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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1464

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3


For the half hour which followed the captain's utterance of that simple little word, "Me," exclamation, protestation and argument heated and unwontedly disturbed the atmosphere of the Minot spare stateroom and when the discussion adjourned there, of the little back yard. The old white horse, left to himself and quite forgotten, placidly meandered on until he reached a point where he could reach the tender foliage of a young pear tree which leaned over the wall toward him. Then, with a sigh of content, he proceeded to devour the tree. No one paid the least attention to him. Captain Kendrick, now seated upon the bench beneath the locust, was quietly but persistently explaining why he desired to become a boarder and lodger at Mr. Cahoon's quarters on the after lower deck of the General Minot house, and Judah was vociferously and profanely expostulating against such an idea.

"It ain't fittin', I tell you," he declared, over and over again. "It ain't fittin', it's the craziest notion ever I heard tell of. What'll folks think if they know you're here--you, Cap'n Sears Kendrick, that all hands knows is the smartest cap'n that ever sailed out of Boston harbor? What'll they say if they know you've hove anchor along of me, stayin' here in the--in the fo'castle of this house; eatin' the grub I cook--"

"I've eaten your cookin' for a good many months at a stretch, Judah. You never heard me find any fault with it, did you?"

"Don't make no odds. That's different, Cap'n Sears, and you know 'tis. It's ridiculous, stark, ravin' ridiculous."

"So you don't care for my company?"

"Don't tuk so! Wouldn't I be proud to have ye? Wouldn't I ruther have you aboard here than anybody else on earth? Course I would!"

"All right. And you're goin' to have me. So that's all settled."

"Settled! Who said 'twas settled? Course 'tain't settled. You don't understand, Cap'n Sears. 'Tain't how I feel about it. 'Tain't even maybe how you feel about it. But how'll your sister feel about it? How'll Joel feel? How'll the doctor feel? How'll the folks in town feel? How'll--"

"Oh, shh! shh! Avast, Judah! How'll the cat feel? And the pig? What do I care? How'll your old horse feel if he eats the other half of that pear tree? That's considerably more important."

Judah turned, saw the combination of ancient equine and youthful tree and rushed bellowing to the rescue of the latter. When he returned, empty of profanity and copiously perspiring, his former skipper was ready for him.

"Listen, Judah," he said. "Listen, and keep your main hatch closed for five minutes, if you can. I want to come here to board with you for a while and I've got the best reasons on earth. Keep still and I'll tell you again what they are."

He proceeded to give those reasons. They were that he had little money and must therefore live inexpensively. He would not remain at his sister's because she had more than enough care and work in her own family. George Kent boarded with her and one boarder was sufficient. Then--and this was the principal reason for selecting the General Minot spare stateroom--he wished to live somewhere away from observation, where he could be alone, or nearly alone, where he would not be plagued with questions.

"You see, Judah," he said, "I've had a bump in more ways than one. My pride was knocked flat as well as my pocket book. The doctor says I've got to stay ashore for a good while. He says it will be months before I'm ready for sea--if I'm ever ready--"

"Hold on, hold on! Cap'n Sears, you mustn't talk so. Course you'll be ready."

"All right, we'll hope I will. But while I'm gettin' ready to be ready I want to lie snug. I don't want to see a whole lot of people and have to listen to--to sympathy and all that. I've made a fool of myself, and that kind of a fool doesn't deserve sympathy. And I don't want it, anyhow. Give me a pair of sound spars and my health once more and you won't find me beggin' for sympathy--no, nor anything else.... But there," he added, straightening and throwing back his shoulders in the way Judah had seen him do so often on shipboard and which his mates had learned to recognize as a sign that the old man's mind was made up, "that's enough of that. Let's stick to the course. I like this place of yours, Judah, and I'm comin' here to live. I'm weak yet and you can throw me out, of course," he added, "but I tell you plainly you can't _talk me out, so it's no use to try."

Nevertheless, Mr. Cahoon kept on trying and, when he did give in only gave in halfway. If Captain Sears was bound to do such a fool thing he didn't know how he was going to stop him, but at least he did insist that the captain should take a trial cruise before signing on for the whole voyage.

"I tell you what you do, Cap'n Sears," he said. "You make me a little visit of--of two, three days, say. Then, if you cal'late you can stand the grub--and me--and if the way Bayport folks'll be talkin' ain't enough to send you back to Sary's again, why--why, then I suppose you can stay right along, if you want to. _'Twould be fine to have you aboard! Whew!"

He grinned from ear to ear. The captain accepted the compromise.

"All right, Judah," he said. "We'll call the first few days a visit and I'll begin by stayin' to dinner now. How'll that do, eh?"

Mr. Cahoon affirmed that it would do finely. The only drawback was that there was nothing in the house for dinner.

"I was cal'latin' to go down to the shore," he said, "and dig a bucket of clams. Course they'll do well enough for me, but for you--"

"For me they will be just the ticket," declared Kendrick. "Go ahead and dig 'em, Judah. And on the way stop and tell Sarah I'm goin' to stay here and help eat 'em. After dinner--well, after dinner I shall have to go back there again, I suppose, but to-morrow I'm comin' up here to stay."

So, still under protest, Judah, having unloaded the seaweed, climbed once more to the high seat of the truck-wagon and the old horse dragged him out of the yard. After the row of trees bordering the road had hidden him from sight Kendrick could hear the rattle of the cart and a fragment of the _Dreadnought chantey.

"Now the _Dreadnought's becalmed on the banks of Newfoundland,
Where the water's all green and the bottom's all sand.
Says the fish of the ocean that swim to and fro:
'She's the Liverpool packet, good Lord, let her go.'"

Rattle and chantey died away in the distance. Quiet, warm and lazy, settled down upon the back yard of the General Minot place. A robin piped occasionally and, from somewhere off to the left, hens clucked, but these were the only sounds. Kendrick judged that the hens must belong to neighbors; Judah had expressed detestation of all poultry. There was not sufficient breeze to stir the branches of the locust or the leaves of the grapevine. The captain leaned back on the settee and yawned. He felt a strong desire to go to sleep.

Now sleeping in the daytime had always been a trick which he despised and against which he had railed all his life. He had declared times without number that a man who slept in the daytime--unless of course he had been on watch all night or something like that--was a loafer, a good for nothing, a lubber too lazy to be allowed on earth. The day was a period made for decent, respectable people to work in, and for a man who did not work, and love to work, Captain Sears Kendrick had no use whatever. Many so-called able seamen, and even first and second mates, had received painstaking instructions in this section of their skipper's code.

But now--now it was different. Why shouldn't he sleep in the daytime? There was nothing else for him to do. He had no business to transact, no owners to report to, no vessel to load or unload or to fit for sea. He had heard the doctor's whisper--not meant for his ears--that his legs might never be right again, and the word "might" had, he believed, been substituted for one of much less ambiguous meaning. No, all he was fit for, he reflected bitterly, was to sit in the sun and sleep, like an old dog with the rheumatism. He sighed, settled himself upon the bench and closed his eyes.

But he opened them again almost at once. During that very brief interval of darkness there had flashed before his mind a picture of a small park in New York as he had once seen it upon a summer Sunday afternoon. The park walks had been bordered with rows of benches and upon each bench slumbered at least one human derelict who, apparently, realized his worthlessness and had given up the fight. Captain Kendrick sat upright on the settee, beneath the locust tree. Was he, too, giving up--surrendering to Fate? No, by the Lord, he was not! And he was not going to drop off to sleep on that settee like one of those tramps on a park bench.

He rose to his feet, picked up his cane, and started to walk--somewhere. Direction made little difference, so long as he kept awake and kept going. There was a path leading off between the raspberry and currant bushes, and slowly, but stubbornly, he limped along that path. The path ended at a gate in a white picket fence. The gate was unlatched and there was an orchard on the other side of it. Captain Sears opened the gate and limped on under the apple trees. They were old trees and large and the shade they cast was cool and pleasant. The soft green slope beneath them tempted him strongly. He was beginning to realize that those shaky legs of his were tiring in this, the longest walk they had attempted since the accident. He had a mind to sit down upon the bank beneath the apple trees and rest. Then he remembered the mental picture of the tramps on the park benches and stubbornly refused to yield. Leaning more heavily upon his cane, he limped on.

The path emerged from beneath the apple trees, ascended a little rise and disappeared around the shoulder of a high thick clump of lilacs. Kendrick, tiring more and more rapidly, plodded on. His suffering limbs were, so to speak, shrieking for mercy but he would not give it to them. He set himself a "stint"; he would see what was beyond the clump of lilacs, then he would rest, and then he would hobble back to the Minot yard. Incidentally he realized that he had been a fool ever to leave it.

His teeth grimly set and each step a labor, he plodded up the little rise and turned the corner of the lilac bushes. There he stopped, not entirely because his "stint" was done, but because what he saw surprised him.

Beyond the lilacs was a small garden, or rather a series of small gardens. The divisions between them appeared to be exactly the same size and the plots themselves precisely the same size and shape. There were--although the captain did not learn this until later--seven of these plots, each exactly six by nine feet. But there resemblance ceased, for each was planted and arranged with a marked individuality. For example, the one nearest the lilac bushes was laid out in a sort of checkerboard pattern of squares, one square containing a certain sort of old-fashioned flower and its neighbors other varieties. The plot adjoining the checkerboard was arranged in diamonds and spirals; the planting here was floral also, whereas the next was evidently utilitarian, being given up entirely to corn, potatoes, onions, beets and other vegetables. And the next seemed to be covered with nothing except a triumphant growth of weeds.

At the rear of these odd garden plots was a little octagonal building, evidently a summer-house. Over its door, a door fronting steps leading down to the gardens, was a sign bearing the name "The Eyrie." And behind the summer-house was a stretch of rather shabby lawn, a half dozen trees, and the rear of a large house. Captain Sears recognized the house as the Seymour residence, now the "Fair Harbor." He had strayed off the course and was trespassing upon his neighbors' premises. This fact was immediately brought to his attention. From somewhere at the rear of the gardens a shrill feminine voice exclaimed:

"Mercy on us! Who's that?"

And another feminine voice chimed in:

"Eh! I declare it's a man, ain't it?"

And the first voice observed sharply:

"Of course it is. You didn't think I thought it was a cow, did you?"

"But what's he doin' here? Is he a tramp?

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Hi! Here! You--man--where are you going?"

Captain Sears had, by this time, located the voices as coming from the "Eyrie," the summer-house with the poetical name. He had so far, however, been able to see nothing of the speakers. But now the tangle of woodbine and morning-glory which draped the front of the summer-house was drawn aside and revealed a rustic window--or unglazed window opening--with two heads framed in it like a double portrait. Both of these heads were feminine, but one was thin-faced and sharp-featured, and gray-haired, while the other was like a full moon--a full moon with several chins--and its hair was a startlingly vivid black parted in the middle and with a series of very regular ripples on each side.

It was the thin face which was hailing him. The other was merely staring, open-eyed and open-mouthed.

"Here, you--man!" repeated the shrill voice--belonging to the thin face. "Where are you going?"

The captain smiled. "Why, nowhere in particular, ma'am," he replied. "I was just figurin' that I'd gone about as far as I could this voyage."

His smile became a chuckle, but there were no symptoms of amusement visible upon the faces framed in the window of the Eyrie. The thin lips merely pressed tighter and the plump ones opened wider, that was all.

"Why don't you answer my question?" demanded the thin woman. "What are you doing on these premises?"

"Why, nothin' in particular, ma'am. I was just tryin' to take a little walk and not makin' a very good job at it."

There was an interruption here. The full moon broke in to ask a question of its own.

"Who is he? What's he talkin' about?" it demanded.

"I don't know who he is--yet."

"Well, what's he talkin' about? Make him speak louder."

"I will, if you give me a chance. He says he is taking a walk. What are you taking a walk in here for? Don't you know it isn't allowed?"

"Why, no, ma'am, I didn't. In fact I didn't realize I was in here until I--well--until I got here."

"What is he sayin'?" demanded the moon-face again, and somewhat testily. "I can't hear a word."

Now the captain's tone had been at least ordinarily loud, so it was evident that the plump woman's hearing was defective. Her curiosity, however, was not in the least impaired.

"What's that man talkin' about now?" she persisted. Her companion became impatient.

"Oh, I don't know," she snapped. "Do give me a chance, won't you? I think he's been drinking. He says he doesn't know where he is or how he got here."

Kendrick thought it high time to protest. Also to raise his voice when doing so.

"That wasn't exactly it," he shouted. "I was takin' a little walk, that's all. I have to navigate pretty slow for my legs aren't just right."

"What did he say wa'n't right?" demanded the plump female.

"His legs."

"Eh! Legs! What's he talkin' about his legs for?"

"Oh, I don't know! Do be still a minute. It's his head that isn't right, I guess he means.... Don't you know you're trespassing? What do you mean by coming in here?"

"Well, ma'am, I didn't mean anything in particular. I just happened in by accident. I'm sorry."

"Humph! You didn't come in here to run off with anything that didn't belong to you, I hope."

The captain looked at her for a moment. Then his lip twitched.

"No, ma'am," he said, solemnly, "I didn't come with that idea--but--"

"But? What do you mean by 'but'?"

"But I didn't realize what there was in here to run off with. If I had.... There, I guess I'd better go. Good day, ladies. Sorry I troubled you."

He lifted his cap, turned, and limped out of sight around the clump of lilacs. From behind him came a series of indignant gasps and exclamations.

"Why--why--Well, I never in all my born days! The saucy, impudent--"

And the voice of the moon-faced one raised in bewildered entreaty:

"What was it? What did he say? Elviry Snowden, why don't you tell me what 'twas he _said_?"

Captain Kendrick hobbled back to the Minot yard. He hobbled through the orchard gate, leaving it ajar, and reaching the bench beneath the locust tree, collapsed upon it. For some time he was conscious of very little except the ache in his legs and the fact that breathing was a difficult and jerky operation. Then, as the fatigue and pain ceased to be as insistent, the memory of his interview with the pair in the Eyrie returned to him and he began to chuckle. After a time he fancied that he heard a sympathetic chuckle behind him. It seemed to come from the vegetable garden, Judah's garden, which, so Mr. Cahoon told his former skipper, he had set out himself and was "sproutin' and comin' up better'n ary other garden in the town of Bayport, if I do say it as shouldn't."

Kendrick could not imagine who could be chuckling in that garden. Also he could not imagine where the chuckler could be hiding, unless it was behind the rows of raspberry and currant bushes. Slowly and painfully he rose to his feet and peered over the bushes. Then the mystery was explained. The "chuckles" were clucks. A flock of at least a dozen healthy and energetic hens were enthusiastically busy in the Cahoon beds. Their feet were moving like miniature steam shovels and showers of earth and infant vegetables were moving likewise. Judah had boasted that the fruits of his planting were "comin' up." If he had seen them at that moment he would have realized how fast they were coming up.

The sight aroused Captain Kendrick's ire. He was, in a way of speaking, guardian of that vegetable patch. Judah had not formally appointed him to that position, but he had gone away and, by the fact of so doing, had left it in his charge. He felt responsible for its safety.

"Shoo!" shouted the captain and, leaning upon his cane, limped toward the garden.

"Shoo!" he roared again. The hens paid about as much attention to the roar as a gang of ditch diggers might pay to the buzz of a mosquito. Obviously something more drastic than shooing was necessary. The captain stooped and picked up a stone. He threw the stone and hit a hen. She rose in the air with a frightened squawk, ran around in a circle, and then, coming to anchor in a patch of tiny beets, resumed excavating operations.

Kendrick picked up another stone, a bigger one, and threw that. He missed the mark this time, but the shot was not entirely without results; it hit one of Mr. Cahoon's cucumber frames and smashed a pane to atoms. The crash of glass had the effect of causing some of the fowl to stop digging and appear nervous. But these were in the minority.

The captain was, by this time, annoyed. He was on the verge of losing his temper. Beyond the little garden and between the raspberry and currant bushes he caught a glimpse of the path and the gate through which he had just come on his way back from the grounds of the Fair Harbor. That gate he saw, with a twinge of conscience, was wide open. Obviously he must have neglected to latch it on passing through, it had swung open, and the hens had taken advantage of the sally port to make their foray upon Judah's pet vegetables. They were Fair Harbor hens. Somehow this fact did not tend to deepen Sears Kendrick's affection for them.

"Shoo! Clear out, you pesky nuisances!" he shouted, and waving his cane, charged laboriously down upon the fowl. They retreated before him, but their retreat was strategic. They moved from beets to cabbages, from cabbages to young corn, from corn to onions. And they scratched and pecked as they withdrew. Nevertheless, they were withdrawing and in the direction of the open gate; in the midst of his panting and pain the captain found a slight comfort in the fact that he was driving the creatures toward the gate.

At last they were almost there--that is, the main body. Kendrick noted, with sudden uneasiness, that there were stragglers. A gaily decorated old rooster, a fowl with a dissipated and immoral swagger and a knowing, devil-may-care tilt of the head, was sidling off to the left. Two or three young pullets were following the lead of this ancient pirate, evidently fascinated by his recklessness. The captain turned to head off the wanderers. They squawked and ran hither and thither. He succeeded in turning them back, but, at the moment of his success, heard triumphant cluckings at his rear. The rest of the flock had, while his attention was diverted by the rooster and his followers, galloped joyfully back to the garden again. Now, as Captain Sears gazed, the rooster and his satellites flew to join them. All hands--or, more literally, all feet--resumed excavating with the abandon of conscientious workers striving to make up lost time.

And now Sears Kendrick did lose his temper. Probably at another time he might have laughed, but now he was tired, in pain, and in no mood to see the humorous side of the situation. He expressed his opinion of the hens and the rooster, using quarter deck idioms and withholding little. If the objects of his wrath were disturbed they did not show it. If they were shocked they hid their confusion in the newly turned earth of Judah Cahoon's squash bed.

Whether they were shocked or not Sears did not stop to consider. He intended to shock them to the fullest extent of the word's meaning. At his feet was a stick, almost a log, part of the limb of a pear tree. He picked up this missile and hurled it at the marauders. It missed them but it struck in the squash bed and tore at least six of the delicate young squashlings from their moorings. Kendrick plunged after it--the hens separating as he advanced and rejoining at his rear--picked up the log and, turning, again hurled it.

"There!" roared the captain, "take that, damn you!"

One of the hens did "take it." So did some one else. The missile struck just beneath the fowl as she fled, lifted her and a peck or two of soil as well, and hurled the whole mass almost into the face of a person who, unseen until then, had advanced along the path from the gate and had arrived at that spot at that psychological instant. This person uttered a little scream, the hen fled with insane yells, the log and its accompanying shower fell back to earth, and Sears Kendrick and the young woman--for the newcomer was a young woman--stood and looked at each other.

She was bareheaded and her hair was dark and abundant, and she was wearing a gingham dress and a white apron. So much he noticed at this, their first meeting. Afterward he became aware that she was slender and that her age might perhaps be twenty-four or twenty-five. At that moment, of course, he did not notice anything except that her apron and dress--yes, even her hair and face--were plentifully besprinkled with earth and that she was holding a hand to her eyes as if they, too, might have received a share of the results of the terrestrial disturbance.

"Oh!" he stammered. "I'm awfully sorry! I--I hope I didn't hurt you."

If she heard him she did not answer, but, removing her hand, opened and shut her eyes rapidly. The captain's alarm grew as he watched this proceeding.

"I--I _do hope I didn't hurt you," he repeated. "It--it didn't put your eyes out, did it?"

She smiled, although rather uncertainly. "No," she said.

"You're sure?"

"Yes." The smile became broader. "It's not quite as bad as that, I guess. I seem to be able to see all right."

He drew a relieved breath. "Well, I'm thankful for so much, then," he announced. "But it's all over your dress--and--and in your hair--and.... Oh, I _am sorry!"

She laughed at this outburst. "It is all right," she declared. "Of course it was an accident, and I'm not hurt a bit, really."

"I'm glad of that. Yes, it was an accident--your part of it, I mean. I didn't see you at all. I meant the part the hen got, though."

Her laugh was over, but there was still a twinkle in her eye. Kendrick was, by this time, aware that her eyes were brown.

"Yes," she observed, demurely, "I--gathered that you did."

"Yes, I--" It suddenly occurred to him that his language had been as emphatic as his actions. "Good lord!" he exclaimed. "I forgot. I beg your pardon for that, too. When I lose my temper I am liable to--to make salt water remarks, I'm afraid. And those hens.... Eh? There they are again, hard at it! Will you excuse me while I kill three or four of 'em? You see, I'm in charge of that garden and.... _Get out!_"

This last was, of course, another roar at the fowl, who, under the leadership of the rake-helly rooster, were scratching harder than ever in the beds. The captain reached for another missile, but his visitor stepped forward.

"Please don't," she begged. "Please don't kill them."

"Eh? Why not? They ought to be killed."

"I know it, but I don't want them killed--yet, at any rate. You see, they are my hens."

"Yours?" The captain straightened up and looked at her. "You don't mean it?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, I do. They are mine, or my mother's, which is the same thing. I am dreadfully sorry they got in here. I'll have them out in just a minute. Oh, yes, I will, really."

Kendrick regarded her doubtfully.

"Well," he said, slowly, "I know it isn't polite to contradict a lady but if you'll tell me _how you are goin' to get 'em out without killin' 'em, I'll be ever so much obliged. You can't drive 'em, I know that."

"I shan't try. Just wait, I'll be right back."

She hurried away, down the path and through the open gate. Captain Sears Kendrick looked after her. Behind and about him the Fair Harbor hens clucked and scratched blissfully.

In very little more than the promised minute the young woman returned. She carried a round wooden receptacle--what Cape Codders used to call a "two quart measure"--and, as she approached, she shook it. Something within rattled. The hens, some of them, heard the rattle and ceased their digging.

"Come, chick, chick! Come, biddy, biddy, biddy!" called the young woman, rattling the measure. More of the fowl gave up their labors, and looked and listened. Some even began to follow her. She dipped a hand into the measure, withdrew it filled with corn, and scattered a few grains in the path.

"Come, biddy, biddy, biddy!" she said again.

And the biddies came. Forgetting the possibilities of Judah Cahoon's garden, they rushed headlong upon the golden certainties of those yellow kernels. The young woman retreated along the path, scattering corn as she went, and after her scrambled and pecked and squawked the fowl. Even the sophisticated rooster yielded to temptation and was among the leaders in the rush. The corn bearer and the flock passed through the open gate, along the path beneath the Fair Harbor apple trees, out of sight around the bend. Sears Kendrick was left alone upon the battle ground, amid the dead and wounded young vegetables.

But he was not left alone long. A few minutes later his visitor returned. She had evidently hurried, for there was a red spot on each of her cheeks and she was breathing quickly. She passed through the gate into the grounds of the General Minot place and closed that gate behind her.

"There!" she said. "Now they are locked up in the hen yard. How in the world they ever got out of there I don't see. I suppose some one left the gate open. I--What were you going to say?"

The captain had been about to confess that it was he who left the gate open, but he changed his mind. Apparently she had been on the point of saying something more. The confession could wait.

"What was it?" asked the young woman.

"Oh, nothin', nothin'."

"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter much how they got out, as long as they did. But I am _very sorry they got into Mr. Cahoon's garden. I hope they haven't completely ruined it."

They both turned to survey the battlefield. It was--like all battlefields after the strife is ended--a sad spectacle.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed the visitor. "I am afraid they have. What _will Mr. Cahoon say?"

The captain smiled slightly.

"I hope you don't expect me to answer that," he observed.

"Why?... Oh, I see! Well, I don't know that I should blame him much. Have--have they left anything?"

"Oh, yes! Yes, indeed. There are a good many--er--sprouts left. And they dug up a lot of weeds besides. Judah ought to be thankful for the weeds, anyhow."

"I am afraid he won't be, under the circumstances."

"Maybe not, but there is one thing that, under the same circumstances, he _ought to be thankful for. That is, that you came when you did. You may not know it, but I had been tryin' to get those hens out of that garden for--for a year, I guess. It seems longer, but I presume likely it wasn't more than a year."

She laughed again. "No," she said, "I guess it wasn't more than that."

"Probably not. If it had been any longer, judgin' by the way they worked, they'd have dug out the underpinnin' and had the house down by this time. How did you happen to come? Did you hear the--er--broadsides?"

"Why, no, I--But that reminds me. Have you seen a tramp around here?"

"A tramp? What sort of a tramp?"

"I don't know. Elvira--I mean Miss Snowden--said he was a tall, dark man and Aurora thought he was rather thick-set and sandy. But they both agree that he was a dreadful, rough-looking creature who carried a big club and had a queer slouchy walk. And he came in this direction, so they thought."

"He did, eh? Humph! Odd I didn't see him. I've been here all the time. Where was he when they saw him first?"

"Over on our property. In the Fair Harbor grounds, I mean. He came out of the bushes, so Elvira and Aurora say, and spoke to them. Insulted them, Elvira says."

"Sho! Well, well! I wonder where he went."

"I can't think. I supposed of course you must have seen him. It was only a little while ago, not more than an hour. Have you been here all that time?"

"Yes, I've been here for the last two hours. What part of your grounds was it? Would you like to have me go over there and look around?"

"No, thank you. You are very kind, but I am sure it won't be necessary. He has gone by now, of course."

"I should be glad to try." Then, noticing her glance at his limp, he added: "Oh, I can navigate after a fashion, well enough for a short cruise like that. But it is funny that, if there was a tramp there such a little while ago, I didn't run afoul of him. Why, I was over there myself."

"You were?"

"Yes, you see, I----"

He stopped short. He had been about to tell of his short walk and how he had inadvertently trespassed within the Fair Harbor boundaries. But before he could speak the words a sudden and amazing thought flashed upon him.

"Eh?" he cried. "Why--why, I wonder----"

His visitor was leaning forward. Judging by her expression, she, too, was experiencing a similar sensation of startled surmise.

"Why----" repeated the captain.

"Oh!" exclaimed the young woman.

"You don't suppose----"

"It couldn't possibly be that----"

"Wait a minute, please. Just a minute." Sears held up his hand. "Where did those folks of yours see this tramp? Were they in a--in a kind of roundhouse--summer-house, you might call it?"

"Why, yes. They were in the Eyrie."

"That's it, the Eyrie. And is one of the--er--ladies rather tall and narrow in the beam, gray-haired, and speaks quick and--school-marmy?"

"Yes. That is Miss Elvira Snowden."

"Of course--Elvira. That's what the other one called her. And she--the other one--is short and broad and--and hard of hearin'?"

"Yes. Her name is Aurora Chase. Is it possible that you----"

"Just a second more. Has this short one got a--a queer sort of hair rig? Black as tar and with kind of--of wrinkles in it?"

She smiled at this description. "Yes," she said. "Do you mean that _you are----"

"The tramp? I guess likely I am. I was over on your premises just a little while ago and met those two ladies."

"But you can't be. They said he--the tramp--was a dreadful, rough man, with a club and--and----"

"Here's the club." Captain Kendrick exhibited his cane. "And these lame legs of mine would account for that slouchy walk they told you about. I guess there isn't much doubt that I am the tramp. But I'm sorry if they thought I insulted 'em. I surely didn't mean to."

He described the meeting by the Eyrie and repeated the dialogue as he remembered it.

"So you see," he said, in conclusion, "that's all there is to it. I suppose that hint of mine about bein' tempted to run off with one of 'em is the nearest to an insult of any of it. Perhaps I shouldn't have said it, but--but it popped into my head and I couldn't hold it back. I didn't really mean it," he added solemnly. "I wouldn't have run off with one of 'em for the world."

This, and the accompanying look, was too much. His visitor had been listening and trying to appear grave, although her eyes were twinkling. But now she burst out laughing.

"Honest I wouldn't," reiterated Captain Sears. "And I'm sorry for that insult."

"Absurd! You needn't be. If there was any insult it was the other way about. The idea of Elvira's suggesting that you came over there to steal. Well, we've settled the tramp, at any rate, and I apologize for the way you were treated, Mr.----"

"Kendrick. My name is Kendrick."

"Yes, Mr. Kendrick. And I am very sorry about the garden, too. Please tell Mr. Cahoon so, and tell him I think I can promise that the gate won't be left open again."

"I'll tell him when he comes back. He'll be here pretty soon, I guess. He and I are old shipmates. He shipped cook aboard of me for a good many voyages."

She was moving toward the path and the gate, but now she paused and turned to look at him. There was a new expression on her face, an expression of marked interest.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Are you--are you Cap'n Sears Kendrick? The one who was--hurt?"

"Wrecked in the train smash up? Yes, I'm the one. Look like a total wreck, don't I?"

He laughed as he said it, but there was a taint of bitterness in the laugh. She did not laugh. Instead she took a step toward him and involuntarily put out her hand.

"Oh, I'm _so sorry!" she said.

"Eh? Oh, you needn't be. I'm gettin' along tip-top. Able to walk and ride and--er--chase hens. That's doin' pretty well for one day."

"I know. But they were my--our--hens and they must have tired you so. Please forgive us. I won't," with a smile, "ask you to forgive them."

"Oh, that's all right, that's all right, Miss--er----"

"Berry. I am Elizabeth Berry. My mother is in charge here at the Harbor."

"Harbor? Oh, yes, over yonder. Berry? Berry? The only Berry I remember around here was Cap'n Isaac Berry. Cap'n Ike, we young fellows used to call him. I went to sea with him once, my first voyage second mate."

"Did you? He was my father. But there, I _must go. Good-by, Cap'n Kendrick. I hope you will get well very fast now."

"Thanks. Good-bye. Oh, by the way, Miss Berry, what made you think I might be Sears Kendrick? There are half a dozen Kendricks around Bayport."

"Yes, but--excuse me--there is only one Cap'n Sears Kendrick. You are one of Bayport's celebrities, Cap'n."

"Humph! Notorieties, you mean. So all hands have been talkin' about me, eh? Humph! Well, I guessed as much."

"Why, of course. You are one of our shining lights--sea lights, I mean. You must expect to be talked about."

"I do--in Bayport, and I'll be talked about more in a day or two, I guess."


"Eh? Oh, nothin', nothin'. I was thinkin' out loud, didn't realize I spoke. Good-by."


The gate closed behind her. Kendrick sat down once more upon the bench beneath the locust tree.

When Judah returned with the bucket of clams he found his guest and prospective boarder just where he had left him.

"Well, by Henry, Cap'n Sears!" he exclaimed. "Still at the same old moorin's, eh? Been anchored right there ever since I sot sail?"

"Not exactly, Judah. Pretty nearly, though."

"Sho! Kind of dull music for you, I'm afraid. Whoa, you lop-sided hay-barge! Stand still till I give you orders to move, will ye! That's what I warned you, Cap'n Sears; not much goin' on around here. You'll be pretty lonesome, I guess likely."

"Oh, I guess I can stand it, Judah. I haven't been lonesome so far."

"Ain't, eh? That's good. Well, I got my clams; now I'll steer this horse into port and come back and get to work on that chowder. Oh, say, Cap'n Sears; I see Sary and told her you was cal'latin' to stay here for dinner."

"Did you? Much obliged. What did she say?"

"Say? She said a whole lot. Wanted to know how in time you got up here. 'You didn't let him _walk all that great long ways, Judah Cahoon?' she says. 'I ain't altogether a fool, be I?' says I."

Mr. Cahoon paused to search his pockets for a match.

"What answer did she make to that?" asked the captain. Judah grinned.

"Wa--ll," he drawled, "she said, 'Perhaps not--altogether.' 'Twan't much, but it was enough of the kind, as the feller said about the tobacco in the coffee pot. Oh, say, that reminds me, Cap'n Sears; there was somebody else talkin' about you. I--whoa, you camel, you! Creepin', crawlin', jumpin'---- Well, go ahead, then! I'll tell you the rest in half a shake, Cap'n. Git dap!"

Horse, cart and driver jogged and jolted into the barn. After a brief interval Mr. Cahoon reappeared, carrying the clam bucket. They entered the kitchen together. Then the captain said:

"Judah, you said some one beside Sarah was talkin' about me. Who was it?"

"Hey? Oh, 'twas Emeline Tidditt, her that's keepin' house for Judge Knowles. She says the old judge is gettin' pretty feeble. Don't cal'late he'll last out much longer, Emeline don't. Says it's nothin' but just grit and hang-on that keeps him alive. He's a spunky old critter, Judge Knowles is, 'cordin' to folks's tell. Course I don't know him same as some, but I cal'late he's a good deal on the general build and lines of a man name of George Dingo that I run afoul of one time to a place called Semurny--over acrost. You know Semurny, don't ye, Cap'n? One of them Med'terranean port 'tis."

"Smyrna, do you mean?"

"Um-hm. That's it, Semurny. I was there aboard the _William Holcomb_, out of Philadelphy. We was loadin' with figs and truck like that. You remember the old _Holcomb_, don't you, Cap'n Sears? Sartin sure you do. Horncastle and Grant of Philadelphy they owned her. Old Horncastle was a queer man as ever I see. Had a cork leg. Got the real one shot off in the Mexican war or run over by a horse car, some said one and some said t'other. Anyhow he had a cork one spliced on in place of it, and--ho, ho! 'twas as funny a sight as ever I see--one time he fell off the wharf there in Philadelphy. Yes, sir, fell right into the dock, he did. And when they scrabbled down the ladder to haul him in there wasn't nothin' in sight but that cork leg, stickin' up out of water. The rest of him had gone under, but that cork leg hadn't--no, sire-ee! Haw, haw! Well ... er ... er.... What did I start to talk about, Cap'n Sears?"

"I don't know, Judah. It was a good while ago. You began by sayin' that you met Judge Knowles's housekeeper."

"Hey? Why, sure and sartin!" Mr. Cahoon slapped his leg. "Sartin sure, Cap'n Sears, that was it. And I said she and me got to talkin' about you. Well, well, well! I started right there and I fetched up way over in Semurny, along of George Dingo. Well, by Henry! Ain't that queer, now?"

He rubbed his legs and shook his head, apparently overcome by the queerness of it. Kendrick, judging that another Mediterranean cruise was imminent, made a remark calculated to keep him at home.

"What did this--what's-her-name--this Tidditt woman say about me?" he asked.

"Hey? Oh, she said that Judge Knowles wanted to see you. Said that he asked about you 'most every day, wanted to know how you was gittin' along, because just as soon as you was well enough to cruise on your own hook he wanted you to come in and see him."

"Judge Knowles wanted me to come in and see him? Why, that's funny! I don't know the judge well. Haven't seen him for years, and then only two or three times. What on earth can Judge Knowles have to say to me?.... Humph! I can't think."

He tried to think, nevertheless. Judah busied himself with the sloppy process of clam opening. A little later he observed:

"So you wan't lonesome all alone here by yourself while I was gone, Cap'n? That's good. Glad to hear it."

"Thanks, Judah. I wasn't alone, though."

"You wan't? Sho! Do tell! Have company, did ye? Somebody run in?"

"Yes. And they wouldn't run out again, not for a good while. They came on business."

"Business? What kind of business?"

"Well, I suppose you might call it gardening. They were interested in raisin' vegetables, I know that."

Judah laid down the clam knife and regarded his former skipper. "Raisin' vegetables?" he repeated slowly. "What--? Look here Cap'n Sears, who was they? Where'd they come from?"

"I believe they came from next door?"

"Next door? From the Harbor?" He rose to his feet, suspicion dawning upon his face above the whiskers.

"Yes, Judah."

"Cap'n Sears, answer me right straight out. Have those dummed everlastin' Fair Harbor hens been in my garden again?"

"Yes, Judah."

"Have they--have they?----" Words failed him. He strode up the path to the garden. Then, after a moment's comprehensive gaze upon the scene of ruin, the words returned.

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4
CHAPTER IVSears Kendrick's prophecy that Bayport would, within the next day or two, talk about him even more than it had before was a true one. As soon as it became known that he had left the Macomber home and was boarding and lodging with Judah Cahoon in the rear portion of the General Minot house every tongue in the village--tongues of animals and small children excepted--wagged his name. At the sewing-circle, at the Shakespeare Reading Society--convening that week at Mrs. Tabitha Crosby's--after Friday night prayer-meeting at the Orthodox meeting-house, in Eliphalet Bassett's store at mail times, in the sitting-rooms and

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

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