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  • 1915
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graciously. “However, I am sure even an unfortunate single person like myself may find a real home under your roof. You see, your reputation had preceded you, ma’am. Ha, ha! yes. As I say, the location is the only point which has caused me to hesitate. My– er–offices are on the Main Road near the postoffice and that is nearly a mile from here. But, we’ll waive that point, ma’am. Six dollars a week for the room and seven for meals, you say. Thirteen dollars–an unlucky number: Ha, ha! Suppose we call it twelve and dodge the bad luck, eh? That would seem reasonable, don’t you think?”

Thankful shook her head. “Altogether too reasonable, Mr. Daniels, I’m afraid,” she replied. “I’ve cut my rates so close now that I’m afraid they’ll catch cold in bad weather. Thirteen dollars a week may be unlucky, but twelve would be a sight more unlucky–for me. I can let you have a side room, of course, and that would be cheaper.”

But Mr. Daniels did not wish a side room; he desired a front room and, at last, consented to pay the regular rate for it. But when the arrangement was concluded Thankful could not help feeling that she had taken advantage of an unworldly innocence.

Captain Obed Bangs, when she told him, reassured her.

“Don’t worry, ma’am,” he said. “I wouldn’t lay awake nights fearin’ I’d got ahead of Heman Daniels much. If you have got ahead of him you’re the only person I ever see that did, and you ought to be proud instead of ashamed. And I’d get him to make his offer in writin’ and you lock up the writin’.”

“Why! Why, Captain Obed! How you do talk! You don’t mean that Mr. Daniels is a cheat, do you? You don’t mean such a thing as THAT?”

The captain waved a protesting hand.

“No, no,” he declared. “I wouldn’t call any lawyer a cheat. That’s too one-sided a deal to be good business. The expense of hirin’ counsel is all on one side if it ever comes to a libel suit. And besides, I don’t think Daniels is a cheat. I never heard of him doin’ anything that wa’n’t legally honest. He’s sharp and he’s smart, but he’s straight enough. I was only jokin’, Mrs. Barnes. Sometimes I think I ought to hang a lantern on my jokes; then folks would see ’em quicker.”

So Mr. Daniels came, and Mr. Hammond came, and so also did Miss Timpson. The first dinner was served in the big dining-room and it was a success, everyone said so. Beside the boarders there were invited guests, Captain Bangs and Hannah Parker, and Kenelm also. It was a disappointment to Thankful, although she kept the disappointment to herself, the fact that the captain had not shifted what he called his “moorings” to her establishment. She had hoped he might; she liked him and she believed him to be just the sort of boarder she most desired. It may be that he, too, was disappointed. What he said was:

“You see, ma’am, I’ve been anchorin’ along with Hannah and Kenelm now for quite a spell. They took me in when ’twas a choice between messin’ at the Holt place or eatin’ grass in the back yard like King Nebuchadnezzar. Hannah don’t keep a reg’lar boardin’-house but she does sort of count on me as one of the family, and I don’t feel ‘twould be right to shift–not yet, anyhow. But maybe I can pilot other craft into High Cliff Harbor, even if I don’t call it my own home port.”

That first dinner was a bountiful meal. Miss Parker expressed the general opinion, although it was expressed in her own way, when she said:

“My sakes alive, Mrs. Barnes! If THIS is the way you’re goin’ to feed your boarders right along then I say it’s remarkable. I’ve been up to Boston a good many times in my life, and I’ve been to Washington once, but in all MY experience at high-toned hotels I never set down to a better meal. It’s a regular Beelzebub’s feast, like the one in Scriptur’–leavin’ out the writin’ on the wall of course.”

Kenelm ate enough for two and then, announcing that he couldn’t heave away no more time, having work to do, retired to the rear of the barn where, the rake beside him, he slumbered peacefully for an hour.

“There!” said Thankful to Imogene that night. “We’ve started anyhow. And ’twas a good start if I do say it.”

“Good!” exclaimed Imogene. “I should say ’twas good! But if them boarders eat as much every day as they have this one ‘twon’t be a start, ’twill be a finish. Lor–I mean mercy on us, ma’am–if this is a boardin’-house I’d like to know what a palace is. Why a king never had better grub served to him. Huh! I guess he didn’t. Old George Three used to eat gruel, like a–like a sick orphan at the Home. Oh, he did, ma’am, honest! I read about it in one of them history books you lent me. He was a tight-wad old gink, he was. Are you goin’ to give these guys as much every meal, ma’am?”

“I mean to, of course,” declared Mrs. Barnes. “Nobody shall starve at my table. And please, Imogene, don’t call people ginks and guys. That ain’t nice talk for a young woman.”

Imogene apologized and promised to be more careful. But she thought a great deal and, at the end of the first week, she imparted her thoughts to Captain Obed.

“Say, Captain Bangs,” she said, “do you know what is the matter with the name of this place? I tell you what I think is the matter. It hadn’t ought to be the HIGH Cliff House. The CHEAP Cliff House would be a sight better. Givin’ guys–folks, I mean– fifteen-dollar-a-week board for seven dollars may be mighty nice for them, but it’s plaguy poor business for Mrs. Thankful.”

The captain shook his head; he had been thinking, too, and his conclusions were much the same.

“You mustn’t find fault with Mrs. Barnes, Imogene,” he said. “She’s a mighty fine woman.”

“Fine woman! You bet she is! She’s too plaguy fine, that’s the trouble with her. She’s so afraid her boarders’ll starve that she forgets all about makin’ money. She’s the best woman there is in the world, but she needs a mean partner. Then the two of them might average up all right, I guess.”

Captain Obed rubbed his chin. “Think she needs a business manager, eh?” he observed.

Imogene nodded emphatically. “She needs two of them,” she declared. “One to manage the place and another to keep that Parker man workin’. He can eat more and talk more and work less than any guy ever I see. Why, he’d spend half his time in this kitchen gassin’ with me, if I’d let him. But you bet I don’t let him.”

The captain thought more and more during the days that followed. At length he wrote a letter to Emily Howes at South Middleboro. In it he expressed his fear that Mrs. Barnes, although in all other respects perfect, was a too generous “provider” to be a success as a boarding-house keeper in East Wellmouth.

She’ll have boarders enough, you needn’t worry about that, [he wrote] but she’ll lose money on every one. I’ve tried to hint, but she don’t take the hint, and it ain’t any of my affair, rightly speaking, so I can’t speak out plain. Can’t you write her a sort of warning afore it’s too late? Or better still, can’t you come down here and talk to her? I wish you would. Excuse my nosing in and writing you this way, please. I’m doing it just because I want to see her win out in the race, that’s all. I wish you’d answer this pretty prompt, if you don’t mind.

But the reply he hoped for did not come and he began to fear that he had made a bad matter worse by writing. Doubtless Miss Howes resented his “nosing in.”

Thankful now began advertising in the Boston papers. And the answers to the ads began to arrive. Sometimes men and women from the city came down to inspect the High Cliff House, preparatory to opening negotiations for summer quarters. They inspected the house itself, interviewed Thankful, strolled along the bluff admiring the view, and sampled a meal. Then, almost without exception, they agreed upon terms and selected rooms. That the house would be full from top to bottom by the first of July was now certain. But, as Imogene said to Captain Bangs, “If we lose five dollars a week on everyone of ’em that ain’t nothin’ to hurrah about, seems to me.”

The captain had not piloted any new boarders to the High Cliff. Perhaps he thought, under the circumstances, this would be a doubtful kindness. But the time came when he did bring one there. And the happenings leading to that result were these:

It was a day in the first week in June and Captain Obed, having business in Wellmouth Centre, had hired George Washington, Mrs. Barnes’ horse, and the buggy and driven there. The business done he left the placid George moored to a hitching-post by the postoffice and strolled over to the railway station to watch the noon train come in.

The train was, of course, late, but not very late in this instance, and the few passengers alighted on the station platform. The captain, seated on the baggage-truck, noticed one of these passengers in particular. He was a young fellow, smooth-faced and tall, and as, suitcase in hand, he swung from the last car and strode up the platform it seemed to Captain Obed as if there was something oddly familiar in that stride and the set of his square shoulders. His face, too, seemed familiar. The captain felt as if he should recognize him–but he did not.

He came swinging on until he was opposite the baggage-truck. Then he stopped and looked searchingly at the bulky form of the man seated upon it. He stepped closer and looked again. Then, with a twinkle in his quiet gray eye, he did a most amazing thing–he began to sing. To sing–not loudly, of course, but rather under his breath. And this is what he sang:

“Said all the little fishes that swim there below: ‘It’s the Liverpool packet! Good Lord, let her go!'”

To the average person this would have sounded like the wildest insanity. But not to Captain Obed Bangs of East Wellmouth. The captain sprang from the truck and held out his hand.

“Johnnie Kendrick!” he shouted. “It’s Johnnie Kendrick, I do believe! Well, I swan to man!”

The young man laughed, and, seizing the captain’s hand, shook it heartily.

“I am glad you do,” he said. “If you hadn’t swanned to man I should have been afraid there was more change in Captain Obed Bangs than I cared to see. Captain Obed, how are you?”

Captain Obed shook his head. “I–I–” he stammered. “Well, I cal’late my timbers are fairly strong if they can stand a shock like this. Johnnie Kendrick, of all folks in the world!”

“The very same, Captain.”

“And you knew me right off! Well done for you, John! Why, it’s all of twenty odd year since you used to set on a nail keg in my boathouse and tease me into singing the Dreadnought chanty. I remember that. Good land! I ought to remember the only critter on earth that ever ASKED me to sing. Ho! ho! but you was a little towheaded shaver then; and now look at you! What are you doin’ away down here?”

John Kendrick shook his head. “I don’t know that I’m quite sure myself, Captain,” he said. “I have some suspicions, of course, but they may not be confirmed. First of all I’m going over to East Wellmouth; so just excuse me a minute while I speak to the driver of the bus.”

He was hurrying away, but his companion caught his arm.

“Heave to, John!” he ordered. “I’ve got a horse and a buggy here myself, such as they are, and unless you’re dead sot on bookin’ passage in Winnie S.’s–what did you call it?–bust–I’d be mighty glad to have you make the trip along with me. No, no. ‘Twon’t be any trouble. Come on!”

Five minutes later they were seated in the buggy and George Washington was jogging with dignified deliberation along the road toward East Wellmouth.

“And why,” demanded Captain Obed, “have you come to Wellmouth again, after all these years?”

Mr. Kendrick smiled.

“Well, Captain Bangs,” he said, “it is barely possible that I’ve come here to stay.”

“To stay! You don’t mean to stay for good?”

“Well, that, too, is possible. Being more or less optimistic, we’ll hope that if I do stay it will be for good. I’m thinking of living here.”

His companion turned around on the seat to stare at him.

“Livin’ here!” he repeated. “You? What on earth–? What are you goin’ to do?”

The passenger’s eyes twinkled, but his tone was solemn enough.

“Nothing, very likely,” he replied. “That’s what I’ve been doing for some time.”

“But–but, the last I heard of you, you was practicin’ law over to New York.”

“So I was. That, for a young lawyer without funds or influence, is as near doing nothing as anything I can think of.”

“But–but, John–“

“Just a minute, Captain. The ‘buts’ are there, plenty of them. Before we reach them, however, perhaps I’d better tell you the story of my life. It isn’t exciting enough to make you nervous, but it may explain a few things.”

He told his story. It was not the story of his life, his whole life, by any means. The captain already knew the first part of that life. He had known the Kendricks ever since he had known anyone. Every person in East Wellmouth of middle age or older remembered when the two brothers, Samuel Kendrick and Bailey Kendrick–Bailey was John’s father–lived in the village and were the “big” men of the community. Bailey was the more important and respected at that time, for Samuel speculated in stocks a good deal and there were seasons when he was so near bankruptcy that gossip declared he could not pass the poorhouse without shivering. If it had not been for his brother Bailey, so that same gossip affirmed, he would most assuredly have gone under, but Bailey lent him money and helped him in many ways. Both brothers were widowers and each had a son; but Samuel’s boy Erastus was fifteen years older than John.

The families moved from Wellmouth when John was six years old. They went West and there, so it was said, the positions of the brothers changed. Samuel’s luck turned; he made some fortunate stock deals and became wealthy. Bailey, however, lost all he had in bad mining ventures and sank almost to poverty. Both had been dead for years now, but Samuel’s son, Erastus–he much preferred to be called E. Holliday Kendrick–was a man of consequence in New York, a financier, with offices on Broad Street and a home on Fifth Avenue. John, the East Wellmouth people had last heard of as having worked his way through college and law school and as practicing his profession in the big city.

So much Captain Bangs knew. And John Kendrick told him the rest. The road to success for a young attorney in New York he had found hard and discouraging. For two years he had trodden it and scarcely earned enough to keep himself alive. Now he had decided, or practically decided, to give up the attempt, select some small town or village and try his luck there. East Wellmouth was the one village he knew and remembered with liking. So to East Wellmouth he had come, to, as Captain Obed described it, “take soundin’s and size up the fishin’ grounds.”

“So there you are, Captain,” he said, in conclusion. “That is why I am here.”

The captain nodded reflectively.

“Um–yes,” he said. “I see; I see. Well, well; and you’re figgerin’ on bein’ a lawyer here–in East Wellmouth?”

Mr. Kendrick nodded also. “It may, and probably will be, pretty close figuring at first,” he admitted, “but at least there will be no more ciphers in the sum than there were in my Manhattan calculations. Honestly now, Captain Bangs, tell me–what do you think of the idea?”

The captain seemed rather dubious.

“Humph!” he grunted. “Well, I don’t know, John. East Wellmouth ain’t a very big place.”

“I know that. Of course I shouldn’t hope to do much in East Wellmouth alone. But it seemed to me I might do as other country lawyers have done, have an office–or a desk–in several other towns and be in those towns on certain days in the week. I think I should like to live in East Wellmouth, though. It is–not to be sentimental but just truthful–the one place I remember where I was really happy. And, as I remember too, there used to be no lawyer there.”

Captain Obed’s forehead puckered.

“That’s just it, John,” he said. “There is a lawyer here now. Good deal of a lawyer, too–if you ask HIM. Name’s Heman Daniels. You used to know him as a boy, didn’t you?”

Kendrick nodded assent.

“I think I did,” he said. “Yes, I remember him. He was one of the big boys when I was a little one, and he used to bully us small chaps.”

“That’s the feller. He ain’t changed his habits so much, neither. But he’s our lawyer and I cal’late he’s doin’ well.”

“Is he? Well, that’s encouraging, at any rate. And he’s the only lawyer you have? Only one lawyer in a whole town. Why in New York I couldn’t throw a cigar stump from my office window without running the risk of hitting at least two and starting two damage suits.”

The captain chuckled.

“I presume likely you didn’t throw many,” he observed. “That would be expensive fun.”

“It would,” was the prompt reply. “Cigars cost money.”

They jogged on for a few minutes in silence. Then said Captain Obed:

“Well, John, what are you plannin’ to do first? After we get into port, I mean.”

“I scarcely know. Look about, perhaps. Possibly try out a boarding-house and hunt for a prospective office. By the way, Captain, you don’t happen to know of a good, commodious two by four office that I could hire at a two by four figure, do you? One not so far from the main street that I should wear out an extravagant amount of shoe leather walking to and from it?”

More reflection on the captain’s part. Then he said:

“Well, I don’t know as I don’t. John, I’ll tell you: I’ve got a buildin’ of my own. Right abreast the post-office; Henry Cahoon has been usin’ it for a barber-shop. But Henry’s quit, and it’s empty. The location’s pretty good and the rent–well, you and me wouldn’t pull hair over the rent question, I guess.”

“Probably not, but I should insist on paying as much as your barber friend did. This isn’t a charity proposition I’m making you, Captain Bangs. Oh, let me ask this: Has this–er–office of yours got a good front window?”

“Front window! What in time–? Yes, I guess likely the front window’s all right. But what does a lawyer want of a front window?”

“To look out of. About all a young lawyer does is look out of the window. Now about a boarding-place?”

Captain Obed had been waiting for this question.

“I’ve got a boardin’-place for you, John,” he declared. “The office I may not be so sartin about, but the boardin’-place I am. There ain’t a better one this side of Boston and I know it. And the woman who keeps it is–well, you take my word for it she’s all RIGHT.”

His passenger regarded him curiously.

“You seem very enthusiastic, Captain,” he observed, with a smile.

Captain Bangs’ next remark was addressed to the horse. He gruffly bade the animal “gid-dap” and appeared a trifle confused.

“I am,” he admitted, after a moment. “You’ll be, too, when you see her.”

He described the High Cliff House and its owner. Mr. Kendrick asked the terms for board and an “average” room. When told he whistled.

“That isn’t high,” he said. “For such a place as you say this is it is very low. But I am afraid it is too high for me. Isn’t there any other establishment where they care for men–and poor lawyers?”

“Yes, there is, but you shan’t go to it, not if I can stop you. You come right along with me now to the High Cliff and have dinner. Yes, you will. I ain’t had a chance to treat you for twenty year and I’m goin’ to buy you one square meal if I have to feed you by main strength. Don’t you say another word. There! There’s east Wellmouth dead ahead of us. And there’s the High Cliff House, too. Git dap, Father of your Country! See! He’s hungry, too, and he knows what he’ll get, same as I do.”

They drove into the yard of Mrs. Barnes’ “property” and Thankful herself met them at the door. Captain Obed introduced his passenger and announced that the latter gentleman and he would dine there. The lady seemed glad to hear this, but she seemed troubled, too. When she and the captain were alone together she disclosed the cause of her trouble.

“I’m afraid I’m goin’ to lose my best boarder,” she said. “Mr. Daniels says he’s afraid he must take his meals nearer his place of business. And, if he does that, he’ll get a room somewheres uptown. I’m awful sorry. He’s about the highest payin’ roomer I have and I did think he was permanent. Oh, dear!” she added. “It does seem as if there was just one thing after the other to worry me. I–I don’t seem to be makin’ both ends meet the way I hoped. And–and lookin’ out for everything myself, the way I have to do, keeps me stirred up all the time. I feel almost sort of discouraged. I know I shouldn’t, so soon, of course. It’s–it’s because I’m tired today, I guess likely.”

“Yes, I guess likely ’tis. Tired! I shouldn’t wonder? It ain’t any of my affairs at all, Mrs. Barnes, and I beg your pardon for sayin’ it, but if you don’t have some good capable person to take some of the care and managin’ of this place off your shoulders you’ll be down sick afore the summer’s through.”

Thankful sighed, and then smiled. “I know I need help, the right kind of help, just as well as you do, Cap’n Bangs,” she said. “But I know, too, that I can’t afford to pay for it, so I must get along best I can without it. As for gettin’ sick–well, I can’t afford that, either.”

At dinner John Kendrick met Mr. Heman Daniels and Miss Timpson and Caleb Hammond. All three were evidently very curious concerning the business which had brought the young man to East Wellmouth, but their curiosity was not satisfied. Kendrick himself refused to notice hints and insinuations and, though he talked freely on most subjects, would not talk of his own affairs. Captain Obed, of course, disclosed nothing of the knowledge he had gained. So the table talk dealt mainly with the changes in the village since John was a boy there, and of old times and old residents long gone.

Mr. Daniels was very gracious and very affable. He spoke largely of cases intrusted to his care, of responsibilities and trusts, and if the guest gained the idea that Mr. Daniels was a very capable and prosperous lawyer indeed–if he gained such an idea and did not express it, how could Heman be expected to contradict?

After dinner–Kendrick informed his friend it was one of the best he had ever eaten–he and the captain walked over to the village, where they spent the afternoon wandering about, inspecting the ex- barber-shop and discussing chances and possibilities. The young man was still doubtful of East Wellmouth’s promise of professional opportunities. He should like to live there, he said, and he might decide to do so, but as yet he had not so decided. He seemed more pessimistic than during the drive down from the station. Captain Obed, however, and oddly enough, was much more optimistic than he had been at first.

“I don’t know, John,” he said, “but I ain’t sure you couldn’t make good, and pretty good, too, by settlin’ here. This section needs a good lawyer.”

“Another good lawyer you mean. Daniels is here, remember. Judging by his remarks this noon he is very much here.”

“Um–yes, I know. If you take his remarks at the value he marks ’em with he’s the whole bank and a safe-deposit vault hove in. But I wouldn’t wonder if those remarks was subject to a discount. Anyhow I know mighty well there’s a lot of folks in this town–good substantial folks, too–who don’t like him. They hire him once in a while because there ain’t another lawyer short of Trumet and that’s quite a ways. But maybe they’d be mighty glad to shift if there was a chance right at hand. Don’t you strike the colors yet awhile. Think it over first.”

He insisted upon Kendrick’s returning to the High Cliff House that night. “I want Mrs. Barnes to show you the room she’s got vacant,” he said. “Ain’t no harm lookin’ at a brindle calf, as the feller said; you don’t have to buy the critter unless you want to.”

So Mr. Kendrick inspected the rooms and expressed himself as delighted with them.

“They’re all right in every respect, Captain,” he declared. “And the food is more than that. But the price–although it’s surprisingly low considering the value offered–is too steep for me. I’m afraid, if I should locate here, for a trial trip, I couldn’t afford to be comfortable and I shouldn’t expect to.”

Captain Bangs remained to take supper with his friend. The meal over, they and the rest of the boarders were seated in the big living-room–once Captain Abner’s “best parlor”–when there came from outside the rattle of wheels and the voice of Winnie S. shouting “Whoa!” to General Jackson.

Thankful, who had been in the kitchen superintending Imogene, who was learning rapidly, came hurrying to the front door. The group in the parlor heard her utter an exclamation, an exclamation of surprise and delight. There were other exclamations, also in a feminine voice, and the sounds of affectionate greetings. Then Mrs. Barnes, her face beaming, ushered into the living-room a young woman. And this young woman was her cousin, Emily Howes.

Captain Obed rose to greet her.

“Well, I swan to man, Miss Howes!” he cried. “This IS a surprise! I didn’t know you was due for a v’yage in this latitude.”

Thankful laughed. “Neither did I,” she declared. “It’s as big a surprise to me as it is to you, Cap’n. She didn’t write me a word.”

Emily laughed.

“Of course I didn’t, Auntie,” she said. “I wanted to surprise you. But you’re glad to see me, aren’t you?”

“GLAD! I don’t believe I was ever so glad to see anybody in MY life.”

“We’re all glad to see you, Miss Howes,” announced the captain. “Come down to make us a little visit, hey?”

“Oh, more than a little one. You can’t escape so easily. I am going to stay all summer at least, perhaps longer. There, Aunt Thankful, what do you think of that?”

CHAPTER VIII

What Thankful thought of it was evidenced by the manner in which she received the news. She did not say much, then, but the expression of relief and delight upon her face was indication sufficient. She did ask a number of questions: Why had Emily come then, so long before her school closed? How was it that she could leave her teaching? Why hadn’t she written? And many others.

Miss Howes answered the questions one after the other. She had come in May because she found that she could come.

“I meant to come the very first moment it was possible for me to do so,” she said. “I have been more interested in this new project of yours, Auntie, than anything else in the world. You knew that; I told you so before I left and I have written it many times since. I came now because–well, because–you mustn’t be alarmed, Auntie; there is nothing to be frightened about–but the school committee seemed to feel that I needed a change and rest. They seemed to think that I was not as well as I should be, that I was tired, was wearing myself out; that is the way they expressed it. It was absurd, of course, I am perfectly well. But when they came to me and told me that they had decided to give me a vacation, with pay, until next fall, and even longer if I felt that I needed it, you may be sure I didn’t refuse their kind offer. I thanked them and said yes before they could have changed their minds, even if they had wished to. They said I should go into the country. That was just where I wanted to go, and so here I am, IN the country. Aren’t you glad?”

“Glad! Don’t talk! But, Emily, if you ain’t well, don’t you think–“

“I am well. Don’t say another word about that. And, Oh, the things I mean to do to help you, Aunt Thankful!”

“Help me! Indeed you won’t! You’ll rest and get strong again, that’s what you’ll do. I don’t need any help.”

“Oh, yes, you do. I know it.”

“How do you know?”

For just an instant Emily glanced at Captain Bangs. The captain’s face expressed alarm and embarrassment. He was standing where Mrs. Barnes could not see him and he shook his head warningly. Miss Howes’ eyes twinkled, but she did not smile.

“Oh, I knew!” she repeated.

“But HOW did you know? I never wrote you such a thing, sartin.”

“Of course you didn’t. But I knew because–well, just because. Everyone who takes boarders needs help. It’s a–it’s a chronic condition. Now, Auntie, don’t you think you could find some supper for me? Not much, but just a little. For an invalid ordered to the country I am awfully hungry.”

That was enough for Thankful. She seized her cousin by the arm and hurried her into the dining-room. A few moments later she reappeared to order Miss Howes’ trunk carried upstairs to the “blue room.”

“You’ll have to excuse me, folks,” she said, addressing her guests. “I know I didn’t introduce you to Emily. I was so flustered and– and tickled to see her that I forgot everything, manners and all. Soon’s she’s had a bite to eat I’ll try to make up. You’ll forgive me, won’t you?”

When she had gone Captain Obed was bombarded with questions. Who was the young lady? Where did she come from? If she was only a cousin, why did she call Mrs. Barnes “Auntie”? And many others.

Captain Obed answered as best he could.

“She’s real pretty, isn’t she,” affirmed Miss Timpson. “I don’t know when I’ve seen a prettier woman. Such eyes! And such hair! Ah hum! When I was her age folks used to tell me I had real wonderful hair. You remember that, don’t you, Mr. Hammond?”

Mr. Hammond chuckled. “I remember lots of things,” he observed diplomatically.

“You think she’s pretty, don’t you, Mr. Daniels?” persisted Miss Timpson.

East Wellmouth’s legal light bowed assent. “A–ahem–a very striking young lady,” he said with dignity. He had scarcely taken his eyes from the newcomer while she was in the room. John Kendrick said nothing.

When Emily and Thankful returned to the living-room there were introductions and handshakings. And, following these, a general conversation lasting until ten o’clock. Then Miss Howes excused herself, saying that she was a bit tired, bade them all good night and went to her room.

Captain Obed left soon afterward.

“Well, John,” he said to his friend, as they stood together on the front step, “what do you think of this for a boardin’-house? All I prophesied, ain’t it?”

Kendrick nodded. “All that, and more,” he answered, emphatically.

“Like Mrs. Barnes, don’t you?”

“Very much. No one could help liking her.”

“Um-hm. Well, I told you that, too. And her niece–cousin, I mean–is just as nice as she is. You’ll like her, too, when you know her. . . . Eh?”

“I didn’t speak, Captain.”

“Oh, didn’t you? Well, it’s high time for me to be headin’ for home. Hannah’ll be soundin’ the foghorn for me pretty soon. She’ll think I’VE been tagged by Abbie Larkin if I don’t hurry up and report. See you in the mornin’, John. Good night.”

The next forenoon he was on hand, bright and early, and he and Kendrick went over to the village on another tour of inspection. Captain Obed was extremely curious to know whether or not his friend had made up his mind to remain in East Wellmouth, but, as the young man himself did not volunteer the information, the captain asked no questions. They walked up and down the main road until dinner time. John said very little, and was evidently thinking hard. Just before twelve Captain Bangs did ask a question, his first one.

“Well, John,” he said, looking up at the clock in the steeple of the Methodist Church, “it’s about time for us to be thinkin’ about takin’ in cargo. Where shall we eat this noon? At the High Cliff again, or do you want to tackle Darius Holt’s? Course you understand I’m game for ‘most anything if you say so, and ‘most anything’s what we’re liable to get at that Holt shebang. I don’t want you to think I’ve got any personal grudge. When it comes to that I’m–ho! ho!–well, I’m a good deal in the frame of mind Kenelm Parker was at the revival meetin’ some year ago. Kenelm just happened in and took one of the back seats. The minister–he was a stranger in town–was walkin’ up and down the aisles tryin’ to influence the mourners to come forward. He crept up on Kenelm from behind, when he wa’n’t expected, and says he, ‘Brother,’ he says, ‘do you love the Lord?’ Kenelm was some took by surprise and his wits was in the next county, I cal’late. ‘Why–why–‘ he stammers. ‘I ain’t got nothin’ AG’IN’ Him.’ Ho! ho! That’s the way I feel about Darius Holt. I don’t love his hotel, but I ain’t got nothin’ ag’in’ him. What do you say?”

Kendrick hesitated.

“The Holt board is cheaper, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yup. It costs less and it’s wuth it.”

“Humph! Well–well, I guess we may as well go back to the High Cliff House.”

Captain Obed was much surprised, but he said nothing.

At dinner there was a sprightly air of cheerfulness and desire to please among the boarders. Everyone talked a good deal and most of the remarks were addressed to Miss Howes, who sat at the foot of the table, opposite her cousin. Thankful noticed the change and marveled at it. Dinners had hitherto been rather hurried and silent affairs. Miss Timpson usually rushed through the meal in order to get back to her school. Mr. Daniels’ habit was to fidget when Imogene delayed serving a course, to look at his watch and hint concerning important legal business which needed prompt attention. Caleb Hammond’s conversation too often was confined to a range bordered by rheumatism on the one hand and bronchitis on the other.

Now all this was changed. No one seemed in a hurry, no one appeared to care what the time might be, and no one grumbled. Mr. Daniels was particularly affable and gracious; he even condescended to joke. He was wearing his best and newest suit and his tie was carefully arranged. Emily was in high spirits, laughed at the jokes, whether they were new or old, and seemed to be very happy. She had been for a walk along the bluff, and the sea breeze had crimsoned her cheeks and blown her hair about. She apologized for the disarrangement of the hair, but even Miss Timpson–her own tresses as smooth as the back of a haircloth sofa–declared the effect to be “real becomin’.” Heman Daniels, who, being a bachelor, was reported to be very particular in such matters, heartily concurred in this statement. Mr. Hammond said it reminded him some of Laviny Marthy’s hair. “Laviny Marthy was my wife that was,” he added, by way of explanation. John Kendrick said very little; in fact, he was noticeably silent during dinner. Miss Timpson said afterward: “That Mr. Kendrick isn’t much of a talker, is he? I guess he’s what they call a good listener, for he seemed to be real interested, especially when Miss Howes was talkin’. He’d look at her and look at her, and time and time again I thought he was goin’ to say somethin’, but he didn’t.”

He was not talkative when alone with Captain Obed that afternoon. They paid one more visit to the building “opposite the postoffice” and while there he asked a few questions concerning the rent. The figure named by the captain was a low one and John seemed to think it too low. “I’m not asking charity,” he declared. “At least you might charge me enough to pay for the paint I may rub off when I open the door.”

But Captain Obed obstinately refused to raise his figure. “I’ve charged enough to risk what paint there is,” he announced. “If I charged more I’d feel as if I had to paint fresh, and I don’t want to do that. What’s the matter with you, John? Want to heave your money away, do you? Better keep the odd change to buy cigars. You can heave them away, if you want to–and you won’t be liable to hit many lawyers neither.”

At supper time as they stood by the gate of the High Cliff House the captain, who was to eat at his regular boarding-place, the Parkers’, that evening, ventured to ask the question he had been so anxious to ask.

“Well, John?” he began.

“Well, Captain?”

“Have you–have you made up your mind yet?”

Kendrick turned over, with his foot, a stone in the path.

“I–” he paused and turned the stone back again. Then he drew a long breath. “I must make it up,” he said, “and I can do it as well now as a week later, I suppose. Wherever I go there will be a risk, a big risk. Captain Bangs, I’ll take that risk here. If you are willing to let me have that office of yours for six months at the figure you have named–and I think you are crazy to do it–I will send for my trunk and my furniture and begin to–look out of the window.”

Captain Obed was delighted. “Shake, John,” he exclaimed. “I’m tickled to death. And I’ll tell you this: If you can’t get a client no other way I’ll–I’ll break into the meetin’-house and steal a pew or somethin’. Then you can defend me. Eh . . . And now what about a place for you to eat and sleep?” he added, after a moment.

The young man seemed to find the question as hard to answer as the other.

“I like it here,” he admitted. “I like it very much indeed. But I must economize and the few hundred dollars I have scraped together won’t–“

He was interrupted. Emily Howes appeared at the corner of the house behind them.

“Supper is ready,” she called cheerfully.

Both men turned to look at her. She was bareheaded and the western sun made her profile a dainty silhouette, a silhouette framed in the spun gold of her hair.

“John’s comin’, Miss Emily,” answered the captain. “He’ll be right there.”

Emily waved her hand and hurried back to the dining-room door. Mr. Kendrick kicked the stone into the grass.

“I think I may as well remain here, for the present at least,” he said. “After all, there is such a thing as being too economical. A chap can’t always make a martyr of himself, even if he knows he should.”

The next morning Mrs. Barnes, over at the village on a marketing expedition, met Captain Bangs on his way to the postoffice.

“Oh, Cap’n,” she said, “I’ve got somethin’ to tell you. ‘Tain’t bad news this time; it’s good. Mr. Heman Daniels has changed his mind. He’s goin’ to keep his room and board with me just as he’s been doin’. Isn’t that splendid!”

The sewing circles and the club and the noon and evening groups at the postoffice had two new subjects for verbal dissection during the next fortnight. This was, in its way, a sort of special Providence, for this was the dull season, when there were no more wrecks alongshore or schooners aground on the bars, and the boarders and cottagers from the cities had not yet come to East Wellmouth. Also the opening of the High Cliff House was getting to be a worn-out topic. So Emily Howes, her appearance and behavior, and John Kendrick, HIS behavior and his astonishing recklessness in attempting to wrest a portion of the county law practice from Heman Daniels, were welcomed as dispensations and discussed with gusto.

Emily came through the gossip mill ground fine, but with surprisingly little chaff. She was “pretty as a picture,” all the males agreed upon that point. And even the females admitted that she was “kind of good-lookin’,” although Hannah Parker’s diagnosis that she was “declined to be consumptic” and Mrs. Larkin’s that she was older than she “made out to be,” had some adherents. All agreed, however, that she knew how to run a boarding-house and that she was destined to be the “salvation” of Thankful Barnes’ venture at the Cap’n Abner place.

Certainly she did prove herself to possess marked ability as a business manager. Quietly, and without undue assertion, she reorganized the affairs of the High Cliff House. No one detected any difference in the quality of the meals served there, in their variety or ample sufficiency. But, little by little, she took upon herself the buying of supplies, the regulation of accounts, the prompt payment of bills and the equally prompt collection of board and room rent. Thankful found the cares upon her shoulders less and less heavy, and she was more free to do what she was so capable of doing, that is, superintend the cooking and the housekeeping.

But Thankful herself was puzzled.

“I don’t understand it,” she said. “I’ve always had to look out for myself, and others, too. There ain’t been a minute since I can remember that I ain’t had somebody dependent upon me. I cal’lated I could run a boardin’-house if I couldn’t do anything else. But I’m just as sure as I am that I’m alive that if you hadn’t come when you did I’d have run this one into the ground and myself into the poorhouse. I don’t understand it.”

Emily smiled and put her arm about her cousin’s waist. “Oh, no, you wouldn’t, Auntie,” she said. “It wasn’t as bad as that. You needed help, that was all. And you are too generous and kind- hearted. You were always fearful that your boarders might not be satisfied. I have been teaching bookkeeping and accounting, you see, and, besides, I have lived in a family where the principal struggle was to satisfy the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker. This is real fun compared to that.”

Thankful shook her head.

“I know,” she said; “you always talk that way, Emily. But I’m afraid you’ll make yourself sick. You come down here purpose for your health, you know.”

Emily laughed and patted Mrs. Barnes’ plump shoulder.

“Health!” she repeated. “Why, I have never been as well since I can remember. I couldn’t be sick here, in this wonderful place, if I tried. Do you think I look ill? . . . Oh, Mr. Daniels!” addressing the lawyer, who had just entered the dining-room, “I want your opinion, as a–a specialist. Auntie is afraid I am ill. Don’t you think I look about as well as anyone could look?”

Heman bowed. “If my poor opinion is worth anything,” he observed, “I should say that to find fault with your appearance, Miss Howes, would be like venturing to–er—paint the lily, as the saying is. I might say more, but–ahem–perhaps I had better not.”

Judging by the young lady’s expression he had said quite enough already.

“Idiot!” she exclaimed, after he had left the room. “I ask him a sensible question and he thinks it necessary to answer with a silly compliment. Thought I was fishing for one, probably. Why will men be such fools–some men?”

Mr. Daniels’ opinion concerning his professional rival was asked a good many times during that first fortnight. He treated the subject as he did the rival, with condescending toleration. It was quite plain that he considered his own position too secure to be shaken. In fact, his feeling toward John Kendrick seemed to be a sort of kindly pity.

“He appears to be a very well-meaning young man,” he said, in reply to one of the questions. “Rash, of course; very young men are likely to be rash–and perhaps more hopeful than some of us older and–ahem–wiser persons might be under the same circumstances. But he is well-meaning and persevering. I have no doubt he will manage to pick up a few crumbs, here and there. I may be able to throw a few in his way. There are always cases–ah–which I can’t– or don’t wish to–accept.”

When this remark was repeated to Captain Obed the latter sniffed.

“Humph!” he observed, “I don’t know what they are. I never see a case Heman wouldn’t accept, if there was as much as seventy-five cents in it. If bananas was a nickel a bunch the only part he’d throw in anybody else’s way would be the skins.”

John, himself, did not seem to mind or care what Mr. Daniels or anyone else said. He wrote a letter to New York and, in the course of time, a second-hand desk, a few chairs, and half a dozen cases of law books arrived by freight and were installed in the ex- barber-shop. The local sign-painter perpetrated a sign with “John Kendrick, Attorney-at-law” upon it in gilt letters, and the “looking out of the window” really began.

And that was about all that did begin for days and days. Each morning or afternoon, Sundays excepted, Captain Bangs would drop in at the office and find no one there, no one but the tenant, that is. The latter, seated behind the desk, with a big sheepskin-bound volume spread open upon it, was always glad to see his visitor. Their conversations were characteristic.

“Hello, John!” the captain would begin. “How are the clients comin’?”

“Don’t know, Captain. None of them has as yet got near enough so that I could see how he comes.”

“Humph! I want to know. Mr. John D. Jacob Vanderbilt ain’t cruised in from Newport to put his affairs in your hands? Sho’! He’s pretty short-sighted, ain’t he?”

“Very. He’s losing valuable time.”

“Well, I expected better things of him, I must say. Ain’t gettin’ discouraged, are you, John?”

“No, indeed. If there was much discouragement in my make-up I should have stopped before I began. How is the fish business, Captain?”

“Well, ’tain’t what it ought to be this season of the year. Say, John, couldn’t you subpoena a school of mackerel for me? Serve an order of the court on them to come into my weirs and answer for their sins, or somethin’ like that? I’d be willin’ to pay you a fairly good fee.”

On one occasion the visitor asked his friend what he found to do all the long days. “Don’t study law ALL the time, do you, John?” he queried.

Kendrick shook his head. “No,” he answered, gravely. “Between studies I enjoy the view. Magnificent view from this window, don’t you think?”

Captain Obed inspected the “view.” The principal feature in the landscape was Dr. Jameson’s cow, pastured in the vacant lot between the doctor’s home and the postoffice.

“Very fine cow, that,” commented the lawyer. “An inspiring creature. I spend hours looking at that cow. She is a comfort to my philosophic soul.”

The captain observed that he wanted to know.

“Yes,” continued Kendrick. “She is happy; you can see that she is happy. Now why?”

“‘Cause she’s eatin’ grass,” declared Captain Obed, promptly.

“That’s it. Good for you! You have a philosophic soul yourself, Captain. She is happy because she has nothing to do but eat, and there is plenty to eat. That’s my case exactly. I have nothing to do except eat, and at Mrs. Barnes’ boarding-house there is always enough, and more than enough, to eat. The cow is happy and I ought to be, I suppose. If MY food was furnished free of cost I should be, I presume.”

Kenelm Parker heard a conversation like the foregoing on one occasion and left the office rubbing his forehead.

“There’s two lunatics in that place,” he told the postmaster. “And if I’d stayed there much longer and listened to their ravin’s there’d have been another one.”

Kenelm seemed unusually contented and happy in his capacity as man- of-all-work at the High Cliff House. Possibly the fact that there was so very little real work to do may have helped to keep him in this frame of mind. He had always the appearance of being very busy; a rake or a hoe or the kindling hatchet were seldom out of reach of his hand. He talked a great deal about being “beat out,” and of the care and responsibility which were his. Most of these remarks were addressed to Imogene, to whom he had apparently taken a great fancy.

Imogene was divided in her feelings toward Mr. Parker.

“He’s an awful interestin’ talker,” she confided to Emily. “Every time he comes into this kitchen I have to watch out or he’ll stay and talk till noontime. And yet if I want to get him to do somethin’ or other he is always chock full of business that can’t wait a minute. I like to hear him talk–he’s got ideas on ‘most every kind of thing–but I have to work, myself.”

“Do you mean that he doesn’t work?” asked Emily.

“I don’t know whether he does or not. I can’t make out. If he don’t he’s an awful good make-believe, that’s all I’ve got to say. One time I caught him back of the woodpile sound asleep, but he was hanging onto the axe just the same. Said he set up half the night before worryin’ for fear he mightn’t be able to get through his next day’s work, and the want of rest had been too much for him. Then he started in to tell me about his home life and I listened for ten minutes before I come to enough to get back to the house.”

“Do you think he is lazy, Imogene?”

“I don’t know. He says he never had no chance and it might be that’s so. He says the ambition’s been pretty well drove out of him, and I guess it has. I should think ‘twould be. The way that sister of his nags at him all the time is enough to drive out the– the measles.”

Imogene and Hannah Parker, as Captain Obed said, “rubbed each other the wrong way.” Hannah was continually calling to see her brother, probably to make sure that he was there and not in the dangerous Larkin neighborhood. Imogene resented these visits–“usin’ up Mrs. Thankful’s time,” she said they were–and she and Hannah had some amusing clashes. Miss Parker was inclined to patronize the girl from the Orphan’s Home, and Imogene objected.

“Well,” observed Hannah, on one occasion, “I presume likely you find it nice to be down here, where folks are folks and not just ‘inmates.’ It must be dreadful to be an ‘inmate.'”

Imogene sniffed. “There’s all kinds of inmates,” she said, “same as there’s all kinds of folks. Far’s that goes, there’s some folks couldn’t be an inmate, if they wanted to. They wouldn’t be let in.”

“Oh, is that so? Judgin’ by what I’ve seen I shouldn’t have thought them that run such places was very particular. Where’s Kenelm?”

“I don’t know. He’s to work, I suppose. That’s what he’s hired for, they tell me.”

“Oh, indeed! Well,” with emphasis, “he doesn’t have to work, unless he wants to. My brother has money of his own, enough to subside on comf’tably, if he wanted to do it. His comin’ here is just to accommodate Mrs. Barnes, that’s all. Where is he?”

“Last I saw of him he was accommodatin’ the horse stall. He may be uptown by this time, for all I know.”

“Uptown?” in alarm. “What would he be uptown for? He ain’t got any business there, has he?”

“Search ME. Good many guys–folks, I mean–seem to be always hangin’ ’round where they haven’t business. Well, I’ve got some of my own and I guess I’d better attend to it. Good mornin’, ma’am.”

Miss Howes cautioned Imogene against arousing the Parkers’ enmity.

“Lordy! I mean mercy sakes, ma’am,” exclaimed Imogene, “you needn’t be afraid so far as Kenelm’s concerned. I do boss him around some, when I think it’s needful, but it ain’t my bossin’ that worries him, it’s that Hannah woman’s. He says she’s at him all the time. Don’t give him the peace of his life, he says. He’s a misunderstood man, he tells me. Maybe he is; there are such, you know. I’ve read about ’em in stories.”

Emily smiled. “Well,” she said, “I wouldn’t drive him too hard, if I were you, Imogene. He isn’t the hardest worker in the world, but he does do some work, and men who can be hired to work about a place in summer are scarce here in East Wellmouth. You must be patient with him.”

“Lor–land sakes! I am. But he does make me cross. He’d be settin’ in my kitchen every evenin’ if I’d let him. Don’t seem to want to go home. I don’t know’s I blame him for that. You think I ought to let him set, I suppose, Miss Howes?”

“Why, yes, if he doesn’t annoy you too much. We must keep him contented. You must sacrifice your own feelings to help Aunt Thankful. You would be willing to make some sacrifice for her, wouldn’t you?”

“You bet your life I would! She’s the best woman on earth, Mrs. Barnes is. I’d do anything for her, sacrifice my head, if that was worth five cents to anybody. All right, he can set if he wants to. I–I suppose I might improve his mind, hey, ma’am? By readin’ to him, I mean. Mrs. Thankful, she’s been givin’ me books to improve my mind; perhaps they’d improve his if I read ’em out loud to him. His sister prob’ly won’t like it, but I don’t care. You couldn’t improve HER mind; she ain’t got any. It all run off the end of her tongue long ago.”

By the Fourth of July the High Cliff House was filled with boarders. Every room was taken, even the little back bedroom and the big room adjoining it. These were taken by a young couple from Worcester and, if they heard any unusual noises in their apartment, they did not mention them. Thankful’s dread of that little room had entirely disappeared. She was now thoroughly convinced that her imagination and the storm were responsible for the “spooks.”

John Kendrick continued to sleep and eat at the new boarding-house. He was a general favorite there, although rather silent and disinclined to take an active part in the conversation at table. He talked more with Emily Howes than with anyone and she and he were becoming very friendly. Emily, Thankful and Captain Obed Bangs were the only real friends the young man had; he might have had more, but he did not seem to care for them. With these three, however, and particularly with Emily, he was even confidential, speaking of his professional affairs and prospects, subjects which he never mentioned to others.

These–the prospects–were brighter than at first. He had accepted one case and refused another. The refusal came as a surprise to East Wellmouth and caused much comment. Mr. Chris Badger was a passenger on the train from Boston and that train ran off the track at Buzzard’s Bay. No one was seriously hurt except Mr. Badger. The latter gentleman purchased a pair of crutches and limped about on them, proclaiming himself a cripple for life. He and Heman Daniels had had a disagreement over a business matter so Chris took his damage suit against the railroad to John Kendrick. And John refused it.

Captain Obed, much disturbed, questioned his friend.

“Land of love, John!” he said. “Here you’ve been roostin’ here, lookin’ out of this window and prayin’ for a job to come along. Now one does come along and you turn it down. Why?”

Kendrick laughed. “I’m cursed with a strong sense of contrast, Captain,” he replied. “Those crutches are too straight for me.”

The captain stared. “Straight!” he repeated. “All crutches are straight, ain’t they?”

“Possibly; but some cripples are crooked.”

So it was to Mr. Daniels, after all, that the damage suit came, and Heman brought about a three-hundred-dollar settlement. Most of East Wellmouth pronounced Kendrick “too pesky particular,” but in some quarters, and these not by any means the least influential, his attitude gained approval and respect. This feeling was strengthened by his taking Edgar Wingate’s suit against that same railroad. Edgar’s woodlot was set on fire by sparks from the locomotive and John forced payment, and liberal payment, for the damage. Other cases, small ones, began to come his way. Lawyer Daniels had enemies in the community who had been waiting to take their legal affairs elsewhere.

Heman still professed entire indifference, but he no longer patronized his rival. John had a quiet way of squelching such patronage and of turning the laugh, which was annoying to a person lacking a sense of humor. And then, too, it was quite evident that Emily Howes’ liking for the younger man displeased Daniels greatly. Heman liked Emily, seemed to like her very much indeed. On one or two occasions he had taken her to ride behind his fast horse, and he often brought bouquets and fruit, “given me by my clients and friends,” he explained. “One can’t refuse little gifts like that, but it is a comfort, to a bachelor like me, to be able to hand them on–hand them on–yes.”

The first of August brought a new sensation and a new resident to East Wellmouth. The big Colfax estate was sold and the buyer was no less a personage than E. Holliday Kendrick, John Kendrick’s aristocratic Fifth Avenue cousin. His coming was as great a surprise to John as to the rest of the community, but he seemed much less excited over it. The purchase was quietly completed and, one pleasant morning, the great E. Holliday himself appeared in East Wellmouth accompanied by a wife and child, two motor cars and six servants.

Captain Obed Bangs, who had been spending a week in Orham on business connected with his fish weirs, returned to find the village chanting the praises of the new arrival. Somehow or other E. Holliday had managed already to convey the impression that he was the most important person in creation. The captain happening in at the High Cliff House after supper, found the group in the living-room discussing the all-important topic. Most of the city boarders were out enjoying a “marshmallow toast” about a bonfire on the beach, but the “regulars” were present.

“Where’s Mrs. Thankful?” was Captain Obed’s first question.

“She’s in the kitchen, I think,” replied John. “Shall I call her?”

“Oh, no, no! It ain’t particular. I just–just wondered where she was, that’s all. I wouldn’t trouble her on no account.”

John smiled. He seemed quietly amused about something. He regarded his friend, who, after a glance in his direction, was staring at the lamp on the table, and said:

“I’m sure it would be no trouble, Captain. Better let me tell her you are here.”

Captain Obed was saved the embarrassment of further protestations by the entrance of Thankful herself; Emily accompanied her. The captain shook hands with Mrs. Barnes and her cousin and hastened to announce that he heard “big news” down street and had run over to find out how much truth there was in it.

“Couldn’t scurcely believe it, myself,” he declared. “John here, never said a word about his high-toned relation comin’ to East Wellmouth. Had you any idea he was comin’, John?”

John shook his head.

“No,” he said. “The last time I saw him in New York, which was two years or more ago, he did say something about being on the lookout for a summer residence. But he did not mention East Wellmouth; nor did I. I remember hearing that he and the late Mr. Colfax were quite friendly, associated in business affairs, I believe. Probably that accounts for his being here.”

“Set down, everybody,” urged Thankful. “I’m willin’ to set down, myself, I can tell you. Been on my feet ‘most of the day. What sort of a person is this relation of yours, Mr. Kendrick? He ought to be all right, if there’s anything in family connections.”

Heman Daniels answered the question. He spoke with authority.

“Mr. Holliday is a fine gentleman,” he announced, emphatically. “I’ve seen him two or three times since he came. He’s a millionaire, but it doesn’t make him pompous or stand-offish. He and I spoke–er–conversed together as friendly and easy as if we had known each other all our lives. He is very much interested in East Wellmouth. He tells me that, if the place keeps on suiting him as it has so far, he intends making it his permanent home. Of course he won’t stay here ALL the year–the family have a house in Florida and one in New York, I believe–but he will call East Wellmouth his real home and his interests will center here.”

There was a general expression of satisfaction. Miss Timpson declared that it was “real lovely” of Mr. Holliday Kendrick. Caleb Hammond announced that he always cal’lated there was a boom coming for the town. Had said so more times than he could count. “Folks’ll tell you I said it, too,” he proclaimed stoutly. “They’ll bear me out in it, if you ask ’em.”

“I’m glad we’re goin’ to have such nice neighbors,” said Thankful. “It’s always worried me a little wonderin’ who that Colfax place might be sold to. I didn’t know but somebody might get it with the notion of startin’ another hotel.”

“Hannah Parker ain’t opened her mouth to talk of anything else since I got back,” said Captain Bangs. “And it’s been open most of the time, too. She says John’s rich relation’s locatin’ here is a dissipation of Providence, if you know what that is.”

John smiled but he said nothing. Emily was silent, also; she was regarding the young man intently.

“Yes, sir,” continued Mr. Daniels, evidently pleased at the approval with which his statement had been met. “Yes, sir, Mr. E. Holliday Kendrick is destined to be a great acquisition to this town; mark my words. He tells me he shall hire no one to do his work except East Wellmouth people. And there will be a lot of work to be done, if he carries out his plans. He intends building an addition to his house, and enlarging his estate–“

Thankful interrupted.

“Enlargin’ it!” she repeated. “Mercy sakes! What for? I should think ’twas large enough now!”

Heman smiled tolerantly. “To us–the ordinary–er–citizens, it might appear so,” he observed. “But the–er–New York ideas is broader than the average Cape Codder’s, if you’ll excuse me, Mrs. Barnes. Mr. Kendrick has begun to spend money here already, and he will doubtless spend more. He contemplates public improvements as well as private. He asked me what sort of spirit there was in our community. Ahem!”

He paused, apparently to let the importance of the announcement sink in. It sank, or seemed to. Mr. Hammond, however, was somewhat puzzled.

“Now what do you cal’late he meant by that?” he queried.

John Kendrick answered. He and Emily had exchanged smiles. Neither of them seemed as deeply impressed with the Daniels proclamation as the others of the group.

“Perhaps he wanted to buy a drink,” suggested John, gravely.

Miss Timpson was shocked; her expression showed it. Caleb Hammond did not seem to know whether to be shocked or not; the Hammond appreciation of a joke generally arrived on a later train. Mrs. Barnes and Captain Obed laughed, but not too heartily.

Mr. Daniels did not laugh. The frivolous interruption evidently jarred him.

“I scarcely imagine that to be the reason,” he said, drily. “If Mr. E. Holliday Kendrick does indulge I guess likely–that is, I presume he would not find it necessary to buy his–er–beverages here. He meant public spirit, of course. He asked me who our leading men were.”

“Who were they–the others, I mean?” asked John.

Emily rubbed away a smile with her handkerchief. Heman noticed her action, and his color brightened.

“They WERE public,” he said, rather sharply. “They were men of standing–long standing in the community. Prominent and prosperous citizens, who have lived here long enough for East Wellmouth to know them–and respect them.”

This was a shot in the bull’s eye. Miss Timpson evidently thought so, for she nodded approval. Daniels continued.

“They were men of known worth,” he went on. “Practical citizens whose past as well as present is known. Your cousin–I believe he is your cousin, Kendrick, although he did not mention the relationship–was grateful to me for giving him their names. He is a practical man, himself.”

John nodded. “He must be,” he admitted. “No one but a practical man could get all that advice, free, from a lawyer.”

Captain Obed laughed aloud.

“That’s a good one,” he declared. “Lawyers ain’t in the habit of GIVIN’ much, ‘cordin’ to all accounts. How about it, Heman?”

Mr. Daniels ignored the question and the questioner. He rose to his feet.

“There are SOME lawyers,” he observed, crisply, “whose advice is not asked–to any great extent. I–I think I will join the group on the beach. It’s a beautiful evening. Won’t you accompany me, Miss Howes?”

Emily declined the invitation. “No, thank you, Mr. Daniels,” she said. “I am rather tired and I think I won’t go out tonight. By the way, Mr. Kendrick,” she added, “was the great man asking your advice also? I happened to see him go into your office yesterday.”

Everyone was surprised–everyone except the speaker and the person addressed, that is–but Heman’s surprise was most manifest. His hand was on the knob of the door, but now he turned.

“In HIS office?” he repeated. “Kendrick, was he in to see YOU?”

John bowed assent. “Yes,” he said. “He seems to be contemplating retaining a sort of–of resident attorney to look after his local affairs. I mentioned your name, Daniels.”

Mr. Daniels went out. The door banged behind him.

A half hour later, after Mr. Hammond also had gone to join the marshmallow toasters and Miss Timpson had retired to her room, John told the others the story. Mr. E. Holliday Kendrick HAD called upon him at his office and he did contemplate engaging a resident lawyer. There were likely to be many of what he termed “minor details” connected with the transfer of the Colfax estate to him and the purchases which he meant to make later on, and an attorney at his beck and call would be a great convenience. Not this only; he had actually offered his young cousin the position, had offered to engage him and to pay him several hundred dollars as a retaining fee.

He told his hearers so much, and then he stopped. Emily, who had seemed much interested, waited a moment and then begged him to continue.

“Well?” she said. “Why don’t you tell us the rest? We are all waiting to congratulate you. You accepted, of course.”

John shook his head. “Why, no,” he replied, “I didn’t accept, exactly. I did say I would think it over; but I–well, I’m not sure that I shall accept.”

Here was the unexpected. His hearers looked at each other in amazement.

“You won’t accept!” cried Thankful. “Why, Mr. Kendrick.”

“Won’t accept!” shouted Captain Obed. “What on earth! Why, John Kendrick, what’s the matter with you? Ain’t you been settin’ in that office of yours waitin’ and waitin’ for somethin’ worth while to come along? And now a really big chance does come, and you say you don’t know as you’ll take it! What kind of talk’s that, I’d like to know!”

John smiled. Miss Howes, who seemed as much surprised as the others, did not smile.

“Why won’t you take it?” demanded the captain.

“Oh, I don’t know. The proposition doesn’t appeal to me as strongly as it should, perhaps. Cousin Holliday and I ARE cousins, but we–well, we differ in other ways besides the size of our incomes. When I was in New York I went to him at one time. I was– I needed–well, I went to him. He consented to see me and he listened to what I had to say, but he was not too cordial. He didn’t ask me to call again. Now he seems changed, I admit. Remembers perfectly well that I am his father’s brother’s only child and all that, and out of the kindness of his heart offers me employment. But–but I don’t know.”

No one spoke for a moment. Then Emily broke the silence.

“You don’t know?” she repeated, rather sharply. “Why not, may I ask?”

“Oh, I don’t, that’s all. For one thing, there is just a little too much condescension in my dear cousin’s manner. I may be a yellow dog, but I don’t like to sit up and beg when my master threatens to throw me a bone. Perhaps I’m particular as to who that master may be.”

Again it was Emily who spoke.

“Perhaps you are–TOO particular,” she said. “Can you afford to be so particular?”

“Probably not. But, you see, there is another thing. There is a question of professional ethics involved. If I take that retainer I am bound in honor to undertake any case Cousin Holliday may give me. And–and, I’m not sure I should care to do that. You know how I feel about a lawyer’s duty to his client and his duty to himself. There are certain questions–“

She interrupted.

“I think there are, too many questions,” she said. “I lose patience with you sometimes. Often and often I have known of your refusing cases which other lawyers have taken and won.”

“Meaning Brother Daniels?” He asked it with a smile, but with some sarcasm in his tone. Both he and Miss Rowes seemed to have forgotten that the captain and Thankful were present.

“Why, yes. Mr. Daniels has accepted cases which you have refused. No one thinks the less of him for it. He will accept your cousin’s retainer if you don’t.”

“I presume he will. That would be the practical thing to do, and he prides himself on his practicality.”

“Practicality is not altogether bad. It is often necessary in this practical world. What case is Mr. Kendrick likely to put in your hands which you would hesitate to undertake?”

“None that I know of. But if he did, I–“

“You could refuse to take it.”

“Why, not easily. I should have accepted his retainer and that, according to legal etiquette, would make me honor bound to–“

She interrupted again. Her patience was almost gone, that was plain. For the matter of that, so was Captain Obed’s.

“Don’t you think that you are a trifle too sensitive concerning honor?” she asked. “And too suspicious besides? I do. Oh, I am tired of your scruples. I don’t like to see you letting success and–and all the rest of it pass you by, when other men, not so overscrupulous, do succeed. Don’t you care for success? Or for money?”

John interrupted her. He leaned forward and spoke, deliberately but firmly. And he looked her straight in the face.

“I do,” he said. “I care for both–now–more than I ever thought I could care.”

And, all at once, the young lady seemed to remember that her cousin and the captain were in the room. She colored, and when she spoke it was in a different tone.

“Then,” she said, “it seems to me, if I were you, I should accept the opportunities that came in my way. Of course, it’s not my affair. I shouldn’t have presumed to advise.” She rose and moved toward the door. “Good night, Mr. Kendrick,” she said. “Good night, Captain Bangs. Auntie, you will excuse me, won’t you? I am rather tired tonight, and–“

But once more Kendrick interrupted.

“One moment, please, Miss Howes,” he said, earnestly. “Do I understand–do you mean that you wish me to accept Cousin Holliday’s retainer?”

Emily paused.

“Why,” she answered, after an instant’s hesitation, “I–I really don’t see why my wish one way or the other should be very strong. But–but as a friend of yours–of course we are all your friends, Mr. Kendrick–as one of your friends I–we, naturally, like to see you rise in your profession.”

“Then you advise me to accept?”

“If my advice is worth anything–yes. Good night.”

Next day, when Captain Obed made his customary call at the ex- barber-shop, he ventured to ask the question uppermost in his mind.

“Have you decided yet, John?” he asked.

His friend looked at him.

“Meaning–what?” he queried.

“Meanin’–you know what I mean well enough. Have you decided to take your cousin’s offer?”

“I’ve done more than that, Captain. I have accepted the offer and the retaining fee, too.”

Captain Obed sprang forward and held out his hand.

“Bully for you, John!” he shouted. “That’s the best thing you ever done in your life. NOW you’ve really started.”

Kendrick smiled. “Yes,” he admitted, “I have started. Where I may finish is another matter.”

“Oh, you’ll finish all right. Don’t be a Jeremiah, John. Well, well! This is fine. Won’t all hands be pleased!”

“Yes, won’t they! Especially Brother Daniels. Daniels will be overcome with joy. Captain, have a cigar. Have two cigars. I have begun to spend my retainer already, you see.”

CHAPTER IX

The August days were busy ones at the High Cliff House. Every room was filled and the tables in the dining-room well crowded. Thankful told Captain Bangs that she could not spare time even to look out of the window. “And yet Emily and I are about the only ones who don’t look out,” she added. “There’s enough goin’ on to look at, that’s sartin.”

There was indeed. Mr. E. Holliday Kendrick having taken possession of his new estate, immediately set about the improving and enlarging which Mr. Daniels had quoted him as contemplating. Carpenters, painters and gardeners were at work daily. The Kendrick motor cars and the Kendrick servants were much in evidence along East Wellmouth’s main road. What had been done by the great man and his employees and what would be done in the near future kept the gossips busy. He was planning a new rose garden–“the finest from Buzzard’s Bay down”; he had torn out the “whole broadside” of the music-room and was “cal’latin'” to make it twice as large as formerly; he was to build a large conservatory on the knoll by the stables. Hannah Parker declared she could not see the need of this. “There’s a tower onto the main buildin’ already,” she said, “pretty nigh as high as a lighthouse. I should think a body could see fur enough from that tower, without riggin’ up a conservatory. Well, Mrs. Kendrick needn’t ask ME to go up in it. I went to the top of the conservatory on Scargo Hill one time and I was so dizzy in the head I thought sure I’d fall right over the railin’.”

The High Cliff boarders–Miss Timpson and Caleb Hammond especially– spent a great deal of time peering from the living-room windows and watching what they called the “goin’s on” at the Kendrick estate. Occasionally they caught a glimpse of E. Holliday himself. The great man was inclined to greatness even in the physical meaning of the word, for he was tall and stout, and dignified, not to say pompous. Arrayed in white flannels he issued orders to his hirelings and the hirelings obeyed him. When one is monarch of the larger portion of all he surveys it must be gratifying to feel that one looks the part. E. Holliday looked it and apparently felt it.

Thankful, during this, her most prosperous season, was active from morning until night. When that night came she was ready for sleep, ready for more than she could afford to take. Emily was invaluable as manager and assistant, and Captain Obed Bangs assisted and advised in every way that he could. The captain had come to be what Mrs. Barnes called the “sheet anchor” of the High Cliff House. Whenever the advice of a man, or a man’s help was needed, it was to Captain Bangs that she turned. And Captain Obed was always only too glad to help. Hannah Parker declared he spent more time at the boarding house than he did at her home.

If Emily Howes noticed how frequently the captain called–and it is probable that she did–she said nothing about it. John Kendrick must have noticed it, for occasionally, when he and Captain Obed were alone, he made an irrelevant remark like the following:

“Captain,” he said, on one occasion, “I think you’re growing younger every day.”

“Who? Me? Go on, John! How you talk! I’m so old my timbers creak every time I go up a flight of stairs. They’ll be sendin’ me to the junk pile pretty soon.”

“I guess not. You’re as young as I am, every bit. Not in years, perhaps, but in spirit and energy. And you surprise me, too. I didn’t know you were such a lady’s man.”

“Me? A lady’s man? Tut, tut! Don’t talk foolish. If I’ve cruised alone all these years I cal’late that’s proof enough of how much a lady’s man I am.”

“That’s no proof. You haven’t happened upon the right sort of consort, that’s all. Look at Brother Daniels; he is a bachelor, too, but everyone knows what a lady’s man he is.”

“Humph! You ain’t comparin’ me to Heman Daniels, are you?”

“No. No, of course not. I shouldn’t dare. Comparing any mortal with Daniels would be heresy, wouldn’t it? But you certainly are popular with the fair sex. Why, even Imogene has fallen under the influence. She says Mrs. Barnes thinks you are the finest man in the world.”

“She does, hey? Well,” tartly, “she better mind her own affairs. I thought she rated Kenelm Parker about as high as anybody these days. He spends more time in that kitchen of hers–“

“There, there, Captain! Don’t sidestep. The fair Imogene may be susceptible to Mr. Parker’s charms, but that is probably because you haven’t smiled upon her. If you–“

“Say, look here, John Kendrick! If you keep on talkin’ loony in this way I’ll begin to heave out a few hints myself. I may be as popular as you say, with Imogene and–and the help, but I know somebody else that is catchin’ the same disease.”

“Meaning Mr. Daniels, I suppose? He is popular, I admit.”

“Is he? Well, you ought to know best. Seems to me I can call to mind somebody else that is fairly popular–in some latitudes. By the way, John, you don’t seem to be as popular with Heman as you was at first.”

“I’m sorry. My accepting my cousin’s retainer may–“

“Oh, I didn’t mean that. What was you and Emily doin’ at Chris Badger’s store yesterday afternoon?”

“Doing? Yesterday? Oh, yes! I did meet Miss Howes while I was on my way to the office and I waited while she did a little marketing. What in the world–“

“Nothin’. Fur’s that goes I don’t think either of you knew you was IN the world. I passed right by and you didn’t see me. Heman saw you, too. What was your marketin’–vegetables?”

“I believe so. Captain, you’re sidestepping again. It was of you, not me, I was speaking when–“

“Yes, I know. Well, I’m speakin’ about you now. Heman saw you buyin’ them vegetables. Tomatters, wa’n’t they?”

“Perhaps so. Have you been drinking? What difference does it make whether we bought tomatoes or potatoes?”

“Didn’t make none–to me. But I bet Heman didn’t like to see you two buyin’ tomatters.”

“For heaven’s sake, why not?”

“Oh, ’cause he probably remembered, same as I did, what folks used to call ’em in the old days.”

“You HAVE been drinking! What did they use to call them?”

“Love apples,” replied Captain Obed, and strode away chuckling. John watched him go. He, too, laughed at first, but his laugh broke off in the middle and when he went into the house his expression was troubled and serious.

One remark of the captain’s was true enough; John Kendrick’s popularity with his professional rival was growing daily less. The pair were scrupulously polite to each other, but they seldom spoke except when others were present, and Mr. Daniels made it a point apparently to be present whenever Miss Howes was in the room. He continued to bring his little offerings of fruit and flowers and his invitations for drives and picnics and entertainments at the town hall were more frequent. Sometimes Emily accepted these invitations; more often she refused them. John also occasionally invited her to drive with him or to play tennis on his cousin’s courts, and these invitations she treated as she did Heman’s, refusing some and accepting others. She treated the pair with impartiality and yet Thankful was growing to believe there was a difference. Imogene, outspoken, expressed her own feelings in the matter when she said,

“Miss Emily likes Mr. Kendrick pretty well, don’t she, ma’am?”

Thankful regarded her maidservant with disapproval.

“What makes you say that, Imogene?” she demanded. “Of course she likes him. Why shouldn’t she?”

“She should, ma’am. And she does, too. And he likes her; that’s plain enough.”

“Imogene, what are you hintin’ at? Do you mean that my cousin is in–in love with Mr. John Kendrick?”

“No’m. I don’t say that, not yet. But there’s signs that–“

“Signs! If you don’t get those ridiculous story-book notions out of your head I don’t know what I’ll do to you. What do you know about folks bein’ in love? You ain’t in love, I hope; are you?”

Imogene hesitated. “No, ma’am,” she replied. “I ain’t. But–but maybe I might be, if I wanted to.”

“For mercy sakes! The girl’s crazy. You MIGHT be–if you wanted to! Who with? If you’re thinkin’ of marryin’ anybody seems to me I ought to know it. Why, you ain’t met more’n a dozen young fellers in this town, and I’ve taken good care to know who they were. If you’re thinkin’ of fallin’ in love–or marryin’–“

Imogene interrupted. “I ain’t,” she declared. “And, anyhow, ma’am, gettin’ married don’t necessarily mean you’re in love.”

“It don’t! Well, this beats all I ever–“

“No, ma’am, it don’t. Sometimes it’s a person’s duty to get married.”

Thankful gasped. “Duty!” she repeated. “You HAVE been readin’ more of those books, in spite of your promisin’ me you wouldn’t.”

“No, ma’am, I ain’t. Honest, I ain’t.”

“Then what do you mean? Imogene, what man do you care enough for to make you feel it’s your–your duty to marry him?”

“No man at all,” declared Imogene, promptly and decisively. And that is all she would say on the subject.

Thankful repeated this astonishing conversation, or part of it, to Emily. The latter considered it a good joke. “That girl is a strange creature,” she said, “and great fun. You never can tell what she will say or think. She is very romantic and that nonsense about duty and the rest of it undoubtedly is taken from some story she has read. You needn’t worry, Auntie. Imogene worships you, and she will never leave you–to be married, or for any other reason.”

So Thankful did not worry about Imogene. She had other worries, those connected with a houseful of boarders, and these were quite sufficient. And now came another. Kenelm Parker was threatening to leave her employ.

The statement is not strictly true. Kenelm, himself, never threatened to do anything. But another person did the threatening for him and that person was his sister. Hannah Parker, for some unaccountable reason, seemed to be developing a marked prejudice against the High Cliff House. Her visits to the premises were not less frequent than formerly, but they were confined to the yard and stable; she no longer called at the house. Her manner toward Emily and Thankful was cordial enough perhaps, but there was constraint in it and she asked a good many questions concerning her brother’s hours of labor, what he did during the day, and the like.

“She acts awful queer, seems to me,” said Thankful. “Not the way she did at first at all. In the beginnin’ I had to plan pretty well to keep her from runnin’ in and sp’ilin’ my whole mornin’ with her talk. Now she seems to be keepin’ out of my way. What we’ve done to make her act so I can’t see, and neither can Emily.”

Captain Bangs, to whom this remark was addressed, laughed.

“You ain’t done anything, I guess,” he said. “It ain’t you she’s down on; it’s your hired girl, the Imogene one. She seems to be more down on that Imogene than a bow anchor on a mud flat. They don’t hitch horses, those two. You see she tries to boss and condescend and Imogene gives her as good as she sends. It’s got so that Hannah is actually scared of that girl; don’t pretend to be, of course; calls her ‘the inmate’ and all sorts of names. But she is scared of her and don’t like her.”

Thankful was troubled. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Imogene is independent, but she’s an awful kind-hearted girl. I do hate trouble amongst neighbors.”

“Oh, there won’t be any trouble. Hannah’s jealous, that’s all the trouble–jealous about Kenelm. You see, she wanted him to come here to work so’s she could have him under her thumb and run over and give him orders every few minutes. Imogene gives him orders, too, and he minds; she makes him. Hannah don’t like that; ‘cordin’ to her notion Kenelm hadn’t ought to have any skipper but her. It’s all right, though, Mrs. Barnes. It’s good for Kenelm and it’s good for Hannah. Do ’em both good, I cal’late.”

But when Kenelm announced that he wasn’t sure but that he should “heave up his job” in a fortnight or so, the situation became more serious.

“He mustn’t leave,” declared Thankful. “August and early September are the times when I’ve got to have a man on the place, and you say yourself, Captain Bangs, that there isn’t another man to be had just now. If he goes–“

“Oh, he won’t go. This is more of Hannah’s talk; she’s put him up to this leavin’ business. Offer him another dollar a week, if you have to, and I’ll do some preachin’ to Hannah, myself.”

When Thankful mentioned the matter to Imogene the latter’s comment was puzzling but emphatic.

“Don’t you fret, ma’am,” she said. “He ain’t left yet.”

“I know; but he says–“

“HE don’t say it. It’s that sister of his does all the sayin’. And SHE ain’t workin’ for you that I know of.”

“Now, Imogene, we mustn’t, any of us, interfere between Kenelm and his sister. She IS his sister, you know.”

“Yes’m. But she isn’t his mother and his grandmother and his aunt and all his relations. And, if she was, ‘twouldn’t make no difference. He’s the one to say whether he’s goin’ to leave or not.”

“But he does say it. That is, he–“

“He just says he ‘cal’lates.’ He never said he was GOIN’ to do anything; not for years, anyhow. It’s all right, Mrs. Thankful. You just wait and see. If worst comes to worst I’ve got a–“

She stopped short. “What have you got, Imogene?” asked Mrs. Barnes.

“Oh, nothin’, ma’am. Only you just wait.”

So Thankful waited and Kenelm, perfectly aware of the situation, and backed by the counsel of his sister, became daily more independent. He did only such work as he cared to do and his hours for arriving and departing were irregular, to say the least.

On the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday of August the Ostable County Cattle Show and Fair was to be held at the county seat. The annual Cattle Show is a big event on the Cape and practically all of East Wellmouth was planning to attend. Most of the High Cliff boarders were going to the Fair and, Friday being the big day, they were going on Friday. Imogene asked for a holiday on that day. The request was granted. Then Kenelm announced that he and Hannah were cal’latin’ to go. Thankful was somewhat reluctant; she felt that to be deprived of the services of both her hired man and maid on the same day might be troublesome. But as the Parker announcement was more in the nature of an ultimatum than a request, she said yes under protest. But when Captain Obed appeared and invited her and John Kendrick and Emily Howes to go to the Fair with him in a hired motor car she was more troubled than ever.

“I’d like to go, Cap’n,” she said. “Oh, I WOULD like to go! I haven’t had a day off since this place opened and I never rode in an automobile more’n three times in my life. But I can’t do it. You and Emily and John can, of course, and you must; but I’ve got to stay here. Some of the boarders will be here for their meals and I can’t leave the house alone.”

Captain Obed uttered a dismayed protest.

“Sho!” he exclaimed. “Sho! That’s too bad. Why, I counted more on your goin’ than–Humph! You’ve just got to go, that’s all. Can’t Imogene look after the house?”

“She could if she was goin’ to be here, but she’s goin’ to the Fair herself. I promised her she could and I must keep my promise.”

“Yes, yes; I presume likely you must. But now, Mrs. Thankful–“

“I’m afraid there can’t be any ‘but,’ Cap’n. You and Mr. Kendrick and Emily go and I’ll get my fun thinkin’ what a good time you’ll have.”

She was firm and at last the captain yielded. But his keen disappointment was plainly evident. He said but little during his stay at the boarding-house and went home early, glum and disconsolate. At the Parker domicile he found Kenelm and his sister in a heated argument.

“I don’t care, Hannah,” vowed Kenelm. “I’m a-goin’ to that Fair, no matter if I do have to go alone. Didn’t you tell me I was goin’? Didn’t you put me up to askin’ for the day off? Didn’t you–“

“Never mind what I did. I give in I had planned for you to go, but that was when I figgered on you and me goin’ together. Now that Mr. Hammond has invited me to go along with him–“

Captain Obed interrupted. “Hello! Hello!” he exclaimed. “What’s this? Has Caleb Hammond offered to go gallivantin’ off to the Ostable Cattle Show along with you, Hannah? Well, well! Wonders’ll never cease. Caleb’s gettin’ gay in his old age, ain’t he? Humph! there’ll be somethin’ else for the postoffice gang to talk about, first thing you know. Hannah, I’m surprised!”

Miss Parker colored and seemed embarrassed. Her brother, however, voiced his disgust.

“Surprised!” he repeated. “Huh! That’s nuthin’ to what I am. I’m more’n surprised–I’m paralyzed. To think of that tightfisted old fool lettin’ go of money enough to hire a horse and team and–“

“Kenelm!” Hannah’s voice quivered with indignation. “Kenelm Parker! The idea!”

“Yes, that’s what I say, the idea! Here’s an old critter–yes, he is old, too. He’s so nigh seventy he don’t dast look at the almanac for fear he’ll find it’s past his birthday. And he’s always been so tight with money that he’d buy second-hand postage stamps if the Gov’ment wouldn’t catch him. And his wife’s been dead a couple of hundred year, more or less, and yet, by thunder- mighty, all to once he starts in–“

“Kenelm Parker, you stop this minute! I’m ashamed of you. Mr. Hammond’s a real, nice, respectable man. As to his money–well, that’s his business anyhow, and, besides, he ain’t hirin’ the horse and buggy; he’s goin’ to borrow it off his nephew over to the Centre. His askin’ me to go is a real neighborly act.”

“Huh! If he’s so plaguy neighborly why don’t he ask me to go, too? I’m as nigh a neighbor as you be, ain’t I?”

“He don’t ask you because the buggy won’t hold but two, and you know it. I should think you’d be glad to have me save the expense of my fare. Winnie S. would charge me fifty cents to take me to the depot, and the fare on the excursion train is–“

“Now what kind of talk’s that! I ain’t complainin’ ’cause you save the expense. And I don’t care if you go along with all the old men from here to Joppa. What I’m sayin’ is that I’m goin’ to that Fair tomorrow. I can go alone in the cars, I guess. There won’t nobody kidnap me, as I know of.”

“But, Kenelm, I don’t like to have you over there all by yourself. It’ll be so lonesome for you. If you’ll only wait maybe I’ll go again, myself. Maybe we could both go together on Saturday.”

“I don’t want to go Saturday; I want to go tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the big day, when they have the best horse-racin’. Why, Darius Holt is cal’latin’ to make money tomorrow. He’s got ten dollars bet on Exie B. in the second race and–“

“Kenelm Parker! Is THAT what you want to go to that Cattle Show for? To bet on horse trots! To gamble!”

“Aw, dry up. How’d I gamble? You don’t let me have money enough to put in the collection box Sundays, let alone gamblin’. I have to shove my fist clear way down to the bottom of the plate whenever they pass it for fear Heman Daniels’ll see that I’m only lettin’ go of a nickel. Aw, Hannah, have some sense, won’t you! I’d just as soon go to that Fair alone as not. I won’t be lonesome. Lots of folks I know are goin’; men and women, too.”

“Women? What women?”