Cape Cod Stories
Joseph C. Lincoln
Part 2 out of 4
Jonadab. He grabbed at it like the "Labrador mack'rel" grabbed
Stumpton's hook. We set up and planned until pretty nigh three
o'clock, and all the next day we put in our spare time loading
provisions and water aboard the Patience M. We put grub enough
aboard to last a month.
Just at daylight the morning after that we knocked at the door of
Montague's bedroom. When he woke up enough to open the door--it
took some time, 'cause eating and sleeping was his mainstay--we
told him that we was planning an early morning fishing trip, and if
he wanted to go with the folks he must come down to the landing
quick. He promised to hurry, and I stayed by the door to see that
he didn't get away. In about ten minutes we had him in the skiff
rowing off to the Patience M.
"Where's the rest of the crowd?" says he, when he stepped aboard.
"They'll be along when we're ready for 'em," says I. "You go below
there, will you, and stow away the coats and things."
So he crawled into the cabin, and I helped Jonadab get up sail. We
intended towing the skiff, so I made her fast astern. In half a
shake we was under way and headed out of the cove. When that
British poet stuck his nose out of the companion we was abreast the
"Hi!" says he, scrambling into the cockpit. "What's this mean?"
I was steering and feeling toler'ble happy over the way things had
"Nice sailing breeze, ain't it?" says I, smiling.
"Where's Mau-Miss Stumpton?" he says, wild like.
"She's abed, I cal'late," says I, "getting her beauty sleep. Why
don't YOU turn in? Or are you pretty enough now?"
He looked first at me and then at Jonadab, and his face turned a
little yellower than usual.
"What kind of a game is this?" he asks, brisk. "Where are you
'Twas Jonadab that answered. "We're bound," says he, "for the
Bermudas. It's a lovely place to spend the winter, they tell me,"
That poet never made no remarks. He jumped to the stern and caught
hold of the skiff's painter. I shoved him out of the way and
picked up the boat hook. Jonadab rolled up his shirt sleeves and
laid hands on the centerboard stick.
"I wouldn't, if I was you," says the cap'n.
Jonadab weighs pretty close to two hundred, and most of it's
gristle. I'm not quite so much, fur's tonnage goes, but I ain't
exactly a canary bird. Montague seemed to size things up in a
jiffy. He looked at us, then at the sail, and then at the shore
out over the stern.
"Done!" says he. "Done! And by a couple of 'farmers'!"
And down he sets on the thwart.
Well, we sailed all that day and all that night. 'Course we didn't
really intend to make the Bermudas. What we intended to do was to
cruise around alongshore for a couple of weeks, long enough for the
Stumptons to get back to Dillaway's, settle the copper business and
break for Montana. Then we was going home again and turn Brown's
relation over to him to take care of. We knew Peter'd have some
plan thought out by that time. We'd left a note telling him what
we'd done, and saying that we trusted to him to explain matters to
Maudina and her dad. We knew that explaining was Peter's main
The poet was pretty chipper for a spell. He set on the thwart and
bragged about what he'd do when he got back to "Petey" again. He
said we couldn't git rid of him so easy. Then he spun yarns about
what him and Brown did when they was out West together. They was
interesting yarns, but we could see why Peter wa'n't anxious to
introduce Cousin Henry to Belle. Then the Patience M. got out
where 'twas pretty rugged, and she rolled consider'ble and after
that we didn't hear much more from friend Booth--he was too busy to
That night me and Jonadab took watch and watch. In the morning it
thickened up and looked squally. I got kind of worried. By nine
o'clock there was every sign of a no'theaster, and we see we'd have
to put in somewheres and ride it out. So we headed for a place
we'll call Baytown, though that wa'n't the name of it. It's a
queer, old-fashioned town, and it's on an island; maybe you can
guess it from that.
Well, we run into the harbor and let go anchor. Jonadab crawled
into the cabin to get some terbacker, and I was for'ard coiling the
throat halyard. All at once I heard oars rattling, and I turned my
head; what I see made me let out a yell like a siren whistle.
There was that everlasting poet in the skiff--you remember we'd
been towing it astern--and he was jest cutting the painter with his
jackknife. Next minute he'd picked up the oars and was heading for
the wharf, doubling up and stretching out like a frog swimming, and
with his curls streaming in the wind like a rooster's tail in a
hurricane. He had a long start 'fore Jonadab and me woke up enough
to think of chasing him.
But we woke up fin'lly, and the way we flew round that catboat was
a caution. I laid into them halyards, and I had the mainsail up to
the peak afore Jonadab got the anchor clear of the bottom. Then I
jumped to the tiller, and the Patience M. took after that skiff
like a pup after a tomcat. We run alongside the wharf just as
Booth Hank climbed over the stringpiece.
"Get after him, Barzilla!" hollers Cap'n Jonadab. "I'll make her
Well, I hadn't took more'n three steps when I see 'twas goin' to be
a long chase. Montague unfurled them thin legs of his and got over
the ground something wonderful. All you could see was a pile of
dust and coat tails flapping.
Up on the wharf we went and round the corner into a straggly kind
of road with old-fashioned houses on both sides of it. Nobody in
the yards, nobody at the windows; quiet as could be, except that
off ahead, somewheres, there was music playing.
That road was a quarter of a mile long, but we galloped through it
so fast that the scenery was nothing but a blur. Booth was gaining
all the time, but I stuck to it like a good one. We took a short
cut through a yard, piled over a fence and come out into another
road, and up at the head of it was a crowd of folks--men and women
and children and dogs.
"Stop thief!" I hollers, and 'way astern I heard Jonadab bellering:
Montague dives headfirst for the crowd. He fell over a baby
carriage, and I gained a tack 'fore he got up. He wa'n't more'n
ten yards ahead when I come busting through, upsetting children and
old women, and landed in what I guess was the main street of the
place and right abreast of a parade that was marching down the
middle of it.
First there was the band, four fellers tooting and banging like
fo'mast hands on a fishing smack in a fog. Then there was a big
darky toting a banner with "Jenkins' Unparalleled Double Uncle
Tom's Cabin Company, No. 2," on it in big letters. Behind him was
a boy leading two great, savage looking dogs--bloodhounds, I found
out afterwards--by chains. Then come a pony cart with Little Eva
and Eliza's child in it; Eva was all gold hair and beautifulness.
And astern of her was Marks the Lawyer, on his donkey. There was
lots more behind him, but these was all I had time to see just
Now, there was but one way for Booth Hank to get acrost that
street, and that was to bust through the procession. And, as luck
would have it, the place he picked out to cross was just ahead of
the bloodhounds. And the first thing I knew, them dogs stretched
out their noses and took a long sniff, and then bust out howling
like all possessed. The boy, he tried to hold 'em, but 'twas no
go. They yanked the chains out of his hands and took after that
poet as if he owed 'em something. And every one of the four
million other dogs that was in the crowd on the sidewalks fell into
line, and such howling and yapping and scampering and screaming you
Well, 'twas a mixed-up mess. That was the end of the parade. Next
minute I was racing across country with the whole town and the
Uncle Tommers astern of me, and a string of dogs stretched out
ahead fur's you could see. 'Way up in the lead was Booth Montague
and the bloodhounds, and away aft I could hear Jonadab yelling:
'Twas lively while it lasted, but it didn't last long. There was a
little hill at the end of the field, and where the poet dove over
'tother side of it the bloodhounds all but had him. Afore I got to
the top of the rise I heard the awfullest powwow going on in the
holler, and thinks I: "THEY'RE EATING HIM ALIVE!"
But they wan't. When I hove in sight Montague was setting up on
the ground at the foot of the sand bank he'd fell into, and the two
hounds was rolling over him, lapping his face and going on as if he
was their grandpa jest home from sea with his wages in his pocket.
And round them, in a double ring, was all the town dogs, crazy mad,
and barking and snarling, but scared to go any closer.
In a minute more the folks begun to arrive; boys first, then girls
and men, and then the women. Marks came trotting up, pounding the
donkey with his umbrella.
"Here, Lion! Here, Tige!" he yells. "Quit it! Let him alone!"
Then he looks at Montague, and his jaw kind of drops.
"Why--why, HANK!" he says.
A tall, lean critter, in a black tail coat and a yaller vest and
lavender pants, comes puffing up. He was the manager, we found out
"Have they bit him?" says he. Then he done just the same as Marks;
his mouth opened and his eyes stuck out. "HANK SCHMULTS, by the
living jingo!" says he.
Booth Montague looks at the two of 'em kind of sick and lonesome.
"Hello, Barney! How are you, Sullivan?" he says.
I thought 'twas about time for me to get prominent. I stepped up,
and was just going to say something when somebody cuts in ahead of
"Hum!" says a voice, a woman's voice, and tolerable crisp and
vinegary. "Hum! it's you, is it? I've been looking for YOU!"
'Twas Little Eva in the pony cart. Her lovely posy hat was hanging
on the back of her neck, her gold hair had slipped back so's you
could see the black under it, and her beautiful red cheeks was kind
of streaky. She looked some older and likewise mad.
"Hum!" says she, getting out of the cart. "It's you, is it, Hank
Schmults? Well, p'r'aps you'll tell me where you've been for the
last two weeks? What do you mean by running away and leaving your--"
Montague interrupted her. "Hold on, Maggie, hold on!" he begs.
"DON'T make a row here. It's all a mistake; I'll explain it to you
all right. Now, please--"
"Explain!" hollers Eva, kind of curling up her fingers and moving
toward him. "Explain, will you? Why, you miserable, low-down--"
But the manager took hold of her arm. He'd been looking at the
crowd, and I cal'late he saw that here was the chance for the best
kind of an advertisement. He whispered in her ear. Next thing I
knew she clasped her hands together, let out a scream and runs up
and grabs the celebrated British poet round the neck.
"Booth!" says she. "My husband! Saved! Saved!"
And she went all to pieces and cried all over his necktie. And
then Marks trots up the child, and that young one hollers: "Papa!
papa!" and tackles Hank around the legs. And I'm blessed if
Montague don't slap his hand to his forehead, and toss back his
curls, and look up at the sky, and sing out: "My wife and babe!
Restored to me after all these years! The heavens be thanked!"
Well, 'twas a sacred sort of time. The town folks tiptoed away,
the men looking solemn but glad, and the women swabbing their
deadlights and saying how affecting 'twas, and so on. Oh, you
could see that show would do business THAT night, if it never did
The manager got after Jonadab and me later on, and did his best to
pump us, but he didn't find out much. He told us that Montague
belonged to the Uncle Tom's Cabin Company, and that he'd
disappeared a fortni't or so afore, when they were playing at
Hyannis. Eva was his wife, and the child was their little boy.
The bloodhounds knew him, and that's why they chased him so.
"What was you two yelling 'Stop thief!' after him for?" says he.
"Has he stole anything?"
We says "No."
"Then what did you want to get him for?" he says.
"We didn't," says Jonadab. "We wanted to get rid of him. We don't
want to see him no more."
You could tell that the manager was puzzled, but he laughed.
"All right," says he. "If I know anything about Maggie--that's
Mrs. Schmults--he won't get loose ag'in."
We only saw Montague to talk to but once that day. Then he peeked
out from under the winder shade at the hotel and asked us if we'd
told anybody where he'd been. When he found we hadn't, he was
"You tell Petey," says he, "that he's won the whole pot, kitty and
all. I don't think I'll visit him again, nor Belle, neither."
"I wouldn't," says I. "They might write to Maudina that you was a
married man. And old Stumpton's been praying for something alive
to shoot at," I says.
The manager gave Jonadab and me a couple of tickets, and we went to
the show that night. And when we saw Booth Hank Montague parading
about the stage and defying the slave hunters, and telling 'em he
was a free man, standing on the Lord's free soil, and so on, we
realized 'twould have been a crime to let him do anything else.
"As an imitation poet," says Jonadab, "he was a kind of mildewed
article, but as a play actor--well, there may be some that can beat
him, but _I_ never see 'em!"
THE MARE AND THE MOTOR
Them Todds had got on my nerves. 'Twas Peter's ad that brought 'em
down. You see, 'twas 'long toward the end of the season at the Old
Home, and Brown had been advertising in the New York and Boston
papers to "bag the leftovers," as he called it. Besides the
reg'lar hogwash about the "breath of old ocean" and the "simple,
cleanly living of the bygone days we dream about," there was some
new froth concerning hunting and fishing. You'd think the wild
geese roosted on the flagpole nights, and the bluefish clogged up
the bay so's you could walk on their back fins without wetting your
feet--that is, if you wore rubbers and trod light.
"There!" says Peter T., waving the advertisement and crowing
gladsome; "they'll take to that like your temp'rance aunt to brandy
cough-drops. We'll have to put up barbed wire to keep 'em off."
"Humph!" grunts Cap'n Jonadab. "Anybody but a born fool'll know
there ain't any shooting down here this time of year."
Peter looked at him sorrowful. "Pop," says he, "did you ever hear
that Solomon answered a summer hotel ad? This ain't a Chautauqua,
this is the Old Home House, and its motto is: 'There's a new
victim born every minute, and there's twenty-four hours in a day.'
You set back and count the clock ticks."
Well, that's 'bout all we had to do. We got boarders enough from
that ridiculous advertisement to fill every spare room we had,
including Jonadab's and mine. Me and the cap'n had to bunk in the
barn loft; but there was some satisfaction in that--it give us an
excuse to get away from the "sports" in the smoking room.
The Todds was part of the haul. He was a little, dried-up man,
single, and a minister. Nigh's I could find out, he'd given up
preaching by the request of the doctor and his last congregation.
He had a notion that he was a mighty hunter afore the Lord, like
Nimrod in the Bible, and he'd come to the Old Home to bag a few
gross of geese and ducks.
His sister was an old maid, and slim, neither of which failings was
from choice, I cal'late. She wore eye-glasses and a veil to
"preserve her complexion," and her idee seemed to be that native
Cape Codders lived in trees and ate cocoanuts. She called 'em
"barbarians, utter barbarians." Whenever she piped "James" her
brother had to drop everything and report on deck. She was skipper
of the Todd craft.
Them Todds was what Peter T. called "the limit, and a chip or two
over." The other would-be gunners and fishermen were satisfied to
slam shot after sandpeeps, or hook a stray sculpin or a hake. But
t'wa'n't so with brother James Todd and sister Clarissa. "Ducks"
it was in the advertising, and nothing BUT ducks they wanted.
Clarissa, she commenced to hint middling p'inted concerning fraud.
Finally we lost patience, and Peter T., he said they'd got to be
quieted somehow, or he'd do some shooting on his own hook; said too
much Toddy was going to his head. Then I suggested taking 'em down
the beach somewheres on the chance of seeing a stray coot or loon
or something--ANYTHING that could be shot at. Jonadab and Peter
agreed 'twas a good plan, and we matched to see who'd be guide.
And I got stuck, of course; my luck again.
So the next morning we started, me and the Reverend James and
Clarissa in the Greased Lightning, Peter's new motor launch. First
part of the trip that Todd man done nothing but ask questions about
the launch; I had to show him how to start it and steer it, and the
land knows what all. Clarissa set around doing the heavy
contemptuous and turning up her nose at creation generally. It
must have its drawbacks, this roosting so fur above the common
flock; seems to me I'd be thinking all the time of the bump that
was due me if I got shoved off the perch.
Well, by and by Lonesome Huckleberries' shanty hove in sight, and I
was glad to see it, although I had to answer a million questions
about Lonesome and his history.
I told the Todds that, so fur as nationality was concerned he was a
little of everything, like a picked-up dinner; principally
Eyetalian and Portugee, I cal'late, with a streak of Gay Head
Injun. His real name's long enough to touch bottom in the ship
channel at high tide, so folks got to calling him "Huckleberries"
because he peddles them kind of fruit in summer. Then he mopes
around so with nary a smile on his face, that it seemed right to
tack on the "Lonesome." So "Lonesome Huckleberries" he's been for
ten years. He lives in the patchwork shanty on the beach down
there, he is deaf and dumb, drives a liver-colored, balky mare that
no one but himself and his daughter Becky can handle, and he has a
love for bad rum and a temper that's landed him in the Wellmouth
lock-up more than once or twice. He's one of the best gunners
alongshore and at this time he owned a flock of live decoys that
he'd refused as high as fifteen dollars apiece for. I told all
this and a lot more.
When we struck the beach, Clarissa, she took her paint box and
umbrella and mosquito 'intment, and the rest of her cargo, and went
off by herself to "sketch." She was great on "sketching," and the
way she'd use up good paint and spile nice clean paper was a sinful
waste. Afore she went, she give me three fathom of sailing orders
concerning taking care of "James." You'd think he was about four
year old; made me feel like a hired nurse.
James and me went perusing up and down that beach in the blazing
sun looking for something to shoot. We went 'way beyond Lonesome's
shanty, but there wa'n't nobody to home. Lonesome himself, it
turned out afterward, was up to the village with his horse and
wagon, and his daughter Becky was over in the wood on the mainland
berrying. Todd was a cheerful talker, but limited. His favorite
remark was: "Oh, I say, my deah man." That's what he kept calling
me, "my deah man." Now, my name ain't exactly a Claude de
Montmorency for prettiness, but "Barzilla" 'll fetch ME alongside a
good deal quicker'n "my deah man," I'll tell you that.
We frogged it up and down all the forenoon, but didn't git a shot
at nothing but one stray "squawk" that had come over from the Cedar
Swamp. I told James 'twas a canvasback, and he blazed away at it,
but missed it by three fathom, as might have been expected.
Finally, my game leg--rheumatiz, you understand--begun to give out.
So I flops down in the shade of a sand bank to rest, and the
reverend goes poking off by himself.
I cal'late I must have fell asleep, for when I looked at my watch
it was close to one o'clock, and time for us to be getting back to
port. I got up and stretched and took an observation, but
further'n Clarissa's umbrella on the skyline, I didn't see anything
stirring. Brother James wa'n't visible, but I jedged he was within
hailing distance. You can't see very fur on that point, there's
too many sand hills and hummocks.
I started over toward the Greased Lightning. I'd gone only a
little ways, and was down in a gully between two big hummocks, when
"Bang! bang!" goes both barrels of a shotgun, and that Todd critter
busts out hollering like all possessed.
"Hooray!" he squeals, in that squeaky voice of his. "Hooray!
I've got 'em! I've got 'em!"
Thinks I, "What in the nation does the lunatic cal'late he's shot?"
And I left my own gun laying where 'twas and piled up over the edge
of that sand bank like a cat over a fence. And then I see a sight.
There was James, hopping up and down in the beach grass, squealing
like a Guinea hen with a sore throat, and waving his gun with one
wing--arm, I mean--and there in front of him, in the foam at the
edge of the surf, was two ducks as dead as Nebuchadnezzar--two of
Lonesome Huckleberries' best decoy ducks--ducks he'd tamed and
trained, and thought more of than anything else in this world--
except rum, maybe--and the rest of the flock was digging up the
beach for home as if they'd been telegraped for, and squawking
"Fire!" and "Murder!"
Well, my mind was in a kind of various state, as you might say, for
a minute. 'Course, I'd known about Lonesome's owning them decoys--
told Todd about 'em, too--but I hadn't seen 'em nowhere alongshore,
and I sort of cal'lated they was locked up in Lonesome's hen house,
that being his usual way when he went to town. I s'pose likely
they'd been feeding among the beach grass somewheres out of sight,
but I don't know for sartin to this day. And I didn't stop to
reason it out then, neither. As Scriptur' or George Washin'ton or
somebody says, "'twas a condition, not a theory," I was afoul of.
"I've got 'em!" hollers Todd, grinning till I thought he'd swaller
his own ears. "I shot 'em all myself!"
"You everlasting--" I begun, but I didn't get any further. There
was a rattling noise behind me, and I turned, to see Lonesome
Huckleberries himself, setting on the seat of his old truck wagon
and glaring over the hammer head of that balky mare of his straight
at brother Todd and the dead decoys.
For a minute there was a kind of tableau, like them they have at
church fairs--all four of us, including the mare, keeping still,
like we was frozen. But 'twas only for a minute. Then it turned
into the liveliest moving picture that ever _I_ see. Lonesome
couldn't swear--being a dummy--but if ever a man got profane with
his eyes, he did right then. Next thing I knew he tossed both hands
into the air, clawed two handfuls out of the atmosphere, reached
down into the cart, grabbed a pitch-fork and piled out of that wagon
and after Todd. There was murder coming and I could see it.
"Run, you loon!" I hollers, desperate.
James didn't wait for any advice. He didn't know what he'd done, I
cal'late, but he jedged 'twas his move. He dropped his gun and put
down the shore like a wild man, with Lonesome after him. I tried
to foller, but my rheumatiz was too big a handicap; all I could do
You never'd have picked out Todd for a sprinter--not to look at
him, you wouldn't--but if he didn't beat the record for his class
just then I'll eat my sou'wester. He fairly flew, but Lonesome
split tacks with him every time, and kept to wind'ard, into the
bargain. When they went out of sight amongst the sand hills 'twas
I was scart. I knew what Lonesome's temper was, 'specially when it
had been iled with some Wellmouth Port no-license liquor. He'd
been took up once for half killing some boys that tormented him,
and I figgered if he got within pitchfork distance of the Todd
critter he'd make him the leakiest divine that ever picked a text.
I commenced to hobble back after my gun. It looked bad to me.
But I'd forgot sister Clarissa. 'Fore I'd limped fur I heard her
calling to me.
"Mr. Wingate," says she, "get in here at once."
There she was, setting on the seat of Lonesome's wagon, holdin' the
reins and as cool as a white frost in October.
"Get in at once," says she. I jedged 'twas good advice, and took
"Proceed," says she to the mare. "Git dap!" says I, and we started.
When we rounded the sand hill we see the race in the distance.
Lonesome had gained a p'int or two, and Todd wa'n't more'n four
pitchforks in the lead.
"Make for the launch!" I whooped, between my hands.
The parson heard me and come about and broke for the shore. The
Greased Lightning had swung out about the length of her anchor
rope, and the water wa'n't deep. Todd splashed in to his waist and
climbed aboard. He cut the roding just as Lonesome reached tide
mark. James, he sees it's a close call, and he shins back to the
engine, reaching it exactly at the time when the gent with the
pitchfork laid hands on the rail. Then the parson throws over the
switch--I'd shown him how, you remember--and gives the starting
wheel a full turn.
Well, you know the Greased Lightning? She don't linger to say
farewell, not any to speak of, she don't. And this time she jumped
like the cat that lit on the hot stove. Lonesome, being balanced
with his knees on the rail, pitches headfust into the cockpit.
Todd, jumping out of his way, falls overboard backward. Next thing
anybody knew, the launch was scooting for blue water like a streak
of what she was named for, and the hunting chaplain was churning up
foam like a mill wheel.
I yelled more orders than second mate on a coaster. Todd bubbled
and bellered. Lonesome hung on to the rail of the cockpit and let
his hair stand up to grow. Nobody was cool but Clarissa, and she
was an iceberg. She had her good p'ints, that old maid did, drat
"James," she calls, "get out of that water this minute and come
here! This instant, mind!"
James minded. He paddled ashore and hopped, dripping like a
dishcloth, alongside the truck wagon.
"Get in!" orders Skipper Clarissa. He done it. "Now," says the
lady, passing the reins over to me, "drive us home, Mr. Wingate,
before that intoxicated lunatic can catch us."
It seemed about the only thing to do. I knew 'twas no use
explaining to Lonesome for an hour or more yet, even if you can
talk finger signs, which part of my college training has been
neglected. 'Twas murder he wanted at the present time. I had some
sort of a foggy notion that I'd drive along, pick up the guns and
then get the Todds over to the hotel, afterward coming back to get
the launch and pay damages to Huckleberries. I cal'lated he'd be
more reasonable by that time.
But the mare had made other arrangements. When I slapped her with
the end of the reins she took the bit in her teeth and commenced to
gallop. I hollered "Whoa!" and "Heave to!" and "Belay!" and
everything else I could think of, but she never took in a reef.
We bumped over hummocks and ridges, and every time we done it we
spilled something out of that wagon. First 'twas a lot of
huckleberry pails, then a basket of groceries and such, then a tin
pan with some potatoes in it, then a jug done up in a blanket. We
was heaving cargo overboard like a leaky ship in a typhoon. Out of
the tail of my eye I see Lonesome, well out to sea, heading the
Greased Lightning for the beach.
Clarissa put in the time soothing James, who had a serious case of
the scart-to-deaths, and calling me an "utter barbarian" for
driving so fast. Lucky for all hands, she had to hold on tight to
keep from being jounced out, 'long with the rest of movables, so
she couldn't take the reins. As for me, I wa'n't paying much
attention to her--'twas the Cut-Through that was disturbing MY
When you drive down to Lonesome P'int you have to ford the "Cut-
Through." It's a strip of water between the bay and the ocean, and
'tain't very wide nor deep at low tide. But the tide was coming in
now, and, more'n that, the mare wa'n't headed for the ford. She
was cuttin' cross-lots on her own hook, and wouldn't answer the
We struck that Cut-Through about a hundred yards east of the ford,
and in two shakes we was hub deep in salt water. 'Fore the Todds
could do anything but holler the wagon was afloat and the mare was
all but swimming. But she kept right on. Bless her, you COULDN'T
We crossed the first channel and come out on a flat where 'twasn't
more'n two foot deep then. I commenced to feel better. There was
another channel ahead of us, but I figured we'd navigate that same
as we had the first one. And then the most outrageous thing
If you'll b'lieve it, that pesky mare balked and wouldn't stir
And there we was! I punched and kicked and hollered, but all that
stubborn horse would do was lay her ears back flat, and snarl up
her lip, and look round at us, much as to say: "Now, then, you
land sharks, I've got you between wind and water!" And I swan to
man if it didn't look as if she had!
"Drive on!" says Clarissa, pretty average vinegary. "Haven't you
made trouble enough for us already, you dreadful man? Drive on!"
Hadn't _I_ made trouble enough! What do you think of that?
"You want to drown us!" says Miss Todd, continuing her chatty
remarks. "I see it all! It's a plot between you and that
murderer. I give you warning; if we reach the hotel, my brother
and I will commence suit for damages."
My temper's fairly long-suffering, but 'twas raveling some by this
"Commence suit!" I says. "I don't care WHAT you commence, if
you'll commence to keep quiet now!" And then I give her a few
p'ints as to what her brother had done, heaving in some personal
flatteries every once in a while for good measure.
I'd about got to thirdly when James give a screech and p'inted.
And, if there wa'n't Lonesome in the launch, headed right for us,
and coming a-b'iling! He'd run her along abreast of the beach and
turned in at the upper end of the Cut-Through.
You never in your life heard such a row as there was in that wagon.
Clarissa and me yelling to Lonesome to keep off--forgitting that he
was stone deef and dumb--and James vowing that he was going to be
slaughtered in cold blood. And the Greased Lightning p'inted just
so she'd split that cart amidships, and coming--well, you know how
she can go.
She never budged until she was within ten foot of the flat, and
then she sheered off and went past in a wide curve, with Lonesome
steering with one hand and shaking his pitchfork at Todd with
t'other. And SUCH faces as he made-up! They'd have got him hung
in any court in the world.
He run up the Cut-Through a little ways, and then come about, and
back he comes again, never slacking speed a mite, and running close
to the shoal as he could shave, and all the time going through the
bloodiest kind of pantomimes. And past he goes, to wheel 'round
and commence all over again.
Thinks I, "Why don't he ease up and lay us aboard? He's got all
the weapons there is. Is he scart?"
And then it come to me--the reason why. HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO STOP
HER. He could steer first rate, being used to sailboats, but an
electric auto launch was a new ideal for him, and he didn't
understand her works. And he dastn't run her aground at the speed
she was making; 'twould have finished her and, more'n likely, him,
I don't s'pose there ever was another mess just like it afore or
sence. Here was us, stranded with a horse we couldn't make go,
being chased by a feller who was run away with in a boat he
Just as I'd about give up hope, I heard somebody calling from the
beach behind us. I turned, and there was Becky Huckleberries,
Lonesome's daughter. She had the dead decoys by the legs in one
"Hi!" says she.
"Hi!" says I. "How do you get this giraffe of yours under way?"
She held up the decoys.
"Who kill-a dem ducks?" says she.
I p'inted to the reverend. "He did," says I. And then I cal'late
I must have had one of them things they call an inspiration. "And
he's willing to pay for 'em," I says.
"Pay thirty-five dolla?" says she.
"You bet!" says I.
But I'd forgot Clarissa. She rose up in that waterlogged cart like
a Statue of Liberty. "Never!" says she. "We will never submit to
such extortion. We'll drown first!"
Becky heard her. She didn't look disapp'inted nor nothing. Just
turned and begun to walk up the beach. "ALL right," says she;
The Todds stood it for a jiffy. Then James give in. "I'll pay
it!" he hollers. "I'll pay it!"
Even then Becky didn't smile. She just come about again and walked
back to the shore. Then she took up that tin pan and one of the
potaters we'd jounced out of the cart.
"Hi, Rosa!" she hollers. That mare turned her head and looked.
And, for the first time sence she hove anchor on that flat, the
critter unfurled her ears and histed 'em to the masthead.
"Hi, Rosa!" says Becky again, and begun to pound the pan with the
potater. And I give you my word that that mare started up, turned
the wagon around nice as could be, and begun to swim ashore. When
we got where the critter's legs touched bottom, Becky remarks:
"Here!" I yells, "what did you do that for?"
"Pay thirty-five dolla NOW," says she. She was bus'ness, that
Todd got his wallet from under hatches and counted out the thirty-
five, keeping one eye on Lonesome, who was swooping up and down in
the launch looking as if he wanted to cut in, but dasn't. I tied
the bills to my jack-knife, to give 'em weight, and tossed the
whole thing ashore. Becky, she counted the cash and stowed it away
in her apron pocket.
"ALL right," says she. "Hi, Rosa!" The potater and pan
performance begun again, and Rosa picked up her hoofs and dragged
us to dry land. And it sartinly felt good to the feet.
"Say," I says, "Becky, it's none of my affairs, as I know of, but
is that the way you usually start that horse of yours?"
She said it was. And Rosa ate the potater.
Becky asked me how to stop the launch, and I told her. She made a
lot of finger signs to Lonesome, and inside of five minutes the
Greased Lightning was anchored in front of us. Old man
Huckleberries was still hankering to interview Todd with the
pitchfork, but Becky settled that all right. She jumped in front
of him, and her eyes snapped and her feet stamped and her fingers
flew. And 'twould have done you good to see her dad shrivel up and
get humble. I always had thought that a woman wasn't much good as
a boss of the roost unless she could use her tongue, but Becky
showed me my mistake. Well, it's live and l'arn.
Then Miss Huckleberries turned to us and smiled.
"ALL right," says she; "GOO'-by."
Them Todds took the train for the city next morning. I drove 'em
to the depot. James was kind of glum, but Clarissa talked for two.
Her opinion of the Cape and Capers, 'specially me, was decided.
The final blast was just as she was climbing the car steps.
"Of all the barbarians," says she; "utter, uncouth, murdering
She stopped, thinking for a word, I s'pose. I didn't feel that I
could improve on Becky Huckleberries conversation much, so I says:
"ALL right! GOO'-by!"
THE MARK ON THE DOOR
One nice moonlight evening me and Cap'n Jonadab and Peter T.,
having, for a wonder, a little time to ourselves and free from
boarders, was setting on the starboard end of the piazza, smoking,
when who should heave in sight but Cap'n Eri Hedge and Obed
Nickerson. They'd come over from Orham that day on some fish
business and had drove down to Wellmouth Port on purpose to put up
at the Old Home for the night and shake hands with me and Jonadab.
We was mighty glad to see 'em, now I tell you.
They'd had supper up at the fish man's at the Centre, so after
Peter T. had gone in and fetched out a handful of cigars, we
settled back for a good talk. They wanted to know how business was
and we told 'em. After a spell somebody mentioned the Todds and I
spun my yarn about the balky mare and the Greased Lightning. It
tickled 'em most to death, especially Obed.
"Ho, ho!" says he. "That's funny, ain't it. Them power boats are
great things, ain't they. I had an experience in one--or, rather,
in two--a spell ago when I was living over to West Bayport. My
doings was with gasoline though, not electricity. 'Twas something
of an experience. Maybe you'd like to hear it."
"'Way I come to be over there on the bay side of the Cape was like
this. West Bayport, where my shanty and the big Davidson summer
place and the Saunders' house was, used to be called Punkhassett--
which is Injun for 'The last place the Almighty made'--and if
you've read the circulars of the land company that's booming
Punkhassett this year, you'll remember that the principal
attraction of them diggings is the 'magnificent water privileges.'
'Twas the water privileges that had hooked me. Clams was thick on
the flats at low tide, and fish was middling plenty in the bay. I
had two weirs set; one a deep-water weir, a half mile beyond the
bar, and t'other just inside of it that I could drive out to at low
water. A two-mile drive 'twas, too; the tide goes out a long ways
over there. I had a powerboat--seven and a half power gasoline--
that I kept anchored back of my nighest-in weir in deep water, and
a little skiff on shore to row off to her in.
"The yarn begins one morning when I went down to the shore after
clams. I'd noticed the signs then. They was stuck up right acrost
the path: 'No trespassing on these premises,' and 'All persons are
forbidden crossing this property, under penalty of the law.' But
land! I'd used that short-cut ever sence I'd been in Bayport--which
was more'n a year--and old man Davidson and me was good friends, so
I cal'lated the signs was intended for boys, and hove ahead without
paying much attention to 'em. 'Course I knew that the old man--
and, what was more important, the old lady--had gone abroad and
that the son was expected down, but that didn't come to me at the
"I was heading for home about eight, with two big dreeners full of
clams, and had just climbed the bluff and swung over the fence into
the path, when somebody remarks: 'Here, you!' I jumped and turned
round, and there, beating across the field in my direction, was an
exhibit which, it turned out later, was ticketed with the name of
Alpheus Vandergraff Parker Davidson--'Allie' for short.
"And Allie was a good deal of an exhibit, in his way. His togs
were cut to fit his spars, and he carried 'em well--no wrinkles at
the peak or sag along the boom. His figurehead was more'n average
regular, and his hair was combed real nice--the part in the middle
of it looked like it had been laid out with a plumb-line. Also, he
had on white shoes and glory hallelujah stockings. Altogether, he
was alone with the price of admission, and what some folks, I
s'pose, would have called a handsome enough young feller. But I
didn't like his eyes; they looked kind of tired, as if they'd seen
'bout all there was to see of some kinds of life. Twenty-four year
old eyes hadn't ought to look that way.
"But I wasn't interested in eyes jest then. All I could look at
was teeth. There they was, a lovely set of 'em, in the mouth of
the ugliest specimen of a bow-legged bulldog that ever tried to
hang itself at the end of a chain. Allie was holding t'other end
of the chain with both hands, and they were full, at that. The dog
stood up on his hind legs and pawed the air with his front ones,
and his tongue hung out and dripped. You could see he was
yearning, just dying, to taste of a middle-aged longshoreman by the
name of Obed Nickerson. I stared at the dog, and he stared at me.
I don't know which of us was the most interested.
"'Here, you!' says Allie again. 'What are you crossing this field
"I heard him, but I was too busy counting teeth to pay much
attention. 'You ought to feed that dog,' I says, absent-minded
like. 'He's hungry.'
"'Humph!' says he. 'Well, maybe he'll be fed in a minute. Did you
see those signs?'
"'Yes,' says I; 'I saw 'em. They're real neat and pretty.'
"'Pretty!' He fairly choked, he was so mad. 'Why, you cheeky,
long-legged jay,' he says, 'I'll-- What are you crossing this
"'So's to get to t'other side of it, I guess,' says I. I was
riling up a bit myself. You see, when a feller's been mate of a
schooner, like I've been in my day, it don't come easy to be called
names. It looked for a minute as if Allie was going to have a fit,
but he choked it down.
"'Look here!' he says. 'I know who you are. Just because the
gov'ner has been soft enough to let you countrymen walk all over
him, it don't foller that I'm going to be. I'm boss here for this
summer. My name's--' He told me his name, and how his dad had
turned the place over to him for the season, and a lot more. 'I
put those signs up,' he says, 'to keep just such fellers as you are
off my property. They mean that you ain't to cross the field.
"I understood. I was mad clean through, but I'm law-abiding,
generally speaking. 'All right,' I says, picking up my dreeners
and starting for the farther fence; 'I won't cross it again.'
"'You won't cross it now,' says he. 'Go back where you come from.'
"That was a grain too much. I told him a few things. He didn't
wait for the benediction. 'Take him, Prince!' he says, dropping
"Prince was willing. He fetched a kind of combination hurrah and
growl and let out for me full-tilt. I don't feed good fresh clams
to dogs as a usual thing, but that mouth HAD to be filled. I
waited till he was almost on me, and then I let drive with one of
the dreeners. Prince and a couple of pecks of clams went up in the
air like a busted bomb-shell, and I broke for the fence I'd started
for. I hung on to the other dreener, though, just out of
"But I had to let go of it, after all. The dog come out of the
collision looking like a plate of scrambled eggs, and took after me
harder'n ever, shedding shells and clam juice something scandalous.
When he was right at my heels I turned and fired the second
dreener. And, by Judas, I missed him!
"Well, principle's all right, but there's times when even the best
of us has to hedge. I simply couldn't reach the farther fence, so
I made a quick jibe and put for the one behind me. And I couldn't
make that, either. Prince was taking mouthfuls of my overalls for
appetizers. There was a little pine-tree in the lot, and I give
one jump and landed in the middle of it. I went up the rest of the
way like I'd forgot something, and then I clung onto the top of
that tree and panted and swung round in circles, while the dog
hopped up and down on his hind legs and fairly sobbed with
"Allie was rolling on the grass. 'Oh, DEAR me!' says he, between
spasms. 'That was the funniest thing I ever saw.'
"I'd seen lots funnier things myself, but 'twa'n't worth while to
argue. Besides, I was busy hanging onto that tree. 'Twas an awful
little pine and the bendiest one I ever climbed. Allie rolled
around a while longer, and then he gets up and comes over.
"'Well, Reuben,' says he, lookin' up at me on the roost, 'you're a
good deal handsomer up there than you are on the ground. I guess
I'll let you stay there for a while as a lesson to you. Watch him,
Prince.' And off he walks.
"'You everlasting clothes-pole,' I yells after him, 'if it wa'n't
for that dog of yours I'd--'
"He turns around kind of lazy and says he: 'Oh, you've got no kick
coming,' he says. 'I allow you to--er--ornament my tree, and
'tain't every hayseed I'd let do that.'
"And away he goes; and for an hour that had no less'n sixty
thousand minutes in it I clung to that tree like a green apple,
with Prince setting open-mouthed underneath waiting for me to get
ripe and drop.
"Just as I was figgering that I was growing fast to the limb, I
heard somebody calling my name. I unglued my eyes from the dog and
looked up, and there, looking over the fence that I'd tried so hard
to reach, was Barbara Saunders, Cap'n Eben Saunders' girl, who
lived in the house next door to mine.
"Barbara was always a pretty girl, and that morning she looked
prettier than ever, with her black hair blowing every which way and
her black eyes snapping full of laugh. Barbara Saunders in a white
shirt-waist and an old, mended skirt could give ten lengths in a
beauty race to any craft in silks and satins that ever _I_ see, and
beat 'em hull down at that.
"'Why, Mr. Nickerson!' she calls. 'What are you doing up in that
"That was kind of a puzzler to answer offhand, and I don't know
what I'd have said if friend Allie hadn't hove in sight just then
and saved me the trouble. He come strolling out of the woods with
a cigarette in his mouth, and when he saw Barbara he stopped short
and looked and looked at her. And for a minute she looked at him,
and the red come up in her cheeks like a sunrise.
"'Beg pardon, I'm sure,' says Allie, tossing away the cigarette.
'May I ask if that--er--deep-sea gentleman in my tree is a friend
"Barbara kind of laughed and dropped her eyes, and said why, yes, I
"'By Jove! he's luckier than I thought,' says Allie, never taking
his eyes from her face. 'And what do they call him, please, when
they want him to answer?' That's what he asked, though, mind you,
he'd said he knew who I was when he first saw me.
"'It's Mr. Nickerson,' says Barbara. 'He lives in that house
there. The one this side of ours.'
"'Oh, a neighbor! That's different. Awfully sorry, I'm sure.
Prince, come here. Er--Nickerson, for the lady's sake we'll call
it off. You may--er--vacate the perch.'
"I waited till he'd got a clove-hitch onto Prince. He had to give
him one or two welts over the head 'fore he could do it; the dog
acted like he'd been cheated. Then I pried myself loose from that
blessed limb and shinned down to solid ground. My! but I was
b'iling inside. 'Taint pleasant to be made a show afore folks, but
'twas the feller's condescending what-excuse-you-got-for-living
manners that riled me most.
"I picked up what was left of the dreeners and walked over to the
fence. That field was just sowed, as you might say, with clams.
If they ever sprouted 'twould make a tip-top codfish pasture.
"'You see,' says Allie, talking to Barbara; 'the gov'nor told me
he'd been plagued with trespassers, so I thought I'd give 'em a
lesson. But neighbors, when they're scarce as ours are, ought to be
friends. Don't you think so, Miss--? Er--Nickerson,' says he,
'introduce me to our other neighbor.'
"So I had to do it, though I didn't want to. He turned loose some
soft soap about not realizing afore what a beautiful place the Cape
was. I thought 'twas time to go.
"'But Miss Saunders hasn't answered my question yet,' says Allie.
'Don't YOU think neighbors ought to be friends, Miss Saunders?'
"Barbara blushed and laughed and said she guessed they had. Then
she walked away. I started to follow, but Allie stopped me.
"'Look here, Nickerson,' says he. 'I let you off this time, but
don't try it again; do you hear?'
"'I hear,' says I. 'You and that hyena of yours have had all the
fun this morning. Some day, maybe, the boot'll be on t'other leg.'
"Barbara was waiting for me. We walked on together without
speaking for a minute. Then I says, to myself like: 'So that's
old man Davidson's son, is it? Well, he's the prize peach in the
crate, he is!'
"Barbara was thinking, too. 'He's very nice looking, isn't he?'
says she. 'Twas what you'd expect a girl to say, but I hated to
hear her say it. I went home and marked a big chalk-mark on the
inside of my shanty door, signifying that I had a debt so pay some
time or other.
"So that's how I got acquainted with Allie V. P. Davidson. And,
what's full as important, that's how he got acquainted with Barbara
"Shutting an innocent canary-bird up in the same room with a
healthy cat is a more or less risky proposition for the bird. Same
way, if you take a pretty country girl who's been to sea with her
dad most of the time and tied to the apron-strings of a deef old
aunt in a house three miles from nowhere--you take that girl, I
say, and then fetch along, as next-door neighbor, a good-looking
young shark like Allie, with a hogshead of money and a blame sight
too much experience, and that's a risky proposition for the girl.
"Allie played his cards well; he'd set into a good many similar
games afore, I judge. He begun by doing little favors for Phoebe
Ann--she was the deef aunt I mentioned--and 'twa'n't long afore he
was as solid with the old lady as a kedge-anchor. He had a way of
dropping into the Saunders house for a drink of water or a slab of
'that delicious apple-pie,' and with every drop he got better
acquainted with Barbara. Cap'n Eben was on a v'yage to Buenos
Ayres and wouldn't be home till fall, 'twa'n't likely.
"I didn't see a great deal of what was going on, being too busy
with my fishweirs and clamming to notice. Allie and me wa'n't
exactly David and Jonathan, owing, I judge, to our informal
introduction to each other. But I used to see him scooting 'round
in his launch--twenty-five foot, she was, with a little mahogany
cabin and the land knows what--and the servants at the big house
told me yarns about his owning a big steam-yacht, with a sailing-
master and crew, which was cruising round Newport somewheres.
"But, busy as I was, I see enough to make me worried. There was a
good deal of whispering over the Saunders back gate after supper,
and once, when I come up over the bluff from the shore sudden, they
was sitting together on a rock and he had his arm round her waist.
I dropped a hint to Phoebe Ann, but she shut me up quicker'n a
snap-hinge match-box. Allie had charmed 'auntie' all right. And
so it drifted along till September.
"One Monday evening about the middle of the month I went over to
Phoebe Ann's to borrow some matches. Barbara wasn't in--gone out
to lock up the hens, or some such fool excuse. But Phoebe was
busting full of joy. Cap'n Eben had arrived in New York a good
deal sooner'n was expected and would be home on Thursday morning.
"'He's going from Boston to Provincetown on the steamer,
Wednesday,' says Phoebe. 'He's got some business over there. Then
he's coming home from Provincetown on the early train. Ain't that
"I thought 'twas splendid for more reasons than one, and I went out
feeling good. But as I come round the corner of the house there
was somebody by the back gate, and I heard a girl's voice sayin':
'Oh, no, no! I can't! I can't!'
"If I hadn't trod on a stick maybe I'd have heard more, but the
racket broke up the party. Barbara come hurrying past me into the
house, and by the light from the back door, I see her face. 'Twas
white as a clam-shell, and she looked frightened to death.
"Thinks I: 'That's funny! It's a providence Eben's coming home so
"And the next day I saw her again, and she was just as white and
wouldn't look me in the eye. Wednesday, though, I felt better, for
the servants on the Davidson place told me that Allie had gone to
Boston on the morning train to be gone for good, and that they was
going to shut up the house and haul up the launch in a day or so.
"Early that afternoon, as I was coming from my shanty to the bluff
on my way to the shore after dinner, I noticed a steam-yacht at
anchor two mile or so off the bar. She must have come there sence
I got in, and I wondered whose she was. Then I see a dingey with
three men aboard rowing in, and I walked down the beach to meet
"Sometimes I think there is such things as what old Parson Danvers
used to call 'dispensations.' This was one of 'em. There was a
feller in a uniform cap steering the dingey, and, b'lieve it or
not, I'll be everlastingly keelhauled if he didn't turn out to be
Ben Henry, who was second mate with me on the old Seafoam. He was
surprised enough to see me, and glad, too, but he looked sort of
"'Well, Ben,' says I, after we had shook hands, 'well, Ben,' I
says, 'my shanty ain't exactly the United States Hotel for gilt
paint and bill of fare, but I HAVE got eight or ten gallons of
home-made cherry rum and some terbacker and an extry pipe. You
fall into my wake.'
"'I'd like to, Obed,' he says; 'I'd like to almighty well, but I've
got to go up to the store, if there is such a thing in this
metropolus, and buy some stuff that I forgot to get in Newport.
You see, we got orders to sail in a tearing hurry, and--'
"'Send one of them fo'mast hands to the store,' says I. 'You got
to come with me.'
"He hemmed and hawed a while, but he was dry, and I shook the
cherry-rum jug at him, figuratively speaking, so finally he give
"'You buy so and so,' says he to his men, passing 'em a ten-dollar
bill. 'And mind, you don't know nothing. If anybody asks,
remember that yacht's the Mermaid--M-U-R-M-A-D-E,' he says, 'and
she belongs to Mr. Jones, of Mobile, Georgia.'
"So the men went away, and me and Ben headed for my shanty, where
we moored abreast of each other at the table, with a jug between us
for a buoy, so's to speak. We talked old times and spun yarns, and
the tide went out in the jug consider'ble sight faster than 'twas
ebbing on the flats. After a spell I asked him about the man that
owned the yacht.
"'Who? Oh--er--Brown?' he says. 'Why, he's--'
"'Brown?' says I. 'Thought you said 'twas Jones?'
"Well, that kind of upset him, and he took some cherry-rum to
grease his memory. Then I asked more questions and he tried to
answer 'em, and got worse tangled than ever. Finally I had to
"'Look here, Ben,' says I. 'You can't fetch port on that tack.
The truth's ten mile astern of you. Who does own that yacht,
"He looked at me mighty solemn--cherry-rum solemn. 'Obed,' he
says, 'you're a good feller. Don't you give me away, now, or I'll
lose my berth. The man that owns that yacht's named Davidson, and
he's got a summer place right in this town.'
"'Davidson!' says I. 'DAVIDSON? Not young Allie Davidson?'
"'That's him,' says he. 'And he's the blankety blankest meanest
low-down cub on earth. There! I feel some better. Give me
another drink to take the taste of him out of my mouth.'
"'But young Davidson's gone to Boston,' I says. 'Went this
"'That be hanged!' says Ben. 'All I know is that I got a despatch
from him at Newport on Monday afternoon, telling me to have the
yacht abreast this town at twelve o'clock to-night, 'cause he was
coming off to her then in his launch with a friend. Friend!' And
he laughed and winked his starboard eye.
"I didn't say much, being too busy thinking, but Ben went on
telling about other cruises with 'friends.' Oh, a steam-yacht can
be a first-class imitation of hell if the right imp owns her.
Henry got speaking of one time down along the Maine coast.
"'But,' says I, referring to what he was telling, 'if she was such
a nice girl and come from such nice folks, how--'
"'How do I know?' says he. 'Promises to marry and such kind of
lies, I s'pose. And the plain fact is that he's really engaged to
marry a swell girl in Newport.'
"He told me her name and a lot more about her. I tried to remember
the most of it, but my head was whirling--and not from cherry rum,
either. All I could think was: 'Obed, it's up to you! You've got
to do something.'
"I was mighty glad when the sailors hailed from the shore and Ben
had to go. He 'most cried when he said good-by, and went away
stepping high and bringing his heels down hard. I watched the
dingey row off--the tide was out, so there was barely water for her
to get clear--and then I went back home to think. And I thought
all the afternoon.
"Two and two made four, anyway I could add it up, but 'twas all
suspicion and no real proof, that was the dickens of it. I
couldn't speak to Phoebe Ann; she wouldn't b'lieve me if I did.
I couldn't telegraph Cap'n Eben at Provincetown to come home that
night; I'd have to tell him the whole thing and I knew his temper,
so, for Barbara's sake, 'twouldn't do. I couldn't be at the shore
to stop the launch leaving. What right had I to stop another man's
"No, 'twas up to me, and I thought and thought till after supper-
time. And then I had a plan--a risky chance, but a chance, just
the same. I went up to the store and bought four feet of medium-
size rubber hose and some rubber tape, same as they sell to bicycle
fellers in the summer. 'Twas almost dark when I got back in sight
of my shanty, and instead of going to it I jumped that board fence
that me and Prince had negotiated for, hustled along the path past
the notice boards, and went down the bluff on t'other side of
Davidson's p'int. And there in the deep hole by the end of the
little pier, out of sight of the house on shore, was Allie's
launch. By what little light there was left I could see the brass
"But I didn't stop to admire 'em. I give one look around. Nobody
was in sight. Then I ran down the pier and jumped aboard. Almost
the first thing I put my hand on was what I was looking for--the
bilge-pump. 'Twas a small affair, that you could lug around in one
hand, but mighty handy for keeping a boat of that kind dry.
"I fitted one end of my hose to the lower end of that pump and
wrapped rubber tape around the j'int till she sucked when I tried
her over the side. Then I turned on the cocks in the gasoline
pipes fore and aft, and noticed that the carbureter feed cup was
chock full. Then I was ready for business.
"I went for'ard, climbing over the little low cabin that was just
big enough for a man to crawl into, till I reached the brass cap in
the deck over the gasoline-tank. Then I unscrewed the cap, run my
hose down into the tank, and commenced to pump good fourteen-cents-
a-gallon gasoline overboard to beat the cars. 'Twas a thirty-
gallon tank, and full up. I begun to think I'd never get her
empty, but I did, finally. I pumped her dry. Then I screwed the
cap on again and went home, taking Allie's bilge-pump with me, for
I couldn't stop to unship the hose. The tide was coming in fast.
"At nine o'clock that night I was in my skiff, rowing off to where
my power-boat laid in deep water back of the bar. When I reached
her I made the skiff fast astern, lit a lantern, which I put in a
locker under a thwart, and set still in the pitch-dark, smoking and
"'Twas a long, wearisome wait. There was a no'thwest wind coming
up, and the waves were running pretty choppy on the bar. All I
could think of was that gasoline. Was there enough in the pipes
and the feed cup on that launch to carry her out to where I was?
Or was there too much, and would she make the yacht, after all?
"It got to be eleven o'clock. Tide was full at twelve. I was a
pretty good candidate for the crazy house by this time. I'd
listened till my ear-drums felt slack, like they needed reefing.
And then at last I heard her coming--CHUFF-chuff! CHUFF-chuff!
"And HOW she did come! She walked up abreast of me, went past me,
a hundred yards or so off. Thinks I: 'It's all up. He's going to
"And then, all at once, the 'chuff-chuff-ing' stopped. Started up
and stopped again. I gave a hurrah, in my mind, pulled the skiff
up alongside and jumped into her, taking the lantern with me, under
my coat. Then I set the light between my feet, picked up the oars
and started rowing.
"I rowed quiet as I could, but he heard me 'fore I got to him. I
heard a scrambling noise off ahead, and then a shaky voice hollers:
'Hello! who's that?'
"'It's me,' says I, rowing harder'n ever. 'Who are you? What's
"There was more scrambling and a slam, like a door shutting. In
another two minutes I was alongside the launch and held up my
lantern. Allie was there, fussing with his engine. And he was all
"Alone he was, I say, fur's a body could see, but he was mighty
shaky and frightened. Also, 'side of him, on the cushions, was a
girl's jacket, and I thought I'd seen that jacket afore.
"'Hello!' says I. 'Is that you, Mr. Davidson? Thought you'd gone
"'Changed my mind,' he says. 'Got any gasoline?'
"'What you doing off here this time of night?' I says.
"'Going out to my--' He stopped. I s'pose the truth choked him.
'I was going to Provincetown,' he went on. 'Got any gasoline?'
"'What in the nation you starting to Provincetown in the middle of
the night for?' I asks, innocent as could be.
"'Oh, thunder! I had business there, that's all. GOT ANY
"I made my skiff's painter fast to a cleat on the launch and
climbed aboard. 'Gasoline?' says I. 'Gasoline? Why, yes; I've
got some gasoline over on my power-boat out yonder. Has yours give
out? I should think you'd filled your tank 'fore you left home on
such a trip as Provincetown. Maybe the pipe's plugged or
something. Have you looked?' And I caught hold of the handle of
"He jumped and grabbed me by the arm. ''Tain't plugged,' he yells,
sharp. 'The tank's empty, I tell you.'
"He kept pulling me away from the cabin, but I hung onto the
"'You can't be too sure,' I says. 'This door's locked. Give me
"'I--I left the key at home,' he says. 'Don't waste time. Go over
to your boat and fetch me some gasoline. I'll pay you well for
"Then I was sartin of what I suspicioned. The cabin was locked,
but not with the key. THAT was in the keyhole. The door was
bolted ON THE INSIDE.
"'All right,' says I. 'I'll sell you the gasoline, but you'll have
to go with me in the skiff to get it. Get your anchor over or this
craft'll drift to Eastham. Hurry up.'
"He didn't like the idee of leaving the launch, but I wouldn't hear
of anything else. While he was heaving the anchor I commenced to
talk to him.
"'I didn't know but what you'd started for foreign parts to meet
that Newport girl you're going to marry,' I says, and I spoke good
"He jumped so I thought he'd fall overboard.
"'What's that?' he shouts.
"'Why, that girl you're engaged to,' says I. 'Miss--' and I yelled
her name, and how she'd gone abroad with his folks, and all.
"'Shut up!' he whispers, waving his hands, frantic. 'Don't stop to
lie. Hurry up!'
"''Tain't a lie. Oh, I know about it!' I hollers, as if he was
deef. I meant to be heard--by him and anybody else that might be
interested. I give a whole lot more partic'lars, too. He fairly
shoved me into the skiff, after a spell.
"'Now,' he says, so mad he could hardly speak, 'stop your lying and
row, will you!'
"I was willing to row then. I cal'lated I'd done some missionary
work by this time. Allie's guns was spiked, if I knew Barbara
Saunders. I p'inted the skiff the way she'd ought to go and laid
to the oars.
"My plan had been to get him aboard the skiff and row somewheres--
ashore, if I could. But 'twas otherwise laid out for me. The wind
was blowing pretty fresh, and the skiff was down by the stern, so's
the waves kept knocking her nose round. 'Twas dark'n a pocket,
too. I couldn't tell where I WAS going.
"Allie got more fidgety every minute. 'Ain't we 'most there?' he
asks. And then he gives a screech. 'What's that ahead?'
"I turned to see, and as I done it the skiff's bow slid up on
something. I give an awful yank at the port oar; she slewed and
tilted; a wave caught her underneath, and the next thing I knew me
and Allie and the skiff was under water, bound for the bottom.
We'd run acrost one of the guy-ropes of my fish-weir.
"This wa'n't in the program. I hit sand with a bump and pawed up
for air. When I got my head out I see a water-wheel doing business
close along-side of me. It was Allie.
"'Help!' he howls. 'Help! I'm drowning!'
"I got him by the collar, took one stroke and bumped against the
weir-nets. You know what a fish-weir's like, don't you, Mr.
Brown?--a kind of pound, made of nets hung on ropes between poles.
"'Help!' yells Allie, clawing the nets. 'I can't swim in rough
"You might have known he couldn't. It looked sort of dubious for a
jiffy. Then I had an idee. I dragged him to the nighest weir-
pole. 'Climb!' I hollers in his ear. 'Climb that pole.'
"He done it, somehow, digging his toes into the net and going up
like a cat up a tree. When he got to the top he hung acrost the
rope and shook.
"'Hang on there!' says I. 'I'm going after the boat.' And I
struck out. He yelled to me not to leave him, but the weir had
give me my bearings, and I was bound for my power-boat. 'Twas a
tough swim, but I made it, and climbed aboard, not feeling any too
happy. Losing a good skiff was more'n I'd figgered on.
"Soon's I got some breath I hauled anchor, started up my engine and
headed back for the weir. I run along-side of it, keeping a good
lookout for guy-ropes, and when I got abreast of that particular
pole I looked for Allie. He was setting on the rope, a-straddle of
the pole, and hanging onto the top of it like it owed him money.
He looked a good deal more comfortable than I was when he and
Prince had treed me. And the remembrance of that time come back to
me, and one of them things they call inspiration come with it. He
was four feet above water, 'twas full tide then, and if he set
still he was safe as a church.
"So instead of running in after him, I slowed 'way down and backed
"'Come here!' he yells. 'Come here, you fool, and take me aboard.'
"'Oh, I don't know,' says I. 'You're safe there, and, even if the
yacht folks don't come hunting for you by and by--which I cal'late
they will--the tide'll be low enough in five hours or so, so's you
can walk ashore.'
"'What--what do you mean?' he says. 'Ain't you goin' to take me
"'I was,' says I, 'but I've changed my plans. And, Mr. Allie
Vander-what's-your-name Davidson, there's other things--low-down,
mean things--planned for this night that ain't going to come off,
either. Understand that, do you?'
"He understood, I guess. He didn't answer at all. Only gurgled,
like he'd swallered something the wrong way.
"Then the beautiful tit for tat of the whole business come to me,
and I couldn't help rubbing it in a little. 'As a sartin
acquaintance of mine once said to me,' I says, 'you look a good
deal handsomer up there than you do in a boat.'
"'You--you--etcetery and so forth, continued in our next!' says he,
or words to that effect.
"'That's all right,' says I, putting on the power. 'You've got no
kick coming. I allow you to--er--ornament my weir-pole, and
'tain't every dude I'd let do that.'
"And I went away and, as the Fifth Reader used to say, 'let him
alone in his glory.'
"I went back to the launch, pulled up her anchor and took her in
tow. I towed her in to her pier, made her fast and then left her
for a while. When I come back the little cabin-door was open and
the girl's jacket was gone.
"Then I walked up the path to the Saunders house and it done me
good to see a light in Barbara's window. I set on the steps of
that house until morning keeping watch. And in the morning the
yacht was gone and the weir-pole was vacant, and Cap'n Eben
Saunders come on the first train.
"So's that's all there is of it. Allie hasn't come back to Bayport
sence, and the last I heard he'd married that Newport girl; she has
my sympathy, if that's any comfort to her.
"And Barbara? Well, for a long time she'd turn white every time I
met her. But, of course, I kept my mouth shut, and she went to sea
next v'yage with her dad. And now I hear she's engaged to a nice
feller up to Boston.
"Oh, yes--one thing more. When I got back to my shanty that
morning I wiped the chalkmark off the door. I kind of figgered
that I'd paid that debt, with back interest added."
THE LOVE OF LOBELIA 'ANKINS
Obed's yarn being done, and friend Davidson done too, and brown at
that, Peter T. passed around another relay of cigars and we lit up.
'Twas Cap'n Eri that spoke first.
"Love's a queer disease, anyway," says he. "Ain't it, now?
'Twould puzzle you and me to figger out what that Saunders girl see
to like in the Davidson critter. It must be a dreadful responsible
thing to be so fascinating. I never felt that responsibleness but
once--except when I got married, of course--and that was a good
many years ago, when I was going to sea on long v'yages, and was
cruising around the East Indies, in the latitude of our new
troubles, the Philippines.
"I put in about three months on one of them little coral islands
off that way once. Hottest corner in the Lord's creation, I
cal'late, and the laziest and sleepiest hole ever I struck. All a
feller feels like doing in them islands is just to lay on his back
under a palm tree all day and eat custard-apples, and such truck.
"Way I come to be there was like this: I was fo'mast hand on a
Boston hooker bound to Singapore after rice. The skipper's name
was Perkins, Malachi C. Perkins, and he was the meanest man that
ever wore a sou'-wester. I've had the pleasure of telling him so
sence--'twas in Surinam 'long in '72. Well, anyhow, Perkins fed us
on spiled salt junk and wormy hard-tack all the way out, and if a
feller dast to hint that the same wa'n't precisely what you'd call
Parker House fare, why the skipper would knock him down with a
marline-spike and the first mate would kick him up and down the
deck. 'Twan't a pretty performance to look at, but it beat the
world for taking the craving for fancy cooking out of a man.
"Well, when I got to Singapore I was nothing but skin and bone, and
considerable of the skin had been knocked off by the marline-spike
and the mate's boots. I'd shipped for the v'yage out and back, but
the first night in port I slipped over the side, swum ashore, and
never set eyes on old Perkins again till that time in Surinam,
"I knocked round them Singapore docks for much as a month, hoping
to get a berth on some other ship, but 'twan't no go. I fell in
with a Britisher named Hammond, 'Ammond, he called it, and as he
was on the same hunt that I was, we kept each other comp'ny. We
done odd jobs now 'n' again, and slept in sailors' lodging houses
when we had the price, and under bridges or on hemp bales when we
hadn't. I was too proud to write home for money, and Hammond
didn't have no home to write to, I cal'late.
"But luck 'll turn if you give it time enough. One night Hammond
come hurrying round to my sleeping-room--that is to say, my hemp
bale--and gives me a shake, and says he:
"'Turn out, you mud 'ead, I've got you a berth.'
"'Aw, go west!' says I, and turned over to go to sleep again. But
he pulled me off the bale by the leg, and that woke me up so I
sensed what he was saying. Seems he'd found a feller that wanted
to ship a couple of fo'mast hands on a little trading schooner for
a trip over to the Java Sea.
"Well, to make a long story short, we shipped with this feller,
whose name was Lazarus. I cal'late if the Lazarus in Scriptur' had
been up to as many tricks and had come as nigh being a thief as our
Lazarus was, he wouldn't have been so poor. Ourn was a shrewd
rascal and nothing more nor less than a pearl poacher. He didn't
tell us that till after we sot sail, but we was so desperate I
don't know as 'twould have made much diff'rence if he had.
"We cruised round for a spell, sort of prospecting, and then we
landed at a little one-horse coral island, where there wa'n't no
inhabitants, but where we was pretty dead sartin there was pearl
oyster banks in the lagoon. There was five of us on the schooner,
a Dutchman named Rhinelander, a Coolie cook and Lazarus and Hammond
and me. We put up a slab shanty on shore and went to work pearl
fishing, keeping one eye out for Dutch gunboats, and always having
a sago palm ready to split open so's, if we got caught, we could
say we was after sago.
"Well, we done fairly good at the pearl fishing; got together quite
a likely mess of pearls, and, as 'twas part of the agreement that
the crew had a certain share in the stake, why, Hammond and me was
figgering that we was going to make enough to more'n pay us for our
long spell of starving at Singapore. Lazarus was feeling purty
middling chipper, the cook was feeding us high, and everything
"Rhinelander and the Coolie and the skipper used to sleep aboard
the boat, but Hammond and me liked to sleep ashore in the shanty.
For one thing, the bunks on the schooner wa'n't none too clean, and
the Coolie snored so that he'd shake the whole cabin, and start me
dreaming about cyclones, and cannons firing, and lions roaring, and
all kind of foolishness. I always did hate a snorer.
"One morning me and Hammond come out of the shanty, and, lo and
behold you! there wa'n't no schooner to be seen. That everlasting
Lazarus had put up a job on us, and had sneaked off in the night
with the cook and the Dutchman, and took our share of the pearls
with him. I s'pose he'd cal'lated to do it from the very first.
Anyway, there we was, marooned on that little two-for-a-cent
"The first day we didn't do much but cuss Lazarus up hill and down
dale. Hammond was the best at that kind of business ever I see.
He invented more'n four hundred new kind of names for the gang on
the schooner, and every one of 'em was brimstone-blue. We had fish
lines in the shanty, and there was plenty of water on the island,
so we knew we wouldn't starve to death nor die of thirst, anyhow.
"I've mentioned that 'twas hot in them parts? Well, that island
was the hottest of 'em all. Whew! Don't talk! And, more'n that,
the weather was the kind that makes you feel it's a barrel of work
to live. First day we fished and slept. Next day we fished less
and slept more. Third day 'twas too everlasting hot even to sleep,
so we set round in the shade and fought flies and jawed each other.
Main trouble was who was goin' to git the meals. Land, how we did
miss that Coolie cook!
"'W'y don't yer get to work and cook something fit to heat?' says
Hammond. ''Ere I broke my bloomin' back 'auling in the fish, and
you doing nothing but 'anging around and letting 'em dry hup in the
'eat. Get to work and cook. Blimed if I ain't sick of these 'ere
"'Go and cook yourself,' says I. 'I didn't sign articles to be
cook for no Johnny Bull!'
"Well, we jawed back and forth for an hour, maybe more. Two or
three times we got up to have it out, but 'twas too hot to fight,
so we set down again. Fin'lly we eat some supper, custard apples
and water, and turned in.
"But 'twas too hot to sleep much, and I got up about three o'clock
in the morning and went out and set down on the beach in the
moonlight. Pretty soon out comes Hammond and sets down alongside
and begins to give the weather a general overhauling, callin' it
everything he could lay tongue to. Pretty soon he breaks off in
the middle of a nine-j'inted swear word and sings out:
"'Am I goin' crazy, or is that a schooner?'
"I looked out into the moonlight, and there, sure enough, was a
schooner, about a mile off the island, and coming dead on. First-
off we thought 'twas Lazarus coming back, but pretty soon we see
'twas a considerable smaller boat than his.
"We forgot all about how hot it was and hustled out on the reef
right at the mouth of the lagoon. I had a coat on a stick, and I
waved it for a signal, and Hammond set to work building a bonfire.
He got a noble one blazing and then him and me stood and watched
"She was acting dreadful queer. First she'd go ahead on one tack
and then give a heave over and come about with a bang, sails
flapping and everything of a shake; then she'd give another slat
and go off another way; but mainly she kept right on toward the
"'W'at's the matter aboard there?' says Hammond. 'Is hall 'ands
"'She's abandoned,' says I. 'That's what's the matter. There
ain't NOBODY aboard of her.'
"Then we both says, 'Salvage!' and shook hands.
"The schooner came nearer and nearer. It begun to look as if she'd
smash against the rocks in front of us, but she didn't. When she
got opposite the mouth of the lagoon she heeled over on a new tack
and sailed in between the rocks as pretty as anything ever you see.
Then she run aground on the beach just about a quarter of a mile
from the shanty.
"'Twas early morning when we climbed aboard of her. I thought
Lazarus' schooner was dirty, but this one was nothing BUT dirt.
Dirty sails, all patches, dirty deck, dirty everything.
"'Won't get much salvage on this bally tub,' says Hammond; 'she's
one of them nigger fish boats, that's w'at she is.'
"I was kind of skittish about going below, 'fraid there might be
some dead folks, but Hammond went. In a minute or so up he comes,
"'There's something mighty queer down there,' says he: 'kind of
w'eezing like a puffing pig.'
"'Wheezing your grandmother!' says I, but I went and listened at
the hatch. 'Twas a funny noise I heard, but I knew what it was in
a minute; I'd heard too much of it lately to forget it, right away.
"'It's snoring,' says I; 'somebody snoring.'
"''Eavens!' says Hammond, 'you don't s'pose it's that 'ere Coolie
"'No, no!' says I. 'Where's your common sense? The cook snored
bass; this critter's snoring suppraner, and mighty poor suppraner
"'Well,' says he, ''ere goes to wake 'im hup!' And he commenced to
holler, 'Ahoy!' and 'Belay, there!' down the hatch.
"First thing we heard was a kind of thump like somebody jumping out
er bed. Then footsteps, running like; then up the hatchway comes a
sight I shan't forget if I live to be a hundred.
"'Twas a woman, middling old, with a yeller face all wrinkles, and
a chin and nose like Punch. She was dressed in a gaudy old calico
gown, and had earrings in her ears. She give one look round at the
schooner and the island. Then she see us and let out a whoop like
a steam whistle.
"'Mulligatawny Sacremento merlasess!' she yells. 'Course that
wa'n't what she said, but that's what it sounded like. Then, 'fore
Hammond could stop her, she run for him and give him a rousing big
hug. He was the most surprised man ever you see, stood there like
a wooden image. I commenced to laff, but the next minute the woman
come for me and hugged me, too.
"''Fectionate old gal,' says Hammond, grinning.
"The critter in the calirco gown was going through the craziest
pantomime ever was; p'intin' off to sea and then down to deck and
then up to the sails. I didn't catch on for a minute, but Hammond
did. Says he:
"'Showing us w'ere this 'ere palatial yacht come from. 'Ad a rough
passage, it looks like!'
"Then the old gal commenced to get excited. She p'inted over the
side and made motions like rowing. Then she p'inted down the hatch
and shut her eyes and purtended to snore. After that she rowed
again, all the time getting madder and madder, with her little
black eyes a-snapping like fire coals and stomping her feet and
shaking her fists. Fin'lly she finished up with a regular howl,
you might say, of rage.
"'The crew took to the boat and left 'er asleep below,' says
Hammond. ''Oly scissors: they're in for a lively time if old
Nutcrackers 'ere ever catches 'em, 'ey?'
"Well, we went over the schooner and examined everything, but there
wa'n't nothing of any value nowheres. 'Twas a reg'lar nigger
fishing boat, with dirt and cockroaches by the pailful. At last we
went ashore agin and up to the shanty, taking the old woman with
us. After eating some more of them tiresome custard apples for
breakfast, Hammond and me went down to look over the schooner agin.
We found she'd started a plank running aground on the beach, and
that 'twould take us a week to get her afloat and watertight.
"While we was doing this the woman come down and went aboard.
Pretty soon we see her going back to the shanty with her arms full
of bundles and truck. We didn't think anything of it then, but
when we got home at noon, there was the best dinner ever you see
all ready for us. Fried fish, and some kind of beans cooked up
with peppers, and tea--real store tea--and a lot more things.
Land, how we did eat! We kept smacking our lips and rubbing our
vests to show we was enjoying everything, and the old gal kept
bobbing her head and grinning like one of them dummies you wind up
with a key.
"'Well,' says Hammond, 'we've got a cook at last. Ain't we, old--
old-- Blimed if we've got a name for 'er yet! Here!' says he,
pointing to me. 'Looky here, missis! 'Edge! 'Edge! that's 'im!
'Ammond! 'Ammond! that's me. Now, 'oo are YOU?'
"She rattled off a name that had more double j'ints in it than an
"'Lordy!' says I; 'we never can larn that rigamarole. I tell you!
She looks for all the world like old A'nt Lobelia Fosdick at home
down on Cape Cod. Let's call her that.'
"'She looks to me like the mother of a oysterman I used to know in
Liverpool. 'Is name was 'Ankins. Let's split the difference and
call 'er Lobelia 'Ankins.'
"So we done it.
"Well, Hammond and me pounded and patched away at the schooner for
the next three or four days, taking plenty of time off to sleep in,
'count of the heat, but getting along fairly well.
"Lobelia 'Ankins cooked and washed dishes for us. She done some
noble cooking, 'specially as we wa'n't partic'lar, but we could see
she had a temper to beat the Old Scratch. If anything got burned,
or if the kittle upset, she'd howl and stomp and scatter things
worse than a cyclone.
"I reckon 'twas about the third day that I noticed she was getting
sweet on Hammond. She was giving him the best of all the vittles,
and used to set at the table and look at him, softer'n and
sweeter'n a bucket of molasses. Used to walk 'longside of him,
too, and look up in his face and smile. I could see that he
noticed it and that it was worrying him a heap. One day he says to
"''Edge,' says he, 'I b'lieve that 'ere chromo of a Lobelia 'Ankins
is getting soft on me.'
"''Course she is,' says I; 'I see that a long spell ago.'
"'But what'll I DO?' says he. 'A woman like 'er is a desp'rate
character. If we hever git hashore she might be for lugging me to
the church and marrying me by main force.'
"'Then you'll have to marry her, for all I see,' says I. 'You
shouldn't be so fascinating.'
"That made him mad and he went off jawing to himself.
"The next day we got the schooner patched up and off the shoal and
'longside Lazarus' old landing wharf by the shanty. There was a
little more tinkering to be done 'fore she was ready for sea, and
we cal'lated to do it that afternoon.
"After dinner Hammond went down to the spring after some water and
Lobelia 'Ankins went along with him. I laid down in the shade for
a snooze, but I hadn't much more than settled myself comfortably
when I heard a yell and somebody running. I jumped up just in time
to see Hammond come busting through the bushes, lickety smash, with
Lobelia after him, yelling like an Injun. Hammond wa'n't yelling;
he was saving his breath for running.
"They wa'n't in sight more'n a minute, but went smashing and
crashing through the woods into the distance. 'Twas too hot to run
after 'em, so I waited a spell and then loafed off in a roundabout
direction toward where I see 'em go. After I'd walked pretty nigh
a mile I heard Hammond whistle. I looked, but didn't see him
nowheres. Then he whistled again, and I see his head sticking out
of the top of a palm tree.
"'Is she gone?' says he.
"'Yes, long ago,' says I. 'Come down.'
"It took some coaxing to git him down, but he come after a spell,
and he was the scaredest man ever I see. I asked him what the
"''Edge,' says he, 'I'm a lost man. That 'ere 'orrible 'Ankins
houtrage is either going to marry me or kill me. 'Edge,' he says,
awful solemn, 'she tried to kiss me! S'elp me, she did!'
"Well, I set back and laughed. 'Is that why you run away?' I says.
"'No,' says he. 'When I wouldn't let 'er she hups with a rock as
big as my 'ead and goes for me. There was murder in 'er eyes,
'Edge; I see it.'
"Then I laughed more than ever and told him to come back to the
shanty, but he wouldn't. He swore he'd never come back again while
Lobelia 'Ankins was there.
"'That's it,' says he, 'larf at a feller critter's sufferings. I
honly wish she'd try to kiss you once, that's all!'
"Well, I couldn't make him budge, so I decided to go back and get
the lay of the land. Lobelia was busy inside the shanty when I got
there and looking black as a thundercloud, so I judged 'twa'n't
best to say nothing to her, and I went down and finished the job on
the schooner. At night, when I come in to suppers she met me at
the door. She had a big stick in her hand and looked savage. I
was a little nervous.
"'Now, Lobelia 'Ankins,' says I, 'put down that and be sociable,
there's a good girl.'
"'Course I knew she couldn't understand me, but I was whistling to
keep my courage up, as the saying is.
"''Ammond!' says she, p'inting toward the woods.
"'Yes,' says I, 'Hammond's taking a walk for his health.'
"''Ammond!' says she, louder, and shaking the stick.
"'Now, Lobelia,' says I, smiling smooth as butter, 'do put down
"''AMMOND!' she fairly hollers. Then she went through the most
blood-curdling pantomime ever was, I reckon. First she comes up to
me and taps me on the chest and says, ''Edge.' Then she goes
creeping round the room on tiptoe, p'inting out of the winder all
the time as much as to say she was pertending to walk through the
woods. Then she p'ints to one of the stumps we used for chairs and
screeches "AMMOND! and fetches the stump an awful bang with the
club. Then she comes over to me and kinder snuggles up and smiles,
and says, ''Edge,' and tried to put the club in my hand.
"My topnot riz up on my head. 'Good Lord!' thinks I, 'she's making
love to me so's to get me to take that club and go and thump
Hammond with it!'
"I was scared stiff, but Lobelia was between me and the door, so I
kept smiling and backing away.
"'Now, Lobelia,' says I, 'don't be--'
"''Ammond!' says she.
"'Now, Miss 'Ankins, d-o-n't be hasty, I--'
"Well, I backed faster and faster, and she follered me right up
till at last I begun to run. Round and round the place we went, me
scart for my life and she fairly frothing with rage. Finally I
bust through the door and put for the woods at a rate that beat
Hammond's going all holler. I never stopped till I got close to
the palm tree. Then I whistled and Hammond answered.
"When I told him about the rumpus, he set and laughed like an
"''Ow d'you like Miss 'Ankin's love-making?' he says.
"'You'll like it less'n I do,' I says, 'if she gets up here with
"That kind of sobered him down again, and we got to planning.
After a spell, we decided that our only chance was to sneak down to
the schooner in the dark and put to sea, leaving Lobelia alone in
"Well, we waited till twelve o'clock or so and then we crept down
to the beach, tiptoeing past the shanty for fear of waking Lobelia.
We got on the schooner all right, hauled up anchor, h'isted sail
and stood out of the lagoon with a fair wind. When we was fairly
to sea we shook hands.
"'Lawd!' says Hammond, drawing a long breath, 'I never was so 'appy
in my life. This 'ere lady-killing business ain't in my line.'
"He felt so good that he set by the wheel and sung, 'Good-by,
sweet'art, good-by,' for an hour or more.
"In the morning we was in sight of another small island, and, out
on a p'int, was a passel of folks jumping up and down and waving a
"'Well, if there ain't more castaways!' says I.
"'Don't go near 'em!' says Hammond. 'Might come there was more
Lobelias among 'em.'
"But pretty quick we see the crowd all pile into a boat and come
rowing off to us. They was all men, and their signal was a red
flannel shirt on a pole.
"We put about for 'em and picked 'em up, letting their boat tow
behind the schooner. There was five of 'em, a ragged and dirty lot
of Malays and half-breeds. When they first climbed aboard, I see
'em looking the schooner over mighty sharp, and in a minute they
was all jabbering together in native lingo.
"'What's the matter with 'em?' says Hammond.
"A chap with scraggy black whiskers and a sort of worried look on
his face, stepped for'ard and made a bow. He looked like a cross
between a Spaniard and a Malay, and I guess that's what he was.
"'Senors,' says he, palavering and scraping, 'boat! my boat!'
"'W'at's 'e giving us?' says Hammond.
"'Boat! This boat! My boat, senors,' says the feller. All to
once I understood him.
"'Hammond,' I says, 'I swan to man if I don't believe we've picked
up the real crew of this craft!'
"'Si, senor; boat, my boat! Crew! Crew!' says Whiskers, waving
his hands toward the rest of his gang.
"'Hall right, skipper,' says Hammond; 'glad to see yer back
haboard. Make yerselves well at 'ome. 'Ow d' yer lose er in the
"The feller didn't seem to understand much of this, but he looked
more worried than ever. The crew looked frightened, and jabbered.
"'Ooman, senors,' says Whiskers, in half a whisper. 'Ooman, she
"'Hammond,' says I, 'what's a ooman?' The feller seemed to be
thinkin' a minute; then he began to make signs. He pulled his nose
down till it most touched his chin. Then he put his hands to his
ears and made loops of his fingers to show earrings. Then he took
off his coat and wrapped it round his knees like make-b'lieve
skirts. Hammond and me looked at each other.
"''Edge,' says Hammond, ''e wants to know w'at's become of Lobelia
"'No, senor,' says I to the feller; 'ooman no here. Ooman there!'
And I p'inted in the direction of our island.
"Well, sir, you oughter have seen that Malay gang's faces light up!
They all bust out a grinning and laffing, and Whiskers fairly
hugged me and then Hammond. Then he made one of the Malays take
the wheel instead of me, and sent another one into the fo'castle
"But I was curious, and I says, p'inting toward Lobelia's island:
"'Ooman your wife?'
"'No, no, no,' says he, shaking his head like it would come off,
'ooman no wife. Wife there,' and he p'inted about directly
opposite from my way. 'Ooman,' he goes on, 'she no wife, she--'
"Just here the Malay come up from the fo'castle, grinning like a
chessy cat and hugging a fat jug of this here palm wine that
natives make. I don't know where he got it from--I thought Hammond
and me had rummaged that fo'castle pretty well--but, anyhow, there
"Whiskers passed the jug to me and I handed it over to Hammond. He
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