Joseph C. Lincoln
Part 4 out of 7
"Oh, I don't know. How should I know?"
"Well--well, I suppose likely they are. Imogene said she was goin'
"Imogene! You mean that hired inmate over to Thankful Barnes'?
Humph! So she told you she was goin', hey? Well, most likely she
told a fib. I wouldn't trust her not to; sassy, impudent thing! I
don't believe she's goin' at all. Is she, Cap'n Bangs?"
The captain, who had remained silent during this family jar, could
not resist the temptation.
"Oh yes, Imogene's goin'," he answered, cheerfully. "She's
countin' on havin' the time of her life over there. But she isn't
the only one. Why, about all the females in East Wellmouth'll be
there. I heard Abbie Larkin arrangin' for her passage with Winnie
S. yesterday afternoon. Win said, 'Judas priest!' He didn't know
where he was goin' to put her, but he cal'lated he'd have to find
stowage room somewhere. Oh, Kenelm won't be lonesome, Hannah. I
shouldn't worry about that."
Kenelm looked as if he wished the speaker might choke. Hannah
straightened in her chair.
"Hum!" she mused. "Hum!" and was silent for a moment. Then she
"Is Mrs. Thankful goin', too? I suppose likely she is."
The captain's cheerfulness vanished.
"No," he said, shortly, "she isn't. She wanted to, but she doesn't
feel she can leave the boardin'-house with nobody to look after it."
Miss Parker seemed pleased, for some reason or other.
"I don't wonder," she said, heartily. "She shouldn't be left all
alone herself, either. If that ungrateful, selfish Orphan's Home
minx is selfish enough to go and leave her, all the more reason my
brother shouldn't. Whatever else us Parkers may be, we ain't
selfish. We think about others. Kenelm, dear, you must stay at
work and help Mrs. Barnes around the house tomorrow. You and I'll
go to the Fair on Saturday. I don't mind; I'd just as soon go
twice as not."
Kenelm sprang to his feet. He was so angry that he stuttered.
"You--you--YOU don't care!" he shouted. "'Cause you're goin'
TWICE! That's a divil of a don't care, that is!"
"Kenelm! My own brother! Cursin' and swearin'!"
"I ain't, and--and I don't care if I be! What's the matter with
you, Hannah Parker? One minute you're sailin' into me tellin' me
to heave up my job and not demean myself doin' odd jobs in a
boardin'-house barn. And the next minute you're tellin' me I ought
to stay to home and--and help out that very boardin'-house. I
won't! By--by thunder-mighty, I won't! I'm goin' to that Cattle
Show tomorrow if it takes my last cent."
Hannah smiled. "How many last cents have you got, Kenelm?" she
asked. "You was doin' your best to borrer a quarter of me this
"I've got more'n you have. I--I--everything there is here--yes,
and every cent there is here--belongs to me by rights. You ain't
got nothin' of your own."
Miss Parker turned upon him. "To think," she wailed, brokenly, "to
think that my own brother--all the brother I've got--can stand
afore me and heave my--my poverty in my face. I may be dependent
on him. I am, I suppose. But Oh, the disgrace of it! the--Oh! Oh!
Captain Obed hurried upstairs to his room. Long after he had shut
the door he heard the sounds of Hannah's sobs and Kenelm's
pleadings that he "never meant nothin'." Then came silence and, at
last, the sounds of footsteps on the stairs. They halted in the
"I don't know, Kenelm," said Hannah, sadly. "I'll try to forgive
you. I presume likely I must. But when I think of how I've been a
mother to you--"
"Now, Hannah, there you go again. How could you be my mother when
you ain't but four year older'n I be? You just give me a few
dollars and let me go to that Cattle Show and--"
"No, Kenelm, that I can't do. You are goin' to leave Mrs. Barnes'
place; I want you to do that, for the sake of your self-respect.
But you must stay there and help her tomorrow. It's your duty."
"Darn my duty! I'll LEAVE tomorrow, that's what I'll do."
"Oh dear! There you go again. Profane language and bettin' on
horses! WHAT'LL come next? My own brother a gambler and a
prodigate! Has it come to this?"
The footsteps and voices died away. Captain Obed blew out the
light and got into bed. The last words he heard that night were
uttered by the "prodigate" himself on his way to his sleeping
quarters. And they were spoken as a soliloquy.
"By time!" muttered Kenelm, as he shuffled slowly past the
Captain's door. "By time! I--I'll do somethin' desperate!"
Next morning, when Captain Obed's hired motor car, with its owner,
a Wellmouth Centre man, acting as chauffeur, rolled into the yard
of the High Cliff House, a party of three came out to meet it.
John Kendrick and Emily Howes were of the party and they were
wrapped and ready for the trip. The captain had expected them; but
the third, also dressed for the journey, was Mrs. Thankful Barnes.
Thankful's plump countenance was radiant.
"I'm goin' after all," she announced. "I'm goin' to the Fair with
you, Cap'n Bangs. Now what do you think of that? . . . That is,"
she added, looking at the automobile, "if you can find a place to
The captain's joy was as great as his surprise. "Place to put
you!" he repeated. "If I couldn't do anything else I'd hang on
behind, like a youngster to a truck wagon, afore you stayed at
home. Good for you, Mrs. Thankful! But how'd you come to change
your mind? Thought you couldn't leave."
Thankful smiled happily. "I didn't change my mind, Cap'n," she
said. "Imogene changed hers. She's a real, good sacrificin' body,
the girl is. When she found I'd been asked and wouldn't go, she
put her foot down flat. Nothin' would do but she should stay at
home today and I should go. I knew what a disappointment 'twas to
her, but she just made me do it. She'll go tomorrow instead;
that's the way we fixed it finally. I'm awful glad for myself, but
I do feel mean about Imogene, just the same."
A few minutes later, the auto, with John, Emily and Thankful on the
rear seat and Captain Obed in front with the driver, rolled out of
the yard and along the sandy road toward Wellmouth Centre. About a
mile from the latter village it passed a buggy with two people in
it. The pair in the buggy were Caleb Hammond and Hannah Parker.
Captain Obed chuckled. "There go the sweethearts," he observed.
"Handsome young couple, ain't they?"
The other occupants of the car joined in the laugh. Emily, in
particular, was greatly amused.
"Why do you call them sweethearts, Captain?" she asked. "You don't
The captain burst into a laugh.
"What? Those two?" he said. "No, no, I was only jokin'. I don't
know about Hannah--single women her age are kind of chancey--but I
do know Caleb. He ain't takin' a wife to support, not unless she
can support him. He had a chance to use a horse and buggy free for
nothin', that's all; and it would be against his principles to let
a chance like that go by. Cal'late he took Hannah 'cause he knew
ice cream and peanuts don't agree with her dyspepsy and so he
wouldn't have to buy any. Ho, ho! I wonder how Kenelm made out?
Wonder if he went on his own hook, after all?"
In the kitchen of the High Cliff House Imogene was washing the
breakfast dishes and trying to forget her disappointment. A step
sounded in the woodshed and, turning, she beheld Mr. Parker. He
saw her at the same time and the surprise was mutual.
"Why, hello!" exclaimed Imogene. "I thought you'd gone to the
"Hello!" cried Kenelm. "Thought you'd gone to the Cattle Show."
Explanations followed. "What ARE you cal'latin' to do, then?"
demanded Kenelm, moodily.
"Me? Stay here on my job, of course. That's what you're goin' to
do, too, ain't it?"
Mr. Parker thrust his hands into his pockets.
"No, by time, I ain't!" he declared, fiercely. "I ain't got any
job no more. I've quit, I have."
"Quit! You mean you ain't goin' to work for Mrs. Thankful?"
"I ain't gain' to work for nobody. Why should I? I've got money
enough to live on, ain't I? I've got an income of my own. I ain't
told Mrs. Thankful yet, but I have quit, just the same."
Imogene put down the dishcloth.
"This is your sister's doin's, I guess likely," she observed.
"No, it ain't! If--if it was, by time, I wouldn't do it! Hannah
treats me like a dog--yes, sir, like a dog. I'm goin' to show her.
A man's got some feelin's, if he is a dog."
"How are you goin' to show her?"
"I don't know, but I be. I'll run away, if I can't do nothin'
else. I'll show her I'm sick of her bossin'."
Imogene seemed to be thinking. She regarded Mr. Parker with a
steady and reflective stare.
"What are you lookin' at me like that for?" demanded Kenelm, after
the stare had become unbearable.
"I was thinkin'. Humph! What would you do to fix it so's your
sister would stop her bossin' and you could have your own way once
in a while?"
"Do? By time, I'd do anything! Anything, by thunder-mighty!"
"You would? You mean it?"
"You bet I mean it!"
"Would you promise to stay right here and work for Mrs. Thankful as
long as she wanted you to?"
"Course I would. I ain't anxious to leave. It's Hannah that's got
that notion. Fust she was dead sot on my workin' here and now
she's just as sot on my leavin'."
"Do you know why she's so--what do you call it?--sot?"
Kenelm fidgeted and looked foolish. "Well," he admitted, "I--I
wouldn't wonder if 'twas account of you, Imogene. Hannah knows I--
I like you fust rate, that we're good friends, I mean. She's--
well, consarn it all!--she's jealous, that's what's the matter.
She's awful silly that way. I can't so much as look at a woman,
but she acts like a plumb idiot. Take that Abbie Larkin, for
instance. One time she--ho, ho! I did kind of get ahead of her
Imogene nodded. "Yes," she said; "I heard about that. Well, maybe
you can get ahead of her again. You wait a minute."
She went into the living-room. When she came back she had an ink-
bottle, a pen and a sheet of note-paper in her hands.
"What's them things for?" demanded Mr. Kenelm.
"I'll tell you pretty soon. Kenelm, you--you asked me somethin' a
while ago, didn't you?"
Kenelm started. "Why--why, Imogene," he stammered, "I--I don't
know's I know what you mean."
"I guess you know, all right. You did ask me--or, anyhow, you
would if I hadn't said no before you had the chance. You like me
pretty well, don't you, Kenelm?"
This pointed question seemed to embarrass Mr. Parker greatly. He
turned red and glanced at the door.
"Why--why, yes, I like you fust rate, Imogene," he admitted. "I--I
don't know's I ever see anybody I liked better. But when it comes
to-- You see, that time when I said--er--er what I said I was kind
of--of desperate along of Hannah and--"
"Well, you're desperate now, ain't you? Here," sharply, "you sit
still and let me finish. I've got a plan and you'd better listen
to it. Kenelm, won't you sit still, for--for my sake?"
The "big day" of the Ostable County Cattle Show and Fair came to an
end as all days, big or little, have to come. Captain Obed Bangs
and his guests enjoyed every minute of it. They inspected the
various exhibits, witnessed the horse races and the baseball game,
saw the balloon ascension, and thrilled with the rest of the great
crowd at the "parachute drop." It was six o'clock when they left
the Fair grounds and Thankful began to worry about the condition of
affairs at the High Cliff House.
"It'll be way past dinner time when you and I get there, Emily,"
she said, "and goodness knows what my boarders have had to eat.
Imogene's smart and capable enough, but whether she can handle
everything alone I don't know. We ought to have started sooner,
but it's nobody's fault more'n mine that we didn't."
However, when the High Cliff House was reached its proprietor found
that her fears were groundless. But a few of the boarders had
planned to eat their evening meal there; most of the city
contingent were stopping at various teahouses and restaurants in
Ostable or along the road and would not be home until late.
"Everything's fine, ma'am," declared Imogene. "There was only
three or four here for supper and I fixed them all right. Mr.
Hammond came in late, but I fed him up and he's gone to bed. Tired
out, I guess. I asked him if he had a good time and he said he
had, but it cost him a sight of money."
Captain Obed laughed. "Caleb will have to do without his mornin'
newspapers for quite a spell to make up for today's extravagance,"
he declared. "That's what 'tis to take the girls around. Better
take warnin', John."
John Kendrick smiled. "Considering," he said, "that you and I have
almost come to blows before I was permitted to even buy a package
of popcorn with my own money, I think you need the warning more
than I, Cap'n Bangs."
"Imogene," said Thankful, "you've been a real, nice girl today;
you've helped me out a lot and I shan't forget it. Now you go to
bed and rest, so's to feel like gettin' an early start for the Fair
Imogene shook her head. "I can't go right now, thank you, ma'am,"
she said. "I've got company."
Emily and Thankful looked at each other.
"Company!" repeated the former. "What company?"
Before Imogene could answer the dining-room door was flung open and
Hannah Parker rushed in. She was still arrayed in her Sunday gown,
which she had donned in honor of Fair Day, but her Sunday bonnet
was, as Captain Obed said afterward, "canted down to leeward" and
her general appearance indicated alarm and apprehension.
"Why, Hannah!" exclaimed Thankful. "Why, Miss Parker, what's the
Hannah's glance swept the group before her; then it fastened upon
"Where's my brother?" she demanded. "Have you seen my brother?"
Captain Bangs broke in.
"Your brother? Kenelm?" he asked. "Why, what about Kenelm? Ain't
he to home?"
"No. No, he ain't. And he ain't been home, either. I left a cold
supper for him on the table, and I put the teapot on the rack of
the stove ready for him to bile. But he ain't been there. It
ain't been touched. I--I can't think what--"
Imogene interrupted. "Your brother's all right, Miss Parker," she
said, calmly. "He's been havin' supper with me out in the kitchen.
He's there now. He's the company I said I had, Mrs. Thankful."
Hannah stared at her. Imogene returned the gaze coolly, blandly
and with a serene air of confident triumph.
"Perhaps you'd better come out and see him, ma'am," she went on.
"He--we, that is--have got somethin' to tell you. The rest can
come, too, if they want to," she added. "It's nothin' we want to
keep from you."
Hannah Parker pushed by her and rushed for the kitchen. Imogene
followed her and the others followed Imogene. As Thankful said,
describing her own feelings, "I couldn't have stayed behind if I
wanted to. My feet had curiosity enough to go by themselves."
Kenelm, who had been sitting by the kitchen table before a well-
filled plate, had heard his sister's approach and had risen. When
Mrs. Barnes and the others reached the kitchen he had backed into a
"Kenelm Parker," demanded Hannah, "what are you doin' here, this
time of night?"
"I--I been eatin' supper," stammered Kenelm, "but I--I'm through
"Through! Didn't you know your supper was waitin' for you at home?
Didn't I tell you to come home early and have MY supper ready?
Imogene interrupted. "I guess you did, ma'am," she said, "but you
see I asked him to stay here, so he stayed."
"YOU asked him! And he stayed! Well, I must say! Kenelm, have
you been eatin' supper alone with that--with that--"
She was too greatly agitated to finish, but as Kenelm did not
answer, Imogene did, without waiting.
"Yes'm," she said, soothingly. "It's all right. Kenelm and me can
eat together, if we want to, I guess. We're engaged."
"ENGAGED!" Almost everyone said it--everyone except Hannah; she
could not say anything.
"Yes," replied Imogene. "We're engaged to be married. We are,
aren't we, Kenelm?"
Kenelm tried to back away still further, but the wall was behind
him and he could only back against it. He was pale and he
swallowed several times.
"Kenelm, dear," said Imogene, "didn't you hear me? Tell your
sister about our bein' engaged."
Kenelm's mouth opened and shut. "Eh--eh--" he stammered. "I--I--"
"Don't be bashful," urged Imogene. "We're engaged to be married,
Mr. Parker gulped, choked and then nodded. "Yes," he admitted,
faintly. "I--I cal'late we be."
His sister took a step forward, her arm raised. Captain Obed
stepped in front of her.
"Just a minute, Hannah! Heave to! Come up into the wind a jiffy.
Let's get this thing straight. Kenelm, do you mean--"
The gentleman addressed seemed to mean very little, just then. But
Imogene's coolness was quite unruffled and again she answered for
"He means just what he said," she declared, "and what he said was
plain enough, I should think. I don't know why there should be so
much row about it. Mr. Parker and I have been good friends ever
since I come here to work. He's asked me to marry him some time or
other and I said maybe I would. That makes us engaged, same's I've
been tryin' to tell you. And what all this row is about I can't
see. It's our business, ain't it? I can't see as it's anybody
But Hannah was by this time beyond holding back. She pushed aside
the captain's arm and faced the engaged couple. Her eyes flashed
and her fingers twitched.
"You--you designin' critter you!" she shouted, addressing Imogene.
"You plannin', schemin', underhanded--"
"Shh! shh!" put in Captain Obed. "Easy, Hannah! easy, there!"
"I shan't be easy! You mind your own affairs, Obed Bangs! Kenelm
Parker, how dare you say--how dare you tell me you're goin' to
marry this--this INMATE? What do you mean by it?"
Poor Kenelm only gurgled. His lady love once more came to his
"He's told you times enough what he means," she asserted, firmly.
"And I'll thank you not to call me names, either. In the first
place I won't stand it; and, in the second, if you and me are goin'
to be sisters-in-law, we'd better learn how to get along peaceable
"Don't you talk to me! Don't you DARE talk to me! I might have
expected it! I did expect it. So this is why you two didn't go to
the Fair? You had this all planned between you. I was to be got
out of the way, and--"
"That's enough of that, too. There wasn't any plannin' about it--
not until today, anyhow. I didn't know he wasn't goin' to the Fair
and he didn't know I wasn't. He would have gone only--only you
deserted him to go off with your own--your own gentleman friend.
Humph! I should think you would look ashamed!"
Miss Parker's "shame"--or her feelings, whatever they might be--
seemed to render her speechless. Her brother saw his chance.
"You know that's just what you done, Hannah," he put in, pleadingly.
"You know you did. I was so lonesome--"
"Hush! Hush, Kenelm!" ordered Imogene. "You left him alone to go
with another man, Miss Parker. For all he knew you might be--be
runnin' off to be married, or somethin'. So he come to where he
had a friend, that's all. And what if he did? He can get married,
if he wants to, can't he? I'd like to know who'd stop him. He's
over twenty-one, I guess."
This speech was too much for Emily; she laughed aloud. That laugh
was the final straw. Hannah made a dive for her brother.
"You come home with me," she commanded. "You come right straight
home with me this minute. As for you," she added, turning to
Imogene, "I shan't waste any more words on a--on a thing like you.
After my brother's money, be you? Thought you'd get him and it,
too, did you? Well, you shan't! He'll come right along home with
me and there he'll stay. He's worked in this place as long as he's
goin' to, Miss Inmate. I'll take him out of YOUR clutches."
"Oh no, you won't! Him and me are goin' to the Fair tomorrow and
on Monday he's comin' back to work here same as ever. You are,
ain't you, Kenelm?"
Kenelm gulped and fidgeted. "I--I--I--" he stuttered.
"You see, Hannah," continued Imogene--"I suppose I might as well
begin to call you 'Hannah,' seein' as we're goin' to be relations
pretty soon--you see, he's engaged to me now and he'll do what I
ask him to, of course."
"Engaged! He ain't engaged! I'll fix the 'engagement.' That'll
be broke off this very minute."
And now Imogene played her best trump. She took from her waist a
slip of paper and handed it to Captain Obed.
"Just read that out loud, won't you, please, Cap'n Bangs?" she
The captain stared at the slip of paper. Then, in a choked voice,
he read aloud the following:
I, Kenelm Issachar Parker, being in sound mind and knowing what I
am doing, ask Imogene to be my wife and I agree to marry her any
time she wants me to.
(Signed) KENELM ISSACHAR PARKER.
"There!" exclaimed Imogene. "I guess that settles it, don't it?
I've got witnesses, anyhow, and right here, to our engagement. You
all heard us both say we was engaged. But that paper settles it.
Kenelm and I knew mighty well that you'd try to break off the
engagement and say there wasn't any; but you can't break THAT."
"I can't? I like to know why I can't! What do you suppose I care
for such a--a--"
"Well, if you don't, then the law does. If you make your brother
break his engagement to me, Hannah Parker, I'll take that piece of
paper right to a lawyer and make him sue Kenelm for--for breach of
promises. You know what that means, I guess, if you've read the
papers same as I have. I rather guess that paper would give me a
good many dollars damage. If you don't believe it you try and see.
And there's two lawyers livin' right in this house," she added
If she expected a sensation her expectations were realized. Hannah
was again stricken dumb. Captain Bangs and Emily and John Kendrick
looked at each other, then the captain doubled up with laughter.
Mrs. Barnes and Kenelm, however, did not laugh. The latter seemed
"Why--why, Imogene," he protested, "how you talk! I never thought--"
"Kenelm, be still."
"But, Imogene," begged Thankful, "you mustn't say such things. I
"Now, ma'am, please don't you butt in. I know what I'm doin'.
Please don't talk to me now. There, Kenelm," turning to the
trembling nominee for matrimonial offices, "that'll do for tonight.
You go along with your sister and be on hand ready to take me to
the Cattle Show tomorrow. Good night--er--dear."
Whether it was the "dear" that goaded Miss Parker into one more
assault, or whether she was not yet ready to surrender, is
uncertain. But, at all events, she fired a last broadside.
"He SHAN'T go with you tomorrow," she shrieked. "He shan't; I
won't let him."
Imogene nodded. "All right," she said, firmly. "Then if he don't
I'll come around tomorrow and tell him I'm ready to be married
right away. And if he says no to THAT--then--well then, I'll go
straight to the lawyer with that paper."
Ten minutes later, when the Parkers had gone and the sound of
Hannah's tirade and Kenelm's protestations had died away on the
path toward their home, Thankful, John and Captain Obed sat gazing
at each other in the living room. Imogene and Emily were together
in the kitchen. The "engaged" young lady had expressed a desire to
speak with Miss Howes alone.
John and the captain were still chuckling, but Thankful refused to
see the joke; she was almost in tears.
"It's dreadful!" she declared. "Perfectly awful! And Imogene! To
act and speak so to our next-door neighbor! What WILL come of it?
And how COULD she? How could she get engaged to THAT man, of all
men? He's old enough to be her father and--and she CAN'T care for
Emily entered the room. She was apparently much agitated and her
eyes were moist. She collapsed in a rocking-chair and put her
handkerchief to her face.
"Land sakes!" cried Captain Obed. "Is it as bad as that? Does it
make you cry?"
Emily removed the handkerchief. "I'm not crying," she gasped.
"I--I-- Oh dear! This is the funniest thing that girl has done
"But what is it?" asked John. "What's the answer? We're dying to
Emily shook her head. "I can't tell you," she said. "I promised I
wouldn't. It--it all came of a talk Imogene and I had a while ago.
We were speaking of self-sacrifice and she--she adores you, Auntie,
Thankful interrupted. "Mercy on us!" she cried. "Adores me!
Self-sacrifice! She ain't doin' this crazy, loony thing for ME, I
hope. She ain't marryin' that Parker man because--"
"She hasn't married anyone yet. Oh, it is all right, Auntie; she
knows what she is doing, or she thinks she does. And, at any rate,
I think there is no danger of Mr. Parker's giving up his situation
here until you are ready to have him do it. There! I mustn't say
another word. I have said too much already."
Captain Obed rose to his feet.
"Well," he said, "it's too thick off the bows for me to see more'n
a foot; I give in to that. But I will say this: If that Imogene
girl don't know what she's up to it's the fust time since I've been
acquainted with her. And she sartin has spiked Hannah's guns.
Either Hannah's got to say 'dum' when Imogene says 'dee' or she
stands a chance to lose her brother or his money, one or t'other,
and she'd rather lose the fust than the last, I'll bet you.
Ho, ho! Yes, it does look as if Imogene had Hannah in a clove
hitch. . . . Well, I'm goin' over to see what the next doin's in
the circus is liable to be. I wouldn't miss any of THIS show for
no money. Good night."
The next morning Kenelm, arrayed in his best, was early on hand to
escort the lady of his choice to the Fair. The lady, herself, was
ready and the pair drove away in Winnie S.'s depot-wagon bound for
Wellmouth Centre and the train. Before she left the house Imogene
made an earnest request.
"If you don't mind, ma'am," she said, addressing Mrs. Barnes, "I
wish you wouldn't say nothin' to nobody about Mr. Kenelm and me
bein' engaged. And just ask the rest of 'em that heard the--the
rough-house last night not to say anything, either, please."
"Why, Imogene," said Thankful, "I didn't know you wanted it to be a
secret. Seems to me you said yourself that it wasn't any secret."
"Yes'm, I know I did. Well, I suppose 'tain't, in one way. But
there ain't any use in advertisin' it, neither. Kenelm, he's
promised to keep still."
"But, Imogene, why? Seems to me if I was willin' to be engaged to
that--to Kenelm, I wouldn't be ashamed to have folks know it."
"Oh, I ain't ashamed exactly. I ain't ashamed of what I done, not
a bit. Only what's the use of tellin'?"
"But you'll have to tell some time; when you're married, sartin."
"Yes'm. Well, we ain't married--yet."
"But you're goin' to be, I should presume likely."
"Maybe so; but not for a good while, anyhow. If I am it won't make
any difference far's you and me are concerned, ma'am. Nor Mr.
Parker, either; he'll stay here and work long's you want him,
married or not. And so'll I."
"Well, I suppose that's one comfort, anyhow. I won't say anything
about your engagement and I'll ask the others not to. But folks
are bound to talk, Imogene. Miss Parker now--how are you goin' to
stop her tellin'?"
Imogene nodded knowingly. "I shan't have to, I'll bet you, ma'am,"
she said. "She ain't so anxious to have it talked about--not
s'long as there's a chance to break it off, she ain't. She'll keep
"Maybe so, but folks'll suspect, I guess. They'll think somethin's
queer when you and Kenelm go to the Cattle Show together today."
"No, they won't. Why should they? Didn't Hannah Parker herself go
yesterday with Mr. Hammond? And didn't Mr. Kendrick go with Miss
Emily? Yes, and you with Cap'n Bangs? Lordy, ma'am, I--"
"Don't say 'Lordy,' Imogene," cautioned Thankful, and hastened
away. Imogene looked after her and laughed to herself.
When Captain Obed made his morning call Mrs. Barnes told him of
"And how is Hannah this mornin'?" asked Thankful. "I was surprised
enough to see Kenelm in that depot-wagon. I never thought for a
minute she'd let him go."
The captain chuckled. "Let him!" he repeated. "Why, Hannah helped
him get ready; picked out his necktie for him and loaded him up
with clean handkerchiefs and land knows what. She all but give him
her blessin' afore he started; she did say she hoped he'd have a
"She did! Mercy on us! Is the world comin' to an end? Last night
"Yes, I know. Well, we've got to give Hannah credit; she's got a
head on her shoulders, even if the head does run pretty strong to
mouth. Imogene's took her measure, judgin' by what you said the
girl said to you. Hannah's thought it over, I cal'late, and she
figgers that while there's life there's hope, as you might say.
Her brother may be engaged, but he ain't married, and, s'long's he
ain't, she's got a chance. You just see, Mrs. Thankful--you see if
Hannah ain't sweeter to Kenelm from this on than a molasses jug
stopper to a young one. She'll lay herself out to make his home
the softest spot in creation, so he'll think twice before leavin'
it. That's her game, as I see it, and she'll play it. Give Hannah
credit; she won't abandon the ship while there's a plank above
water. Just watch and see."
Thankful looked doubtful. "Well, maybe so," she said. "Maybe she
will be nice to her brother, but how about the rest of us? She
wouldn't speak to me last night, nor to Emily--and as for Imogene!"
"Yes, I know. But wait until she sees you, or Imogene either, next
time. She'll be smooth as a smelt. I'll bet you anything she'll
say that, after all, she guesses the engagement's a good thing and
that Imogene's a nice girl. There's a whole lot in keepin' the
feller you're fightin' off his guard until you've got him in a
corner with his hands down. Last night Hannah give me my orders to
mind my own business. This mornin' she cooked me the best
breakfast I've had since I shipped aboard her vessel. And kept
askin' me to have more. No, Imogene's right; Hannah'll play the
game, and she'll play it quiet. As for tellin' anybody her
brother's engaged, you needn't worry about that. She'll be the
last one to tell."
This prophecy seemed likely to prove true. The next time Thankful
met Hannah the latter greeted her like a long-lost friend. During
a long conversation she mentioned the subject of her brother's
engagement but once and then at the very end of the interview.
"Oh, by the way, Mrs. Thankful," she said, "I do beg your pardon
for carryin' on the way I did at your house t'other night. The
news was pitched out at me so sudden that I was blowed right off my
feet, as you might say. I acted real unlikely, I know; but, you
see, Kenelm does mean so much to me that I couldn't bear to think
of givin' him up to anybody else. When I come to think it over I
realized 'twa'n't no more'n I had ought to have expected. I
mustn't be selfish and I ain't goin' to be. S'long's 'tain't that--
that Jezebel of an Abbie Larkin I don't mind so much. I couldn't
stand havin' her in the family--THAT I couldn't stand. Oh, and if
you don't mind, Mrs. Thankful, just don't say nothin' about the
engagin' yet awhile. I shouldn't mind, of course, but Kenelm, he's
set on keepin' it secret for a spell. There! I must run on. I've
got to go up to the store and get a can of that consecrated soup
for supper. Have you tried them soups? They're awful cheap and
handy. You just pour in hot water and there's more'n enough for a
Imogene, when she returned from the Fair, announced that she had
had a perfectly lovely time.
"He ain't such bad company--Kenelm, I mean," she observed. "He
talks a lot, but you don't have to listen unless you want to; and
he enjoys himself real well, considerin' how little practice he's
"Did you meet anyone you knew?" asked Emily.
"No'm. We saw quite a lot of folks from East Wellmouth, but we saw
'em first, so we didn't meet 'em. One kind of funny thing
happened: a man who was outside a snake tent, hollerin' for
everybody to come in, saw us and he says to me: 'Girlie,' he says--
he was a fresh guy like all them kind--'Girlie,' he says, 'ask your
pa to take you in and see the Serpent King eat 'em alive. Only ten
cents, Pop,' he says to Kenelm. 'Don't miss the chance to give
your little girl a treat.' Kenelm was all frothed up at bein' took
for my father, but I told him he needn't get mad--if I could stand
it he could, I guessed."
Kenelm reported for work as usual on Monday morning and he worked--
actually worked all day. For an accepted lover he appeared rather
subdued and silent. Captain Obed, who noticed his behavior,
commented upon it.
"Cal'late Kenelm's beginnin' to realize gettin' engaged don't mean
all joy," he said, with a chuckle. "He's just got two bosses
instead of one, that's all. He's scart to death of Hannah at home
and when he's here Imogene orders him 'round the way a bucko mate
used to order a roustabout. I said Hannah was in a clove hitch,
didn't I? Well, she is, but Kenelm--well, Kenelm's like a young
one runnin' 'tiddly' on thin ice--worse'n that, 'cause he can't
stop on either side, got to keep runnin' between 'em and look out
and not fall in."
Labor Day, the day upon which the Cape summer season really ends,
did not, to the High Cliff House, mean the general exodus which it
means to most of the Cape hotels. Some of Thankful's lodgers left,
of course, but many stayed, and were planning to stay through
September if the weather continued pleasant. But on the Saturday
following Labor Day it rained. And the next day it rained harder,
and on Monday began a series of cold, windy, gloomy days which
threatened to last indefinitely. One after the other the
sojourners from the cities passed from grumbling at the weather to
trunk-packing and leaving. A few stayed on into the next week but
when, at the end of that week, a storm set in which was more severe
than those preceding it, even these optimists surrendered. Before
that third week was over the High Cliff House was practically
deserted. Except for Heman Daniels and John Kendrick and Miss
Timpson and Caleb Hammond, Thankful and Emily and Imogene were
alone in the big house.
This upsetting of her plans and hopes worried Thankful not a
little. Emily, too, was troubled concerning her cousin's business
outlook. The High Cliff House had been a success during its first
season, but it needed the expected September and early October
income to make it a success financially. The expense had been
great, much greater than Thankful had expected or planned. It is
true that the boarders, almost without exception, had re-engaged
rooms and board for the following summer, but summer was a long way
off. There was the winter to be lived through and if, as they had
hoped, additions and enlargements to the establishment were to be
made in the spring, more, a good deal more money, would be needed.
"As I see it, Auntie," said Emily, when they discussed the
situation, "you have splendid prospects here. Your first season
has been all or more than you dared hope for, and if we had had
good weather--the sort of weather everyone says the Cape usually
has in the fall months--you would have come out even or better.
But, even then, to make this scheme a real money-maker, you would
be obliged to have more sleeping-rooms made over, and a larger
dining-room. Now why don't you go and see this--what is he?--
cousin of yours, Mr. Cobb, and tell him just how you stand? Tell
him of your prospects and your plans, and get him to advance you
another thousand dollars--more, if you can get it. Why don't you
Thankful did not answer. She had few secrets from Emily, whom she
loved as dearly as a daughter, but one secret she had kept. Just
why she had kept this one she might not have been able to explain
satisfactorily, even to herself. She had written Emily of her
visit to Solomon Cobb's "henhouse" and of the loan on mortgage
which had resulted therefrom. But she had neither written nor told
all of the circumstances of that visit, especially of Mr. Cobb's
attitude toward her and his reluctance to lend the money. She said
merely that he had lent it and Emily had evidently taken it for
granted that the loan was made because of the relationship and
kindly feeling between the two. Thankful, even now, did not
undeceive her. She felt a certain shame in doing so; a shame in
admitting that a relative of hers could be so mean and disobliging.
"Why don't you go to Mr. Cobb again, Auntie?" repeated Emily. "He
will lend you more, I'm sure, if you explain all the circumstances.
It would be a perfectly safe investment for him, and you would pay
interest, of course."
Mrs. Barnes shook her head. "I don't think I'd better, Emily," she
said. "He's got one mortgage on this place already."
"What of it? That was only for fifteen hundred and you have
improved the house and grounds ever so much since then. I think
he'll be glad to let you have another thousand. The mortgage he
has is to run for three years, you said, didn't you?"
Again Thankful did not answer. She had not said the mortgage was
for a term of three years; Emily had presumed that it was and she
had not undeceived her. She hesitated, and Emily noticed her
"It is for three years, isn't it, Auntie?" she repeated.
Mrs. Barnes tried to evade the question.
"Why, not exactly, Emily," she replied. "It ain't. You see, he
thought three years was a little mite too long, and so--and so we
fixed up for a shorter time. It's all right, though."
"Is it? You are sure? Aunt Thankful, tell me truly: how long a
term is that mortgage?"
"Well, it's--it's only for a year, but--"
"A year? Why, then it will fall due next spring. You can't pay
that mortgage next spring, can you?"
"I don't know's I can, but--but it'll be all right, anyhow. He'll
renew it, if I ask him to, I presume likely."
"Of course he will. He will have to. Auntie, you must go and see
him at once. If you don't I shall."
If there was one point on which Thankful was determined, it was
that Emily should not meet Solomon Cobb. The money-lender had
visited the High Cliff premises but once during the summer and then
Miss Howes was providentially absent.
"No, no!" declared Mrs. Barnes, hastily. "You shan't do any such
thing. The idea! I guess I can 'tend to borrowin' money from my
own relation without draggin' other folks into it. I'll drive over
and see him pretty soon."
"You must go at once. I shan't permit you to wait another week.
It is almost time for me to go back to my schoolwork, and I shan't
go until I am certain that mortgage is to be renewed and that your
financial affairs are all right. Do go, Auntie, please. Arrange
to have the mortgage renewed and try to get another loan. Promise
me you will go tomorrow."
So Thankful was obliged to promise, and the following morning she
drove George Washington over the long road, now wet and soggy from
the rain, to Trumet.
Mr. Solomon Cobb's "henhouse" looked quite as dingy and dirty as
when she visited it before. Solomon himself was just as shabby
and he pulled at his whiskers with his accustomed energy.
"Hello!" he said, peering over his spectacles. "What do you
want? . . . Oh, it's you, is it? What's the matter?"
Thankful came forward. "Matter?" she repeated. "What in the
world--what made you think anything was the matter?"
Solomon stared at her fixedly.
"What did you come here for?" he asked.
"To see you. That's worth comin' for, isn't it?"
The joke was wasted, as all jokes seemed to be upon Mr. Cobb. He
did not smile.
"What made you come to see me?" he asked, still staring.
"What made me?"
"Yes. What made you? Have you found--has anybody told you--er--
"Anybody told me! My soul and body! That's what you said when I
was here before. Do you say it to everybody? What on earth do you
mean by it? Who would tell me anything? And what would they
Solomon pulled his whiskers. "Nothin', I guess," he said, after a
moment. "Only there's so much fool talk runnin' loose I didn't
know but you might have heard I was--was dead, or somethin'. I
"I can see that, I hope. And if you was I shouldn't be traipsin'
ten miles just to look at your remains. Time enough for that at
the funeral. Dead! The idea!"
"Um--well, all right; I ain't dead, yet. Set down, won't ye?"
Thankful sat down. Mr. Cobb swung about in his own chair, so that
his face was in the shadow.
"Hear you've been doin' pretty well with that boardin'-house of
yours," he observed. "Hear it's been full up all summer."
"Who told you so?"
"Oh, I heard. I hear about all that's goin' on, one way or
another. I was over there a fortni't ago."
"You were? Why didn't you stop in and see me? You haven't been
there but once since the place started."
"Yes, I have. I've been by a good many times. Didn't stop,
though. Too many of them city dudes around to suit me. Did you
fetch your October interest money."
"No, I didn't. It ain't due till week after next. When it is I'll
send it, same as I have the rest."
"All right, all right, I ain't askin' you for it. What did you
And then Thankful told him. He listened without comment until she
had finished, peering over his spectacles and keeping up the
"There," concluded Mrs. Barnes, "that's what I came for. Will you
The answer was prompt enough this time.
"No, I won't," said Solomon, with decision.
Thankful was staggered.
"You won't?" she repeated. "You won't--"
"I won't lend you no more money. Why should I?"
"You shouldn't, I suppose, if you don't want to. But, the way I
look at it, it would be a perfectly safe loan for you. My
prospects are fine; everybody says so."
"Everybody says a whole lot of things. If I'd put up money on what
everybody said I'd be puttin' up at the poorhouse, myself. But I
ain't puttin' up there and I ain't puttin' up the money neither."
"All right; keep it then--keep it and sleep on it, if you want to.
I can get along without it, I guess; or, if I can't, I can borrow
it of somebody else."
"Humph! You're pretty sassy, seems to me, for anybody that's
"I'm not askin' favors. I told you that when I first come to you.
What I asked was just business and nothin' else."
"Is that so? As I understand it you're askin' to have a mortgage
renewed. That may be business, or it may be a favor, 'cordin' to
how you look at it."
Thankful fought down her temper. The renewal of the mortgage was a
vital matter to her. If it was not renewed what should she do?
What could she do? All she had in the world and all her hopes for
the future centered about her property in East Wellmouth. If that
were taken from her--
"Well," she admitted, "perhaps it is a favor, then."
"Perhaps 'tis. Why should I renew that mortgage? I don't cal'late
to renew mortgages, as a general thing. Did I say anything about
renewin' it when I took it? I don't remember that I did."
"No, no--I guess you didn't. But I hope you will. If you don't--
I--I--Solomon Cobb, that boardin'-house means everything to me.
I've put all I've got in it. It has got the best kind of a start
and in another year--I--I-- Please, Oh PLEASE don't close me out."
"Please don't. You told me when I was here before what a lot you
thought of my Uncle Abner. You knew how much he thought of me.
When you think of him and what he said--"
Mr. Cobb interrupted. "Said?" he repeated, sharply. "What do you
mean he said? Eh? What do YOU know he said?"
"Why--why, he told you about me. You said yourself he did. How
much he thought of me, and all."
"Is that all you meant?"
"Yes, of course. What else is there to mean? Solomon, you profess
to be a Christian. You knew my uncle. He did lots of favors for
you; I know he did. Now--"
"Sshh! shh!" Mr. Cobb seemed strangely perturbed. He waved his
hand. "Hush!" he repeated. "What are you draggin' Cap'n Abner and
Christianity and all that in for? They ain't got nothin' to do
with that mortgage. Who said they had?"
"Why, no one said it. No one said anything; no one but me. I
don't know what you mean--"
"Mean! I don't mean nothin'. There! There! Clear out and don't
bother me no more today. I'm--I ain't feelin' well. Got a cold
comin' on, I cal'late. Clear off home and let me alone."
"But I can't go until you tell me about that mortgage."
"Yes, you can, too. I can't tell you about nothin' just now. I
got to think, ain't I? Maybe I'll renew that mortgage and maybe I
won't. I'll tell you when I make up my mind. Time enough between
now and spring. I-- Ah, Ezry, how be you? Come on in. Glad to
The last portion of the foregoing was addressed to a man who had
entered the office. Mr. Cobb did look as if he was really glad to
Thankful rose. "I'll go," she said, drearily. "I suppose I might
as well. But I shan't sleep much until you make up that mind of
yours. And do make it up the right way, for my sake--and Uncle
Her relative waved both hands this time.
"Shh!" he ordered, desperately. "Don't say no more now; I don't
want the whole creation to know my business and yours. Go on home.
I--I'll come over and see you by and by."
So, because she saw there was no use remaining, Mrs. Barnes went.
The drive home, through the dismal grayness of the cloudy
afternoon, seemed longer and more trying than the trip over. The
dream of raising money for the spring additions and alterations was
over; the High Cliff House must do its best as it was for another
year at least. As to the renewal of the mortgage, there was a
faint hope. Mr. Cobb's final remarks had inspired that hope. He
had been on the point of refusing to renew, Thankful was sure of
that. Then something was said which caused him to hesitate. Mrs.
Barnes looked out between the ears of jogging George Washington and
spoke her thought aloud.
"It's somethin' to do with Uncle Abner," she soliloquized. "He
don't like to have Uncle Abner mentioned. Hum! I wonder what the
reason is. I only wish I knew."
To Emily, who was eagerly waiting to hear the result of her
cousin's visit to Solomon Cobb, Thankful told but a portion of the
truth. She did say, however, that the additional loan appeared to
be out of the question and she guessed they would have to get on
without the needed alterations for another year. Emily thought
they should not.
"If this place is to become really profitable, Auntie," she
insisted, "those changes should be made. I don't see why this Mr.
Cobb won't lend you the money; but, if he won't, then I'm sure
someone else will, if you ask. Don't you know anyone here in East
Wellmouth whom you might ask for a loan--on your prospects?"
"No. No, I don't."
"Why, yes, you do. There is Captain Bangs, for instance. He is
well to do, and I'm sure he is a good friend. Why don't you ask
Thankful's answer was prompt and sharp.
"Indeed I shan't," she declared.
"Then I will. I'll be glad to."
"Emily Howes, if you say one word to Cap'n Obed about borrowin'
money from him I'll--I'll never speak to you afterwards. Go to
Captain Obed. The idea!"
"But why not, Auntie? He IS a friend, and--"
"Of course he is; that's the very reason. He is a friend and he'd
probably lend it because he is, whether he knew he'd ever get it
back or not. No, when I borrow money it'll be of somebody that
lends it as a business deal, not from friendship."
"But, Auntie, you went to Mr. Cobb because he was your relative.
You said that was the very reason why you went to him."
"Um, yes. Well, I may have GONE to him for that reason, but there
ain't any relationship in that mortgage of his; don't you get the
notion that there is."
Emily's next question, naturally, concerned the renewal of that
mortgage. Mrs. Barnes said shortly that she guessed the renewal
would be all right.
"He's comin' over to settle it with me pretty soon," she added.
"Now don't worry your head off any more about mortgages and loans,
Emily. You're goin' to leave me pretty soon; let's not spend our
last days together frettin' about money. That mortgage is all
right. Maybe the extra loan will be, too. Maybe--why, maybe Mr.
Kendrick would lend it, if I asked him."
"Mr. Kendrick? Why, Auntie, Mr. Kendrick has no money, or only a
very little. He is doing well--very well, considering how short a
time he has practised his profession here, but I'm sure he has no
money to lend. Why, he tells me--"
The expression of Mrs. Barnes' face must have conveyed a meaning;
at any rate Emily's sentence broke off in the middle. She colored
and seemed embarrassed.
Thankful smiled. "Yes," she observed, drily, "I notice he tells
you a lot of things--a whole lot more than he does anybody else.
Generally speakin', he is about the closest-mouthed young man about
his personal affairs that I ever run across. However, I ain't
jealous, not a mite. And 'twa'n't of him I was speakin'; 'twas his
cousin, Mr. E. Holliday Kendrick. He's got money enough, I guess.
Maybe he might make a loan on decent security. He's a possibility.
I'll think him over."
Mr. E. Holliday and his doings were still East Wellmouth's favorite
conversational topics. The great man was preparing to close his
summer house and return to New York. His family had already gone--
to Lenox, where they were to remain for a few weeks and then
journey to Florida. E. Holliday remained, several of the servants
remaining with him, but he, too, was to go very soon. There were
rumors that he remained because of other schemes concerning his new
estate. Just what those schemes were no one seemed to know. If
John Kendrick knew he told no one, not even Emily Howes.
But E. Holliday himself disclosed his plan and it was to Thankful
Barnes that he did so. He called at the High Cliff House one
afternoon and asked to see its proprietor. Thankful was a trifle
flustered. It was the first call which her wealthy neighbor had
made upon her, and she could not understand why he came at this
"For mercy sakes, come into the livin'-room with me, Emily," she
begged. "I shan't know how to act in the face of all that money."
Emily was much amused. "I never knew you to be frightened of money
before, Auntie," she said. "I thought you were considering
borrowing some of this very--ahem--personage."
"Maybe I was, though I cal'late I should have took it out in
consideration; I never would have gone to him and asked. But now
the--what do you call it?--personage--come to me for somethin', the
land knows what."
"Perhaps HE wants to borrow."
"Humph! Perhaps he does. Well, then, he's fishin' in the wrong
puddle. Emily Howes, stop laughin' and makin' jokes and come into
that livin'-room same as I ask you to."
But this Emily firmly declined to do. "He's not my caller, Auntie,"
she said. "He didn't even ask if I were in."
So Thankful went into the living-room alone to meet the personage.
And she closed all doors behind her. "If you won't help you shan't
listen," she declared. "And I don't know's I'll tell you a word
after he's gone."
The call was a long one. It ended in an odd way. Emily, sitting
by the dining-room window, heard the front door slam and, looking
out, saw Mr. Kendrick stalking down the path, a frown on his face
and outraged dignity in his bearing. A moment later Thankful burst
into the dining-room. Her cheeks were flushed and she looked
excited and angry.
"What do you think that--that walkin' money-bag came here for?" she
demanded. "He came here to tell me I'd got to sell this place to
him. Yes, sell it to him, 'cause he wanted it. It didn't seem to
make any difference what I wanted. Well, it will make a difference,
I tell you that!"
When she had calmed sufficiently she told of the interview with her
neighbor. E. Holliday had lost no time in stating his position.
The High Cliff House, it appeared, was a source of annoyance to him
and his. A boarding-house, no matter how genteel or well-conducted
a boarding-house it may be, could not longer be tolerated in that
situation. The boarders irritated him by trespassing upon his
premises, by knocking their tennis balls into his garden beds, by
bathing and skylarking on the beach in plain sight from his
verandas. And the house and barn interfered with his view. He
wished to be perfectly reasonable in the matter; Mrs. Barnes, of
course, understood that. He was willing to pay for the privilege
of having his own way. But, boiled down and shorn of politeness
and subterfuge, his proposition was that Thankful should sell her
property to him, after which he would either tear down the
buildings on that property, or move them to a less objectionable
"But, Auntie," cried Emily, "of course you told him you didn't want
"Sartin I did. I told him all I had was invested here, that my
first season had been a good one considerin' 'twas the first, and
that my prospects were all I had a right to hope for. I told him I
was sorry if my boarders had plagued him and I'd try to see they
didn't do so any more. But I couldn't think of sellin' out."
"And what did he say to that?"
"What didn't he say? What I said didn't make a bit of difference.
He made proclamation that any reasonable price I might name he
would consider. He wouldn't submit to what he called 'extortion'
of course, but he would be perfectly fair, and all that. I kept
sayin' no and he kept sayin' yes. Our talk got more and more
sultry long towards the last of it. He told me that he made it a
p'int to get what he wanted and he was goin' to get it now. One
thing he told me I didn't know afore, and it's kind of odd, too.
He said the land this house sits on used to belong to him once.
His father left it to him. He sold it a long while ago, afore my
Uncle Abner bought, I guess. Now he's sorry he sold."
"That was queer, what else did he say?"
"Oh, he said a whole lot about his desire to make East Wellmouth
his permanent residence, about the taxes he paid, and what he meant
to do for the town. I told him that was all right and fine and the
town appreciated it, but that I'd got to think of myself; this
boardin'-house idea was a life-long ambition of mine and I couldn't
give it up."
"And how did it end?"
"Just where it begun. His last words to me was that if I wouldn't
listen to reason then he'd have to try other ways. And he warned
me that he should try 'em. I said go ahead and try, or words not
quite so sassy but meanin' the same. And out he marched. Oh,
Emily, WHAT do you suppose he'll try? He can't MAKE me sell out,
can he? Oh, dear! Oh, dear! here's more trouble. And I thought
there was enough already!"
Emily did her best to reassure her relative, telling the latter
that of course she could not be forced into parting with what was
her own and that Mr. Kendrick was talking merely for effect; but it
was plain that Miss Howes herself was troubled.
"I think you should consult a lawyer, Auntie," she said. "I am
sure I am right, and that that man can't make you do what you don't
want to do. But I don't know, of course, and a lawyer would know
because that is his business. Why don't you ask John--Mr. John
Kendrick, I mean? He will advise you."
Thankful nodded. "I will," she said.
But John did not come home for dinner that night. He had business
which called him to Wellmouth Centre that afternoon and it was late
in the evening when he returned. Heman Daniels was late for dinner
also, and when he entered the dining-room there was an air of
mystery and importance about him which everyone noticed. Miss
Timpson, who seldom permitted reticence to interfere with curiosity,
asked him what was the matter.
"I do declare, Mr. Daniels," she said, "you look as if you had the
cares of the nation on your shoulders tonight. Has anything gone
wrong with one of those important cases of yours?"
Mr. Daniels shook his head. "No," he answered, gravely. "My cases
are progressing satisfactorily. My worries just now are not
professional. I heard some news this afternoon which--er--upset me
somewhat, that is all."
"News? Upsettin' news? Land sakes, do tell us! What is it?"
But Mr. Daniels refused to tell. The news concerned other people,
he said, and he was not at liberty to tell. He trusted Miss
Timpson would excuse him under the circumstances.
Miss Timpson was therefore obliged to excuse him, though it was
plain that she did so under protest. She made several more or less
direct attempts to learn the secret and, failing, went out to
attend prayer-meeting. Caleb Hammond went out also, though the
club, not prayer-meeting, was his announced destination. Heman
finished his dinner alone. When he had finished he sent word by
Imogene that when Miss Howes was at liberty he should like to speak
Emily, who was in the kitchen with Thankful and Captain Obed, the
latter having, as usual, dropped in on his way to the postoffice,
seemed in no hurry to speak with Mr. Daniels. It was not until
half an hour later, when the message was repeated, that she bade
the captain good night and started for the living-room. Captain
Obed and Thankful smiled at each other.
"Heman's a heap more anxious to see her than she is to see him,"
observed the former. "He's pretty fur gone in that direction,
judgin' by the weather signs."
"I cal'late that's so," she agreed. "Still, he's been just as fur
gone with others, if all they say's true. Mr. Daniels is a
fascinator, so everybody says."
"Yup. Prides himself on it, always seemed to me. But there
generally comes a time when that kind of a lady-killer gets hit
himself. Lots of females have been willin' to marry Heman, but
he's never given 'em the chance. About so fur he'll go and then
"How about that widow woman over to Bayport?"
"Well, I did think he was goin' to cast anchor there, but he ain't,
up to now. That widow's wuth a lot of money--her husband owned any
quantity of cranberry bog property--and all hands cal'lated Heman
had his eye on it. Maybe he and the widow would have signed
articles only for Miss Howes heavin' in sight."
"Well, I suppose he's a good man; I never heard a word against him
that way. And he's a risin' lawyer--"
"Yes. But--but I somehow wouldn't want Emily to marry him."
Captain Obed agreed heartily. "Neither would I," he declared.
Then, after a moment, he added: "Hasn't it seemed to you that John
Kendrick was kind of--well, kind of headin' up towards--towards--"
"Yes. Ye-es, I have thought so. I joke Emily a little about him
"So do I, John. How do you think she"--with a jerk of the head
toward the living-room--"feels--er--that way?"
"I don't know. She likes him, I'm sure of that. But, so fur as I
know, there's no understandin' between them. And, anyhow, John
couldn't think of gettin' married, not for a long spell. He hasn't
got any money."
"No, not yet he ain't, but he will have some day, or I miss my
guess. He's gettin' more popular on the Cape all the time, and
popular in the right places, too. Why, the last time I was in
South Denboro Cap'n Elisha Warren spoke to me about him, and if
Cap'n 'Lisha gets interested in a young feller it means a lot.
'Lisha's got a lot of influence."
"You say you joke with John about Emily. How's he take the jokes?"
"Oh, he takes 'em all right. You can't get him mad by teasin' him,
'cause he won't tease. He generally comes right back at me about--
"Oh--nothin'. Just nonsense, that's all. Well, I cal'late I'd
better be goin' if I want to fetch the postoffice afore it's shut
But he was destined not to "fetch" the postoffice that night. He
had risen to go when the dining-room door opened and Emily
appeared. Her face was flushed, and she seemed excited and angry.
"Auntie," she said, sharply, "Auntie, will you come into the
living-room a moment. I want you to hear what that--what Mr.
Daniels says. Don't stop to talk. Come! Captain Bangs, you may
come, too. You are--are his friend and you should hear it."
Surprised and puzzled, Thankful and the captain followed her
through the dining-room to the living-room. There they found Heman
Daniels, standing by the center table, looking embarrassed and
"Now, Mr. Daniels," said Emily, "I want you to tell my cousin and
Captain Bangs just what you have told me. It's not true--I know
it's not true, and I want them to be able to contradict such a
story. Tell them."
Heman fidgeted with the paper-cutter on the table.
"I merely told Miss Howes," he said, nervously, "what was told me.
It was told me by one of the parties most interested and so I
accepted it as the truth. I--I have no personal interest in the
matter. As--as a friend and--and a lawyer--I offered my services,
that is all. I--"
He was interrupted by the opening of the front door. John
Kendrick, wearing his light overcoat, and hat in hand, entered the
"I'm awfully sorry to be so late, Mrs. Barnes," he began. "I was
detained at the Centre. Hello, Captain! Good evening, Daniels!
Good evening, Miss Howes!"
Captain Obed and Thankful said, "Good evening." Neither Emily nor
Heman returned the greeting. John, for the first time, appeared to
notice that something was wrong. He looked from Mrs. Barnes to
Captain Bangs, standing together at one side of the table, and at
Daniels and Emily at the other side. Heman had moved closer to the
young lady, and in his manner was a hint of confidential
understanding, almost of protection.
Kendrick looked from one pair to the other. When he next spoke it
was to Emily Howes.
"Why, what's the matter?" he asked, with a smile. "This looks like
a council of war."
Emily did not smile.
"Mr. Kendrick," she said, "I am very glad you came. Now you can
deny it yourself."
John gazed at her in puzzled surprise.
"Deny it?" he repeated. "Deny what?"
Before Miss Howes could answer Heman Daniels spoke.
"Kendrick," he said, importantly, "Miss Howes has heard something
concerning you which she doesn't like to believe."
"Indeed? Did she hear it from you, may I ask?"
"And that is why she doesn't believe it? Daniels, I'm surprised.
Even lawyers should occasionally--"
Emily interrupted. "Oh, stop!" she cried. "Don't joke, please.
This is not a joking matter. If what I have been told IS true I
should-- But I know it isn't--I KNOW it!"
John bowed. "Thank you," he said. "What have you heard?"
"She has heard--" began Heman.
"Pardon me, Daniels. I asked Miss Howes."
Emily began a reply, but she did not finish it.
"I have been told--" she began. "I have been told-- Oh, I can't
tell you! I am ashamed to repeat such wicked nonsense. Mr.
Daniels may tell you; it was he who told me."
John turned to his fellow practitioner.
"Very well," he said. "Now, Daniels, what is it?"
Heman did not hesitate.
"Miss Howes has heard," he said, deliberately, "that your client,
Mr. Holliday Kendrick, is determined to force Mrs. Barnes here into
selling him this house and land, to force her to sell whether she
wishes it or not. Is that true?"
John nodded, gravely.
"I'm afraid it is," he said. "He seems quite determined. In fact,
he said he had expressed that determination to the lady herself.
He did that, didn't he, Mrs. Barnes?"
Thankful, who had been so far a perplexed and troubled listener,
"Why, yes," she admitted. "He was here today and he give me to
understand that he wanted this property of mine and was goin' to
have it. If I wouldn't agree to sell it to him now then he'd drive
me into sellin' later on. That's about what he said."
Captain Obed struck his fists together.
"The swab!" he exclaimed. "Well, if that don't beat all my goin'
to sea! Humph! I'd like to know how he cal'lates to do it."
"Anything more, Daniels?" inquired John.
"Yes, there is something more. What we want to know from you,
Kendrick, is whether or not you, as his legal adviser, propose to
help him in this scheme of his. That is what we wish to know."
"We? What we? Has Mrs. Barnes--or Miss Howes--have they engaged
you as their attorney, Daniels?"
Before Daniels could reply Emily asked a question.
"Did he--has he asked you to help him?" she demanded. "Has he?"
John smiled. "I doubt if it could be called asking," he observed.
"He gave me orders to that effect shortly after he left here."
Emily gasped. Thankful and Captain Obed said, "Oh!" in concert.
Heman Daniels smiled triumphantly.
"You see, Miss Howes?" he said.
"One moment, Daniels," broke in Kendrick, sharply. "You haven't
answered my question yet. Just where do you come in on this?"
"I--I--" began Daniels, but once more Emily interrupted.
"Are you--" she cried. "Tell me; are you going to help that man
force my cousin into giving up her home?"
Again John smiled. "Well, to be frank," he said, "since it IS her
home and she doesn't wish to sell it I can't for the life of me see
how she can be forced into selling, with or without my valuable
aid. Miss Howes, I--"
"Stop! You persist in treating this affair as a joke. It is NOT a
joke--to my cousin, or to me. Did you tell that man you would help
"I knew it! I was certain of it! Of course you didn't!"
"Pardon me, Miss Howes," put in Daniels. "We have not heard all
yet. Kendrick, do I understand that you told your cousin and--er--
benefactor that you would NOT help him in his infamous scheme?"
John's patience was nearing its limits. He smiled no more.
"I don't know what you understand, Daniels," he said, crisply.
"Your understanding in many matters is beyond me."
"But did you say you would not help him?" persisted Emily.
"Why no, not exactly. He did not wait to hear what I had to say.
He seemed to take my assistance for granted."
Daniels laughed scornfully.
"You see, Miss Howes?" he said again. Then, turning to Thankful:
"Mrs. Barnes, I met Mr. Holliday Kendrick on the street just after
he had come from the interview with his--er--attorney. He told me
that he intended to force you into giving up your property to him
and he told me also that his cousin here had the case in his hands
and would work to carry it through. There seemed to be no doubt in
his mind that this gentleman," indicating John, "had accepted the
responsibility. In fact he said he had."
Captain Obed snorted. "That's plaguy nonsense!" he declared. "I
know better. John ain't that kind of feller. You wouldn't help
anybody to turn a woman out of her house and home, would you, John?
Course you wouldn't. The swab! Just 'cause he's got money he
cal'lates he can run everything. Well, he can't."
"Goodness knows I hope he can't!" moaned Thankful.
"And in the meantime we are waiting to hear what his lawyer has to
say," observed Heman.
John stepped forward. "Daniels," he said, "it strikes me that your
'we's' are a bit frequent. Why are you interfering in this
Mr. Daniels drew himself up. "I am not interfering," he replied.
"My interest is purely that of a friend. AS a friend I told Miss
Howes what your cousin said to me. She seemed to doubt my word.
In justice to myself I propose to prove that I have spoken the
truth, that is all. So far I think I may say that I have proved
it. Now I demand to know what you intend doing. Are you for Mrs.
Barnes or against her?"
"So you demand that, do you?"
"I do. Will you answer?"
"Ah ha! I thought not."
"I'll answer no demands from you. Why should I? If Mrs. Barnes or
Miss Howes asks me I will answer, of course."
"Mr. Kendrick--" began Thankful. Emily interrupted.
"Wait, Auntie," she said. "He must answer me first. Mr. Kendrick,
when that man came to you with his 'orders,' as you call them, you
must have had some opportunity to speak. Why didn't you refuse at
For the first time John hesitated. "Well," he said, slowly, "for
one reason I was taken completely by surprise."
"So was Aunt Thankful, when he came to her. But she refused."
"And, for another, there were certain circumstances which made it
hard to refuse point-blank. In a way, I suppose Mr. Kendrick was
justified in assuming that I would work for his interests. I
accepted his retaining fee. You remember that I hesitated before
doing so, but--but I did accept, and I have acted as his attorney
"Stop! I did not ask for excuses. I ask you, as Mr. Daniels
asked, are you for my cousin or against her?"
"And I ask you what is Mr. Daniels' warrant for asking me
"Answer my question! Will you fight for my cousin's rights, or
have you sold yourself to--to this benefactor of yours?"
John flushed at the repetition of the word.
"I have tried to give value received for whatever benefactions have
come my way," he said, coldly. "This matter may be different; in a
way it is. But not as Mr. Holliday Kendrick sees it. When a
lawyer accepts a retaining fee--not for one case but for all cases
which his client may give him--he is, by the ethics of his
profession, honor bound to--"
"Honor!" scornfully. "Suppose we omit the 'honor'."
"That is not easy to do. I AM my cousin's attorney. But, as Mrs.
Barnes' friend and yours, I--"
Emily stamped her foot. "Friend!" she cried. "I don't care for
such friends. I have heard enough. I don't wish to hear any more.
You were right, Mr. Daniels. I apologize for doubting your word.
Aunt Thankful, you must settle this yourself. I--I am through.
I--I am going. Please don't stop me."
She was on her way to the door of the dining-room. Heman Daniels
called her name.
"One minute, Miss Howes," he said. "I trust you will not forget
you have one friend who will be only too glad to work for Mrs.
Barnes' interests and yours. I am at your service."
"Thank you, thank you, Mr. Daniels. I--I have no doubt we shall
need your services. But please don't--"
John Kendrick was at her side.
"Miss Howes--Emily--" he pleaded. "Don't misunderstand me."
She burst out at him like, as Captain Obed said afterward, "an
August thunder tempest."
"Misunderstand!" she repeated. "I don't misunderstand. I
understand quite well. Don't speak to me again."
The door closed behind her. Thankful, after an instant's
hesitation, hurried out after her.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," said Daniels, and followed Mrs. Barnes.
Captain Obed turned to his friend.
"For the Lord sakes, John!" he shouted. "What in the everlastin'
do you mean? What did you let her go that way for? Why didn't you
tell her you wouldn't do it?"
But Kendrick paid not the slightest attention. He was gazing at
the door through which Emily and Thankful had disappeared. His
face was white.
"John," repeated the captain.
"Hush!" ordered John. He strode to the door and opened it.
"Emily!" he cried. "Emily!"
There was no answer. John waited a moment and then turned and
walked to the window, where he raised the shade and stood looking
"John," said the captain again.
"Hush! Don't say anything to me now."
So Captain Obed did not speak. A few minutes later the dining-room
door opened and Mr. Daniels entered. His expression was one of
complete, not to say malicious, satisfaction. John turned at the
opening of the door.
"Emily," he began. Then, seeing Daniels, he remained silent,
looking at him.
"Kendrick," said Heman, with dignity, "in the matter which we have
just been discussing you will hereafter deal with me. That is Mrs.
Barnes' wish and also Miss Howes'."
John did not reply. Once more he walked to the door and opened it.
"Miss Howes!" he called. "Emily! If you will let me explain--
"I'll go fetch her," declared Captain Obed. John pushed him back.
"Don't interfere, Captain," he said, sharply. "Emily!"
No answer. Daniels made the next remark.
"I'm afraid you don't get the situation, Kendrick," he said.
"Neither Miss Howes nor Mrs. Barnes cares to see you or speak with
you. After this you are to deal with me. They have asked me, as a
FRIEND," emphasizing the word, "to act as their representative in
this and all matters."
John turned and looked at the speaker.
"In all matters?" he asked, slowly.
"Yes sir, in all."
"And they refuse to see me?"
"It would--er--seem so. . . . Is there anything further, Kendrick?
If not then this affair between your--er--client and mine would
appear to be a matter of skill for you and me to contest. We'll
see who wins."
John still looked at him.
"So that's it then," he said, after a moment. "You and I are to
determine which is the better lawyer?"
"So it would seem. Though, considering my record and experience, I
don't know that--"
"That such a test is necessary? I don't know that it is, either.
But we'll have it."
He walked from the room and they heard him ascending the stairs.
Captain Obed swore aloud. Heman Daniels laughed.
The next morning the captain was an early caller. Breakfast at the
High Cliff House was scarcely over when he knocked at the kitchen
door. Imogene opened the door.
"Mr. Kendrick ain't here," she said, in answer to the caller's
question. "He's gone."
"Gone? So early? Where's he gone; down to his office?"
"I don't know. He's gone, that's all I do know. He didn't stop
for any breakfast either."
"Humph! That's funny. Where's Mrs. Thankful?"
"She's up in Miss Emily's room. Miss Emily didn't come down to
breakfast neither. I'll tell Mrs. Barnes you're here."
When Thankful came she looked grave enough.
"I'm awful glad to see you, Cap'n," she said. "I've been wantin'
to talk to some sane person; the one I've been talkin' to ain't
sane, not now. Come into the dinin'-room. Imogene, you needn't
finish clearin' away till I tell you to. You stay in the kitchen
When she and Captain Obed were in the dining-room alone, and with
both doors closed, Thankful told of the morning's happenings.
"They're bad enough, too," she declared. "Almost as bad as that
silly business last night--or worse, if such a thing's possible.
To begin with, Mr. John Kendrick's gone."
"Yes, Imogene said he'd gone. But what made him go so early?"
"You don't understand, Cap'n. I mean he's gone--gone for good. He
isn't goin' to board or room here any more."
Captain Obed whistled. "Whew!" he exclaimed. "You don't mean it?"
"I wish I didn't, but I do. I didn't see him this mornin', he went
too early for that, but he took his suitcase and his trunk is all
packed and locked. He left a note for me with a check for his room
rent and board in it. The note said that under the circumstances
he presumed I would agree 'twas best for him to go somewheres else
at once. He thanked me for my kindness, and said some real nice
things--but he's gone."
"Tut! tut! Dear, dear! Where's he gone to? Did he say?"
"No, I've told you all he said. I suppose likely I ought to have
expected it, and perhaps, if he is goin' to work for that cousin of
his and against me, it's best that he shouldn't stay here; but I'll
miss him awful--a good deal more'n I miss the money he's paid me,
and the land knows I need that. I can't understand why he acted
the way he did last night. It don't seem like him at all."
"Humph! I should say it didn't. And it ain't like him either.
There's a nigger in the woodpile somewheres; I wish I could smoke
the critter out. What's Emily say about his goin'?"
"She don't say anything. She won't talk about him at all, and she
won't let me mention his name. The poor girl looks as if she'd had
a hard night of it, but she looks, too, as if her mind was made up
so fur's he was concerned."
Captain Obed pulled at his beard.
"She didn't give him much of a chance last evenin', seemed to me,"
he said. "If she'd only come back when he called after her that
time, I cal'late he was goin' to say somethin'; but she didn't
come. Wouldn't answer him at all."
"Did he call after her? I didn't hear him and I don't think she
did. When she slammed out of that livin'-room she went right up
the back stairs to her bedroom and I chased after her. She was
cryin', or next door to it, and I wanted to comfort her. But she
wouldn't let me."
"I see. Probably she didn't hear him call at all. He did, though;
and he called her by her first name. Matters between 'em must have
gone further'n we thought they had."
"Yes, I guess that's so. Do you know, Cap'n, I wouldn't wonder if
Mr. Daniels knew that and that was why he was so--so nasty to Mr.
Kendrick last night. Well, I'm afraid it's all off now. Emily's
awful proud and she's got a will of her own."
"Um, so I should judge. And John's will ain't all mush and
molasses either. That's the worst of young folks. I wonder how
many good matches have been broke off just by two young idiots
lettin' their pride interfere with their common-sense. I wish you
and me had a dime for every one that had; you wouldn't have to keep
boarders, and I wouldn't have to run sailin' parties with codfish
"That's so. But, Cap'n Bangs, DO you think Mr. Kendrick is goin'
to try and force me into sellin' out just 'cause his boss says so?
It don't seem as if he could. Why, he--he's seemed so grateful for
what I've done for him. He said once I couldn't be kinder if I was
his own mother. It don't seem as if he could treat me so, just for
the money there was in it. But, Oh dear!" as the thought of Mr.
Solomon Cobb crossed her mind, "seems as if some folks would do
anything for money."
"John wouldn't. I've known of his turnin' down more'n one case
there was money in account of its bein' more fishy than honest.
No, if he does work for that--that half Holliday cousin of his on
this job, it'll be because he's took the man's money and feels he
can't decently say no. But I don't believe he will. No, sir-ee!
I tell you there's a darky in this kindlin' pile. I'm goin' right
down to see John this minute."
He went, but, instead of helping the situation, he merely made it
worse. He found John seated at his office desk apparently engaged
in his old occupation, that of looking out of the window. The
young man's face was pale and drawn, but his manner was perfectly
"Hello, Captain," he observed, as his caller entered. "I trust
you've taken the necessary precautions, fumigated and all that sort
"Why, yes. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, this office is destined to
become the den of the moral leper. As soon as my respected fellow-
townsmen, the majority of them, learn that I am to battle with
Heman the Great, and in such a cause, I shall be shunned and, so to
speak, spat upon. You're taking big chances by coming here."
The captain grunted. "Umph!" he sniffed. "They don't know it yet;
neither do I."
"Ah yes, but they will shortly. Daniels will take care that they
"John, for thunder sakes--"
"Better escape contagion while you can, Captain. Unclean! Unclean!"
"Aw, belay, John! I don't feel like jokin'. What you've got to
tell me now is that it ain't so. You ain't goin' to--to try to--
His friend interrupted. "Captain Bangs," he said, sharply, "this
is a practical world we live in. You and I have had that preached
to us; at least I have and you were present during the sermon. I
don't know how you feel, of course; but henceforth I propose to be
the most practical man you ever saw."
"Consarn your practicality! Are you goin' to help that--that gold-
dust twin--that cussed relation of yours, grab Thankful Barnes'
house and land from her?"
"Look here, Bangs; when the--gold-dust twin isn't bad--when the
twin offered me the position of his attorney and the blanket
retainer along with it, who was it that hesitated concerning my
acceptance? You? I don't remember that you did. Neither did--
others. But I did accept because--well, because. Now the
complications are here, and what then?"
"John--John Kendrick, if you dast to set there and tell me you're
cal'latin' to--you can't do it! You can't be goin' to try such a--"
"Oh, yes, I can. I may not succeed, but I can try."
Captain Obed seldom lost his temper, but he lost it now.
"By the everlastin'!" he roared. "And this is the young feller
that I've been holdin' up and backin' up as all that's fair and
above board! John Kendrick, do you realize--"
"Easy, Captain, easy. Perhaps I realize what I'm doing better than
"You don't neither. Emily Howes--"
John's interruption was sharper now.
"That'll do, Bangs," he said. "Suppose we omit names."
"No, we won't omit 'em. I tell you you don't realize. You're
drivin' that girl right straight to Heman Daniels, that's what
Kendrick smiled. "I should say there was no driving necessary," he
observed. "Daniels seems to be already the chosen guardian and
adviser. I do realize what I'm doing, Captain, and," deliberately,
"I shall do it."
"Hush! I like you, Captain Obed. I don't wish to quarrel with
you. Take my advice and omit that young lady's name."
Captain Obed made one last appeal.
"John," he pleaded, desperately, "don't! I know you're sort of--
sort of tied up to Holliday Kendrick; I know you feel that you are.
But this ain't a question of professional honor and that kind of
stuff. It's right and wrong."
"Is it? I think not. I was quite willing to discuss the rights
and wrongs, but I had no--however, that is past. I was informed
last night, and in your hearing, that the question was to be purely
a matter of legal skill--of law--between Daniels and myself. Very
well; I am a lawyer. Good morning, Captain Bangs."
The captain left the office, still protesting. He was hurt and
angry. It was not until later he remembered he had not told
Kendrick that Heman Daniels must have spoken without authority when
he declared himself the chosen representative of Mrs. Barnes and
Emily in all matters between the pair and John. Heman could not
have been given such authority because, according to Thankful's
story, she and Miss Howes had immediately gone upstairs after
leaving the living-room. Daniels could have spoken with them again
that evening. But when Captain Obed remembered this it was too
late. Thankful had asked Mr. Daniels to take her case, provided
the attempt at ousting her from her property ever reached legal
proceedings. And Emily Howes left East Wellmouth two days later.
She had not intended to leave for South Middleboro so soon; she had
planned to remain another week before going back to her school
duties. But there came a letter from the committee asking her to
return as soon as possible and she suddenly announced her
determination to go at once.
Thankful at first tried to dissuade her, but soon gave up the
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