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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :2504

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI

The 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 said. "I think I shall."

"Yes. Yes, I thought you would."

"I shall go because the judge seems to have wished me to be there, but why I can't imagine. Can you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

Remembering his last conversation with Judge Knowles, Sears thought he might at least guess a possible reason, but he did not say so.

"We're both interested in the Fair Harbor," he observed. "And we know how concerned the judge was with that."

She nodded. "Yes," she admitted. "Still I don't see why mother was not asked if that was it. You are going over, of course?"

"Why--yes, I shall. Bradley seemed to want me to."

That was all, at the time. The next day, however, Elizabeth again mentioned the subject. It was in the afternoon, church and dinner were over, and Sears was strolling along the path below the Fair Harbor garden plots. He could walk with less difficulty and with almost no pain now, but he could not walk far. The Eyrie was, for a wonder, unoccupied, so he limped up to it and sat down upon the bench inside to rest. This was the favorite haunt of the more romantic Fair Harbor inmates, Miss Snowden and Mrs. Chase especially, but they were not there just then, although a book, _Barriers Burned Away_, by E. P. Roe, lay upon the bench, a cardboard marker with the initials "E. S." in cross-stitch, between the leaves. When the captain heard a step approaching the summer-house, he judged that Elvira was returning to reclaim her "Barriers." But it was not Elvira who entered the Eyrie, it was Elizabeth Berry.

She was surprised to see him. "Why, Cap'n Sears!" she exclaimed. "I didn't expect to find you here. I was afraid--that is, I did rather think I might find Elvira, but not you. I didn't know you had the Eyrie habit."

He smiled. "I haven't," he said. "That is, it isn't chronic yet. I didn't know you had it, either."

"Oh I haven't. But I was rather tired, and I wanted to be alone, and so----"

"And so you took a chance. Well, you came at just the right time. I was just about gettin' under way."

He rose, but she detained him. "Don't go," she begged. "When I said I wanted to be alone I didn't mean it exactly. I meant I wanted to be away from--some people. You are not one of them."

He was pleased, and showed it. "You're sure of that?" he asked.

"Of course. You know I am. Do sit down and talk. Talk about anything except--well, except Bayport gossip and Fair Harbor squabbles and bills and--oh, that sort of thing. Talk about something away from Bayport, miles and miles away. I feel just now as if I should like to be--to be on board a ship sailing ... sailing."

She smiled wistfully as she said it. The captain was seized with an intense conviction that he should like to be with her on that same ship, to sail on and on indefinitely. The kind of ship or its destination would not matter in the least, the only essentials were that she and he were to be on board, and ... Humph! His brain must be softening. Who did he think he was: a young man again?--a George Kent? He came out of the clouds.

"Yes," he observed, dryly, "I know. I get that same feelin' every once in a while. I should rather like to walk a deck again, myself."

She understood instantly. That was one of the fascinations of this girl, she always seemed to understand. A flash of pity came into her eyes. Impulsively she laid a hand on his coat sleeve.

"I beg your pardon," she said. "I'm so sorry. I realize how hard it must be for you, Cap'n Kendrick. A man who has been where you have been and seen what you have seen.... Yes, and done what you have done."

He shrugged. "I haven't done much," he said.

"Oh, yes, you have. I have heard so many stories about you and your ships and the way you have handled them. There was one story I remember, a story about how your sailors mutinied and how you got them to go to work again. I heard that years ago, when I was a girl at school. I have never forgotten; it sounded so wonderful and romantic and--and far off."

He nodded. "It was far off," he said. "Away over in the South Seas. And it was a good while ago, too, for I was in command of my first vessel, and that's the time of all times when a man doesn't want mutiny or any other setback. And I never had any trouble with my crews, before or since, except then. But the water in our butts had gone rancid and we put in at this island to refill. It was a pretty place, lazy and sunshiny, like most of those South Sea corals, and the fo'mast hands got ashore amongst the natives, drinkin' palm wine and traders' gin, and they didn't want to put to sea as soon as the mates and I did."

"But you made them?"

"Well, I--er--sort of coaxed 'em into it."

"Tell me about it, please."

"Oh, there isn't anything to----"

"Please."

So Sears began to spin the yarn. And from that she led him into another and then another. They drifted through the South Seas to the East Indies, and from there to Bombay, and then to Hong Kong, and to Mauritious, from the beaches of which came the marvelous sea shells that Sarah Macomber had in the box in her parlor closet. They voyaged through the Arabian Sea, with the parched desert shores shimmering in the white hot sun. They turned north, saw the sperm whales and the great squid and the floating bergs.... And at last they drifted back to Bayport and the captain looked at his watch.

"Heavens and earth!" he exclaimed. "It's almost four o'clock. I believe I've talked steady for pretty nearly an hour. I'm ashamed. Are you awake, Elizabeth? I hope, for your sake, you've been takin' a nap."

She did not answer at once. Then she breathed deeply. "I don't know what I have been doing--really doing," she said. "I suppose I have been sitting right here in this old summer-house. But I _feel as if I had been around the world. I wanted to sail and sail.... I said so, didn't I? Well, I have. Thank you, Cap'n Kendrick."

He rose from the bench.

"A man gets garrulous in his old age," he observed. "But I didn't think I was as old as that--just yet. The talkin' disease must be catchin', and I've lived with Judah Cahoon quite a while now."

She laughed. "If I had as much to talk about--worth while talking about--as you have," she declared, "I should never want to stop. Well, I must be getting back to the Fair Harbor--and the squabbles."

"Too bad. Can I help you with 'em?"

"No, I'm afraid not. They're not big enough for you."

They turned to the door. She spoke again.

"You are going to drive to Orham to-morrow afternoon?" she asked.

"Eh? Oh, yes. The Foam Flake and I will make the voyage--if we have luck."

"And you are going--alone?"

"Yes. Judah thinks I shouldn't. Probably he thinks the Foam Flake may fall dead, or get to walkin' in his sleep and step off the bank or somethin'. But I'm goin' to risk it. I guess likely I can keep him in the channel."

She waited a moment. Then she smiled and shook her head.

"Cap'n," she said, "you make it awfully hard for me. And this is the second time. Really, I feel so--so brazen."

"Brazen?"

"Yes. Why don't you invite me to ride to Orham with you? Why must I _always have to invite myself?"

He turned to look at her. She colored a little, but she returned his look.

"You--you mean it?" he demanded.

"Of course I mean it. I must get there somehow, because I promised Mr. Bradley. And unless you don't want me, in which case I shall have to hire from the livery stable, I----"

But he interrupted her. "Want you!" he repeated. "_Want you!"

His tone was sufficiently emphatic, perhaps more emphatic than he would have made it if he had not been taken by surprise. She must have found it satisfactory, for she did not ask further assurances.

"Thank you," she said. "And when are you planning to start?"

"Why--why, right after dinner to-morrow. If that's all right for you. But I'm sorry you had to invite yourself. I--I thought--well, I thought maybe George had--had planned----"

To his further surprise she seemed a trifle annoyed.

"George works at the store," she said. "Besides, I--well, really, Cap'n Kendrick, there is no compelling reason why George Kent should take me everywhere I want to go."

Now Sears had imagined there was--and rumor and surmise in Bayport had long supported his imagining--but he did not tell her that. What he did say was inane enough.

"Oh--er--yes, of course," he stammered.

"No, there isn't. He and I are friends, good friends, and have been for a long time, but that doesn't---- Well, Cap'n, I shall look for you and the Foam Flake--oh, that _is a wonderful name--about one to-morrow. And I'll promise not to keep you waiting."

"If the Foam Flake doesn't die in the meantime I'll be on hand. He'll be asleep probably, but Judah declares he walks in his sleep, so that---- Oh, heavens and earth!"

This exclamation, although but a mutter, was fervent indeed. The captain and Elizabeth had turned to the vine-shaded doorway of the Eyrie, and there, in that doorway, was Miss Snowden and, peering around her thin shoulder, the moon face of Mrs. Chase. Sears looked annoyed, Miss Berry looked more so, and Elvira looked--well, she looked all sorts of things. As for Aurora, her expression was, as always, unfathomable. Judah Cahoon once compared her countenance to a pink china dish-cover, and it is hard to read the emotions behind a dish-cover.

Miss Snowden spoke first.

"Oh!" she observed; and much may be expressed in that monosyllable.

Elizabeth spoke next. "Your book is there on the seat, Elvira," she said, carelessly. "At least I suppose it is yours. It has your bookmark in it."

Elvira simpered. "Yes," she affirmed, "it is mine. But I'm not in a hurry, not a single bit of hurry. I _do hope we haven't _disturbed you."

"Not a bit, not a bit," said Sears, crisply. "Miss Elizabeth and I were havin' a business talk, but we had finished. The coast is clear for you now. Good afternoon."

"You're _sure_, Cap'n Kendrick? Aurora and I wouldn't interrupt a _business talk for the _world_. And in such a romantic place, too."

As Sears and Elizabeth walked up the path from the summer-house the voice of Mrs. Chase was audible--as usual very audible indeed.

"Elviry," begged Aurora, eagerly, "Elviry, what did he say to you? He looked awful kind of put out when he said it."

The captain was "put out," so was Elizabeth apparently. The latter said, "Oh, dear!" and laughed, but there was less humor than irritation in the laugh. Sears's remark was brief but pointed.

"I like four-legged cats first-rate," he declared.

The next day at one o'clock he and his passenger, with the placid Foam Flake as motor power, left the Fair Harbor together. And, as they drove out of the yard, both were conscious that behind the shades of the dining-room windows were at least six eager faces, and whispering tongues were commenting, exclaiming and surmising.

The captain, for his part, forgot the faces and tongues very quickly. It was a pleasant afternoon, the early fall days on the Cape are so often glorious; the rain of a few days before had laid the dust, at least the upper layer of it, and the woods were beginning to show the first sprinklings of crimson and purple and yellow. The old horse walked or jogged or rambled on along the narrow winding ways, the ancient buggy rocked and rattled and swung in the deep ruts. They met almost no one for the eight miles between Bayport and Orham--there were no roaring, shrieking processions of automobiles in those days--and when Abial Gould, of North Harniss, encountered them at the narrowest section of highway, he steered his placid ox team into the huckleberry bushes and waited for them to pass, waving a whip-handle greeting from his perch on top of his load of fragrant pitch pine. The little ponds and lakes shone deeply blue as they glimpsed them in the hollows or over the tree tops and, occasionally, a startled partridge boomed from the thicket, or a flock of quail scurried along the roadside.

They talked of all sorts of things, mostly of ships and seas and countries far away, subjects to which Elizabeth led the conversation and then abandoned it to her companion. They spoke little of the Fair Harbor or its picayune problems, and of the errand upon which they were going--the judge's will, its reading and its possible surprises--none at all.

"Don't," pleaded Elizabeth, when Sears once mentioned the will; "don't, please. Judge Knowles was such a good friend of mine that I can't bear to think he has gone and that some one else is to speak his thoughts and carry out his plans. Tell me another sea story, Cap'n Kendrick. There aren't any Elvira Snowdens off Cape Horn, I'm sure."

So Sears spun his yarns and enjoyed the spinning because she seemed to so enjoy listening to them. And he did not once mention his crippled limbs, or his despondency concerning the future; in fact, he pretty well forgot them for the time. And he did not mention George Kent, a person whom he had meant to mention and praise highly, for his unreasonable conscience had pestered him since the talk in the summer-house and, as usual, he had determined to do penance. But he forgot Kent for the time, forgot him altogether.

Bradley's law offices occupied a one-story building on Orham's main road near the center of the village. There were several rigs standing at the row of hitching posts by the steps as they drove up. Sears climbed from the buggy--he did it much easier than had been possible a month before--and moored the Foam Flake beside them. Then they entered the building.

Bradley's office boy told them that his employer and the others were in the private room beyond. The captain inquired who the others were.

"Well" said the boy, "there's that Mr. Barnes--he's the one from California, you know, Judge Knowles' nephew. And Mike--Mr. Callahan, I mean--him that took care of the judge's horse and team and things; and that Tidditt woman that kept his house. And there's Mr. Dishup, the Orthodox minister from over to Bayport, and another man, I don't know his name. Walk right in, Cap'n Kendrick. Mr. Bradley told me to tell you and Miss Berry to walk right in when you came."

So they walked right in. Bradley greeted them and introduced them to Knowles Barnes, the long-looked-for nephew from California. Barnes was a keen-eyed, healthy-looking business man and the captain liked him at once. The person whom the office boy did not know turned out to be Captain Noah Baker, a retired master mariner, who was Grand Master of the Bayport lodge of Masons.

"And now that you and Miss Berry are here, Cap'n Kendrick," said Bradley, "we will go ahead. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the will of our late good friend, Judge Knowles. He asked you all to be here when it was opened and read. Mr. Barnes is obliged to go West again in a week or so, so the sooner we get to business the better. Ahem!"

Then followed the reading of the will. One by one the various legacies and bequests were read. Some of them Sears Kendrick had expected and foreseen. Others came as surprises. He was rather astonished to find that the judge had been, according to Cape Cod standards of that day, such a rich man. The estate, so the lawyer said, would, according to Knowles' own figures, total in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Judge Knowles bequeathed:


To the Endowment Fund of the Fair Harbor for
Mariners' Women $50,000

To the Bayport Congregational Church 5,000

To the Building Fund of the Bayport Lodge of
Masons 5,000

To Emmeline Tidditt (his housekeeper) 5,000

To Michael Callahan (his hired man) 5,000

To Elizabeth Berry--in trust until she should be
thirty years of age 20,000

Other small bequests, about 7,000

The balance, the residue of the estate, amounting to a sum approximating fifty-five thousand, to Henry Knowles Barnes, of San Francisco, California.

There were several pages of carefully worded directions and instructions. The fifty thousand for the Fair Harbor was already invested in good securities and, from the interest of these, Sears Kendrick's salary of fifteen hundred a year was to be paid as long as he wished to retain his present position as general manager. If the time should come when he wished to relinquish that position he was given authority to appoint his successor at the same salary. Or should Cordelia Berry, at any time, decide to give up her position as matron, Kendrick and Bradley, acting together, might, if they saw fit, appoint a suitable person to act as manager _and matron at a suitable salary. In this event, of course, Kendrick would no longer continue to draw his fifteen hundred a year.

The reading was not without interruptions. Mr. Callahan's was the most dramatic. When announcement was made of his five thousand dollar windfall his Celtic fervor got the better of him and he broke loose with a tangled mass of tearful ejaculations and prayers, a curious mixture of glories to the saints and demands for blessings upon the soul of his benefactor. Mrs. Tidditt was as greatly moved as he, but she had her emotions under firmer control. The Reverend Mr. Dishup was happy and grateful on behalf of his parish, so too was Captain Baker as representative of the Masonic Lodge. But each of these had been in a measure prepared, they had been led to expect some gift or remembrance. It was Elizabeth Berry who had, apparently, expected nothing--nothing for herself, that is. When the lawyer announced the generous bequest to the Fair Harbor she caught her breath and turned to look at Sears with an almost incredulous joy in her eyes. But when he read of the twenty thousand which was hers--the income beginning at once and the principal when she was thirty--she was so tremendously taken aback that, for an instant, the captain thought she was going to faint. "Oh!" she exclaimed, and that was all, but the color left her face entirely.

Sears rose, so did the minister, but she waved them back. "Don't," she begged. "I--I am all right.... No, please don't speak to me for--for a little while."

So they did not speak, but the captain, watching her, saw that the color came back very slowly to her cheeks and that her eyes, when she opened them, were wet. Her hands, clasped in her lap, were trembling. Sears, although rejoicing for her, felt a pang of hot resentment at the manner of the announcement. It should not have been so public. She should not have had to face such a surprise before those staring spectators. Why had not the judge--or Bradley, if he knew--have prepared her in some measure?

But when it was over and he hastened to congratulate her, she was more composed. She received his congratulations, and those of the others, if not quite calmly at least with dignity and simplicity. To Mr. Dishup and Bradley and Captain Baker she said little except thanks. To Barnes, whose congratulations were sincere and hearty, and, to all appearances at least, quite ungrudging, she expressed herself as too astonished to be very coherent.

"I--I can scarcely believe it yet," she faltered. "I can't understand--I can't think why he did it.... And you are all so very kind. You won't mind if I don't say any more now, will you?"

But to Sears when he came, once more, to add another word and to shake her hand, she expressed a little of the uncertainty which she felt.

"Oh," she whispered; "oh, Cap'n Kendrick, do you think it is right? Do you think he really meant to do it? You are sure he did?"

His tone should have carried conviction. "You bet he meant it!" he declared, fervently. "He never meant anything any more truly; I know it."

"Do you? Do you really?... Did--did you know? Did he tell you he was going to?"

"Not exactly, but he hinted. He----"

"Wait. Wait, please. Don't tell me any more now. By and by, on the way home, perhaps. I--I want to know all about it. I want to be sure. And," with a tremulous smile, "I doubt if I could really understand just yet."

The group in the lawyer's office did not break up for another hour. There were many matters for discussion, matters upon which Bradley and Barnes wished the advice of the others. Mike and Mrs. Tidditt were sent home early, and departed, volubly, though tearfully rejoicing. The minister and Captain Noah stayed on to answer questions concerning the church and the lodge, the former's pressing needs and the new building which the latter had hoped for and which was now a certainty. Sears and Elizabeth remained longest. Bradley whispered to the captain that he wished them to do so.

When they were alone with him, and with Barnes of course, he took from his pocket two sealed letters.

"The judge gave me these along with the will," he said. "That was about three weeks before he died. I don't know what is in them and he gave me to understand that I wasn't supposed to know. They are for you two and no one else, so he said. You are to read yours when you are alone, Cap'n Kendrick, and Elizabeth is to read hers when she is by herself. And he particularly asked me to tell you both not to make your decision too quickly. Think it over, he said."

He handed Sears an envelope addressed in Judge Knowles' hand-writing, and to Elizabeth another bearing her name.

"There!" he exclaimed, with a sigh of relief. "That is done. Ever since the old judge left us I have been feeling as if he were standing at my elbow and nudging me not to forget. He had a will of his own, Judge Knowles had, and I don't mean the will we have just read, either. But, take him by and large, as you sailors say, Cap'n, I honestly believe he was the biggest and squarest man this county has seen for years. Some of us are going to be surer of that fact every day that passes."

It was after four when Elizabeth and Sears climbed aboard the buggy and the captain, tugging heavily on what he termed the port rein, coaxed the unwilling Foam Flake into the channel--or the road. Heavy clouds had risen in the west since their arrival in Orham, the sky was covered with them, and it was already beginning to grow dark. When they turned from the main road into the wood road leading across the Cape there were lighted lamps in the kitchens of the scattered houses on the outskirts of the town.

"Is it going to rain, do you think?" asked Elizabeth, peering at the troubled brown masses above the tree tops.

Sears shook his head. "Hardly think so," he replied. "Looks more like wind to me. Pretty heavy squall, I shouldn't wonder, and maybe rain to-morrow. Come, come; get under way, Old Hundred," addressing the meandering Foam Flake. "If you don't travel faster than this in fair weather and a smooth sea, what will you do when we have to reef? Well," with a chuckle, "even if it comes on a livin' gale the old horse won't blow off the course. Judah feeds him too well. Nothin' short of a typhoon could heel _him down."

The prophesied gale held off, but the darkness shut in rapidly. In the long stretches of thick woods through which they were passing it was soon hard to see clearly. Not that that made any difference. Sears knew the Orham road pretty well and the placid Foam Flake seemed to know it absolutely. His ancient hoofs plodded up and down in the worn "horse path" between the grass-grown and sometimes bush-grown ridges which separated it from the deep ruts on either side. Sometimes those ruts were so deep that the tops of the blueberry bushes and weeds on those ridges scratched the bottom of the buggy.

Beside his orders to the horse the captain had said very little since their departure. He had been thinking, though, thinking hard. It was just beginning to dawn upon him, the question as to what this good fortune which had befallen the girl beside him might mean, what effect it might have upon her, upon her future--and upon her relations with him, Sears Kendrick.

Hitherto those relations had been those of comrades, fellow workers, partners, so to speak, in an enterprise the success of which involved continuous planning and fighting against obstacles. A difficult but fascinating game of itself, but one which also meant a means of livelihood for them both. Elizabeth had drawn no salary, it is true, but without her help her mother could not have held her position as matron, not for a month could she have done so. It was Elizabeth who was the real matron, who really earned the wages Cordelia received and upon which they both lived. And Elizabeth had told the captain that she should remain at the Fair Harbor and work with and for her mother as long as the latter needed her.

And now Sears was realizing that the necessity for either of them to remain there no longer existed. Cordelia, thanks to Mrs. Phillips' bequest, had five thousand dollars of her own. Elizabeth had, for the six or seven years before her thirtieth birthday, an income of at least twelve hundred yearly. Cordelia's legacy would add several hundred to that. If they wished it was quite possible for them to retire from the Fair Harbor and live somewhere in a modest fashion upon that income. Many couples--couples esteemed by Bayporters as being in comfortable circumstances--were living upon incomes quite as small. Sears was suddenly brought face to face with this possibility, and was forced to admit it even a probability.

And he--he had no income worth mentioning. He could not go to sea again for a long time; he did not add "if ever," because even conservative Doctor Sheldon now admitted that his complete recovery was but a matter of time, but it would be a year--perhaps years. And for that year, or those years, he must live--and he had practically nothing to live upon except his Fair Harbor salary. And then again, as an additional obligation, there was his promise to Judge Knowles to stick it out. But to stick it out alone--without her!

For Elizabeth was under no obligation. She might not stay--probably would not. She was a young woman of fortune now. She could do what she liked, in reason. She might--why, she might even decide to marry. There was Kent----

At the thought Sears choked and swallowed hard. A tingling, freezing shiver ran down his spine. She would marry George Kent and he would be left to--to face--to face---- She would marry--_she_----

The shiver lasted but a moment. He shut his teeth, blinked and came back to the buggy seat and reality--and shame. Overwhelming, humiliating shame. He glanced fearfully at her, afraid that she might have seen his face and read upon it the secret which he himself had learned for the first time. No, she did not read it, she was not looking at him, she too seemed to be thinking. There was a chance for him yet. He must be a man, a decent man, not a fool and a selfish beast. She did not know--and she should not. Then, or at any future time.

He spoke now and hurriedly. "Well," he began, "I suppose----"

But she had looked up and now she spoke. Apparently she had not heard him, for she said:

"Tell me about it, Cap'n Kendrick, please. I want to hear all about it. You said you knew? You say Judge Knowles hinted that he was going to do this--for me? Tell me all about it, please. Please."

So he told her, all that he could remember of the judge's words concerning his regard for her, of his high opinion of her abilities, of his friendship for her father, and of his intention to see that she was "provided for."

"I didn't know just what he meant, of course," he said, in conclusion, "but I guessed, some of it. I do want you to know, Elizabeth," he added, stammering a little in his earnestness, "how glad I am for you, how _very glad."

"Yes," she said, "I do know."

"Well, I--I haven't said much, but I _am_. I don't think I ever was more glad, or could be. You believe that, don't you?"

She looked at him in surprise. "Why, of course I believe it," she said. "Why do you ask that?"

"Oh, I--I don't know. I hadn't said much about it."

"But it wasn't necessary. I knew you were glad. I know you by this time, Cap'n Kendrick, through and through."

The same guilty shiver ran down his spine and he glanced sharply at her to see if there was any hidden meaning behind her words. But there was not. She was looking down again, and when she again spoke it was to repeat the question she had asked at the lawyer's office.

"I wonder if I ought to take it?" she murmured. "Do you think it is right for me to accept--so much?

"Right!" he repeated. "Right? Of course its right. And because it is enough to amount to somethin' makes it all the more right. Judge Knowles knew what he was doin', trust his long head for that. A little would only have made things easier where you were.... Now," he forced himself to say it, "now you can be independent."

"Independent?"

"Why, yes. Do what you like--in reason. Steer your own course. Live as you want to ... and where ... and _how you want to."

They were simple sentences these, but he found them hard to say. She turned again to look at him.

"Why do you speak like that?" she asked. "How should I want to live? What do you mean?"

"I mean--er--you can think of your own happiness and--plans, and--all that. You won't be anchored to the Fair Harbor, unless you want to be. You.... Eh? Hi! Standby! Whoa! _Whoa!_"

The last commands were roars at the horse, for, at that moment, the squall struck.

It came out of the blackness to the left and ahead like some enormous living creature springing over the pine tops and pouncing upon them. There was a rumble, a roar and then a shrieking rush. The sand of the road leaped up like the smoke from an explosion, showers of leaves and twigs pattered sharply upon the buggy top or were thrown smartly into their faces. From all about came the squeaks and groans of branches rubbing against each other, with an occasional sharp crack as a limb gave way under the pressure.

Captain Kendrick and his passenger had been so occupied with their thoughts and conversation that both had forgotten the heavy clouds they had noticed when they left Bradley's office, rolling up from the west. Then, too, the increasing darkness had hidden the sky. So the swoop of the squall took them completely by surprise.

And not only them but that genuine antique the Foam Flake. This phlegmatic animal had been enjoying himself for the last half hour. No one had shouted orders at him, he had not been slapped with the ends of the reins, no whip had been cracked in his vicinity. He had been permitted to amble and to walk and had availed himself of the permission. For the most recent mile he had been, practically, a somnambulist. Now out of his dreams, whatever they may have been, came this howling terror. He jumped and snorted. Then the wind, tearing a prickly dead branch from a scrub oak by the roadside, cast it full into his dignified countenance. For the first time in ten years at least, the Foam Flake ran away.

He did not run far, of course; he was not in training for distance events. But his sprint, although short, was lively and erratic. He jumped to one side, the side opposite to that from which the branch had come, jerking the buggy out of the ruts and setting it to rocking like a dory amid breakers. He jumped again, and this brought his ancient broadside into contact with the bushes by the edge of the road. They were ragged, and prickly, and in violent commotion. So he jumped the other way.

Sears, yelling Whoas and compliments, stood erect upon his newly-mended legs and leaned his weight backward upon the reins. If the skipper of a Hudson River canal boat had suddenly found his craft deserting the waterway and starting to climb Bear Mountain, he might have experienced something of Sears' feelings at that moment. Canal boats should not climb; it isn't done; and horses of the Foam Flake age, build and reputation should not run away.

"Whoa! Whoa! What in thunder--?" roared the captain. "Port! Port, you lubber!"

He jerked violently on the left rein. That rein was, like the horse and the buggy, of more than middle age. Leather of that age must be persuaded, not jerked. The rein broke just beyond Sears' hand, flew over the dashboard and dragged in the road. The driver's weight came solidly upon the right hand rein. The Foam Flake dashed across the highway again, head-first into the woods this time.

Then followed a few long--very long minutes of scratching and rocking and pounding. Sears heard himself shouting something about the Broken rein he must get that rein.

"It's all right! It's all right, Elizabeth!" he shouted. "I'm goin' to lean out over his back, if I can and--O--oh!"

The last was a groan, involuntarily wrung from him by the pain in his knees. He had put an unaccustomed strain upon them and they were remonstrating. He shut his teeth, swallowed another groan, and leaned out over the dash, his hand clutching for the harness of the rocketing, bumping Foam Flake.

Then he realized that some one else was leaning over that dashboard, was in fact almost out of the buggy and swinging by the harness and the shaft.

"Elizabeth!" he shouted, in wild alarm. "Elizabeth, what are you doin'? Stop!"

But she was back, panting a little, but safe.

"I have the rein," she panted. "Give me the other, Cap'n Kendrick. I can handle him, I know. Give me the rein. Sit down! Oh, please! You will hurt yourself again!"

But he was in no mood to sit down. He snatched the end of the broken rein from her hand, taking it and the command again simultaneously.

"Get back, back on the seat," he ordered. "Now then," addressing the horse, "we'll see who's what! Whoa! Whoa! Steady! Come into that channel, you old idiot! Come _on_!"

The Foam Flake was pretty nearly ready to come by this time. And Kendrick's not too gentle coaxing helped. The buggy settled into the ruts with a series of bumps. The horse's gallop became a trot, then a walk; then he stopped and stood still.

The captain subsided on the seat beside his passenger. He relaxed his tension upon the reins and the situation.

"Whew!" he exclaimed. "That was sweet while it lasted. All right, are you?"

She answered, still rather breathlessly, "Yes, I am all right," she declared. "But you? Aren't you hurt?"

"Me? Not a bit."

"You're sure? I was so afraid. Your--your legs, you know."

"My legs are all serene." They weren't, by any means, and were at that moment proclaiming the fact, but he did not mean she should know. "They're first-rate.... Well, I'm much obliged."

"Obliged for what?"

"For that rein. But you shouldn't have climbed out that way. You might have broken your neck. 'Twas an awful risk."

"You were going to take the same risk. And _I am not in the doctor's care."

"Well, you shouldn't have done it, just the same. And it was a spunky thing to do.... But what a numbskull I was not to be on the lookout for that squall. Humph!" with a grin, "I believe I told you even a typhoon couldn't move this horse. I was wrong, wasn't I?"

The squall had passed on, but a steady gale was behind it. And there was a marked hint of dampness in the air. Sears sniffed.

"And I'm afraid, too," he said, "that I was wrong about that rain comin' to-morrow. I think it's comin' this evenin' and pretty soon, at that."

It came within fifteen minutes, in showery gusts at first. The captain urged the Foam Flake onward as fast as possible, but that quadruped had already over-expended his stock of energy and shouts and slaps meant nothing to him. For a short time Sears chatted and laughed, but then he relapsed into silence. Elizabeth, watching him fearfully, caught, as the buggy bounced over a loose stone, a smothered exclamation, first cousin to a groan.

"I knew it!" she cried. "You _are hurt, Cap'n Kendrick."

"No, no, I'm not," hastily. "It's--it's those confounded spliced spars of mine. They're a little weak yet, I presume likely."

"Of course they are. Oh, I'm _so sorry. Won't you let me drive?"

"I should say not. I'm not quite ready for the scrap heap yet. And if I couldn't steer this Noah's ark I should be.... Hello! here's another craft at sea."

Another vehicle was ahead of them in the road, coming toward them. Sears pulled out to permit it to pass. But the driver of the other buggy hailed as the horses' heads came abreast.

"Elizabeth," he shouted, "is that you?"

Miss Berry's surprise showed in her voice.

"Why, George!" she cried. "Where in the world are you going?"

The horses stopped. Kent leaned forward.

"Going?" he repeated. "Why, I was going after you, of course. Are you wet through?"

He seemed somewhat irritated, so the captain thought.

"No, indeed," replied Elizabeth. "I am all right. But why did you come after me? Didn't they tell you I was with Cap'n Kendrick?"

"_They told me--yes. But why didn't _you tell me you were going to Orham? I would have driven you over; you know I would."

"You were at work at the store."

"Well, I could have taken the afternoon off.... But there! no use talking about it out here in this rain. Come on.... Oh, wait until I turn around. Drive ahead a little, will you?"

This was the first time he had spoken to Sears, and even then his tone was not too gracious. The captain drove on a few steps, as requested, and, a moment later, Kent's equipage, now headed in their direction, was alongside once more.

"Whoa!" he shouted, and both horses stopped. "Come on, Elizabeth," urged the young man, briskly. "Wait, I'll help you."

He sprang out of his buggy and approached theirs. "Come on," he said, again. "Quick! It is going to rain harder."

Elizabeth did not move. "But I'm not going with you, George," she said quietly.

He stared at her.

"Not going with me?" he repeated. "Why, of course you are. I've come on purpose for you."

"I'm sorry. You shouldn't have done it. You knew I would be all right with Cap'n Kendrick."

"I didn't even know you were going with him. You didn't say you were going at all. If you had I----"

"You would have taken another afternoon's holiday. And you know what Mr. Bassett said about the last one."

"I don't care a--I don't care what he says. I shan't be working very long for him, I hope.... But there, Elizabeth! Come on, come on! I can get you home for supper while that old horse of Cahoon's is thinking about it."

But still she did not move. Sears thought that, perhaps, he should take a hand.

"Go right ahead, Elizabeth," he said. "George is right about the horses."

"Of course I am. Come, Elizabeth."

"No, I shall stay with Cap'n Kendrick. He has been kind enough to take me so far and we are almost home. You can follow, George, and we'll get there together."

"Well, I like that!" exclaimed Kent. But he did not speak as if he liked it. "After I have taken the trouble----"

"Hush! Don't be silly. The cap'n has taken a great deal of trouble, too.... No," as Sears began to protest, "you can't get rid of me, Cap'n Kendrick."

"But, Elizabeth----"

"No. Do you suppose I am going to leave you--in pain--and.... Drive on, please. George can follow us."

"But I'm all right, good land knows! The Foam Flake won't try to fly again. And really, I----"

"Drive on, please."

So he drove on; there seemed to be nothing else to do. It did not help his feelings to hear, as George Kent was left standing in the road, a disgusted and profane ejaculation from that young gentleman.

The remainder of the journey was quickly made. There was little conversation. The rain, the wind, and the sounds of the horses' hoofs and the rattle of the buggies--for Kent's was close behind all the way--furnished most of the noise.

Judah was waiting when they came into the yard of the Minot place. He and Elizabeth helped Sears from the buggy. The captain, in spite of his protestations, could scarcely stand. Kent, because Elizabeth asked him to, assisted in getting him into the kitchen and the biggest rocking chair.

"Now go ... go," urged Sears. "I'm just a little lame, that's all, and I'll be all right by to-morrow. Go, Elizabeth please. Your supper is waitin' as it is. Now go."

She went, but rather reluctantly. "I shall run over after supper to see how you are," she declared. "Thank you very much for taking me to Orham, Cap'n."

"Thank you for--for a whole lot of things. And don't you dream of comin' over again to-night. There's no sense in it, is there, George?"

If Kent heard he did not answer. His "good night" was brief. Sears did not like it, nor the expression on his face. This was a new side of the young fellow's character, a side the captain had not seen before. And yet--well, he was young, very young. Sears was troubled about the affair. Had he been to blame? He had not meant to be. Ah-hum! the world was full of misunderstandings and foolishness. And was there, in all that world, any being more foolish than himself?

Just here, Judah, having returned from stabling the Foam Flake, rushed into the kitchen to demand answers to a thousand questions. For the next hour there was no opportunity for moralizing or melancholy.

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 12 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 12

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 12
CHAPTER XIIElizabeth did not visit the Minot place that evening, as she had said she meant to do. It may be that Sears was a trifle disappointed, but even he would have been obliged to confess that that particular evening was not the time for him to receive callers. He ate his supper--a very small portion of the meal which Judah had provided for him--and, soon afterward, retired to the spare stateroom and bed. Undressing was a martyrdom, and he had hard work to keep back the groans which the pain in his legs tempted him to utter. There was no
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 10
CHAPTER XSears 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
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