Part 3 out of 6
"Then he told about the professor's wantin' Gus to be assistant and
help do what the old man called 'experiments.'
"'Dixland?' says Gus, 'Ansel Hobart Dixland, the great scientist!
And I'm to be HIS assistant? Assistant to the man who discovered
DIXIUM and invented--'
"'Oh, belay there!' snorts Nate, impatient. Tell me this--he's
awful rich, ain't he?'
"'Why, I believe--yes, Harmon said he was. But to think of MY
"'Now, nephew,' Nate cut in, 'let me talk to you a minute. Me and
your Aunt Huldy Ann have been mighty kind to you sence you've been
here, and here's your chance to do us a good turn. You stick close
to science and the professor and let me attend to the finances. If
this family ain't well off pretty soon it won't be your Uncle
Nate's fault. Only don't you put your oar in where 'tain't
"Lord love you, Gus didn't care about finances. He was so full of
joy at bein' made assistant to the great Ansel Whiskers Dixland
that he forgot everything else, nerves and all.
"So in another day the four of 'em was landed on Ozone Island and
so was the freight-car load of crates and boxes. Grub and
necessaries was to be provided by Scudder--for salary as stated and
"It took Nate less than a week to find out what old Dixland was up
to. When he learned it, he set down in the sand and fairly snorted
disgust. The old idiot was cal'latin' to FLY. Seems that for
years he'd been experimentin' with what he called 'aeroplanes,' and
now he'd reached the stage where he b'lieved he could flap his
wings and soar. 'Thinks I,' says Nate, 'your life work's cut out
for you, Nate Scudder. You'll spend the rest of your days as
gen'ral provider for the Ozone private asylum.' Well, Scudder
wa'n't complainin' none at the outlook. He couldn't make a good
livin' no easier.
"The aeroplane was in sections in them boxes and crates. Nate and
Augustus and the professor got out the sections and fitted 'em
together. The buildin's on Ozone was all joined together--first
the house, then the ell, then the wash-rooms and big sheds, and,
finally, the barn. There was doors connectin', and you could go
from house to barn, both downstairs and up, without steppin'
"'Twas in the barn that they built what Whiskers called the 'flyin'
stage.' 'Twas a long chute arrangement on trestles, and the idea
was that the aeroplane was to get her start by slidin' down the
chute, out through the big doors and off by the atmosphere route to
glory. I say that was the IDEA. In practice she worked different.
"Twice the professor made proclamations that everything was ready,
and twice they started that flyin' machine goin'. The fust time
Dixland was at the helm, and him and the aeroplane dropped headfust
into the sandbank just outside the barn. The machine was
underneath, and the pieces of it acted as a fender, so all the
professor fractured was his temper. But it took ten days to get
the contraption ready for the next fizzle. Then poor, shaky, scart
Augustus was pilot, and he went so deep into the bank that Nate
says he wondered whether 'twas wuth while doin' anything but
orderin' the gravestone. But they dug him out at last, whole, but
frightened blue, and his nerves was worse than ever after that.
"Then old Dixland announces that he has discovered somethin' wrong
in the principle of the thing, and they had to wait while he
ordered some new fittin's from Boston.
"Meanwhile there was other complications settin' in. Scudder was
kept busy providin' grub and such like and helpin' the niece,
Olivia, with the housework. Likewise he had his hands full keepin'
the folks alongshore from findin' out what was goin' on. All this
flyin' foolishness had to be a dead secret.
"But, busy as he was, he found time to notice the thick
acquaintance that was developin' between Augustus and Olivia. Them
two was what the minister calls 'kindred sperrits.' Seems she was
sufferin' from science same as he was and, more'n that, she was
loaded to the gunwale with 'social reform.' To hear the pair of
'em go on about helpin' the poor and 'settlement work' and such was
enough, accordin' to Nate, to make you leave the table. But there!
He couldn't complain. Olivia was her uncle's only heir, and Nate
could see a rainbow of promise ahead for the Scudder family.
"The niece was a nice, quiet girl. The only thing Nate had against
her, outside of the sociology craziness and her not seemin' to take
a shine to him, was her confounded pets. Nate said he never had no
use for pets--lazy critters, eatin' up the victuals and costin'
money--but Olivia was dead gone on 'em. She adopted an old
reprobate of a tom-cat, which she labeled 'Galileo,' after an
Eyetalian who invented spyglasses or somethin' similar, and a great
big ugly dog that answered to the hail of 'Phillips Brooks'; she
named him that because she said the original Phillips was a
distinguished parson and a great philanthropist.
"That dog was a healthy philanthropist. When Nate kicked him the
first time, he chased him the whole length of the barn. After that
they had to keep him chained up. He was just pinin' for a chance
to swaller Scudder whole, and he showed it.
"Well, as time went on, Olivia and Augustus got chummier and
chummier. Nate give 'em all the chance possible to be together,
and as for old Professor Whiskers, all he thought of, anyway, was
his blessed flyin' machine. So things was shapin' themselves well,
'cordin' to Scudder's notion.
"One afternoon Nate come, unexpected, to the top of a sand hill at
t'other end of the island, and there, below, set Olivia and
Augustus. He had a clove hitch 'round her waist, and they was
lookin' into each other's spectacles as if they was windows in the
pearly gates. Thinks Nate: 'They've signed articles,' and he
tiptoed away, feelin' that life wa'n't altogether an empty dream.
"They was lively hours, them that followed. To begin with, when
Nate got back to the barn he found the professor layin' on the
floor, under the flyin' stage, groanin' soulful but dismal. He'd
slipped off one of the braces of the trestles and sprained both
wrists and bruised himself till he wa'n't much more than one big
lump. He hadn't bruised his tongue none to speak of, though, and
his language wa'n't sprained so that you'd notice it. What broke
him up most of all was that he'd got his aeroplane ready to 'fly'
again, and now he was knocked out so's he couldn't be aboard when
she went off the ways.
"'It is the irony of fate,' says he.
"'I got it off the blacksmith over to Wellmouth Centre,' Nate told
him; 'but HE might have got it from Fate, or whoever you mean.
'Twas slippery iron, I know that, and I warned you against steppin'
on it yesterday.'
"The professor more'n hinted that Nate was a dunderhead idiot, and
then he commenced to holler for Tolliver; he wanted to see Tolliver
right off. Scudder thought he'd ought to see a doctor, but he
wouldn't, so Nate plastered him up best he could, got him into the
big chair in the front room, and went huntin' Augustus. Him and
Olivia was still camped in the sand bank. Gus's right arm had got
tired by this time, I cal'late, but he had a new hitch with his
left. Likewise they was still starin' into each other's specs.
"'Excuse me for interruptin' the mesmerism,' says Nate, 'but the
professor wants to see you.'
"They jumped and broke away. But it took more'n that to bring 'em
down out of the clouds. They'd been flyin' a good sight higher
than the old aeroplane had yet.
"'Uncle Nathan,' says Augustus, gettin' up and shakin' hands, 'I
have the most wonderful news for you. It's hardly believable.
You'll never guess it.'
"'Give me three guesses and I'll win on the fust,' says Nate. 'You
two are engaged.'
"They looked at him as if he'd done somethin' wonderful. 'But,
Uncle,' says Gus, shakin' hands again, 'just think! she's actually
consented to marry me.'
"'Well, that's gen'rally understood to be a part of engagin', ain't
it?' says Nate. 'I'm glad to hear it. Miss Dixiand, I
congratulate you. You've got a fine, promisin' young man.'
"That, to Nate's notion, was about the biggest lie he ever told,
but Olivia swallered it for gospel. She seemed to thaw toward
Scudder a little mite, but 'twa'n't at a permanent melt, by no
"'Thank you, Mr. Scudder,' says she, still pretty frosty. 'I am
full aware of Mr. Tolliver's merits. I'm glad to learn that YOU
recognize them. He has told some things concernin' his stay at
your home which--'
"'Yes, yes,' says Nate, kind of hurried. 'Well, I'm sorry to dump
bad news into a puddle of happiness like this, but your Uncle
Ansel, Miss Dixland, has been tryin' to fly without his machine,
and he's sorry for it.'
"Then he told what had happened to the professor, and Olivia
started on the run for the house. Augustus was goin', too, but
Nate held him back.
"'Wait a minute, Gus,' says he. 'Walk along with me; I want to
talk with you. Now, as an older man, your nighest relation, and
one that's come to love you like a son--yes, sir, like a son--I
think it's my duty just now to say a word of advice. You're goin'
to marry a nice girl that's comin' in for a lot of money one of
these days. The professor, he's kind of old, his roof leaks
consider'ble, and this trouble is likely to hurry the end along.
"'Now, then,' Nate goes on, 'Augustus, my boy, what are you and
that simple, childlike girl goin' to do with all that money? How
are you goin' to take care of it? You and 'Livia--you mustn't mind
my callin' her that 'cause she's goin' to be one of the family so
soon--you'll want to be fussin' with science and such, and you
won't have no time to attend to the finances. You'll need a good,
safe person to be your financial manager. Well, you know me and
you know your Aunt Huldy Ann. WE know all about financin'; WE'VE
had experience. You just let us handle the bonds and coupons and
them trifles. We'll invest 'em for you. We'll be yours and
'Livia's financial managers. As for our wages, maybe they'll seem
a little high, but that's easy arranged. And--'
"Gus interrupted then. 'Oh, that's all settled,' he says. 'Olivia
and I have planned all that. When we're married we shall devote
our lives to social work--to settlement work. All the money we
ever get we shall use to help the poor. WE don't want any of it.
We shall live AMONG the poor, live just as frugally as they do.
Our money we shall give--every cent of it--to charity and--'
"'Lord sakes!' yells Nate, 'DON'T talk that way! Don't! Be you
crazy, too? Why--'
"But Gus went on, talkin' a steady streak about livin' in a little
tenement in what he called the 'slums' and chuckin' the money to
this tramp and that, till Nate's head was whirlin'. 'Twa'n't no
joke. He meant it and so did she, and they was just the pair of
loons to do it, too.
"Afore Nate had a chance to think up anything sensible to say,
Olivia comes hollerin' for Gus to hurry. Off he went, and Nate
followed along, holdin' his head and staggerin' like a voter comin'
home from a political candidate's picnic. All he could think of
was: 'THIS the end of all my plannin'! What--WHAT'LL Huldy Ann say
"Nate found the professor bolstered up in his chair, with the other
two standin' alongside. He was layin' down the law about that
"'No! no! NO! I tell you!' he roars, 'I'll see no doctor. My
invention is ready at last, and, if I'm goin' to die, I'll die
successful. Tolliver, you've been a faithful worker with me, and
yours shall be the privilege of makin' the first flight. Wheel me
to the window, Olivia, and let me see my triumph.'
"But Olivia didn't move. Instead, she looked at Augustus and he at
her. 'Wheel me to the window!' yells Dixland. 'Tolliver, what are
you waitin' for? The doors are open, the aeroplane is ready. Go
this instant and fly.'
"Augustus was a bird all right, 'cordin' to Nate's opinion, but he
didn't seem anxious to spread his wings. He was white, and them
nerves of his was all in a twitter. If ever there was a scart
critter, 'twas him then.
"'Go out and fly,' says Nate to him, pretty average ugly. 'Don't
you hear the boss's order? Here, professor, I'll push you to the
"'Thank you, Scudder,' says Dixland. And then turnin' to Gus:
'Well, sir, may I ask why you wait?'
"'Twas Olivia that answered. 'Uncle Ansel,' says she, 'I must tell
you somethin'. I should have preferred tellin' you privately,' she
puts in, glarin' at Nate, 'but it seems I can't. Mr. Tolliver and
I are engaged to be married.'
"Old Whiskers didn't seem to care a continental. All he had in his
addled head was that flyin' contraption.
"'All right, all right,' he snaps, fretty, 'I'm satisfied. He
appears to be a decent young man enough. But now I want him to
start my aeroplane.'
"'No, Uncle Ansel,' goes on Olivia, 'I cannot permit him to risk
his life in that way. His nerves are not strong and neither is his
heart. Besides, the aeroplane has failed twice. Luckily no one
was killed in the other trials, but the chances are that the third
time may prove fatal.'
"'Fatal, you imbecile!' shrieks the professor. 'It's perfected, I
tell you! I--'
"'It makes no difference. No, uncle, Augustus and I have made up
our minds. His life and health are too precious; he must be spared
for the grand work that we are to do together. No, Uncle Ansel, he
shall NOT fly.'
"Did you ever see a cat in a fit? That was the professor just
then, so Nate said. He tried to wave his sprained wrists and
couldn't; tried to stamp his foot and found it too lame. But his
eyeglasses flashed sparks and his tongue spit fire.
"'Are you goin' to start that machine?' he screams at the blue-
white, shaky Augustus.
"'No, Professor Dixland,' stammers Gus. 'No, sir, I'm sorry, but--'
"'Why don't you ask Mr. Scudder to make the experiment, uncle?'
suggests that confounded niece, smilin' the spitefullest smile.
"'Scudder,' says the professor, 'I'll give you five thousand
dollars cash to start in that aeroplane this moment.'
"For a jiffy Nate was staggered. Five thousand dollars CASH--whew!
But then he thought of how deep Gus had been shoved into that
sandbank. And there was a new and more powerful motor aboard the
thing now. Five thousand dollars ain't much good to a telescoped
corpse. He fetched a long breath.
"'Well, now, Mr. Dixland,' he says, 'I'd like to, fust rate, but
you see I don't know nothin' about mechanics.'
"'Professor--' begins Augustus. 'Twas the final straw. Old
Whiskers jumped out of the chair, lameness and all.
"'Out of this house, you ingrate!' he bellers. 'Out this instant!
I discharge you. Go! go!'
"He was actually frothin' at the mouth. I cal'late Olivia thought
he was goin' to die, for she run to him.
"'You'd better go, I think,' says she to her shakin' beau. 'Go,
dear, now. I must stay with him for the present, but we will see
each other soon. Go now, and trust me.'
"'I disown you, you ungrateful girl,' foams her uncle. 'Scudder, I
order you to put that--that creature off this island.'
"'Yes, sir,' says Nate, polite; 'in about two shakes of a heifer's
"He started for Augustus, and Gus started for the door. I guess
Olivia might have interfered, but just then the professor keels
over in a kind of faint and she had to tend to him. Gus darts out
of the door with Nate after him. Scudder reached the beach just as
his nephew was shovin' off in the boat, bound for the mainland.
"'Consarn your empty head!' Nate yelled after him. 'See what you
get by not mindin' me, don't you? I'm runnin' things on this
island after this. I'm boss here; understand? When you're ready
to sign a paper deedin' over ha'f that money your wife's goin' to
get to me and Huldy Ann, maybe I'll let you come back. And perhaps
then I'll square things for you with Dixland. But if you dare to
set foot on these premises until then I'll murder you; I'll drown
you; I'll cut you up for bait; I'll feed you to the dog.'
"He sculled off, his oars rattlin' 'Hark from the tomb' in the
rowlocks. He b'lieved Nate meant it all. Oh, Scudder had HIM
trained all right."
CAPTAIN SOL DECIDES TO MOVE
"Trust Nate for that," interrupted Wingate. "He's just as much a
born bully as he is a cheat and a skinflint."
"Yup," went on Captain Sol. "Well, when Nate got back to the house
the professor was alone in the chair, lookin' sick and weak.
Olivia was up in her room havin' a cryin' fit. Nate got the old
man to bed, made him some clam soup and hot tea, and fetched and
carried for him like he was a baby. The professor's talk was
mainly about the ungrateful desertion, as he called it, of his
"'Keep him away from this island,' he says. 'If he comes, I shall
commit murder; I know it.'
"Scudder promised that Augustus shouldn't come back. The professor
wanted guard kept night and day. Nate said he didn't know's he
could afford so much time, and Dixland doubled his wages on the
spot. So Nate agreed to stand double watches, made him comfort'ble
for the night, and left him.
"Olivia didn't come downstairs again. She didn't seem to want any
supper, but Nate did and had it, a good one. Galileo, the cat,
came yowlin' around, and Nate kicked him under the sofy. Phillips
Brooks was howlin' starvation in the woodshed, and Scudder let him
howl. If he starved to death Nate wouldn't put no flowers on his
grave. Take it altogether, he was havin' a fairly good time.
"And when, later on, he set alone up in his room over the kitchen,
he begun to have a better one. Prospects looked good. Maybe old
Dixland WOULD disown his niece. If he did, Nate figgered he was as
healthy a candidate for adoption as anybody. And Augustus would
have to come to terms or stay single. That is, unless him and
Olivia got married on nothin' a week, paid yearly. Nate guessed
Huldy Ann would think he'd managed pretty well.
"He set there for a long while, thinkin', and then he says he
cal'lates he must have dozed off. At any rate, next thing he knew
he was settin' up straight in his chair, listenin'. It seemed to
him that he'd heard a sound in the kitchen underneath.
"He looked out of the window, and right away he noticed somethin'.
'Twas a beautiful, clear moonlight night, and the high board fence
around the buildin's showed black against the white sand. And in
that white strip was a ten-foot white gape. Nate had shut that
gate afore he went upstairs. Who'd opened it? Then he heard the
noise in the kitchen again. Somebody was talkin' down there.
"Nate got up and tiptoed acrost the room. He was in his stockin'
feet, so he didn't make a sound. He reached into the corner and
took out his old duck gun. It was loaded, both barrels. Nate
cocked the gun and crept down the back stairs.
"There was a lamp burnin' low on the kitchen table, and there, in a
couple of chairs hauled as close together as they could be, set
that Olivia niece and Augustus. They was in a clove hitch again
and whisperin' soft and slushy.
"My! but Scudder was b'ilin'! He give one jump and landed in the
middle of that kitchen floor.
"'You--you--you!' he yelled, wavin' the shotgun. 'You're back
here, are you? You know what I told you I'd do to you? Well, now,
I'll do it.'
"The pair of 'em had jumped about as far as Nate had, only the
opposite way. Augustus was a paralyzed statue, but Olivia had her
senses with her.
"'Run, Augustus!' she screamed. 'He'll shoot you. Run!'
"And then, with a screech like a siren whistle, Augustus commenced
to run. Nate was between him and the outside door, so he bolted
headfirst into the dining room. And after him went Nate Scudder,
so crazy mad he didn't know what he was doin'.
"'Twas pitch dark in the dining room, but through it they went
rattlety bang! dishes smashin', chairs upsettin' and 'hurrah,
boys!' to pay gen'rally. Then through the best parlor and into the
"I cal'late Nate would have had him at the foot of the front stairs
if it hadn't been for Galileo. That cat had been asleep on the
sofy, and the noise and hullabaloo had stirred him up till he was
as crazy as the rest of 'em. He run right under Nate's feet and
down went Nate sprawlin' and both barrels of the shotgun bust loose
like a couple of cannon.
"Galileo took for tall timber, whoopin' anthems. Up them front
stairs went Augustus, screechin' shrill, like a woman; he was SURE
Nate meant to murder him now. And after him his uncle went on all
fours, swearin' tremendous.
"Then 'twas through one bedroom after another, and each one more
crowded with noisy, smashable things than that previous. Nate said
he could remember the professor roarin' 'Fire!' and 'Help!' as the
two of 'em bumped into his bed, but they didn't stop--they was too
busy. The whole length of the house upstairs they traveled, then
through the ell, then the woodshed loft, and finally out into the
upper story of the barn. And there Nate knew he had him. The
ladder was down.
"'Now!' says Nate. 'Now, you long-legged villain, if I don't give
you what's comin' to you, then-- Oh, there ain't no use in your
climbin' out there; you can't get down.'
"The big barn doors was open, and, in the moonlight, Nate could see
Gus scramblin' up and around on the flyin' stage where the
professor's aeroplane was perched, lookin' like some kind of
magnified June bug.
"'Come back, you fool!' Scudder yelled at him. 'Come back and be
butchered. You might as well; it's too high for you to drop. You
won't? Then I'll come after you.'
"Nate says he never shall forget Augustus's face in the blue light
when he see his uncle climbin' out on that stage after him. He was
simply desperate--that's it, desperate. And the next thing he did
was jump into the saddle of the machine and pull the startin'
"There was the buzz of the electric motor, a slippery, slidin'
sound, one awful hair-raisin' whoop from Augustus, and then--
'F-s-s-s-t!'--down the flyin' stage whizzed that aeroplane and out
through the doors.
"Nate set down on the trestles and waited for the sound of the
smash. I guess he actually felt conscience stricken. Of course,
he'd only done his duty, and yet--
"But no smash came. Instead, there was a long scream from the
kitchen--Olivia's voice that was. And then another yell that for
pure joy beat anything ever heard.
"'It flies!' screamed Professor Ansel Hobart Whiskers Dixland, from
his bedroom window. 'At last! At last! It FLIES!'
"It took Nate some few minutes to paw his way back through the shed
loft and the ell over the things him and Gus knocked down on the
fust lap, until he got to his room where the trouble had started.
Then he went down to the kitchen and outdoor.
"Olivia, a heavenly sort of look on her face, was standin' in the
moonlight, with her hands clasped, lookin' up at the sky.
"'It flies!' says she, in a kind of whisper over and over again.
'Oh! it FLIES!'
"Alongside of her was old Dixland, wrapped in a bedquilt,
forgettin' all about sprains and lameness; and he likewise was
staring at the sky and sayin' over and over:
"'It flies! It really FLIES!'
"And Nate looked up, and there, scootin' around in circles, now up
high and now down low, tippin' this way and tippin' that, was that
aeroplane. And in the stillness you could hear the buzz of the
motor and the yells of Augustus.
"Down flopped Scudder in the sand. 'Great land of love,' he says,
"Well, for five minutes or so they watched that thing swoop and
duck and sail up there overhead. And then, slow and easy as a
feather in a May breeze, down she flutters and lands soft on a
hummock a little ways off. And that Augustus--a fool for luck--
staggers out of it safe and sound, and sets down and begins to cry.
"The fust thing to reach him was Olivia. She grabbed him around
the neck, and you never heard such goin's on as them two had. Nate
come hurryin' up.
"'Here you!' he says, pullin' 'em apart. 'That's enough of this.
And you,' he adds to Gus, 'clear right out off this island. I
won't make shark bait of you this time, but--'
"And then comes Dixland, hippity-hop over the hummocks. 'My noble
boy!' he sings out, fallin' all of a heap onto Augustus's round
shoulders. 'My noble boy! My hero!'
"Nate looked on for a full minute with his mouth open. Olivia went
away toward the house. The professor and Gus was sheddin' tears
like a couple of waterin' pots.
"'Come! come!' says Scudder finally; 'get up, Mr. Dixland; you'll
catch cold. Now then, you Tolliver, toddle right along to your
boat. Don't you worry, professor, I'll fix him so's he won't come
here no more.'
"But the professor turned on him like a flash.
"'How dare you interfere?' says he. 'I forgive him everything. He
is a hero. Why, man, he FLEW!'
"Olivia came up behind and touched Nate on the shoulders. 'Don't
you think you'd better go, Mr. Scudder?' she purred. 'I've
unchained Phillips Brooks.'
"Nate swears he never made better time than he done gettin' to the
shore and the boat Augustus had come over in. But that
philanthropist dog only missed the supper he'd been waitin' for by
about a foot and a half, even as 'twas.
"And that was the end of it, fur's Nate was concerned. Olivia was
boss from then on, and Scudder wa'n't allowed to land on his own
island. And pretty soon they all went away, flyin' machine and
all, and now Gus and Olivia are married."
"Well, by gum!" cried Wingate. "Say, that must have broke Nate's
heart completely. All that good money goin' to the poor. Ha! ha!"
"Yes," said Captain Sol, with a broad grin. "Nate told me that
every time he realized that Gus's flyin' at all was due to his
scarin' him into it, it fairly made him sick of life."
"What did Huldy Ann say? I'll bet the fur flew when SHE heard of
"I guess likely it did. Scudder says her jawin's was the worst of
all. Her principal complaint was that he didn't take up with the
professor's five-thousand offer and try to fly. 'What if 'twas
risky?' she says. 'If anything happened to you the five thousand
would have come to your heirs, wouldn't it? But no! you never
think of no one but yourself.'"
Mr. Wingate glanced at his watch. "Good land!" he cried, "I didn't
realize 'twas so late. I must trot along down and meet Stitt. He
and I are goin' to corner the clam market."
"I must be goin', too," said the depot master, rising and moving
toward the door, picking up his cap on the way. He threw open the
door and exclaimed, "Hello! here's Sim. What you got on your mind,
Mr. Phinney looked rather solemn. "I wanted to speak with you a
minute, Sol," he began. "Hello! Barzilla, I didn't know you was
"I shan't be here but one second longer," replied Mr. Wingate, as
he and Phinney shook hands. "I'm late already. Bailey'll think I
ain't comin'. Good-by, boys. See you this afternoon, maybe."
"Yes, do," cried Berry, as his guest hurried down to the gate. "I
want to hear about those automobiles over your way. You ain't
bought one, have you, Barzilla?"
Wingate grinned over his shoulder. "No," he called, "I ain't. But
other folks you know have. It's the biggest joke on earth. You
and Sim'll want to hear it."
He waved a big hand and walked briskly up the Shore Road. The
depot master turned to his friend.
"Well, Sim?" he asked.
"Well, Sol," answered the building mover gravely, "I've just met
Mr. Hilton, the minister, and he told me somethin' about Olive
Edwards, somethin' I thought you'd want to know. You said for me
to find out what she was cal'latin' to do when she had to give up
her home and--"
"I know what I said," interrupted the depot master rather sharply.
"What did Hilton say?"
"Mr. Hilton told me not to tell," continued Phinney, "and I shan't
tell nobody but you, Sol. I know you wont t mention it. The
minister says that Olive's hard up as she can be. All she's got in
the world is the little furniture and store stuff in her house.
The store stuff don't amount to nothin', but the furniture belonged
to her pa and ma, and she set a heap by it. Likewise, as everybody
knows, she's awful proud and self-respectin'. Anything like
charity would kill her. Now out West--in Omaha or somewheres--
she's got a cousin who owed her dad money. Old Cap'n Seabury lent
this Omaha man two or three thousand dollars and set him up in
business. Course, the debt's outlawed, but Olive don't realize
that, or, if she did, it wouldn't count with her. She couldn't
understand how law would have any effect on payin' money you
honestly owe. She's written to the Omaha cousin, tellin' him what
a scrape she's in and askin' him to please, if convenient, let her
have a thousand or so on account. She figgers if she gets that,
she can go to Bayport or Orham or somewheres and open another
Captain Berry lit a cigar. "Hum!" he said, after a minute. "You
say she's written to this chap. Has she got an answer yet?"
"No, not any definite one. She heard from the man's wife sayin'
that her husband--the cousin--had gone on a fishin' trip somewheres
up in Canady and wouldn't be back afore the eighth of next month.
Soon's he does come he'll write her. But Mr. Hilton thinks, and so
do I--havin' heard a few things about this cousin--that it's mighty
doubtful if he sends any money."
"Yes, I shouldn't wonder. Where's Olive goin' to stay while she's
waitin' to hear?"
"In her own house. Mr. Hilton went to Williams and pleaded with
him, and he finally agreed to let her stay there until the
'Colonial' is moved onto the lot. Then the Edwardses house'll be
tore down and Olive'll have to go, of course."
The depot master puffed thoughtfully at his cigar.
"She won't hear before the tenth, at the earliest," he said. "And
if Williams begins to move his 'Colonial' at once, he'll get it to
her lot by the seventh, sure. Have you given him your figures for
"Handed 'em in this very mornin'. One of his high-and-mighty
servants, all brass buttons and braid, like a feller playin' in the
band, took my letter and condescended to say he'd pass it on to
Williams. I'd liked to have kicked the critter, just to see if he
COULD unbend; but I jedged 'twouldn't be good business."
"Probably not. If the 'Colonial' gets to Olive's lot afore she
hears from the Omaha man, what then?"
"Well, that's the worst of it. The minister don't know what she'll
do. There's plenty of places where she'd be more'n welcome to
visit a spell, but she's too proud to accept. Mr. Hilton's afraid
she'll start for Boston to hunt up a job, or somethin'. You know
how much chance she stands of gettin' a job that's wuth anything."
Phinney paused, anxiously awaiting his companion's reply. When it
came it was very unsatisfactory.
"I'm goin' to the depot," said the Captain, brusquely. "So long,
He slammed the door of the house behind him, strode to the gate,
flung it open, and marched on. Simeon gazed in astonishment, then
hurried to overtake him. Ranging alongside, he endeavored to
reopen the conversation, but to no purpose. The depot master would
not talk. They turned into Cross Street.
"Well!" exclaimed Mr. Phinney, panting from his unaccustomed hurry,
"what be we, runnin' a race? Why! . . . Oh, how d'ye do, Mr.
Williams, sir? Want to see me, do you?"
The magnate of East Harniss stepped forward.
"Er--Phinney," he said, " I want a moment of your time. Morning,
"Mornin', Williams," observed Captain Sol brusquely. "All right,
Sim. I'll wait for you farther on."
He continued his walk. The building mover stood still. Mr.
Williams frowned with lofty indignation.
"Phinney," he said, "I've just looked over those figures of yours,
your bid for moving my new house. The price is ridiculous."
Simeon attempted a pleasantry. "Yes," he answered, "I thought
'twas ridic'lous myself; but I needed the money, so I thought I
could afford to be funny."
The Williams frown deepened.
"I didn't mean ridiculously low," he snapped; "I meant ridiculously
high. I'd rather help out you town fellows if I can, but you can't
work me for a good thing. I've written to Colt and Adams, of
Boston, and accepted their offer. You had your chance and didn't
see fit to take it. That's all. I'm sorry."
Simeon was angry; also a trifle skeptical.
"Mr. Williams," he demanded, "do you mean to tell me that THEM
people have agreed to move you cheaper'n I can?"
"Their price--their actual price may be no lower; but considering
their up-to-date outfit and--er--progressive methods, they're
cheaper. Yes. Morning, Phinney."
He turned on his heel and walked off. Mr. Phinney, crestfallen and
angrier than ever, moved on to where the depot master stood waiting
for him. Captain Sol smiled grimly.
"You don't look merry as a Christmas tree, Sim," he observed.
"What did his Majesty have to say to you?"
Simeon related the talk with Williams. The depot master's grim
smile grew broader.
"Sim," he asked, with quiet sarcasm, "don't you realize that
progressive methods are necessary in movin' a house?"
Phinney tried to smile in return, but the attempt was a failure.
"Yes," went on the Captain. "Well, if you can't take the Grand
Panjandrum home, you can set on the fence and see him go by. That
ought to be honor enough, hadn't it? However, I may need some of
your ridiculous figgers on a movin' job of my own, pretty soon.
Don't be TOO comical, will you?"
"What do you mean by that, Sol Berry?"
"I mean that I may decide to move my own house."
"Move your OWN house? Where to, for mercy sakes?"
"To that lot on Main Street that belongs to Abner Payne. Abner has
wanted to buy my lot here on the Shore Road for a long time. He
knows it'll make a fine site for some rich bigbug's summer
'cottage.' He would have bought the house, too, but I think too
much of that to sell it. Now Abner's come back with another offer.
He'll swap my lot for the Main Street one, pay my movin' expenses
and a fair 'boot' besides. He don't really care for my HOUSE, you
understand; it's my LAND he's after."
"Are you goin' to take it up?"
"I don't know. The Main Street lot's a good one, and my house'll
look good on it. And I'll make money by the deal."
"Yes, but you've always swore by that saltwater view of yours.
Told me yourself you never wanted to live anywheres else."
Captain Sol took the cigar from his lips, looked at it, then threw
it violently into the gutter.
"What difference does it make where I live?" he snarled. "Who in
blazes cares where I live or whether I live at all?"
"Sol Berry, what on airth--"
"Shut up! Let me alone, Sim! I ain't fit company for anybody just
now. Clear out, there's a good feller."
The next moment he was striding down the hill. Mr. Phinney drew a
long breath, scratched his head and shook it solemnly. WHAT did it
THE OBLIGATIONS OF A GENTLEMAN
The methods of Messrs. Colt and Adams, the Boston firm of building
movers, were certainly progressive, if promptness in getting to
work is any criterion. Two days after the acceptance of their
terms by Mr. Williams, a freight car full of apparatus arrived at
East Harniss. Then came a foreman and a gang of laborers. Horses
were hired, and within a week the "pure Colonial" was off its
foundations and on its way to the Edwards lot. The moving was no
light task. The big house must be brought along the Shore Road to
the junction with the Hill Boulevard, then swung into that
aristocratic highway and carried up the long slope, around the wide
curve, to its destination.
Mr. Phinney, though he hated the whole operation, those having it
in charge, and the mighty Williams especially, could not resist
stealing down to see how his successful rivals were progressing
with the work he had hoped to do. It caused him much chagrin to
see that they were getting on so very well. One morning, after
breakfast, as he stood at the corner of the Boulevard and the Shore
Road, he found himself engaged in a mental calculation.
Three days more and they would swing into the Boulevard; four or
five days after that and they would be abreast the Edwards lot.
Another day and . . . Poor Olive! She would be homeless. Where
would she go? It was too early for a reply from the Omaha cousin,
but Simeon, having questioned the minister, had little hope that
that reply would be favorable. Still it was a chance, and if the
money SHOULD come before the "pure Colonial" reached the Edwards
lot, then the widow would at least not be driven penniless from her
home. She would have to leave that home in any event, but she
could carry out her project of opening another shop in one of the
neighboring towns. Otherwise . . . Mr. Phinney swore aloud.
"Humph!" said a voice behind him. "I agree with you, though I
don't know what it's all about. I ain't heard anything better put
for a long while."
Simeon spun around, as he said afterwards, "like a young one's
pinwheel." At his elbow stood Captain Berry, the depot master,
hands in pockets, cigar in mouth, the personification of calmness
and imperturbability. He had come out of his house, which stood
close to the corner, and walked over to join his friend.
"Land of love!" exclaimed Simeon. "Why don't you scare a fellow to
death, tiptoein' around? I never see such a cat-foot critter!"
Captain Sol smiled. "Jumpin' it, ain't they?" he said, nodding
toward the "Colonial." "Be there by the tenth, won't it?"
"Tenth!" Mr. Phinney sniffed disgust. "It'll be there by the
sixth, or I miss my guess."
"Yup. Say, Sim, how soon could you land that shanty of mine in the
road if I give you the job to move it?"
"I couldn't get it up to the Main Street lot inside of a
fortnight," replied Sim, after a moment's reflection. "Fur's
gettin' it in the road goes, I could have it here day after to-
morrow if I had gang enough."
The depot master took the cigar out of his mouth and blew a ring of
smoke. "All right," he drawled, "get gang enough."
Phinney jumped. "You mean you've decided to take up with Payne's
offer and swap your lot for his?" he gasped. "Why, only two or
three days ago you said--"
"Ya-as. That was two or three days ago, and I've been watchin' the
'Colonial' since. I cal'late the movin' habit's catchin'. You
have your gang here by noon to-day."
"Sol Berry, are you crazy? You ain't seen Abner Payne; he's out of
"Don't have to see him. He's made me an offer and I'll write and
"But you've got to have a selectmen's permit to move--"
"Got it. I went up and saw the chairman an hour ago. He's a
friend of mine. I nominated him town-meetin' day."
"But," stammered Phinney, very much upset by the suddenness of it
all, "you ain't got my price nor--"
"Drat your price! Give it when I ask it. See here, Sim, are you
goin' to have my house in the middle of the road by day after to-
morrer? Or was that just talk?"
"'Twa'n't talk. I can have it there, but--"
"All right," said Captain Sol coolly, "then have it."
Hands in pockets, he strolled away. Simeon sat down on a rock by
the roadside and whistled.
However, whistling was a luxurious and time-wasting method of
expressing amazement, and Mr. Phinney could not afford luxuries
just then. For the rest of that day he was a busy man. As Bailey
Stitt expressed it, he "flew round like a sand flea in a mitten,"
hiring laborers, engaging masons, and getting his materials ready.
That very afternoon the masons began tearing down the chimneys of
the little Berry house. Before the close of the following day it
was on the rollers. By two of the day after that it was in the
middle of the Shore Road, just when its mover had declared it
should be. They were moving it, furniture and all, and Captain Sol
was, as he said, going to "stay right aboard all the voyage." No
cooking could be done, of course, but the Captain arranged to eat
at Mrs. Higgins's hospitable table during the transit. His sudden
freak was furnishing material for gossip throughout the village,
but he did not care. Gossip concerning his actions was the last
thing in the world to trouble Captain Sol Berry.
The Williams's "Colonial" was moving toward the corner at a rapid
rate, and the foreman of the Boston moving firm walked over to see
"Say," he observed to Simeon, who, the perspiration streaming down
his face, was resting for a moment before recommencing his labor of
arranging rollers; "say," observed the foreman, "we'll be ready to
turn into the Boulevard by tomorrer night and you're blockin' the
"That's all right," said Simeon, "we'll be past the Boulevard
corner by that time."
He thought he was speaking the truth, but next morning, before work
began, Captain Berry appeared. He had had breakfast and strolled
around to the scene of operations.
"Well," asked Phinney, "how'd it seem to sleep on wheels?"
"Tiptop," replied the depot master. "Like it fust rate. S'pose my
next berth will be somewheres up there, won't it?"
He was pointing around the corner instead of straight ahead.
Simeon gaped, his mouth open.
"Up THERE?" he cried. "Why, of course not. That's the Boulevard.
We're goin' along the Shore Road."
"That so? I guess not. We're goin' by the Boulevard. Can go that
way, can't we?"
"Can?" repeated Simeon aghast. "Course we CAN! But it's like
boxin' the whole compass backward to get ha'f a p'int east of
no'th. It's way round Robin Hood's barn. It'll take twice as long
"That's good," interrupted the Captain. "I like to travel, and I'm
willin' to pay for it. Think of the view I'll get on the way."
"But your permit from the selectmen--" began Phinney. Berry held
up his hand.
"My permit never said nothin' about the course to take," he
answered, his eye twinkling just a little. "There, Sim, you're
wastin' time. I move by the Hill Boulevard."
And into the Boulevard swung the Berry house. The Colt and Adams
foreman was an angry man when he saw the beams laid in that
direction. He rushed over and asked profane and pointed questions.
"Thought you said you was goin' straight ahead?" he demanded.
"Thought I was," replied Simeon, "but, you see, I'm only navigator
of this craft, not owner."
"Where is the blankety blank?" asked the foreman.
"If you're referrin' to Cap'n Berry, I cal'late you'll find him at
the depot," answered Phinney. To the depot went the foreman.
Receiving little satisfaction there, he hurried to the home of his
employer, Mr. Williams. The magnate, red-faced and angry, returned
with him to the station. Captain Sol received them blandly. Issy,
who heard the interview which followed, declared that the depot
master was so cool that "an iceberg was a bonfire 'longside of
him." Issy's description of this interview, given to a dozen
townspeople within the next three hours, was as follows:
"Mr. Williams," said the wide-eyed Issy, "he comes postin' into the
waitin' room, his foreman with him. Williams marches over to Cap'n
Sol and he says, 'Berry,' he says, 'are you responsible for the way
that house of yours is moved?'
"Cap'n Sol bowed and smiled. 'Yes,' says he, sweet as a fresh
"'You're movin' it to Main Street, aren't you? I so understood.'
"'You understood correct. That's where she's bound.'
"'Then what do you mean by turning out of your road and into mine?'
"'Oh, I don't own any road. Have you bought the Boulevard? The
selectmen ought to have told us that. I s'posed it was town
"Mr. Williams colored up a little. 'I didn't mean my road in that
sense,' he says. 'But the direct way to Main Street is along the
shore, and everybody knows it. Now why do you turn from that into
"Cap'n Sol took a cigar from his pocket. 'Have one?' says he,
passin' it toward Mr. Williams. 'No? Too soon after breakfast, I
s'pose. Why do I turn off?' he goes on. 'Well, I'll tell you.
I'm goin' to stay right aboard my shack while it's movin', and it's
so much pleasanter a ride up the hill that I thought I'd go that
way. I always envied them who could afford a house on the
Boulevard, and now I've got the chance to have one there--for a
spell. I'm sartin I shall enjoy it.'
"The foreman growled, disgusted. Mr. Williams got redder yet.
"'Don't you understand?' he snorts. 'You're blockin' the way of
the house I'M movin'. I have capable men with adequate apparatus
to move it, and they would be able to go twice as fast as your one-
horse country outfit. You're blockin' the road. Now they must
follow you. It's an outrage!'
"Cap'n Sol smiled once more. 'Too bad,' says he. 'It's a pity
such a nice street ain't wider. If it was my street in my town--I
b'lieve that's what you call East Harniss, ain't it?--seems to me
I'd widen it.'
"The boss of 'my town' ground his heel into the sand. 'Berry,' he
snaps, 'are you goin' to move that house over the Boulevard ahead
"The Cap'n looked him square in the eye. 'Williams,' says he, 'I
"The millionaire turned short and started to go.
"'You'll pay for it,' he snarls, his temper gettin' free at last.
"'I cal'late to,' purrs the Cap'n. 'I gen'rally do pay for what I
want, and a fair price, at that. I never bought in cheap mortgages
and held 'em for clubs over poor folks, never in my life. Good
"And right to Mr. Williams's own face, too," concluded Issy. "WHAT
do you think of that?"
Here was defiance of authority and dignity, a sensation which
should have racked East Harniss from end to end. But most of the
men in the village, the tradespeople particularly, had another
matter on their minds, namely, Major Cuthbertson Scott Hardee, of
"Silverleaf Hall." The Major and his debts were causing serious
The creditors of the Major met, according to agreement, on the
Monday evening following their previous gathering at the club.
Obed Gott, one of the first to arrive, greeted his fellow members
with an air of gloomy triumph and a sort of condescending pity.
Higgins, the "general store" keeper, acting as self-appointed
chairman, asked if anyone had anything to report. For himself, he
had seen the Major and asked point-blank for payment of his bill.
The Major had been very polite and was apparently much concerned
that his fellow townsmen should have been inconvenienced by any
neglect of his. He would write to his attorneys at once, so he
"He said a whole lot more, too," added Higgins. "Said he had never
been better served than by the folks in this town, and that I kept
a fine store, and so on and so forth. But I haven't got any money
yet. Anybody else had any better luck?"
No one had, although several had had similar interviews with the
master of "Silverleaf Hall."
"Obed looks as if he knew somethin'," remarked Weeks. "What is it,
Mr. Gott scornfully waved his hand.
"You fellers make me laugh," he said. "You talk and talk, but you
don't do nothin'. I b'lieve in doin', myself. When I went home
t'other night, thinks I: 'There's one man that might know somethin'
'bout old Hardee, and that's Godfrey, the hotel man.' So I wrote
to Godfrey up to Boston and I got a letter from him. Here 'tis."
He read the letter aloud. Mr. Godfrey wrote that he knew nothing
about Major Hardee further than that he had been able to get
nothing from him in payment for his board.
"So I seized his trunk," the letter concluded. "There was nothing
in it worth mentioning, but I took it on principle. The Major told
me a lot about writing to his attorneys for money, but I didn't pay
much attention to that. I'm afraid he's an old fraud, but I can't
help liking him, and if I had kept on running my hotel I guess he
would have got away scot-free."
"There!" exclaimed the triumphant Obed, with a sneer, "I guess that
settles it, don't it? Maybe you'd be willin' to turn your bills
over to Squire Baker now."
But they were not willing. Higgins argued, and justly, that
although the Major was in all probability a fraud, not even a
lawyer could get water out of a stone, and that when a man had
nothing, suing him was a waste of time and cash.
"Besides," he said, "there's just a chance that he may have
attorneys and property somewheres else. Let's write him a letter
and every one of us sign it, tellin' him that we'll call on him
Tuesday night expectin' to be paid in full. If we call and don't
get any satisfaction, why, we ain't any worse off, and then we can--
well, run him out of town, if nothin' more."
So the letter was written and signed by every man there. It was a
long list of signatures and an alarming total of indebtedness. The
letter was posted that night.
The days that followed seemed long to Obed. He was ill-natured at
home and ugly at the shop, and Polena declared that he was "gettin'
so a body couldn't live with him." Her own spirits were remarkably
high, and Obed noticed that, as the days went by, she seemed to be
unusually excited. On Thursday she announced that she was going to
Orham to visit her niece, one Sarah Emma Cahoon, and wouldn't be
back right off. He knew better than to object, and so she went.
That evening each of the signers of the letter to Major Hardee
received a courteous note saying that the Major would be pleased to
receive the gentlemen at the Hall. Nothing was said about payment.
So, after some discussion, the creditors marched in procession
across the fields and up to "Silverleaf Hall."
"Hardee's been to Orham to-day," whispered the keeper of the livery
stable, as they entered the yard. "He drove over this mornin' and
come back to-night."
"DROVE over!" exclaimed Obed, halting in his tracks. "He did?
Where'd he get the team? I'll bet five dollars you was soft enough
to let him have it, and never said a word. Well, if you ain't--
By jimmy! you wait till I get at him! I'll show you that he can't
soft soap me."
Augustus met them at the door and ushered them into the old-
fashioned parlor. The Major, calm, cool, and imperturbably polite,
was waiting to receive them. He made some observation concerning
"The day's fine enough," interrupted Obed, pushing to the front,
"but that ain't what we come here to talk about. Are you goin' to
pay us what you owe? That's what we want to know."
The "gentleman of the old school" did not answer immediately.
Instead he turned to the solemn servant at his elbow.
"Augustus," he said, "you may make ready." Then, looking serenely
at the irate Mr. Gott, whose clenched fist rested under the center
table, which he had thumped to emphasize his demands, the Major
"I beg your pardon, my dear sir, but what is the total of my
indebtedness to you?"
"Nineteen dollars and twenty-eight cents, and I want you to
Major Hardee held up a slim, white hand.
"One moment, if you please," he said. "Now, Augustus."
Augustus opened the desk in the corner and produced an imposing
stack of bank notes. Then he brought forth neat piles of halves,
quarters, dimes, and pennies, and arranged the whole upon the
table. Obed's mouth and those of his companions gaped in
"Have you your bill with you, Mr. Gott?" inquired the Major.
Dazedly Mr. Gott produced the required document.
"Thank you. Augustus, nineteen twenty-eight to this gentleman.
Kindly receipt the bill, Mr. Gott, if you please. A mere
formality, of course, but it is well to be exact. Thank you, sir.
And now, Mr. Higgins."
One by one the creditors shamefacedly stepped forward, received the
amount due, receipted the bill, and stepped back again. Mr.
Peters, the photographer, was the last to sign.
"Gentlemen," said the Major, "I am sorry that my carelessness in
financial matters should have caused you this trouble, but now that
you are here, a representative gathering of East Harniss's men of
affairs, upon this night of all nights, it seems fitting that I
should ask for your congratulations. Augustus."
The wooden-faced Augustus retired to the next room and reappeared
carrying a tray upon which were a decanter and glasses.
"Gentlemen," continued the Major, "I have often testified to my
admiration and regard for your--perhaps I may now say OUR--charming
village. This admiration and regard has extended to the fair
daughters of the township. It may be that some of you have
conscientious scruples against the use of intoxicants. These
scruples I respect, but I am sure that none of you will refuse to
at least taste a glass of wine with me when I tell you that I have
this day taken one of the fairest to love and cherish during life."
He stepped to the door of the dining room, opened it, and said
quietly, "My dear, will you honor us with your presence?"
There was a rustle of black silk and there came through the doorway
the stately form of her who had been Mrs. Polena Ginn.
"Gentlemen," said the Major, "permit me to present to you my wife,
the new mistress of 'Silverleaf Hall.'"
The faces of the ex-creditors were pictures of astonishment. Mr.
Gott's expressive countenance turned white, then red, and then
settled to a mottled shade, almost as if he had the measles.
Polena rushed to his side.
"O Obed!" she exclaimed. "I know we'd ought to have told you, but
'twas only Tuesday the Major asked me, and we thought we'd keep it
a secret so's to s'prise you. Mr. Langworthy over to Orham married
"My dear," her husband blandly interrupted, "we will not intrude
our private affairs upon the patience of these good friends. And
now, gentlemen, let me propose a toast: To the health and happiness
of the mistress of 'Silverleaf Hall'! Brother Obed, I--"
The outside door closed with a slam; "Brother Obed" had fled.
A little later, when the rest of the former creditors of the Major
came out into the moonlight, they found their companion standing by
the gate gazing stonily into vacancy. "Hen" Leadbetter, who, with
Higgins, brought up the rear of the procession, said reflectively:
"When he fust fetched out that stack of money I couldn't scarcely
b'lieve my eyes. I begun to think that we fellers had put our foot
in it for sartin, and had lost a mighty good customer; but, of
course, it's all plain enough NOW."
"Yes," remarked Weeks with a nod; "I allers heard that P'lena kept
a mighty good balance in the bank."
"It looks to me," said Higgins slyly, "as if we owed Obed here a
vote of thanks. How 'bout that, Obed?"
And then Major Hardee's new brother-in-law awoke with a jump.
"Aw, you go to grass!" he snarled, and tramped savagely off down
THE WIDOW BASSETT
These developments, Major Hardee's marriage and Mr. Gott's
discomfiture, overshadowed, for the time, local interest in the
depot master's house moving. This was, in its way, rather
fortunate, for those who took the trouble to walk down to the lower
end of the Boulevard were astonished to see how very slowly the
moving was progressing.
"Only one horse, Sim?" asked Captain Hiram Baker. "Only one! Why,
it'll take you forever to get through, won't it?"
"I'm afraid it'll take quite a spell," admitted Mr. Phinney.
"Where's your other one, the white one?"
"The white horse," said Simeon slowly, "ain't feelin' just right
and I've had to lay him off."
"Humph! that's too bad. How does Sol act about it? He's such a
hustler, I should think--"
"Sol," interrupted Sim, "ain't unreasonable. He understands."
He chuckled inwardly as he said it. Captain Sol did understand.
Also Mr. Phinney himself was beginning to understand a little.
The very day on which Williams and his foreman had called on the
depot master and been dismissed so unceremoniously, that official
paid a short visit to his mover.
"Sim," he said, the twinkle still in his eye, "his Majesty,
Williams the Conqueror, was in to see me just now and acted real
peevish. He was pretty disrespectful to you, too. Called your
outfit 'one horse.' That's a mistake, because you've got two
horses at work right now. It seems a shame to make a great man
like that lie. Hadn't you better lay off one of them horses?"
"Lay one OFF?" exclaimed Simeon. "What for? Why, we'll be slow
enough, as 'tis. With only one horse we wouldn't get through for I
don't know how long."
"That's so," murmured the Captain. "I s'pose with one horse you'd
hardly reach the middle of the Boulevard by--well, before the tenth
of the month. Hey?"
The tenth of the month! The TENTH! Why, it was on the tenth that
that Omaha cousin of Olive Edwards was to--Mr. Phinney began to
see--to see and to grin, slow but expansive.
"Hm-m-m!" he mused.
"Yes," observed Captain Sol. "That white horse of yours looks sort
of ailin' to me, Sim. I think he needs a rest."
And, sure enough, next day the white horse was pronounced unfit and
taken back to the stable. The depot master's dwelling moved, but
that is all one could say truthfully concerning its progress.
At the depot the Captain was quieter than usual. He joked with his
assistant less than had been his custom, and for the omission Issy
was duly grateful. Sometimes Captain Sol would sit for minutes
without speaking. He seemed to be thinking and to be pondering
some grave problem. When his friends, Mr. Wingate, Captain Stitt,
Hiram Baker, and the rest, dropped in on him he cheered up and was
as conversational as ever. After they had gone he relapsed into
his former quiet mood.
"He acts sort of blue, to me," declared Issy, speaking from the
depths of sensational-novel knowledge. "If he was a younger man
I'd say he was most likely in love. Ah, hum! I s'pose bein' in
love does get a feller mournful, don't it?"
Issy made this declaration to his mother only. He knew better than
to mention sentiment to male acquaintances. The latter were
altogether too likely to ask embarrassing questions.
Mr. Wingate and Captain Stitt were still in town, although their
stay was drawing to a close. One afternoon they entered the
station together. Captain Sol seemed glad to see them.
"Set down, fellers," he ordered. "I swan I'm glad to see you. I
ain't fit company for myself these days."
"Ain't Betsy Higgins feedin' you up to the mark?" asked Stitt. "Or
is house movin' gettin' on your vitals?"
"No," growled the depot master, "grub's all right and so's movin',
I cal'late. I'm glad you fellers come in. What's the news to
Orham, Barzilla? How's the Old Home House boarders standin' it?
Hear from Jonadab regular, do you?"
Mr. Wingate laughed. "Nothin' much," he said. "Jonadab's too busy
to write these days. Bein' a sport interferes with letter writing
"Sport!" exclaimed Captain Bailey. "Land of Goshen! Cap'n Jonadab
is the last one I'd call a sport."
"That's 'cause you ain't a good judge of human nature, Bailey,"
chuckled Barzilla. "When ancient plants like Jonadab Wixon DO
bloom, they're gay old blossoms, I tell you!"
"What do you mean?" asked the depot master.
"I mean that Jonadab's been givin' me heart disease, that's what;
givin' it to me in a good many diff'rent ways, too. We opened the
Old Home House the middle of April this year, because Peter T.
Brown thought we might catch some spring trade. We did catch a
little, though whether it paid to open up so early's a question.
But 'twas June 'fore Jonadab got his disease so awful bad.
However, most any time in the last part of May the reg'lar
programme of the male boarders was stirrin' him up.
"Take it of a dull day, for instance. Sky overcast and the wind
aidgin' round to the sou'east, so's you couldn't tell whether
'twould rain or fair off; too cold to go off to the ledge cod
fishin' and too hot for billiards or bowlin'; a bunch of the
younger women folks at one end of the piazza playin' bridge; half a
dozen men, includin' me and Cap'n Jonadab, smokin' and tryin' to
keep awake at t'other end; amidships a gang of females--all 'fresh
air fiends'--and mainly widows or discards in the matrimony deal,
doin' fancywork and gossip. That would be about the usual layout.
"Conversation got to you in homeopath doses, somethin' like this:
"'Did you say "Spades"? WELL! if I'd known you were going to make
us lose our deal like that, I'd never have bridged it--not with
"'Oh, Miss Gabble, have you heard what people are sayin' about--'
The rest of it whispers.
"'A--oo--OW! By George, Bill! this is dead enough, isn't it?
Shall we match for the cigars or are you too lazy?'
"Then, from away off in the stillness would come a drawn-out 'Honk!
honk!' like a wild goose with the asthma, and pretty soon up the
road would come sailin' a big red automobile, loaded to the guards
with goggles and grandeur, and whiz past the hotel in a hurricane
of dust and smell. Then all hands would set up and look
interested, and Bill would wink acrost at his chum and drawl:
"'That's the way to get over the country! Why, a horse isn't one--
two--three with that! Cap'n Wixon, I'm surprised that a sportin'
man like you hasn't bought one of those things long afore this.'
"For the next twenty minutes there wouldn't be any dullness.
Jonadab would take care of that. He'd have the floor and be givin'
his opinions of autos and them that owned and run 'em. And between
the drops of his language shower you'd see them boarders nudgin'
each other and rockin' back and forth contented and joyful.
"It always worked. No matter what time of day or night, all you
had to say was 'auto' and Cap'n Jonadab would sail up out of his
chair like one of them hot-air balloons the youngsters nowadays
have on Fourth of July. And he wouldn't come down till he was
empty of remarks, nuther. You never see a man get so red faced and
"It wa'n't because he couldn't afford one himself. I know that's
the usual reason for them kind of ascensions, but 'twa'n't his.
No, sir! the summer hotel business has put a considerable number of
dollars in Jonadab's hands, and the said hands are like a patent
rat trap, a mighty sight easier to get into than out of. He could
have bought three automobiles if he'd wanted to, but he didn't want
to. And the reason he didn't was named Tobias Loveland and lived
over to Orham."
"I know Tobias," interrupted Captain Bailey Stitt.
"Course you do," continued Barzilla. "So does Sol, I guess. Well,
anyhow, Tobias and Cap'n Jonadab never did hitch. When they was
boys together at school they was always rowin' and fightin', and
when they grew up to be thirty and courted the same girl--ten years
younger than either of 'em, she was--twa'n't much better. Neither
of 'em got her, as a matter of fact; she married a tin peddler
named Bassett over to Hyannis. But both cal'lated they would have
won if t'other hadn't been in the race, and consequently they loved
each other with a love that passed understandin'. Tobias had got
well to do in the cranberry-raisin' line and drove a fast horse.
Jonadab, durin' the last prosperous year or two, had bought what he
thought was some horse, likewise. They met on the road one day
last spring and trotted alongside one another for a mile. At the
end of that mile Jonadab's craft's jib boom was just astern of
Tobias's rudder. Inside of that week the Cap'n had swapped his
horse for one with a two-thirty record, and the next time they met
Tobias was left with a beautiful, but dusty, view of Jonadab's back
hair. So HE bought a new horse. And that was the beginnin'.
"It went along that way for twelve months. Fust one feller's nag
would come home freighted with perspiration and glory, and then
t'other's. One week Jonadab would be so bloated with horse pride
that he couldn't find room for his vittles, and the next he'd be
out in the stable growlin' 'cause it cost so much for hay to stuff
an old hide rack that wa'n't fit to put in a museum. At last it
got so that neither one could find a better horse on the Cape, and
the two they had was practically an even match. I begun to have
hopes that the foolishness was over. And then the tin peddler's
widow drifts in to upset the whole calabash.
"She made port at Orham fust, this Henrietta Bassett did, and the
style she slung killed every female Goliath in the Orham sewin'
circle dead. Seems her husband that was had been an inventor, as a
sort of side line to peddlin' tinware, and all to once he invented
somethin' that worked. He made money--nobody knew how much, though
all hands had a guess--and pretty soon afterwards he made a will
and Henrietta a widow. She'd been livin' in New York, so she said,
and had come back to revisit the scenes of her childhood. She was
a mighty well-preserved woman--artificial preservatives, I
cal'late, like some kinds of tomatter ketchup--and her comin'
stirred Orham way down to the burnt places on the bottom of the
"I guess I remember HER, too," put in Captain Bailey.
"Say!" queried Mr. Wingate snappishly, "do you want to tell about
her? If you do, why--"
"Belay, both of you!" ordered the depot master. "Heave ahead,
"The news of her got over to Wellmouth, and me and Jonadab heard of
it. He was some subject to widows--most widower men are, I guess--
but he didn't develop no alarmin' symptoms in this case and never
even hinted that he'd like to see his old girl. Fact is, his
newest horse trade had showed that it was afraid of automobiles,
and he was beginnin' to get rabid along that line. Then come that
afternoon when him and me was out drivin' together, and we-- Well,
I'll have to tell you about that.
"We was over on the long stretch of wood road between Trumet and
Denboro, nice hard macadam, the mare--her name was Celia, but
Jonadab had re-christened her Bay Queen after a boat he used to
own--skimmin' along at a smooth, easy gait, when, lo and behold
you! we rounds a turn and there ahead of us is a light, rubber-
tired wagon with a man and woman on the seat of it. I heard
Jonadab give a kind of snort.
"'What's the matter?' says I.
"'Nothin',' says he, between his teeth. 'Only, if I ain't some
mistaken, that's Tobe Loveland's rig. Wonder if he's got his spunk
with him? The Queen's feelin' her oats to-day, and I cal'late I
can show him a few things.'
"'Rubbish!' says I, disgusted. 'Don't be foolish, Jonadab. I
don't know nothin' about his spunk, but I do know there's a woman
with him. 'Tain't likely he'll want to race you when he's got a
"'Oh, I don't know!' says he. 'I've got you, Barzilla; so 'twill
be two and two. Let's heave alongside and see.'
"So he clucked to the Queen, and in a jiffy we was astern of
t'other rig. Loveland looked back over his shoulder.
"'Ugh!' he grunts, 'bout as cordial as a plate of ice cream. ''Lo,
Wixon, that you?'
"'Um-hm,' begins Jonadab. 'How's that crowbait of yours to-day,
Tobe? Got any go in him? 'Cause if he has, I--'
"He stopped short. The woman in Loveland's carriage had turned her
head and was starin' hard.
"'Why!' she gasps. 'I do believe-- Why, Jonadab!'
"'HETTIE!' says the Cap'n.
"Well, after that 'twas pull up, of course, and shake hands and
talk. The widow, she done most of the talkin'. She was SO glad to
see him. How had he been all these years? She knew him instantly.
He hadn't changed a mite--that is, not so VERY much. She was
plannin' to come over to the Old Home House and stay a spell later
on; but now she was havin' SUCH a good time in Orham, Tobias--Mr.
Loveland--was makin' it SO pleasant for her. She did enjoy drivin'
so much, and Mr. Loveland had the fastest horse in the county--did
we know that?
"Tobias and Jonadab glowered back and forth while all this gush was
bein' turned loose, and hardly spoke to one another. But when
'twas over and we was ready to start again, the Cap'n says, says
"'I'll be mighty glad to see you over to the hotel, when you're
ready to come, Hettie. I can take you ridin', too. Fur's horse
goes, I've got a pretty good one myself.'
"'Oh!' squeals the widow. 'Really? Is that him? It's awful
pretty, and he looks fast.'
"'She is,' says Jonadab. 'There's nothin' round here can beat
"'Humph!' says Loveland. 'Git dap!'
"'Git dap!' says Jonadab, agreein' with him for once.
"Tobias started, and we started. Tobias makes his horse go a
little faster, and Jonadab speeded up some likewise. I see how
'twas goin' to be, and therefore I wa'n't surprised to death when
the next ten minutes found us sizzlin' down that road, neck and
neck with Loveland, dust flyin', hoofs poundin', and the two
drivers leanin' way for'ard over the dash, reins gripped and teeth
sot. For a little ways 'twas an even thing, and then we commenced
to pull ahead a little.
"'Loveland,' yells Jonadab, out of the port corner of his mouth,
'if I ain't showin' you my tailboard by the time we pass the fust
house in Denboro, I'll eat my Sunday hat.'
"I cal'late he would 'a' beat, too. We was drawin' ahead all the
time and had a three-quarter length lead when we swung clear of the
woods and sighted Denboro village, quarter of a mile away. And up
the road comes flyin' a big auto, goin' to beat the cars.
"Let's forget the next few minutes; they wa'n't pleasant ones for
me. Soon's the Bay Queen sot eyes on that auto, she stopped
trottin' and commenced to hop; from hoppin' she changed to waltzin'
and high jumpin'. When the smoke had cleared, the auto was out of
sight and we was in the bushes alongside the road, with the Queen
just gettin' ready to climb a tree. As for Tobias and Henrietta,
they was roundin' the turn by the fust house in Denboro, wavin' by-
bys to us over the back of the seat.
"We went home then; and every foot of the way Cap'n Jonadab called
an automobile a new kind of name, and none complimentary. The
boarders, they got wind of what had happened and begun to rag him,
and the more they ragged, the madder he got and the more down on
"And, to put a head on the whole business, I'm blessed if Tobias
Loveland didn't get in with an automobile agent who was stoppin' in
Orham and buy a fifteen-hundred-dollar machine off him. And the
very next time Jonadab was out with the Queen on the Denboro road,
Tobias and the widow whizzed past him in that car so fast he might
as well have been hove to. And, by way of rubbin' it in, they come
along back pretty soon and rolled alongside of him easy, while
Henrietta gushed about Mr. Loveland's beautiful car and how nice it
was to be able to go just as swift as you wanted to. Jonadab
couldn't answer back, nuther, bein' too busy keepin' the Queen from
turnin' herself into a flyin' machine.
"'Twas then that he got himself swore in special constable to
arrest auto drivers for overspeedin'; and for days he wandered
round layin' for a chance to haul up Tobias and get him fined.
He'd have had plenty of game if he'd been satisfied with strangers,
but he didn't want them anyhow, and, besides, most of 'em was on
their way to spend money at the Old Home House. 'Twould have been
poor business to let any of THAT cash go for fines, and he realized
"'Twas in early June, only a few weeks ago, that the widow come to
our hotel. I never thought she meant it when she said she was
comin', and so I didn't expect her. Fact is, I was expectin' to
hear that she and Tobe Loveland was married or engaged. But there
was a slip up somewheres, for all to once the depot wagon brings
her to the Old Home House, she hires a room, and settles down to
stay till the season closed, which would be in about a fortn't.
"From the very fust she played her cards for Jonadab. He meant to
be middlin' average frosty to her, I imagine--her bein' so thick
with Tobias prejudiced him, I presume likely. But land sakes! she
thawed him out like hot toddy thaws out some folks' tongues. She
never took no notice of his coldness, but smiled and gushed and
flattered, and looked her prettiest--which was more'n average,
considerin' her age--and by the end of the third day he was hangin'
round her like a cat round a cook.
"It commenced to look serious to me. Jonadab was a pretty old fish
to be caught with soft soap and a set of false crimps; but you
can't never tell. When them old kind do bite, they gen'rally
swallow hook and sinker, and he sartinly did act hungry. I wished
more'n once that Peter T. Brown, our business manager, was aboard
to help me with advice, but Peter is off tourin' the Yosemite with
his wife and her relations, so whatever pilotin' there was I had to
do. And every day fetched Jonadab's bows nigher the matrimonial
"I'd about made up my mind to sound the fog horn by askin' him
straight out what he was cal'latin' to do; but somethin' I heard
one evenin', as I set alone in the hotel office, made me think I'd
better wait a spell.
"The office window was open and the curtain drawed down tight. I
was settin' inside, smokin' and goin' over the situation, when
footsteps sounded on the piazza and a couple come to anchor on the
settee right by that window. Cap'n Jonadab and Henrietta! I
sensed that immediate.
"She was laughin' and actin' kind of queer, and he was talkin'
"'Oh, no, Cap'n! Oh, no!' she giggles. 'You mustn't be so serious
on such a beautiful night as this. Let's talk about the moon.'
"'Drat the moon!' says Jonadab. 'Hettie, I--'
"'Oh, just see how beautiful the water looks! All shiny and--"
"'Drat the water, too! Hettie, what's the reason you don't want to
talk serious with me? If that Tobe Loveland--'
"'Really, I don't see why you bring Mr. Loveland's name into the
conversation. He is a perfect gentleman, generous and kind; and as
for the way in which he runs that lovely car of his--'
"The Cap'n interrupted her. He ripped out somethin' emphatic.
"'Generous!' he snarls. ''Bout as generous as a hog in the feed
trough, he is. And as for runnin' that pesky auto, if I'd demean
myself to own one of them things, I'll bet my other suit I could
run it better'n he does. If I couldn't, I'd tie myself to the
anchor and jump overboard.'
"The way she answered showed pretty plain that she didn't believe
him. 'Really?' she says. 'Do you think so? Good night, Jonadab.'
"I could hear her walkin' off acrost the piazza. He went after
her. 'Hettie,' he says, 'you answer me one thing. Are you engaged
to Tobe Loveland?'
"She laughed again, sort of teasin' and slow. 'Really,' says she,
'you are-- Why, no, I'm not.'
"That was all, but it set me to thinkin' hard. She wa'n't engaged
to Loveland; she said so, herself. And yet, if she wanted Jonadab,
she was actin' mighty funny. I ain't had no experience, but it
seemed to me that then was the time to bag him and she'd put him
off on purpose. She was ages too ancient to be a flirt for the fun
of it. What was her game?"
CAPTAIN JONADAB GOES
Mr. Wingate stopped and roared a greeting to Captain Hiram Baker,
who was passing the open door of the waiting room.
"Hello, there, Hime!" he shouted. "Come up in here! What, are you
too proud to speak to common folks?"
Captain Hiram entered. "Hello!" he said. "You look like a busy
gang, for sure. What you doin'--seatin' chairs?"
"Just now we're automobilin'," observed Captain Sol. "Set down,
"Automobilin'?" repeated the new arrival, evidently puzzled.
"Sartin. Barzilla's takin' us out. Go on, Barzilla."
Mr. Wingate smiled broadly. "Well," he began, "we HAVE just about
reached the part where I went autoin'. The widow and me and
"Jonadab!" shouted Stitt. "I thought you said--"
"I know what I said. But we went auto ridin' just the same.
"'Twas Henry G. Bradbury that took us out, him and his bran-new big
tourin' car. You see, he landed to board with us the next day
after Henrietta come--this Henry G. did--and he was so quiet and
easy spoken and run his car so slow that even a pizen auto hater
like Jonadab couldn't take much offense at him. He wa'n't very
well, he said, subject to some kind of heart attacks, and had come
to the Old Home for rest.
"Him and the Cap'n had great arguments about the sins of
automobilin'. Jonadab was sot on the idee that nine folks out of
ten hadn't machine sense enough to run a car. Bradbury, he
declared that that was a fact with the majority of autos, but not
with his. 'Why, a child could run it,' says he. 'Look here,
Cap'n: To start it you just do this. To stop it you do so and so.
To make her go slow you haul back on this lever. To make her go
faster you shove down this one. And as for steerin'--well, a man
that's handled the wheels of as many catboats as you have would
simply have a picnic. I'm in entire sympathy with your feelin's
against speeders and such--I'd be a constable if I was in your
shoes--but this is a gentleman's car and runs like one.'
"All Jonadab said was 'Bosh!' and 'Humph!' but he couldn't help
actin' interested, particular as Mrs. Bassett kept him alongside of
the machine and was so turrible interested herself. And when, this
partic'lar afternoon, Henry G. invites us all to go out with him
for a little 'roll around,' the widow was so tickled and insisted
so that he just HAD to go; he didn't dast say no.
"Somehow or 'nother--I ain't just sure yet how it happened--the
seatin' arrangements was made like this: Jonadab and Bradbury on
the front seat, and me and Henrietta in the stuffed cockpit astern.
We rolled out and purred along the road, smooth as a cat trottin'
to dinner. No speedin', no joltin', no nothin'. 'TWAS a
'gentleman's car'; there wa'n't no doubt about that.
"We went 'way over to Bayport and Orham and beyond. And all the
time Bradbury kept p'intin' out the diff'rent levers to Jonadab and
tellin' him how to work 'em. Finally, after we'd headed back, he
asked Jonadab to take the wheel and steer her a spell. Said his
heart was feelin' sort of mean and 'twould do him good to rest.
"Jonadab said no, emphatic and more'n average ugly, but Henry G.
kept beggin' and pleadin', and pretty soon the widow put in her
oar. He must do it, to please her. He had SAID he could do it--
had told her so--and now he must make good. Why, when Mr.
"'All right,' snarls Jonadab. 'I'll try. But if ever--'
"'Hold on!' says I. 'Here's where I get out.'
"However, they wouldn't let me, and the Cap'n took the wheel. His
jaw was set and his hands shakin', but he done it. Hettie had give
her orders and she was skipper.
"For a consider'ble spell we just crawled. Jonadab was steerin'
less crooked every minute and it tickled him; you could see that.
"'Answers her hellum tiptop, don't she?' he says.
"'Bet your life!' says Bradbury. 'Better put on a little more
speed, hadn't we?'
He put it on himself, afore the new pilot could stop him, and we
commenced to move.
"'When you want to make her jump,' he says, you press down on that
with your foot, and you shove the spark back.'
"'Shut up!' howls Jonadab. 'Belay! Don't you dast to touch that.
I'm scart to death as 'tis. Here! you take this wheel.'
"But he wouldn't, and we went on at a good clip. For a green hand
the Cap'n was leavin' a pretty straight wake.
"'Gosh!' he says, after a spell; 'I b'lieve I'm kind of gettin' the
hang of the craft.'
"'Course you are,' says Bradbury. 'I told-- Oh!'
"He straightens up, grabs at his vest, and slumps down against the
back of the seat.
"'What IS it?' screams the widow. 'Oh, what IS it, Mr. Bradbury?'
"He answers, plucky, but toler'ble faintlike. My heart!' he gasps.
'I--I'm afraid I'm goin' to have one of my attacks. I must get to
a doctor quick.'
"'Doctor!' I sings out. 'Great land of love! there ain't a doctor
nigher than Denboro, and that's four mile astern.'
"'Never mind,' cries the Bassett woman. 'We must go there, then.
Turn around, Jonadab! Turn around at once! Mr. Bradbury--'
"But poor Henry G. was curled up against the cushions and we
couldn't get nothin' out of him but groans. And all the time we
was sailin' along up the road.
"'Turn around, Jonadab!' orders Henrietta. 'Turn around and go for
"Jonadab's hands was clutched on that wheel, and his face was white
as his rubber collar.
"'Jerushy!' he groans desperate, 'I--I don't know HOW to turn
"'Then stop, you foolhead!' I bellers. 'Stop where you be!'
"And he moans--almost cryin' he was: 'I--I've forgotten how to
"Talk about your situations! If we wa'n't in one then I miss my
guess. Every minute we was sinkin' Denboro below the horizon.
"'We MUST get to a doctor,' says the widow. 'Where is there
another one, Mr. Wingate?'
"'The next one's in Bayport,' says I, 'and that's ten mile ahead if
it's a foot.'
"However, there wa'n't nothin' else for it, so toward Bayport we
put. Bradbury groaned once in a while, and Mrs. Bassett got
"'We'll never get there at this rate,' says she. 'Go faster,
Jonadab. Faster! Press down on--on that thing he told you to.
Please! for MY sake.'
"'Don't you--' I begun; but 'twas too late. He pressed, and away
we went. We was eatin' up the road now, I tell you, and though I
was expectin' every minute to be my next, I couldn't help admirin'
the way the Cap'n steered. And, as for him, he was gettin' more
and more set up and confident.
"'She handles like a yacht, Barzilla,' he grunts, between his
teeth. 'See me put her around the next buoy ahead there. Hey!
"The next 'buoy' was a curve in the road, and we went around it
beautiful. So with the next and the next and the next. Bayport
wa'n't so very fur ahead. All to once another dreadful thought
"'Look here!' I yells. 'How in time are we goin' to stop when we--
"The Bassett woman had pinched my arm somethin' savage. I looked
at her, and she was scowlin' and shakin' her head.
"'S-sh-sh!' she whispers. 'Don't disturb him. He'll be frightened
"'Frightened! Good heavens to Betsy! I cal'late he won't be the
only one that's fri--'
"But she looked so ugly that I shut up prompt, though I done a heap
of thinkin'. On we went and, as we turned the next 'buoy,' there,
ahead of us, was another auto, somethin' like ours, with only one
person in it, a man, and goin' in the same direction we was, though
not quite so fast.
"Then I WAS scart. 'Hi, Jonadab!' I sings out. 'Heave to! Come
about! Shorten sail! Do you want to run him down? Look OUT!'
"I might as well have saved my breath. Heavin' to and the rest of
it wa'n't included in our pilot's education. On we went, same as
ever. I don't know what might have happened if the widow hadn't
kept her head. She leaned over the for'ard rail of the after
cockpit and squeezed a rubber bag that was close to Jonadab's
starboard arm. It was j'ined to the fog whistle, I cal'late,
'cause from under our bows sounded a beller like a bull afoul of a
"The feller in t'other car turned his head and looked. Then he
commenced to sheer off to wind'ard so's to let us pass. But all
the time he kept lookin' back and starin' and, as we got nigher,
and I could see him plainer through the dust, he looked more and
more familiar. 'Twas somebody I knew.
"Then I heard a little grunt, or gasp, from Cap'n Jonadab. He was
leanin' for'ard over the wheel, starin' at the man in the other
auto. The nigher we got, the harder he stared; and the man in
front was actin' similar in regards to him. And, all to once, the
head car stopped swingin' off to wind'ard, turned back toward the
middle of the road, and begun to go like smoke. The next instant I
felt our machine fairly jump beneath me. I looked at Jonadab's
foot. 'Twas pressed hard down on the speed lever.
"'You crazy loon!' I screeched. 'You--you--you-- Stop it! Take
your foot off that! Do you want to--!'
"I was climbin' over the back of the front seat, my knee pretty
nigh on Bradbury's head. But, would you believe it, that Jonadab
man let go of the wheel with one hand--let GO of it, mind you--and
give me a shove that sent me backward in Henrietta Bassett's lap.
"'Barzilla!' he growled, between his teeth, 'you set where you be
and keep off the quarterdeck. I'm runnin' this craft. I'll beat
that Loveland this time or run him under, one or t'other!'
"As sure as I'm alive this minute, the man in the front car was
"And from then on-- Don't talk! I dream about it nights and wake
up with my arms around the bedpost. I ain't real sure, but I kind
of have an idee that the bedpost business comes from the fact that
I was huggin' the widow some of the time. If I did, 'twa'n't
knowin'ly, and she never mentioned it afterwards. All I can swear
to is clouds of dust, and horns honkin', and telegraph poles
lookin' like teeth in a comb, and Jonadab's face set as the Day of
"He kept his foot down on the speed place as if 'twas glued. He
shoved the 'spark'--whatever that is--'way back. Every once in a
while he yelled, yelled at the top of his lungs. What he yelled
hadn't no sense to it. Sometimes you'd think that he was drivin' a
horse and next that he was handlin' a schooner in a gale.
"'Git dap!' he'd whoop. 'Go it, you cripples! Keep her nose right
in the teeth of it! She's got the best of the water, so let her
"We didn't stop at Bayport. Our skipper had made other
arrangements. However, the way I figgered it, we was long past
needin' a doctor, and you can get an undertaker 'most anywhere. We
went through the village like a couple of shootin' stars, Tobias
about a length ahead, his hat blowed off, his hair--what little
he's got--streamin' out behind, and that blessed red buzz wagon of
his fairly skimmin' the hummocks and jumpin' the smooth places.
And right astern of him comes Jonadab, hangin' to the wheel, HIS
hat gone, his mouth open, and fillin' the dust with yells and
"You could see folks runnin' to doors and front gates; but you
never saw 'em reach where they was goin'--time they done that we
was somewheres round the next bend. A pullet run over us once--
yes, I mean just that. She clawed the top of the widow's bunnit as
we slid underneath her, and by the time she lit we was so fur away
she wa'n't visible to the naked eye. Bradbury--who'd got better
remarkable sudden--was pawin' at Jonadab's arm, tryin' to make him
ease up; but he might as well have pawed the wind. As for
Henrietta Bassett, she was acrost the back of the front seat
tootin' the horn for all she was wuth. And curled down in a heap
on the cockpit floor was a fleshy, sea-farin' person by the name of
Barzilla Wingate, sufferin' from chills and fever.
"I think 'twas on the long stretch of the Trumet road that we beat
Tobias. I know we passed somethin' then, though just what I ain't
competent to testify. All I'm sure of is that, t'other side of
Bayport village, the landscape got some less streaked and you could
most gen'rally separate one house from the next.
"Bradbury looked at Henrietta and smiled, a sort of sickly smile.
She was pretty pale, but she managed to smile back. I got up off
the floor and slumped on the cushions. As for Cap'n Jonadab Wixon,
he'd stopped yellin', but his face was one broad, serene grin. His
mouth, through the dust and the dirt caked around it, looked like a
rain gully in a sand-bank. And, occasional, he crowed, hoarse but
"'Did you see me?' he barked. 'Did you notice me lick him? He'll
laugh at me, will he?--him and his one-horse tin cart! Ho! HO!
Why, you'd think he was settin' down to rest! I've got him where I
want him now! Ho, ho! Say, Henrietta, did you go swift as you--?
Land sakes! Mr. Bradbury, I forgot all about you. And I--I guess
we must have got a good ways past the doctor's place.'
"Bradbury said never mind. He felt much better, and he cal'lated
he'd do till we fetched the Old Home dock. He'd take the wheel,
now, he guessed.
"But, would you b'lieve it, that fool Jonadab wouldn't let him! He
was used to the ship now, he said, and, if 'twas all the same to
Henry G. and Hettie, he'd kind of like to run her into port.
"'She answers her hellum fine,' he says. 'After a little practice
I cal'late I could steer--'
"'Steer!' sings out Bradbury. 'STEER! Great Caesar's ghost! I
give you my word, Cap'n Wixon, I never saw such handlin' of a
machine as you did goin' through Bayport, in my life. You're a
"'Um-hm,' says Jonadab contented. 'I've steered a good many
vessels in my time, through traffic and amongst the shoals, and
never run afoul of nothin' yet. I don't see much diff'rence on
shore--'cept that it's a little easier.'
"EASIER! Wouldn't that-- Well, what's the use of talkin'?
"We got to the Old Home House safe and sound; Jonadab, actin' under
Bradbury's orders, run her into the yard, slowin' up and stoppin'
at the front steps slick as grease. He got out, his chest swelled
up like a puffin' pig, and went struttin' in to tell everybody what