Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 1
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 1 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1229

Click below to download : Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 1 (Format : PDF)

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 1

CHAPTER I

"Hi hum," observed Mr. Joel Macomber, putting down his knife and fork with obvious reluctance and tilting back his chair. "Hi hum-a-day! Man, born of woman, is of few days and full of--of somethin', I forget what--George, what is it a man born of woman is full of?"

George Kent, putting down his knife and fork, smiled and replied that he didn't know. Mr. Macomber seemed shocked.

"_Don't know?_" he repeated. "Tut, tut! Dear me, dear me! A young feller that goes to prayer meetin' every Friday night--or at least waits outside the meetin'-house door every Friday night--and yet he don't remember his Scriptur' well enough to know what man born of woman is full of? My soul and body! What's the world comin' to?"

Nobody answered. The six Macomber children, Lemuel, Edgar, Sarah-Mary, Bemis, Aldora and Joey, ages ranging from fourteen to two and a half, kept on eating in silence--or, if not quite in silence, at least without speaking. They had been taught not to talk at table; their mother had taught them, their father playing the part of horrible example. Mrs. Macomber, too, was silent. She was busy stacking plates and cups and saucers preparatory to clearing away. When the clearing away was finished she would be busy washing dishes and after that at some other household duty. She was always busy and always behind with her work.

Her husband turned to the only other person at the crowded table.

"Cap'n Sears," he demanded, "you know 'most everything. What is it man born of woman is full of besides a few days?"

Sears Kendrick thoughtfully folded his napkin. There was a hole in the napkin--holes were characteristic of the Macomber linen--but the napkin was clean; this was characteristic, too.

"Meanin' yourself, Joel?" he asked, bringing the napkin edges into line.

"Not necessarily. Meanin' any man born of woman, I presume likely."

"Humph! Know many that wasn't born that way?"

Mr. Macomber's not too intellectual face creased into many wrinkles and the low ceiling echoed with his laugh. "Not many, I don't cal'late," he said, "that's a fact. But you ain't answered my question, Cap'n. What is man born of woman full of?"

Captain Kendrick placed the folded napkin carefully beside his plate.

"Breakfast, just now, I presume likely," he said. "At least, I know two or three that ought to be, judgin' by the amount of cargo I've seen 'em stow aboard in the last half hour." Then, turning to Mrs. Macomber, he added, "I'm goin' to help you with the dishes this mornin', Sarah."

The lady of the house had her own ideas on that subject.

"Indeed you won't do anything of the sort," she declared. "The idea! And you just out of a crippled bed, as you might say."

This remark seemed to amuse her husband hugely. "Ho, ho!" he shouted. "That's a good one! I didn't know the bed was crippled, Sarah. What's the matter with it; got a pain in the slats?"

Sarah Macomber seldom indulged in retort. Usually she was too busy to waste the time. But she allowed herself the luxury of a half minute on this occasion.

"No," she snapped, "but it's had one leg propped up on half a brick for over a year. And at least once a week in all that time you've been promisin' to bring home a new caster and fix it. If that bed ain't a cripple I don't know what is."

Joel looked a trifle taken aback. His laugh this time was not quite as uproarious.

"Guess you spoke the truth that time, Sarah, without knowin' it. Who is it they say always speaks the truth? Children and fools, ain't it? Well, you ain't a child scarcely, Sarah. Hope you ain't the other thing. Eh? Ho, ho!"

Mrs. Macomber was halfway to the kitchen door, a pile of plates upon her arm. She did not stop nor turn, but she did speak.

"Well," she observed, "I don't know. I was one once in my life, there's precious little doubt about that."

She left the room. Young Kent and Captain Kendrick exchanged glances. Mr. Macomber swallowed, opened his mouth, closed it and swallowed again. Lemuel and Sarah-Mary, the two older children, giggled. The clock on the mantel struck seven times. The sound came, to the adults, as a timely relief from embarrassment.

Captain Kendrick looked at his watch.

"What's that?" he exclaimed. "Six bells already? So 'tis. I declare I didn't think 'twas so late."

Joel rose to his feet, moving--for him--with marked rapidity.

"Seven o'clock!" he cried. "My, my! We've got to get under way, George, if we want to make port at the store afore 'Liphalet does. Come on, George, hurry up."

Kent lingered for a moment to speak to Sears Kendrick. Then he emerged from the house and he and Joel walked rapidly off together. They were employed, one as clerk and bookkeeper and the other as driver of the delivery wagon, at Eliphalet Bassett's Grocery, Dry Goods, Boots and Shoes and Notion Store at the corner of the main road and the depot road. Joel's position there was fixed for eternity, at least he considered it so, having driven that same delivery wagon at the same wage for twenty-two years. "Me and that grocery cart," Mr. Macomber was wont to observe, "have been doin' 'Liphalet's errands so long we've come to be permanent fixtures. Yes, sir, permanent fixtures." When this was repeated to Mr. Bassett the latter affirmed that it was true. "Every time the dum fool goes out takin' orders," said Eliphalet, "he stays so long that I begin to think he's turned _into a permanent fixture. Takes an order for a quarter pound of tea and a spool of cotton and then hangs 'round and talks steady for half an hour. Permanent fixture! Permanent gas fixture, that's what _he is."

George Kent did not consider himself a permanent fixture at Bassett's. He had been employed there for three years, or ever since the death of his father, Captain Sylvester Kent, who had died at sea aboard his ship, the _Ocean Ranger_, on the voyage home from Java to Philadelphia. George remained in Bayport to study law with Judge Knowles, who was interested in the young man and, being a lawyer of prominence on the Cape, was an influential friend worth having. The law occupied young Kent's attention in the evenings; he kept Mr. Bassett's books and sold Mr. Bassett's brown sugar, calico and notions during the days, not because he loved the work, the place, or its proprietor, but because the twelve dollars paid him each Saturday enabled him to live. And, in order to live so cheaply that he might save a bit toward the purchase of clothes, law books and sundries, he boarded at Joel Macomber's. Sarah Macomber took him to board, not because she needed company--six children and a husband supplied a sufficiency of that--but because three dollars more a week was three dollars more.

Joel and George having tramped off to business and the very last crumb of the Macomber breakfast having vanished, the Macomber children proceeded to go through their usual morning routine. Lemuel, who did chores for grumpy old Captain Elijah Samuels at the latter's big place on the depot road, departed to rake hay and be sworn at. Sarah-Mary went upstairs to make beds; when the bed-making was over she and Edgar and Bemis would go to school. Aldora and Joey, the two youngest, went outdoors to play. And Captain Sears Kendrick, late master of the ship _Hawkeye_, and before that of the _Fair Wind and the _Far Seas and goodness knows how many others, who ran away to ship as cabin boy when he was thirteen, who fought the Malay pirates when he was eighteen, and outwitted Semmes by outmaneuvering the _Alabama when he was twenty-eight, a man once so strong and bronzed and confident, but now so weak and shaken--Captain Sears Kendrick rose painfully and with effort from his chair, took his cane from the corner and hobbled to the kitchen.

"Sarah," he said, "I'm goin' to help you with those dishes this mornin'."

"Sears," said Mrs. Macomber, taking the kettle of boiling dish-water from the top of the stove, "you'll do nothin' of the kind. You'll go outdoors and get a little sunshine this lovely day. It's the first real good day you've had since you got up from bed, and outdoors 'll help you more than anything else. Now you go!"

"But look here, Sarah, for Heaven's sake----"

"Be still, Sears, and don't be foolish. There ain't dishes enough to worry about. I'll have 'em done in half a shake. Go outdoors, I tell you. But don't you walk on those legs of yours. You hear me."

Her brother--Sarah Macomber was a Kendrick before she married Joel--smiled slightly. "How do you want me to walk, Sarah, on my hands?" he inquired. "Never mind my legs. They're better this mornin' than they have been since that fat woman and a train of cars fell on 'em.... Ah hum!" with a change of tone, "it's a pity they didn't fall on my neck and make a clean job of it, isn't it?"

"Sears!" reproachfully. "How can you talk so? And especially now, when the doctor says if you take care of yourself, you'll 'most likely be as well as ever in--in a little while."

"A little while! In a year or two was what he said. In ten years was probably what he meant, and you'll notice he put in the 'most likely' even at that. If you were to lash him in the fore-riggin' and keep him there till he told the truth, he'd probably end by sayin' that I would always be a good for nothin' hulk same as I am now."

"Sears, don't--please don't. I hate to hear you speak so bitter. It doesn't sound like you."

"It's the way I feel, Sarah. Haven't I had enough to make me bitter?"

His sister shook her head. "Yes, Sears," she admitted, "I guess likely you have, but I don't know as that is a very good excuse. Some of the rest of us," with a sigh, "haven't found it real smooth sailin' either; but----"

She did not finish the sentence, and there was no need. He understood and turned quickly.

"I'm sorry, Sarah," he said. "I ought to be hove overboard and towed astern. The Almighty knows you've had more to put up with than ever I had and you don't spend your time growlin' about it, either. I declare I'm ashamed of myself, but--but--well, you know how it is with me. I've never been used to bein' a loafer, spongin' on my relations."

"Don't, Sears. You know you ain't spongin', as you call it. You've paid your board ever since you've been here."

"Yes, I have. But how much? Next to half of nothin' a week and you wouldn't have let me pay that if I hadn't put my foot down. Or said I was goin' to try to put it down," he added with a grim smile. "You're a good woman, Sarah, a good woman, with more trials than your share. And what makes me feel worst of all, I do believe, is that I should be pitched in on you--to be the biggest trial of all. Well, that part's about over, anyhow. No matter whether I can walk or not I shan't stay and sponge on you. If I can't do anything else I'll hire a fish shanty and open clams for a livin'."

He smiled again and she smiled in sympathy, but there were tears in her eyes. She was seven years older than her brother, and he had always been her pride. When she was a young woman, helping with the housework in the old home there in Bayport, before her father's death and the sale of that home, she had watched with immense gratification his success in school. When he ran away to sea she had defended him when others condemned. Later, when tales of his "smartness," as sailor or mate, or by and by, a full rated captain, began to drift back, she had gloried in them. He came to see her semi-occasionally when his ship was in port, and his yarns of foreign lands and strange people were, to her, far more wonderful than anything she had ever found in the few books which had come in her way. Each present he brought her she had kept and cherished. And there was never a trace of jealousy in her certain knowledge that he had gone on growing while she had stopped, that he was a strong, capable man of the world--the big world--whereas she was, and would always be, the wife and household drudge of Joel Macomber.

Now, as she looked at him, pale, haggard and leaning on his cane, stooping a little when he had been so erect and sturdy, the pity which she had felt for him ever since they brought him into her sitting-room on the day of the railway accident became keener than ever and with it came an additional flash of insight. She realized more clearly than she had before that it was not his bodily injuries which hurt most and were the hardest to bear; it was his self-respect and the pride which were wounded sorest. That he--_he_--Sears Kendrick, the independent autocrat of the quarter deck, should be reduced to this! That it was wringing his soul she knew. He had never complained except to her, and even to her very, very seldom, but she knew. And she ventured to ask the question she had wanted to ask ever since he had sufficiently recovered to listen to conversation.

"Sears," she said "I haven't said a word before, and you needn't tell me now if you don't want to--it isn't any of my business--but is it true that you've lost a whole lot of money? It isn't true, is it?"

He had been standing by the open door, looking out into the yard. Now he turned to look at her.

"What isn't true, Sarah?" he asked.

"That you've lost a lot of money in--in that--that business you went into. It isn't true, is it, Sears? Oh, I hope it isn't! They say--why, some of 'em say you've lost all the money you had put by. An awful sight of money, they say. Sears, tell me it isn't true--please."

He regarded her in silence for a moment. Then he shook his head.

"Part of it isn't true, Sarah," he answered, with a slight smile. "I haven't lost a big lot of money."

"Oh, I'm _so glad. Now I can tell 'em a few things, I guess."

"I wouldn't tell 'em too much, because the other part _is true. I have lost about all I had put by."

"Oh, Sears!"

"Um--hm. And served me right, of course. You can't make a silk ear out of a sow's purse, as old Cap'n Sam Doane used to love to say. You can't, no matter how good a purse--or--ear--it is. I was a pretty good sea cap'n if I do say it, but that wasn't any reason why I should have figured I was a good enough business man to back as slippery an eel as Jim Carpenter in the ship chandlery game ashore."

"But--you----" Mrs. Macomber hesitated to utter the disgraceful word, "you didn't fail up, did you, Sears?" she faltered. "You know that's what they say you did."

"Well, they say wrong. Carpenter failed, I didn't. I paid dollar for dollar. That's why I've got next to no dollars now."

"But you--you've got _some_, Sears. You must have," hopefully, "because you've been paying me board. So you must have _some left."

The triumph in her face was pathetic. He hated to disturb her faith.

"Yes," he said dryly, "I have some left. Maybe seven hundred dollars or some such matter. If I had my legs left it would be enough, or more than enough. I wouldn't ask odds of anybody if I was the way I was before that train went off the track. I'd lost every shot I had in the locker, but I'm not very old yet--some years to leeward of forty--there was more money to be had where that came from and I meant to have it. And then--well, then this happened to me."

"I know. And to think that you was comin' down here on purpose to see me when it did happen. Seems almost as if I was to blame, somehow."

"Nonsense! Nobody was to blame but the engineer that wrecked the train and the three hundred pound woman that fell on my legs. And the engineer was killed, poor fellow, and the woman was--well, she carried her own punishment with her, I guess likely. Anyhow, I should call it a punishment if I had to carry it. There, there, Sarah! Let's talk about somethin' else. You do your dishes and, long as you won't let me help you, I'll hop-and-go-fetch-it out to that settee in the front yard and look at the scenery. Just think! I've been in Bayport almost four months and haven't been as far as that gate yet--except when they lugged me in past it, of course. And I don't recall much about that."

"I guess not, you poor boy. And I saw them bringin' you in, all stretched out, with your eyes shut, and as white as---- Oh, my soul and body! I don't want to think about it, let alone talk about it."

"Neither do I, Sarah, so we won't. Do you realize how little I know of what's been goin' on in Bayport since I was here last? And do you realize how long it has been since I _was here?"

"Why, yes, I do, Sears. It's been almost six years; it will be just six on the tenth of next September."

The speech was illuminating. He looked at her curiously.

"You do keep account of my goin's and comin's, don't you, old girl?" he said. "Better than I do myself."

"Oh, it means more to me than it does to you. You live such a busy life, Sears, all over the world, meetin' everybody in all kinds of places. For me, with nothin' to do but be stuck down here in Bayport--well, it's different with me--I have to remember. Rememberin' and lookin' ahead is about all I have to keep me interested."

He was silent for a moment. Then he said: "It looks as if rememberin' was all I will be likely to have. Think of it, Sarah! Four months in Bayport and I haven't been to the post-office. That'll stand as a town record, I'll bet."

"And--and you'll keep up your courage, Sears? You won't let yourself get blue and discouraged, for my sake if nobody else's?"

He nodded. "I couldn't, Sarah," he said earnestly. "With you around I'd be ashamed to."

She ran to help him down the step, but he waved her away, and, leaning upon the cane and clinging fast to the lattice with the other hand, he managed to make the descent safely. Once on the flat level of the walk he moved more rapidly and, so it seemed to his sister, more easily than he had since his accident. The forty odd feet of walk he navigated in fair time and came to anchor, as he would have expressed it, upon the battered old bench by the Macomber gate. The gate, like the picket fence, of which it was a part, needed paint and the bench needed slats in its back. Almost anything which Joel Macomber owned needed something and his wife and family needed most of all.

An ancient cherry tree, its foliage now thickly spotted with green fruit, for the month was June, cast a shadow upon the occupant of the bench. At his feet grew a bed of daffodils and jonquils which Sarah Macomber had planted when she came, a hopeful bride, to that house. Each year they sprouted and bloomed and now, long after Sarah's hopes had ceased to sprout, they continued to flourish. Beside the cherry tree grew a lilac bush. Beyond the picket fence was the dusty sidewalk and beyond that the dustier, rutted road. And beyond the road and along it upon both sides were the houses and barns and the few shops of Bayport village, Bayport as it was, and as some of us remember it, in the early '70's.

In some respects it was much like the Bayport of to-day. The houses themselves have changed but little. Then, as now, they were trim and white and green-shuttered. Then, as now, the roses climbed upon their lattices and the silver-leaf poplars and elms and mulberry trees waved above them. But the fences which enclosed their trim lawns and yards have disappeared, and the hitching posts and carriage blocks by their front gates have gone also. Gone, too, are the horses and buggies and carryalls which used to stand by these gates or within those barns. They are gone, just as the ruts and dust of the roads have vanished. When Mrs. Captain Hammond, of the lower road, used to call upon Mrs. Ryder at West Bayport, she was wont to be driven to her destination in the intensely respectable Hammond buggy drawn by the equally respectable Hammond horse and piloted by the even more respectable--not to say venerable--Hammond coachman, who was also gardener and "hired man." And they made the little journey in the very respectable time of thirty-five minutes. Now when Mrs. Captain Hammond's granddaughter, who winters in Boston but summers at the old home, wishes to go to West Bayport she skims over the hard, oiled macadam in her five thousand dollar runabout and she finishes the skimming in eight minutes or less.

And although the dwellings along the Bayport roads are much as they were that morning when Captain Sears Kendrick sat upon the bench in the Macomber yard and gazed gloomily at the section of road which lay between the Macomber gate and the curve beyond the Orthodox meeting-house--although the houses were much the same in external appearance, those who occupy them at the present day are vastly different from those who owned and lived in them then. Here is the greatest change which time has brought to old Bayport. Now those houses--the majority of them--are open only in summer; then they were open all the year. They who come to them now regard them as playthings, good-time centers for twelve or fourteen weeks. Then they were the homes of men and women who were proud of them, loved them, meant to live in them--while on land--as long as life was theirs; to die in them if fortunate enough to be found by death while ashore; and at last to be buried near them, under the pines of the Bayport cemetery. Now these homes are used by business men or lawyers or doctors, whose real homes are in Boston, New York, Chicago, or other cities. Then practically every house was owned or occupied either by a sea captain, active or retired, or by a captain's widow or near relative.

For example, as Captain Kendrick sat in his brother-in-law's yard on that June morning of that year in the early '70's, within his sight, that is within the half mile from curve to curve of the lower road, were no less than nine houses in which dwelt--or had dwelt--men who gained a living upon a vessel's quarter deck. Directly across the road was the large, cupola-crowned house of Captain Solomon Snow. Captain Sol was at present somewhere between Surinam and New York, bound home. His wife was with him, so was his youngest child. The older children were at home, in the big house; their aunt, Captain Sol's sister, herself a captain's widow, was with them.

Next to Captain Solomon's was the Crowell place. Captain Bethuel Crowell was in Hong Kong, but, so his wife reported at sewing circle, had expected to sail from there "any day about now" bound for Melbourne. Next to Captain Bethuel lived Mrs. Patience Foster, called "Mary Pashy" by the townspeople to distinguish her from another Mary Foster in East Bayport. Her husband had been drowned at sea, or at least so it was supposed. His ship left Philadelphia eight years before and had never been spoken or heard from since that time. Next to Mary-Pashy's was the imposing, if ugly, residence of Captain Elkanah Wingate. Captain Elkanah was retired, wealthy, a member of the school-committee, a selectman, an aristocrat and an autocrat. And beyond Captain Elkanah lived Captain Godfrey Peasley--who was not quite of the aristocracy as he commanded a schooner instead of a square-rigger, and beyond him Mrs. Tabitha Crosby, whose husband had died of yellow fever while aboard his ship in New Orleans; and beyond Mrs. Crosby's was--well, the next building was the Orthodox meeting-house, where the Reverend David Dishup preached. Nowadays people call it the Congregationalist church. On the same side of the road as the Macomber cottage were the homes of Captain Sylvanus Baker and Captain Noah Baker and of Captain Orrin Eldridge.

Bayport, in that day, was not only by the sea, it was of the sea. The sea winds blew over it, the sea air smelled salty in its highways and byways, its male citizens--most of them--walked with a sea roll, and upon the tables and whatnots of their closed and shuttered "front parlors" or in their cupboards or closets were laquered cabinets, and whales' teeth, and alabaster images, and carved chessmen and curious shells and scented fans and heaven knows what, brought from heaven knows where, but all brought in sailing ships over one or more of the seas of the world. The average better class house in Bayport was an odd combination of home and museum, the rear two-thirds the home section and the remaining third, that nearest the road, the museum. Bayport front parlors looked like museums, and generally smelled like them.

To a stranger from, let us say, the middle west, the village then must have seemed a queer little community dozing upon its rolling hills and by its white beaches, a community where the women had, most of them, traveled far and seen many strange things and places, but who seldom talked of them, preferring to chat concerning the minister's wife's new bonnet; and whose men folk, appearing at long intervals from remote parts of the world, spoke of the port side of a cow and compared the three-sided clock tower of the new town hall with the peak of Teneriffe on a foggy morning.

All this, odd as it may have seemed to visitors from inland, were but matters of course to Sears Kendrick. To him there was nothing strange in the deep sea atmosphere of his native town. It had been there ever since he knew it, he fondly imagined--being as poor a prophet as most of us--that it would always be. And, as he sat there in the Macomber yard, his thoughts were busy, not with Bayport's past or future, but with his own, and neither retrospect nor forecast was cheerful. He could see little behind him except the mistakes he had made, and before him--not even the opportunity to make more.

Overhead, amid the cherry branches, the bees buzzed and the robins chirped. From the kitchen window came the click of dishes as Mrs. Macomber washed and wiped them. Around the curve of the road by the meeting-house came Dr. Sheldon's old horse, drawing Dr. Sheldon's antiquated chaise, with the doctor himself leaning back comfortably upon its worn cushions. Captain Kendrick, not being in the mood for a chat just then even with as good a friend as his physician, made no move, and the old chaise and its occupant passed by and disappeared around the next curve. Sarah-Mary and Edgar and Bemis noisily trooped out of the house and started for school. Edgar was enthusiastically carolling a ditty which was then popular among Bayport juvenility. It was reminiscent of a recent presidential campaign.


"Grant and Greely were fightin' for flies,
Grant gave Greely a pair of black eyes--"


The children, like Doctor Sheldon and the chaise, passed out of sight around the bend of the road. Edgar's voice, more or less tunefully, drifted back:


"Grant said, 'Do you want any more?'
Greely said, 'No, for my eyes are too sore.'"


Sears Kendrick crossed his knees and changed position upon the bench. Obviously he could not hope to go to sea again for months at the very earliest. Obviously he could not live during those months at his sister's. She would be only too delighted to have him do so, but on that point his mind was made up. And, quite as obviously, he could not long exist, and pay an adequate price for the privilege of existing, with the small sum which was left after his disastrous voyage upon the sea of business. His immediate problems then were two: First, to find a boarding place which was very, very cheap. Second, if possible, to find a means of earning a little money. The first of these he might, perhaps, solve after a fashion, but the second--and he a cripple! He groaned aloud.

Then he gradually became aware of a new set of sounds, sounds approaching along the road from the direction in which the children and the doctor's equipage had disappeared. The sounds, at first rather confused, gradually separated themselves into two varieties, one the sharp, irregular rattle of a springless cart, the second a hoarse unmusical voice which, like Edgar's, was raised in song. But in this case the rattle of the cart caused the song to be broken unexpectedly into jerky spasms, so to speak. Nevertheless, the singer kept manfully at his task.


"Now the _Dreadnought's a-bowlin' (_Bump! Rattle_)
down the wild Irish sea
Where the pass (_Bump!_) engers are merry
with hearts full of glee,
While the sailors like lions (_Gid-dap!
What's the matter with ye_) walk the decks to and fro,
She's the Liverpool packet (_Bump! Bang! Crack!_)
Good Lord, let her go!"


Sears Kendrick sat upright on the settee. Of course he recognized the song, every man who had ever sailed salt water knew the old _Dreadnought chantey, but much more than that, he believed he recognized the voice of the singer. Leaning forward, he watched for the latter to appear.

Then, around the clump of lilacs which leaned over Captain Sol Snow's fence at the corner, came an old white horse drawing an old "truck-wagon," the wagon painted, as all Cape Cod truck-wagons then were and are yet, a bright blue; and upon the high seat of the wagon sat a chunky figure, a figure which rocked back and forth and sang:


"Now the _Dreadnought's a sailin' the (_Bang! Bump!_)
Atlantic so wide,
While the (_Thump! Bump!_) dark heavy seas roll
along her black side,
With the sails neatly spread (_Crump! Jingle!_)
and the red cross to show,
She's the Liverpool packet; Good Lord, let----"


Captain Kendrick interrupted here.

"Ahoy, the _Dreadnought_!" he hailed. "_Dreadnought ahoy!"

"Good Lord, let 'er go!" roared the man on the seat of the truck-wagon, finishing the stanza of his chantey. Then he added "Whoa!" in a mighty bellow. The white horse stopped in his tracks, as if he had one ear tipped backward awaiting the invitation. His driver leaned down and peered into the shadow of the lilac bush.

"Who--?" he began. "Eh? _What? Limpin', creepin', crawlin', jumpin' Moses and the prophets! It ain't Cap'n Sears Kendrick, is it? It is, by Henry! Well, well, _well_, WELL, _WELL_!"

Each succeeding "well" was louder and more emphatic than its predecessor. They were uttered as the speaker rolled, rather than climbed, down from the high seat. Alighting upon a pair of enormous feet shod in heavy rubber boots, the tops of which were turned down, he thumped up the little slope from the road to the sidewalk. Then, thrusting over the fence pickets a red and hairy hand, the size of which corresponded to that of the feet, he roared another string of delighted exclamations.

"Cap'n Sears Kendrick, on deck and all taut again! Well, by the jumpin', creepin'! If this ain't--Cap'n Sears, sir, how be you?"

His broad-brimmed, battered straw hat had fallen off in his descent from the wagon seat, uncovering a partially bald head and a round, extremely red face, two-thirds of which was hidden by a tremendously thick and bristly tangle of short gray whiskers. The whiskers were now bisected by a broad grin, a grin so broad and so ecstatic that its wrinkles extended to the bulbous nose and the apple cheeks above.

"Cap'n Sears, sir," repeated the driver of the truck-wagon, "I'm proud to see you on deck again, sir. Darned if I ain't!"

The captain leaned forward and shook the big red hand extended across the fence pickets.

"Judah Cahoon, you old salt herrin'," he cried heartily, "I'm just as glad to see you! But _what in the world are you doin' here in Bayport?"

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 2 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 2

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 2
CHAPTER IIMr. Cahoon's grin vanished and the expression of his face above the whiskers indicated extreme surprise. "What am I doin' here?" he repeated. "Didn't you know I was here, Cap'n Sears?" "Of course I didn't. The last I heard of you you had shipped as cook aboard the _Gallant Rover and was bound for Calcutta, or Singapore or somewhere in those latitudes. And that was only a year ago. What are you doin' on the Cape and pilotin' that kind of a craft?" indicating the truck wagon. The question was ignored. "Didn't they never tell you I was here?" demanded
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Woman-haters: A Yarn Of Eastboro Twin-lights - Chapter 17. Woman-Haters The Woman-haters: A Yarn Of Eastboro Twin-lights - Chapter 17. Woman-Haters

The Woman-haters: A Yarn Of Eastboro Twin-lights - Chapter 17. Woman-Haters
CHAPTER XVII. WOMAN-HATERS"But what," asked Ruth, as they entered the bungalow together, "has happened to Mr. Atkins, do you think? You say he went away yesterday noon and you haven't seen him or even heard from him since. I should think he would be afraid to leave the lights for so long a time. Has he ever done it before?" "No. And I'm certain he would not have done it this time of his own accord. If he could have gotten back last night he would, storm or no storm." "But last night was pretty bad. And," quite seriously, "of course
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT