Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Captain's Toll-Gate by Frank R. Stockton

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"No, she did not," was the answer. "She kindly sent me word by Mrs.
Easterfield. I suppose your turn has not come yet. I was at the head of
the list." And, fearing that if he stayed longer he might say too much,
Mr. Locker walked slowly away, whistling disjointedly as he went.

That evening Mrs. Easterfield discovered that she had been deprived of
the anticipated pleasure of conveying to Mr. Du Brant the message which
Olive had sent him. That gentleman, unusually polite and soft-spoken,
found her by herself, and thus accosted her: "You must excuse me, madam,
for speaking upon a certain subject without permission from you, but I
have reason to believe that you are the bearer of a message to me from
Miss Asher."

"How in the world did you find that out?" she asked.

"It was the--Locker," he answered. "I do not think it was his intention
to inform me fully; he is not a master of words and expressions; he is a
little blundering; but, from what he said, I supposed you were kind
enough to be the bearer of such a message."

"Yes," said Mrs. Easterfield; "not being able to be here herself, Miss
Asher requested me to say to you that she must decline--"

"Excuse me, madam," he interrupted, "but it is I who decline. I bear
toward you, madam, the greatest homage and respect, but what I had the
honor to say to Miss Asher I said to her alone, and it is only from her
that it is possible for me to receive an answer. Therefore, madam, it is
absolutely necessary that I decline to be a party to the interview you
so graciously propose. It breaks my heart, my dear madam, even to seem
unwilling to listen to anything you might deign to say to me, but in
this case I must be firm, I must decline. Can you pardon me, dear madam,
for speaking as I have been obliged to speak?"

"Oh, of course," said Mrs. Easterfield. "And really, since you know so
much, it is not necessary for me to tell you anything more."

"Ah," said the diplomat, with a little bow and an incredulous
expression, as if the lady could have no idea what he might yet know, "I
am so much obliged to you! I am so thankful!"


_Here we go! Lovers Three!_

The three discarded lovers of Broadstone--all discarded, although one of
them would not admit it--would have departed the next day had not that
day been Sunday, when there were no convenient trains. Mr. Du Brant was
due in Washington; Mr. Hemphill was needed very much at his desk,
especially since Mr. Easterfield had decided to spend a few days with
his wife; and Claude Locker wanted to go. When he had finished the thing
he happened to be doing it was his habit immediately to begin something
else. All was at an end between him and Miss Asher. He acknowledged
this, and he did not wish to stay at Broadstone. But, as it could not be
helped, they all stayed over Sunday.

Mr. Easterfield planned an early afternoon expedition to a mission
church in the mountains; it would be a novel experience, and a
delightful trip, and everybody must go.

In the course of the morning Mr. Du Brant strolled in the eastern parts
of the grounds, and Mr. Locker strolled over that portion of the lawn
which lay to the west. Mr. Du Brant did not meet with any one with whom
he cared to talk, but Mr. Locker was fortunate enough to meet Miss

"I am glad to see you," said he; "you are the person above all other
persons I wish to talk to."

"It delights me to hear that," said the lady, her face showing that she
spoke the truth.

"Let us go over there and sit down," said he. "Now, then," he continued,
"you were present, Miss Raleigh, at a very peculiar moment in my life, a
momentous moment, I may say. You enjoyed a privilege--if you consider it
such--not vouchsafed to many mortals."

"I did consider it a privilege, you may be sure," exclaimed Miss
Raleigh, "and I value it. You do not know how highly I value it!"

"You heard me offer myself, body and soul, to the lady I loved. You were
taken into our confidence, you saw me laid upon the table--"

"Oh, dreadful!" cried the lady. "Don't put it that way."

"Well, then," said he, "you saw me postponed for future consideration.
You promised you would regard everything you heard as confidential; by
so doing you enabled me to speak when otherwise I might not have dared
to do so. I am deeply grateful to you; and, as you already know so much
about my hopes and my aspirations, I think it right you should know all
there is to know."

The conscience of Miss Raleigh stirred itself very vigorously within
her, and her voice was much subdued as she said:

"I am sure you are very good."

"Well, then," said Locker, "the proposal you heard me make has been
declined. I am discarded; and not directly in a face-to-face interview,
but through another by a message. It would have been inconvenient for
Miss Asher personally to communicate the intelligence, so as Mrs.
Easterfield was coming this way she kindly consented to convey the

"I declare," exclaimed Miss Raleigh, "I had not heard of that! Mrs.
Easterfield made me her confidant in the early stages of this affair, or
I should say, these affairs. But she has not told me that."

"She will doubtless give herself that pleasure later," said Locker.

"No," said she, "she will not think any more about it. I am of no
further use. And may I ask if you know anything about the two other

"Both turned down," said Locker.

"I might have supposed that," answered the lady; "for if Miss Asher
would not take you she certainly would not be content with either of

"With all my heart I thank you," said Locker warmly. "Such words are
welcome to a wounded heart."

For a moment Miss Raleigh was silent, then she remarked, "It is very
hard to be discarded."

"You are right there!" exclaimed Locker. "But how do you happen to know
anything about it?"

"I have been discarded myself," she answered.

The larger eye of Mr. Locker grew still larger, the other endeavored to
emulate its companion's size; and his mouth became a rounded opening.
"Discarded?" he cried.

"Yes," said she.

The countenance of the young man was now bright with interest and
curiosity. "I don't suppose it would be right to ask you," said he,
"even although I have taken you so completely into my confidence--but,
never mind. Don't think of it. Of course, I would not propose such a

"Of course not," said she, "you are too manly for that." And then she
was silent again. Naturally she hesitated to reveal the secrets of her
heart, and to a gentleman with whom her acquaintance was of such recent
date; but she earnestly wanted to repose confidence in another, as well
as to receive it, and it was so seldom, so very seldom, that such an
opportunity came to her.

"I do not know," she said, "that I ought to, but still--"

"Oh, don't, if you don't want to," said Locker.

"But I think I do want to," she replied. "You are so kind, so good, and
you have confided in me. Yes, I was once discarded, not exactly by word
of mouth, or even by message, but still discarded."

"A stranger to me, of course," said Locker, his whole form twisting
itself into an interrogation-point.

"No," said she, "and as I have begun I will go on. It was Mr. Hemphill."

"What!" he exclaimed. "That--"

"Yes, it was he," said she, speaking slowly, and in a low voice. "He was
Mr. Easterfield's secretary and I was Mrs. Easterfield's secretary, and,
of course, we were thrown much together. He has very good qualities; I
do not hesitate now to say that; and they impressed themselves upon me.
In every possible way I endeavored to make things pleasant for him. I do
not believe that when he was at work he ever wanted a glass of cold
water that he did not find it within reach. I early discovered that he
was very fond of cold water."

"A most commendable dissipation," interrupted Locker.

"He had no dissipations," said Miss Raleigh. "His character was
unimpeachable. In very many ways I was attracted to him, in very many
ways I endeavored to make life pleasant for him; and I am afraid that
sometimes I neglected Mrs. Easterfield's interests so that I might do
little things for him, such as dusting, keeping his ink-pots full,
providing fresh blotting-paper, and many other trifling services which
devotion readily suggested."

Locker heaved a sigh of commiseration which she mistook for one of

"I will not go into particulars," she continued, "but at last he
discovered that--well, I will be plain with you--he discovered that I
loved him. Then, sir--it is humiliating to me to say it, but I will not
flinch--he discarded me. He did not use words, but his manner was
sufficient. Never again did I go near his desk, never did I tender him
the slightest service. It was a terrible blow! It was humiliating"

"I should think so," said Locker, "from him"

"But I will say no more," she remarked with a sigh. "I have told you
what you have heard that you may understand how thoroughly I sympathize
with you, for all is over with me in that direction, as I suppose all
is over with you in your direction. And now I must go, for this long
conference may be remarked. But before I go, I will say that if ever

"Oh, no, no, no!" interrupted Locker, "it would not do at all! I really
have begun to believe that I was cut out for a bachelor."

"What!" said Miss Raleigh, with great severity. "Do you suppose, sir,
that I--"

"Not at all, not at all" cried Locker. "Not for one moment do I suppose
that you--"

"If for one moment," said she, "I had imagined you would suppose--"

"But I assure you, Miss Raleigh, I never did suppose that you would
imagine I would think--but if you do suppose I thought you imagined I
could possibly conceive--"

"But I really did think," said Miss Raleigh, speaking more gently. "But
if I was wrong--"

"Nay, think no more about it," Locker interrupted, "and let us be
friends again."

He offered her his hand, which she shook warmly, and then departed.

It had been arranged that Lancaster was not to leave Broadstone on the
next day. He had expected to do so, but Mr. Easterfield had planned for
a day's fishing for himself, Mr. Fox, and the professor, and he would
not let the latter off. The ladies had accepted an invitation to
luncheon that day; the next day some new visitors were expected; and in
order not to interfere with Mr. Easterfield's plans, evidently intended
to restore to Broadstone some of the social harmony which had recently
been so disturbed, Dick consented to stay, although he really wanted to
go. He could not forget that his vacation was passing.

"Very well, then," Mrs. Easterfield remarked to him that Sunday evening,
"if you must go on Tuesday, I suppose you must, although I think it
would be better for you if I were to keep my eye on you for a little
while longer."

"Perhaps so," said Lancaster, "but the time has come when curb-bits,
cages, and good advice are not for me. I must burst loose from
everything and go my way, right or wrong, whatever it may be."

"I see that," said she; "but if it had not been for the curbed bit and
all that, you would be leaving this place a discarded lover, like the
rest of them. They depart with their love-affairs finished forever,
ended; you go as free to woo, to win, or to lose as you ever were. And
you owe this entirely to me, so whatever else you do, don't sneer at my
curbs and my cages; to them you owe your liberty."

The professor fully appreciated everything she had done for him, and
told her so earnestly and warmly. But she interrupted his grateful

"It would have been very hard on me," she said, "if Olive had asked me
to carry to you the news of your rejection. That is what I did for the
others, I suppose you know."

"Oh, yes," said Lancaster; "Locker told me."

"I might have supposed that," said she. "And now I feel bound to tell
you also, although it is not a message, that Olive does not expect to
see you at her uncle's house. She infers that you are going to continue
your vacation journey."

"I have made my plans for my journey," said he, "and I do not think,
Mrs. Easterfield, that you will care to have me talk them over with

"No, indeed," she replied; "I do not want to hear a word about them, but
I am going to give you one piece of advice, whether you like it or not.
Don't be in a hurry to ask her to marry you. At this moment she does not
want to marry anybody. Her position has entirely changed. She wanted to
marry so that her plans might be settled before her father and his new
wife arrive; and now she considers that they are settled. So be careful.
It is true that the objections she formerly had to you are removed, but
before you ask her to marry you, you should seriously ask yourself what
reason there is she should do so. She does not know you very well; she
is not interested in you; and I am very sure she is not in love with
you. Now you know, for I have told you so, that I would be delighted to
see you two married. I believe you would suit each other admirably, but
although you may agree with me in this opinion, I am quite sure she does
not; at least, not yet. Now, this is all I am going to say, except that
you have my very best wishes that you may get her."

"I shall never forget that," said he, "but I see I am not to be free
from the memory, at least, of the curb and the cage."

After breakfast on Monday the three discarded lovers departed in a
dog-cart, Mr. Du Brant in front with the driver, and Claude Locker and
Hemphill behind. For some minutes the party was silent. If
circumstances had permitted they would have gone separately.

As long as he could see the mansion of Broadstone, Claude Locker spoke
no word. When the time had come to go he had not wanted to go. When
taking leave of Dick Lancaster he had congratulated that favored young
man upon the fact that he had not been rejected, and had assured him
that if he had remained at Broadstone he would have done his best to
back him up as he had said he would.

Hemphill was not inclined to talk. Of course, Locker did not care to
converse with the young diplomat, and consequently he found himself
bored, and to relieve his feelings he burst into song. His words were
impromptu, and although the verse was not very good, it was very
impressive. It began as follows:

"Here we go,
Lovers three,
All steeped deep
In miseree."

At this Mr. Hemphill turned and looked at him, while a deep grunt came
from the front seat, but the singer kept on without much attention to
meter, and none at all to tune.

"This is so,
Here we go,
Hopes all blasted,
Flags half-masted.
While it lasted,
We poor--"

"Look here," cried Du Brant, turning round suddenly, "I beg you desist
that. You are insulting. And what you say is not true, as regards me at
least. You can sing for yourself."

"Not true!" cried Locker. "Oh, ho, oh ho! Perhaps you have forgotten
yourself, kind sir."

This little speech seemed to make Du Brant very angry, and he fairly
shouted at Locker: "No, I haven't forgotten myself, and I have not
forgotten you! You have insulted me before, and I should like to make
you pay for it! I should like to have satisfaction from you, sir"

"That sounds well," cried Locker. "Do you mean to fight?"

"I want the satisfaction due to a gentleman," answered the young

"Good," cried Locker, "that would suit me exactly. It would brighten me
up. Let's do it now. I am not going to stop at Washington, and this is
the only time I can give you. Driver, can we get to the station in time
if we stop a little while?"

The person addressed was a young negro who had become intensely
interested in the conversation.

"Oh, yes, sah," he answered. "We'll git dar twenty minutes before de
train does, and if you takes half an hour I can whip up. That train's
mostly late, anyway."

"All right," cried Locker. "And now, sir, how shall we fight? What have
you got to fight with?"

"This is folly," growled Du Brant. "I have nothing to fight with. I do
not fight with fists, like you Americans."

"Haven't you a penknife" coolly asked Locker. "If not, I daresay Mr.
Hemphill will lend you one."

Du Brant now fairly trembled with anger. "When I fight," said he, "I
fight like a gentleman; with a sword or a pistol."

"I am sorry," said Locker, "but if I remembered to bring my sword and
pistol I must have put them in the bottom of my trunk, and that has gone
on to the station. Have you two pistols or swords with you? Or do you
think you could get sufficient satisfaction out of a couple of piles of
stones that we could hurl at each other?"

Du Brant made no English answer to this, but uttered some savage remarks
in French.

"Do you understand what all that means?" inquired Locker of Hemphill,
who had been quietly listening to what had been going on.

"Yes," said the other, "he is cursing you up hill, and down dale."

"Oh," said Locker, "it sounds to me as if he were calculating his last
week's expenses. But when he gets to French cursing, I drop him. I can't
fight him that way."

The colored boy now showed that he was very much disappointed. He had
expected the pleasure of a fight, and he was afraid he was going to lose

"I tell you, sah," he said to Locker, "why don't you try kick-shins? Do
you know what kick-shins is? You don't know what kick-shins is? Well,
kick-shins is this: one fellow stands in front of the other fellow, and
one takes hold of the collar of the other fellow, and the other fellow
takes hold of his collar, and then they kicks each other's shins, and
the one what squeals fust, he's licked, and the other one gits the gal.
You've got pretty thin shoes, sah," addressing Du Brant, "and your feet
ain't half as big as his'n, but your toes is more p'inted."

"No kick-shins for me," said Locker. "I've got to be economical about my

Du Brant's rage now became ungovernable. "Do you apologize," he cried,
"or I take you by the throat, and I strangle you."

Hemphill, who had been smiling mildly at the kick-shin proposition, now
turned himself about. "You will not do that," he said, "and if you don't
sit quiet and keep your mouth shut, I'll toss you out of this cart, and
make you walk the rest of the way to the station."

As Hemphill looked quite big and strong enough to execute this threat,
and as he was too quiet a man to be ignored, Du Brant turned his face to
the horse, and said no more.

"I did not know you were such a trump" cried Locker. "Give me your hand.
I should hate to be strangled by a foreigner!"

When they took the train Du Brant went by himself into the smoking-car,
and Locker and Hemphill had a seat together.

"Do you know," said Locker, "I am beginning to like you, although I must
admit that before this morning I can remember no feeling of the sort."

"That is not surprising," said Hemphill. "A man is not generally fond of
his rival."

"We will let it go at that," said Locker, "we'll let it go at that! I
should not wonder, if we had all stayed at Broadstone; and if the
central object of interest had also remained; and, if I had failed, as
I have failed, to make the proper impression; and if the professor, whom
I promised to back up in case I should find myself out of the combat,
should also have failed; I should not wonder if I had backed up you."


_Two Pieces of News._

It was nearly two weeks after Mrs. Easterfield drove away from the
captain's toll-gate before she went back there again. There were many
reasons for thus depriving herself of Olive's society. Mr. Tom had
stayed with her for an unusually long time; a house full of visitors,
mostly relatives, had succeeded the departed lovers, and Foxes; and,
besides, Olive was so very busy and so very happy--as she learned from
many little notes--cleaning the house from garret to cellar, and loving
her uncle better every day, that it really would have been a misdemeanor
to interfere with her ardent pursuits.

But now Olive had written that she wanted to tell her a lot of things
which could not go into a letter, and so the Broadstone carriage stopped
again at the toll-gate.

Two great things had Olive to tell, and she was really glad that her
uncle was not at home so that she might get at once to the telling.

In the first place, old Mr. Port was dead, and Captain Asher was in
great trouble about this. Of course, he could not keep away from the
deathbed of his old friend, nor could he neglect to do all honor to his
memory, but it was a terrible thing for him to have to go into the
house where Maria Port lived. After what had happened it was almost too
much for his courage, although he was a brave man. But he had conquered
his feelings, and he was there now. The funeral would be to-morrow.

When Mrs. Easterfield heard all that Olive had to tell her about Maria
Port, her heart went out to that brave man who kept the toll-gate.

The next thing that Olive had to tell was that she had heard from her
father, who wrote that he would soon arrive in this country; that he
would then go West, where he would marry Olive's former schoolmate; and
that, on their wedding tour, he would make a little visit at the
tollhouse so that Olive might see her new mother.

"Now, isn't this enough," cried Olive, "to make any girl spread her
wings and fly to the ends of the earth? But I have no wings; they have
all gone away in a dog-cart. But I don't feel about that as I used to
feel," she continued, a little hardness coming into her face. "I am
settled now just the same as if I were married, and father and Edith
Malcolmsen may come just as soon as they please. They shall make no
plans for me; I am going to stay here with Uncle John. This house is
mine now, and I am seriously thinking of having it painted. I shall stay
here just as if I were one of those trees, and my father and my new

Here tears came into Olive's eyes and Mrs. Easterfield stopped her.

"Olive," said she, "I will give you a piece of advice. When your father
and his young wife come here, treat her exactly as if she were your old
friend. If you do so I think you will get along very well. This is
partly selfish advice, for I greatly desire the opportunity to treat
your father hospitably. He was my friend when I was a girl, you
remember, and I looked up to him with very great admiration."

And so these two friends sat and talked, and talked, and talked until it
was positively shameful, considering that the Broadstone horses were
accustomed to be fed and watered at noon, and that the coachman was very

When, at last, Mrs. Easterfield drove home, and it must have been three
in the afternoon, she left Olive very much comforted, even in regard to
the unfortunate obligations which had fallen upon her uncle. For now
that her old father had gone, all intercourse with the Port woman would

But in her own mind Mrs. Easterfield was not so very much comforted. It
was all well enough to talk about Olive and her uncle and the happiness
and safety of the home he had given her, but that sort of thing could
not last very long. He was an elderly man and she was a girl. In the
natural course of events, she would probably be left alone while she was
very young. She would then be alone, for her father's wife could never
be a mother to her when he was at sea, and their home would never be a
home for her when he was on shore. What Olive wanted, in Mrs.
Easterfield's opinion, was a husband. An uncle, such as Captain Asher,
was very charming, but he was not enough.

During this pleasant afternoon, when Captain Asher was in town
attending to some arrangements for the burial of Mr. Port, Miss Maria
was sitting discreetly alone in her darkened chamber. She had a great
many things to think about, and if she had allowed her conscience full
freedom of action, there would have been much more upon her mind. She
might have been troubled by the recollection that since her father's
very determined treatment of her when she had endeavored to fix herself
upon the affections of Captain Asher, she had so conducted herself
toward her venerable parent that she had actually nagged the life out of
him; and that had she been the dutiful daughter she ought to have been
he might have been living yet. But thoughts of this nature were not
common to Maria Port. She had made herself sure that the will was all
right, and he was very old. There was a time for all things, and Maria
was now about to begin life for herself. To her plans for this new life
she now gave almost her sole attention.

She had one great object in view which overshadowed everything else, and
this was to marry Captain Asher. This she could have done before, she
firmly believed, had it not been for her old father and that horrid
girl, the captain's niece. As for the elderly man who kept the toll-gate
she did not mind him. If not interfered with, she was sure she could
make him marry her, and then the great ambition of her life would be

Unpretentious as was her establishment in town, she did not care to
spend the money necessary to keep it up, and although she was often an
unkind woman, she was not cruel enough to think of inflicting herself
as a boarder upon any housewife in the town. No, the toll-gate was the
home for her; and if Captain Asher chose to inflict himself upon her for
a few years longer, she would try to endure it.

One obstacle to her plans was now gone, and she must devote herself to
the work of getting rid of the other one. While Olive Asher remained at
the tollhouse there was no chance for her in that quarter.

The funeral was over, and when the bereaved Miss Port took leave of
Captain Asher she exhibited a quiet gratitude which was very becoming
and suitable. During the short time when he had visited the house every
day she had showed him no resentment on account of what had passed
between them, and had treated him very much as if he had been one of her
father's old friends with whom she was not very well acquainted and to
whom she was indebted for various services connected with the sad

When he took final leave of her he shook her hand, and as he did so he
gave her a peculiar grasp which, in his own mind, indicated that he and
she had now nothing more to do with each other, and that the
acquaintance was adjourned without day. She bade him a simple farewell,
and as he left the house she grinned at his broad back. This grin
expressed, to herself at least, that the old and rather faulty
acquaintance was at an end, and that the new connection which she
intended to establish between herself and him would be upon an entirely
different basis.

He did not ask her if there was anything more that he could do for her,
for he did not desire to mix himself up with her affairs, which he knew
she was eminently able to manage for herself, and it was with a deep
breath of relief that he got into his buggy and drove home to his


_By the Sea._

When Lieutenant Asher and his bride arrived at his brother's toll-gate
they were surprised as well as delighted by the cordiality of their
greeting. Each of them had expected a little stiffness during the first
interview, but there was nothing of the kind, although young Mrs. Asher
was bound to admit, when she took time to think upon the subject, that
Olive treated her exactly as if she had been a dear old schoolmate, and
not at all as her father's wife. This made things very pleasant and easy
at that time, she thought, although it might have to be corrected a
little after a while.

Things were all very pleasant, and there never had been so much talk at
the tollhouse since the first stone of its foundation had been laid. The
day after the arrival of the newly married couple Mrs. Easterfield
called upon them, and invited the whole family to dinner.

"I have never realized how much she must have thought of my parents!"
said Olive to herself, as she gazed upon her father and Mrs.
Easterfield. "They are so very glad to see each other!"

She did not know that Lieutenant Asher had been to the present Mrs.
Easterfield almost as much of a divinity as Mr. Hemphill had been to
her girlish fancy; the difference being that the young cadet was well
aware of the adoration of this child, not yet in long dresses, and
greatly enjoyed and encouraged it. When, a few years later, the child
heard of his marriage, she had outgrown the love with the lengthening of
the skirts. But she had a tender recollection of it which she cherished.

The dinner the next day was a great success, and after it the lieutenant
and Mrs. Easterfield earnestly discussed Olive when they had the
opportunity for a _tete-a-tete_. She was so much to each of them, and he
was grateful that his daughter had fallen under the influence of this
old friend, now a charming woman.

"She is so beautiful," said the lady, "that she ought to be married as
soon as possible to the most suitable bachelor in the United States."

"Not so fast! Not so fast" said the lieutenant. "Edith and I are going
to housekeeping very soon, and then we shall want Olive."

Mrs. Easterfield smiled, but made no reply.

When the lieutenant and his wife, with Olive, came a few days afterward
to make their proper dinner call, he found an occasion to speak to their

"Do you know," said he, "that this is a strange girl of mine?" She
positively refuses to come and live with us. We had counted upon having
her, and had made all our arrangements for it. She is as good and nice
as she can be, but we can not move her."

"You ought not to try," said Mrs. Easterfield; "it would be a shame for
her to go away and leave her uncle. You have one young lady, and you
should not ask for both. Olive must marry, and the captain must go and
live with her."

"Have you arranged all that?" said he. "I remember you were a great
schemer when quite a little girl."

"I am as great as ever," said she. "And I have selected the gentleman."

"Oh, ho!" cried the lieutenant. "And is that all settled? Olive should
have told me that."

"She could not do it," said Mrs. Easterfield; "for it is not all
settled. There are some obstacles in the way; and the greatest of them
is that she does not love him."

The lieutenant laughed. "Then that is settled. I know Olive."

Mrs. Easterfield flushed, and then laughed. "I doubt that knowledge. It
is certain you do not know me! The young man loves her with all his
heart; there is no objection to him; and I am most earnestly in favor of
the match."

"Ah" said the lieutenant, with a bow; "if that is the case, I must get a
pencil and paper and calculate what I can give her for her trousseau. I
hope the wedding will not come off very soon, for I am decidedly short
at present, on account of recent matrimonial expenses. Would you mind
telling me his name? Is he naval?"

"Oh, no," said she; "he is pedagogy."

"What!" he cried, his eyes wide open.

Then she laughed and told him all about Dick Lancaster.

"Of course," concluded Mrs. Easterfield, "I can not ask you not to
speak to _anybody_ about what I have told you, but I do hope you will
prevent its getting to Olive's ears. I am afraid it would make a breach
between us if she knew that I was trying to make a match for her. And,
you see, that is exactly what I am doing."

"And you are right," said the lieutenant; "and what is more, I am with
you! You don't know," he added in a softer tone, "how grateful I am to
you for your care of Olive now that my dear wife is gone!"

For the moment he totally forgot that his dear wife had merely gone to
the edge of the bluff with the captain and Olive to look at the river.

That evening, as they sat together, Lieutenant Asher told his brother
all that Mrs. Easterfield had confided to him about Dick Lancaster. The
captain was delighted.

"That is what I have wanted," he said, "almost from the beginning, and I
want it more than ever now. I am getting to be an old fellow, and I want
to see her settled before I sail."

"You know, John," said the lieutenant, "that I find Olive is a little
more of a girl of her own mind than she used to be. I don't believe she
would rest quietly under the housekeeping of a girl so nearly her own

The captain gave some vigorous puffs. "I should think not!" he said to
himself. "Olive would have that young woman swabbing the decks before
they had been out three days! You are right," said he aloud, "but we
must all look out that Olive does not hear anything about this."

It was not until they were continuing their bridal trip that Lieutenant
Asher considered the subject of mentioning Dick Lancaster to his wife.
Then, after considering it, he concluded not to do it. In the first
place, he knew that he was getting to be a little bit elderly, and he
did not care about discussing the perfections of the young man who had
been selected as a suitable partner for his wife's school friend. This
was all very foolish, of course, but people often are very foolish.

Thus it was that Olive Asher never heard of the tripartite alliance
between her father, her uncle, and her good friend at Broadstone.

When Captain Asher learned, a few days after his brother had left, that
the Broadstone family had gone to the seashore, he sat reflectively and
asked himself if he were doing the right thing by Olive. The season was
well advanced; it was getting very hot at the toll-gate, and at many
other gates in that region; and this navy girl ought to have a breath of
fresh air. It is wonderful that he had not thought of it before!

At breakfast the next morning Olive stopped pouring coffee when he told
her his plans to go to the sea.

"With you, Uncle John!" she cried. "That would be better than anything
in the world! You sail a boat?" she asked inquiringly.

"Sail a boat!" roared the captain. "I have a great mind to kick over
this table! My dear, I can sail a boat, keel uppermost, if the water's
deep enough! Sail a boat!" he repeated. "I sailed a catboat from Boston
to Egg Harbor before your mother was born. By the way, you seem very
anxious about boat sailing. Are you afraid of the water?"

She laughed gaily. "I deserve that," she said, "and I accept it. But
perhaps I have done something that you never did. I have sailed a

"Very good," said the captain; "if there's a felucca where we're going
you can sail me in one."

They went to a Virginia seaside resort, these two, and left old Jane in
charge of the toll-gate.

Early in the day after they arrived they went out to engage a boat. When
they found one which suited the captain's critical eye, he said to the
owner thereof: "I will take her for the morning, but I don't want
anybody to sail me. I will do that myself."

"I don't know about that," said the man; "when my boat goes out--"

He stopped speaking suddenly and looked the captain over and over, up
and down. "All right, sir," said he. "And you don't want nobody to
manage the sheet?"

"No," interpolated Olive, "I'll manage the sheet."

So they went out on the bounding sea. And as the wind whistled the hat
off her head so that she had to fling it into the bottom of the boat,
Olive wished that her uncle kept a toll-gate on the sea. Then she could
go out with him and stop the little boats and the great steamers, and
make them drop seven cents or thirteen cents into her hands as she stood
braced in the stern; and she was just beginning to wonder how she could
toss up the change to them if they dropped her a quarter, when the
captain began to sing Tom Bowline. He was just as gay-hearted as she

It was about noon when they returned, for the captain was a very
particular man and he had hired the boat only for the morning. Olive had
scarcely taken ten steps up the beach before she found herself shaking
hands with a young man.

"How on earth!" she exclaimed.

"It was not on earth at all," he said; "I came by water. I wanted to
find out if what I had heard of the horrors of a coastwise voyage were
true; and I found that it was absolutely correct."

"But here!" she exclaimed. "Why here? You could not have known!"

"Of course not," he answered; "if I had known I am sure I would have
felt that I ought not to come. But I didn't know, and so you see I am as
innocent as a butterfly. More innocent, in fact, for that little
wagwings knows where he ought not to go, and he goes there all the

Captain Asher was still at the boat, making some practical suggestions
to her owner; who, being not yet forty, had many things to learn about
the sails and rigging of a catboat.

"Mr. Locker," said Olive, looking at him very intently, "did you come
here to renew any of your previous performances?"

"As a serenader?" said he. "Oh, no! But perhaps you mean as a

"That is it," said Olive.

Mr. Locker took off his hat, and rubbed his head. "No," said he, "I
didn't; but I wish I could say I did. But that's impossible. I presume
I am right in assuming this impossibility?"

"Entirely," said Olive.

"And, furthermore, I truly didn't know you were here. I think you may
rest satisfied that that flame is out, although--By the way, I believe I
could make some verses on that subject containing these lines:

"'I do not want the flame,
I better like the coal--'

meaning, of course, that I hope our friendship may continue."

She smiled. "There are no objections to that," she said.

"Perhaps not, perhaps not," he said, clutching his chin with his hand;
"but some other lines come into my head. Of course, he didn't want the
coal to go out.

"'He blew too hard,
The flame revived.'"

"That will do! That will do!" cried Olive. "I don't want any more of
that poem."

"And the result of it all," said he, "is only a burnt match."

"Nothing but a bit of charcoal," added Olive.

At this moment up came the captain. Olive had told him all about Mr.
Locker, and he was not glad to see him. Olive noticed this, and she
spoke quickly. "Here's Mr. Locker, uncle; he has dropped down quite
accidentally at this place."

"Oh" said the captain incredulously.

"You know he used to like me too much. But he knows me better now."

"Charming frankness of friendship!" said Locker.

"And as I like him very much, I am glad he is here," continued Olive.

The young man bowed in gratitude, but Olive's words embarrassed him
somewhat, and he did not know exactly what would be suitable for him to
say. So he took refuge in a change of subject. "Captain," said he, "can
you fish?"

A look of scornful amazement showed itself upon the old mariner's face.
"I have tried it," said he.

"And so have I," cried Locker, "but I never had any luck in fishing
and--some other things. I am vilely unlucky. I expect that's because I
don't know how to fish."

"It is very likely," said Olive, "that your bad luck comes from not
knowing where to fish."

The young man took off his hat and held it for a little while, although
the sun was very hot.

During the course of that afternoon and evening Captain Asher grew to
like Claude Locker. The young man told such gravely comical stories,
especially about his experiences in boats and on the water, that the
captain was very glad he had happened to drop down upon that especial
watering-place. He wanted Olive to have some society besides his own,
and a discarded lover was better than any other young man they might
meet. He knew that Olive was a girl who would not go back on her word.


_As good as a Man._

The next day our three friends went fishing in a catboat belonging to
the young seaman of forty, and they took their dinner with them,
although Mr. Locker declared that he did not believe that he would want

They had a good time on the water, for the captain had made careful
inquiries about the best fishing grounds, and the mishaps of Locker were
so numerous and so provocative of queer remarks from himself, that the
captain and Olive sometimes forgot to pull up their fish, so preengaged
were they in laughing. The sky was bright, the water smooth, and even
Mr. Locker caught fish, although it might have been thought that he did
everything possible to prevent himself doing so.

When their boat ran up the beach late in the afternoon the captain and
Olive were still laughing, and Mr. Locker was as sober as a soda-water
fountain from which spouts such intermittent sparkle. Dear as was the
toll-gate, this was a fine change from that quiet home.

The next morning, upon the sand, Claude Locker approached Olive. "Would
you like to decline my addresses for the second time?" he abruptly

"Of course not" she exclaimed.

"Well, then," said he, extending his hand, "good-by!"

"What are you talking about?" said Olive. "What does this mean?"

"It means," said he, "that I have fallen in love with you again. I think
I am rather worse than I was before. If I stay here I shall surely
propose. Nothing can stop me--not even the presence of your uncle if it
is impossible for me to see you alone--and, if you don't want any of
that, it is necessary that I go, and go quickly."

"Of course I don't want it," she said. "But why need you be so foolish?
We were getting along so nicely as friends. I expected to have lots of
fun here with you and uncle."

"Fun!" groaned Locker. "It might have been fun for you and the captain,
but what of the poor torn heart? I know I must go, and now. If I stay
here five minutes longer I shall be at your feet, and it will be far
better if I take to my own. Good-by!" And, with a warm grasp of her
hand, he departed.

Olive looked after him as he walked to the hotel. If he had known how
much she regretted to see him go he would have come back, and all his
troubles would have begun again.

"Hello!" cried the captain when Locker had entered the house, "I was
looking for you. We can run out, and have some fishing this morning. The
tide will suit. You did so well yesterday that I think to-day. I can
even teach you to take out a hook."

"Take out a hook?" said Locker. "I have a hook within me which no man
in this world, and but one woman, can take out. And as this she must not
even be asked to do, I go. Farewell!"

"What's the matter with the young man" asked the captain of Olive a
little later.

"Oh, he has fallen in love with me again," said Olive, with a sigh,
"and, of course, that spoils everything. I wish people could be more

The captain looked down upon her admiringly. "I don't see any hope for
people," he said. And this was the first personal compliment he had ever
paid his niece.

When Claude Locker had gone, Olive missed him more than she thought she
could miss anybody. Much of the life seemed to have gone out of the
place, and the captain's high spirits waned as if he was suffering from
the depression which follows a stimulant.

"If that young fellow had been better-looking," said the captain, "if he
had more solid sense, and a good business, with both his eyes alike, I
might have been more willing to let him go."

"If he had been all that," asked Olive with a smile, "why shouldn't you
have been willing to let him stay?"

The captain did not answer. No matter what young Locker might have been,
he could never have been Dick Lancaster.

"Uncle," said Olive that afternoon, "where shall we go next?"

"I don't know," said he, "but let's go to-morrow. I don't believe I like
so many strangers except when they pay toll."

They traveled about a good deal; and in a general way enjoyed
themselves; but they were both old travelers, and mere novelty was not
enough for them. Each loved the company of the other, but each would
have liked to have Locker along. It grieved Olive to think that she
wanted him, or anybody, but she would not even try to deceive herself.
The weather grew cooler, and she said to her uncle: "Let us go back to
the toll-gate; it must be perfectly beautiful there now, with the
mountains putting on their gold and red."

So they started for home, planning for a stop in Washington on their

Brightness and people were coming back to Washington. The air was
cooler, and city life was stirring. Olive and her uncle stayed several
days longer than they had intended; as most people do who visit
Washington. On one of these days as they were returning to their hotel
from the Smithsonian grounds, where they had been looking at autumn
leaves from all quarters of this wide land; many of them unknown to
them; they looked with interest from the shaded grounds on one side of
the street to the great public building on the other side, which they
were then passing, and at the broad steps ascending from the sidewalk to
the basement floor.

As they moved on thus slowly they noticed a man standing upon the upper
steps of one of these stairs. His back was toward them; and, as their
eyes fell upon him he stepped upon the upper sidewalk. He was walking
with a cane which seemed to be rather short for him. He stood still for
a moment, and appeared to be waiting for some one. Then, suddenly his
whole frame thrilled with nervous action; he slightly lowered his head,
and, in an instant, he brought his cane to his shoulder, as if it had
been a gun. The captain had seen that sort of thing before. It was an
air-gun. Without a word he made a dash at the man. He was elderly, but
in a case like this he was swift. As he ran he glanced out in the
direction in which the gun was aimed. Along the broad, sunlighted avenue
a barouche was passing. On the back seat sat two gentlemen,
well-dressed, erect. Even in a flash one would notice an air of dignity
in their demeanor.

There was not time to strike down the weapon, but before the man had
heard steps behind him the captain gave him a tremendous blow between
the shoulders which staggered him, and spoiled his aim. Then the captain
seized the air-gun. There was a whiz, and a click on the pavement. Then
the man turned.

His black eyes flashed out of a swarthy face nearly covered with beard;
his soft hat had fallen off when the captain struck him, and his black
hair stood up like bristles on a shoe-brush. He was not a large man; he
wore a loose woolen jacket; his sleeves were short, and his hands were

All this Olive saw, for she had been quick to follow her uncle; but the
captain, who firmly held the air-gun, saw nothing but the glaring face
of a devil.

The man jerked furiously at the gun, but the captain's grasp was too
strong. Then the fellow released his hold upon the gun, and, with a
savage fury, threw himself upon the older man. The two stood near the
top of the steps, and the shock of the attack was so great that both
fell, slipping down several of the stone steps.

Olive tried to scream, but in her fright her voice utterly left her. She
could not make a sound. As they lay upon the steps, the captain beneath,
the man seized his victim by the neck with both hands, pressing his
great thumbs deeply into his throat. Apparently he did not notice Olive.
All the efforts of his devilish soul were bent upon stifling the voice
and the life out of the witness of his attempted crime. Olive sprang
down, and stood over the struggling men. Her uncle's eyes stared at her,
and seemed bursting from his head. His face was growing dark. Again
Olive tried to scream; and, in a frenzy, she seized the man to pull him
from the captain. As she did so her hand fell upon something protruding
under his woolen jacket. With a quick flash of instinct her sense of
feeling recognized this thing. She jerked up the jacket, and there was
the stock of a pistol protruding from his hip pocket. In an instant
Olive drew it.

A horrid sound issued from the mouth of Captain Asher; he was choking to
death. In the same second that she heard it Olive thrust the muzzle of
the pistol against the side of the man's head and pulled the trigger.

The man's head fell forward and his hairy hands released their grip, but
they still remained at the captain's throat. The latter gave a great
gasp, and for an instant he turned his eyes full upon the face of his
niece. Then his lids closed.

Now there were footsteps, and, looking up, Olive saw a negro cabman in
faded livery and an old silk hat, who stood staring. Before she could
speak to him there came another man, a policeman, who, equally amazed,
stared at the group below him. Only these two had heard the pistol
shots. There were no other people passing on the avenue, and as it was
past office hours there was no one in the great public building.

Until they reached the top of the steps the policeman and cabman could
see nothing. Now they stood astounded as they stared down upon an
elderly man lying on his back on the steps; another man, apparently
lifeless, lying on top of him with his hands upon his throat; and a girl
standing a little below them with a smoking pistol in her hand.

Before they had time to speak or move Olive called out, "Take that man
off my uncle."

In a moment the policeman, followed by the negro, ran down the steps and
pulled the black-headed man off the captain, and the limp body slipped
down several steps.

The policeman now turned toward Olive. "Take this," she said, handing
him the pistol. "I shot him. He was trying to kill my uncle."

The two men raised the captain to a sitting position. He was now
breathing, though in gasps, with his eyes opened.

The policeman took the pistol, looked at it, then at Olive, then at the
captain, and then down at the body on the steps. He was trying to get an
idea of what had happened without asking. If the negro had not been
present he might have asked questions, but this was an unusual
situation, and he felt his responsibility, and his importance. Olive now
stepped toward him, and in obedience to her quick gesture he bent his
head, and she whispered something to him. Instantly he was quivering
with excitement. He thrust the pistol into his pocket, and turned to the
negro. "Run," said he, "and get your cab! Don't say a word to a soul and
I will give you five dollars."

The moment the negro had departed Olive said: "Pick up that air-gun.
There, on the upper step." Then she went to her uncle and sat down by

"Are you hurt?" she said. "Can you speak?"

The captain put his arm around her shoulder, fixing a loving look upon
her, and murmured, "You are as good as a man!"

The policeman picked up the air-gun, and gazed upon it as if it had been
a telegram in cipher from a detective. Then he tried to conceal it under
his coat, but it was too long.

"Let me have it," said Olive; "I will put it behind me."

She had barely concealed it when the cab drove up.

"Now," said the policeman, "you two must go with me. Can you walk, sir?"

"Oh, yes," said the captain in a voice clear, but weak.

Olive rose, holding the air-gun behind her, and the policeman and the
cabman helped the captain to the carriage. Olive followed, and the
policeman, actuated by some strong instinct, did not look around to see
if she were doing so. He had no more idea that she would run away than
that the stone steps would move. When he saw that she had taken the
air-gun into the carriage with her, he closed the door.

"Did your fall hurt you, uncle?" said Olive, looking anxiously into his

"My throat hurts dreadfully," he said, "and I'm stiff. But I'll be
stiffer to-morrow."

The policeman picked up the hat of the black-haired man, and going down
the steps, he placed it on his head. "Now help me up with this
gentleman," he said to the cabman; "we must put him on the box-seat
between us. Take him under the arms, and we'll carry him naturally. He
must be awfully drunk!"

So they lifted him up the steps, and, after much trouble, got him on the
box-seat. Fortunately they were both big men. Then they drove away to
police headquarters. The officer was the happiest policeman in
Washington. This was the greatest piece of work he had known of during
his service; and he was doing it all himself. With the exception of the
driver, nobody else was mixed up in it in the least degree. What he was
doing was not exactly right; it was not according to custom and
regulation. He should have called for assistance, for an ambulance; but
he had not, and his guardian angel had kept all foot-passengers from the
steps of the public building. He did not know what it all meant, but he
was doing it himself, and if that black driver should slip from his seat
(of which he occupied a very small portion) and he should break his
neck, the policeman would clutch the reins, and be happier than any man
in Washington.

There were very many people who looked at the drunken man who was being
carried off by the policeman, but the cabman drove swiftly, and gave
such people very little opportunity for close observation.


_The Stock-Market is Safe._

There was a great stir at the police station, but Olive and her uncle
saw little of it. They were quickly taken to private rooms, where the
captain was attended by a police surgeon. He had been bruised and badly
treated, but his injuries were not serious.

Olive was put in charge of a matron, who wondered greatly what brought
her there. Very soon they were examined separately, and the tale of each
of them was almost identical with that of the other; only Olive was able
to tell more about the two gentlemen in the barouche, for she had been
at her uncle's side, and there was nothing to obstruct her vision.

When the examination was ended the police captain enjoined each of them
to say no word to any living soul about what they had testified to him.
This was a most important matter, and it was necessary that it be hedged
around with the greatest secrecy.

When Olive retired to her plain but comfortable cot she was tired and
weak from the reaction of her restrained emotions, but she did not
immediately go to sleep for thinking that she had killed a man. And yet
for this killing there was not in this girl's mind one atom of regret.
She was so grateful that she had been there, and had been enabled to do
it. She had seen her uncle almost at his last gasp, and she had saved
him from making that last gasp. Moreover, she had saved the life of the
man who had saved the most important life in the land. She knew the face
of the gentleman in the barouche who sat on the side nearest her; she
knew what her uncle had done, and she was proud of him; she knew what
she had done for him; and she regarded the black-haired man with the
hairy hands no more than she would have regarded a wild beast who had
suddenly sprung upon them. She thought of him, of course, with horror,
but her feelings of thankfulness for her uncle's safety were far too
strong. At last her grateful heart closed her eyes, and let her rest.

There were no letters found on the body of the black-haired man which
gave any clue to his name; but there were papers which showed that he
was from southern France; that he was an anarchist; that he was in this
country upon a mission; and that he had been for two weeks in
Washington, waiting for an opportunity to fulfil that mission. Which
opportunity had at last shown itself in front of him just as Captain
John Asher rushed up behind him.

This information was so important that extraordinary methods were
pursued. Communications were immediately made with the State Department,
and with the higher police authorities; and it was quickly determined
that, whatever else might be done, the strictest secrecy must be
enforced. The coroner's jury was carefully selected and earnestly
admonished; and, early the next morning, when the captain and Olive were
required to testify before it, they were made to understand how
absolutely necessary it was they should say nothing except to answer the
questions which were asked them. The coroner was eminently discreet in
regard to his questions; and the verdict was that Olive was acting in
her own defense as well as that of her uncle when she shot his

Among the officials whose positions enabled them to know all these
astonishing occurrences it was unanimously agreed that, so far as
possible, everybody should be kept in ignorance of the crime which had
been attempted, and of the deliverance which had taken place.

Very early the next afternoon the air was filled with the cries of
newsboys, and each paper that these boys sold contained a full and
detailed account of a remarkable attempt by an unknown foreigner upon
the life of Captain John Asher, a visitor in Washington, and the heroic
conduct of his niece, Miss Olive Asher, who shot the murderous assailant
with his own pistol. There were columns and columns of this story, but
strange to say, in not one of the papers was there any allusion to the
two gentlemen in the barouche, or to the air-gun.

How this most important feature of the occurrence came to be omitted in
all the accounts of it can only be explained by those who thoroughly
understand the exigencies of the stock-market, and the probable effect
of certain classes of news upon approaching political situations, and
who have made themselves familiar with the methods by which the
pervasive power of the press is sometimes curtailed.

In the later afternoon editions there were portraits of Olive, and her
uncle. Olive was broad-shouldered, with black hair and a determined
frown, while the captain was a little man with a long beard. There were
no portraits of the anarchist. He passed away from the knowledge of man,
and no one knew even his name: his crime had blotted him out; his
ambition was blotted out; even the evil of his example was blotted out.
There was nothing left of him.

When they were released from detention the captain and Olive quickly
left the station--which they did without observation--and entered a
carriage which was waiting for them a short distance away. The fact that
another carriage with close-drawn curtains had stopped at the station
about ten minutes before, and that a thickly veiled lady (the matron)
and an elderly man with his collar turned up and his hat drawn down (one
of the police officers in plain clothes) had entered the carriage and
had been driven rapidly away had drawn off the reporters and the
curiosity mongers on the sidewalk and had contributed very much to the
undisturbed exit of Captain and Miss Asher.

These two proceeded leisurely to the railroad-station, where they took a
train which would carry them to the little town of Glenford. Their
affairs at the hotel could be arranged by telegram. There were calls at
that hotel during the rest of the day from people who knew Olive or her
uncle; calls from people who wanted to know them; calls from people who
would be contented even to look at them; calls from autograph hunters
who would be content simply to send up their cards; quiet calls from
people connected with the Government; and calls from eager persons who
could not have told anybody what they wanted. To none of these could the
head clerk give any satisfaction. He had not seen his guests since the
day before, and he knew naught about them.

When Miss Maria Port heard that that horrid girl, Olive Asher, had shot
an anarchist, she stiffened herself to her greatest length, and let her
head fall on the back of her chair. She was scarcely able to call to the
small girl who endured her service to bring her some water. "Now all is
over," she groaned, "for I can never marry a man whose niece's hands are
dripping with blood. She will live with him, of course, for he is just
the old fool to allow that, and anyway there is no other place for her
to go except the almshouse--that is, if they'll take her in." And at the
terrified girl, who tremblingly asked if she wanted any more water, she
threw her scissors.

The captain and his niece arrived early in the day at Glenford station.
The captain engaged a little one-horse vehicle which had frequently
brought people to the toll-gate, and informed the driver that there was
no baggage. The man, gazing at Olive, but scarcely daring to raise his
eyes to her face, proceeded with solemn tread toward his vehicle as if
he had been leading the line in a funeral.

As they drove through the town they were obliged to pass the house of
Miss Maria Port. The door was shut, and the shutters were closed. She
had had a terrible night, and had slept but little, but hearing the
sound of wheels upon the street, she had bounced out of bed and had
peered through the blinds. When she saw who it was she cursed them both.

"That was the only thing," she snapped, "that could have kept me from
gettin' him! So far as I know, that was the only thing!"

When old Jane received the travelers at the toll-gate she warmly
welcomed the captain, but she trembled before Olive. If the girl noticed
the demeanor of the old woman, she pretended not to do so, and, speaking
to her pleasantly, she passed within.

"Will they hang her?" she said to the captain later.

"What do you mean?" he shouted. "Have you gone crazy?"

"The people in the town said they would," replied old Jane, beginning to
cry a little.

The captain looked at her steadily. "Did any particular person in the
town say that?"

"Yes, sir," she answered; "Miss Maria Port was the first to say it, so
I've been told."

"She is the one who ought to be hanged!" said the captain, speaking very
warmly. "As for Miss Olive, she ought to have a monument set up for her.
I'd do it myself if I had the money."

Old Jane answered not, but in her heart she said: "But she killed a man!
It is truly dreadful!"

By nightfall of that day the two hotels of Glenford were crowded, the
visitors being generally connected with newspapers. On the next day
there was a great deal of travel on the turnpike, and old Jane was kept
very busy, the captain having resigned the entire business of
toll-taking to her. Everybody stopped, asked questions, and requested to
see the captain; and many drove through and came back again, hoping to
have better luck next time. But their luck was always bad; old Jane
would say nothing; and the captain and Olive were not to be seen. The
gate to the little front garden was locked, and there was no passing
through the tollhouse. To keep people from getting over the fence a
bulldog, which the captain kept at the barn, was turned loose in the

There were men with cameras who got into the field opposite the
toll-gate, and who took views from up and down the road, but their work
could not be prevented, and Olive and her uncle kept strictly indoors.

It was on the afternoon of the second day of siege that the captain,
from an upper window, discovered a camera on three legs standing outside
of his grounds at a short distance from the house. A man was taking
sight at something at the back of the house. Softly the captain slipped
down into the back yard, and looking up he saw Olive sitting at a
window, reading.

With five steps the captain went into the house and then reappeared at
the back door with a musket in his hand. The man had stepped to his pack
at a little distance to get a plate. The captain raised his musket to
his shoulder; Olive sprang to her feet at the sound of the report; old
Jane in the tollhouse screamed; and the camera flew into splinters.

After this there were no further attempts to take pictures of the
inmates of the house at the toll-gate.

After two days of siege the newspaper reporters and the photographers
left Glenford. They could not afford to waste any more time. But they
carried away with them a great many stories about the captain and his
erratic niece, mostly gleaned from a very respectable elderly lady of
the town by the name of Port.


_Dick Lancaster does not Write._

On the third morning after their arrival at the toll-gate the captain
and Olive ventured upon a little walk over the farm. It was very hard
upon both of them to be shut up in the house so long. They saw no
reporters, nor were there any men with cameras, but the scenery was not
pleasant, nor was the air particularly exhilarating. They were not
happy; they felt alone, as if they were in a strange place. Some of the
captain's friends in the town came to the toll-gate, but there were not
many, and Olive saw none of them. The whole situation reminded the girl
of the death of her mother.

As soon as it was known that the Ashers were at home there came letters
from many quarters. One of these was from Mrs. Easterfield. She would be
at Broadstone as soon as she could get her children started from the
seashore. She longed to take Olive to her heart, but whether this was in
commiseration or commendation was not quite plain to Olive. The letter
concluded with this sentence: "There is something behind all this, and
when I come you must tell me."

Then there was one from her father in which he bemoaned what had
happened. "That such a thing should have come to my daughter!" he
wrote. "To my daughter!" There was a great deal more of it, but he said
nothing about coming with his young wife to the toll-gate, and Olive's
countenance was almost stern when she handed this letter to her uncle.

Claude Locker wrote:

"How I long, how I rage to write to you, or to go to you! But if I
should write, it would be sure to give you pain, and if I should go
to you I should also go crazy. Therefore, I will merely state that
I love you madly; more now than ever before; and that I shall
continue to do so for the rest of my life, no matter what happens
to you, or to me, or to anybody.

"Ever turned toward you,


"How I wish I had been there with a sledgehammer!"

And then there were the newspapers. Many of these the captain had
ordered by the Glenford bookseller, and a number were sent by friends,
and some even by strangers. And so they learned what was thought of them
over a wide range of country, and this publicity Olive found very hard
to bear. It was even worse than the deed she was forced to do, and which
gave rise to all this disagreeable publicity. That deed was done in the
twinkling of an eye, and was the only thing that could be done; but all
this was prolonged torture. Of course, the newspapers were not
responsible for this. The transaction was a public one in as public a
place as could possibly be selected, and it was clearly their duty to
give the public full information in regard to it. They knew what had
happened, and how could they possibly know what had not happened? Nor
could they guess that this was of more importance than the happening.
And so they all viewed the action from the point of view that a young
woman had blown out a man's brains on the steps of the Treasury. It was
a most unusual, exciting, and tragic incident, and in a measure,
incomprehensible; and coming at a time when there was a dearth of news,
it was naturally much exploited. Many of the papers recognized the fact
that Miss Asher had done this deed to save her uncle's life, and
applauded it, and praised her quick-wittedness and courage; but all this
was spoiled for Olive by the tone of commiseration for her in which it
was all stated. She did not see why she should be pitied. Rather should
she be congratulated that she was, fortunately, on the spot. Other
journals did not so readily give in to the opinion that it was an act of
self-defense. It might be so; but they expressed strong disapproval of
the legal action in this strange affair. A young woman, accompanied by a
relative, had killed an unknown man. The action of the authorities in
this case had been rapid and unsatisfactory. The person who had fired
the fatal shot and her companion had been cleared of guilt upon their
own testimony, and the cause of the man who died had no one to defend
it. If two persons can kill a man, and then state to the coroner's jury
that it was all right, and thereupon repair to their homes without
further interference by the law, then had the cause of justice in the
capital of the nation reached a very strange pass.

Such were the views of the reputable journals. But there were some
which fell into the captain's hands that were well calculated to arouse
his ire. Such a sensational occurrence did not often come in their way,
and they made the most of it. They scented the idea that the girl had
killed an unknown man to save her uncle's life; blamed the authorities
severely for not finding out who he was; suggested there must be a
secret reason for this; and hinted darkly at a scandal connected with
the affair, which, if investigated, would be found to include some
well-known names.

"This is outrageous!" cried the captain. "It is too abominable to be
borne! Olive, why should we not tell the exact facts of this thing? We
did agree--very willingly at the time--to keep the secret. But I am not
willing now, and you are being sacrificed to the stock-market. That is
the whole truth of it! If these editors knew the truth they would be
chanting your praises. If that scoundrel had killed me, he would have
killed you, and then he could have run away to go on with his President
shooting. I am going to Washington this very day to tell the whole
story. You shall not suffer that stocks may not fall and the political
situation made alarming at election time. That is what it all means, and
I won't stand it!"

"You will only make things worse, uncle," said Olive. "Then the whole
matter will be stirred up afresh. We will be summoned to investigations,
and all sorts of disagreeable things. Every item of our lives will be in
the papers, and some will be invented. It is very bad now, but in a
little while the public will forget that a countryman and a country girl
had a fracas in Washington. But the other thing will never be
forgotten. It is very much better to leave it as it is."

The captain, notwithstanding the presence of a lady, cursed the
officials, the newspapers, the Government, and the whole country. "I am
going to do it!" he cried vehemently. "I don't care what happens!"

But Olive put her arms around him and coaxed him for her sake to let the
matter rest. And, finally, the captain, grumblingly, assented.

If Olive had been a girl brought up in a gentle-minded household,
knowing nothing of the varied life she had lived when a navy girl;
sometimes at this school and sometimes at that; sometimes in her native
land, and sometimes in the midst of frontier life; sometimes with
parents, and sometimes without them; and, had she been less aware from
her own experiences and those of others, that this is a world in which
you must stand up very stiffly if you do not want to be pushed down; she
might have sunk, at least for a time, under all this publicity and
blame. Even the praise had its sting.

But she did not sink. The liveliness and the fun went out of her, and
her face grew hard and her manner quiet. But she was not quiet within.
She rebelled against the unfairness with which she was treated. No
matter what the newspapers knew or did not know, they should have known,
and should have remembered, that she had saved her uncle's life. If they
had known more they would have been just and kind enough no doubt, but
they ought to have been just and kind without knowing more.

Captain Asher would now read no more papers. But Olive read them all.

Letters still came; one of them from Mr. Easterfield. But every time a
mail arrived there was a disappointment in the toll-gate household. The
captain could scarcely refrain from speaking of his disappointment, for
it was a true grief to him that Dick Lancaster had not written a word.
Of course, Olive did not say anything upon the subject, for she had no
right to expect such a letter, and she was not sure that she wanted one,
but it was very strange that a person who surely was, or had been,
somewhat interested in her uncle and herself should have been the only
one among her recent associates who showed no interest whatever in what
had befallen her. Even Mr. and Mrs. Fox had written. She wished they had
not written, but, after all, stupidity is sometimes better than total

"Olive," said the captain one pleasant afternoon, "suppose we take a
drive to Broadstone? The family is not there, but it may interest you to
see the place where I hope your friends will soon be living again. I can
not bear to see you going about so dolefully. I want to brighten you up
in some way."

"I'd like it," said Olive promptly. "Let us go to Broadstone."

At that moment they heard talking in the tollhouse; then there were some
quick steps in the garden; and, almost immediately, Dick Lancaster was
in the house and in the room where the captain and his niece were
sitting. He stepped quickly toward them as they rose, and gave Olive
his left hand because the captain had seized his right and would not let
it go.

"I have been very slow getting here," he said, looking from one to the
other. "But I would not write, and I have been unconscionably delayed. I
am so proud of you," he said, looking Olive full in the face, but still
holding the captain by the hand.

Olive's hand had been withdrawn, but it was very cheering to her to know
that some one was proud of her.

The captain poured out his delight at seeing the young professor--the
first near friend he had seen since his adventure, and, in his opinion,
the best. Olive said but little, but her countenance brightened
wonderfully. She had always liked Mr. Lancaster, and now he showed his
good sense and good feeling; for, while it was evidently on his mind, he
made no allusion to anything they had done, or that had happened to
them. He talked chiefly of himself.

But the captain was not to be repressed, and his tone warmed up a little
as he asked if Dick had been reading the newspapers.

At this Olive left the room to make some arrangements for Mr.
Lancaster's accommodation.

Seizing this opportunity, Dick Lancaster stopped the captain, who he saw
was preparing to go lengthily into the recent affair. "Yes, yes," he
said, speaking quickly, "and my blood has run hot as I read those
beastly papers. But let me say something to you while I can. I am deeply
interested in something else just now. I came here, captain, to propose
marriage to your niece. Have I your consent?"

"Consent!" cried the captain. "Why, it is the clearest wish of my heart
that you should marry Olive!" And seizing the young man by both arms, he
shook him from head to foot. "Consent!" he exclaimed. "I should think
so, I should think so! Will she take you, Dick? Is that--"

"I don't know," said Lancaster, "I don't know. I am here to find out.
But I hear her coming."

The happy captain thought it full time to go away somewhere. He felt
that he could not control his glowing countenance, and that he might say
or do something which might be wrong. So he departed with great
alacrity, and left the two young people to themselves.


_Miss Port puts in an Appearance._

The captain clapped on his hat, and walked up the road toward Glenford.
He was very much excited and he wanted to sing, but his singing days
were over, and he quieted himself somewhat by walking rapidly. There was
a buggy coming from town, but it stopped before it reached him and some
one in it got out, while the vehicle proceeded slowly onward. The some
one waited until the captain came up to her. It was Miss Maria Port.

"How do you do?" she said, holding out her hand. "I was on my way to see

The captain put both his hands in his pockets, and his face grew
somewhat dark. "Why do you want to see me?" he asked.

She looked at him steadily for a moment, and then answered, speaking
very quietly. "I found that Mr. Lancaster had arrived in town, and had
gone to your house, and that he was in such a hurry that he walked. So I
immediately hired a buggy to come out here. I am very glad I met you."

"But what in the name of common sense," exclaimed the captain, "did you
come to see me for? What difference does it make to you whether Mr.
Lancaster is here or not? What have you got to do with me and my
affairs, anyway?"

She smiled a smile which was very quiet and flat. "Now, don't get
angry," she said. "We can talk over things in a friendly way just as
well as not, and it will be a great deal better to do it. And I'd rather
talk here in the public road than anywhere else; it's more private."

"I don't want a word to say to you," said the captain, preparing to move
on. "I have nothing at all to do with you."

"Ah," said Miss Port, with another smile, "but I think you have. You've
got to marry me, you know."

Then the captain stopped suddenly. He opened his mouth, but he could
find no immediate words.

"Yes, indeed," said Miss Port, now speaking quietly; "and when I saw Mr.
Lancaster had come to town, I knew that I must see you at once. Of
course, he has come to take away your niece, and that's the best thing
to be done, for she wouldn't want to keep on livin' here where so many
people have known her. At first I thought that would be a very good
thing, for you would be separated from her, and that's what you need and
deserve. Young men are young men, and they are often a good deal kinder
than they would be if they stopped to think. But a person of mature age
is different. He would know what is due to himself and his standing in
society. At least, that is what I did think. But it suddenly flashed on
me that they might want to get away as quick as they could--which would
be proper, dear knows--and it would be just like you to go with them.
And so I came right out."

The captain had listened to all this because he very much wanted to know
what she had to say, but now he exclaimed: "Do you suppose I shall pay
any attention to all the gossip about my affairs?"

"Now, don't go on like that," said Miss Port; "it doesn't do any good,
and if you'll only keep quiet, and think pleasantly about it, there will
be no trouble at all. You know you've got to marry me; that's settled.
Everybody knows about it, and has known about it for years. I didn't
press the matter while father was alive because I knew it would worry
him. But now I'm going to do it. Not in any anger or bad feelin', but
gently, and as firmly as if I was that tree. I don't want to go to any
law, but if I have to do it, I'll do it. I've got my proofs and my
witnesses, and I'm all right. The people of your own house are
witnesses. And there are ever so many more."

"Woman!" cried the captain, "don't you say another word! And don't you
ever dare to speak to me again! I'm not going away, and my niece is not
going away; and I assure you that I hate and despise you so much that
all the law in the world couldn't make me marry you. Although you know
as well as I do that all you've been saying has no sense or truth in

Miss Port did not get angry. With wonderful self-repression she
controlled her feelings. She knew that if she lost that control there
would be an end to everything. She grew pale, but she spoke more gently
than before. "You know"--she was about to say "John," but she thought
she would better not--"that what I say about determination and all
that, I simply say because you do not come to meet me half-way, as I
would have you do. All I want is to get you to acknowledge my rights, to
defend me from ridicule. You know that I am now alone in the world, and
have no one to look to but you--to whom I always expected to look when
father died--and if you should carry out your cruel words, and should
turn from me as if I was a stranger and a nobody, after all these years
of visitin' and attention from you, which everybody knows about, and has
talked about, I could never expect anybody else--you bein' gone--to step

At this the face of the captain cleared, and as he gazed upon the
unpleasant face and figure of this weather-worn spinster, the idea that
any one with matrimonial intentions should "step forward," as she put
it, struck him as being so extremely ludicrous that he burst out

Then leaped into fire every nervelet of Miss Maria Port. "Laugh at me,
do you?" cried she. "I'll give you something to laugh at! And if you 're
going to stand up for that thing you have in your house, that

She said no more. The captain stepped up to her with a smothered curse
so that she moved back, frightened. But he did nothing. He was too
enraged to speak. She was a woman, and he could not strike her to the
ground. Before her sallow venom he was helpless. He was a man and she
was a woman, and he could do nothing at all. He was too angry to stay
there another second, and, without a word, he left her, walking with
great strides toward the town.

Miss Maria Port stood looking after him, panting a little, for her
excitement had been great. Then, with a yellow light in her eyes, she
hurried toward her vehicle, which had stopped.

As Captain Asher strode into town he asked himself over and over again
what should he do? How should he punish this wildcat--this ruthless
creature, who spat venom at the one he loved best in the world, and who
threatened him with her wicked claws? In his mind he looked from side to
side for help; some one must fight his battle for him; he could not
fight a woman. He had not reached town when he thought of Mrs. Faulkner,
the wife of the Methodist minister. He knew her; she and her husband had
been among the friends who had come out to see him; and she was a woman.
He would go directly to her, and ask her advice.

The captain was not shown into the parlor of the parsonage, but into the
minister's study, that gentleman being away. He heard a great sound of
talking as he passed the parlor door, and it was not long before Mrs.
Faulkner came in. He hesitated as she greeted him.

"You have company," he said, "but can I see you for a very few minutes?
It is important."

"Of course you can," said she, closing the study door. "Our Dorcas
Society meets here to-day, but we have not yet come to order. I shall be
glad to hear what you have to say."

So they sat down, and he told her what he had to say, and as she
listened she grew very angry. When she heard the epithet which had been
applied to Olive she sprang to her feet. "The wretch!" she cried.

"Now, you see, Mrs. Faulkner," said the captain, "I can do nothing at
all myself, and there is no way to make use of the law; that would be
horrible for Olive, and it could not be done; and so I have come to ask
help of you. I don't see that any other man could do more than I could

Mrs. Faulkner sat silent for a few minutes. "I am so glad you came to
me," she said presently. "I have always known Miss Port as a
scandal-monger and a mischief-maker, but I never thought of her as a
wicked woman. This persecution of you is shameful, but when I think of
your niece it is past belief! You are right, Captain Asher; it must be a
woman who must take up your cause. In fact," said she after a moment's
thought, "it must be women. Yes, sir." And as she spoke her face flushed
with enthusiasm. "I am going to take up your cause, and my friends in
there, the ladies of the Dorcas Society, will stand by me, I know. I
don't know what we shall do, but we are going to stand by you and your

Here was a friend worth having. The captain was very much affected, and
was moved with unusual gratitude. He had been used to fighting his own
battles in this world, and here was some one coming forward to fight for

There came upon him a feeling that it would be a shame to let this true
lady take up a combat which she did not wholly understand. He made up
his mind in an instant that he would not care what danger might be
threatened to other people, or to trade, or to society, he would be
true to this lady, to Olive, and to himself. He would tell her the whole
story. She should know what Olive had done, and how little his poor girl
deserved the shameful treatment she had received.

Mrs. Faulkner listened with pale amazement; she trembled from head to
foot as she sat.

"And you must tell no one but your husband," said the captain. "This is
a state secret, and he must promise to keep it before you tell."

She promised everything. She would be so proud to tell her husband.

When the captain had gone, Mrs. Faulkner, in a very unusual state of
mind, went into the parlor, took the chair, and putting aside all other
business, told to the eagerly receptive members the story of Miss Port
and Captain Asher. How she had persecuted him, and maligned him, and of
the shameful way in which she had spoken of his niece. But not one word
did she tell of the story of the two gentlemen in the barouche, and of
the air-gun. She was wild to tell everything, but she was a good woman.

"Now, ladies," said Mrs. Faulkner, "in my opinion, the thing for us to
do is to go to see Maria Port; tell her what we think of her; and have
all this wickedness stopped."

Without debate it was unanimously agreed that the president's plan
should be carried out. And within ten minutes the whole Dorcas Society
of eleven members started out in double file to visit the house of Maria


_The Dorcas on Guard._

Miss Port had not been home very long and was up in her bedroom, which
looked out on the street, when she heard the sound of many feet, and,
hurrying to the window, and glancing through the partly open shutters,
she saw that a company of women were entering the gate into her front
yard. She did not recognize them, because she was not familiar with the
tops of their hats; and besides, she was afraid she might be seen if she
stopped at the window; so she hurried to the stairway and listened.
There were two great knocks at the door--entirely too loud--and when the
servant-maid appeared she heard a voice which she recognized as that of
Mrs. Faulkner inquiring for her. Instantly she withdrew into her chamber
and waited, her countenance all alertness.

When the maid came up to inform her that Mrs. Faulkner and a lot of
ladies were down-stairs, and wanted to see her, Miss Port knit her
brows, and shut her lips tightly. She could not connect this visit of so
many Glenford ladies with anything definite; and yet her conscience told
her that their business in some way concerned Captain Asher. He had had
time to see them, and now they had come to see her; probably to induce
her to relinquish her claims upon him. As this thought came into her
mind she grew angry at their impudence, and, seating herself in a
rocking-chair, she told the servant to inform the ladies that she had
just reached home, and that it was not convenient for her to receive
them at present.

Mrs. Faulkner sent hack a message that, in that case, they would wait;
and all the ladies seated themselves in the Port parlor.

"The impudence!" said Miss Port to herself; "but if they like waitin,'
they can wait, I guess they'll get enough of it!"

So Maria Port sat in her room and the ladies sat in the parlor below;
and they sat, and they sat, and they sat, and at last it began to grow

"I guess they'll be wantin' their suppers," said Maria, "but they'll go
and get them without seein' me. It's no more convenient for me to go
down now than when they first came."

There had been, and there was, a great deal of conversation down in the
parlor, but it was carried on in such a low tone that, to her great
regret, Miss Port could not catch a word of it.

"Now," said Mrs. Pilsbury, "I must go home, for my husband will want his
supper and the children must be attended to."

"And so must I," said Mrs. Barney and Mrs. Sloan. They would really like
very much to stay and see what would happen next, but they had families.

"Ladies," said Mrs. Faulkner, "of course, we can't all stay here and
wait for that woman; but I propose that three of us shall stay and that
the rest shall go home. I'll be one to stay. And then, in an hour three
of you come back, and let us go and get our suppers. In this way we can
keep a committee here all the time. All night, if necessary. When I come
back I will bring a candlestick and some candles, for, of course, we
don't want to light her lamps. If she should come down while I am away,
I'd like some one to run over and tell me. It's such a little way."

At this the ladies arose, and there was a great rustling and chattering,
and the face of Miss Maria, in the room above, gleamed with triumph.

"I knew I'd sit 'em out," said she; "they haven't got the pluck I've
got." But when the servant came up and told her that "three of them
ladies was a-sittin' in the parlor yet and said they was a-goin' to wait
for her," she lost her temper. She sent down word that she didn't intend
to see any of them, and she wanted them to go home.

To this Mrs. Faulkner replied that they wished to see her, and that they
would stay. And the committee continued to sit.

Now Miss Port began to be seriously concerned. What in the world could
these women want? They were very much in earnest; that was certain.
Could it be possible that she had said more than she intended to Captain
Asher, and that she had given him to understand that she would use any
of these women as witnesses if she went to law? However, whatever they
meant, she intended to sit them out. So she told her maid to make her
some tea and to bring it up with some bread and butter and preserves,
and a light. She also ordered her to be careful that the people in the
parlor should see her as she went up-stairs. "I guess they'll know I'm
in earnest when they see the tea," she said. "I've set out a mess of
'em, and it won't take long to finish up them three!"

She partook of her refreshments, and she reclined in her rocking-chair,
and waited for the hungry ones below to depart. "I'll give 'em half an
hour," said she to herself.

Before that time had elapsed she heard another stir below, and she
exclaimed: "I knew it" and there were steps in the hallway, and some
people went out. She sprang to her feet; she was about to run
down-stairs and lock and bolt every door; but a sound arrested her. It
was the talking of women in the parlor. She stopped, with her mouth wide
open, and her eyes staring, and then the servant came up and told her
that "them three had gone, and that another three had come back, and
they had told her to say that they were goin' to stay in squads all
night till she came down to see them."

Miss Port sat down, her elbows on the table, and her chin in her hands.
"It must be something serious," she thought. "The ladies of this town
are not in the habit of staying out late unless it is to nurse bad
cases, or to sit up with corpses." And then the idea struck her that
probably there might be something the matter that she had not thought
of. She had caused lots of mischief in her day, and it might easily be
that she had forgotten some of it. But the more she thought about the
matter, the more firmly she resolved not to go down and speak to the
women. She would like to send for a constable and have them cleared out
of the house, but she knew that none of the three constables in town
would dare to use force with such ladies as Mrs. Faulkner and the
members of the Dorcas Society.

So she sat and waited, and listened, and grew very nervous, but was more
obstinate now than ever, for she was beginning to be very fearful of
what those women might have to say to her. She could "talk down one
woman, but not a pack of 'em." Thus time passed on, with occasional
reports from the servant until the latter fell asleep, and came
up-stairs no more. There were sounds of footsteps in the street, and
Miss Port put out her light, and went to the front shutters. Three women
were coming in. They entered the house, and in a few minutes afterward
three women went out. Miss Port stood up in the middle of the floor, and
was almost inclined to tear her hair.

"They're goin' to stay all night!" she exclaimed. "I really believe they
're goin' to stay all night!" For a moment she thought of rushing
down-stairs and confronting the impertinent visitors, but she stopped;
she was afraid. She did not know what they might say to her, and she
went to the banisters and listened. They were talking; always in a low
voice. It seemed to her that these people could talk forever. Then she
began to think of her front door, which was open; but, of course, nobody
could come while those creatures were in the parlor. But if she missed
anything she'd have them brought up in court if it took every cent she
had in the world and constables from some other town. She slipped to the
back stairs, and softly called the servant, but there was no answer. She
was afraid to go down, for the back door of the parlor commanded all
the other rooms on that floor. Now she felt more terribly lonely and
more nervous. If she had had a pistol she would have fired it through
the floor. Then those women would run away, and she would fasten up the
house. But there they sat, chatter, chatter, chatter, till it nearly
drove her mad. She wished now she had gone down at first.

After a time, and not a very long time, there were some steps in the
street and in the yard, and more women came into the house, but, worse
than that, the others stayed. Family duties were over now, and those
impudent creatures could be content to stay the rest of the evening.

For a moment the worried woman felt as if she would like to go to bed
and cover up her head and so escape these persistent persecutors. But
she shook her head. That would never do. She knew that when she awoke in
the morning some of those women would still be in the parlor, and, to
save her soul, she could not now imagine what it was that kept them
there like hounds upon her track.

It was now eleven o'clock. When had the Port house been open so late as
that? The people in the town must be talking about it, and there would
be more talking the next day. Perhaps it might be in the town paper. The
morning would be worse than the night. She could not bear it any longer.
There was now nothing to be heard in front but that maddening chatter in
the parlor, and up the back stairs came the snores of the servant. She
got a traveling-bag from a closet and proceeded to pack it; then she put
on her bonnet and shawl and put into her bag all the money she had with
her, trembling all the time as if she had been a thief: robbing her own
house. She could not go down the back stairs, because, as has been said,
she could have been seen from the parlor; but a carpenter had been
mending the railing of a little piazza at the back of the house, and she
remembered he had left his ladder. Down this ladder, with her bag in her
hand, Miss Port silently moved. She looked into the kitchen; she could
not see the servant, but she could hear her snoring on a bench. Clapping
her hand over the girl's mouth, she whispered into her ear, and without
a word the frightened creature sat up and followed Miss Port into the

"Now, then," said Miss Port, whispering as if she were sticking needles
into the frightened girl, "I'm goin' away, and don't you ask no
questions, for you won't get no answers. You just go to bed, and let
them people stay in the parlor all night. They'll be able to take care
of the house, I guess, and if they don't I'll make 'em suffer. In the
morning you can see Mrs. Faulkner--for she's the ringleader--and tell
her that you're goin' home to your mother, and that Miss Port expects
her to pull down all the blinds in this house, and shut and bolt the
doors. She is to see that the eatables is put away proper or else give
to the poor--which will be you, I guess--and then she is to lock all the
doors and take the front-door key to Squire Allen, and tell him I'll
write to him. And what's more, you can say to the nasty thing that if I
find anything wrong in my house, or anything missin', I 'll hold her and
her husband responsible for it, and that I'm mighty glad I don't belong
to their church."

Then she slipped out of the back gate of the yard, and made her way
swiftly to the railroad-station. There was a train for the north which
passed Glenford at half-past twelve, and which could be flagged. There
was one man at the station, and he was very much surprised to see Miss

"Is anything the matter?" he said.

"Yes," she snapped, "there's some people sick, and I guess there'll be
more of 'em a good deal sicker in the morning. I've got to go."

"A case of pizenin'?" asked the man very earnestly.

"Yes," said she, wrapping her shawl around her; "the worse kind of
pizenin'!" Then she talked no more.

The servant-girl slept late, and there were a good many ladies in the
parlor when she came down. She did not give them a chance to ask her
anything, but told her message promptly. It was a message pretty fairly
remembered, although it had grown somewhat sharper in the night. When it
was finished the girl added: "And I'm to have all the eatables in the
house to take home to my mother, and Squire Allen is to pay me four
dollars and seventy-five cents, which has been owin' to me for wages for
ever so long."


_Cold Tinder._

Olive and Dick Lancaster sat together in the captain's parlor. She was
very quiet--she had been very quiet of late--but he was nervous.

"It is very kind, Mr. Lancaster," said Olive, breaking the silence, "for
you to come to see us instead of writing. It is so much pleasanter for

"Oh, it was not kind," he said, interrupting her. "In fact, it was
selfishness. And now I want to tell you quickly, Miss Asher, while I
have the chance, the reason of my coming here to-day. It was not to
offer you my congratulations or my sympathy, although you must know that
I feel for you and your uncle as much in every way as any living being
can feel. I came to offer my love. I have loved you almost ever since I
knew you as much as any man can love a woman, and whenever I have been
with you I could hardly hold myself back from telling you. But I was
strong, and I did not speak, for I knew you did not love me."

Book of the day: