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The Depot Master by Joseph C. Lincoln

Part 6 out of 6

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you how 'tis. Oh, it's all right, Sam! Jake knows the most of it;
I told him. He can keep his mouth shut, and he don't like old
crank Higgins any better'n you and me do. Jake, Sam here and
Gertie had fixed it up to run off and git married to-night. He was
to pretend to start for Boston this mornin'. Bought a ticket and
all, so's to throw Beriah off the scent. He was to get off the
train here at Denboro and I was to let him have a horse 'n' buggy.
Then, this afternoon, he was goin' to drive through the wood roads
around to Trumet and be at the Baptist Church there at eight to-
night sharp. Gertie's Aunt Hannah, she's had her orders, and bein'
as big a crank as her brother, she don't let the girl out of her
sight. But there's a fair at the church and Auntie's tendin' a
table. Gertie, she steps out to the cloak room to git a
handkerchief which she's forgot; see? And she hops into Sam's
buggy and away they go to the minister's. After they're once
hitched Old Dyspepsy can go to pot and see the kittle bile."

"Bully! By gum, that's fine! Won't Beriah rip some, hey?"

"Yes, but there's the dickens to pay. I've only got two horses in
the stable to-day. The rest are let. And the two I've got--one's
old Bill, and he couldn't go twenty mile to save his hide. And
t'other's the gray mare, and blamed if she didn't git cast last
night and use up her off hind leg so's she can't step. And Sam's
GOT to have a horse. Where can I git one?"

"Hum! Have you tried Haynes's?"

"Yes, yes! And Lathrop's and Eldredge's. Can't git a team for
love nor money."

"Sho! And he can't go by train?"

"What? With Beriah postmaster at East Harniss and always nosin'
through every train that stops there? You can't fetch Trumet by
train without stoppin' at East Harniss and-- What was that?"

"I don't know. What was it?"

"Sounded like somethin' outside that back winder."

The two ran to the window and looked out. All they saw was an
overturned sawhorse and two or three hens scratching vigorously.

"Guess 'twas the chickens, most likely," observed the blacksmith.
Then, striking his blackened palms together, he exclaimed:

"By time! I've thought of somethin'! Is McKay is in town to-day.
Come over in the Lady May. She's a gasoline boat. Is would take
Sam to Trumet for two or three dollars, I'll bet. And he's such a
fool head that he wouldn't ask questions nor suspicion nothin'.
'Twould be faster'n a horse and enough sight less risky."

And just then the "fool head," his brain whirling under its carroty
thatch, was hurrying blindly up the main street, bound somewhere,
he wasn't certain where.

A mushy apple exploded between his shoulders, but he did not even
turn around. So THIS was what the blacksmith meant! This was why
Mr. Higgins watched his daughter so closely. This was why Gertie
had been sent off to Trumet. She had met the Bartlett miscreant in
Boston; they had been together there; had fallen in love and-- He
gritted his teeth and shook his fists almost in the face of old
Deacon Pratt, who, knowing the McKay penchant for slaughter, had
serious thoughts of sending for the constable.

Beriah Higgins must be warned, of course, but how? To telegraph
was to put Pat Starkey in possession of the secret, and Pat was too
good a friend of Gertie's to be trusted. There was no telephone at
the store. Issy entered the combination grocery store and post

"Has the down mail closed yet?" he panted.

The postmaster looked out of his little window.

"Yes," he replied. "Why? Got a letter you want to go? Take it up
to the depot. The train's due, but 'tain't here yit. If you run
you can make it."

Issy took a card from his pocket. It was the business card of the
firm to whom he sold his quahaugs. On the back of the card he
wrote in pencil as follows:

"Mr. Beriah Higgins, your daughter Gertrude is going to meet Sam'l
Bartlett at the Baptist Church in Trumet at 8 P.M. to-night and get
married to him. LOOK OUT!!!"

After an instant's consideration he signed it "A True Friend," this
being in emulation of certain heroes of the Deadwood Dick variety.
Then he put the card into an envelope and ran at top speed to the
railway station. The train came in as he reached the platform.
The baggage master was standing in the door of his car.

"Here, mister!" panted Issy. "Jest hand this letter to Beriah
Higgins when he takes the mail bag at East Harniss, won't you?
It's mighty important. Don't forgit. Thanks."

The train moved off. Issy stared after it, grinning malevolently.
Higgins would get that note in ample time to send word to the
watchful Aunt Hannah. When the unsuspecting eloper reached the
Trumet church, it would be the aunt, not the niece, who awaited
him. Still grinning, Mr. McKay walked off the platform, and into
the arms of Ed Burns, the stable keeper, and Sam Bartlett, his
loathed and favored rival.

"Here he is!" shouted Burns. "Now we've got him."

The foiler of the plot turned pale. Was his secret discovered?
But no; his captors began talking eagerly, and gradually the sense
of their pleadings became plain. They wanted him--HIM, of all
people--to convey Bartlett to Trumet in the Lady May.

"You see, it's a business meetin'," urged Burns. "Sam's got to be
there by ha'f past seven or he'll--he won't win on the deal, will
you, Sam? Say yes, Issy; that's a good feller. He'll give you--I
don't know's he won't give you five dollars."

"Ten," cried Bartlett. "And I'll never forget it, either. Will
you, Is?"

A mighty "No!" was trembling on Issy's tongue. But before it was
uttered Burns spoke again.

"McKay's got the best boat in these parts," he urged. "She's got a
tiptop engine in her, and--"

The word "engine" dropped into the whirlpool of Issy's thoughts
with a familiar sound. In the chapter of "Vivian" that he had just
finished, the beautiful shopgirl was imprisoned on board the yacht
of the millionaire kidnaper, while the hero, in his own yacht, was
miles astern. But the hero's faithful friend, disguised as a
stoker, was tampering with the villain's engine. A vague idea
began to form in Issy's brain. Once get the would-be eloper aboard
the Lady May, and, even though the warning note should remain
undelivered, he--

Issy smiled, and the ghastliness of that smile was unnoticed by his

"I--I'll do it," he cried. "By mighty! I WILL do it. You be at
the wharf here at four o'clock. I wouldn't do it for everybody,
Sam Bartlett, but for you I'd do consider'ble, just now. And I
don't want your ten dollars nuther."

Doctoring an engine may be easy enough--in stories. But to doctor
a gasoline engine so that it will run for a certain length of time
and THEN break down is not so easy. Three o'clock came and the
problem was still unsolved. Issy, the perspiration running down
his face, stood up in the Lady May's cockpit and looked out across
the bay, smooth and glassy in the afternoon sun.

The sky overhead was clear and blue, but along the eastern and
southern horizon was a gray bank of cloud, heaped in tumbled

A sunburned lobsterman in rubber boots and a sou'wester was smoking
on the wharf.

"What time you goin' to start for home, Is?" he asked.

"Oh, in an hour or so," was the absent-minded reply.

"Humph! You'd better cast off afore that or you'll be fog bound.
It'll be thicker'n dock mud toward sundown, and you'll fetch up in
Waptomac 'stead of East Harniss, 'thout you've got a good compass."

"Oh, my compass is all right," began Issy, and stopped short. The
lobsterman made other attempts at conversation, but they were
unproductive. McKay was gazing at the growing fog bank and
thinking hard. To doctor an engine may be difficult, but to get
lost in a fog-- He took the compass from the glass-lidded binnacle
by the wheel, and carrying it into the little cabin, placed it in
the cuddy forward.

It was nearer five than four when the Lady May, her engine barking
aggressively, moved out of Denboro Harbor. Mr. Bartlett, the
passenger, had been on time and had fumed and fretted at the delay.
But Issy was deliberation itself. He had forgotten his quahaug
rake, and the lapse of memory entailed a trip to the blacksmith's.
Then the gasoline tank needed filling and the battery had to be

"Are you sure you can make it?" queried Sam anxiously. "It's
important, I tell you. Mighty important."

The skipper snorted in disgust. "Make it?" he repeated. "If the
Lady May can't make fourteen mile in two hours--let alone two'n a
ha'f--then I don't know her. She's one of them boats you read
about, she is."

The Cape makes a wide bend between Denboro and Trumet. The
distance between these towns is twenty long, curved miles over the
road; by water it is reduced to a straight fourteen. And midway
between the two, at the center of the curve, is East Harniss.

The Lady May coughed briskly on. There was no sea, and she sent
long, widening ripples from each side of her bow. Bartlett,
leaning over the rail, gazed impatiently ahead. Issy, sprawled on
the bench by the wheel, was muttering to himself. Occasionally he
glanced toward the east. The gray fog bank was now half way to the
zenith and approaching rapidly. The eastern shore had disappeared.

"Is! Hi, Is! What are you doing? Don't kill him before my eyes."

Issy came out of his trance with a start.

"What--what's that?" he asked. His passenger was grinning broadly.

"What? Kill who?"

"Why, the big chief, or whoever you had under your knee just then.
You've been rolling your eyes and punching air with your fist for
the last five minutes. I was getting scared. You're an unmerciful
sinner when you get started, ain't you, Is? Who was the victim
that time? 'Man Afraid of Hot Water'? or who?"

The skipper scowled. He shoved the fist into his pocket.

"Naw," he growled. "'Twa'n't."

"So? Not an Indian? Then it must have been a white man. Some
fellow after your girl, perhaps. Hey?"

The disconcerted Issy was speechless. His companion's chance shot
had scored a bull's-eye. Sam whooped.

"That's it!" he crowed. "Sure thing! Give it to him, Is! Don't
spare him."

Mr. McKay chokingly admitted that he "wa'n't goin' to."

"Ho, ho! That's the stuff! But who's SHE, Is? When are you going
to marry her?"

Issy grunted spitefully. "You ain't married yourself--not yit," he
observed, with concealed sarcasm.

The unsuspecting Bartlett laughed in triumph. "No," he said. "I'm
not, that's a fact; but maybe I'm going to be some of these days.
It looked pretty dubious for a while, but now it's all right."

"'Tis, hey? You're sure about that, be you?"

"Guess I am. Great Scott! what's that? Fog?"

A damp breath blew across the boat. The clouds covered the sky
overhead and the bay to port. The fog was pouring like smoke
across the water.

"Fog, by thunder!" exclaimed Bartlett.

Issy smiled. "Hum! Yes, 'tis fog, ain't it?" he observed.

"But what'll we do? It'll be here in a minute, won't it?"

"Shouldn't be a mite surprised. Looks 's if twas here now."

The fog came on. It reached the Lady May, passed over her, and
shut her within gray, wet walls. It was impossible to see a length
from her side. Sam swore emphatically. The skipper was
provokingly calm. He stepped to the engine, bent over it, and then
returned to the wheel.

"What are you doing?" demanded Bartlett.

"Slowin' down, of course. Can't run more'n ha'f speed in a fog
like this. 'Tain't safe."

"Safe! What do I care? I want to get to Trumet."

"Yes? Well, maybe we'll git there if we have luck."

"You idiot! We've GOT to get there. How can you tell which way to
steer? Get your compass, man! get your compass!"

"Ain't got no compass," was the sulky answer. Left it to home."

"Why, no, you didn't. I--"

"I tell you I did. 'Twas careless of me, I know, but--"

"But I say you didn't. When you went uptown after that quahaug
rake I explored this craft of yours some. The compass is in that
little closet at the end of the cabin. I'll get it."

He rose to his feet. Issy sprang forward and seized him by the

"Set down!" he yelled. "Who's runnin' this boat, you or me?"

The astounded passenger stared at his companion.

"Why, you are," he replied. "But that's no reason-- What's the
matter with you, anyway? Have your dime novels driven you loony?"

Issy hesitated. For a moment chagrin and rage at this sudden upset
of his schemes had gotten the better of his prudence. But Bartlett
was taller than he and broad in proportion. And valor--except of
the imaginative brand--was not Issy's strong point.

"There, there, Sam!" he explained, smiling crookedly. "You mustn't
mind me. I'm sort of nervous, I guess. And you mustn't hop up and
down in a boat that way. You set still and I'll fetch the

He stumbled across the cockpit and disappeared in the dusk of the
cabin. Finding that compass took a long time. Sam lost patience.

"What's the matter?" he demanded. "Can't you find it? Shall I

"No, no!" screamed Issy vehemently. "Stay where you be. Catch a-
holt of that wheel. We'll be spinnin' circles if you don't. I'm

But it was another five minutes before he emerged from the cabin,
carrying the compass box very carefully with both hands. He placed
it in the binnacle and closed the glass lid.

"'Twas catched in a bluefish line," he explained. "All snarled up,

Sam peered through the glass at the compass.

"Thunder!" he exclaimed. "I should say we had spun around.
Instead of north being off here where I thought it was, it's 'way
out to the right. Queer how fog'll mix a fellow up. Trumet's
about northeast, isn't it?"

"No'theast by no'th's the course. Keep her just there."

The Lady May, still at half speed, kept on through the mist. Time
passed. The twilight, made darker still by the fog, deepened.
They lit the lantern in order to see the compass card. Issy had
the wheel now. Sam was forward, keeping a lookout and fretting at
the delay.

"It's seven o'clock already," he cried. "For Heaven's sake, how
late will you be? I've got to be there by quarter of eight. D'you
hear? I've GOT to."

"Well, we're gittin' there. Can't expect to travel so fast with
part of the power off. You'll be where you're goin' full as soon
as you want to be, I cal'late."

And he chuckled.

Another half hour and, through the wet dimness, a light flashed,
vanished, and flashed again. Issy saw it and smiled grimly.
Bartlett saw it and shouted.

"'What's that light?" he cried. "Did you see it? There it is, off

"I see it. There's a light at Trumet Neck, ain't there?"

"Humph! It's been years since I was there, but I thought Trumet
light was steady. However--"

"Ain't that the wharf ahead?"

Sure enough, out of the dark loomed the bulk of a small wharf, with
catboats at anchor near it. Higher up, somewhere on the shore,
were the lighted windows of a building.

"By thunder, we're here!" exclaimed Sam, and drew a long breath.

Issy shut off the power altogether, and the Lady May slid easily up
to the wharf. Feverishly her skipper made her fast.

"Yes, sir!" he cried exultantly. "We're here. And no Black Rover
nor anybody else ever done a better piece of steerin' than that,

He clambered over the stringpiece, right at the heels of his
impatient but grateful passenger. Sam's thanks were profuse and

"I'll never forget it, Is," he declared. "I'll never forget it.
And you'll have to let me pay you the-- What makes you shake so?"

Issy pulled his arm away and stepped back.

"I'll never forget it, Is," continued Sam. "I-- Why! What--?"

He was standing at the shore end of the wharf, gazing up at the
lighted windows. They were those of a dwelling house--an old-
fashioned house with a back yard sloping down to the landing.

And then Issy McKay leaned forward and spoke in his ear.

"You bet you won't forgit it, Sam Bartlett!" he crowed, in
trembling but delicious triumph. "You bet you won't! I've fixed
you just the same as the Black Rover fixed the mutineers. Run off
with my girl, will ye? And marry her, will ye? I--"

Sam interrupted him. "Why! WHY!" he cried. "That's--that's
Gertie's house! This isn't Trumet! IT'S EAST HARNISS!

The next moment he was seized from behind. The skipper's arms were
around his waist and the skipper's thin legs twisted about his own.
They fell together upon the sand and, as they rolled and struggled,
Issy's yells rose loud and high.

"Mr. Higgins!" he shrieked. "Mr. Higgins! Come on! I've got him!
I've got the feller that's tryin' to steal your daughter! Come on!
I've got him! I'm hangin' to him!"

A door banged open. Some one rushed down the walk. And then a
girl's voice cried in alarm:

"What is it? Who is it? What IS the matter?"

And from the bundle of legs and arms on the ground two voices
exclaimed: "GERTIE!"

"But where IS your father?" asked Sam. Issy asked nothing. He
merely sat still and listened.

"Why, he's at Trumet. At least I suppose he is. Mrs. Jones--she's
gone to telephone to him now--says that he came home this morning
with one of those dreadful 'attacks' of his. And after dinner he
seemed so sick that, when she went for the doctor, she wired me at
Auntie's to come home. I didn't want to come--you know why--but I
COULDN'T let him die alone. And so I caught the three o'clock
train and came. I knew you'd forgive me. But it seems that when
Mrs. Jones came back with the doctor they found father up and
dressed and storming like a crazy man. He had received some sort
of a letter; he wouldn't say what. And, in spite of all they could
do, he insisted on going out. And Cap'n Berry--the depot master--
says he went to Trumet on the afternoon freight. We must have
passed each other on the way. And I'm so-- But why are you HERE?
And what were you and Issy doing? And--"

Her lover broke in eagerly. "Then you're alone now?" he asked.

"Yes, but--"

"Good! Your father can't get a train back from Trumet before to-
morrow morning. I don't know what this letter was--but never mind.
Perhaps friend McKay knows more about it. It may be that Mr.
Higgins is waiting now outside the Baptist church. Gertie, now's
our chance. You come with me right up to the minister's. He's a
friend of mine. He understands. He'll marry us, I know. Come!
We mustn't lose a minute. Your dad may take a notion to drive

He led her off up the lane, she protesting, he urging. At the
corner of the house he turned.

"I say, Is!" he called. "Don't you want to come to the wedding?
Seems to me we owe you that, considering all you've done to help it
along. Or perhaps you want to stay and fix that compass of yours."

Issy didn't answer. Some time after they had gone he arose from
the ground and stumbled home. That night he put a paper novel into
the stove. Next morning, before going to the depot, he removed an
iron spike from the Lady May's compass box. The needle swung back
to its proper position.



The eleventh of July. The little Berry house stood high on its
joists and rollers, in the middle of the Hill Boulevard, directly
opposite the Edwards lot. Close behind it loomed the big
"Colonial." Another twenty-four hours, and, even at its one-horse
gait, the depot master's dwelling would be beyond the strip of
Edwards fence. The "Colonial" would be ready to move on the lot,
and Olive Edwards, the widow, would be obliged to leave her home.
In fact, Mr. Williams had notified her that she and her few
belongings must be off the premises by the afternoon of the

The great Williams was in high good-humor. He chuckled as he
talked with his foreman, and the foreman chuckled in return.
Simeon Phinney did not chuckle. He was anxious and worried, and
even the news of Gertie Higgins's runaway marriage, brought to him
by Obed Gott, who--having been so recently the victim of another
unexpected matrimonial alliance--was wickedly happy over the
postmaster's discomfiture, did not interest him greatly.

"Well, I wonder who'll be the next couple," speculated Obed.
"First Polena and old Hardee, then Gertie Higgins and Sam Bartlett!
I declare, Sim, gettin' married unbeknownst to anybody must be
catchin', like the measles. Nobody's safe unless they've got a
wife or husband livin'. Me and Sol Berry are old baches--we'd
better get vaccinated or WE may come down with the disease. Ho!

After dinner Mr. Phinney went from his home to the depot. Captain
Sol was sitting in the ticket office, with the door shut. On the
platform, forlornly sprawled upon the baggage truck, was Issy
McKay, the picture of desolation. He started nervously when he
heard Simeon's step. As yet Issy's part in the Bartlett-Higgins
episode was unknown to the townspeople. Sam and Gertie had
considerately kept silence. Beriah had not learned who sent him
the warning note, the unlucky missive which had brought his
troubles to a climax. But he was bound to learn it, he would find
out soon, and then-- No wonder Issy groaned.

"Come in here, Sim," said the depot master. Phinney entered the
ticket office.

"Shut the door," commanded the Captain. The order was obeyed.
"Well, what is it?" asked Berry.

"Why, I just run in to see you a minute, Sol, that's all. What are
you shut up in here all alone for?"

"'Cause I want to be alone. There's been more than a thousand
folks in this depot so far to-day, seems so, and they all wanted to
talk. I don't feel like talkin'."

"Heard about Gertie Higgins and--"


"Who told you?"

"Hiram Baker told me first. He's a fine feller and he's so
tickled, now that his youngster's 'most well, that he cruises
around spoutin' talk and joy same as a steamer's stack spouts
cinders. He told me. Then Obed Gott and Cornelius Rowe and Redny
Blount and Pat Starkey, and land knows how many more, came to tell
me. I cut 'em short. Why, even the Major himself condescended to
march in, grand and imposin' as a procession, to make proclamations
about love laughin' at locksmiths, and so on. Since he got Polena
and her bank account he's a bigger man than the President, in his
own estimate."

"Humph! Well, he better make the best of it while it lasts.
P'lena ain't Hetty Green, and her money won't hold out forever."

"That's a fact. Still Polena's got sense. She'll hold Hardee in
check, I cal'late. I wouldn't wonder if it ended by her bossin'
things and the Major actin' as a sort of pet poodle dog--nice and
pretty to walk out with, but always kept at the end of a string."

"You didn't go to Higgins's for dinner to-day, did you?"

"No. Nor I shan't go for supper. Beriah's bad enough when he's
got nothin' the matter with him but dyspepsy. Now that his
sufferin's are complicated with elopements, I don't want to eat
with him."

"Come and have supper with us."

"I guess not, thank you, Sim. I'll get some crackers and cheese
and such at the store. I--I ain't very hungry these days."

He turned his head and looked out of the window. Simeon fidgeted.

"Sol," he said, after a pause, "we'll be past Olive's by to-morrer

No answer. Sim repeated his remark.

"I know it," was the short reply.

"Yes--yes, I s'posed you did, but--"

"Sim, don't bother me now. This is my last day here at the depot,
and I've got things to do."

"Your last day? Why, what--?"

Captain Sol told briefly of his resignation and of the coming of
the new depot master.

"But you givin' up your job!" gasped Phinney. "YOU! Why, what

"For instance, I guess. I ain't dependent on the wages, and I'm
sick of the whole thing."

"But what'll you do?"

"Don't know."

"You--you won't leave town, will you? Lawsy mercy, I hope not!"

"Don't know. Maybe I'll know better by and by. I've got to think
things out. Run along now, like a good feller. Don't say nothin'
about my quittin'. All hands'll know it to-morrow, and that's soon

Simeon departed, his brain in a whirl. Captain Solomon Berry no
longer depot master! The world must be coming to an end.

He remained at his work until supper time. During the meal he ate
and said so little that his wife wondered and asked questions. To
avoid answering them he hurried out. When he returned, about ten
o'clock, he was a changed man. His eyes shone and he fairly danced
with excitement.

"Emeline!" he shouted, as he burst into the sitting room. "What do
you think? I've got the everlastin'est news to tell!"

"Good or bad?" asked the practical Mrs. Phinney.

"Good! So good that-- There! let me tell you. When I left here I
went down to the store and hung around till the mail was sorted.
Pat Starkey was doin' the sortin', Beriah bein' too upsot by
Gertie's gettin' married to attend to anything. Pat called me to
the mail window and handed me a letter.

"'It's for Olive Edwards,' he says. 'She's been expectin' one for
a consider'ble spell, she told me, and maybe this is it. P'r'aps
you'd just as soon go round by her shop and leave it.'

"I took the letter and looked at it. Up in one corner was the
printed name of an Omaha firm. I never said nothin', but I
sartinly hustled on my way up the hill.

"Olive was in her little settin' room back of the shop. She was
pretty pale, and her eyes looked as if she hadn't been doin' much
sleepin' lately. Likewise I noticed--and it give me a queer
feelin' inside--that her trunk was standin', partly packed, in the

"The poor woman!" exclaimed Mrs. Phinney.

"Yes," went on her husband. "Well, I handed over the letter and
started to go, but she told me to set down and rest, 'cause I was
so out of breath. To tell you the truth, I was crazy to find out
what was in that envelope and, being as she'd give me the excuse, I

"She took the letter over to the lamp and looked at it for much as
a minute, as if she was afraid to open it. But at last, and with
her fingers shakin' like the palsy, she fetched a long breath and
tore off the end of the envelope. It was a pretty long letter, and
she read it through. I see her face gettin' whiter and whiter and,
when she reached the bottom of the last page, the letter fell onto
the floor. Down went her head on her arms, and she cried as if her
heart would break. I never felt so sorry for anybody in my life.

"'Don't, Mrs. Edwards,' I says. 'Please don't. That cousin of
yours is a darn ungrateful scamp, and I'd like to have my claws on
his neck this minute.'

"She never even asked me how I knew about the cousin. She was too
much upset for that.

"'Oh! oh!' she sobs. 'What SHALL I do? Where shall I go? I
haven't got a friend in the world!'

"I couldn't stand that. I went acrost and laid my hand on her

"'Mrs. Edwards,' says I, 'you mustn't say that. You've got lots of
friends. I'm your friend. Mr. Hilton's your friend. Yes, and
there's another, the best friend of all. If it weren't for him,
you'd have been turned out into the street long before this.'"

Mrs. Phinney nodded. "I'm glad you told her!" she exclaimed.
"She'd ought to know."

"That's what I thought," said Simeon.

"Well, she raised her head then and looked at me.

"'You mean Mr. Williams?' she asks.

"That riled me up. 'Williams nothin'!' says I. 'Williams let you
stay here 'cause he could just as well as not. If he'd known that
this other friend was keepin' him from gettin' here, just on your
account, he'd have chucked you to glory, promise or no promise.
But this friend, this real friend, he don't count cost, nor
trouble, nor inconvenience. Hikes his house--the house he lives
in--right out into the road, moves it to a place where he don't
want to go, and--'

"'Mr. Phinney,' she sighs out, 'what do you mean?'

"And then I told her. She listened without sayin' a word, but her
eyes kept gettin' brighter and brighter and she breathed short.

"'Oh!' she says, when I'd finished. 'Did he--did he--do that for

"'You bet!' says I. 'He didn't tell me what he was doin' it for--
that ain't Sol's style; but I'm arithmetiker enough to put two and
two together and make four. He did it for you, you can bet your
last red on that.'

"She stood up. 'Oh!' she breathes. 'I--I must go and thank him.

"But, knowin' Sol, I was afraid. Fust place, there was no tellin'
how he'd act, and, besides, he might not take it kindly that I'd
told her.

"'Wait a jiffy,' I says. 'I'll go out and see if he's home. You
stay here. I'll be back right off.'

"Out I put, and over to the Berry house, standin' on its rollers in
the middle of the Boulevard. And, just as I got to it, somebody

"'Ahoy, Sim! What's the hurry? Anybody on fire?'

"'Twas the Cap'n himself, settin' on a pile of movin' joist and
smokin' as usual. I didn't waste no time.

"'Sol,' says I, 'I've just come from Olive's. She's got that
letter from the Omaha man. Poor thing! all alone there--'

"He interrupted me sharp. 'Well?' he snaps. 'What's it say? Will
the cousin help her?'

"'No,' I says, 'drat him, he won't!'

"The answer I got surprised me more'n anything I ever heard or ever
will hear.

"'Thank God!' says Sol Berry. 'That settles it.'

"And I swan to man if he didn't climb down off them timbers and
march straight across the street, over to the door of Olive
Edwards's home, open it, and go in! I leaned against the joist
he'd left, and swabbed my forehead with my sleeve."

"He went to HER!" gasped Mrs. Phinney.

"Wait," continued her husband. "I must have stood there twenty
minutes when I heard somebody hurryin' down the Boulevard. 'Twas
Cornelius Rowe, all red-faced and het up, but bu'stin' with news.

"''Lo, Sim!' says he to me. 'Is Cap'n Sol home? Does he know?'

"'Know? Know what?" says I.

"'Why, the trick Mr. Williams put up on him? Hey? You ain't
heard? Well, Mr. Williams's fixed him nice, HE has! Seems Abner
Payne hadn't answered Sol's letter tellin' him he'd accept the
offer to swap lots, and Williams went up to Wareham where Payne's
been stayin' and offered him a thumpin' price for the land on Main
Street, and took it. The deed's all made out. Cap'n Sol can't
move where he was goin' to, and he's left with his house on the
town, as you might say. Ain't it a joke, though? Where is Sol? I
want to be the fust to tell him and see how he acts. Is he to

"I was shook pretty nigh to pieces, but I had some sense left.

"'No, he ain't,' says I. 'I see him go up street a spell ago.'"

"Why, Simeon!" interrupted Mrs. Phinney once more. "Was that true?
How COULD you see him when--"

"Be still! S'pose I was goin' to tell him where Sol HAD gone? I'd
have lied myself blue fust. However, Cornelius was satisfied.

"'That so?' he grunts. 'By jings! I'm goin' to find him.'

"Off he went, and the next thing I knew the Edwards door opened,
and I heard somebody callin' my name. I went acrost, walkin' in a
kind of daze, and there, in the doorway, with the lamp shinin' on
'em, was Cap'n Sol and Olive. The tears was wet on her cheeks, but
she was smilin' in a kind of shy, half-believin' sort of way, and
as for Sol, he was one broad, satisfied grin.

"'Cap'n,' I begun, 'I just heard the everlastin'est news that--'

"'Shut up, Sim!' he orders, cheerful. 'You've been a mighty good
friend to both of us, and I want you to be the fust to shake

"'Shake hands?' I stammers, lookin' at 'em. 'WHAT? You don't

"'I mean shake hands. Don't you want to?'

"Want to! I give 'em both one more look, and then we shook, up to
the elbows; and my grin had the Cap'n's beat holler.

"'Sim,' he says, after I'd cackled a few minutes, 'I cal'late maybe
that white horse is well by this time. P'r'aps we might move a
little faster. I'm kind of anxious to get to Main Street.'

"Then I remembered. 'Great gosh all fish-hooks!' I sings out.
'Main Street? Why, there AIN'T no Main Street!'

"And I gives 'em Cornelius's news. The widow's smile faded out.

"'Oh!' says she. 'O Solomon! And I got you into all this

"Cap'n Sol didn't stop grinnin', but he scratched his head. 'Huh!'
says he. 'Mark one up for King Williams the Great. Humph!'

"He thought for a minute and then he laughed out loud. 'Olive,' he
says, 'if I remember right, you and I always figgered to live on
the Shore Road. It's the best site in town. Sim, I guess if that
white horse IS well, you can move that shanty of mine right to
Cross Street, down that, and back along the Shore Road to the place
where it come from. THAT land's mine yet,' says he.

"If that wa'n't him all over! I couldn't think what to say, except
that folks would laugh some, I cal'lated.

"'Not at us, they won't,' says he. 'We'll clear out till the
laughin' is over. Olive, to-morrer mornin' we'll call on Parson
Hilton and then take the ten o'clock train. I feel's if a trip to
Washin'ton would be about right just now.'

"She started and blushed and then looked up into his face.
'Solomon,' she says, low, 'I really would like to go to Niagara.'

"He shook his head. 'Old lady,' says he, 'I guess you don't quite
understand this thing. See here'--p'intin' to his house loomin'
big and black in the roadway--'see! the mountain has come to

Mrs. Phinney had heard enough. She sprang from her chair and
seized her husband's hands.

"Splendid!" she cried, her face beaming. "Oh, AIN'T it lovely!
Ain't you glad for 'em, Simeon?"

"Glad! Say, Emeline; there's some of that wild-cherry bounce down
cellar, ain't there? Let's break our teetotalism for once and
drink a glass to Cap'n and Mrs. Solomon Berry. Jerushy! I got to
do SOMETHIN' to celebrate."

On the Hill Boulevard the summer wind stirred the silverleaf
poplars. The thick, black shadows along the sidewalks were heavy
with the perfume of flowers. Captain Sol, ex-depot master of East
Harniss, strolled on in the dark, under the stars, his hands in his
pockets, and in his heart happiness complete and absolute.

Behind him twinkled the lamp in the window of the Edwards house, so
soon to be torn down. Before him, over the barberry hedge, blazed
the windows of the mansion the owner of which was responsible for
it all. The windows were open, and through them sounded the voices
of the mighty Ogden Hapworth Williams and his wife, engaged in a
lively altercation. It was an open secret that their married life
was anything but peaceful.

"What are you grumbling about now?" demanded 'Williams. "Don't I
give you more money than--"

"Nonsense!" sneered Mrs. Williams, in scornful derision.
"Nonsense, I say! Money is all there is to you, Ogden. In other
things, the real things of this world, those you can't buy with
money, you're a perfect imbecile. You know nothing whatever about

Captain Sol, alone on the walk by the hedge, glanced in the
direction of the shrill voice, then back at the lamp in Olive's
window. And he laughed aloud.

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