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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 10
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 10 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :2069

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 10


Sears Kendrick left the Fair Harbor, perhaps fifteen minutes later, with that thought still uppermost in his mind. This was not at all the Egbert Phillips he had expected. From Judge Knowles' conversation, from Judah Cahoon's stories, from fragmentary descriptions he had picked up here and there about Bayport, he had fashioned an Egbert who had come to be in his mind a very real individual. This Egbert of his imagining was an oily, rather flashily dressed adventurer, a glib talker, handsome in a stage hero sort of way, with exaggerated politeness and a toothsome smile. There should be about this individual a general atmosphere of brilliantine, clothes and jewelry. On the whole he might have been expected to look a bit like the manager the captain had seen standing beside the ticket wagon at the circus, twirling his mustache with one hand and his cane with the other. Not quite as showy, not quite as picturesque, but a marked resemblance nevertheless.

And the flesh and blood Egbert Phillips was not that kind at all. One was not conscious of his clothes, except that they were all that they should be as to fit--and style. He wore no jewelry whatever save his black cuff buttons and studs. His black tie was not of Bayport's fashion, certainly. It was ample, flowing and picturesque, rather in the foreign way. No other male in Bayport could have worn that tie and not looked foolish, yet Mr. Phillips did not look foolish, far from it. He did not wear a beard, another unusual bit of individuality, but his long, drooping mustache was extraordinarily becoming and--yes, aristocratic was the word. His smile was pleasant, his handshake was cordial, but not overdone, and his voice low and pleasant. Above all he had a manner, a manner which caused Sears, who had sailed pretty well over the world and had met all sorts of people in all sorts of places, to feel awkward and countrified. Yet one could tell that Mr. Phillips would not have one feel that way for the world; it was his desire to put every one at his or her ease.

He greeted the captain with charming affability. He had heard of him, of course. He understood they were neighbors, as one might say. He looked forward to the pleasure of their better acquaintance. He had gotten but little further than this when Mrs. Berry, Miss Snowden and the rest again swooped down upon him and Sears was left forgotten on the outside of the circle. He went home soon afterward and sat down in the Minot kitchen to think it over.

Egbert had come.... Well? Now what?

He spent the greater part of the afternoon superintending the stowage of the wood and did not go back to the Harbor at all. But he was perfectly certain that he was not missed. The Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women fairly perspired excitement. Caroline Snow, her washing hung upon the lines in the back yard, found time to scurry down the hill and tell Judah the news. The captain had limped up to his room for a forgotten pipe, and when he returned Judah was loaded with it. He fired his first broadside before his lodger entered the barn.

"Say, Cap'n Sears," hailed Mr. Cahoon, breathlessly, "do you know who that feller was me and you seen along of Elviry this forenoon? The tall one with the beaver and--and the gloves and the cane? The one I called the Prince of Wales or else a lightnin'-rod peddler? Do you know who he is?"

Sears nodded. "Yes," he said, shortly.

Judah stared, open-mouthed.

"You _do_?" he gasped.


"You mean to tell me you know he's that--ah--er-what's-his-name--Eg Phillips come back?"

"Yes, Judah."

"My hoppin' Henry! Why didn't you say so?"

"I didn't know it then, Judah. I found it out afterward, when I went up to the house."

"Yes--but--but you knew it when you and me was eatin' dinner, didn't you? Why didn't you say somethin' about it then?"

"Oh I don't know. It isn't important enough to interfere with our meals, is it?"

Judah slowly shook his head. "It's a dum good thing you wan't around time of the flood, Cap'n Sears," he declared. "'Twould have been the thirty-eighth day afore you'd have cal'lated 'twas sprinklin' hard enough to notice. Afore that you'd have called it a thick fog, I presume likely. If you don't think this Phillips man's makin' port is important enough to talk about you take a cruise down to the store to-night. You'll hear more cacklin' than you'd hear in a henhouse in a week--and all account of just one Egg, too," he added, with a chuckle.

"Caroline told you he had come, I suppose? Well, what does she think of him?"

Judah snorted. "She?" he repeated. "She thinks he's the Angel Gabriel dressed up."

He would have liked to discuss the new arrival the remainder of the afternoon, but the captain was not in the mood to listen. Neither was he more receptive or discussive at supper time. Judah wanted to talk of nothing else and to speculate concerning the amount of wealth which Mr. Phillips might have inherited, upon the probable date of the reading of Lobelia's will, upon whether or not the fortunate legatee might take up his residence in Bayport.

"Say Cap'n" he observed, turning an inflamed countenance from the steam of dishwashing, "don't you cal'late maybe he may be wantin' to--er--sort of change things aboard the Fair Harbor? He'll be Admiral, as you might say, now, won't he?"

"Will he?"

"Well--won't he?"

"Don't know, Judah. I haven't thrown up my commission yet, you know."

"No, course you ain't, course you ain't. I don't mean he'd think of disrating you, Cap'n Sears. Nobody'd be fool-head enough for that.... But, honest, I would like to look at him and hear him talk. Caroline Snow, she says he's the finest, highest-toned man ever _she see."

"Yes? Well, that's sayin' somethin'."

"Yus, but 'tain't sayin' too much. She lives down to Woodchuck Neck and the highest thing down there is a barrel of cod-livers. They're good and high when the sun gets to 'em."

When the dishes were done he announced that he guessed likely he might as well go down to Eliphalet's and listen to the cackling. The captain did not object, and so he put on his cap and departed. But he was back again in less than a minute.

"He's comin', Cap'n," he cried, excitedly. "Creepin' Moses! He's comin' here."

Sears remained calm. "He is, eh?" he observed. "Well, is he creepin' now?"

"Hey? Creepin'? What are you talkin' about?"

"Why, Moses. You said he was comin', didn't you?"

"I said that Egbert man was comin'. He was just onlatchin' the gate when I see him.... Hey? That's him knockin' now. Shall I--shall I let him in, Cap'n Sears?"

"I would if I were you, Judah. If you don't I shall have to."

So Judah did. Mr. Phillips entered the kitchen, removing his silk hat at the threshold. Mr. Cahoon followed, too overcome with excitement and curiosity to remember to take off his own cap. Sears Kendrick would have risen from the armchair in which he was seated, but the visitor extended a gloved hand.

"Don't. Don't rise, I beg of you," he said, earnestly. "Pray keep your seat, Captain Kendall. I have just learned of your most unfortunate accident. Really, I must insist that you remain just as you are. You will distress me greatly if you move on my account. Thank you, thank you. I suppose I should apologize for running in in this informal way, but I feel almost as if I had known you for a long time. Our mutual friends, the Berrys, have told me so much concerning you since my arrival that I did not stand upon ceremony at all."

"That's right," declared the captain, heartily. "I'm glad you didn't. Sit down, Mr. Phillips. Put your hat on the table there."

Judah stepped forward.

"Give it to me; I'll take care of it," he said, taking the shining beaver from the visitor's hand. "I'll hang it up yonder in the back entry, then 'twon't get knocked onto the floor.... No, no, don't set in that chair, that's got a spliced leg; it's liable to land you on your beam ends if you ain't careful. Try this one."

He kicked the infirm chair out of the way and pushed forward a substitute. "There," he added, cheerfully, "that's solid's the rock of Giberaltar. Nothin' like bein' sure of your anchorage. Set down, set down."

He beamed upon the caller. The latter did not beam exactly. His expression was a queer one. Sears came to the rescue.

"Mr. Phillips," he said, "this is Mr. Cahoon."

Judah extended a mighty hand.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Phillips," he declared. "I've heard tell of you considerable."

Egbert looked at the hand. His expression was still queer.

"Oh--ah--how d'ye do?" he murmured.

"Mr. Cahoon and I are old friends," explained Sears. "I am boardin' here with him."

"Yus," put in Judah. "And afore that I shipped cook aboard Cap'n Sears's vessels for a good many v'yages. The cap'n and I get along fust rate. He's all right, Cap'n Sears is, _I tell ye!"

Mr. Phillips murmured something to the effect that he was sure of it. He did not seem very sure of Judah. Mr. Cahoon did not notice the uncertainty, he pushed his hand nearer to the visitor's.

"I'm real glad to meet you," he said.

Egbert gingerly took the proffered hand, moved it up and down once and then dropped it, after which he looked at his glove. Judah looked at it, too.

"Kind of chilly outdoor to-night, is it?" he asked. "Didn't seem so to me."

Again his lodger came to the rescue.

"Well, Mr. Phillips," he said, "you gave us all a little surprise, didn't you? Of course we expected you in a general sort of way, but we didn't know when you would make port."

Egbert bowed. "I scarcely knew myself," he said. "My plans were somewhat vague and--ah--rather hurriedly made, naturally. Of course my great sorrow, my bereavement----"

He paused, sighed and then brushed the subject away with a wave of his glove.

"You won't mind, I'm sure," he said, "if I don't dwell upon that just now. It is too recent, the shock is too great, I really cannot.... But I am so sorry to hear of your disability. A railway wreck, I understand. Outrageous carelessness, no doubt. Really, Captain Kendrick, one cannot find excuses for the reckless mismanagement of your American railways.... Why, what is it? Don't you agree with me?"

The captain had looked up momentarily. Now he was looking down again.

"Don't you agree with me?" repeated Egbert. "Surely you, of all people, should not excuse their recklessness."

Sears shook his head. "Oh, I wasn't tryin' to," he replied. "I was only wonderin' why you spoke of 'em as 'your' railroads. They aren't mine, you know. That is, any more than they are Judah's--or yours--or any other American's. No such luck."

Mr. Phillips coughed, smiled, coughed again, and then explained that he had used the word 'your' without thinking.

"I have been so long an--ah--shall I say exile, Captain Kendall," he observed, "that I have, I presume, fallen somewhat into the European habit of thinking and--ah--speaking. Habit is a peculiar thing, is it not?"

Mr. Cahoon, intensely interested in the conversation, evidently felt it his duty to contribute toward it.

"You're right there, Mr. Phillips," he announced, with emphasis. "Don't talk to me about habits! When a man's been to sea as long's I have he runs afoul of pretty nigh every kind of habit there is, seems so. Why, I knew a feller one time--down to Surinam 'twas--I was cook and steward aboard the old _Highflyer_--and this feller--he wan't a white man, nor he wan't all nigger nuther, kind of in between, one of them--er--er--octoreens, that's what he was--well, this feller he had the dumdest habit. Every day of his life, about the middle of the dog watch he'd up and----"


"Aye, aye, Cap'n Sears?"

"You'll be late down at the store, won't you?"

"Hey? Oh, I don't care how late I be. I don't know's I'm so dreadful partic'lar about goin' down there to-night, anyhow. Don't know but I'd just as live stay here."

"I'd go."

"Hey? Oh, I----"

"I'd go, if I were you. You know there's likely to be a good deal goin' on."

"Think so, do you?" Judah was evidently on the fence. "Course, I---- Well, maybe I had better, come to think of it. Good night, Mr. Phillips. I'll tell you about that octoreen feller next time I see you. So long, Cap'n Sears. I'll report about," with a wink, "the cacklin' later. Creepin'! it's most eight now, ain't it?"

He hurried out. Egbert looked rather relieved. He smiled tolerantly.

"Evidently an eccentric, your--er--man," he observed.

"He has his ways, like the majority of us, I guess," declared the captain, crisply. "Underneath he is as square and big-hearted as they make. And he's a good friend of mine."

"Oh, yes; yes, I'm sure of it. Captain Kendall----"

"Kendrick, not Kendall."

Mr. Phillips begged pardon for the mistake. It was inexcusable, he admitted. He had heard the captain's name mentioned so frequently since his arrival in Bayport, especially by Mrs. Berry and her daughter, "so favorably, even enthusiastically mentioned," that he certainly should have remembered it. "I am not quite myself, I fear," he added. "My recent bereavement and the added shock of the death of my dear old friend the judge have had their effect. My nerves are--well, you understand, I am sure."

He made a lengthy call. He talked a great deal, and his conversation was always interesting. He spoke much of his dear wife, of life abroad, of Genoa and Leghorn, ports which the captain had visited, and of the changes in Bayport since his last sojourn in the village. But he said almost nothing concerning his plans for the future, and of the Fair Harbor very little. In fact, Sears had the feeling that he was waiting for him to talk concerning that institution. This the captain would not do and, at last, Mr. Phillips himself touched lightly upon the fringes of the subject.

"Do you find your duties in connection with the--ah--retreat next door arduous, Captain Kendrick?" he inquired.

"Eh?... Oh, no, I don't know as I'd call 'em that, exactly."

"I imagine not, I imagine not. You are--you are, I gather, a sort of--oh---- What should I call you, captain; in your official capacity, you know?"

He laughed pleasantly. Sears smiled.

"Give it up," he replied. "I told Elizabeth--Miss Berry, I mean--when I first took the berth that I scarcely knew what it was."

"Ha, ha! Yes, I can imagine. Miss Berry--charming girl, isn't she, captain--intimated to me that your position was somewhat--ah--general. You exercise a sort of supervision over the finances and management, in a way, do you not?"

"In a way, yes."

"Yes. Of course, my dear sir, you understand that I am not unduly curious. I don't mean to be. This--ah--Fair Harbor was, as you know, very dear to the heart of Mrs. Phillips and, now that she has been taken from me, I feel, of course, a sense of trust, of sacred responsibility. We had understood, she and I, that our dear friend--Judge Knowles--was in supreme charge--nominally, I mean; of course Mrs. Berry was in actual charge--and, therefore, I confess to a natural feeling of--shall I say surprise, on learning that the judge had appointed another person, an understudy, as it were?"

"Well, you couldn't be any more surprised than I was when the judge asked me to take the job. And Elizabeth and her mother know that I hesitated considerable before I did take it. Judge Knowles was in his last sickness, he couldn't attend to things himself."

Mr. Phillips raised a protesting hand. "Please don't misunderstand me," he said. "Don't, I beg of you, think for a moment that I am objecting to the judge's action, or even criticizing it. It was precisely the thing he should have done, what Mrs. Phillips and I would have wished him to do. And as for his choice of--ah--appointee----"

Captain Sears interrupted. "As to that," he said, "you can criticize as much as you please. You can't object any more than I did when me made me the offer."

The protesting hand was again raised. "Criticism or objection was the very farthest from my mind, I assure you," Egbert declared. "I was about to say that Judge Knowles showed his usual--ah--acumen when he selected a man as well known and highly esteemed as yourself, sir. The mention of the name of Captain Kendall----"


"Kendrick, of course. I apologize once more. But, if you will permit me to say so, a man as well and favorably known to us all as you are, sir, is certainly the ideal occupant of the--ah--place."

"Thanks. You knew of me, then? I don't think you and I have ever met before, have we?"

"No; no, I believe I have never before had the pleasure."

"Thanks. I was pretty sure I hadn't. I've been away from Bayport a good deal. I wasn't here when you and your wife came back--about five years ago, wasn't it? And, of course, I didn't know you when you used to live here. Let's see; you used to teach singin'-school, didn't you?"

This question was asked in the most casual fashion. Mr. Phillips did not answer at once. He coughed, changed his position, and then smiled graciously.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, I--I did something of the sort, for a time. Music has always been a--one might call it a--ah--hobby of mine. But, regarding your duties as--well, whatever those duties are, Captain Kendrick: You say they are not arduous. And your--ah--compensation? That, I understand, is not large? Pardon my referring to it, but as Mrs. Phillips was the owner and benefactress of the Fair Harbor, and as I am--shall I say heir--to her interests, why, perhaps my excuse for asking for information is--ah--a reasonable one."

He paused, and with another smile and wave of the hand, awaited his host's reply. Sears looked at him.

"I guess you know what my wages are, Mr. Phillips," he observed. "Don't you?"


"Didn't Cordelia tell you? She knows. So does Elizabeth."

"Why--why, Mrs. Berry did mention a figure, I believe. I seem to recall--ah--ah--something."

"If you remember fifteen hundred a year, you will have it right. That is the amount I'm paid for bein' in general command over there. As you say, it isn't very large, but perhaps it's large enough for what I do."

"Oh--ah, _don't misunderstand me, Captain Kendrick, please don't. I was not questioning the amount of your salary."

"Wasn't you? My mistake. I thought you was."

"No; indeed no. My only feeling in regard to it was its--ah--trifling size. It--pardon me, but it seemed such a small sum for you to accept, a man of your attainments."

"My attainments, as you call 'em, haven't got me very far I'm a poor man and, just now at any rate, I'm a cripple, a wreck on a lee shore. Fifteen hundred a year isn't so small to me."

Mr Phillips apologized. He was sorry he had referred to the subject. But the captain, he was sure, understood his motive for asking, and, now that so much had been said, might he say just a word more.

"Our dear Cordelia--Mrs. Berry--" he went on, "intimated that your--ah--compensation was paid by the judge, himself."

"Yes it was. Judge Knowles paid it with his own money. It doesn't come out of the Fair Harbor funds."

"Yes, yes, of course, of course. The judge's interest in my beloved wife's--ah--whims--perhaps that is too frivolous a word--was extraordinarily fine. But now the judge has passed on."

"Yes. More's the pity."

"I heartily agree with you, it is a great pity. An irreparable loss.... But he has gone."


Just here the dialogue came to a peculiar halt. Mr. Phillips seemed to be waiting for his companion to say something and the captain to be waiting for Phillips himself to say it first. As a consequence neither said it. When the conversation was resumed it was once more of a general nature. It was not until just beyond the end of the call that the Fair Harbor was again mentioned. And, as at first, it was the caller who led up to it.

"Captain Kendrick," he observed, "you are, like myself, a man of the world, a man of wide experience."

This was given forth as a positive statement, not a question, yet he seemed to expect a reply. Sears obliged.

"Oh, I don't know," he demurred.

"Pardon me, but I do. I am accustomed to judge persons and characters, and I think I may justly pride myself on making few mistakes. From what I had heard I expected to find you a man of the world, a man of experience and judgment. Judge Knowles' selection of you as the--ah--temporary head of the Fair Harbor would have indicated that, of course, but, if you will permit me to say so, this interview has confirmed it."

Again he paused, as if expecting a reply. And again the captain humored him.

"Much obliged," he said.

The Phillips hand waved the thanks away. There was another perceptible wait. Then said Egbert, "Captain Kendrick, as one man of the world to another, what do you think of the--ah--institution next door?"

Sears looked at him. "What do I think of it?" he repeated.

"Yes, exactly. It was, as you know, the darling of my dear wife's heart. When she loaned her--shall we say her ancestral home, and--ah--money to the purpose she firmly believed the Fair Harbor for Mariners' Women to be an inspiration for good. She believed its founding to be the beginning of a great work. Is it doing that work, do you think? In your opinion, sir, is it a success?"

Captain Sears slowly stroked his close-cropped beard. What was the man driving at?

"Why--I don't know as I know exactly what you mean by success," he hesitated. "It's takin' care of its--er--boarders and it's makin' a home for 'em. That is what your wife wanted it to do, didn't she?"

"Oh, yes, yes, quite so. But that is not precisely what I mean. Put it this way, sir: In your opinion, as a man of affairs----"

"Here, here, just a minute. I'm not a man of affairs. I'm a broken-down sea cap'n on shore, that's all."

Again the upraised hand. "_I know what you are, Captain Kendrick," said Egbert. "That, if you will permit me to say so, is why I am asking your opinion. The success of a--ah--proposition depends, as I see it, upon the amount of success achieved in proportion to the amount of energy, capital--ah--whatnot invested. Now, considering the sum needed to support the Fair Harbor--paid, as doubtless you know, Captain Kendrick, from the interest of an amount loaned and set aside by my dear wife some years ago--considering that sum, I say, added to the amount sunk, or invested, in the house, land, furnishings, et cetera, is it your opinion that the institution's success is a sufficient return? Or, might not the same sums, put into other--ah--charities, reap larger rewards? Rewards in the shape of good to our fellow men and women, Captain Kendrick? What do you think?"

Sears crossed his knees.

"I don't know," he said.

"Of course, of course. One does not know. But it is a question to be considered, is it not?"

"Why--why, yes, maybe. Do I understand that you are thinkin' of givin' up the Fair Harbor? Doin' away with it?"

"Oh, no, no, no!" Mr. Phillips pushed the surmise deeper into the background with each negative. "I am not considering anything of that sort, Captain Kendrick."

"Well--humph! My mistake again. I thought you just said you were considerin' it."

"Only as a question, Captain, only as a question. While my wife lived, of course, the Fair Harbor--_her Fair Harbor--was a thing fixed, immovable. Now that she has been taken from me, it devolves upon me, the care of her trusts, her benefactions."

"Yes. So you said, Mr. Phillips."

"I believe I did say so. Yes. And therefore, as I see it, a part of that trust is to make sure that every penny of her--ah--charity is doing the greatest good to the greatest number."

"And you think the Fair Harbor isn't gettin' its money's worth?"

"Oh, no, no, no. I don't say that. I don't say that at all. I am sure it must be. I am merely considering, that is all, merely considering.... Well, Captain Kendrick, I must go. We shall see each other often, I trust. I have-ah--a suite at the Central House and if you will do me the honor of calling I shall greatly appreciate it. Pray drop in at any time, sir. Don't, I beg of you, stand upon ceremony."

Sears promised that he would not. He was finding it hard to keep from smiling. A "suite" at the Central House, Bayport's one hostelry, tickled him. He knew the rooms at that hit or miss tavern.

"Good-by, Captain Kendrick," said Mr. Phillips. "Upon one thing I feel sure you may congratulate yourself, that is that your troubles and petty annoyances as--ah--manager of the Fair Harbor are practically over."

"Oh," observed the captain.

"Yes. I think I shall be able to relieve you of _that care very shortly. And the sooner the better, I presume you are saying. Yes? Ha, ha!"

"Thanks. Goin' to appoint somebody else, eh?"

"Oh, no, no! My _dear sir! Why, I--I really--I thought you understood. I mean to say simply that, while I am here in person, and as long as I am here, I shall endeavor to look after the matters myself and consequently relieve you, that is all. Judge Knowles appointed you and paid you--a very wise and characteristic thing for him to do; but he, poor man, is dead. One could scarcely expect you to go on performing your duties gratuitously. That is why I congratulate you upon the lifting of the burden from your shoulders."

"Oh, yes. Um-hm. I see. Thank you, Mr. Phillips."

"I should thank you, sir, for all you have already done. I do sincerely.... Oh, by the way, Captain Kendrick, perhaps it would be as well that nothing be said concerning this little business talk of ours. One knows how trifles are distorted, mole hills made mountains, and all that, in communities like--well, like dear old Bayport. We love our Bayporters, bless them, but they will talk. Ha, ha! So, captain, if you will consider our little chat confidential----"

"I will."

"Thank you, sir, thank you. And we shall see each other frequently. I am counting upon it. _Au revoir_, Captain Kendrick. Don't rise, I beg of you."

He was gone, the door closed behind him. Sears filled his pipe, lighted it, and leaned back in his chair to review and appraise his impressions.

The appraisal was not altogether satisfactory. It was easy to say that he did not like Egbert Phillips, for it was the truth--he did not like him. But to affirm truthfully that that dislike was founded upon anything more substantial than prejudice due to Judge Knowles' detestation was not so easy. The question which continually intruded was this: Suppose he had met Mr. Phillips for the first time, never having heard of him before--would he have disliked and distrusted him under those circumstances? He could not be quite sure.

For, leaving aside Egbert's airy condescension and his--to the captain's New England mind--overdone politeness, there was not so much fault to be found with his behavior or words during the interview just ended. He had asked questions concerning the Fair Harbor, had hinted at the possibility of its discontinuance, had more than hinted at the dropping of Kendrick as its manager. Well--always bearing in mind the fact that he was ignorant of his wife's action which gave the Seymour house and land to the Fair Harbor and gave, not loaned, the money for its maintenance--bearing in mind the fact that Egbert Phillips believed himself the absolute owner of all, with undisputed authority to do as he pleased with it--then.... Well, then Captain Sears was obliged to admit that he, himself, might have questioned and hinted very much as his visitor had done. And as for the condescension and the "manner"--these were, after all, not much more than eccentricities, and developed, very likely, during his life abroad.

Lobelia Phillips' will would be opened and read soon, probably at once. Whew! Sears whistled as he thought of the staggering disillusionment which was coming to the widower. How would he take it? Was Judge Knowles right in his belief that the rest of the Seymour inheritance had been wasted and lost? If so, the elegant personage who had just bowed himself out of the Minot kitchen would be in a bad way indeed. Sears was sorry for him.

And yet he did not like the man. No, he did not.... And he did distrust him.

Judah came back from his sojourn at the store brimful of talk and chuckles. As he had prophesied, all Bayport had heard of the arrival of the great man and all Bayport was discussing him. He had the finest rooms at the Central House. He had three trunks--count them--three! Not to mention bags and a leather hat box. He had given the driver of the depot wagon a dollar over and above his regular charge. He remembered Eliphalet Bassett the first time he saw him, and called him by name.

There was a lot more of this, but Sears paid little attention to it. Judah summed it all up pretty well in his final declaration, given as his lodger was leaving the kitchen for the "spare stateroom."

"By Henry!" declared Judah, who seemed rather disgusted, "I never heard such a powwowin' over one man in my life. Up to 'Liphalet's 'twan't nothin' but 'Egbert Phillips,' 'Egbert Phillips,' till you'd think 'twas a passel of poll-parrots all mockin' each other. Simeon Ryder had been down to deacon's meetin' in the Orthodox vestry and, nigh's I can find out, 'twas just the same down there. 'Cordin' to Sim's tell they talked about the Lord's affairs for ten minutes and about this Egg man's for forty."

"But why?" queried the captain. "He isn't the only fellow that has been away from Bayport and come back again."

Mr. Cahoon shook his head. "I know it," he admitted, "but none of the rest ever had quite so much fuss made over 'em. I cal'late, maybe, it's on account of the way he's been led up to, as you might say. I went one time to a kind of show place in New York, Barnum's Museum 'twas. There was a great sign outdoor sayin', 'Come on aboard and see the White Whale,' or somethin' similar. Well, I'd seen about every kind of a whale _but a white one, so I cal'lated maybe I'd might as well spend a quarter and see that. There was a great big kind of tank place full of water and a whole passel of folks hangin' around the edge of it with their mouths open, gawpin' at nothin'--nothin' but the water, that's all there was to see. And a man up on a kind of platform he was preachin' a sort of sermon, wavin' his arms and hollerin' about how rare and scurce white whales was, and how the museum folks had to scour all creation afore they got this one, and about how the round heads of Europe----"

"Crowned heads, wasn't it, Judah?"

"Hey? I don't know, maybe so. Cabbage heads it ought to have been, 'cordin' to my notion. Well, anyhow, 'twas some kind of Europe heads, and they had all pretty nigh broke the necks belongin' to 'em gettin' to see this whale, and how lucky we was because we could see it for the small sum of twenty-five cents, and so on, and so on--until all hands of us was just kind of on tiptoe, as you might say. And then, all to once, the water in the tank kind of riz up, you know, and somethin' white--might have been the broadside of a barn for all we had time to see of it--showed for a jiffy, there was a 'Woosh,' and the white thing went under again.' And that was all. The man said we was now able to tell our children that we'd seen a white whale and that the critter would be up to breathe again in about an hour, or week after next, or some such time.... Anyhow, what I'm tryin' to get at is that 'twan't the whale itself that counted so much as 'twas the way that preachin' man led up to him. This Egbert he's been preached about and guessed about and looked for'ard to so long that all Bayport's been on tiptoe, like us folks around that museum tank.... Well, this Phillips whale has made a big 'Woosh' in town so fur. Can he keep it up? That's what I'm wonderin'."

The sensation kept up for the next day and the next at least, and there were no signs of its abating. Over at the Fair Harbor Captain Sears found himself playing a very small second fiddle. Miss Snowden, Mrs. Brackett and their following, instead of putting themselves out to smile upon the captain and to chat with him, ignored him almost altogether, or, if they did speak, spoke only of Mr. Phillips. He was the most entertaining man, _so genteel, his conversation was remarkable, he had traveled everywhere.

Mrs. Berry, of course, was in ecstasies concerning him. He was her ideal of a gentleman, she said, _so aristocratic. "So like the men I associated with in the old days," she said. "Of course," she added, "he is an old friend. Dear 'Belia and he were my dearest friends, you know, Captain Kendrick."

The captain was curious to learn Elizabeth's opinion of him. He found that opinion distinctly favorable.

"He is different," she said. "Different, I mean, from any one I ever met. And at first I thought him conceited. But he isn't really, he is just--well, different. I think I shall like him."

Sears smiled. "If you don't you will be rather lonesome here in the Harbor, I judge," he observed.

She looked at him quickly. "You don't like him, do you, Cap'n Kendrick?" she said. "Why?"

"Why--why, I don't say I don't like him, Elizabeth."

"No, you don't say it, but you look it. I didn't think you took sudden dislikes, Cap'n. It doesn't seem like you, somehow."

He could not explain, and he felt that he had disappointed her.

On the third day the news came that Mr. Phillips had left town, gone suddenly, so Judah said.

"He took the afternoon train and bought a ticket for Boston, so they tell me," declared the latter. "He's left his dunnage at the Central House, so he's comin' back, I cal'late; but nobody knows where he's gone, nor why he went. Went over to Orham this mornin'--hired a horse-'n'-team down to the livery stable and went--come back about one o'clock, wouldn't speak to nobody, went up to his room, never et no dinner, and then set sail for Boston on the up train. Cur'us, ain't it? Where do you cal'late likely he's gone, Cap'n Sears?"

"Give it up, Judah. And," speaking quickly in order to head off the question he saw the Cahoon lips already forming, "I can't guess why he's gone, either."

But, although he did not say so, he could have guessed why Mr. Phillips had gone to Orham. Bradley, the Orham lawyer, had written the day before to say that the will of Lobelia Phillips would be opened and read at his office on Thursday morning. And this was Thursday. Bradley had suggested Sears's coming over to be present at the reading of the will. "As you are so deeply interested in the Fair Harbor," he wrote, "I should think you might--or ought to--be on hand. I don't believe Phillips will object."

But the captain had not accepted the invitation. Knowing, as he did, the disappointment which was in store for Egbert, he had no wish to see the blow fall. So he remained at home, but that afternoon Bradley himself drove into the Minot yard.

"I just stopped for a minute, Cap'n, he said. I had some other business in town here; that brought me over, but I wanted to tell you that we opened that will this morning."

Sears looked a question. "Well?" he queried.

Bradley nodded. "It was just about as we thought, and as the judge said," he declared. "The papers were there, of course, telling of the gift of the fifty thousand to the Harbor, of the gift of the land and house, everything. There was one other legacy, a small one, and then she left all the rest, 'stocks, bonds, securities, personal effects and cash' to her beloved husband, Egbert Phillips. That's all there was to it, Kendrick. Short but sweet, eh?"

Sears nodded. "Sweet enough," he agreed. "And how did the beloved husband take it?"

"Well ... well, he was pretty nasty. In fact he was about as nasty as anybody could be. He went white as a sheet and then red and then white again. I didn't know, for a minute or two, what was going to happen, didn't know but what I should have a fight on my hands. However, I didn't. I don't think he's the fighting kind, not that kind of a fight. He just took it out in being nasty. Said of course he should contest the gift, hinted at undue influence, spoke of thieves and swindlers--not naming 'em, though--and then, when I suggested that he had better think it over before he said too much, pulled up short and walked out of the office. Yes, he was pretty nasty. But, honestly, Cap'n Kendrick, when I think it over, I don't know that he was any nastier than I, or any other fellow, might have been under the circumstances. It was a smash between the eyes for him, that's what it was. Met him, have you?"


"What do you think of him?"

"I don't know--yet."

"Neither do I. He's a polite chap, isn't he?"

"No doubt about that. Say, Bradley, do you think he's got much left of the 'stocks, bonds,' and all the rest that the will talked about?"

"I give it up. Of course we shall talk about that by and by, I suppose, but we haven't yet. You know what Judge Knowles declared; he was perfectly sure that there wouldn't be anything left--that this fellow and Lobelia had thrown away every loose penny of old Seymour's money. And, of course, he prophesied that this Egbert man would be back here as soon as his wife died to sell the Fair Harbor, ship and cargo, and get the money for them. The biggest satisfaction the old judge got out of life along toward the last of it was in knowing that he and Lobelia had fixed things so that that couldn't be done. He certainly hated Phillips, the judge did."

"Um-hm. But he might have been prejudiced."

"Yes. Sometimes I wonder if he wasn't."

"Tell me, Bradley: Did you know this Phillips man when he was skipper of the singin' school here in Bayport? Before he married Lobelia?"

"No. Nor I didn't meet him when he and his wife were on here the last time. I was up in the State House serving out my two terms as county representative."

"I see.... Oh! You spoke of Lobelia's leavin' another legacy. Who was that to? If it isn't a secret."

"It is, so far. But it won't be very long. She left five thousand, in cash and in Judge Knowles's care, for Cordelia Berry over here at the Harbor. She and Lobelia were close friends, you know. Cordelia is to have it free and clear, but I am to invest it for her. She doesn't know her good luck yet. I am going over now to tell her about it.... Oh, by the way, Cap'n: Judge Knowles's nephew, the man from California, is expecting to reach Bayport next Sunday. He can't stay out a little while, and so I shall have to hurry up that will and the business connected with it. Can you come over to my office Monday about ten?"

"Why, I suppose likely I could, but what do you want me for?"

"I don't, except in the general way of always wanting to see you, Cap'n. But Judge Knowles wanted you especially."

"He did! Wanted _me_?"

"Yes. Seems so. He left a memorandum of those he wanted on hand when his will was read. You are one, and Elizabeth Berry is another. Will you come?"

"Why--why, yes, I suppose so. But what in the world----"

"I don't know. But I imagine we'll all know Monday. I'll look for you then, Cap'n."

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11
CHAPTER XIThe reading of the Knowles will, so Bradley had said, was to take place at the lawyer's office in Orham on Monday. It was Friday when Bradley called at the Minot place, and on Saturday morning Sears and Elizabeth discussed the matter. "Mr. Bradley said your name was on the list of those the judge asked to be on hand when the will was read," said the captain. "He asked me not to speak about the will to outsiders, and of course I haven't, but you're not an outsider. You're goin' over, I suppose?" She hesitated slightly. "Why, yes," she

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 6 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 6

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 6
CHAPTER VISears put in a disagreeable day or two after his call upon the judge. He was dissatisfied with the ending of their interview. He felt that he had been foolishly soft-hearted in promising to call at the Fair Harbor, or, to consider for another hour the preposterous offer of management of that institution. He must say no in the end. How much better to have said it then and there. Fifteen hundred a year looked like a lot of money to him. It tempted him, that part of the proposition. But it did not tempt him sufficiently to overcome the