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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 16
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 16 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1545

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI

The young man plunged across the threshold, the skirts of his dripping overcoat flapping about his knees and the water pouring from the brim of his hat. He carried the ruin of what had been an umbrella in his hand. It had been blown inside out, and was now but a crumpled tangle of wet fabric and bent and bristling wire. He stumbled over the sill, halted, and turning, addressed the man who had opened the door.

"Cap'n," he stammered, breathlessly, "I--I--I've come to see you. I--I know you must think--I don't know what you can think--but--but----"

Kendrick interrupted. He was surprised, but he did not permit his astonishment to loosen his grip on realities.

"Go in the other room," he ordered. "In the kitchen there by the fire. I'll be with you soon as I shut this door. Go on. Don't wait!"

Kent did not seem to hear him.

"Cap'n," he began, again, "I----"

"Do as I tell you. Go in there by the stove."

He seized his visitor by the shoulder and pushed him out of the entry. Then he closed and fastened the outer door. This was a matter of main strength, for the gale was fighting mad. When the latch clicked and the hook dropped into the staple he, too, entered the kitchen. Kent had obeyed orders to the extent of going over to the stove, but he had not removed his hat or coat and seemed to be quite oblivious of them or the fire or anything except the words he was trying to utter.

"Cap'n Kendrick," he began again, "I----"

"Sshh! Hush! Take off your things. Man alive, you're sheddin' water like a whistlin' buoy. Give me that coat. And that umbrella, what there is left of it. That's the ticket. Now sit down in that rocker and put your feet up on the hearth.... Whew! Are you wet through?"

"No. No, I guess not. I----"

"Haven't got a chill, have you? Can't I get you somethin' hot to drink? Judah generally has a bottle of some sort of life-saver hid around in the locker somewhere. A hot toddy now?... Eh? Well, all right, all right. No, don't talk yet. Get warm first."

Kent refused the hot toddy and would have persisted in talking at once if his host had permitted. The latter refused to listen, and so the young man sat silent in the rocking chair, his soaked trouser legs and boots steaming in the heat from the open door of the oven, while the captain bustled about, hanging the wet overcoat on a nail in the corner, tossing the wrecked umbrella behind the stove and pretending not to look at his caller.

He did look, however, and what he saw was interesting certainly and might have been alarming had he been a person easily frightened or unduly apprehensive. Kent's wet cheeks had dried and they were flushed now from the warmth, but they were haggard, his eyes were underscored with dark semicircles, and his hands as he held them over the red-hot stove lids were trembling. He looked almost as if he were sick, but a sick man would scarcely be out of doors in such a storm. He had, apparently, forgotten his desire to talk, and was now silent, his gaze fixed upon the wall behind the stove.

Kendrick quietly placed a chair beside him and sat down.

"Well, George?" he asked.

Kent started. "Oh!" he exclaimed. And then, "Oh, yes! Cap'n Kendrick, I--I know you must think my coming here is queer, after--after----"

He hesitated. The captain helped him on.

"Not a bit, George," he said. "Not a bit. I'm mighty glad to see you. I told you to come any time, you remember. Well, you've come, haven't you? Now what is it?"

Kent's gaze left the wall and turned toward his companion. "Cap'n Kendrick," he began, then stopped. "Cap'n Kendrick," he repeated, "I--Mrs. Macomber said--she told me you said that--that----"

"All right, George, all right. I told her to remind you that one time you promised to come to me if you was in any--er--well, trouble, or if you had anything on your mind. I judge that's what you've come for, isn't it?"

Kent started violently. His feet slipped from the hearth and struck the floor with a thump.

"How did you know I was in trouble?" he demanded. "Who told you? Did they tell you what----"

"No, no, no. Nobody told me anything especial. Sarah did say you hadn't looked well lately and she was afraid you was worried about somethin'. That's all. I've been worried myself durin' my lifetime and I've generally found it helped a little to tell my worries to somebody else. At any rate it didn't do any harm. What's wrong, George? Nothin' serious, I hope."

Kent breathed heavily. "Serious!" he repeated. "I--I...." Then in a sudden outburst: "Oh, my God, Cap'n Kendrick, I think they'll put me in jail."

Sears looked at him. Then, leaning forward, he laid a hand on the boy's knee.

"Nonsense, George," he exclaimed, heartily. "Stuff and nonsense! They don't put fellows like you in jail. You're scared, that's all. Tell me about it."

"But they will, they will. You don't know Ed Stedman. He doesn't like me. He always has had it in for me. He's prejudiced Clara against me and she hates me, too. They're pressing me for the money now. The last letter I had from them Stedman said he wouldn't wait another fortnight. And a week is gone already. He'll----"

"Hold on. Who's Stedman?"

"Oh, I thought you knew. He's my half-sister's husband up in Springfield. When my aunt died.... But I told you I was administrator of her estate. I remember I told you. That day when----"

"Yes, yes, I remember; that is, I remember a little. Tell me the whole of it. What's happened?"

"Yes--yes, I want to. I'm going to. Oh, if you _can help me I'll--I'll never forget it. I'll do anything for you, Cap'n Kendrick. I know I shouldn't have done it. I had no right to take the risk. But Mr. Phillips said--he said----"

"Eh?" Sears' interruption this time was quite unpremeditated. "Phillips?" he repeated, sharply. "Egbert, you mean? Oh, yes.... Humph.... Is he mixed up in this?"

"Why--why, yes. If it hadn't been for him it wouldn't have happened. I don't mean that he is to blame, exactly. I guess nobody is to blame but myself. But when I think---- Oh, Cap'n Kendrick, do you suppose you can help me out of it? If you can, I----"

Here followed another outburst of agonized entreaty. The boy's nerves were close to breaking, he was almost hysterical. Slowly and with the exercise of much patience and tact the captain drew from him the details of his trouble. It was, as he told it, a long and complicated story, but, boiled down, it amounted to something like this:

Kent and Phillips had been very friendly for some time, their intimacy beginning even before the latter came to board at Sarah Macomber's. Egbert's polished manners, his stories of life abroad, his easy condescending geniality, had from the first made a great impression upon George. The latter, already esteeming himself above the average of mentality and enterprise in what he considered the "slow-poke" town of Bayport, found in the brilliant arrival from foreign parts the personification of his ideals, a satisfying specimen of that much read of _genus_, "the complete man of the world." He fell on his knees before that specimen and worshiped. Such idolatry could not but have some effect, even upon as _blase an idol as Mr. Phillips, so the latter at first tolerated and then even encouraged the acquaintanceship. He began to take this young follower more and more into his confidence, to speak with him concerning matters more intimate and personal.

George soon gathered that Egbert had been much in moneyed circles. He spoke casually of the "market" and referred to friends who had made and remade fortunes in stocks, as well as of others whose horses had brought them riches, or who had brought off what he called _coups at foreign gaming tables. The young man, who had been brought up in a strict Puritanical household, was at first rather shocked at the thought of gambling or racing, but Mr. Phillips treated his prejudices in a condescendingly joking way, and Kent gradually grew ashamed of his "insularity" and _bourgeois ideas. Egbert habitually read the stock quotations in the Boston _Advertiser and the mails brought him brokers' circulars and letters. Kent was led to infer that he still took a small "flyer" occasionally. "Nothing of consequence, my boy, nothing to get excited about; haven't the wherewithal since our dear friend Knowles and his--ah--satellites took to drawing wills and that sort of thing. But if my friends in the Street send me a bit of judicious advice--as they do occasionally, for old times' sake--why, I try to cast a few crumbs upon the waters, trusting that they may be returned, in the shape of a small loaf, after not too many days. Ha, ha! Yes. And sometimes they do return--yes, sometimes they do. Otherwise how could I rejoice in the good, but sometimes tiresome, Mrs. Macomber's luxurious hospitality?"

It seemed an easy way to turn one's crumbs into loaves. Kent, now the possessor of the little legacy left him by his aunt, wished that the eight hundred dollars, the amount of that legacy, might be raised to eight thousand. He was executor of the small estate, which was to be equally divided between his half-sister and himself. There had been a little land involved, that had been sold and the money, most of it, paid him. So he had in his possession about sixteen hundred dollars, half his and half Mrs. Stedman's. If he could do no better than double his own eight hundred it would not be so bad. He wished that _he had friends in the Street.

He hinted as much to Phillips. The latter was, as always, generously kind. "If I get the word of another good thing, my boy, I shall be glad to let you in. Mind, I shan't advise. I shall take no responsibility--one mustn't do that. I shall only pass on the good word and tell you what I intend doing myself." George, very grateful, felt that this was indeed true friendship.

The chance at the good thing came along in due season. The New York brokerage firm wrote Phillips concerning it. It appeared that there was a certain railway stock named Central Midland Common. According to the gossip on the street, Central Midland--called C. M. for short--was just about due for a big rise. Certain eminent financiers and manipulators were quietly buying and the road was to be developed and exploited. Only a few, a select few, knew of this and so, obviously, now was the time to get aboard. Kent asked questions. Was Egbert going to get aboard? Egbert smilingly intimated that he was thinking of it. Would it be possible for him, Kent, to get aboard at the same time? Well, it might be; Egbert would think about that, too.

He did think about it and, as a result of his thinking, he and Kent bought C. M. Common together. Of course to buy any amount worth while would be impossible because of the small amount of ready cash possessed by either. "But," said Phillips, "I seldom buy outright. The latest quotation of C. M. is at 40, or thereabouts. I intend buying about two hundred shares. That would be eight thousand dollars if I paid cash, but of course I can't do that. I shall buy on a ten per cent margin, putting up eight hundred. If it goes up twenty points I make two thousand dollars. If it goes up fifty points, as they say it will, why----" And so on.

It ended--or began--by Phillips and Kent buying, as partners, four hundred shares of C. M. on a ten per cent margin. George turned over to Egbert the eight hundred dollars in cash, and Egbert sent to the brokers six hundred of those dollars and a bond, which he had in his possession, for one thousand dollars. Yes, Kent, had seen the broker's receipt. Yes, the bond was a good one; at least the brokers were perfectly satisfied. Where did Egbert get the bond? Kent did not know. It was one he owned, that is all he knew about it.

For a week or so after the purchase was made C. M. Common did continue to rise in price. At one time they had a joint profit of nearly two thousand dollars. Of course that seemed trifling compared with the thousands they expected, and so they waited. Then the market slumped. In two days their profit had gone and C. M. Common was selling several points below the figure at which they purchased. By the end of the fourth day, unless they wished to be wiped out altogether, additional margin--another ten per cent--must be deposited immediately.

And to George Kent this seemed an impossibility because he had not another eight hundred, or anything like it, of his own.

Why, oh, why, had he been such a fool? In his chagrin, disappointment and discouragement he asked himself that question a great many times. But when he asked it of his partner in the deal that partner laughed at him. According to Phillips he had not been a fool at all. The slump was only temporary; the stock was just as good as it had ever been; all this was but a part of the manipulation, the insiders were driving down the price in order to buy at lower figures. And letters from the brokers seemed to bear this out. Nevertheless the fact remained that more margin must be deposited and where was Kent's share of that margin coming from?

The rest of the story was exactly like fifty thousand similar stories. In order to save the eight hundred dollars of his own George put up as margin with the New York brokers the eight hundred dollars belonging to Mrs. Stedman, his half sister. Again he paid the eight hundred to Phillips, who sent to New York another one thousand dollar bond and six hundred in cash. And C. M. Common continued to go down, went down until once more the partners were in imminent danger of being wiped out. Then it rose a point or so, and there the price remained. All at once every one seemed to lose interest in the stock; instead of thousands of shares bought and sold daily, the sales dropped to a few odd lots. And instead of the profits which were to have been theirs by this time, the firm of Phillips and Kent owned together a precarious interest in four hundred shares of Central Midland Common which if sold at present prices would return them only a minimum of their investment, practically nothing when brokerage commissions should be deducted.

And then Edward Stedman, Kent's brother-in-law, demanded an immediate settlement of the estate. The land had been sold, the estate had been settled--he knew it--now he and his wife wanted their share.

So that was the situation which was driving the young fellow to desperation. _What could he do? He could not satisfy Stedman because he had not eight hundred dollars and he could not confess it, at least not without answering questions which he did not dare answer. As matters stood he was a thief; he had taken money which did not belong to him. He and Stedman had not been friendly for a long time. According to George his brother-in-law would put him in jail without the slightest compunction. And, even if he managed--which he was certain he could not--to avoid imprisonment, there was the disgrace and its effect upon his future. Why, if the affair became known, at the very least his career as a lawyer would be ruined. Who would trust him after this? He would have to go away; but where could he go? He had counted on his little legacy to help him get a start, to--to help him to all sorts of things. Now---- Oh, what _should he do? Suicide seemed to be the sole solution. He had a good mind to kill himself. He should--yes, he was almost sure that he should do that very thing.

It was pitiful and distressing enough, and Kendrick, although he did not take the threat of self-destruction very seriously--somehow he could scarcely fancy George Kent in the role of a suicide--was sincerely sorry for the boy. He did his best to comfort.

"There, there, George," he said, "we won't talk about killin' ourselves yet awhile. Time enough to hop overboard when the last gun's fired, and we haven't begun to take aim yet. Brace up, George. You'll get through the breakers somehow."

"But, Cap'n Kendrick, I can't--I can't. I've got only a week or so left, and I haven't got the money."

"Sshh! Sshh! Because you haven't got it now doesn't mean you won't have it before the week's out--not necessarily it doesn't.... Humph! Let's take an observation now, and get our bearin's, if we can. You've talked this over with Egbert--with Phillips, of course. After all, he was the fellow that got you into it. What does he say?"

It appeared that Mr. Phillips said little which was of immediate solace. He professed confidence unbounded. C. M. was a good stock, it was going higher, all they had to do was wait until it did.

"Yes," put in Sears, "that's good advice, maybe, but it's too much like tellin' a man who can't swim to keep up till the tide goes out and he'll be in shallow water. The trouble is neither that man nor you could keep afloat so long. Is that all he said? He understands your position, doesn't he, George?"

Yes, Mr. Phillips understood, but he could do nothing to help. He had no money to lend--had practically nothing except the two one thousand dollar bonds, and those were deposited as collateral with the brokers.

"Um--ye-es," drawled Kendrick. "Those bonds are interestin' of themselves. We'll come to those pretty soon. But hasn't he got _any ready money? Seems as if he must have a little. Why, you paid him sixteen hundred in cash and, accordin' to your story, he sent only twelve hundred along with the bonds. He must have four hundred left, at least. That is, unless he's been heavin' overboard more 'crumbs' that you don't know about."

Kent knew nothing of his partner's resources beyond what the latter had told him. And, at any rate, what good would four hundred be to him? Unless he could raise eight hundred within the week----

"Yes, yes, yes, I know. But four hundred is half of eight hundred and seems to me if I was in his shoes and had been responsible for gettin' you into a clove hitch like this I'd do what I could to get you out. And he couldn't--or wouldn't--do anything; eh?"

"He can't, Cap'n Kendrick. He can't. Don't you see, he hasn't got it. He's poor, himself. Of course he came here to Bayport, after his wife's death, thinking that he owned the Fair Harbor property and--and a lot more. Why, he thought he was rich. _He didn't know that old Knowles had used his influence with Mrs. Phillips when she was half sick and tricked her into----"

"Here, here!" The captain's tone was rather sharp this time. "Never mind that. Old Knowles, as you call him, was a friend of mine.... I thought he was your friend, too, George, for the matter of that."

George was embarrassed. "Well, he was," he admitted. "I haven't got anything against him; in fact he was very good to me. But that is what Mr. Phillips says, you know, and everybody--or about everybody--seems to believe it. At least they are awfully sorry for Phillips."

"So I judged. But about you, now. Do _you believe in--er--Saint Egbert as much as you did?"

"Why--why, I don't know. I---- Of course it seems almost as if he ought to do something to help me, but if he can't he can't, I suppose."

"I suppose not. Look here, he won't tell anybody about your scrape, will he?"

The junior partner in the firm of Phillips and Kent was indignant.

"Of course not," he declared. "He told me he should not breathe a word. And he is really very much disturbed about it all. He told me himself that he felt almost guilty. Mr. Phillips is a gentleman."

"Is that so? Must be nice to be that way. But tell me a little more about those bonds, George. There were two of 'em, you say, a thousand dollars each."

"Yes."

"And you don't know what sort of bonds they were?"

His visitor's pride was touched. "Why, of course I know," he declared. "What sort of a business man would I be if I didn't know that, for heaven's sake?"

Sears did not answer the question. For a moment it seemed that he was going to, but if so, he changed his mind. However, there was an odd look in his eye when he spoke.

"Beg your pardon, George," he said. "I must have misunderstood you. What bonds were they?"

"They were City of Boston bonds. Seems to me they were--er--er--well, I forget just what--er--issue, you know, but that's what they were, City of Boston bonds."

"I see ... I see.... Humph! Seems kind of odd, doesn't it?"

"What?"

"Oh, nothin'. Only Phillips, accordin' to his tell, is pretty close to poverty. Yet he hung on to those two bonds all this time."

"Well, he had to hang on to something, didn't he? And he probably has a _little more; if he hasn't what has he been living on?"

"Yes, that's so--that's so. Still.... However, we won't worry about that. Now, George, sit still a minute and let me think."

"But, Cap'n Kendrick, do you think there is a chance? I'm almost crazy. I--I----"

"Sshh! shh! I guess likely we'll get you off the rocks somehow. Let me think a minute or two."

So Kent possessed his soul in such patience as it could muster, while the wind howled about the old house, the wistaria vine rattled and scraped, the shutters groaned and whined, and the rain dashed and poured and dripped outside. At length the captain sat up straight in his chair.

"George," he said, briskly, "as I see it, first of all we want to find out just how this affair of yours stands. You write to those New York brokers and get from them a statement of your account--yours and Egbert's. Just what you've bought, how much margin has been put up, how much is left, about those bonds--kind, ratin', numbers and all that. Ask 'em to send you that by return mail. Will you?"

"Why--why, yes, I suppose so. But I have seen all that. Mr. Phillips----"

"We aren't helpin' out Phillips now. He isn't askin' help, at least I gather he's satisfied to wait. You get this statement on your own hook, and don't tell him you're gettin' it. Will you?"

"I'll write for it to-night."

"Good! That'll get things started, anyhow. Now is there anything else you want to tell me?"

"No--no, I guess not. But, Cap'n Kendrick, do you honestly think there is a chance for me?"

For an instant his companion lost patience. "Don't ask that again," he ordered. "There is a chance--yes. How much of a chance we can't tell yet. You go home and stop worryin'. You've turned the wheel over to me, haven't you? Yes; well, then let me do the steerin' for a spell."

Kent rose from his chair. He drew a long breath. He looked at the captain, who had risen also, and it was evident that there was still something on his mind. He fidgeted, hesitated, and then hurried forth a labored apology.

"I--I am awfully ashamed of myself, Cap'n Kendrick," he began.

"That's all right, George. We all make mistakes--business mistakes especially. If I hadn't made one, and a bad one, I might not be stranded here in Judah's galley to-night."

"I didn't mean business. I meant I was ashamed of treating you as I have. Ever since that time when--when Elizabeth was here and I came over and--and said all those fool things to you, I--I've been ashamed. I _was a fool. I am a fool most of the time, I guess."

"Oh, I guess not, George. We're all taken with the foolish disease once in a while."

"But I was such a fool. The idea of my being jealous of you--a man pretty nearly old enough to be my father. No, not so old as that, of course, but--older. I don't know what ailed me, but whatever it was, I've paid for it.... She--she has hardly spoken to me since."

"I'm sorry, George."

"Yes.... Has she--has she said anything about me to you, Cap'n?"

"Why--er--no, George, not much. She and I are not--well, not very confidential, outside of business matters, that is."

"No, I suppose not. Mr. Phillips told me she had--well, that she and you were not--not as----"

"Yes, all right, all right, George; I understand. Outside of Fair Harbor managin' we don't talk of many things."

"No, that's what he said. He seemed to think you two had had some sort of quarrel--or disagreement, you know. But I never took much stock in that. After all, why should you and she be interested in the same sort of things? She isn't much older than I am, about my age really, and of course you----"

"Yes, yes," hastily. "All right.... Well, I guess your coat is middlin' dry, George. Here it is."

"Thanks. But that wasn't all I meant to say. You see, Cap'n Kendrick, I did treat you so badly and yet all the time I've had such confidence in you. Ever since you gave me that advice the night of the theatricals I've--well, somehow I've felt as if a fellow could depend on you, you know--always, in spite of everything. Eh, why, by George, _she said that very thing about you once, said it to me. She said you were so dependable. Say, that's queer, that she and I should both think the very same thing about you."

"Um-m. Yes, isn't it?"

"Yes. It shows, after all, how closely alike our minds, hers and mine, work. We"--he hesitated, reddened, and then continued, with a fresh outburst of confidence: "You see, Cap'n," he said, "I have felt all the time that this--this trouble between Elizabeth and me, wasn't going to last. I was to blame--at least, I guess I probably was, and I meant to go to her and tell her so. But I waited until--until I had pulled off this stock deal. I meant to go to her with two or three thousand dollars that I had made myself, you see, and--and ask her pardon and--well, then I hoped she would--would.... You understand, don't you, Cap'n Kendrick?"

"Why--er--yes, I guess likely, George, in a way."

"Yes. I wanted to show her that I _was good for something, and then--and then, maybe it would be all right again. You see?"

"Surely, George. Yes, yes.... Ready for your coat?"

Kent ignored the coat. He did not seem to realize that his companion was holding it. "Yes," he stammered, eagerly. "I think if I went to her in that way it would be all right again. I was hasty and--and silly maybe, but perhaps I had some excuse. And, Cap'n Kendrick, I'm sure she does--er--like me, you know. I'm sure of it.... But now--" as reality came once more crashing through his dream, "I--I---- Oh, think of me now! I may be put in prison. And then.... Oh, but Cap'n Kendrick, that's why I came to you. I knew you'd stand by me, I knew you would. I treated you damnably, but--but you know, it was on account of her, really. I knew you'd understand that. You won't hold a grudge against me? You really will help me? If you don't----"

Kendrick seized his arm. "Shut up, George," he commanded brusquely. "Shut up. I'll get you out of this, I promise it."

"You will? You promise?"

"Yes. That is, I'll see that you don't go to jail. If we can't get the eight hundred of your sister's from these brokers I'll get it somehow--even if I have to borrow it."

"Oh, Great Scott, that's great! That's wonderful. I can hardly believe it. I'll make it up to you somehow, you know. You're the best man I ever knew. And--and--if she and I--that is, when she and I are--are as we used to be--well, then I shall tell her and she'll be as grateful as I am, I know she will."

"All right, George, all right. Run along. The rain's easin' up a little, so now's your time. Don't forget to write to those brokers.... Good night."

"Good night, Cap'n. I shall tell your sister how good you've been to me. She told me to come to you. Of course she doesn't know why I came, but----"

"No, and she mustn't know. Don't you tell her or anybody else. Don't you do it."

"I--why, I won't if you say so, of course. Good night."

Kendrick closed the door. Then he came back to his seat before the stove. When Judah returned home he found that his lodger had gone to the spare stateroom, but he could hear his footsteps moving back and forth.

"Ahoy, there, Cap'n Sears!" hailed Judah. "What you doin', up and pacin' decks this time of night? It's pretty nigh eight bells, didn't you know it?"

The pacing ceased. "Why, no, is it?" replied the captain's voice. "Guess I'd better be turnin' in, hadn't I? How's the weather outside?"

"Fairin' off fast. Rain stopped and it's clear as a bell over to the west'ard. Clear day and a fair wind to-morrer, I cal'late."

Kendrick made no further comment and Judah prepared for bed, singing as he did so. He sang, not a chantey this time, but portions of a revival hymn which he had recently heard and which, because of its nautical nature, had stuck in his memory. The chorus commanded some one or other to


"Pull for the shore, sailor,
Pull for the shore.
Leave that poor old stranded wreck
And pull for the shore."


Mr. Cahoon sang the chorus over and over. Then he ventured to tackle one of the verses.


"Light in the darkness, sailor,
Day is at hand."


"Judah!" This from the spare stateroom.

"Aye, aye, Cap'n Sears."

"Better save the rest of that till the day gets here, hadn't you?"

"Eh? Oh, all right, Cap'n. Just goin' to douse the glim this minute. Good night."

Three days after this interview in the Minot kitchen George Kent again came to call. He came after dark, of course, and his visit was brief. He had received from the New York brokers a detailed statement of his and Phillips' joint account. The statement bore out what he had already told Sears. Four hundred shares of Central Midland Common had been purchased at 40. Against this the partners deposited sixteen hundred dollars. Later they had deposited another sixteen hundred. The New York firm were as confident as ever that the stock was perfectly good and the speculation a good one. They advised waiting and, if possible, buying more at the present low figure.

All this was of little help. The only information of any possible value was that concerning the bonds which Egbert had contributed as his share of the margin. Those, according to the brokers, were two City of Boston 4-1/2s, of one thousand dollars each, numbered A610,312 and A610,313.

Kent would have stayed and talked for hours if Kendrick had permitted. He was as nervous as ever, even more so, because the days were passing and the time drawing near when his brother-in-law would demand settlement. The captain comforted him as well as he could, bade him write his sister or her husband that he would remit early in the following week, and sent him home again more hopeful, but still very anxious.

"I don't see how I'm going to get the money, Cap'n Kendrick," he kept repeating. "I don't see how all this helps us a bit. I don't see----"

Kendrick interrupted at last.

"You don't have to see," he declared. "You've left it to me, now let me see if _I can see. I told you that, somehow or other, I'd tow you into deep water. Well, give me a chance to get up steam. You write that letter to your brother-in-law and hold him off till the middle of next week. That's all you've got to do. I'll do the rest."

So Kent had to be satisfied with that. He departed, professing over and over again his deathless gratitude. "If you do this, Cap'n Kendrick," he proclaimed, "I never, never will forget it. And when I think how I treated you I can't see why you do it. I never heard of such----"

"Sshh! shhh!" The captain waved him to silence. "I don't know why I am doin' it exactly, George," he said.

"I do. You're doing it for my sake, of course, and----"

"Sshh! I don't know as I am--not altogether. Maybe I'm doin' it to try and justify my own judgment of human nature--mine and Judge Knowles'. If that judgment isn't right then I'm no more use than a child in arms, and I need a guardian as much as--as----"

"As I do, you mean, I suppose. Well, I do need one, I guess. But I don't understand what you mean by your judgment of human nature. Who have you been judging?"

"Never mind. Now go home. Judah's out again and that's a mercy. I don't want him or any one else to know you come here to see me."

George went, satisfied for the time, but Sears Kendrick, left face to face with his own thoughts, knew that he had told the young man but a part of the truth. It was not for Kent's sake alone that he had made the rash promise to get back eight hundred of the sixteen hundred, or another eight hundred to take its place. Neither was it entirely because he hoped to confirm his judgment in the case of Egbert Phillips. The real reason lay deeper than that. Kent had declared that he still loved Elizabeth Berry and that he had reason to think she returned that love. Perhaps she did; in spite of some things she had said after their quarrel, it was possible--yes, probable that she did. If, by saving her lover from disgrace, he might insure her future and her happiness, then--then--Sears would have made rasher promises still and have undertaken to carry them out.

The brokers' letter helped but little, if any. He entered the names and numbers of the bonds in his memorandum book. Those bonds still perplexed him. He could not explain them, satisfactorily. It might be that Egbert had more left from his wife's estate than Judge Knowles expected him to have or that Bradley was inclined to think he had. Lobelia's will bequeathed to her beloved husband "all stocks, bonds, securities, etc.," remaining. But Knowles had more than intimated that none remained. The pictures of the horses and the ladies in Egbert's room at Sarah Macomber's confirmed the captain's belief that the Phillips past had been a hectic one. It seemed queer that, out of the ruin, there should have been preserved at least two thousand dollars in good American--yes, City of Boston--bonds.

In the back of the Kendrick head was a theory--or the ghost of a theory--concerning those bonds. He did not like to believe it, he would not believe it yet, but it was a possibility. Elizabeth had been bequeathed twenty thousand dollars. She and Egbert had been close friends for a time. She had liked him, had trusted him. Of late, so Esther Tidditt said, that friendship had been somewhat strained. Was it possible that.... Humph! Well, Bradley might know. He was Elizabeth's guardian, he would know if her investments had been disturbed.

Then, too, if worst came to the worst and he had to raise the eight hundred, which he had promised Kent, by borrowing it, he could, he thought, arrange to get from Bradley an advance of that amount, or a part of it, against his salary as manager of the Fair Harbor.

So he determined, as the next move, to go to Orham and visit the lawyer. On Saturday morning, therefore, he and the Foam Flake once more journeyed along the wood road to Orham.

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CHAPTER XXIt was April and one of those beautiful early spring days with which New England is sometimes favored. The first buds were showing on the trees, the first patches of new green were sprinkling the sheltered slopes of the little hills, and under the dead leaves by the edges of the woods boys had been rummaging for the first mayflowers. It was supper time at the Fair Harbor and the "guests"--quoting Mrs. Susannah Brackett--or the "inmates"--quoting Mr. Judah Cahoon--were seated about the table. There were some notable vacancies in the roster. At the head Mrs. Cordelia Berry had so
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CHAPTER XVBut there was so little that was tangible to fight, that was the trouble. If Mr. Egbert Phillips was the villain of the piece he was such a light and airy villain that it was hard to take him seriously enough. Even when Kendrick was most thoroughly angry with him and most completely convinced that he was responsible for all his own troubles, including the loss of Elizabeth Berry's friendship--even then he found it hard to sit down and deliberately plan a campaign against him. It seemed like campaigning against a butterfly. The captain disliked him extremely, but he never
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