atlanta; and so, soon after breakfast one fine morning, the
Easterfield carriage drove over the turnpike to the Glenford station,
Mr. and Mrs. Easterfield on the back seat, and the two little girls
sitting opposite, their feet sticking out straight in front of them.
When they stopped at the toll-gate Captain Asher came down to collect
the toll--ten cents for two horses and a carriage. Olive was sitting in
the little arbor, reading. She had noticed the approaching equipage and
saw that there was a lady in it, but for some reason or other she was
not so anxious as she had been to collect toll from ladies. If she could
have arranged the matter to suit herself she would have taken toll from
the male travelers, and her Uncle John might attend to the women; she
did not believe that men would have such absurd ideas about people or
ask ridiculous questions.
There was no conversation at the gate on this occasion, for the
carriage was a little late, but as it rolled on Mrs. Margaret said to
"It seems to me as though I have just had a glimpse of Dresden. What do
you suppose could have suggested that city to me?"
Mr. Tom could not imagine, unless it was the dust. She laughed, and said
that he had dust and ballast and railroads on the brain; and when the
oldest little girl asked what that meant, Mrs. Margaret told her that
the next time her father came home she would make him sit down on the
floor and then she would draw on that great bald spot of his head, which
they had so often noticed, a map of the railroad lines in which he was
concerned, and then his daughters would understand why he was always
thinking of railroad-tracks and that sort of thing with the inside of
his head, which, as she had told them, was that part of a person with
which he did his thinking.
"Don't they sell some sort of annual or monthly tickets for this
turnpike?" asked Mr. Tom. "If they do, you would save yourself the
trouble of stopping to pay toll and make change."
"I so seldom use this road," she said, "that it would not be worth
while. One does not stop on returning, you know."
But notwithstanding this speech, when Mrs. Easterfield returned from the
Glenford station, one little girl sitting beside her and the other one
opposite, both of them with their feet sticking out, she ordered her
coachman to stop when he reached the toll-gate.
Olive was still sitting in the arbor, reading. The captain was not
visible, and the wooden-faced Jane, noticing that the travelers were a
lady and two little girls, did not consider that she had any right to
interfere with Miss Olive's prerogatives; so that young lady felt
obliged to go to the toll-gate to see what was wanted.
"You know you do not have to pay going back," she said.
"I know that," answered Mrs. Easterfield, "but I want to ask about
tickets or monthly payments of toll, or whatever your arrangements are
for that sort of thing."
"I really do not know," said Olive, "but I will go and ask about it."
"But stop one minute," exclaimed Mrs. Easterfield, leaning over the side
of the carriage. "Is it your father who keeps this toll-gate?"
For some reason or other which she could not have explained to herself,
Olive felt that it was incumbent upon her to assert herself, and she
answered: "Oh, no, indeed. My father is Lieutenant-Commander Alfred
Asher, of the cruiser Hopatcong."
Without another word Mrs. Easterfield pushed open the door of the
carriage and stepped to the ground, exclaiming: "As I passed this
morning I knew there was something about this place that brought back to
my mind old times and old friends, and now I see what it was; it was
you. I caught but one glimpse of you and I did not know you. But it was
enough. I knew your father very well when I was a girl, and later I was
with him and your mother in Dresden. You were a girl of twelve or
thirteen, going to school, and I never saw much of you. But it is either
your father or your mother that I saw in your face as you sat in that
arbor, and I knew the face, although I did not know who owned it. I am
Mrs. Easterfield, but that will not help you to know me, for I was not
married when I knew your father."
Olive's eyes sparkled as she took the two hands extended to her. "I
don't remember you at all," she said, "but if you are the friend of my
father and mother--"
"Then I am to be your friend, isn't it?" interrupted Mrs. Easterfield.
"I hope so," answered Olive.
"Now, then," said Mrs. Easterfield, "I want you to tell me how in the
world you come to be here."
There were two stools in the tollhouse, and Olive, having invited her
visitor to seat herself on the better one, took the other, and told Mrs.
Easterfield how she happened to be there.
"And that handsome elderly man who took the toll this morning is your
"Yes, my father's only brother," said Olive.
"A good deal older," said Mrs. Easterfield.
"Oh, yes, but I do not know how much."
"And you call him captain. Was he also in the navy?"
"No," said Olive, "he was in the merchant service, and has retired. It
seems queer that he should be keeping a toll-gate, but my father has
often told me that Uncle John does not care for appearances, and likes
to do things that please him. He likes to keep the tollhouse because it
brings him in touch with the world."
"Very sensible in him," said Mrs. Easterfield. "I think I would like to
keep a toll-gate myself."
Captain Asher had seen the carriage stop, and knew that Mrs. Easterfield
was talking to Olive, but he did not think himself called upon to
intrude upon them. But now it was necessary for him to go to the
tollhouse. Two men in a buggy with a broken spring and a coffee bag laid
over the loins of an imperfectly set-up horse had been waiting for
nearly a minute behind Mrs. Easterfield's carriage, desiring to pay
their toll and pass through. So the captain went out of the garden-gate,
collected the toll from the two men, and directed them to go round the
carriage and pass on in peace, which they did.
Then Mrs. Easterfield rose from her stool, and approached the tollhouse
door, and, as a matter of course, the captain was obliged to step
forward and meet her. Olive introduced him to the lady, who shook hands
with him very cordially.
"I have found the daughter of an old friend," said she, and then they
all went into the tollhouse again, where the two ladies reseated
themselves, and after some explanatory remarks Mrs. Easterfield said:
"Now, Captain Asher, I must not stay here blocking up your toll-gate all
the morning, but I want to ask of you a very great favor. I want you to
let your niece come and make me a visit. I want a good visit--at least
ten days. You must remember that her father and I, and her mother, too,
were very good friends. Now there are so many things I want to talk over
with Miss Olive, and I am sure you will let me have her just for ten
short days. There are no guests at Broadstone yet, and I want her. You
do not know how much I want her."
Captain Asher stood up tall and strong, his broad shoulders resting
against the frame of the open doorway. It was a positive delight to him
to stand thus and look at such a beautiful woman. So far as he could
see, there was nothing about her with which to find fault. If she had
been a ship he would have said that her lines were perfect, spars and
rigging just as he would have them. In addition to her other
perfections, she was large enough. The captain considered himself an
excellent judge of female beauty, and he had noticed that a great many
fine women were too small. With Olive's personal appearance he was
perfectly satisfied, although she was slight, but she was young, and
would probably expand. If he had had a daughter he would have liked her
to resemble Mrs. Easterfield, but that feeling did not militate in the
least against Olive. In his mind it was not necessary for a niece to be
quite as large as a daughter ought to be.
"But what does Olive say about it?" he asked.
"I have not been asked yet," replied Olive, "but it seems to me that
"Would like to do it," interrupted Mrs. Easterfield. "Now, isn't that
so, dear Olive?"
The girl looked at the captain. "It depends upon what you say about it,
The captain slightly knitted his brows. "If it were for one night, or
perhaps a couple of days," he said, "it would be different. But what am
I to do without Olive for nearly two weeks? I am just beginning to
learn what a poor place my house would be without her."
At this minute a man upon a rapidly trotting pony stopped at the
"Excuse me one minute," continued the captain, "here is a person who can
not wait," and stepping outside he said good morning to a bright-looking
young fellow riding a sturdy pony and wearing on his cap a metal plate
engraved "United States Rural Delivery."
The carrier brought but one letter to the tollhouse, and that was for
Captain Asher himself. As the man rode away the captain thought he might
as well open his letter before he went back. This would give the ladies
a chance to talk further over the matter. He read the letter, which was
not long, put it in his pocket, and then entered the tollhouse. There
was now no doubt or sign of disturbance on his features.
"I have considered your invitation, madam," said he, "and as I see Olive
wants to visit you, I shall not interfere."
"Of course she does," cried Mrs. Easterfield, springing to her feet,
"and I thank you ever and ever so much, Captain Asher. And now, my
dear," said she to Olive, "I am going to send the carriage for you
to-morrow morning." And with this she put her arm around the girl and
kissed her. Then, having warmly shaken hands with the captain, she
"Do you know, Uncle John," said Olive, "I believe if you were twenty
years older she would have kissed you."
With a grim smile the captain considered; would he have been willing to
accept those additional years under the circumstances? He could not
immediately make up his mind, and contented himself with the reflection
that Olive did not think him old enough for the indiscriminate caresses
of young people.
_The Son of an Old Shipmate._
When Olive came down to breakfast the next morning she half repented
that she had consented to go away and leave her uncle for so long a
time. But when she made known her state of mind the captain laughed at
"My child," said he, "I want you to go. Of course, I did not take to the
notion at first, but I did not consider then what you will have to tell
when you come home. The people of Glenford will be your everlasting
debtors. It might be a good thing to invite Maria Port out here. You
could give her the best time she ever had in her life, telling her about
the Broadstone people."
"Maria Port, indeed!" said Olive. "But we won't talk of her. And you
really are willing I should go?"
"I speak the truth when I say I want you to go," replied the captain.
Whereupon Olive assured him that he was truly a good uncle.
After the Easterfield carriage had rolled away with Olive alone on the
back seat, waving her handkerchief, the captain requested Jane to take
entire charge of the toll-gate for a time; and, having retired to his
own room, he took from his pocket the letter he had received the day
"I must write an answer to this," he said, "before the postman comes."
The letter was from one of the captain's old shipmates, Captain Richard
Lancaster, the best friend he had had when he was in the merchant
service. Captain Lancaster had often been asked by his old friend to
visit him at the toll-gate, but, being married and rheumatic, he had
never accepted the invitation. But now he wrote that his son, Dick, had
planned a holiday trip which would take him through Glenford, and that,
if it suited Captain Asher, the father would accept for the son the
long-standing invitation. Captain Lancaster wrote that as he could not
go himself to his old friend Asher, the next best thing would be for his
son to go, and when the young man returned he could tell his father all
about Captain Asher. There would be something in that like old times.
Besides, he wanted his former shipmate to know his son Dick, who was, in
his eyes, a very fine young fellow.
"There never was such a lucky thing in the world," said Captain Asher to
himself, when he had finished rereading the letter. "Of course, I want
to have Dick Lancaster's son here, but I could not have had him if Olive
had been here. But now it is all right. The young fellow can stay here a
few days, and he will be gone before she gets back. If I like him I can
ask him to come again; but that's my business. Handsome women, like that
Mrs. Easterfield, always bring good luck. I have noticed that many and
many a time."
Then he set himself to work to write a letter to invite young Richard
Lancaster to spend a few days with him.
For the rest of that day, and the greater part of the next, Captain
Asher gave a great deal of thinking time to the consideration of the
young man who was about to visit him, and of whom, personally, he knew
very little. He was aware that Captain Lancaster had a son and no other
children, and he was quite sure that this son must now be a grown-up
young man. He remembered very well that Captain Lancaster was a fine
young fellow when he first knew him, and he did not doubt at all that
the son resembled the father. He did not believe that young Dick was a
sailor, because he and old Dick had often said to each other that if
they married their sons should not go to sea. Of course he was in some
business; and Captain Lancaster ought to be well able to give him a good
start in life; just as able as he himself was to give Olive a good start
in housekeeping when the time came.
"Now, what in the name of common sense," ejaculated Captain Asher, "did
I think of that for? What has he to do with Olive, or Olive with him?"
And then he said to himself, thinking of the young man in the bosom of
his family and without reference to anybody outside of it: "Yes, his
father must be pretty well off. He did a good deal more trading than
ever I did. But after all, I don't believe he invested his money any
better than I did mine, and it is just as like as not if we were to show
our hands, that Olive would get as much as Dick's son. There it is
again. I can't keep my mind off the thing." And as he spoke he knocked
the ashes out of his pipe, and began to stride up and down the garden
walk; and as he did so he began to reproach himself.
What right had he to think of his niece in that way? It was not doing
the fair thing by her father, and perhaps by her, for that matter. For
all he knew she might be engaged to somebody out West or down East, or
in some other part of the world where she had lived. But this idea made
very little impression on him. Knowing Olive as he did, he did not
believe that she was engaged to anybody anywhere; he did not want to
think that she was the kind of girl who would conceal her engagement
from him, or who could do it, for that matter. But, everything
considered, he was very glad Olive had gone to Broadstone, for, whatever
the young fellow might happen to be, he wanted to know all about him
before Olive met him.
Captain Asher firmly believed that there was nothing of the matchmaker
in his disposition, but notwithstanding this estimate of himself, he
went on thinking of Olive and the son of his old shipmate, both
separately and together. He had never said to anybody, nor intimated to
anybody, that he was going to give any of his moderate fortune to his
niece. In fact, before this visit to him he had not thought much about
it, nor did it enter his mind that Olive's Boston aunt, her mother's
sister, had favored this visit of the girl to her toll-gate uncle,
hoping that he might think about it.
In consequence of these cogitations, and in spite of the fact that he
despised matchmaking, Captain Asher was greatly interested in the coming
advent of his shipmate's son.
When the same phaeton, the same horse, and the same boy that had brought
Maria Port to the tollhouse, conveyed there a young man with two
valises, one rather large, Captain Asher did not hurry from the house to
meet his visitor. He had seen him coming, and had preferred to stand in
his doorway and take a preliminary observation of him. Having taken
this, Captain Asher was obliged to confess to himself that he was
The first cause of his disappointment was the fact that the young man
wore a colored shirt and no vest, and a yellow leather belt. Now,
Captain Asher for the greater part of his active life had worn colored
shirts, sometimes very dark ones, with no vests, but he had not supposed
that a young man coming to a house where there was a young lady
accustomed to the best society would present himself in such attire. The
captain instantly remembered that his visitor could not know that there
was a young lady at the house, but this did not satisfy him. Such attire
was not respectful, even to him. The leather belt especially offended
him. The captain was not aware of the _neglige_ summer fashions for men
which then prevailed.
The next thing that disappointed him was that young Lancaster, seen
across the garden, did not appear to be the strapping young fellow he
had expected to see. He was moderately tall, and moderately broad, and
handled his valise with apparent ease, but he did not look as though he
were his father's son. Dick Lancaster had married the daughter of a
captain when he was only a second mate, and that piece of good fortune
had been generally attributed to his good looks.
But these observations and reflections occupied a very short time, and
Captain Asher walked quickly to meet his visitor. As he stepped out of
the garden-gate he was disappointed again. The young man's trousers were
turned up above his shoes. The weather was not wet, there was no mud,
and if Dick Lancaster's son had not bought a pair of ready-made trousers
that were too long for him, why should he turn them up in that
In spite of these first impressions, the captain gave his old friend's
son a hearty welcome, and took him into the house. After dinner he
subjected the young man to a crucial test; he asked him if he smoked. If
the visitor had answered in the negative he would have dropped still
further in the captain's estimation. It was not that the captain had any
theories in regard to the sanitary advantages or disadvantages of
tobacco; he simply remembered that nearly all the rascals with whom he
had been acquainted had been eager to declare that they never used
tobacco in any form, and that nearly all the good fellows he had known
enjoyed their pipes. In fact, he could not see how good fellowship could
be maintained without good talk and good tobacco, so he waited with an
anxious interest for his guest's answer.
"Oh, yes," said he, "I am fond of a smoke, especially in company," and
so, having risen several inches in the good opinion of his host, he
followed him to the little arbor in the garden.
"Now, then," said Captain Asher, when his pipe was alight, "you have
told me a great deal about your father, now tell me something about
yourself. I do not even know what your business is."
"I am Assistant Professor of Theoretical Mathematics in Sutton College,"
answered the young man.
Captain Asher put down his pipe and gazed at his visitor across the
arbor. This answer was so different from anything he had expected that
for the moment he could not express his astonishment, and was obliged to
content himself with asking where Sutton College was.
"It is what they call a fresh-water college," replied the young man,
"and I do not wonder that you do not know where it is. It is near our
town. I graduated there and received my present appointment about three
years ago. I was then twenty-seven."
"Your father was good at mathematics," said Captain Asher. "He was a
great hand at calculations, but he went in for practise, as I did, and
not for theories. I suppose there are other professors who teach regular
"Oh, yes," replied the young man, with a smile, "there is the Professor
of Applied Mathematics, but of course the thorough student wants to
understand the theories on which his practise is to be based."
"I do not see why he should," replied the other. "If a good ship is
launched for me, I don't care anything about the stocks she slides off
"Perhaps not," said Lancaster, "but somebody has to think about them."
In the afternoon Captain Asher showed his visitor his little farm, and
took him out fishing. During these recreations he refrained, as far as
possible, from asking questions, for he did not wish the young man to
suppose that for any reason he had been sent there to undergo an
examination. But in the evening he could not help talking about the
college, not in reference to the work and life of the students, a
subject that did not interest him, but in regard to the work and the
prospects of the faculty.
"What does your president teach?" he asked. "I believe all presidents
have charge of some branch or other."
"Oh, yes," said Lancaster, "our president is Professor of Mental and
"I thought it would be something of the kind," said the captain to
himself. "Even the head Professor of Mathematical Theories would never
get to the top of the heap. He is not useful enough for that."
After he had gone to bed that night Captain Asher found himself laughing
about the events of the day. He could not help it when he remembered how
his mind had been almost constantly occupied with a consideration of his
old shipmate's son with reference to his brother's daughter. And when he
remembered that neither of these two young people had ever seen or heard
of the other, it is not surprising that he laughed a little.
"It's none of my business, anyway," thought the captain, "and I might as
well stop bothering my head about it. I suppose I might as well tell
him about Olive, for it is nothing I need keep secret. But first I'll
see how long he is going to stay. It's none of his business, anyway,
whether I have a niece staying with me or not."
_Olive pays Toll._
It is needless to say that Olive was charmed with Broadstone; with its
mistress; with the two little girls; with the woods; the river; the
mountains; and even the sky; which seemed different from that same sky
when viewed from the tollhouse. She was charmed also with the rest of
the household, which was different from anything of that kind that she
had known, being composed entirely, with the exception of some servants,
of women and little girls. Olive, accustomed all her life to men, men,
men, grew rapturous over this Amazonian paradise.
"Don't be too enthusiastic," said Mrs. Easterfield; "for a while you may
like fresh butter without salt, but the longing for the condiment will
be sure to come."
There was Mrs. Blynn, the widow of a clergyman, with dark-brown eyes and
white hair, who was always in a good humor, who acted as the general
manager of the household, and also as particular friend to any one in
the house who needed her services in that way. Then there was Miss
Raleigh, who was supposed to be Mrs. Easterfield's secretary. She was a
slender spinster of forty or more, with sad eyes and very fine teeth.
She had dyspeptic proclivities, and never differed with anybody except
in regard to her own diet. She seldom wrote for Mrs. Easterfield, for
that lady did not like her handwriting, and she did not understand the
use of the typewriter; nor did she read to the lady of the house, for
Mrs. Easterfield could not endure to have anybody read to her. But in
all the other duties of a secretary she made herself very useful. She
saw that the books, which every morning were found lying about the
house, were put in their proper places on the shelves, and, if
necessary, she dusted them; if she saw a book turned upside down she
immediately set it up properly. She was also expected to exert a certain
supervision over the books the little girls were allowed to look at. She
was an excellent listener and an appropriate smiler; Mrs. Easterfield
frequently said that she never knew Miss Raleigh to smile in the wrong
place. She took a regular walk every day, eight times up and down the
whole length of the lawn.
Mrs. Easterfield gave herself almost entirely to the entertainment of
her guest. They roamed over the grounds, they found the finest points of
view, at which Olive was expert, being a fine climber, and they tramped
for long distances along the edge of the woods, where together they
killed a snake. Mrs. Easterfield also allowed Olive the great privilege
of helping her work in her garden of nature. This was a wide bed which
was almost entirely shaded by two large trees. The peculiarity about
this bed was that its mistress carefully pulled up all the flowering
plants and cultivated the weeds.
"You see," said she to Olive, "I planted here a lot of flower-seeds
which I thought would thrive in the shade, but they did not, and after a
while I found that they were all spindling and puny-looking, while the
weeds were growing as if they were out in the open sunshine, so I have
determined to acknowledge the principle of the survival of the fittest,
and whenever anything that looks like a flower shows itself I jerk it
out. I also thin out all but the best weeds. I hoe and rake the others,
and water them if necessary. Look at that splendid Jamestown weed--here
they call it jimson weed--did you ever see anything finer than that with
its great white blossoms and dark-green leaves? I expect it to be twice
as large before the summer is over. And all these others. See how
graceful they are, and what delicate flowers some of them have!"
"I wonder," said Olive, "if I should have had the strength of mind to
pull up my flowers and leave my weeds."
"The more you think about it," said Mrs. Easterfield, "the more you like
weeds. They have such fine physiques, and they don't ask anybody to do
anything for them. They are independent, like self-made men, and come up
of themselves. They laugh at disadvantages, and even bricks and
flagstones will not keep them down."
"But, after all," said Olive, "give me the flowers that can not take
care of themselves." And she turned toward a bed of carnations, bright
under the morning sun.
"Do you suppose, little girl," said Mrs. Easterfield, following her,
"that I do not like flowers because I do like weeds? Everything in its
place; weeds are for the shady spots, but I keep my flowers out of such
places. This flower, for instance," touching Olive on the cheek. "And
now let us go into the house and see what pleasant thing we can find to
In the afternoon the two ladies went out rowing on the river, and Mrs.
Easterfield was astonished at Olive's proficiency with the oar. She had
thought herself a good oarswoman, but she was nothing to Olive. She
good-naturedly acknowledged her inferiority, however. How could she
expect to compete with a navy girl? she said.
"Are you fond of swimming?" asked Olive, as she looked down into the
bright, clear water.
"Oh, very," said Mrs. Easterfield. "But I am not allowed to swim in this
river. It is considered dangerous."
Olive looked up in surprise. It seemed odd that there should be anything
that this bright, free woman was not allowed to do, or that there should
be anybody who would not allow it.
Then followed some rainy days, and the first clear day Mrs. Easterfield
told Olive that she would take her a drive in the afternoon.
"I shall drive you myself with my own horses," she said, "but you need
not be afraid, for I can drive a great deal better than I can row. We
must lose no time in seizing all the advantages of this Amazonian life,
for to-morrow some of our guests will arrive, the Foxes and Mr. Claude
"Who are the Foxes?" asked Olive.
"They are the pleasantest visitors that any one could have," was the
answer. "They always like everything. They never complain of being
cold, nor talk about the weather being hot. They are interested in all
games, and they like all possible kinds of food that one can give them
to eat. They are always ready to go to bed when they think they ought
to, and sit up just as long as they are wanted. Of course, they have
their own ideas about things, but they don't dispute. They take care of
themselves all the morning, and are ready for anything you want to do in
the afternoon or evening. They have two children at home, but they never
talk about them unless they are particularly asked to do so. They know a
great many people, and you can tell by the way they speak of them that
they won't talk scandal about you. In fact, they are model guests, and
they ought to open a school to teach the art of visiting."
"And what about Mr. Claude Locker?"
Mrs. Easterfield laughed. "Oh, he is different," she said; "he is so
different from the Poxes that words would not describe it. But you won't
be long in becoming acquainted with him."
The road over which the two ladies drove that afternoon was a beautiful
one, sometimes running close to the river under great sycamores, then
making a turn into the woods and among the rocks. At last they came to a
cross-road, which led away from the river, and here Mrs. Easterfield
stopped her horses.
"Now, Olive," said she, for she was now very familiar with her guest, "I
will leave the return route to you. Shall we go back by the river
road--and the scenery will be very different when going in the other
direction--or shall we drive over to Glenford, and go home by the
turnpike? That is a little farther, but the road is a great deal
"Oh, let us go that way," cried Olive. "We will go through Uncle John's
toll-gate, and you must let me pay the toll. It will be such fun to pay
toll to Uncle John, or old Jane."
"Very well," said Mrs. Easterfield, "we will go that way."
When the horses had passed through Glenford and had turned their heads
homeward, they clattered along at a fine rate over the smooth turnpike,
and Olive was in as high spirits as they were.
"Whoever comes out to take toll," said she, "I intend to be treated as
an ordinary traveler and nothing else. I have often taken toll, but I
never paid it in my life. And they must take it--no gratis traveling for
me. But I hope you won't mind stopping long enough for me to say a few
words after I have transacted the regular business."
"Oh, no," said Mrs. Easterfield, "you can chat as much as you like. We
have plenty of time."
Olive held in her hand a quarter of a dollar; she was determined they
should make change for her, and that everything should be done properly.
Dick Lancaster sat in the garden arbor, reading. He was becoming a
little tired of this visit to his father's old friend. He liked Captain
Asher and appreciated his hospitality, but there was nothing very
interesting for him to do in this place, and he had thought that it
might be a very good thing if the several days for which he had been
invited should terminate on the morrow. There were some very attractive
plans ahead of him, and he felt that he had now done his full duty by
his father and his father's old friend.
Captain Asher was engaged with some matters about his little farm, and
Lancaster had asked as a favor that he might be allowed to tend the
toll-gate during his absence. It would be something to do, and,
moreover, something out of the way.
When he perceived the approach of Mrs. Easterfield's carriage Lancaster
walked down to the tollhouse, and stopped for a minute to glance over
the rates of toll which were pasted up inside the door as well as out.
The carriage stopped, and when a young man stepped out from the
tollhouse Olive gave a sudden start, and the words with which she had
intended to greet her uncle or old Jane instantly melted away.
"Don't push me out of the carriage," said Mrs. Easterfield,
good-naturedly, and she, too, looked at the young man.
"For two horses and a vehicle," said Dick Lancaster, "ten cents, if you
Olive made no answer, but handed him the quarter with which he retired
to make change. Mrs. Easterfield opened her mouth to speak, but Olive
put her finger on her lips and shook her head; the situation astonished
her, but she did not wish to ask that stranger to explain it.
Lancaster came out and dropped fifteen cents into Olive's hand. He could
not help regarding with interest the occupants of the carriage, and Mrs.
Easterfield looked hard at him. Suddenly Olive turned in her seat; she
looked at the house, she looked at the garden, she looked at the little
piazza by the side of the tollhouse. Yes, it was really the same place.
For an instant she thought she might have been mistaken, but there was
her window with the Virginia creeper under the sill where she had
trained it herself. Then she made a motion to her companion, who
immediately drove on.
"What does this mean?" exclaimed Mrs. Easterfield. "Who is that young
man? Why didn't you give me a chance to ask after the captain, even if
you did not care to do so?"
"I never saw him before!" cried Olive. "I never heard of him. I don't
understand anything about it. The whole thing shocked me, and I wanted
to get on."
"I don't think it a very serious matter," said Mrs. Easterfield. "Some
passer-by might have relieved your uncle for a time."
"Not at all, not at all," replied Olive. "Uncle John would never give
the toll-gate into the charge of a passer-by, especially as old Jane was
there. I know she was there, for the basement door was open, and she
never goes away and leaves it so. That man is somebody who is staying
there. I saw an open book on the arbor bench. Nobody reads in that arbor
"And that young man apparently," said Mrs. Easterfield. "I agree with
you that it is surprising."
For some minutes Olive did not speak. "I am afraid," she said,
presently, "that my uncle is not acting quite frankly with me. I noticed
how willing he was that I should go to your house."
"Perhaps he expected this person and wanted to get you out of the way,"
laughed Mrs. Easterfield.
"Well, my dear, I do not believe your uncle is such a schemer. He does
not look like it. Take my word for it, it will all be as simple as a-b-c
when it is explained to you."
But Olive could not readily take this view of the case, and the drive
home was not nearly so pleasant as it would have been if her uncle or
old Jane had taken her quarter and given her fifteen cents in change.
That night, soon after the family at Broadstone had retired to their
rooms, Olive knocked at the door of Mrs. Easterfield's chamber.
"Do you know," she exclaimed, when she had been told to enter, "that a
horrible idea has come into my head? Uncle John may have been taken
sick, and that man looked just like a doctor. Old Jane was busy with
uncle, and as the doctor had to wait, he took the toll. Oh, I wish we
had asked! It was cruel in me not to!"
"Now, that is all nonsense," said Mrs. Easterfield. "If anything serious
is the matter with your uncle he most surely would have let you know,
and, besides, both the doctors in Glenford are elderly men. I do not
believe there is the slightest reason for your anxiety. But to make you
feel perfectly satisfied, I will send a man to Glenford early in the
morning. I want to send there anyway."
"But I would not like my uncle to think that I was trying to find out
anything he did not care to tell me," said Olive.
"Oh, don't trouble yourself about that," answered Mrs. Easterfield. "I
will instruct the man. He need not ask any questions at the toll-gate.
But when he gets to Glenford he can find out everything about that
young man without asking any questions. He is a very discreet person.
And I am also a discreet person," she added, "and you shall have no
connection with my messenger's errand."
After breakfast the next morning Mrs. Easterfield took Olive aside. "My
man has returned," she said; "he tells me that Captain Asher took the
toll, and was smoking his pipe in perfect health. He also saw the young
man, and his natural curiosity prompted him to ask about him in the
town. He heard that he is the son of one of the captain's old shipmates
who is making him a visit. Now I hope this satisfies you."
"Satisfies me!" exclaimed Olive. "I should have been a great deal better
satisfied if I had heard he was sick, provided it was nothing dangerous.
I think my uncle is treating me shamefully. It is not that I care a snap
about his visitor, one way or another, but it is his want of confidence
in me that hurts me. Could he have supposed I should have wanted to stay
with him if I had known a young man was coming?"
"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Easterfield, "I can not send anybody to find
out what he supposed. But I am as certain as I can be certain of
anything that there is nothing at all in this bugbear you have conjured
up. No doubt the young man dropped in quite accidentally, and it was his
bad luck that prevented him from dropping in before you left."
Olive shook her head. "My uncle knew all about it. His manner showed it.
He has treated me very badly."
_Mr. Claude Locker._
The Foxes arrived at Broadstone at the exact hour of the morning at
which they had been expected. They always did this; even trains which
were sometimes delayed when other visitors came were always on time when
they carried the Foxes. They were both perfectly well and happy, as they
As rapidly as it was possible for human beings to do so they absorbed
the extraordinary advantages of the house and it surroundings, and they
said the right things in such a common-sense fashion that their hostess
was proud that she owned such a place, and happy that she had invited
them to see it.