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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4
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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4 Post by :brennan Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :3035

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 4


Sears 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 kitchens and around breakfast, dinner and supper tables from West Bayport to East Bayport Neck and from Poverty Lane to Woodchuck's Misery--the principal topic was Captain Kendrick's surprising move.

"Why?" that was the question.

Various answers were offered, many reasons suggested, but none satisfied everybody.

At the Shakespeare Society meeting, just before the reading aloud of "Cymbeline" began--"Cymbeline" carefully edited, censored and kalsomined by the selective committee, Mrs. Reverend David Dishup and Miss Tryphosa Taylor--the feelings of the genteel section of the community were expressed by no less a personage than Mrs. Captain Elkanah Wingate. Mrs. Wingate, speaking from the Mount Sinai of Bayport's aristocracy, made proclamation thus:

"Why, if the man must leave his sister's and go somewhere else to live, _why in the world does he choose to go _there_? Aren't there good, respectable, genteel boarding-houses like--well, like yours, Naomi, for instance? _I should say so."

Mrs. Naomi Newcomb, whose home sheltered a few "paying guests," smiled and shook her head. The shake indicated not a doubt of Mrs. Wingate's judgment, but complete loss as to Sears Kendrick's reasons for behaving as he had. Other members shook their heads also. Mary-Pashy Foster, who had spent a winter in France when her husband was ill with the small-pox at Havre, shrugged her shoulders.

"And," continued Mrs. Captain Wingate, "when you consider the place he has gone to and the person he has gone with! Good heavens, _I say! Good heavens!"

More words and exclamations of approval. Several others declared that they said so, too.

"Gone to live," went on Mrs. Wingate, "not in the General Minot house proper--there might be some explanation for _that_, perhaps--but they tell me that this Judah Cahoon only uses the back part of the house and that Cap'n Kendrick has got a room just off the kitchen or thereabouts."

"And Judah himself!" broke in Miss Taylor. "He is as rough and common as--as--I don't know what. How a man like Cap'n Kendrick can lower himself--debase himself to such a person's level I _do not see. You would as soon expect a needle to go through a camel's eye, as the saying is."

There was a slight interval of embarrassment after this outburst. The majority of those present realized that the speaker had gotten her proverb twisted, but, she being Miss Tryphosa Taylor, no one felt like venturing to set her right. Mrs. Captain Godfrey Peasley relieved the situation; she had a habit of relieving situations--when she did not make them tenser. She had gotten into the Shakespeare Reading Society purely by persistence and the possession of adamantine self-confidence. From that shot-proof exterior snubs, hints and reproofs glanced like blown peas from the hull of a battleship. "Heaven knows," confided Mrs. Captain Wingate to Miss Taylor and the Reverend Mrs. Dishup, "why Amelia Peasley ever wanted to join the Society. She doesn't know whether Shakespeare is a man or a disease." Which may or not have been true, the fact remaining that Mrs. Peasley _had wanted to join the Society and--joined.

Now, while others hesitated, following Miss Tryphosa's little blunder, she spoke.

"I think," she declared, with conviction, "that Sears Kendrick ought to be ashamed of himself. _I think such actions are degradatin'--yes, indeed, right down degradatin'."

After that, further comments upon the captain's conduct would have seemed like anti-climaxes. Therefore the Society proceeded to read "Cymbeline." Mrs. Peasley had something to say about "Cymbeline," also.

Captain Sears himself merely grinned when told of the sensation his conduct was causing.

"All right," he said, "let 'em talk. If they aren't talkin' about me they will be about somebody else."

Judah, to whom this remark was made, snorted.

"Humph!" he growled. "They _be talkin' about somebody else. Don't you make no mistake about that, Cap'n Sears."

"That so, Judah? Who's the other lucky man?"

"Me. Jumpin', creepin'---- Why, some of them womenfolks seem to cal'late I lammed you over the head with a marlinspike and then towed you up here by main strength; seems if they did, by Henry! And some of the men ain't a whole lot better. Makes me madder'n a sore nose. I was down to the store--down to 'Liphalet's--and there was a crew of ha'f a dozen there and they all wanted to know how you was gittin' along.

"'Well, he ain't dead yit,' says I. 'He was lively enough when I left him. I ain't come to buy no spade to bury him with.'

"You'd think that would satisfy 'em, wouldn't ye? Well, it didn't! Cap'n Noah Baker was there and he wanted to know this, and that little runt of a Thad Black he wanted to know that--and kept on wantin'. And that brother-in-law of yours, Cap'n Sears, that Joel Macomber, I declare to man if he wan't the wust of all. You'd think _he ought to keep quiet about your doin's, wouldn't ye, now? But he didn't. 'Don't ask me, boys,' he says. 'I don't know why Sears quit my house and went to Judah's. We manage to bear up without him somehow,' says he, winkin' to the gang, 'but if you ask me his _reasons for goin' _I can't tell ye. I presume likely Judah can, though,' he says. 'Well, I can see _one reason plain enough,' says I, lookin' right at him."

Kendrick burst out laughing. "Did he get the idea, Judah?" he inquired.

"Him? Nary a bit. Wanted me to tell him what the reason was. Limpin', creepin' prophets! What did a woman like Sary ever marry him for, anyway, Cap'n? Not that it's any of my business, you understand."

"I understand. Well, it wasn't any of mine either, Judah."

"No, I presume likely not. But that George Kent, he's a nice young feller, ain't he, Cap'n?"

"Seems to be," replied Kendrick.

"Um--hm. Come up to me, after the gang had quit havin' their good time, and shook hands nice and chummy and wanted to know how you was. 'Tell the cap'n I'm goin' to come in and see him some day,' he says, 'if you and he want callers.' 'Good land, yes,' says I, 'course we do. Don't stop to call, come right along in.' He's a nice boy that young Kent.... But--but some of these days I'm goin' to _hit that Thad Black--hit him with somethin' soft like--like an anvil. If that critter fell overboard I wouldn't heave him no life-preserver. No, sir, by Henry, I'd heave him the sheet anchor. The longer he hung on to that the better 'twould suit _me_."

To his sister only did Sears give his reasons for leaving her home. With her he was perfectly frank.

"You know why I'm doin' this, Sarah," he said. "Now don't you--honest?"

Mrs. Macomber hesitated. "Why, Sears," she faltered reluctantly, "I--I suppose I can guess why you _think you're doin' it. But that doesn't make it right for you to do it, really."

"Oh, yes, it does. Be sensible, Sarah. Here are you with six children to support and work for, not to mention one boarder and--a husband. The house is crowded, aloft and alow. There isn't a bit of room for me."

"Now, Sears, how can you talk so? You've _had room here, haven't you?"

"Yes, I've had it, plenty of it. But how much room have the rest of you had?"

"Why--why, we've had enough. Nobody's complained that I know of."

"Good reason why. You wouldn't let 'em, Sarah. And of course you never would complain yourself. But that is only part of it. The real thing is that I will not live on you."

"But you pay board."

"Stuff and nonsense! How much do I pay in comparison with what it costs to keep me?"

"You pay me all you can afford, I'm sure; and I rather guess, from what you said about your money affairs the other day, that you pay me more than you ought to afford. And I don't believe you're goin' to pay that Judah Cahoon any high board for livin' in that old rats' nest of his. If you are I shall begin to believe you've gone crazy."

Her brother laughed. "I don't mind payin' Judah little or nothin', Sarah," he declared. "What I get will be worth it, probably, and besides he's a strong, healthy man. Then, too--well, I shouldn't say it to any one but you, but there is a little obligation on his side and that keeps me from feelin' like too much of a barnacle.... But there, what is the use of our threshin' this all over again? As I said in the beginnin', Sarah, you know why I'm doin' it perfectly well."

Mrs. Macomber sighed.

"I suppose I do," she admitted. "It's because you are Sears Kendrick and as independent and--and proud as--as your own self."

So the move was made and Captain Sears Kendrick's sea chest and its owner moved into Judah Cahoon's spare stateroom at the General Minot's place. And Bayport talked and talked more and more and then less and less until at the end of the captain's first week in his new quarters the move had become old news and people ceased to be interested in it, a state of affairs which pleased Mr. Cahoon immensely.

"There, by Henry!" he declared, on his return from what he called a "cruise down the road along." "I honestly do believe you and me has got so we can bat our weather eye without all hands and the ship's cat tryin' to see us do it. I met no less than seven folks while I was down along just now and only two of 'em hailed to ask how you liked bein' aboard here, Cap'n Sears. Yes, sir, by creepin', only two of 'em; the rest never said a word. What do you think of that? Some considerable change, I call it."

So being forgotten by the majority of Bayporters--which was what he desired to be--the captain settled down to live, or exist, and to wait. Just what he was waiting for he would have found hard to tell. Of course he told his sister when she came to see him, which was at least once every other day, that he was waiting for his legs to get whole and strong again, and then he should, of course, go to sea. He told Doctor Sheldon much the same thing, and the doctor said, "Why, of course, Cap'n Kendrick. We'll have you on your own quarter deck again one of these days." He said it with heartiness and apparent sincerity, but Sears was skeptical. After the doctor's visits he was likely to be blue and dejected for a time, and Judah noticed this fact but attributed it to quite a different cause.

"It's high time that doctor swab quit comin' here to see you," declared Judah. "Runnin' in here and lettin' go anchor and settin' round and sayin', 'Well, how goes it to-day?' and 'Nice spell of weather we're havin',' and the like of that, and then goin' home and chalkin' up another dollar on the bill. No sense to it, I say. No wonder you look glum, Cap'n Sears. Makes _me glum, and 'tain't _my money that's bein' talked out of me, nuther. Hear what he said just now? 'I must go,' he says. 'And what did you say? Why, you said, 'Don't hurry, Doctor. What do you want to go for?' All I could do to keep from bustin' out in a laugh. _I know what you was sayin' to yourself, you see. 'Stead of sayin', 'What do you want to go for?' you was thinkin', 'What in blue blazes do you want to _come for?' Haw, haw! That was it, wan't it, Cap'n?"

"Why, no, Judah. I'm always glad to see the doctor."

"Ye--es, you be!" with sarcasm. "Glad to see his back. Well, no use, Cap'n, I've got to think up some notion to keep him from comin' here. How would it do to run up a signal 'Small-pox aboard,' or somethin' like that? Think that would keep him off?... No, he's a doctor, ain't he? All he'd read out of that set of flags would be, 'More dollars. Come on in.' Haw, haw! Well, I got to think up some way."

Judah's chatter kept his lodger from being too lonely. Mr. Cahoon talked about everybody and everything, and when he was not talking he was singing. He sang when he turned out in the morning to get breakfast, he sang when he turned in at bedtime. He sang while working in the garden repairing the damages done by the Fair Harbor hens. His repertoire was extensive, embracing not only every conceivable variety of chantey and sea song, but also an assortment of romantic ballads, running from "The Blue Juniata," in which:

"Wild rowed an Indian girl,
Bright Al-fa-ra-ta,"

to the ancient ditty of twenty-odd verses describing how

"There was a rich merchant in London did dwell,
He had for his daughter a very fine gel,
Her name it was Dinah, just sixteen years old,
With a very large fortune in silver and gold.

"Singing Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay,
Singing Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay,"

and continuing to sing "Too-ral-i-ooral-i-ooral-i-ay" four times after each of the twenty-odd verses to the tragical finish of Dinah and the ballad.

As some men take to drink upon almost any or no excuse, so Judah Cahoon took to song. And if the effect upon him was not as unsteadying as an over indulgence in alcohol, that upon his hearers was at times upsetting and disastrous. For example, upon the occasion when Captain Sears again encountered his acquaintances of the Fair Harbor summer-house, Mr. Cahoon's singing completely wrecked what might possibly have been a meeting tending to raise the captain in the estimation of those ladies.

Sears happened to be taking what he liked to call his exercise. Judah called it "pacin' decks." He was hobbling back and forth along the path leading to the gate opening upon the Fair Harbor grounds. His landlord was at work in the garden. The captain had limped as far as the gate and was about to turn and limp back again when, behold, along the path beyond that gate appeared two feminine figures strolling with what might be called careful carelessness, looking up, down and on every side except that upon which stood Captain Sears Kendrick. And the captain recognized the pair, the one tall, slim, slender--unusually slim and remarkably slender--the other short and plump--very decidedly plump--as the ladies with whom he had held brief but spirited discourse the fortnight before, the ladies who had peered forth at him from the vine-draped window of the Eyrie--in short, for Miss Elvira Snowden and Mrs. Aurora Chase.

The pair came scrolling along the path. They were almost at the gate when Miss Snowden looked up--she would have said she happened to look up--and saw the captain standing there. She was embarrassed and surprised--any one might have noticed the surprise and embarrassment. She started, gasped and uttered a little exclamation. Mrs. Chase, taking her affliction into account, could not possibly have heard the exclamation, but no doubt there was a telepathic quality in it, for she, too, started, looked up and was surprised and embarrassed.

"Why--why, oh, dear!" faltered Miss Snowden.

"Why! My soul and body!" exclaimed Mrs. Chase.

Captain Sears raised his hat. "Good mornin'," he said politely.

The ladies looked at each other. Then Miss Elvira, evidently the born leader, inclined her head ever so little and said, "Good morning." Mrs. Aurora looked up at her in order to see what she said.

Captain Sears tried again.

"It's a nice day for a walk," he observed.

Miss Elvira nodded and agreed, distantly--yet not too distant.

"I understand," said the captain, "that I gave you ladies a little bit of a scare the other day. Understand you thought I was a tramp. I'm real sorry. Of course I know I hadn't any business over on your premises, but, as a matter of fact, I didn't exactly realize where I was. It was the first cruise I'd made in these latitudes, as you might say, and I didn't think about keepin' on my own side of the channel buoys. I beg your pardon. I'll hope you'll excuse me."

Miss Snowden nodded elegantly and murmured that she understood.

"You are our new neighbor, I believe," she said.

"Why, yes'm, I suppose I am."

"Cap'n Kendrick, isn't it?"


"I hope, Cap'n Kendrick, that you won't think there was any--ah--anything personal in our mistaking you for a tramp the other day. Of course there wasn't. Oh, dear, no!"

The captain hesitated. He was wondering just what answer he was supposed to make to this speech. Did the lady wish him to infer that it was the Fair Harbor custom to consider all male strangers tramps until they were proven innocent? Or--but Mrs. Chase saved him the trouble of reply.

"Elviry," she demanded, "what are you and him whisperin' about? Why don't you talk so's a body can hear you? He's Cap'n Kendrick, ain't he? Have you told him who we be, same as you said you was goin' to?"

Miss Snowden, after looking at the rotund Aurora as if she would like to bite her, smiled instead and began a rather tangled explanation to the effect that she and Mrs. Chase had felt that perhaps they had been a--ah--they might have seemed "kind of hasty--you know, Cap'n Kendrick, in what--in speaking as we did that time, and so--and so I told her if we ever _did meet you--if we ever _should_, you know---- But we haven't really met yet, have we? Shall we introduce ourselves? I don't see why not; neighbors, you know. Cap'n Kendrick, this is Mrs. Aurora Chase, widow of the late Cap'n Ichabod Chase. No doubt, you knew Cap'n Chase in the old days, Cap'n Kendrick."

And then Aurora, who had been listening with all her ears, and hearing with perhaps a third of them, broke in to say that her husband was not a captain. "He was second mate when he died," she explained. "Aboard the bark _Charles Francis he was, bound for New Bedford from the West Indies with a load of guano."

Miss Snowden, favoring the veracious Aurora with another look, hastily introduced herself and began to speak of the beauties of the day, of the surroundings, and particularly of the select and refined joys of life at the Fair Harbor.

"We have our little circle there," she said. "We live our lives, quiet, retired, away from the world----"

Mrs. Chase broke in once more to ask what she was talking about. When the substance of the Snowden rhapsody was given her, she nodded--as well as her several chins would permit her to nod--and announced that she agreed.

"We like livin' at the home first-rate," she declared. Elvira flushed.

"It is _not a home," she said, sharply. "It is a select retreat, that is all. It is not a home in _any sense of the word. Every one knows that it is not. Aurora, I wish to goodness you---- But of course Cap'n Kendrick doesn't want to hear about us all the time. He is interested in his own new quarters. Do you like it here, Cap'n Kendrick? I--ah--understand you are, so to speak, a guest of Mr. Cahoon's. He is--ah--a relation of yours?"

Sears explained the acquaintanceship between Judah and himself. Miss Snowden nodded comprehension.

"That explains it," she said. "I thought he could hardly be a relation of _yours_, Cap'n Kendrick. He is--he is a little bit queer, isn't he? I mean eccentric, you know. Of course I've never met him, and I'm sure he's real good-hearted, but----"

She paused, leaving the rest of the sentence to be inferred. Captain Sear's answer was prompt and crisp.

"Judah Cahoon is one of the best fellows that ever lived," he said.

"Yes, I know. I am sure he is. I didn't mean that. I meant is he--is he----"

And then Judah himself, at work in the garden behind the screen of bushes, too busy to hear or even be aware of the conversation at the gate, chose this untoward moment to burst into song, to sing at the top of his voice, and the top of Judah's voice was an elevation from which sound traveled far. He sang:

"Oh, Sally Brown was a bright mulatter,
Way, oh, roll and go!
She drinks rum and chews terbacker,
Spend my money on Sally Brown.

Miss Elvira's thin figure stiffened to an exclamation point of disapproval. Captain Kendrick turned uneasily in the direction of the singer. Mrs. Chase, aware that something was going on and not wishing to miss it, cupped her ear with her hand. And Judah began the second verse.

"Oh, Sally Brown, I'll surely miss you,
Way, oh, roll and go!
How I'd love to hug and kiss you!
Spend my money on Sally Brown.

"Judah!" roared the captain, who was suffering acute apprehension. "Judah!"

"Oh, Sally Brown----"


"Eh? What is it, Cap'n Sears?"

"Shut up."

"Eh! Shut up what? What's open?"

"Stop that noise."

"What noise?"

"That noise of yours. That singin'."

"Eh? Oh, all right, sir. Aye, aye, Cap'n, just as you say."

Captain Sears, relieved, turned again to his visitors. But the visitors were rapidly retreating along the path, the lines of Miss Elvira's back indicating disgust and outraged gentility. Mrs. Chase, however, looked back. Obviously she still did not know what it was all about.

Sears, although he chuckled a good deal over the affair, was a trifle annoyed, nevertheless. It was a good joke, of course, and he certainly cared little for the approval or disapproval of Miss Elvira Snowden. But when he considered what the prim spinster's version of the happening was likely to be and the reputation her story was sure to confer, inside the Fair Harbor fences at least, upon him and his household companion, he was tempted to wish that that companion's musical talent had been hidden under a napkin, or, better still, a feather bed. He--Kendrick--was to live, for a time indefinite, next door to the Fair Harborites, and it is always pleasant to be on good terms with one's neighbors. True, those neighbors might be, the majority of them, what Mr. Cahoon called them--which was whatever term of approbrium he happened to think of at the moment, "pack of old hens" being the mildest--but the captain knew that one, at least, was not an "old hen." "That Berry girl," which was his way of thinking of her, was attractive and kind and a lady. They had met but once, it is true, but she had made a most favorable impression upon him. He had caught glimpses of her on two occasions, in the Fair Harbor grounds, and once she had waved a greeting. She was a nice girl, he was sure of it. If she thought at all of the cripple next door he would like her to think of him in a kindly way, as a decent sort of hulk, so to speak. It was provoking to feel that she would next hear of him as a dissipated ruffian, friend and defender of another ruffian who howled ribald songs in the presence--or at least in the hearing--of ladies.

He questioned Judah concerning the Fair Harbor, its founder and the dwellers within its gates. Judah told him what he knew of the story, which was very little more than the captain already knew, his knowledge gained from his sister's letters. Captain Sylvanus Seymour had had but one child, his daughter Lobelia. At his death she, of course, inherited all his property. According to Bayport gossip, as reported by Mr. Cahoon, the old man had died worth anywhere from one half a million to three or five millions. "Richer'n dock mud, I cal'late he was," declared Judah. "Made a lot of money out of his Boston shippin' business and a lot more out of stocks and city real estate and one thing or 'nother." For years after Captain Sylvanus died Lobelia lived alone in the big house. Then she had married. Judah could tell little about the man she married.

"He was a music teacher that come to town here one winter, that's about all I can swear to," said Judah. "Down here for his health, so he said, and taught singin' school while he was gittin' healthy. His last name was Phillips, which is all right, but he had the craziest fust name ever _I heard. Egbert 'twas. Hoppin', creepin' Henry! Did you ever _hear such a name? _Egbert! Jumpin' prophets! Boys round town, they tell me, used to call him 'Eg' behind his back. Some of 'em, them that didn't like him, called him 'Soft biled.' Haw, haw! See what they meant, don't you, Cap'n Sears? Egbert, you know, that's 'Eg' for short, and then 'Soft biled' meanin' a soft biled egg.... Hey? Yes, I cal'lated you'd see it, you're pretty sharp at a joke, Cap'n, but there _has been them I've told that to that never.... Hey? Aye, aye, sir, I was just goin' to tell the rest of it."

According to Judah's report, which was a second or third hand report of course, Egbert Phillips had not been too popular among the males in Bayport. But with the females--ah, there it was different.

"He was one of them kind, they tell me," said Judah. "One of them smooth, slick, buttery kind of fellers that draws womenfolks same as molasses draws flies. Hailed from Philadelphy he did. I used to know a good many Philadelphy folks myself once. Why, one time----"

The captain broke in to head off the Philadelphia reminiscence. Brought back to Bayport and Egbert and Lobelia, Judah went on to tell what more he knew of the Fair Harbor beginnings. Sears gathered that after the marriage Egbert who, it seemed, was not in love with the Cape as a place of residence, would have liked his wife to sell the old house and move away. But there was a clause in the will of Captain Sylvanus which prevented this. Under that will the property could not be sold while his daughter lived. It was then that Lobelia was seized with her great idea. She, a mariner's daughter, had--until the Providential appearance of the peerless Egbert--faced a lonely old age. But she had at least a comfortable home. There were so many women--sea-captains' widows and sisters--who faced their lonely future without a home. Why not turn the Seymour property into a home for them--a limited number of them?

"So she done it," said Judah. "And that's how the Fair Harbor got off the ways."

"But you called it a home," objected Captain Sears. "The other day that Snowden woman, the thin one, gave the other, the stout one--what's her name?--Northern lights--Aurora, that's it--she gave Aurora fits for speakin' of the place as a home. She declared it wasn't a home."

Mr. Caboon chuckled. "Did, eh?" he observed. "Well, you might call a mackerel gull a canary bird, I presume likely, but 'twouldn't make the thing sing no better. That Elviry critter likes to make believe she's the Queen of Sheby. _She wouldn't live in no home--no sir-ee! 'Cordin' to her the Fair Harbor ain't a home because they only take six or eight passengers, or visitors, or patients, or jailbirds--whatever you might to call 'em, and it costs four hundred dollars to pay your way in and a hundred a year to keep you there. So 'tain't a home, you see. It's a--a genteel henhouse, I'd say. That Elviry Snowden she----"

Then the captain asked the question to which he had been leading since the beginning.

"That Berry girl's mother runs the place, doesn't she?" he asked.

Judah snorted. "Yeah," he drawled, "she runs it about the way the skipper's poll parrot runs the vessel. The poll parrot talks a barrel a minute and the skipper goes right along navigatin'. That's about the way 'tis over yonder," with a jerk of the head in the general direction of the Fair Harbor.

His lodger was a trifle surprised.

"Why, I understood Mrs. Berry--Cap'n Isaac Berry's widow--was manager there," he said.

"Um-hm. So she is, the poll parrot manager. But it's that girl of hers, that 'Lizabeth Berry, that really handles the ropes. There's a capable little craft, if you want to know," declared Judah, with emphasis.

He whittled a pipe full of tobacco from the mutilated remnant of a plug, and continued to expatiate on the capabilities of Miss Berry. According to him whatever was as it should be within the Fair Harbor boundaries was due to the young woman's efforts, not to those of her mother.

"It's kind of queer, ain't it, Cap'n Sears," he observed, "how things average up sometimes. Seems if whoever 'tis works out the course up aloft sort of fixed 'em that way."

"What's that got to do with the Berrys?"

"Cause it worked that way with them. _You knew Cap'n Ike Berry, Cap'n Sears. Sharp, shrewd, able and all that, but rough and hard as the broadside of a white-oak plank. Well, he married a woman from down in the Carolinas somewhere. Her folks was well-off and she was brought up in cotton wool, as you might say. They wouldn't have nothin' to do with her after she married Cap'n Ike. He fell in love with her and carried her off by main strength, as you might say. She'd been treated like a plaything afore he got her and he treated her that way till he died. She is soft-spoken, and kind of good-lookin', and polite and all that--but about as much practical use for bossin' a place like the Fair Harbor as a--well as a paper umbrella would be in a no'theaster. But 'Lizabeth now, she's different. She's got her mother's good looks and nice manners and--and kind of genteelness, you understand, and with 'em she's got her dad's sense and capableness. She's all right, that girl. Don't you think so, Cap'n Sears?"

The captain nodded.

"I never met her but that once, Judah," he replied. "She was all right then, surely."

"I bet you! She's all right most of the time, I guess.... That young George Kent, he thinks so, they tell me."

"Oh ... does he?"

"Um-hm! He's cruisin' up to the Fair Harbor 'bout every once or twice a week, 'cordin' to tell. If it ain't to see 'Lizabeth I don't know what 'tis. It might be Queen Elviry he's after, but I have my doubts.... Oh, say, Cap'n, speakin' of the Harbor reminds me of Judge Knowles. You ain't been in to see him yet, same as he wanted you to."

"That's so, Judah, I haven't. I must pretty soon, I suppose. I can't think what the old judge wants to see me for. But why did talkin' of the Fair Harbor and the rest of it make you think of Judge Knowles?"

"Hey? Oh, 'cause the judge is kind of commodore of the fleet there, looks after the money matters for 'em, I understand. He's Lobelia's lawyer, same as he was old Cap'n Sylvanus's afore he died.... I declare I can't guess what he wants to see you for, Cap'n Sears. Do you s'pose----"

Judah proceeded to suppose several things, each supposition more far-fetched and improbable than its predecessor. Sears paid little attention to them. He again expressed his intention of calling upon the judge before long and changed the subject.

The next day it rained and he did not go and the following day he did not feel like going. On the day after that, however, further procrastination was rendered impossible. Mrs. Tidditt, the judge's housekeeper, visited the General Minot place with another message from her employer. Emmeline was gray-haired, brisk and, as Judah expressed it, "straight up and down," both in figure and manner of speaking.

"Good mornin', Cap'n Kendrick," she said. "Judge Knowles wants to know if 'twill be convenient for you to come over and see him this afternoon? Says if 'tis he'll send Mike and the hoss-'n'-buggy around for you at two o'clock."

The captain's guilty conscience made him a trifle embarrassed. "Why--why, yes, certainly," he stammered. "I---- Well, I'm ashamed of myself for not goin' over there sooner. Beg Judge Knowles's pardon for me, will you, and tell him I'll be on hand at two sharp. And tell him not to bother to send the horse and team. I'll get there all right."

Mrs. Tidditt sniffed. "I'll tell him the first part," she said. "And Mike'll have the hoss-'n'-buggy here at ten minutes of. Judah Cahoon, why in the land of Canaan don't you scrub up that back piazza floor once in a while? It's dirty as a fish shanty."

Judah's back fin rose. "Say, who's keepin' house aboard here, anyway?" he demanded. Mrs. Tidditt sniffed again. "Nobody, by the looks," she said, and departed in triumph.

At two the Knowles horse and buggy drove into the yard. It was piloted by Mike Callahan, an ancient, much bewhiskered Irishman who had been employed by the judge almost as long as had Mrs. Tidditt. He and Judah assisted Sears into the vehicle and the captain started upon his cruise, which was a very short one, the Knowles establishment being but a few hundred yards from the Minot place. On the way he inquired concerning the judge's health. Mike shook his head.

"Bad," he grunted. "It's close _to_, the ould judge is."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Sure ye are. So are we all. He is a fine man, none better--barrin' he's a grand ould curmudgeon. Here ye are, Cap'n. Git up till I lift ye down."

Judge Knowles's house--Sears Kendrick had never been in it before--was a big square mansion built in the '50's. There was the usual front door leading to a dark front hall from which, to right and left respectively, opened parlor and sitting rooms. Emmeline ushered the visitor into the latter apartment. It was high studded, furnished in black walnut and haircloth, a pair of tall walnut cases filled with books against one wall, on the opposite wall a libellous oil portrait of the judge's wife, who died twenty years before, and a pair of steel engravings depicting "Sperm Whale Fishing in the Arctic"; No. 1, portraying "The Chase," No. 2, "the Capture." Beneath these stood a marble-topped table upon which were neatly piled four gigantic volumes, bound copies of Harper's Weekly, 1861 to '65, the Civil War period.

At the end of the room, where two French windows opened--that is, could have opened, they never were--upon the narrow, iron-railed veranda, sat Judge Marcus Aurelious Knowles, in an old-fashioned walnut armchair, his feet upon a walnut and haircloth footstool--Bayport folk in those days called such stools "crickets"--a knitted Afghan thrown over his legs and a pillow beneath his head. And in that dark, shadowy room, its curtains drawn rather low, so white was the judge's hair and his face that, to Sears Kendrick, just in from the light out of doors, it was at first hard to distinguish where the pillow left off and the head began.

But the head on the pillow stirred and the judge spoke.

"Ah--good afternoon, Kendrick," he said. "Glad to see you.... Humph. Can't see much of you, can I? Here, Emmeline, put those shades up, will you?"

The housekeeper moved toward the windows, but she protested as she moved.

"Now, Judge," she said, "I don't believe you want them winder curtains strung way up, do you? I hauled 'em down purpose so's the sun wouldn't get in your eyes."

"Um--yes. Well, you haul 'em up again. And don't you haul 'em down till I'm dead. You'll do it then, I know, and I don't want to attend my funeral ahead of time."

Mrs. Tidditt gasped.

"Oh, Judge Knowles, how _can you talk so!" she wailed.

"I intend to talk as I choose--while I can talk at all.... There, there, woman, that's enough. Put the blasted things up.... Umph! That's better. Sit down, Cap'n, sit down. I want to look at you."

The captain took one of the walnut and haircloth chairs. The judge looked at him and he looked at the judge. He remembered the latter as a tall, broad-shouldered figure, with a ruddy face, black hair slightly sprinkled with gray, and a nose and eye like an eagle's. The man in the armchair was thin and shrunken, the face was deeply lined, and face and hands and hair were snow white. The nose was, however, more eagle-like than ever, and the eyes beneath the rough white brows had the old flash.

Sears waited an instant for him to speak, but he did not. So the captain did.

"I beg your pardon, Judge," he began, "for not comin' over here sooner. I got your message----"

Knowles interrupted. "Oh, you got it, did you?" he said. "Humph! I told Emmeline to get word to you and she said---- Oh, well, never mind that. Can't waste time. I haven't got any too much of it, or strength either. Sorry to hear about your accident, Cap'n. Doctor Sheldon says you had a close call of it. How are the legs?"

"Oh, I can navigate with 'em after a fashion, but not far. How are you, Judge? Gettin' better fast, I hope."

The head on the pillow gave an impatient jerk. "Your hope is lost then. Don't waste time talking about me. I'm going to die and I know it--and before long.... There, there," as his caller uttered a protest, "don't bother to pretend, Kendrick. We aren't children, either of us, although you're a good many years younger than I am; but we're both too old to make-believe. I'm almost through. Well, it's all right. I've lived past my three score and ten and I'm alone in the world and ought not to mind leaving it, I suppose. I don't much. It's an interesting place and there are two or three matters I should like to straighten up before.... Humph! I'm the one's who's wasting the time. How are you? I don't mean how would you like to be or how do your fool friends and the doctor tell you you are--but how _are you?"

Captain Sears smiled. It had been a long, long time since any one had talked to him like this. Not since he relinquished a mate's rating for that of a master. But he did not resent it; he, too, was sick of pretending.

"I'm in bad shape, Judge," he said. "My legs are better and I can hobble around on 'em, as you saw when I hobbled in here. But as to whether or not they will ever be fit for sea again I--well, I doubt it. And I rather guess the doctor doubts it, too. I don't say so to many, haven't said it to any one but you, but it looks to me as if I were on a lee shore. I may get out of the breakers some day--or I may just lay there and rot and drop to pieces.... Well, as you say, what's the use of wastin' time talkin' about me?"

"I've got a reason for talking about you, Cap'n. So you're not confined to your bed. And your head is all right, eh?"

Kendrick hesitated. He could not make out what in the world the man was driving at.

"Eh?" repeated the judge.

"Yes, as right as it ever was, I presume likely. Sometimes I think that may not be sayin' much."

"When a man thinks that way it is a favorable symptom, according to my experience. From what I've heard and know, Cap'n Kendrick, your head will do very well. Now there's another question. Have you got all the money you need?"

The captain leaned back in his chair. He did not answer immediately. From the head upon the pillow came a rasping chuckle.

"Go on," observed Judge Knowles, "ask it."

Kendrick stared at him. "Ask what?" he demanded.

"The question you had in mind. If I hadn't been a man with one foot in the grave you would have asked me if I considered the amount of money you had any of my damned business. Isn't that right?"

Sears hesitated. Then he grinned. "Just about," he said.

"I thought so. Well, in a way it is my business, because, if you have all the money you need, fifteen hundred a year for the next two or three years won't tempt you any. And I want to tempt you, Cap'n."

Again the captain was silent for an interval.

"Fifteen hundred a year?" he repeated, slowly.


"For what?"

"For services to be rendered. I've been looking for a man with time on his hands, who has been used to managing, who can be firm when it's necessary, has had enough experience of the world to judge people and things and who won't let a slick tongue get the better of him. And he must be honest. I think you fill the bill, Cap'n Kendrick."

The visitor tugged at his beard.

"Look here, Judge Knowles," he said crisply, "what are you talkin' about? What's the joke?"

"It isn't a joke."

"Well, then what is it? You'll have to give me my bearin's, I'm lost in the fog. Do I understand you to mean that you are offerin' me a berth, a job where I can earn--no, I won't put it that way, where I will be paid fifteen hundred a year?"

"I am, and," with another sardonic chuckle, "I rather think you'll earn all you get. Of course fifteen hundred dollars a year isn't a large salary, it isn't a sea captain's wage and share--not such a captain as you've been, Kendrick. But, as I see it, you can't go to sea for a year or two at least. You are planning to stay right here in Bayport. Well, while you are here this thing I am offering you will," there was another chuckle, "keep you moderately busy, and you will be earning something. It may be that fifteen hundred won't be enough to be worth your while. Perhaps I shouldn't venture to offer it if I hadn't heard--hadn't heard----"

Sears interrupted.

"What you heard was probably true," he said crisply. "True enough, at any rate. Fifteen hundred a year looks like a lot to me now. But what am I to do to get it, that's the question. I'm a cripple, don't forget that."

"I should remember it if I thought it necessary. You won't handle this job with your legs. It is your head I want. Cap'n Kendrick, I want you to take charge--take command, if you had rather we used seafaring lingo, of that establishment next door to where you are living now. I want you to act as--well, we'll call it captain of the Fair Harbor."

Captain Sears's eyes and mouth opened. His chair creaked as he leaned forward and then slowly leaned back again.

"You--you--" he gasped, "you want me to--to manage that--that _old women's home_?"



"Yes.... Here! where are you going?"

The visitor had risen.

"Stop!" shouted Judge Knowles. "Where are you going?"

The captain breathed heavily.

"I'm goin' to send for the doctor," he declared. "One of us two needs him."

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Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 5 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 5

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 5
CHAPTER VJudge Knowles's answer to his caller's assertion concerning the need of a physician's services was another chuckle. "Sit down, Cap'n," he ordered. Kendrick shook his head. "No," he began, "I'm----" "Sit down." "Judge, look here: I don't suppose you're serious, but if you are, I tell you----" "No, I'm going to tell _you_. SIT DOWN." This time the invalid's voice was raised to such a pitch that Mrs. Tidditt came hurrying from the kitchen. "My soul and body, Judge!" she exclaimed. "What is it? What _is the matter?" Her employer turned upon her. "The matter is that that confounded door

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3 Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3

Fair Harbor: A Novel - Chapter 3
CHAPTER IIIFor 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,