Cap'n Abe, Storekeeper by James A. Cooper
CHAPTER I. A
CHAPTER III. IN
CHAPTER IV. THE
SHADOW OF COMING
CHAPTER V. WHAT
HAPPENED IN THE
SALT WATER TAFFY
CHAPTER X. WHAT
CHAPTER XI. THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
DESCENT OF AUNT
CHAPTER XIV. A
CHAPTER XV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. A
THE ODDS AGAINST
CHAPTER XX. THE
MAKES A POINT
CHAPTER XXVI. AT
WHEN THE STRONG
CHAPTER XXXI. AN
ANCHOR TO THE
ON THE ROLL OF
CAP'N ABE, STOREKEEPER
A Story of Cape Cod
JAMES A. COOPER
CHAPTER I. A CHOICE
“Of course, my dear, there is nobody but your Aunt Euphemia for you
to go to!”
“Oh, daddy-professor! Nobody? Can we rake or scrape up no other
relative on either side of the family who will take in poor little me
for the summer? You will be home in the fall, of course.”
“That is the supposition,” Professor Grayling replied, his lips
pursed reflectively. “No. Dear me! there seems nobody.”
“But Aunt Euphemia!”
“I know, Lou, I know. She expects you, however. She writes——”
“Yes. She has it all planned,” sighed Louise Grayling dejectedly.
“Every move at home or abroad Aunt Euphemia has mapped out for me. When
I am with her I am a mere automaton—only unlike a real marionette I
can feel when she pulls the strings!”
The professor shook his head. “There's—there's only your poor
mother's half-brother down on the Cape.”
“What half-brother?” demanded Louise with a quick smile that matched
the professor's quizzical one.
“Why——Well, your mother, Lou, had an older half-brother, a Mr.
Silt. He keeps a store at Cardhaven. You know, I met your mother down
that way when I was hunting seaweed for the Smithsonian Institution.
Your grandmother was a Bellows and her folks lived on the Cape, too.
Her family has died out and your grandfather was dead before I married
your mother. The half-brother, this Mr. Silt—Captain Abram Silt—is
the only individual of that branch of the family left alive, I
“Goodness!” gasped the girl. “What a family tree!”
Again the professor smiled whimsically. “Only a few of the branches.
But they all reach back to the first navigators of the world.”
“The first navigators?”
“I do not mean to the Phoenicians,” her father said. “I mean that
the world never saw braver nor more worthy sailors than those who
called the wind-swept hamlets of Cape Cod their home ports. The Silts
were all master-mariners. This Captain Abe is a bachelor, I believe.
You could not very well go there.”
Louise sighed. “No; I couldn't go there—I suppose. I couldn't go
there——” Her voice wandered off into silence. Then suddenly, almost
explosively, it came back with the question: “Why couldn't I?”
“My dear Lou! What would your aunt say?” gasped the professor.
He was a tall, rather soldierly looking man—the result of military
training in his youth—with a shock of perfectly white hair and a
sweeping mustache that contrasted clearly with his pink, always cleanly
shaven cheeks and chin. Without impressing the observer with his
muscular power. Professor Grayling was a better man on a long hike and
possessed more reserve strength than many more beefy athletes.
His daughter had inherited his springy carriage and even the clean
pinkness of his complexion—always looking as though she were fresh
from her shower. But there was nothing mannish about Lou
Grayling—nothing at all, though she had other attributes of body and
mind for which to thank her father.
They were the best of chums. No father and daughter could have trod
the odd corners of the world these two had visited without becoming so
closely attached to each other that their processes of thought, as well
as their opinions in most matters, were almost in perfect harmony.
Although Mrs. Euphemia Conroth was the professor's own sister he could
appreciate Lou's attitude in this emergency. While the girl was growing
up there had been times when it was considered best—usually because of
her studies—for Lou to live with Aunt Euphemia. Indeed, that good lady
believed it almost a sin that a young girl should attend the professor
on any of his trips into “the wilds,” as she expressed it. Aunt
Euphemia ignored the fact that nowadays the railroad and telegraph are
in Thibet and that turbines ply the headwaters of the Amazon.
Mrs. Conroth dwelt in Poughkeepsie—that half-way stop between New
York and Albany; and she was as exclusive and opinionated a lady as
might be found in that city of aristocracy and learning.
The college in the shadow of which Aunt Euphemia's dwelling basked,
was that which had led the professor's daughter under the lady's sway.
Although the girls with whom Lou associated within the college walls
were up-to-the-minute—if not a little ahead of it—she found her aunt,
like many of those barnacles clinging to the outer reefs of learning in
college towns, was really a fossil. If one desires to meet the
ultraconservative in thought and social life let me commend him to this
stratum of humanity within stone's throw of a college. These barnacles
like Aunt Euphemia are wedded to a manner of thought, gained from their
own school experiences, that went out of fashion inside the colleges
thirty years ago.
Originally, in Lou Grayling's case, when she first lived with Aunt
Euphemia and was a day pupil at an exclusive preparatory school, it had
been drilled into her by the lady that “children should be seen but not
heard!” Later, although she acknowledged the fact that young girls were
now taught many things that in Aunt Euphemia's maidenhood were scarcely
whispered within hearing of “the young person,” the lady was quite
shocked to hear such subjects discussed in the drawing-room, with her
niece as one of the discussers.
The structure of man and the lower animals, down to the number of
their ribs, seemed no proper topic for light talk at an evening party.
It made Aunt Euphemia gasp. Anatomy was Lou's hobby. She was an
excellent and practical taxidermist, thanks to her father. And she had
learned to name the bones of the human frame along with her
However, there was little about Louise Grayling to commend her
among, for instance, the erudite of Boston. She was sweet and
wholesome, as has been indicated. She had all the common sense that a
pretty girl should have—and no more.
For she was pretty and, as well, owned that charm of intelligence
without which a woman is a mere doll. Her father often reflected that
the man who married Lou would be playing in great luck. He would get a
So far as Professor Grayling knew, however (and he was as keenly
observant of his daughter and her development as he was of scientific
matters), there was as yet no such man in sight. Lou had escaped the
usual boy-and-girl entanglements which fret the lives of many young
folk, because of her association with her father in his journeys about
the world. Being a perfectly normal, well-balanced girl, black boys,
brown boys, yellow boys, or all the hues and shades of boys to be met
with in those odd corners of the earth where the white man is at a
premium, did not interest Lou Grayling in the least.
Without being ultraconservative like Aunt Euphemia, she was the sort
of girl whom one might reckon on doing the sensible—perhaps the
obvious—thing in almost any emergency. Therefore, after that single
almost awed exclamation from the professor—his sole homage to Mrs.
“My dear, do as you like. You are old enough and wise enough to
choose for yourself—your aunt's opinion to the contrary
notwithstanding. Only, if you don't mind——”
“What is it, daddy-prof?” she asked him with a smile, yet still
“Why, if you don't mind,” repeated the professor, “I'd rather you
didn't inform me where you decide to spend your summer until I am off.
I—I don't mind knowing after I am at sea—and your aunt cannot get at
She laughed at him gaily. “You take it for granted that I am going
to Cape Cod,” she cried accusingly.
“No—o. But I know how sorely I should be tempted myself, realizing
your aunt's trying disposition.”
“Perhaps this—this half-uncle may be quite as trying.”
“Impossible!” was the father's rather emphatic reply.
“What?” she cried. “Traitor to the family fame?”
“You do not know Cape Cod folk. I do,” he told her rather seriously.
“Some of them are quaint and peculiar. I suppose there are just as many
down there with traits of extreme Yankee frugality as elsewhere in New
England. But your mother's people, as I knew them, were the very salt
of the earth. Our wanderings were all that kept you from knowing the
old folk before they passed away.”
“You tempt me,” was all Louise said. Then the conversation lapsed.
It was the day following that the professor was to go to Boston
preparatory to sailing. At the moment of departure his daughter,
smiling, tucked a sealed note into his pocket.
“Don't open it, daddy-prof, till you are out of sight of Cohasset
Rocks,” she said. “Then you will not know where I am going to spend the
time of your absence until it is too late—either to oppose or to
“You can't worry me,” he told her, with admiration in his glance.
“I've every confidence in you, my dear. Have a good time if you can.”
She watched him down the long platform between the trains. When she
saw him assisted into the Pullman by the porter she turned with a
little sigh, and walked up the rise toward Forty-second Street. She
could almost wish she were going with him, although seaweed and mollusk
gathering was a messy business, and the vessel he sailed in was an
ancient converted coaster with few comforts for womenkind. Louise
Grayling had been hobbled by city life for nearly a year now and she
began to crave new scenes.
There were some last things to do at the furnished apartment they
were giving up. Some trunks were to go to the storehouse. Her own
baggage was to be tagged and sent to the Fall River boat.
For, spurred by curiosity as well as urged by a desire to escape
Aunt Euphemia for a season, Louise was bent upon a visit to Cape Cod.
At least, she would learn what manner of person her only other living
relative was—her mother's half-brother, Captain Abram Silt.
In the train the next day, which wandered like an erratic
caterpillar along the backbone of the Cape, she began to wonder if,
after all, she was displaying that judgment which daddy-professor
praised so highly. It was too early in the season for the
“millionaire's special” to be scheduled, in which those wealthy summer
folk who have “discovered” the Cape travel to and from Boston. Lou was
on a local from Fall River that stopped at every pair of bars and even
hesitated at the pigpens along the right of way.
Getting aboard and getting off again at the innumerable little
stations, were people whose like she had never before seen. And their
speech, plentifully sprinkled with colloquialisms of a salt flavor,
amused her, and sometimes puzzled her. Some of the men who rode short
distances in the car wore fishermen's boots and jerseys. They called
the conductor “skipper,” and hailed each other in familiar idioms.
The women were not uncomely, nor did they dress in outlandish
manner. Great is the sway of the modern Catalogue House! But their
speech was blunt and the three topics of conversation most popular were
the fish harvest, clamming, and summer boarders.
“Land sakes! is that you, Em'line Scudder? What sent you cruisin' in
these waters? I thought you never got away from the Haven.”
“Good-day, Mrs. Eldredge. You're fairin' well? I just had to
come over to Littlebridge for some fixin's. My boarders will be 'long
and I got to freshen the house up a little.”
“You goin' to have the same folks you had last year, Em'line?”
“Oh, yes. They're real nice—-for city people. I tell Barzillai——”
“How is Barzillai?”
“Middlin'. His leg ain't never been just right since he was helpin'
ice the Tryout, come two summers ago. You know, one o' them big
cakes from the ice fact'ry fell on him. . . . I tell Barzillai the city
folks are a godsend to us Cape Codders in summer time, now that
sea-goin' don't seem so pop'lar with the men as it useter be.”
“I dunno. Some of these city folks don't seem to be sent by the
Lord, but by the other feller!” was the grim rejoinder. “I had tryin'
times with my crowd last summer; and the children with 'em was a
visitation—like the plagues of Egypt!”
Louise was an amused yet observant listener. She began thus early to
gain what these good people themselves would call a “slant” upon their
characters and their outlook on life.
Aside from her interest in her fellow-travelers, there were other
things to engage the girl's attention. New places always appealed to
her more than unfamiliar human beings; perhaps because she had seen so
many of the latter in all quarters of the globe and found so little
variety in their characters. There were good people and bad people
everywhere, Louise had found. Greedy, generous, morose, and laughing;
faithful and treacherous, the quick and the stupid; those likable at
first meeting as well as those utterly impossible. Of whatever nation
and color they might be, she had learned that under their skins they
were all just human beings.
But Nature—ah! she was ever changing. This girl who had seen so
much of the world had never seen anything quite like the bits of scene
she observed from the narrow window of the car. Not beautiful, perhaps,
but suggestive and provocative of genre pictures which would remain in
her memory long afterward. There were woods and fields, cranberry bogs
and sand dunes, between the hamlets; and always through the open window
the salt tang of the air delighted her. She was almost prepared to say
she was glad she had ventured when she left the train at Paulmouth and
saw her trunks put off upon the platform.
A teetering stage, with a rack behind for light baggage, drawn by a
pair of lean horses, waited beside the station. The stage had been
freshened for the season with a thin coat of yellow paint. The word “
Cardhaven” was painted in bright blue letters on the doors of this
“No, ma'am! I can't possibly take your trunks,” the driver said,
politely explanatory. “Ye see, miss, I carry the mail this trip an' the
parcel-post traffic is right heavy, as ye might say. . . . Belay that,
Jerry!” he observed to the nigh horse that was stamping because of the
pest of flies. “We'll cast off in a minute and get under way. . . . No,
miss, I can't take 'em; but Perry Baker'll likely go over to the Haven
to-night and he'll fetch 'em for ye. I got all the cargo I can load.”
Soon the horses shacked out of town. The sandy road wandered through
the pine woods where the hot June sunshine extracted the scent of
balsam until its strength was almost overpowering. Louise, alone in the
interior of the old coach, found herself pitching and tossing about as
though in a heavy sea.
“It is fortunate I am a good sailor,” she told herself, somewhat
The driver was a large man in a yellow linen duster. He was not
especially communicative—save to his horses. He told them frankly what
he thought of them on several occasions! But “city folks” were
evidently no novelty for him. As he put Louise and her baggage into the
vehicle he had asked:
“Who you cal'latin' to stop with, miss?”
“I am going to Mr. Abram Silt's,” Louise had told him.
“Oh! Cap'n Abe. Down on the Shell Road. I can't take ye that
fur—ain't allowed to drive beyond the tavern. But 'tain't noways a fur
walk from there.”
He expressed no curiosity about her, or her business with the Shell
Road storekeeper. That surprised Louise a little. She had presumed all
these people would display Yankee curiosity.
It was not a long journey by stage, for which she was thankful. The
noonday sun was hot and the interior of the turnout soon began to take
on the semblance of a bake-oven. They came out at last on a wind-swept
terrace and she gained her first unobstructed view of the ocean.
She had always loved the sea—its wideness, its mystery, its ever
changing face. She watched the sweep of a gull following the crested
windrow of the breakers on a near-by reef, busy with his fishing. All
manner of craft etched their spars and canvas on the horizon, only
bluer than the sea itself. Inshore was a fleet of small fry—catboats,
sloops, dories under sail, and a smart smack or two going around to
Provincetown with cargoes from the fish pounds.
“I shall like it,” she murmured after a deeper breath.
They came to the outlying dwellings of Cardhaven; then to the head
of Main Street that descended gently to the wharves and beaches of the
inner harbor. Halfway down the hill, just beyond the First Church and
the post-office, was the rambling, galleried old structure across the
face of which, and high under its eaves, was painted the name “
Cardhaven Inn.” A pungent, fishy smell swept up the street with the
hot breeze. The tide was out and the flats were bare.
The coach stopped before the post-office, and Louise got out briskly
with her bag. The driver, backing down from his seat, said to her:
“If ye wait till I git out the mail I'll drive ye inter the tavern
yard in style. I bait the horses there.”
“Oh, I'll walk,” she told him brightly. “I can get dinner there, I
“Warn't they expectin' you at Cap'n Abe's?” the stage driver asked.
“I want to know! Oh, yes. You can buy your dinner at the tavern. But
'tain't a long walk to Cap'n Abe's. Not fur beyond the Mariner's
Louise thanked him. A young man was coming down the steps of the
post-office. He was a more than ordinarily good-looking young fellow,
deeply tanned, with a rather humorous twist to his shaven lips, and
with steady blue eyes. He was dressed in quite common clothing: the
jersey, high boots, and sou'wester of a fisherman.
He looked at Louise, but not offensively. He did not remove his hat
as he spoke.
“I heard Noah say you wished to go to Cap'n Abe's store,” he
observed with neither an assumption of familiarity nor any bucolic
embarrassment. “I am bound that way myself.”
“Thank you!” she said with just enough dignity to warn him to keep
his distance if he chanced to be contemplating anything familiar. “But
I shall dine at the hotel first.”
A brighter color flooded into his cheeks and Louise felt that she
might have been too sharp with him. She mended this by adding:
“You may tell me how to get to the Shell Road and Mr. Silt's, if you
will be so kind.”
He smiled at that. Really, he was an awfully nice-looking youth! She
had no idea that these longshore fishermen would be so gentlemanly and
so good looking.
“Oh, you can't miss it. Take the first left-hand street, and keep on
it. Cap'n Abe's store is the only one beyond the Mariner's Chapel.”
“Thank you,” she said again and mounted the broad steps of the Inn.
The young fellow hesitated as though he were inclined to enter too. But
when Louise reached the piazza and glanced quickly down at him, he was
The cool interior of a broad hall with a stairway mounting out of it
and a screened dining-room at one side, welcomed the girl. A bustling
young woman in checked gingham, which fitted her as though it were a
mold for her rather plump figure, met the visitor.
“How-do!” she said briskly. “Goin' to stop?”
“Only for dinner,” Louise said, smiling—and when she smiled her
gray eyes made friends.
“Almost over. But I'll run an' tell the cook to dish you up
something hot. Come right this way an' wash. I'll fix you a table where
it's cool. This is 'bout the first hot day we've had.”
She showed the visitor into the dressing-room and then bustled away.
Later she hovered about the table where Louise ate, the other boarders
“My name's Gusty Durgin,” she volunteered. “I reckon you're one o'
them movin' picture actresses they say are goin' to work down to The
Beaches this summer.”
“What makes you think so?” asked Louise, somewhat amused.
“Why—you kinder look it. I should say you had 'screen charm.' Oh! I
been readin' up about you folks for a long time back. I subscribed to
The Fillum Universe that tells all about you. I'd like to try
actin' before the cam'ra myself. But I cal'late I ain't got much
'screen charm,'“ the waitress added seriously. “I'm too fat. And I
wouldn't do none of them comedy pictures where the fat woman always
gets the worst of it. But you must take lovely photographs.”
“I'm not sure that I do,” laughed Louise.
“Land sakes! Course you do. Them big eyes o' yourn must just look
fetchin' in a picture. I don't believe I've ever seen you in a movie,
have I, Miss———?”
“'Grayling'! Ain't that pretty?” Gusty Durgin gave an envious sigh.
“Is it your honest to goodness, or just your fillum name?”
“My 'honest to goodness,'“ the visitor confessed, bubbling with
“Land sakes! I should have to change mine all right. The kids at
school useter call me 'Dusty Gudgeon.' Course, my right name's Augusta;
but nobody ever remembers down here on the Cape to call anybody by such
a long name. Useter be a boy in our school who was named 'Christopher
Columbus George Washington Marquis de Lafayette Gallup.' His mother
named him that. But everybody called him 'Lafe'—after Lafayette, ye
“Land sakes! I should just have to change my name if I acted in the
pictures. Your complexion's real, too, ain't it?” pursued this waitress
with histrionic ambitions. “Real pretty, too, if 'tis high colored. I
expect you have to make up for the pictures, just the same.”
“I suppose I should. I believe it is always necessary to accentuate
the lights and shadows for the camera.”
“'Accentuate'—yep. That's a good word. I'll remember that,” said
Gusty. “You goin' to stay down to The Beaches long—-and will you like
“That's where you'll work. At the Bozewell house. Swell bungalow.
All the big bugs live along The Beaches.”
“I am not sure just how long I shall stay,” confessed Louise
Grayling; “but I know I am going to like it.”
CHAPTER II. CAP'N ABE
“I see by the Globe paper,” Cap'n Abe observed, pushing up
from his bewhiskered visage the silver-bowed spectacles he really did
not need, “that them fellers saved from the wreck of the Gilbert
Gaunt cal'late they went through something of an adventure.”
“And they did,” rejoined Cap'n Joab Beecher, “if they seen ha'f what
they tell about.”
“I dunno,” the storekeeper went on reflectively, staring at a huge
fishfly booming against one of the dusty window panes. “I dunno. Cap'n
Am'zon was tellin' me once't about what he and two others went through
with after the Posy Lass, out o' Bangor, was smashed up in a big
blow off Hat'ras. What them fellers in the Globe paper tell
about ain't a patch on what Cap'n Am'zon suffered.”
There was an uncertain, troubled movement among Cap'n Abe's hearers.
Even the fishfly stopped droning. Cap'n Beecher looked longingly
through the doorway from which the sea could be observed as well as a
strip of that natural breakwater called “The Neck,” a barrier between
the tumbling Atlantic and the quiet bay around which the main village
of Cardhaven was set.
All the idlers in the store on this June afternoon were not natives.
There were several young fellows from The Beaches—on the Shell Road to
which Cap'n Abe's store was a fixture. In sight of The Beaches the
wealthy summer residents had built their homes—dwellings ranging in
architectural design from the mushroom-roofed bungalow to a villa in
the style of the Italian Renaissance.
The villa in question had been built by I. Tapp, the Salt Water
Taffy King, and Lawford Tapp, only son of the house, was one of the
audience in Cap'n Abe's store.
“Cap'n Amazon said,” boomed the storekeeper a good deal like the
fishfly—“Cap'n Amazon said the Posy Lass was loaded with lumber
and her cargo's 'bout all that kep' her afloat as fur as Hat'ras. Then
the smashin' big seas that come aboard settled her right down like a
“The deck load went o' course; and about ev'rything else was cleaned
off the decks that warn't bolted to 'em. The seas rose up and picked
off the men, one after t'other, like a person'd clean off a beach plum
“I shouldn't wonder,” spoke up Cap'n Beecher, “if we seen some
weather 'fore morning.”
He was squinting through the doorway at an azure and almost
speckless sky. There was an uneasy shuffling of boots. One of the boys
from The Beaches giggled. Cap'n Abe—and the fishfly—boomed on
together, the storekeeper evidently visualizing the scene he narrated
and not the half-lighted and goods-crowded shop. At its best it was
never well illumined. Had the window panes been washed there was little
chance of the sunshine penetrating far save by the wide open door. On
either hand as one entered were the rows of hanging oilskins, storm
boots, miscellaneous clothing and ship chandlery that made up only a
part of Cap'n Abe's stock.
There were blue flannel shirts dangling on wooden hangers to show
all their breadth of shoulder and the array of smoked-pearl buttons.
Brown and blue dungaree overalls were likewise displayed—grimly, like
men hanging in chains. At the end of one row of these quite ordinary
habiliments was one dress shirt with pleated bosom and cuffs as stiff
as a board. Lawford Tapp sometimes speculated on that shirt—how it
chanced to be in Cap'n Abe's stock and why it had hung there until the
flies had taken title to it!
Centrally located was the stove, its four heavily rusted legs set in
a shallow box which was sometimes filled with fresh sawdust. The
stovepipe, guyed by wires to the ceiling, ran back to the chimney
behind Cap'n Abe.
He stood at the one space that was kept cleared on his counter,
hairy fists on the brown, hacked plank—the notches of the yard-stick
and fathom-stick cut with a jackknife on its edge—his pale eyes
sparkling as he talked.
“There she wallered,” went on the narrator of maritime disaster,
“her cargo held together by rotting sheathing and straining ribs. She
was wrung by the seas like a dishrag in a woman's hands. She no longer
mounted the waves; she bored through 'em. 'Twas a serious time—to hear
Cap'n Am'zon tell it.”
“I guess it must ha' been, Abe,” Milt Baker put in hastily. “Gimme a
piece o' that Brown Mule chewin' tobacker.”
“I'll sell it to ye, Milt,” the storekeeper said gently, with
his hand on the slide of the cigar and tobacco showcase.
“That's what I mean,” rejoined Milt boldly, fishing in his pocket
for the required nickel.
“For fourteen days while the Posy Lass was drivin' off shore
before an easterly gale, Cap'n Am'zon an' two others, lashed to the
stump o' the fo'mast, ex-isted in a smother of foam an' spume,
with the waves picklin' 'em ev'ry few minutes. And five raw potaters
was all they had to eat in all that endurin' time!”
“Five potatoes?” Lawford Tapp cried. “For three men? And for
fourteen days? Good-night!”
Cap'n Abe stared at him for a moment, his eyes holding sparks of
indignation. “Young man,” he said tartly, “you should hear Cap'n Am'zon
himself tell it. You wouldn't cast no doubts upon his statement.”
Cap'n Joab snorted and turned his back again. Young Tapp felt
“Yes, sir!” proceeded Cap'n Abe who seldom lost the thread of one of
his stories, “they was lashed to that stump of a mast and they lived on
them potaters—scraping 'em fine with their sheath-knives, and
husbandin' 'em like they was jewels. One of 'em went mad.”
“One o' the potaters?” gasped Amiel Perdue.
“Who went crazy—your brother, Cap'n Abe?” Milt asked
cheerfully. He had squandered a nickel in trying to head off the flow
of the storekeeper's story, and felt that he was entitled to something
besides the Brown Mule.
Cap'n Abe kept to his course apparently unruffled: “Cap'n Am'zon an'
the other feller lashed the poor chap—han's an' feet—and so
kep' him from goin' overboard. But mebbe 'twarn't a marciful act after
all. When they was rescued from the Posy Lass, her decks awash
and her slowly breakin' up, there warn't nothing could be done for the
feller that had lost his mind. He was put straightaway into a
crazy-house when they got to port.
“Now, them fellers saved from the Gilbert Gaunt didn't go
through nothin' like that, it stands to reason. Cap'n Am'zon——”
Lawford Tapp was gazing out of the door beside Cap'n Joab, whose
deeply tanned, whisker-fringed countenance wore an expression of
“I declare! I'd love to see this wonderful brother of his. He must
have Baron Munchausen lashed to the post,” the young man whispered.
“Never heard tell of that Munchausen feller,” Cap'n Joab reflected.
“Reckon he didn't sail from any of the Cape ports. But you let Abe tell
it, Cap'n Am'zon Silt is the greatest navigator an' has the
rip-snortin'est adventoors of airy deep-bottom sailor that ever chawed
“Did you ever see him?” Lawford asked.
“No. I didn't never see him. But I've heard Cap'n Abe talk about
him—standin' off an' on as ye might say—for twenty year and more.”
“Odd you never met him, isn't it?”
“No. I never happened on Cap'n Am'zon when I was sea-farin'. And he
ain't never been to Cardhaven to my knowledge.”
“Never been here?” murmured Lawford Tapp more than a little
surprised. “Wasn't he born and brought up here?”
“No. Neither was Cap'n Abe. The Silts flourish, as ye might say—or,
useter 'fore the fam'ly sort o' petered out—down New Bedford way.
Cap'n Abe come here twenty-odd year back and opened this store. He's as
salt as though he'd been a haddocker since he was weaned. But he's
always stuck mighty close inshore. Nobody ever seen him in a
boat—'ceptin' out in a dory fishin' for tomcod in the bay, and on a
mighty ca'm day at that.”
“How does it come that he is called captain, then?” Lawford asked,
impressed by Cap'n Beecher's scorn of the storekeeper.
The captain reflected, his jaws working spasmodically. “It's easy
'nough to pick up skipper's title longshore. 'Most ev'ry man owns some
kind of a boat; and o' course a man's cap'n of his own craft—or
'doughter be. But I reckon Abe Silt aimed his title honest 'nough.”
“How?” urged Lawford.
“When Abe fust come here to Cardhaven there was still two-three
wrecking comp'nies left on the Cape. Why, 'tain't been ten years since
the Paulmouth Comp'ny wrecked the Mary Benson that went onto
Sanders Reef all standin'. They made a good speck out o' the job, too.
“Wal, Abe bought into one o' the comp'nies—was the heaviest
stockholder, in fac', so nat'rally was cap'n. He never headed no
crew—not as I ever heard on. But the title kinder stuck; and I don't
dispute Abe likes it.”
“But about his brother—this Captain Amazon?” The line of Cap'n Joab
Beecher's jaw, clean shaven above his whisker, looked very grim indeed,
and he wagged his head slowly. “I don't know what to make of all this
talk o' Cap'n Abe's,” was his enigmatical reply.
Lawford turned to gaze curiously at the storekeeper. He certainly
looked to be of a salt flavor, did Cap'n Abe Silt, though so many of
his years had been spent behind the counter of this gloomy and
cluttered shop. He was not a large man, nor commanding to look upon.
His eyes were too mild for that—save when, perhaps, he grew excited in
relating one of his interminable stories about Cap'n Amazon.
Cap'n Amazon Silt, it seemed, had been everything on sea and land
that a mariner could be. No romance of the sea, or sea-going, was too
remarkable to be capped by a tale of one of Cap'n Amazon's experiences.
Some of these stories of wild and remarkable happenings, the
storekeeper had told over and over again until they were threadbare.
Cap'n Abe's brown, gray-streaked beard swept the breast of his blue
jersey. He was seldom seen without a tarpaulin on his head, and this
had made his crown as bare and polished as a shark's tooth. Under the
bulk of his jersey he might have been either thin or deep-chested, for
the observer could not easily judge. And nobody ever saw the
storekeeper's sleeves rolled up or the throat-latch of his shirt open.
Despite the fact that he held a thriving trade in his store on the
Shell Road (especially during the summer season) Cap'n Abe lived
emphatically a lonely life. Twenty years' residence meant little to
Cardhaven folk. Cap'n Abe was still an outsider to people who were so
closely married and intermarried that every human being within five
miles of the Haven (not counting the aristocrats of The Beaches) could
honestly call each of the others cousin in some degree.
The house and store was set on a lonely stretch of road. It was
unlighted at night, for the last street lamp had been fixed by the town
fathers at the Mariner's Chapel, as though they said to all mundane
illumination as did King Canute to the sea, “Thus far shalt thou come
and no farther.”
Betty Gallup came cross lots each day to “rid up” Mr. Silt's
living-room, which was behind the store, the chambers being overhead.
She was gone home long before he put out the store lights and turned
out the last lingering idler, for Cap'n Abe preferred to cook for
himself. He declared the Widow Gallup did not know how to make a decent
chowder, anyway; and as for lobscouse, or the proper frying of a mess
of “blood-ends,” she was all at sea. He intimated that there were
digestive reasons for her husband's death at the early age of
Milt Baker had successfully introduced another topic of
conversation, far removed it would seem from any adventurous happening
connected with Cap'n Amazon Silt's career.
“I hear tell,” said Milt, chewing Brown Mule with gusto, “that them
folks cavortin' down on The Beaches for a week past is movin' picture
actors. That so, Lawford?”
“There's a camera man and a director, and several handy men
arrived,” the son of the Salt Water Taffy King replied. “They are going
to use Bozewell's house for some pictures. The Bozewells are in
“But ain't none of the actorines come?” demanded Milt, who was a sad
dog—let him tell it! He had been motorman on a street car in
Providence for a couple of winters before he married Mandy Card, and
now tried to keep green his reputation for sophistication.
“I believe not,” Lawford answered, with reflection. “I presume the
company will come later. The director is taking what he calls 'stills'
of the several localities they propose using when the films are really
“One of 'em told me,” chuckled Amiel Perdue, “that they was hopin'
for a storm, so's to get a real wreck in the picture.”
“Hoh!” snorted Cap'n Joab. “Fine time o' year to be lookin' for a
no'theaster on the Cape.”
“And do they reckon a craft'll drift right in here if there is a
storm an' wrack herself to please 'em?” piped up Washy Gallup—no
relation to Betty save through interminable cross-currents of Card and
“Sometimes them fillum fellers buy a boat an' wreck it a-purpose.
Look what they did to the old Morning Star,” Milt said. “I read
once of a comp'ny putting two locomotives on one track an' running 'em
full-tilt together so's to get a picture of the smashup.”
“Crazy critters!” muttered Cap'n Joab.
“But wait till ye see the fillum actresses,” Milt chuckled. “Tell ye
what, boys, some of 'em 'll make ye open your eyes!”
“Ye better go easy. Milt, 'bout battin' your eyes,” advised Amiel
Perdue. “Mandy ain't lost her eyesight none either.”
Washy's thin whine broke through the guffaw: “I seen a picture at
Paulmouth once't about a feller and a girl lost in the woods o' Borneo.
It was a stirrin' picture. They was chased by headhunters, and one o'
these here big man-apes tackled 'em—what d'ye call that critter now?
Suthin' like ringin' a bell.”
“Orang-outang,” suggested Lawford.
“That's it. Sounds jest like the Baptist Meetin' House bell. It's
“Them orang-outangs don't sound like no bell—not when they holler,”
put in Cap'n Abe, leaning on his counter and staring at the tireless
fishfly again. “Cap'n Am'zon Silt, when he was ashore once't in Borneo,
met one o' them critters.”
“Gosh all fishhooks!” ejaculated Milt. “Ain't there no place on this
green airth that brother o' yourn ain't been, Cap'n Abe?”
“He ain't never been in jail, Milt,” said the storekeeper mildly,
and the assembly broke into an appreciative chuckle. It was well known
that on the last Fourth of July Milt Baker had been shut into the
calaboose at Paulmouth to sober up.
“As I was sayin',” pursued Cap'n Abe reflectively, “Cap'n Amazon
went up country with a Dutchman—a trader, I b'lieve he said the man
was—and they got into a part where the orang-outangs was plentiful.”
“Jest as thick as sandpipers along The Beaches, I shouldn't wonder,”
put in Cap'n Joab, at last tempted beyond his strength.
“No; nor like mackerel when ye get a full seine-haul,” responded the
storekeeper, unruffled, “but thicker'n you'd want sand fleas to be if
the fleas measured up to the size of orang-outangs.”
Lawford Tapp burst into open laughter. “They can't catch you, can
they, Cap'n Abe?” he said. “If that brother of yours has gone through
one-half the perils by land and sea I've heard you tell about, he's
beat out most sailors from old Noah down to Admiral Dewey.”
Cap'n Abe's brows came together in pronounced disapproval. “Young
man,” he said, “if Cap'n Am'zon was here now ye wouldn't darst cast any
aspersions on his word. He ain't the man to stand for't.”
“Well, I'd like to see Cap'n Amazon,” Lawford said lightly, “if only
for the sake of asking him a question or two.”
“You'll likely get your wish,” returned the storekeeper tartly.
“What d'ye mean?” drawled Milt Baker, who always bobbed up serenely.
“Ye don't say Cap'n Am'zon's likely to show up here at Cardhaven after
all these years?”
There was barely a second's hesitation on Mr. Silt's part. Then he
said: “That's exactly what I mean. I got a—ahem!—a letter from Cap'n
Am'zon only lately.”
“And he's comin' to see ye?” gasped Cap'n Joab, turning from the
door to stare like the others at the storekeeper.
“Yes,” the latter confessed. “And he's likely to stay quite a spell
when he does come. Says suthin' 'bout settlin' down. He's gettin' along
in years like the rest of us. Mebbe I'll let him keep store for me this
summer whilst I take a vacation,” added Cap'n Abe more briskly, “like I
been wantin' to do for a long spell back.”
“You took a vacation of a week or more about—was it ten year ago?”
demanded Cap'n Joab. “I looked after the place for ye then.”
“Ahem! I mean a real vacation,” Cap'n Abe declared, still staring at
the fishfly now feebly butting its head against the pane. “That week
was when I went to the—'hem—buryin' of my a'nt, Joab. I'll go this
time mebbe for two-three months. Take a v'y'ge somewhere, I've always
“Land sakes!” exploded Cap'n Joab. “I know ye been talkin' 'bout
cruisin' around—to see your folks, or the like—for the longest spell.
But I didn't s'pose ye re'lly meant it. And your brother comin', too!
“If he can tell of his adventures as well as you relate them,”
laughed Lawford, “Cap'n Amazon should be an addition to the Cardhaven
“You take my advice, young man,” Cap'n Abe said, with sternness,
“and belay that sort o' talk afore Cap'n Am'zon when he does come. He's
lived a rough sort o' life. He's nobody's tame cat. Doubt his word and
he's jest as like as not to take ye by the scruff of the neck and duck
ye in the water butt.”
There was a general laugh. Almost always the storekeeper managed to
turn the tables in some way upon any doubting Thomas that drifted into
his shop. Because of his ability in this particular he had managed to
hold his audience all these years.
Lawford could think of no reply with which to turn the laugh. His
wit was not of a nimble order. He turned to the door again and suddenly
a low ejaculation parted his lips.
“There's that girl again!”
Milt Baker screwed his neck around for a look. “See who's come!” he
cackled. “I bet it's one o' them moving picture actresses.”
Lawford cast on the ribald Milt a somewhat angry glance. Yet he did
not speak again for a moment.
“Tidy craft,” grunted Cap'n Joab, eying the young woman who was
approaching the store along the white road.
“I saw her get out of Noah's ark when he landed at the post-office
this noon,” Lawford explained to Cap'n Joab. “She looks like a nice
“Trim as a yacht,” declared the old man admiringly.
She was plainly city bred—and city gowned—and she carried her
light traveling bag by a strap over her shoulder. Her trim shoes were
dusty from her walk and her face was pink under her wide hat brim.
Lawford stepped out upon the porch. His gaze was glued again to this
vision of young womanhood; but as he stood at one side she did not
appear to see him as she mounted the steps.
The heir of the Salt Water Taffy King was twenty-four, his rather
desultory college course behind him; and he thought his experience with
girls had been wide. But he had never seen one just like Louise
Grayling. He was secretly telling himself this as she made her entrance
into Cap'n Abe's store.
CHAPTER III. IN CAP'N ABE'S
Louise came into the store smiling and the dusty, musty old place
seemed actually to brighten in the sunshine of her presence. Her big
gray eyes (they were almost blue when their owner was in an
introspective mood) now sparkled as her glance swept Cap'n Abe's
stock-in-trade—the shelves of fly-specked canned goods and cereal
packages, with soap, and starch, and half a hundred other kitchen goods
beyond; the bolts of calico, gingham, “turkey red,” and mill-ends; the
piles of visored caps and boxes of sunbonnets on the counter: the
ship-lanterns, coils of rope, boathooks, tholepins hanging in wreaths;
bailers, clam hoes, buckets, and the thousand and one articles which
made the store on the Shell Road a museum that later was sure to engage
the interest of the girl.
Now, however, the clutter of the shop gained but fleeting notice
from Louise. Her gaze almost immediately fastened upon the figure of
the bewhiskered old man, with spectacles and sou'wester both pushed
back on his bald crown, who mildly looked upon her—his smile somehow
impressing Louise Grayling as almost childish, it was so kindly.
Cap'n Joab had dodged through the door after Lawford Tapp. The other
boys from The Beaches followed their leader. Old Washy Gallup and Amiel
Perdue suddenly remembered that it was almost chore time as this
radiant young woman said:
“I wish to see Mr. Abram Silt—Captain Silt. Is he here?”
“I'm him, miss,” Cap'n Abe returned politely.
Milt Baker surely would have remained of all the crowd of idlers,
gaping oilily at the visitor across the top of the rusty stove, had not
a shrill feminine voice been heard outside the store,
“Is Milt Baker there? Ain't none o' you men seen him? Land sakes!
he's as hard to hold as the greased pig on Fourth o' July—an' jest
'bout as useful.”
“Milt,” said Cap'n Abe suggestively, “I b'lieve I hear Mandy callin'
“I'm a-comin'!—I'm a-comin', Mandy!” gurgled Milt, cognizant of the
girl's gay countenance turned upon him.
“What did you want, miss?” asked Cap'n Abe, as the recreant husband
of the militant Mandy stumbled over his own feet getting out of the
Louise bubbled over with laughter; she could not help it. Cap'n
Abe's bearded countenance broke slowly into an appreciative grin.
“Yes,” he said, “she does have him on a leadin' string. I do admit
Mandy's a card.”
The girl, quick-witted as she was bright looking, got his point
almost at once. “You mean she was a Card before she married him?”
“And she's a Card yet,” Cap'n Abe said, nodding. “Guess you know a
thing or two, yourself. What can I do for you?”
“You can say: 'Good-evening, Niece Louise,'“ laughed the girl,
coming closer to the counter upon which the storekeeper still leaned.
“My mother was a Card. That is how I came to see your joke, Uncle
“Don't you believe me?”
“I—I ain't got but one niece in the world,” mumbled Cap'n Abe.
“An'—an' I never expected to see her.”
“Louise Grayling, daughter of Professor Ernest Grayling and Miriam
Card—your half-sister's child. See here—and here.” She snapped open
her bag, resting it on the counter, and produced an old-fashioned
photograph of her mother, a letter, yellowed by time, that Cap'n Abe
had written Professor Grayling long before, and her own accident policy
identification card which she always carried.
Cap'n Abe stretched forth a hairy hand, and it closed on Lou's as a
sunfish absorbs its prey. The girl's hand to her wrist was completely
lost in the grip; but despite its firmness Cap'n Abe's handclasp was by
no means painful. He released her and, leaning back, smiled benignly.
“Land sakes!” he said again. “I'm glad to see little Mirry's girl.
An' you do favor her a mite. But I guess you take mostly after the
“People say I am like my father.”
“An' a mighty nice lookin' man—an' a pleasant—as I remember him,”
Cap'n Abe declared.
“Come right in here, into my sittin'-room, Niece Louise, an' lemme
take a look at you. Land sakes!”
He lifted the flap in the counter to let her through. The doorway
beyond gave entrance to a wide hall, or “entry,” between the store and
the living-room. The kitchen was in a lean-to at the back. The table in
the big room was already spread with a clean red-and-white checked
tablecloth and set with heavy chinaware for a meal. A huge caster
graced the center of the table, containing glass receptacles for salt,
red and black pepper, catsup, vinegar, and oil. Knives, forks, and
spoons for two—all of utilitarian style—were arranged with
mathematical precision beside each plate.
In one window hung a pot with “creeping Jew” and inchplant, the
tendrils at least a yard long. In the other window was a blowzy-looking
canary in a cage. A corpulent tortoise-shell cat occupied the
turkey-red cushion in one generous rocking chair, There was a couch
with a faded patchwork coverlet, several other chairs, and in a
glass-fronted case standing on the mantlepiece a model of a brigantine
in full sail, at least two feet tall.
“Sit down,” said Cap'n Abe heartily. “Drop your dunnage right down
there,” as Louise slipped the strap of her bag from her shoulder. “Take
that big rocker. Scat, you, Diddimus! and let the young lady have your
“Oh, don't bother him, Uncle Abram. What a beauty he is,” Louise
said, as the tortoise-shell—without otherwise moving—opened one
great, yellow eye.
“He's a lazy good-for-nothing,” Cap'n Abe said mildly. “Friends with
all the mice on the place, I swan! But sometimes he's the only human
critter I have to talk to. 'Cept Jerry.”
“The bird,” explained Cap'n Abe, easing himself comfortably into a
chair, his guest being seated, and resting his palms on his knees as he
gazed at her out of his pale blue eyes. “He's a lot of comfort—Jerry.
An' he useter be a great singer. Kinder gittin' old, now, like the rest
“Does seem too bad,” went on Cap'n Abe reflectively, “how a bird
like him has got to live in a cage all his endurin' days. Jerry's a
prisoner—like I been. I ain't never had the freedom I wanted,
“Louise, please. Uncle Abram. Lou Grayling,” the girl begged, but
“Then just you call me Cap'n Abe. I'm sort o' useter that,” the
“Of course I will. But why haven't you been free?” she asked,
reverting to his previous topic. “Seems to me—down here on the Cape
where the sea breezes blow, and everything is open——”
“Yes, 'twould seem so,” Cap'n Abe said, but he said it with
hesitation. “I been some hampered all my life, as ye might say. 'Tis
something that was bred in me. But as for Jerry———
“Jerry was give to me by a lady when he was a young bird. After a
while I got thinkin' a heap about him bein' caged, and one sunshiny
day—it was a marker for days down here on the Cape, an' we have lots
on 'em! One sunshiny day I opened his door and opened the window, and I
says: 'Scoot! The hull world's yourn!'“
“And didn't he go?” asked the girl, watching the rapt face of the
“Did he go? Right out through that window with a song that'd break
your heart to hear, 'twas so sweet. He pitched on the old apple tree
yonder—the August sweet'nin'—and I thought he'd bust his throat
a-tellin' of how glad he was to be free out there in God's sunshine an'
“He came back, I see,” said Louise thoughtfully.
“That's just it!” cried Cap'n Abe, shaking his head till the
tarpaulin fell off and he forgot to pick it up. “That's just it. He
come back of his own self. I didn't try to ketch him. When it grew on
toward sundown an' the air got kinder chill, I didn't hear Jerry
singin' no more. I'd seen him, off'n on, flittin' 'bout the yard all
day. When I come in here to light the hangin'-lamp cal'latin' to make
supper, I looked over there at the window. I'd shut it. There was Jerry
on the window sill, humped all up like an old woman with the tisic.”
“The poor thing!” was Lou's sympathetic cry.
“Yes,” said Cap'n Abe, nodding. “He warn't no more fit to be let
loose than nothin' 'tall. And I wonder if I be,” added the
storekeeper. “I've been caged quite a spell how.
“But now tell me, Niece Louise,” he added with latent curiosity,
“how did you find your way here?”
“Father says—'Daddy-professor,' you know is what I call him. He
says if we had not always been traveling when I was not at school, I
should have known you long ago. He thinks very highly of my mother's
“I wanter know!”
“He says you are the 'salt of the earth'—that is his very
“Yes. We're pretty average salt, I guess,” admitted Cap'n Abe. “I
never seen your father but once or twice. You see, Louise, your mother
was a lot younger'n me an' Am'zon.”
“Cap'n Am'zon. Oh! I ain't the only uncle you got,” he said,
watching her narrowly. “Cap'n Am'zon Silt——”
“Have I another relative? How jolly!” exclaimed Louise, clasping her
“Ye-as. Ain't it? Jest,” Cap'n Abe said. “Ahem! your father never
spoke of Cap'n Am'zon?”.
“I don't believe daddy-prof even knew there was such a person.”
“Mebbe not. Mebbe not,” Cap'n Abe agreed hastily. “And not to be
wondered at. You see, Am'zon went to sea when he was only jest a boy.”
“Yep. Ran away from home—like most boys done in them days, for
their mothers warn't partial to the sea—and shipped aboard the whaler
South Sea Belle. He tied his socks an' shirt an' a book o'
navigation he owned, up in a handkerchief, and slipped out over the
shed roof one night, and away he went.” Cap'n Abe told the girl this
with that far-away look on his face that usually heralded one of his
tales about Cap'n Amazon.
“I can remember it clear 'nough. He walked all the way to New
Bedford. We lived at Rocky Head over against Bayport. Twas quite a step
to Bedford. The South Sea Belle was havin' hard time makin' up
her crew. She warn't a new ship. Am'zon was twelve year old an' looked
fifteen. An' he was fifteen 'fore he got back from that v'y'ge. Mebbe
I'll tell ye 'bout it some time—or Cap'n Am'zon will. He's been a
deep-bottom sailor from that day to this.”
“And where is he now?” asked Louise.
“Why—mebbe!—he's on his way here. I shouldn't wonder. He might
step in at that door any minute,” and Cap'n Abe's finger indicated the
There was the sound of a footstep entering the store as he spoke.
The storekeeper arose. “I'll jest see who 'tis,” he said.
While he was absent Louise laid aside her hat and made a closer
inspection of the room and its furniture. Everything was homely but
comfortable. There was a display of marine art upon the walls. All the
ships were drawn exactly, with the stays, spars, and all rigging in
place, line for line. They all sailed, too, through very blue seas, the
crest of each wave being white with foam.
Flanking the model of the brigantine on the mantle were two fancy
shell pieces—works of art appreciated nowhere but on the coast. The
designs were ornate; but what they could possibly represent Louise was
unable to guess.
She tried to interest the canary by whistling to him and sticking
her pink finger between the wires of his cage. He was ruffled and
dull-eyed like all old birds of his kind, and paid her slight
attention. When she turned to Diddimus she had better success. He
rolled on his side, stuck all his claws out and drew them in again
luxuriously, purring meanwhile like a miniature sawmill.
When Cap'n Abe came back the girl asked:
“Wasn't your customer a young man I saw on the porch as I came in?”
“Yep. Lawford Tapp. Said he forgot some matches and a length o'
ropeyarn. I reckon you went to that young man's head. And his top
hamper ain't none too secure, Niece Louise.”
“Oh, did I?” laughed the girl, understanding perfectly. “How nice.”
“Nice? That's how ye take it. Lawford Tapp ain't a fav'rite o'
“But he seemed very accommodating to-day when I asked him how to
reach your store.”
“So you met him up town?”
“Yes, Uncle Abe.”
“He's perlite enough,” scolded the storekeeper. “But I don't jest
fancy the cut of his jib. Wanted to know if you was goin' to stop
“Oh!” exclaimed Louise. “That is what I want to know myself. Am I?”
CHAPTER IV. THE SHADOW OF COMING
Cap'n Abe reached for his spectacles and pulled them down upon his
nose to look at his guest through the lenses. Not that they aided his
sight in the least; but the act helped to cover the fact that he was
“Stop here?” he repeated. “Where's your father? Ain't he with you up
to the Inn?”
“No, Cap'n Abe. He is in Boston to-day. But he will sail to-morrow
for a summer cruise with a party for scientific research. I am all
alone. So I came down here to Cape Cod.”
Louise said it directly and as simply as the storekeeper himself
might have spoken. Yet it seemed really difficult for Cap'n Abe to get
her meaning into his head.
“You mean you was intendin' to cast anchor here—with me?”
“If it is agreeable. Of course I'll pay my board if you'll let me.
You have a room to spare, haven't you?”
“Land sakes, yes!”
“And I am not afraid to use my hands. I might even be of some slight
use,” and she smiled at him till his own slow smile responded, troubled
and amazed though he evidently was by her determination. “I've roughed
it a good deal with daddy-prof. I can cook—some things. And I can do
“Bet Gallup does that,” interposed Cap'n Abe, finally getting his
bearings. “Hi-mighty, ye did take me aback all standin', Niece Louise!
Ye did, for a fac'. But why not? Land sakes, there's room enough, an'
to spare! Ye don't hafter put them pretty han's to housework. Betty
Gallup'll do all that. An' you don't have to pay no board money. As for
cookin'——That remin's me. I'd better git to work on our supper. We'll
be sharp for it 'fore long.”
“And—and I may stay?” asked Louise, with some little embarrassment
now. “You are sure it won't inconvenience you?”
“Bless you, no! I cal'late it's more likely to inconvenience you,” and Cap'n Abe chuckled mellowly. “I don't know what sort o' 'roughin'
it' you've done with your pa; but if there's anything much rougher than
an ol' man's housekeepin' down here on the Cape, it must be pretty
She laughed gayly. “You can't scare me!”
“Ain't a-tryin' to,” he responded, eying her admiringly. “You're an
able seaman, I don't dispute. An' we'll git along fine. Hi-mighty!
Louise actually turned around this time to look at the door,
expecting to see the mariner in question enter. Then she said, half
“Do you suppose your brother will object if he does come, Cap'n
“Land sakes, no!” the storekeeper quickly assured her. “'Tain't
that. But I cal'lated 'bout soon's Am'zon anchored here I'd cast off
“Go away?” Louise demanded.
“Yes. Like poor old Jerry, mebbe,” said Cap'n Abe, looking at the
caged bird. “Mebbe I'll be glad to come back again—and in a hurry. But
while Cap'n Am'zon is here I can take a vacation that I've long
hankered for, Niece Louise. I—I got my plans all made.”
“Don't for one moment think of changing them on my account,” Louise
said briskly. “I shall like Uncle Amazon immensely if he's anything
like you, Cap'n Abe.”
“He—he ain't so much like me,” confessed the storekeeper.
“Not in looks he ain't. But hi-mighty! I know he'll be as pleased as
Punch to see ye.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“Wait till you see how he takes to ye,” declared her reassuring
uncle. “Now, lemme git my apern on and set to work on supper.”
“Can't I help, Cap'n Abe?”
“In them things?” the storekeeper objected.
“Well—I'll have plenty of house dresses when my trunks come. I left
my checks at the station for a man named Perry Baker. They said he'd
bring them over to-night.”
“He will,” Cap'n Abe assured her. But he stopped a moment,
stock-still in the middle of the room, and stared at her unseeingly.
Evidently his mind was fixed upon an idea suddenly suggested by her
speech. “He will,” he repeated. Then:
“I'll get the fat kettle over an' the fry-cage ready. Amiel brought
me a likely cod. 'Tain't been out o' the water two hours.”
“I love fish,” confessed Louise, following him to the kitchen door.
“Lucky you do, if you're going to stay a spell on Cape Cod. For
that's what you'll eat mornin', noon, and night. Fish and clams, an'
mebbe a pot o' baked beans on a Saturday, or a chicken for Sunday's
dinner. I don't git much time to cook fancy.”
“But can't this woman who comes to do the work cook for you?”
“She can't cook for me,” snorted Cap'n Abe. “I respect my stomach
too much to eat after Bet Gallup. She's as good a man afore the mast as
airy feller in Cardhaven. An' that's where she'd oughter be. But never
let her in the galley.”
“Oh, well,” Louise said cheerfully. “I'm a dab at camp cooking
myself, as I told you. Uncle Amazon and I will make out—if he comes.”
“Oh! Ah! 'Hem!” said Cap'n Abe, clearing his throat. He stooped to
pick up a dropped potlid and came up very red in the face. “You needn't
borrow any trouble on that score, Cap'n Am'zon's as good a cook as I
Only twice did Cap'n Abe make forced trips into the shop. The supper
hour of Cardhaven was well established and the thoughtful housewives
did not seek to make purchases while the fat was hot in Cap'n Abe's
skillet. One of these untimely customers was a wandering child with a
penny. “I might have waited on him, Cap'n Abe,” Louise declared.
“Land sakes! so you might,” the storekeeper agreed. “Though if he'd
seen you behind my counter I reckon that young 'un of 'Liathel
Grummet's would have been struck dumber than nature made him in the
The other customer was a gangling, half-grown youth after a ball of
seine twine and the girl heard him say in a shocked whisper to Cap'n
“Say! is it true there's one o' them movin' picture actresses goin'
to stop here with you, Cap'n Abe? Ma heard so.”
“You tell your ma,” Cap'n Abe said sternly, “that if she keeps on
stretchin' her ears that a-way, she'll hear the kambuoy over Bartell
Shoals in a dead calm!”
Cap'n Abe's bald poll began to shine with minute beads of
perspiration. He looked over the bib of his voluminous apron like a
bewhiskered gnome very busy at some mysterious task. Louise noticed
that his movements about the kitchen were remarkably deft.
“All hands called!” he called out at length. “I'm about to dish up.”
“Shall I put on another plate, Cap'n Abe? You expected somebody else
“Nope. All set. I'm always ready for a messmate; but 'tain't often
one boards me 'cept Cap'n Joab now and then. His woman likes to git him
out from under foot. You see, when a woman's been useter seein' her
husband only 'twixt v'y'ges for forty year, I 'spect 'tis something of
a cross to have him litterin' up the house ev'ry day,” he confessed.
“But as I can't leave the shop myself to go visitin' much in return,
Joab acks offish. We Silts was always bred to be hospitable. Poor or
rich, we could share what we had with another. So I keep an extry plate
on the table.
“I've had occasion,” pursued the philosophical storekeeper, drawing
up his own chair across the table from the girl, “to be at some folks'
houses at meal time and had 'em ask me to set up and have a bite. But
it never looked to me as if they meant it 'nless there was already an
extry plate there.
“Just like having a spare bedroom. If you can say: 'Stay all night,
we got a room for ye,' then that's what I call hospitality. I wouldn't
live in a house that warn't big enough to have at least one spare
“I believe I must be very welcome here, Cap'n Abe,” Louise said,
smiling at the kindly old man.
“Land sakes, I sh'd hope ye felt so!” ejaculated Cap'n Abe. “Now, if
you don't mind, Niece Louise.” He dropped his head suddenly and closed
his eyes in reverence. “For what we are about to partake of, Lord, make
us duly thankful. Amen!” His countenance became animated again. “Try
them biscuit. I made 'em this morning 'twixt Marcy Coe selectin' that
piece of gingham for a new dress and John Peckham buying cordage for
his smack. But they warmed up right nice in the oven.”
Meanwhile he heaped her plate with codfish and fried potatoes cooked
to a delicate brown. There was good butter, fat doughnuts, and
beach-plum preserve. It was a homely meal but Louise ate it graciously.
Already the air of Cardhaven had sharpened her appetite.
“Lend me your apron,” insisted the girl when they had finished, “and
I will wash these dishes.”
“I us'ally let them go till Betty Gallup comes in the morning,” the
storekeeper said rather ruefully. “It don't look right to me that you
should mess with these greasy dishes jest as we get under way, as ye
“You must not make company of me, Cap'n Abe,” Louise declared.
“There, I hear a customer in the store,” and she gave him a little pat
on the shoulder as he delivered the huge apron into her hand.
“I dunno,” he said, smiling upon her quizzically, “as I shall really
want to cast off if Cap'n Am'zon does come. Seems to me 'twould
be hi-mighty nice to have a girl like you around the place, Louise.”
“Then don't go,” she said, briskly beginning to clear off. “I
sha'n't mind having two of you for me to boss. Two captains! Think of
“Yes. I know. But I got all my plans laid,” he murmured, and then
went slowly into the store.
There seemed to be some briskness in the after-supper trade, and
Louise suspected that it was founded upon the news of her arrival at
Cap'n Abe's store. Several of his rather tart rejoinders reached her
ears as she went from kitchen to livingroom and back again. Finally
removing the apron, her task done, she seated herself with Diddimus in
her lap within the radiance of the lamp and within hearing of all that
was said in the store.
“No. I dunno's I ever did tell ye quite all my business, Joab. Some
things I missed, includin' the list of my relations.”
“Yes, I hear tell most of these movin' picture actresses are pretty,
Miz' Peckham. They pick 'em for that puppose, I shouldn't wonder. I
didn't ask her what part she was goin' to play—if any.”
“Land sakes, Mandy, she's just got here! I ain't no idee how long
she'll stay. If you think there's any danger of Milt not tendin' to his
clammin' proper whilst she's here you'd better send him on a cruise
with Cap'n Durgin. The Tryout sails for the Banks to-morrow, I
“No, Washy. That was my A'nt Matildy I went away to help bury ten
years ago. She's still dead—an' this ain't her daughter. This is my
ha'f sister's child, she that was Miriam Card. She got married to a
scientific chap that works for the government, I guess when you write
to Washington for your garden seeds next spring, you better ask about
him, if ye want to know more'n I can tell ye.”
“You got it right for once't, Joab. I do expect Cap'n Am'zon. Mebbe
to-night. He may come over from the depot with Perry Baker—I can't
tell. What'll I do with the girl? Land sakes! ain't Cap'n Am'zon just
as much her uncle as I be? Some o' you fellers better stow your
jaw-tackle if Cap'n Am'zon does heave to here. For he ain't no tame
cat, like I told you.”
“You back again, Lawford Tapp? Hi-mighty! what you forgot this time?
Fishhooks? Goin' fishin', be you? Wal, in my 'pinion you're throwin'
your hook into unproductive waters around here, as ye might say. Even
chummin' won't sarve ye. Good-night!”
After getting rid of this importunate customer, Cap'n Abe closed his
door and put out his store lights—an hour earlier than usual—and came
back to sit down with Louise. His visage was red and determination sat
on his brow.
“I snum!” he emphatically observed. “Cardhaven folks seem bit with
some kind o' bug. Talk 'bout curiosity! 'Hem! I dunno what Cap'n
Am'zon'll think of 'em.”
“I think they are funny,” Louise retorted, her laughter
bubbling up again.
“Likely it looks so to you,” said Cap'n Abe. “They're pretty average
funny I do guess to a stranger, as ye might say. But after you've
summered 'em and wintered 'em for twenty-odd years like I have, land
sakes! the humor's worn hi-mighty thin!”
CHAPTER V. WHAT HAPPENED IN THE NIGHT
Cap'n Abe produced a pipe. He looked at his niece tentatively.
“Do—do you mind tobacker smoke?”
“Daddy-prof is an inveterate,” she laughed.
“Huh? An—an invet'rate what?”
“Smoker. I don't begrudge a man smoking tobacco as long as we women
have our tea. A nerve tonic in both cases.”
“I dunno for sure that I've got any nerves,” Cap'n Abe said, the
corners of his eyes wrinkling. “Mebbe I was behind the door when they
was given out. But a pipeful o' tobacker this time o' the evening
does seem sort o' satisfyin'. That, and knittin'.”
Having filled his pipe and lit it, he puffed a few times to get it
well alight and then reached for a covered basket that Louise had
noticed on a small stand under Jerry's cage. He drew from this a
half-fashioned gray stocking that was evidently intended for his own
foot and the needles began to click in his strong, capable hands.
“Supprise you some, does it, Louise?” Cap'n Abe said. “Cap'n Am'zon
taught me. Most old whalers knit. That, an' doin' scrimshaw work, was
'bout all that kep' 'em from losing their minds on them long v'y'ges
into the Pacific. An' I've seen the time myself when I was hi-mighty
glad I'd l'arned to count stitches.
“Land sakes! Some o' them whalin' v'y'ges lasted three-four years.
Cap'n Am'zon was in the old bark Neptune's Daughter when she was
caught in the ice and drifted pretty average close't to the south pole.
“You know,” said Cap'n Abe reflectively, “the Antarctic regions
ain't like the Arctic. 'Cause why? There ain't no folks there. Cap'n
Am'zon says there ain't 'nough land at the south pole to make Marm
Scudder's garden—and they say she didn't need more'n what her
patchwork quilt would cover. Where there's land there's folks. And if
there was land in the Antarctic there'd be Eskimos like there is up
“'Hem! Well, that wasn't what I begun on, was it? This knitting.
Cap'n Am'zon says that many's the time he's thanked his stars he knowed
how to knit.”
“I shall be glad to meet him,” said Louise.
“If he comes,” Cap'n Abe rejoined, “an' I go away as I planned to,
'twon't make a mite o' difference to you, Niece Louise. You feel right
at home here—and so'll Cap'n Am'zon, though he ain't never been to
Cardhaven yet. He'll be a lot better company for you than I'd be.”
“Oh, Cap'n Abe, I can scarcely believe that!” cried the girl.
“You don't know Cap'n Am'zon,” the storekeeper said. “I tell ye
fair: he's ev'rything that I ain't! As a boy—'hem!—Am'zon was always
leadin' an' me follerin'. I kinder took after my mother, I guess. She
was your grandmother. Your grandfather was a Card—and a nice man he
“Our father—me an' Am'zon's—was Cap'n Joshua Silt of the schooner
Bravo. Hi-mighty trim and taut craft she was, from all accounts.
I—I warn't born when he died,” added Cap'n Abe, hesitatingly.
“You were a posthumous child!” said Louise.
“Er—I guess so. Kinder 'pindlin', too. Yes! yes! Cap'n Am'zon's
ahead o' me—in ev'ry way. When father died 'twas pretty average hard
on mother,” Cap'n Abe pursued. “We was llvin' at Rocky Head, I guess I
told you b'fore?”
“Yes,” Louise said, interested.
“The Bravo was makin' reg'lar trips from Newport to Bangor,
Maine. Short-coastin' v'y'ges paid well in them days. There come a big
storm in the spring—onexpected. Mother'd got a letter from Cap'n
Josh—father he'd put out o' Newport with a sartain tide. He warn't
jest a fair-weather skipper. Cap'n Am'zon gits his pluck an' darin'
from Cap'n Josh.
“Well, mother knowed he must be out o' sight of Fort Adams and the
Dumplin's when the storm burst, and that he'd take the inside passage,
the wind bein' what it was. She watched from Rocky Head and she seen
what she knowed to be the Bravo heave in sight.
“There warn't no foolin' her,” pursued Cap'n Abe, whose pipe had
gone out but whose knitting needles twinkled the faster. “No. She
knowed the schooner far's she could glim her. She watched the Bravo
caught in the cross-current when the gale dropped sudden, and tryin' to
claw off shore.
“But no use! She was doomed! There warn't no help for the schooner.
She went right on to Toll o' Death Reef and busted up in an hour. Not a
body ever was beached, for the current, tide, an' gale was all
off shore. And it happened in plain sight of our windows.
“Two months later,” Cap'n Abe said reflectively, “I come into the
world. Objectin', of course, like all babies. Funny thing that. We all
come into it makin' all kinds of a hullabaloo against anchorin' here;
and we most of us kick just as hard against slippin' our moorin's to
get out of it.
“Land sakes!” he exclaimed in conclusion. “There ye be. I guess my
mother hated the sea 'bout as much as any longshore woman ever did. And
there's a slew of 'em detest it worse'n cats. Why, ye couldn't hire
some o' these Cape Cod females to get into a boat. Their men for
generations was drowned and more'n forty per cent. of the stones in the
churchyards along the coast, sacred to the mem'ry of the men of the
fam'lies, have on 'em: 'Lost at sea.'
“Can't blame the women. Old Ella Coffin that lives on Narrer P'int
over yonder ain't been to the main but once't in fifteen years. That
was when an off-shore gale blew all the water out o' the breach 'twixt
the p'int and the mainland.
“Ye see,” said Cap'n Abe, smiling again, “Narrer P'int is re'lly an
island, even at low water. But then a hoss an' buggy can
splatter across't the breach. But it makes Marm Coffin seasick even to
ride through water in a buggy. Marked, she is, as you might say.
“Well, now, Louise, child,” the storekeeper added, “I'm a-gassin'
'bout things that don't much int'rest you, I cal'late. I'll light a
lamp an' show you up to your room. When Perry Baker comes by and by,
I'll help him in with your trunks. You needn't worry about 'em.”
It had been foggy on the Sound the night before and Louise had not
slept until the boat had rounded Point Judith. So she was not averse to
retiring at this comparatively early hour.
Cap'n Abe led her upstairs to a cool, clean, and comfortable
chamber. The old four-posted, corded bedstead stood in the middle of
the room, covered with a blue-and-white coverlet, with sheets and
pillow cases as white as foam. It could not be doubted that Cap'n Abe
had carried out his idea of hospitality. The spare room was always
ready for the possible guest.
“Good-night, uncle,” she said, smiling at him as he handed her the
lamp. “I believe I am going to have a delightful time here.”
“Of course you be! Of course!” he exclaimed. “An' if I ain't here,
Cap'n Am'zon will show you a better time than I could. Good-night.
Sleep well, Louise.”
He kissed her on the forehead. But she, impulsively, pressed her
fresh lips to the storekeeper's weather-beaten cheek. Before she closed
the door of the bedroom she heard him clumping downstairs in his heavy
After that he must have removed his footgear for, although she heard
doors open and close, she could not distinguish his steps.
“I'm glad I came!” she told herself with enthusiasm as she prepared
to retire. “What a delightful old place it is! And Uncle Abram—why,
he's a dear! Daddy-prof was not half enthusiastic enough about
the Cape Cod folk. It has been a distinct loss to me that I was never
She laid out her toilet requisites upon the painted pine bureau and
hung her negligee over the back of a chair. As she retied the ribbon in
one of the sleeves of her nightgown she thought:
“And that Tapp boy came back a second time! Some fisherman's son, I
suppose. But exceedingly nice looking!”
A little later the feather bed had taken her into its arms and she
almost instantly fell asleep. Occasionally through the night she was
roused by unfamiliar sounds. There was a fog coming in from the sea and
the siren at the lighthouse on the Neck began to bellow like a bereft
There were movements downstairs. Once she heard a wagon stop, and
voices. Then the bumping of heavy boxes on the side porch. Her trunks.
Voices below in the living-room—gruff, yet subdued. Creaking footsteps
on the stair; then Louise realized that they were carrying something
heavy down and out to the waiting wagon. She was just dropping to sleep
when the wagon was driven away.
There came a heavy summons on her door while it was still dark. But
a glance at her watch assured Lou Grayling that it was the fog that
made the light so dim.
“Yes, Cap'n Abe?” she called cheerfully, for even early rising could
not quench her good spirits.
“'Tain't time to get up yet, Niece Louise,” he told her behind the
thin panel of the door. “Don't disturb yourself. Cap'n Amazon's come
an' I'm off.”
“You're what?” gasped the girl sitting up in her nest of feathers.
“I'm a-goin' to Boston. Jest got time to ketch the clam-train at the
depot. Don't you bother; Cap'n Am'zon's here and he'll take care of you
till I get back. Betty Gallup'll be here by six or a little after to do
the work. You can have her stop at night, if you want to.”
“Must hurry, Louise,” hastily said Cap'n Abe as he heard the
bedcords creak and the patter of the girl's feet on the matting. “Cap'n
Am'zon knows of a craft that'll sail to-day from Boston and I must jine
her crew. Good-bye!”
He was gone. Louise, throwing on the negligee, hurried to the
screened window. The fog had breathed upon the wires and clouded them.
She heard the door open below, a step on the porch, and then a muffled:
“Bye, Am'zon. Don't take no wooden money. I'm off.”
A shrouded figure passed up the road and was quickly hidden by the
CHAPTER VI. BOARDED BY PIRATES
Louise could not go back to sleep. She drew the ruffles of the
negligee about her throat and removed the sliding screen the better to
see into the outer world.
There was a movement in the fog, for the rising breeze ruffled, it.
Full daybreak would bring its entire dissipation. Already the mist held
a luster heralding the sun. The “hush-hush” of the surf along The
Beaches was more insistent now than at any time since Louise had come
to Cap'n Abe's store, while the moan of the breakers on the outer reefs
was like the deep notes of a distant organ.
A cock crew, and at his signal outdoor life seemed to awaken. Other
chanticleers sounded their alarms; a colt whistled in a paddock and his
mother neighed softly from her stall; a cow lowed; then, sweet and
clear as a mountain stream, broke forth the whistle of a wild bird in
the marsh. This matin of the feathered songster rose higher and higher
till he reached the very top note of his scale and then fell again, by
cadences, until it mingled with the less compelling calls of other
There was a warm pinkness spreading through the fog in one
direction, and Louise knew it must be the reflection of the light upon
the eastern horizon. The sun would soon begin a new day's journey.
The fog was fast thinning, for across the road she could see a
spiral of blue smoke, mounting through it from the chimney of a
neighbor. The kitchen fire there had just been lighted.
Below, and from the living-rooms behind the store, the girl heard
some faint noises as though the early morning tasks of getting in wood
and filling the coal scuttle were under way. Uncle Amazon must be
“takin' holt” just as Cap'n Abe said he would.
Louise was curious to see the returned mariner; but it was too early
to go down yet. She might really have another nap before she dressed,
she thought, yawning behind a pink palm.
There was a step in the store. Her room overlooked by two windows
the roof of the front porch and she could hear what went on below
plainly. The step was lighter than Cap'n Abe's. The bolts of the
two-leaved door rattled and it was set wide; she heard the iron wedges
kicked under each to hold it open. Then a smell of pipe smoke was
wafted to her nostrils.
A footstep on the Shell Road announced the approach of somebody from
The Beaches. Louise yawned again and was on the point of creeping into
bed once more when she descried the figure coming through the fog. She
saw only the boots and legs of the person at first; but the fog was
fast separating into wreaths which the rising breeze hurried away, and
the girl at the window soon saw the full figure of the approaching
man—and recognized him.
At almost the same moment Lawford Tapp raised his eyes and saw her;
and his heart immediately beat the call to arms. Louise Grayling's
morning face, framed by the sash and sill of her bedroom window, was
quite the sweetest picture he had ever seen.
It was only for a moment he saw her, her bare and rounded forearm on
the sill, the frilly negligee so loosened that he could see the column
of her throat. Her gray eyes looked straight into his—then she was
“Actress, or not,” muttered the son of the Salt Water Taffy King,
“there's nothing artificial about her. And she's Cap'n Abe's niece.
He saw the figure on the porch, smoking, and hailed it:
“Hey, Cap'n Abe! Those fishhooks you sold me last evening aren't
what I wanted—and there's the Merry Andrew waiting out there
for me now. I want——”
The figure in the armchair turned its head. It was not Cap'n Abe at
“Mornin', young feller,” said the stranger cordially. “You'll have
to explain a leetle about them hooks. I ain't had a chance to overhaul
much of Abe's cargo yet. I don't even know where he stows his small
tackle. Do you?”
Fully a minute did Lawford Tapp keep him waiting for an answer while
he stared at the stranger. He was not a big man, but he somehow gave
the impression of muscular power. He was dressed in shabby
clothing—shirt, dungaree trousers, and canvas shoes such as sailors
work and go aloft in. The pipe he smoked was Cap'n Abe's—Lawford
There was not, however, another thing about this man to remind one
of the old storekeeper. This stranger was burned to a rich mahogany
hue. Not alone his shaven face, but his bared forearms and his chest
where the shirt was left unbuttoned seemed stained by the tropical sun.
Under jet-black brows the eyes that gazed upon Lawford Tapp seemed
His sweeping mustache was black; and such hair as was visible showed
none of the iron gray of advancing age in it. He wore gold rings in his
ears and to cap his piratical-looking figure was a red bandana worn
turbanwise upon his head.
“What's the matter with you, young feller? Cat got your tongue?”
demanded the stranger.
“Well, of all things!” finally gasped Lawford. “I thought you were
Cap'n Abe. But you're not. You must be Cap'n Amazon Silt.”
“That's who I be,” agreed the other.
“Ain't much like Abe, eh?” and Cap'n Amazon smiled widely.
“Only your voice. That is a little like Cap'n Abe's. Well, I
declare!” repeated Lawford, coming deliberately up the steps.
Cap'n Amazon rose briskly and led the way into the store. The fog
was clearing with swiftness and a ray of sunlight slanted through a
dusty window with sufficient strength to illumine the shelves behind
“Those boxes yonder are where Cap'n Abe keeps his fishhooks. But
isn't he here?”
“He's off,” Cap'n Amazon replied. “Up anchor'd and sailed 'bout
soon's I come. Been ready to go quite a spell, I shouldn't wonder. Had
his chest all packed and sent it to the depot by a wagon. Walked over
himself airly to ketch the train. These the hooks, son?”
“But where's he gone?”
“On a v'y'ge,” replied Cap'n Amazon. “Why shouldn't he? Seems he's
been lashed here, tight and fast, for c'nsider'ble of a spell. He and
this store of hisn was nigh 'bout spliced. I don't see how he has
weathered it so long.”
“Gone away!” murmured Lawford.
Cap'n Amazon eyed him with a tilt to his head and possibly a twinkle
of amusement in his eye. “Young man, what's your name?” he asked
bluntly. Lawford told him. “Wal, it strikes me,” Cap'n Amazon said,
“that your tops'ls air slattin' a good deal. You ain't on the wind.”
“I am upset, I declare!”
“Sure you got the right hooks this time?”
“Yes. I believe so.”
“Then if your Merry Andrew—what is she, cat-rigged or——”
“Then if your Merry Andrew sloop's a-waiting for you,
that's the way out,” said Cap'n Amazon coolly, pointing with his
pipestem to the door. “Come again—when you want to buy anything in
Abe's stock. Good day!”
Lawford halted a moment at the door to look back at the bizarre
figure behind the counter, leaning on the scarred brown plank just as
Cap'n Abe so often did. The amazing difference between the
storekeeper's well remembered appearance and that of his substitute
grew more startling.
As Cap'n Amazon stood there half stooping, leaning on his hairy
fists, the picture rose in Lawford Tapp's mind of a pirate, cutlass in
teeth and his sash full of pistols, swarming over the rail of a doomed
ship. The young man had it in his mind to ask a question about that
wonderfully pretty girl above. But, somehow, Cap'n Amazon did not
appear to be the sort of person to whom one could put even a mildly
The young man walked slowly down the road toward the shore where his
boat was beached. He had no idea that a pair of gray eyes watched him
from that window where he had glimpsed the vision of girlish beauty
only a few minutes before.
The neighborhood was stirring now and Louise had not gone back to
bed. Instead, she dressed as simply as she could until it would be
possible to get at her trunks.
While thus engaged she observed the neighborhood as well as she
could see it from the windows of her chamber. Down the Shell Road, in
the direction of the sea, there were but two or three houses—small
dwellings in wind-swept yards where beach grass was about all the
verdure that would grow.
Across the road from the store, however, and as far as she could see
toward Cardhaven, were better homes, some standing in the midst of
tilled fields and orchards. Sandy lanes led to these homesteads from
the highway. She could see the blunt spire of the Mariner's Chapel. Yet
Cap'n Abe's house and store stood quite alone, for none of the other
dwellings were close to the road.
She set her chamber door ajar and suddenly heard the clash of
voices. The one that seemed nearest to the stair was gruff, but
“That must be Betty Gallup,” thought Louise. “It is nearly six. I'll
go down and interview the lady who Cap'n Abe said ought to sail before
The foot of the stairway was in the back entry which itself opened
upon the rear porch. As she came lightly down the stairs Louise saw a
squat, square figure standing in the open doorway. It was topped by a
man's felt hat and was dressed in a loose, shapeless coat and a scant
skirt down to the tops of a pair of men's shoes.
Over the shoulder of this queer looking person—of whose sex it was
hard to be sure—Louise could see an open letter that was evidently
being perused not for the first time.
The hands that held the letter were red and hard and blunt-fingered,
but not large. They did not look feminine, however; not in the least.
The light tap of the girl's heels as she stepped on the bare floor
at the foot of the stairway aroused this person, who turned, revealing
a rather grim, weather-beaten face, lit by little sharp brown eyes that
proceeded to stare at Louise Grayling with frank curiosity.
“Humph!” ejaculated the woman.
Oh, it was a woman, Louise could now see, although Betty Gallup
boasted a pronounced mustache and a voice both deep and hoarse, while
she looked every inch the able seaman she was.
“Humph!” she exclaimed again. “You don't look much like a pirate,
that's one comfort!”
Louise burst into gay laughter—she could not help it.
“I see by this letter Cap'n Abe left for me that you're his
niece—his ha'f sister's child—name, Louise Grayling; and that you've
come to stay a spell.”
“Yes,” the girl rejoined, still dimpling. “And I know you must be
“Bet Gallup. Yep. Ain't much chance of mistaking me,” the woman
said, still staring at Louise. “Humph! you're pretty 'nough not to need
m'lasses to ketch flies. Why didn't Cap'n Abe stay to home when you
come visiting him?”
“Why, he had his plans all laid to go away, if Uncle Amazon came.”
“Ya-as. That's so. You are his niece, too, I s'pose.”
“Whose niece? Uncle Amazon's? I suppose I am,” Louise gayly replied,
“though when I came I had no idea there was a second uncle down here on
“What's that?” demanded Betty Gallup, her speech crackling like a
“I had not heard before of Cap'n Amazon,” the girl explained. “You
see, for several reasons, I have known very little about my mother's
kinfolk. She died when I was a baby. We have traveled a good deal,
father and I.”
“I see. I been told you worked for them movin' pictures. Mandy Card
was over to my house last night. Well! what do you think of your Uncle
“I can express no opinion until I have met him,” Louise returned,
“Haven't ye seen him?” gasped Betty in astonishment.
“Ye didn't see him when he came last night?”
“I was in bed.”
“Then how—how d'ye know Cap'n Abe's gone? Or that this man is
Am'zon Silt? Nobody ever seen this critter 'round Cardhaven before,”
Betty Gallup declared with strong conviction.
“Oh, no; Uncle Amazon has never been here to visit Cap'n Abe before.
Cap'n Abe told me all about it,” the girl explained, fearing that
scandal was to take root here and now if she did not discourage it. “Of
course Uncle Abe went away. He came to my door and bade me good-bye.”
Louise was puzzled. She saw an expression in Betty Gallup's face
that she could not interpret.
“Ye heard Cap'n Abe say he was goin',” muttered Betty. “
His voice sounds mighty like Cap'n Abe's. But mebbe Abe Silt didn't
go after all—not rightly.”
“What do you mean, Mrs. Gallup?” demanded Louise in
“Well, if you ask me, I should say we'd been boarded by pirates. Go
take a look at that Uncle Am'zon of yourn. He's in the store.”
CHAPTER VII. UNDER FIRE
“Uncle Amazon?” burst out Louise. “A pirate?”
“That's what he looks like,” repeated Betty Gallup, nodding her head
on which the man's hat still perched. “I never saw the beat! Why, that
man give me the shock of my life when I came in here just now!”
“What do you mean?” the amazed girl asked,
“Why, as I come in—I was a lettle early, knowin' you was here—I
heard as I s'posed Cap'n Abe in the sittin'-room. I saw this letter,
sealed and directed to me, on the dresser there. 'Humph!' says I,
'Who's writin' billy-doos to me, I'd admire to know?' And I up
and opened it and see it's in Cap'n Abe's hand. Just then I heard him
“Heard who? Not Cap'n Abe?”
“No, no! This other feller—this Cap'n Am'zon Silt, as he calls
himself. But I thought 'twas Cap'n Abe's step I heard. He says:
'Oh! you've found the letter?' I declare I thought 'twas your uncle's
“But it was my uncle's voice, of course,” Louise reminded her, much
amused, “Cap'n Amazon Silt is my uncle, too.”
“Humph! I s'pose so. Looks to be. If 'tis him. Anyhow,” pursued the
jerkily speaking Betty Gallup, “I turned 'round when he spoke spectin'
to see Cap'n Abe—for I hadn't read this letter then—and there he
warn't! Instead—of all the lookin' critters! There! you go take a
peek at him and see what you think yourself. I'll put the breakfast on
the table. He's made coffee and the mush is in the double-biler and the
biscuits in the oven are just browning. I reckon he's as handy 'round
the kitchen as Cap'n Abe is. Lots of these old sailors be.”
“Fancy! an uncle who is a pirate!” giggled Louise and she ran
through the living-room and the dividing hall to the door of the store.
First she saw Cap'n Amazon from the rear. The red bandana swathing his
bead, below which was a lank fringe of black hair, was the only bizarre
thing she noticed about her new-found relative. He seemed to have very
quick hearing for almost instantly he swung smartly around to face her.
“Oh!” was expelled from the girl's lips, for she was as startled as
Lawford Tapp and Betty Gallup had been.
Compared with the mild-appearing, heavily whiskered Cap'n Abe, this
brother of the storekeeper was in looks what Betty had pronounced him.
His dark complexion, the long mustache, as black and glossy as a crow's
wing, the gold rings in his ears, with the red handkerchief to top it
all, made Cap'n Amazon Silt as romantic a figure as ever peered out of
a Blackbeard or a Henry Morgan legend.
There were intricate traceries on his forearms in red and blue ink;
beneath the open collar of his shirt the girl gained a glimpse of other
tattooing. There was a faint scar traced along his right jaw, almost
from ear to chin, which added a certain grimness to his expression.
Yet his was not at all a sinister face. His eyes twinkled at her
kindly—almost like Cap'n Abe's eyes—and the huge mustache lifted in a
“Ahoy!” he cried jovially. “So this is my niece, Louise, is it?
Well, to be sure! Abe didn't overpraise you. You be a pretty
The girl dimpled, coming forward to give him her hand. As on the day
before, her hand was lost in a warm, firm clasp, while her uncle
continued to look her over with approval.
“Yes, sir!” he ejaculated. “You look to me like one o' the tidiest
craft I ever clapped eyes on. I don't scarcely see how Abe could go
away and leave you. Dunno's he's got an eye for a pretty woman like me.
Bless you! I been a slave to the women all my life.”
“Yet never married, Uncle Amazon?” she cried roguishly.
“Tell you how 'twas,” he whispered hoarsely, his hand beside his
mouth. “I never could decide betwixt and between 'em. No, sir! They are
all so desir'ble that I couldn't make up my mind. So I stayed single.”
“Perhaps you showed wisdom, Uncle Amazon,” laughed the girl.
“Still—when you grow old——”
“Oh! there's plenty of sailors' snug harbors,” he hastened to say.
“And time enough to worry about that when I be old.”
“I thought——Why! you look younger than Cap'n Abe,” she said.
“Ain't it a fact? He's let himself run to seed and get old lookin'.
That's from stayin' ashore all his life. It's the feel of a heavin'
deck under his feet that keeps the spring in a man's wishbone. Yes,
sir! Abe's all right—good man and all that—but he's no sailor,” Cap'n
Amazon added, shaking his head.
“Now, here!” he went on briskly, “we ought to have breakfast, hadn't
we? I left that woman Abe has pokin' around here, to dish up; and it's
'most six bells. Feel kind of peckish myself, Louise.”
“I'll run to see if the biscuits are done,” said the girl; and she
hurried to the kitchen ahead of him. Betty Gallup was waiting for her.
“What d'ye think of him?” she whispered anxiously.
“Why, he's splendid!” the girl replied scarcely stifling her
laughter. “He's a character!”
“Humph! Mebbe. But even if he is your uncle, I got to say right now
he ain't a man I'd trust. Nothin' a-tall like Cap'n Abe!”
“I think he seems a great deal like Uncle Abram.”
“Humph! How long you knowed Abram Silt? Come here yesterday for the
fust time. Lemme tell you, Miss Grayling, we've knowed Cap'n Abe around
here for twenty year and more. Course, he ain't Cardhaven born; but we
know him. He's as diff'rent from this pirate that calls himself Cap'n
Am'zon Silt as chalk is from cheese.”
The mush was on the table, Louise called Cap'n Amazon from the
store. They sat down to the table just as she had sat opposite to Cap'n
Abe the evening before. She thought, for a moment, that Cap'n Amazon
was going to ask a blessing as her other uncle had. But no, he began
spooning the mush into a rather capacious mouth.
Into the room from the rear strolled Diddimus, the tortoise-shell
cat. Louise tried to attract his attention; but she was comparatively a
stranger to turn. The cat went around to the chair where Cap'n Abe
always sat. He leaped into Cap'n Amazon's lap.
“Well, I never!” said Cap'n Amazon. “Seems quite to home, doesn't
Diddimus, preparing to “make his bed,” looked up with topaz eyes
into the face of the captain. Louise could see the cat actually stiffen
with surprise. Then, with a “p-sst-maow!” he leaped down and ran out of
the room at high speed.
“What—what do you think of that?” gasped Cap'n Amazon. “The cat's
The girl was in a gale of laughter. “Of course he hasn't,” she said.
“He thought you were Cap'n Abe—till he looked into your face. You
can't blame the cat, Uncle Amazon.”
Cap'n Amazon smote his knee a resounding smack of appreciation. “You
got your bearin's correct, Louise, I do believe. I must have surprised
the critter. And Abe set store by him, I've no doubt.”
“Diddimus will get over it,” said the amused Louise.
“There's that bird,” Cap'n Amazon said suddenly, looking around at
the cage hanging in the sunlit window. “What's Abe call him?”
“And he told me to be hi-mighty tender with that canary. Wouldn't
trust nobody else, he said, to feed and water him.” He rose from the
table, leaving his breakfast. “I wonder what Jerry thinks of me?”
He whistled to the bird and thrust a big forefinger between the
wires of the cage. Immediately, with an answering chirp, the canary
hopped along his perch with a queer sidewise motion and, reaching the
finger, sprang upon it with a little flutter of its wings.
“There!” cried Cap'n Amazon, with boyish relief. “He takes to
me all right.”
“That don't show nothin',” said Betty Gallup from the doorway. She
had removed her hat and coat and was revealed now as a woman
approaching seventy, her iron-gray hair twisted into a “bob” so that it
could be completely hidden when she had the hat on her head. “That
don't show nothin',” she repeated grimly.
Cap'n Amazon jerked his head around to look at her, demanding: “Why
don't it, I want to know?”
“'Cause the bird's pretty near stone-blind.”
“Blind!” gasped Louise, pity in her tone.
“It can't be,” murmured the captain, hastily facing the window
“I found that out a year an' more ago,” Betty announced. “Didn't
want to tell Cap'n Abe—he was that foolish about the old bird. Jerry's
used to Cap'n Abe chirping to him and putting his finger 'twixt the
slats of the cage for him to perch on. He just thinks you're Cap'n
She clumped out into the kitchen again in her heavy shoes. Cap'n
Amazon came slowly back to his chair. “Blind!” he repeated. “I want to
know! Both his deadlights out. Too bad! Too bad!”
He did not seem to care for any more breakfast.
Footsteps in the store soon brought the substitute shopkeeper to his
“I s'pose that's somebody come aboard for a yard o' tape, or the
seizings of a pair of shoes,” he growled. “I'd ought to hauled in the
gang-plank when we set down.”
He disappeared into the store and almost at once a shrill feminine
voice greeted him as “Cap'n Abe.” Vastly abused, Louise arose and
softly followed to the store.
“Give me coupla dozen clothespins and a big darnin' needle, Cap'n
Abe. I got my wash ready to hang out and found them pesky young 'uns of
Myra Stout's had got holt o' my pin bag and fouled the pins all up
usin' 'em for markers in their garden. I want—land sakes!
Who—what—— Where's Cap'n Abe?”
“He ain't here just now,” Cap'n Amazon replied. “I'm his brother.
You'll have to pick out the needle you want. I can find and count the
clothespins, I guess. Two dozen, you say?”
“Land sakes! Cap'n Abe gone away? Don't seem possible.”
“There's a hull lot of seemin' impossible things in this world that
come to pass just the same,” the substitute storekeeper made answer,
with some tartness. “Here's the needle drawer. Find what you want,
Louise was frankly spying. She saw that the customer was a lanky
young woman in a sunbonnet. When she dropped the bonnet back upon her
narrow shoulders with an impatient jerk, the better to see the needles,
it was revealed that her thin, light hair was drawn so tightly back
from her face that it actually seemed to make her pop-eyed.
She had a rather pretty pink and white complexion, and aside from
the defect of hairdressing might have been attractive. She possessed a
thin and aquiline nose, however, the nostrils fairly quivering with
eagerness and curiosity.
“Land sakes!” she was saying. “I know Cap'n Abe's been talkin' of
goin' away—the longest spell! But so suddent—'twixt night and mornin'
as ye might say———”
“Exactly,” said Cap'n Amazon dryly, and went on counting the pins
from the box into a paper sack.
“What 'bout the girl that's come here? That movie actress?” asked
the young woman with added sharpness in her tone. “What you going to do
Cap'n Amazon came back to the counter and even his momentary silence
was impressive. He favored the customer with a long stare.
“Course, 'tain't none o' my business. I was just askin'——”
“You made an int'restin' discovery, then, ma'am,” he said. “It
ain't any of your business. Me and my niece'll get along pretty
average well, I shouldn't wonder. Anything else, ma'am? I see the
needle's two cents and the pins two cents a dozen. Six cents in all.”
“Well, I run a book with Cap'n Abe. I ain't got no money with me,”
said the young woman defiantly.
“Le's see; what did you say your name was?” and Cap'n Amazon drew
from the cash drawer a long and evidently fully annotated list of
customers' names, prepared by Cap'n Abe.
“I'm Mandy Baker—she 'twas Mandy Card.”
“Yes. I find you here all right. Your bill o' ladin' seems good.
Good-mornin', ma'am. Call again.”
Mandy Baker looked as though she desired to continue the
conversation. But there was that in Cap'n Amazon's businesslike manner
and speech that impressed Mrs. Baker—as it had Lawford Tapp—that here
was a very different person from the easy-going, benign Cap'n Abe.
Mandy sniffed, jerked her sunbonnet forward, and departed with her
Cap'n Amazon's quick eye caught sight of Louise's amused face in the
“Kind of a sharp craft that,” he observed, watching' Mandy cross the
road. “Reminds me some o' one o' them Block Island double-enders they
built purpose for sword-fishing. When you strike on to a sword-fish you
are likely to want to back water 'bout as often as shove ahead. I
cal'late this here Mandy Baker is some spry in her maneuvers. And I bet
she's got one o' the laziest husbands in this whole town. 'Most always
happens that way,” concluded the captain, who seemed quite as homely
philosophical and observant as his brother.
As a stone thrown into a quiet pool drives circling ripples farther
and farther away from the point of contact, so the news of Cap'n Abe's
secret departure and the appearance of the strange brother in his
place, spread through the neighborhood.
The coming of Louise to the store on the Shell Road had also set the
tongues to clacking. Mandy Baker, who took her husband's rating in
women's eyes at his own valuation, was up in arms. A pretty girl, and
an actress at that!—for until recent years that was a word to be only
whispered in polite society on the Cape—was considered by such as
Mandy to be under suspicion right from the start.
The mystery of Cap'n Amazon, however, quite overtopped the gossip
about Louise. Idlers who seldom dropped into the store before afternoon
came on this day much earlier to have a look at Cap'n Amazon Silt.
Women left their housework at “slack ends” to run over to the store for
something considered suddenly essential to their work. Some of the
clam-diggers lost a tide to obtain an early glimpse of Cap'n Amazon.
Even the children came and peered in at the store door to see that
strange, red-kerchief-topped figure behind Cap'n Abe's counter.
Cap'n Joab Beecher was one of the earliest arrivals. Cap'n Joab had
been as close to Cap'n Abe as anybody in Cardhaven. There had been some
little friction between him and the storekeeper on the previous
evening. Cap'n Joab felt almost as though Cap'n Abe's sudden departure
was a thrust at him.
But when he introduced himself to Cap'n Amazon the latter seized the
caller's hand in a seaman's grip, and said heartily: “I want to know
Cap'n Joab Beecher, of the old Sally Noble. I knowed the bark
well, though I never happened to clap eyes on you, sir. Abe give
me a letter for you. Here 'tis. Said you was a good feller and might
help wise me to things in the store here till I'd l'arned her riggin'
and how to sail her proper.”
Cap'n Joab was frankly pleased by this. He spelled out the note
Cap'n Abe had addressed to him slowly, being without his reading
glasses, and then said:
“I'm yours to command, Cap'n Silt. Land sakes! I s'pose your brother
had a puffict right to go away. He'd talked about goin' enough. Where's
“On a v'y'ge,” said Cap'n Amazon.
“No! Gone to sea?”
“Yes. Sailing to-day—out o' Boston.”
“I want to know! Abe Silt gone to sea! Wouldn't never believed it.
Always 'peared to be afraid of gettin' his paws wet—same's a cat,”
ruminated Cap'n Joab. “What craft's he sailin' in?”
The Boston morning paper lay before Cap'n Amazon, opened at the page
containing the shipping news. His glance dropped to the sailing notices
and with scarcely a moment's hesitancy he said:
“Curlew, Ripley, master, out o' Boston. I knowed of
her—knowed Cap'n Ripley,” and he pointed to the very first line of the
sailing list. “If Abe got there in time he like enough j'ined her
“Shipped before the mast?” exploded Cap'n Joab.
“Well,” Cap'n Amazon returned sensibly, “if you were skipper about
where would you expect a lubber like Abe Silt to fit into your crew?”
“I swanny, that's so!” agreed Cap'n Joab. “But it's goin' to be hard
lines for a man of his years—and no experience.”
Cap'n Amazon sniffed. “I guess he'll get along,” he said, seemingly
less disturbed by his brother's plight than other people. “Three months
of summer sailin' won't do him no harm.”
That he was under fire he evidently felt, and resented it. His
brother's old neighbors and friends desired to know altogether too much
about his business and that of Cap'n Abe. He told Louise before night:
“I tell you what, Abe's got the best of it! If I'd knowed I was
goin' to be picked to pieces by a lot of busybodies the way I be, I'd
never agreed to stay by the ship till Abe got back. No, sir! These
folks around here are the beatenest I ever see.”
Yet Louise noticed that he seemed able to hold his own with the
curious ones. His tongue was quite as nimble as Cap'n Abe's had been.
On the day of her arrival, Lou Grayling had believed she would be
amused at Cardhaven. Ere the second twenty-four hours of her stay were
rounded out, she knew she would be.
CHAPTER VIII. SOMETHING ABOUT SALT
During the day Cap'n Amazon and Amiel Perdue carried Louise's trunks
upstairs and into the storeroom, handy to her own chamber. It seems
Cap'n Amazon had not brought his own sea chest; only a “dunnage bag,”
as he called it.
“But there's plenty of Abe's duds about,” he said; “and we're about
of a size.”
When Louise went to unpack her trunks she found a number of things
in the storeroom more interesting even than her own pretty summer
frocks. There were shells, corals, sea-ivory—curios, such as are
collected by seamen the world over. Cap'n Abe was an indefatigable
gatherer of such wares. There was a green sea chest standing with its
lid wide open, tarred rope handles on its ends, that may have been
around the world a score of times. It was half filled with old books.
All the dusty, musty volumes in the chest seemed to deal with the
sea and sea-going. Many of them, long since out of print and forgotten,
recounted strange and almost unbelievable romances of nautical
life—stories of wrecks, fires, battles with savages and pirates,
discoveries of lone islands and marvelous explorations in lands which,
since the date of publication, have become semi-civilized or altogether
Here were narratives of men who had sailed around the world in tiny
craft like Captain Slocum; stories of seamen who had become chiefs of
cannibal tribes, like the famous Larry O'Brien; several supposedly
veracious narratives of the survivors of the Bounty; stories of Arctic
and Antarctic discovery and privation. There were also several
scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings of nautical wonders—many of
these clipped from New Bedford and Newport papers which at one time
were particularly rich in whalers' yarns.
Interested in skimming these wonderful stories, Lou Grayling spent
most of the afternoon. Here was a fund of entertainment for rainy
days—or wakeful nights, if she chanced to suffer such. She carried one
of the scrapbooks into her bedroom that it might be under her hand if
she desired such amusement.
In arranging her possessions in closet and bureau, she found no time
on this first day at Cap'n Abe's store to stroll even as far as The
Beaches; but the next morning she got up betimes, as soon as Cap'n
Amazon himself was astir, dressed, and ran down and out of the open
back door while her uncle was sweeping the store.
The sun was but then opening a red eye above the horizon. The ocean,
away out to this line demarcating sea and sky, was perfectly flat.
Unlike the previous dawn, this was as clear as a bell's note.
Louise had been wise enough to wear high shoes, so the sands above
high-water mark did not bother her. The waves lapped in softly,
spreading over the dimpling gray beach, their voice reduced to a
Along the crescent of the sands, above on the bluffs, were set the
homes of the summer residents—those whom Gusty Durgin, the waitress at
the hotel, termed “the big bugs.” On the farthest point visible in this
direction was a sprawling, ornate villa with private dock and
boathouses, and a small breakwater behind which floated a fleet of
small craft. Louise heard the “put-put-a-put” of a motor and descried a
swift craft coming from this anchorage.
She saw, by sweeping it with her glance, that not a soul but herself
was on the shore—neither in the direction of the summer colony nor on
the other hand where the beach curved sharply out to the lighthouse at
the end of the Neck. The motor boat was fast approaching the spot where
It being the single moving object on the scene, save the gulls, she
began to watch it. There was but one person in the motor boat. He was
hatless and was dressed in soiled flannels. It was the young man,
Lawford Tapp, of whom Cap'n Abe did not altogether approve.
“He must work for those people over there,” Louise Grayling thought.
“He is nice looking.”
It could not be possible that Lawford Tapp had descried and
recognized the figure of the girl from the Tapp anchorage!
He no longer wore his hip boots. After shutting off his engine, he
guided the sharp prow of the launch right up into the sand and leaped
into shallow water, bringing ashore the bight of the painter to throw
over a stub sunk above high-water mark.
“Good-morning! What do you think of it?” he asked Louise, with a
cordial smile that belonged to him.
“It is lovely!” she said. “Really wonderful! I suppose you have
lived here so long it does not appeal to you as strongly as to the
“I don't know about that. It's the finest place in the world; I
think. There's no prettier shore along the Atlantic coast than The
“Perhaps you are right. I do not know much about the New England
coast,” she confessed. “And that—where the spray dashes up so high,
even on this calm morning?”
“Gull Rocks. The danger spot of all danger spots along the outer
line of the Cape. In rough weather all one can see out there is a
cauldron of foam.”
Before she could express herself again the purr of a swiftly moving
motor car attracted her attention, and she turned to see a low gray
roadster coming toward them from the north. The Shell Road, before
reaching the shore, swerved northward and ran along the bluffs on which
the bungalows and summer cottages were built. These dwellings faced the
smooth white road, the sea being behind them.
As Louise looked the car slowed down and stopped, the engine still
throbbing. A girl was at the wheel. She was perhaps fifteen, without a
hat and with two plaits of yellow hair lying over her slim shoulders.
“Hey, Ford!” she shouted to the young man, “haven't you been up to
Cap'n Abe's yet? Daddy's down at the dock now and he's in a tearing
She gazed upon Lou Grayling frankly but made no sign of greeting.
She did not wait, indeed, for a reply from the young man but threw in
the clutch and the car shot away.
“I've got to go up to the store,” he said. “L'Enfant Terrible is
evidently going to Paulmouth to meet the early train. Must be somebody
Louise looked at him quickly, her expression one of perplexity. She
supposed this child in the car was the daughter of Lawford's employer.
But whoever before heard a fisherman speak just as he did? Had Cap'n
Abe been at home she certainly would have tapped that fount of local
knowledge for information regarding Lawford. He did not look so much
the fisherman type without his jersey and high boots.
“How do you like the old fellow up at the store?” Lawford asked, as
they strolled along together. “Isn't he a curious old bird?”
“You mean my Uncle Amazon?”
“Goodness! He is your uncle, too, isn't he?” and a flush of
embarrassment came into his bronzed cheek. “I had forgotten he was
Cap'n Abe's brother. He is so different!”
“Isn't he?” responded Louise demurely. “He doesn't look anything
like Uncle Abram, at least.”
“I should say not!” ejaculated Lawford. “Do you know, he's an
awfully—er—romantic looking old fellow. Looks just as though he had
stepped out of an old print”
“The frontispiece of a book about buccaneers, for instance?” she
“Well,” and he smiled down upon her from his superior height, “I
wasn't sure you would see it that way.”
“Do you know,” she told him, still laughing, “that Betty Gallup
calls him nothing but 'that old pirate.' She has taken a decided
dislike to him and I have to keep smoothing her ruffled feathers. And,
really, Cap'n Amazon is the nicest man.”
“I bet he's seen some rough times,” Lawford rejoined with vigor. “We
used to think Cap'n Abe told some stretchers about his brother; but
Cap'n Amazon looks as though he had been through all that Cap'n Abe
ever told about—and more.”
“Oh, he's not so very terrible, I assure you,” Louise said, much
“Did you notice the scar along his jaw? Looks like a cutlass stroke
to me. I'd like to know how he came by it. It must have been some
“You will make him out a much more terrible character than he can
“Never mind. If he's anything at all like Cap'n Abe, we'll get it
all out of him. I bet he can tell us some hair-raisers.”
“I tell you he's a nice old man, and I won't have you talk so about
him,” Louise declared. “We must change the subject.”
“We'll talk about you,” said Lawford quickly. “I'm awfully
curious. When does your—er—work begin down here?”
“My work?” Then she understood him and dimpled. “Oh, just now is my
“Making pictures must be interesting.”
“I presume it looks so to the outsider,” she admitted. It amused her
immensely that he should think her a motion picture actress.
“Your coming here and Cap'n Amazon exchanging jobs with his brother
have caused more excitement than Cardhaven and the vicinity have seen
in a decade. Or at least since I have lived here.”
“Oh! Then are you not native to the soil?”
“No, not exactly,” he replied. And then after a moment he added:
“It's a great old place, even in winter.”
“Not dull at all?”
“Never dull,” he reassured her. “Too much going on, on sea and
shore, to ever be dull. Not for me, at least. I love it.”
They reached the store. Louise bade the young man good-morning and
went around to the back door to greet Betty.
Lawford made his purchases in rather serious mood and returned to
his motor boat. His mind was fixed upon the way Louise Grayling had
looked as he stepped ashore and greeted her.
He had been close enough to her now, and for time enough as well, to
be sure that there was nothing artificial about this girl. She was as
natural as a flower—and just as sweet! There was a softness to her
cheek and to the curve of her neck like rich velvet. Her eyes were mild
yet sparkling when she became at all animated. And that demure smile!
And her dimples!
When a young man gets to making an accounting of a girl's charms in
this way, he is far gone indeed. Lawford Tapp was very seriously
He saw his youngest sister, Cicely, whom the family always called
L'Enfant Terrible, speeding back to the villa in the automobile. She
had not gone as far as Paulmouth, after all, and she reached home long
before he docked the launch. Lawford did not pay much attention to what
went on in the big villa. His mother and sisters lived a social life of
their own. He merely slept there, spending most of his days on the
The Salt Water Taffy King was not at the private dock when Lawford
arrived. Mr. Israel Tapp was an irritable and impatient man. He “flew
off the handle” at the slightest provocation. Many times a day he lost
his temper and, as Lawford phlegmatically expressed it, “blew up.”
These exhibitions meant nothing particularly to Mr. Tapp. They were
escape-valves for a nervous irritability that had grown during his
years of idleness. Born of a poor Cape family, but with a dislike for
fish-seines and lobster-pots, he had turned his attention from the
first to the summer visitors, even in his youth beginning to flock to
the old-fashioned ports of the Cape. Catering to their wants was a gold
mine but little worked at that time.
He began to sell candy at one of the more popular resorts. Then he
began to make candy. His Salt Water Taffy became locally famous. He
learned that a good many of the wealthier people who visited the Cape
in summer played all the year around. They went to Atlantic City or to
the Florida beaches in the winter.
So Israel Tapp branched out and established salt water taffy
kitchens all up and down the coast. “I. Tapp, the Salt Water Taffy
King” became a catch-word. It was then but a step to incorporating a
company and establishing huge candy factories. I. Tapp went on by leaps
and bounds. While yet a comparatively young man he found himself a
multi-millionaire. Even a rather expensive family could not spend his
income fast enough.
He built the ornate villa at The Beaches and, like Lawford,
preferred to live there rather than elsewhere. His wife and the older
girls insisted upon having a town house in Boston and in traveling at
certain times to more or less exclusive resorts and to Europe. Their
one ambition was to get into that exclusive social set in which they
felt their money should rightfully place them. But a house on the Back
Bay does not always assure one's entrance to the circles of the “gilded
Mr. Tapp went down to the dock again after a time. Lawford had the
Merry Andrew all ready to set out on the proposed fishing trip. The
sloop was a pretty craft, clinker built, and about the fastest sailing
boat within miles of Cardhaven. Lawford was proud of her.
“So you're back at last, are you?” snapped the Salt Water Taffy
He was a portly little man with a red face and a bald brow. His very
strut pronounced him a self-made man. He glared at his son, whose cool
nonchalance he often declared was impudence.
“I've been waiting some time for you, dad. Hop aboard,” Lawford
“You took your time in getting back here,” responded his father, by
no means mollified. “And you knew I was waiting. But you had to stand
and talk to a girl over there. Cicely says it is that picture actress
who is staying at Cap'n Abe's. Is that so?”
“I presume Cicely is right,” his son answered. “There is no other
here at present to my knowledge.”
“Of all things!” ejaculated Mr. Tapp. “You are always making some
kind of a fool of yourself, Lawford. Don't, for pity's sake, be that
kind of a fool.”
“What do you mean, dad?” and now the young man's eyes flashed. It
was seldom that Lawford turned upon his father in anger.
“You know very well what I mean. Keep away from such women. Don't
get messed up with actor people. I won't have it, I tell you! I am
determined that at least one rich man's son shall not be the
victim of the wiles of any of these stage women.”
The flush remained in Lawford's cheek. It hurt him to hear his
father speak so in referring to Louise Grayling. He, too, possessed
some of the insular prejudice of his kind against those who win their
livelihood in the glare of the theatrical spotlight. This gentle,
well-bred, delightful girl staying at Cap'n Abe's store was a
revelation to him. He held his tongue, however, and held his temper in
check as well.
“I don't see,” stormed I. Tapp, “why you can't take up with a nice
girl and marry. Why, at your age I was married and we had Marian!”
“Don't you think that should discourage me, dad?” Lawford put in.
“Marian is nobody to brag of, I should say.”
“Hah!” ejaculated his father. “She's a fool, too. But there are nice
girls. I was talking to your mother about your case last night. Of
course, I don't want you to say anything to her about what I'm going to
tell you now. She's got the silliest notions,” pursued Mr. Tapp who
labored under the belief that all the wisdom of the ages had lodged
under his own hat. “Expects her daughters to marry dukes and you to
catch a princess or the like.”
“There are no such fish in these waters,” laughed Lawford. “At
least, none has so much as nibbled at my hook.”
“And no nice girl will nibble at it if you don't come ashore once in
a while and get into something besides fisherman's duds.”
“Now, dad, clothes do not make the man.”
“Who told you such a fool thing as that? Some fool philosopher with
only one shirt to his back said it. Bill Johnson proved how wrong that
was to my satisfaction years and years ago. Good old Bill! I wanted to
branch out. We had just that one little candy factory and I worked in
it myself every day.
“I got the idea,” continued I. Tapp, launched on a favorite subject
now, “that my balance sheet and outlook for trade might impress the
bank people. I wanted to build a bigger factory. So I took off my apron
one day and walked over to the bank. I saw the president. He looked
like a fashion plate himself and he swung a pair of dinky glasses on a
cord as he listened to me and looked me over. Then he turned me
“I told Bill about it. Bill was kind of tied up just then himself.
That was before he made his big strike. But he was a different fellow
from me. Bill always looked like ready money.
“'Isra,' he says to me, 'I'll tell you how to get that money from
“'It can't be done, Bill,' I told him. 'The president of the bank
showed me that my business was too weak to stand such spread-eagling.
“'Nonsense!' says Bill. 'It isn't your business, it's your nerve
that you've got to hire money on—and your clothes. You do what I tell
you. Come to my tailor's in the morning.'
“Well, to cut a long story short, I did it. I rigged up to beat that
bank president himself. When he saw me in about two hundred dollars'
worth of good clothes he considered the case again and recommended the
loan to his board. 'You put your facts much more lucidly to-day, Mr.
Tapp,' is the way he expressed himself. But take it from me, Lawford,
it was my clothes that made the impression.
“So!” ruminated Mr. Tapp, “that is one thing Bill Johnson did for
me. And later, as you know, he came into the candy business with me and
his money helped make I. Tapp, the Salt Water Taffy King. Lawford, Bill
is like a brother to me. His girl, Dorothy, is one of the nicest girls
who ever stepped in a slipper.”
“Dorothy Johnson is a really sweet girl, dad,” Lawford agreed. “I
“There!” ejaculated I. Tapp. “You let that liking become something
stronger. Dorothy's just the girl for you to marry.”
“What?” gasped the skipper of the Merry Andrew, almost
losing his grip on the steering wheel.
“You get my meaning,” said his father, scowling. “I've always meant
you should marry Bill's daughter. I had your mother write her last
night inviting her down here. Of course, your mother and the girls
think Bill Johnson's folks are too plain. But I'm boss once in a while
in my own house.”
“And you call mother a matchmaker!”
“I know what I want and I'm going to get it,” said I. Tapp doggedly.
“Dorothy is the girl for you. Don't you get entangled with anybody
else. Not a penny of my money will you ever handle if you don't do as I
say, young man!”
“You needn't holler till you're hit, dad,” Lawford said, trying to
“Oh! I sha'n't holler,” snarled the Taffy King. “I warn you.
One such play as that and I'm through with you. I'm willing to support
an idle, ne'er-do-well; but he sha'n't saddle himself with one of those
theatrical creatures and bring scandal upon the family. Do you know
what I was doing when I was your age? I had a booth at 'Gansett, two at
Newport, a big one at Atlantic City, and was beginning to branch out. I
worked like a dog, too.”
“That's why I think I don't have to work, dad,” said Lawford coolly.
CHAPTER IX. SUSPICION HOVERS
Betty Gallup, clothed as usual in her man's hat and worn pea-coat,
but likewise on this occasion with mystery, seized Louise by the hand
the instant she appeared and drew her into the kitchen, shutting the
door between that and the living-room.
“What is the matter?” the girl asked. “Have you broken something—or
is the canary dead?”
“Sh!” warned Betty, her little brown eyes blinking rapidly. “I heard
something last night.”
“I didn't. I slept like a baby. The night before I heard that old
“I mean,” interrupted Betty, “something was told me.”
“Well, go on.” Louise made up her mind that she could not stem the
tide of talk.
“About your uncle, Cap'n Abe. He—he never was seen to take that
train to Boston. I got it straight, or pretty average straight. Mandy
Baker told me, and Peke Card's wife, Mary Lizbeth, told her, who got it
right from Lute Craven who works in the post-office uptown, and Lute
got it from Noah Coffin. You know, he't drives the ark you come over in
from Paulmouth. Well! Noah was at Paulmouth depot as he always is of
course when the clam train stops at five-thutty-five. He says he didn't
see Cap'n Abe nor nobody that looked like him board that train yest'day
“Why, Betty!” Louise could only gasp. This house-that-Jack-built
narrative quite took her breath away.
“Besides,” went on Betty; “there's more to it. Cap'n Abe's chest was
took back to the depot by Perry Baker when he brought your trunks over,
sure 'nough. And Perry Baker says he shipped that chest to Boston for
your uncle, marked to be called for. It went by express.”
“But—but what of it?” asked the puzzled girl.
“Humph! Stands to reason,” declared Mrs. Gallup, “that Cap'n Abe
wouldn't have done no such foolish thing as that. It costs money to
ship a heavy sea chest by express. He could have took it on his ticket
as baggage, free gratis, for nothin'!”
“I really don't see,” Louise now said rather severely, “that these
facts you state—if they are facts—are any of our business, Betty.
Uncle Abram might have taken the train at some other station. He was
not sure, perhaps, whether he would join the ship Cap'n Amazon
recommended, so why should he not send his chest by express?”
“Cap'n Am'zon! Humph!” sniffed Betty. “Nobody knows whether that's
his name or not. He comes here without a smitch of clo'es, as
near as I can find out.”
Louise was amused; yet she was somewhat vexed as well. The
curiosity, as well as the animosity, displayed by Betty and others of
the neighbors began to appall her. If Cape Cod folk were, as her
daddy-professor had declared, “the salt of the earth,” some of the salt
seemed to have lost its savor.
“We were talking about Cap'n Abe,” said Louise severely. “Just as he
had his own good reasons for going away when and how he did, he
probably had his reasons for taking nobody into his confidence. This
Perry Baker, the expressman, must know that Cap'n Abe sent the trunk
from the house, here.”
“Humph! Yes! Nobody's denyin' that.”
“Then Cap'n Abe must have known exactly what he wished to do. Cap'n
Amazon surely had nothing to do with the chest, with how his brother
took the train, or with where he took it. Really, Betty, what do
you suspect Cap'n Amazon has done?”
“I don't know what he's done,” snapped Betty. “But I wouldn't put
nothin' past him, from his looks. The old pirate!”
“You will make me feel very bad if you continue to talk this way
about my Uncle Amazon,” said the girl, far from feeling amused now. “It
is not right. I hope you will not continue to repeat such things. If
you do you will some time be sorry for it, Betty.”
“Humph!” sniffed the woman. “Mebbe I will. But I'm warnin' you, Miss
“Warning me of what?”
“Of that man. That old sinner! I never see a wickeder looking feller
in my life—and I've sailed with my father and my husband to 'most
ev'ry quarter of the globe. He may be twin brother to the Angel
Gabriel; but if he is, his looks belie it!”
There was nothing in all this of enough consequence to disturb the
girl, only in so far as she was vexed to find the neighbors so gossipy
and unkind. She gazed thoughtfully upon Cap'n Amazon as he sat across
from her at the breakfast table, and wondered how anybody could see in
his bronzed face anything sinister.
That he was rather ridiculously gotten up, it was true. Those gold
earrings! But then, she had seen several of the older men about the
store wearing rings in their ears. If he did not always have that
bright-colored kerchief on his head! But then, he might wear that
because he was susceptible to neuralgia and did not wish to wear a hat
all the time as seemed to have been Cap'n Abe's custom.
When he smiled at her and his eyes crinkled at the corners, he was
as kindly of expression, she thought, as Cap'n Abe himself. And he was
a much better looking man than the brother who had gone away.
“Cap'n Amazon,” she said to him, “I believe you must be just full of
stories of adventure and wonderful happenings by sea and land. Uncle
Abram said you had been everywhere.”
Cap'n Amazon seemed to take a long breath, then cleared his throat,
“I've been pretty nigh everywhere. Seen some funny corners of the
world, too, Louise.”
“You must tell me about your adventures,” she said. “Your brother
told me that you ran away to sea when you were only twelve years old
and sailed on a long whaling voyage.”
“Yep. South Sea Belle. Some old hooker, she was,” said Cap'n
Amazon briskly. “We was out three year and come home with our hold
bustin' with ile, plenty of baleen, some sperm, and a lump of ambergris
as big as a nail keg—or pretty nigh.”
Right then and there he launched into relating how the wondrous find
of ambergris came to be made, neglecting his breakfast to do so. He
told it so vividly that Louise was enthralled. The picture of the
whaling bark beating up to the dead and festering leviathan lying on
the surface of the ocean to which the exploding gases of decomposition
had brought the hulk, lived in her mind for days. The mate of the
South Sea Belle, believing the creature had died of the disease
supposedly caused by the growth of the ambergris in its intestines, had
insisted upon boarding the carcass. Driving away the clamorous and
ravenous sea fowl, he had dug down with his blubber-spade into the
vitals of the whale and recovered the gray, spongy, ill-smelling mass
which was worth so great a sum to the perfumer.
“'Twas a big haul—one o' the biggest lumps o' ambergris ever
brought into the port of New Bedford,” concluded Cap'n Amazon. “Helped
make the owners rich, and the Old Man, too. Course, I got my sheer; but
a boy's sheer on a whaler them days wouldn't buy him no house and lot.
So I went to sea again.”
“You must have been at sea almost all your life, Cap'n Amazon.”
“Pretty nigh. I ain't never lazed around on shore when there was a
berth in a seaworthy craft to be had for the askin'. I let Abe do
that,” he added, in what Louise thought was a rather scornful tone.
“Why, I don't believe Uncle Abram has a lazy bone in his body! See
the nice business he has built up here. And he told me he owned shares
in several vessels and other property.”
“That's true,” Cap'n Amazon agreed promptly. “And a tidy sum in the
Paulmouth National Bank. I got a letter to the bank folks he left to
introduce me, if I needed cash. Yes, Abe's done well enough that way.
But he's the first Silt, I swanny! that ever stayed ashore.”
“And now you are going to remain ashore yourself,” she said,
“I'm going to try it, Louise. I've done my sheer of roaming about.
Mebbe I'll settle down here for good.”
“With Cap'n Abe? Won't that be fine?”
“Yep. With Abe,” he muttered and remained silent for the rest of the
On Saturday the store trade was expected to be larger than usual.
Louise told Cap'n Amazon she would gladly help wait on the customers;
but he would not listen to that for a moment.
“I'm not goin' to have you out there in that store for these folks
to look over and pick to pieces, my girl,” he said decidedly. “You stay
aft and I'll 'tend to things for'ard and handle this crew. Besides,
there's that half-grown lout, Amiel Perdue. Abe said he sometimes
helped around. He knows the ship, alow and aloft, and how the stores is
The morning was still young when Betty came downstairs in hot rage
and attacked Cap'n Amazon. It seemed she had gone up to give the
chambers their usual weekly cleaning, and had found the room in which
the captain slept locked against her. It was Cap'n Abe's room and it
seemed it was Cap'n Abe's custom—as it was Cap'n Amazon's—to make his
own bed and keep his room tidy during the week. But Betty had always
given it a thorough cleaning and changed the bed linen on Saturdays.
“What's that room locked for? I want to know what you mean?” the
woman demanded of Cap'n Amazon. “Think I'm goin' to work in a house
where doors is locked against me? I'm as honest as any Silt that ever
hobbled on two laigs. Nex' thing, I cal'late, you'll be lockin' the
coal shed and countin' the sticks in the woodpile.”
She had much more to say—and said it. It seemed to make her feel
better to do so. Cap'n Amazon looked coolly at her, but did not offer
to take the key out of his trousers' pocket.
“What d'ye mean?” repeated Betty, breathless.
“I mean to keep my cabin locked,” he told her in a perfectly passive
voice, but in a manner that halted her suddenly, angry as she was. “I
don't want no woman messin' with my berth nor with my duds. That door's
no more locked against you than it is against my niece. You do the rest
of your work and don't you worry your soul 'bout my cabin.”
Louise, who was an observant spectator of this contest, expected at
first that Betty would not stand the indignity—that she would resign
from her situation on the spot.
But that hard, compelling stare of Cap'n Amazon seemed to tame her.
And Betty Gallup was a person not easily tamed. She spluttered a little
more, then returned to her work. Though she was sullen all day, she did
not offer to reopen the discussion.
“What a master he must have been on his own quarter-deck,” Louise
thought. “And he must have seen rough times, as that Lawford Tapp
suggested. My! he's not much like Cap'n Abe, after all.”
But with her, Cap'n Amazon was as gentle as her own father. He stood
on his dignity with the customers who came to the store, and with
Betty; but he was most kindly toward Louise in every look and word.
That under his self-contained and stern exterior dwelt a very tender
heart, the girl was sure. For the absent Cap'n Abe he appeared to feel
a strong man's good-natured scorn for a weak one; but Louise saw him
stand often before Jerry's cage, chirping to the bird and playing with
him. And at such times there was moisture in Cap'n Amazon's eye.
“Blind's a bat! Poor little critter!” he would murmur. “All the
sunshine does is to warm him; he can't see it no more. Out-o'-doors
ain't nothin' to him now.”
Nor would he allow anybody but himself to attend to the needs of
poor little Jerry. He had promised Abe, he said. He kept that promise
Diddimus, the cat, was entirely another problem. At first, whenever
he saw Cap'n Amazon approach, he howled and fled. Then, gradually, an
unholy curiosity seemed to enthrall the big tortoise-shell. He would
peer around corners at Cap'n Amazon, stare at him with wide yellow eyes
through open doorways, leap upon the window sill and glower at the
substitute storekeeper—in every way showing his overweening interest
in the man. But he absolutely would not go within arm's reach of him.
“I always did say a cat's a plumb fool,” declared Cap'n Amazon.
“They'll desert ship as soon as wink. Treacherous critters, the hull
tribe. Why, when I was up country in Cuba once, I stopped at a man's
hacienda and he had a tame wildcat—had had it from a kitten. Brought
it up on a bottle himself.
“He thought a heap of that critter, and when he laid in his hammock
under the trees—an' that was most of the time, for them Caribs are as
lazy as the feller under the tree that wished for the cherries to fall
in his mouth!—Yes, sir! when he laid in his hammock that yaller-eyed
demon would lay in it, too, and purr like an ordinary cat.
“But a day come when the man fell asleep and had a nightmare or
something, and kicked out, cracking that cat on the snout with his
heel. Next breath the cat had a chunk out o' his calf and if I hadn't
been there with a gun he'd pretty near have eat the feller!”
The personal touch always entered into Cap'n Amazon's stories. He
had always been on me spot when the thing in point happened—and
usually he was the heroic and central figure. No foolish modesty stayed
his tongue when it came to recounting adventures.
He had all his wits, as well as all his wit, about him, had Cap'n
Amazon. This was shown by an occurrence that very Saturday afternoon.
Milt Baker, like the other neighbors, was becoming familiar, if not
friendly, with the substitute storekeeper and, leaning on the showcase.
“Leave me have a piece of Brown Mule, Cap'n Am'zon. I'm all out o'
chewin'. Put it on the book and Mandy'll pay for it.”
“Avast there!” Cap'n Amazon returned. “Seems to me I got something
in the bill o' ladin' 'bout that,” and he drew forth the long
memorandum Cap'n Abe had made to guide his substitute's treatment of
certain customers. “No,” the substitute storekeeper said, shaking his
head negatively. “Can't do it.”
“Why not, I want to know?” blustered Milt. “I guess my credit's
good.” He already had the Brown Mule in his hand.
“Your wife's credit seems to be good,” Cap'n Amazon returned firmly.
“But here's what I find here: 'Don't trust Milt Baker for Brown Mule
'cause Mandy makes him pay cash for his tobacker and rum. We don't sell
no rum.' That's enough, young man.”
Milt might have tried to argue the case with Cap'n Abe; but not with
Cap'n Amazon. There was something in the steady look of the latter that
caused the shiftless clam digger to dig down into his pocket for the
nickel, pay it over, and walk grumblingly out of the store.
“Does beat all what a fool a woman will be,” commented Cap'n Amazon,
rather enigmatically; only Louise, who heard him, realized fully what
his thought was. Jealous and hard-working Mandy Baker had chosen for
herself a handicap in the marriage game.
CHAPTER X. WHAT LOUISE THINKS
Sunday morning such a hush pervaded the store on the Shell Road, and
brooded over its surroundings, as Lou Grayling had seldom experienced
save in the depths of the wilderness.
She beheld a breeze-swept sea from her window with no fishing boats
going out. There was nobody on the clam flats, although the tide was
just right at dawn. The surfman from the patrol station beyond The
Beaches paced to the end of his beat dressed in his best, like a man
merely taking a Sunday morning stroll.
The people she saw seemed to be changed out of their everyday
selves. Not only were they in Sabbath garb, but they had on their
Sabbath manner. Even to Milt Baker, the men were cleanly shaven and
wore fresh cotton shirts of their wives' laundering.
Cap'n Amazon appeared from his “cabin” when the first church bells
began to ring, arrayed in a much wrinkled but very good suit of “go
ashore” clothes of blue, which were possibly those he had worn when he
arrived at the store on the Shell Road. He wore a hard, glazed hat of
an old-fashioned naval shape and, instead of the usual red bandana, he
wore a black silk handkerchief tied about his head.
Just why he always kept his crown thus swathed, Louise was very
desirous of knowing. Yet she did not feel like asking him such a very
personal question. Had it been Cap'n Abe she would not for a moment
have hesitated. Louise had heard of men being scalped by savages and
she was almost tempted to believe that this had happened to Cap'n
Amazon in one of his wild encounters.
“We'll go to the First Church, Niece Louise,” he said firmly. “Abe
always did. These small-fry craft, like the Mariner's Chapel, are all
right, I don't dispute; but they are lacking in ballast. It's in my
mind to attend the church that's the most like a well-founded, deep-sea
Louise was more impressed than amused by this philosophy. The
captain seemed to have put on his “Sunday face” like everybody else. As
they came out of the yard old Washington Gallup hobbled by, but instead
of stopping to chatter inconsequently, for he was an inveterate gossip,
he saluted the captain respectfully and hobbled on.
Indeed, the captain was a figure on this day to command profound
respect. It is no trick at all for a big man to look dignified and
impressive; but Cap'n Amazon was not a big man. However, in his blue
pilot-cloth suit, cut severely plain, and with his hard black hat on
his head he made a veritable picture of what a master-mariner should
On his quarter-deck, in fair or foul weather, Louise was sure that
he had never lacked the respect of his crew or their confidence. He was
distinctly a man to command—a leader and director by nature. He was,
indeed, different from the seemingly easy-going, gentle-spoken Cap'n
Abe, the storekeeper.
They had scarcely started up the Shell Road when the whir of a
fast-running automobile sounded behind them and the mellow hoot of a
horn. Louise turned to see a great touring car take the curve from the
direction of The Beaches and glide swiftly toward them. Lawford Tapp
was guiding the car.
“Then he's a chauffeur as well as fisherman and boatman,” she
She could not see how he was dressed under the coat he wore; but he
touched his cap to her and Cap'n Amazon as he drove by.
Beside Lawford on the driving seat was a plump little man who seemed
to be violently quarreling with the chauffeur. In the tonneau was a
matronly woman and three girls including “L'Enfant Terrible,” all,
Louise thought, rather overdressed.
“Those folks, so I'm told,” said Cap'n Amazon placidly, “come from
that big house on the p'int—as far as you can see from our windows.
More money than good sense, I guess. Though the man, he comes of good
old Cape stock. But I guess that blood can de-te-ri-orate, as the
feller said. Ain't much of it left in the young folks, pretty likely.
They just laze around and play all the time. If 'All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy,' you can take it from me, Niece Louise, that all
play and no work makes Jill a pretty average useless girl. Yes, sir!”
To the First Church it was quite a walk, up Main Street beyond the
Inn and the post-office. There was some little bustle on Main Street at
church-going time for some of the vacation visitors—those of more
modest pretensions than the occupants of the cottages at The
Beaches—had already arrived.
At the head of the church aisle Cap'n Amazon spoke apologetically to
“Young man, my brother, Mr. Abram Silt, hires a pew here; but I
don't rightly know its bearings. Would you mind showin' me and my niece
They were accommodated. After service several shook hands with them;
but Louise noticed that many cast curious glances at the black silk
handkerchief on Cap'n Amazon's head and did not come near. Despite his
dignity and the reverence of his bearing, he did look peculiar with
that 'kerchief swathing his crown.
Gusty Durgin, the waitress at the Cardhaven Inn, claimed
acquaintanceship after church with Louise.
“There's goin' to be more of your crowd come to-morrow, Miss
Grayling,” she said. “Some of 'em's goin' to stop with us at the Inn.
How you makin' out down there to Cap'n Abe's? Land sakes! that
ain't Cap'n Abe!”
“It is his brother, Cap'n Amazon Silt,” explained Louise.
“I want to know! He looks amazin' funny, don't he? Not much like
Cap'n Abe. You see, my folks live down the Shell Road. My ma married
again. D'rius Vleet. Nice man, but a Dutchman. I don't take up much
with these furiners.
“Now! what was I sayin'? Oh! The boss tells me there's a Mr. Judson
Bane of your crowd goin' to stop with us. Sent a telegraph dispatch for
a room to be saved for him. With bath! Land sakes! ain't the whole
ocean big enough for him to take a bath in? We ain't got nothing like
that. And two ladies—I forget their names. You know Mr. Bane?”.
“I have met him—once,” confessed Louise.
“Some swell he is, I bet,” Gusty declared. “I'm goin' to speak to
him. Mebbe he can get me into the company. I ain't so aw-ful
fat. I seen a picture over to Paulmouth last night where there was a
girl bigger'n I am, and she took a re'l sad part.
“She cried re'l tears. I can do that. All I got to do is to
think of something re'l mis'rable—like the time our old brahma hen,
Beauty, got bit by Esek Coe's dog, and ma had to saw her up. Then the
tears'll squeeze right out, just as ea'sy!”
Louise thought laughter would overcome her “just as easy” despite
the day and place. She knew a hearty burst of laughter in the church
edifice would amaze and shock the lingering congregation.
Seeing that Cap'n Amazon was busy with some men he had met, the girl
walked out to the little vestibule of the church. Here a number of
women and men were discussing various matters—the sermon, the weather,
clamming, boating, and the colony at The Beaches. Two women stood apart
from the others and presently Louise was attracted to them by the sound
of Lawford Tapp's name.
“I dunno who he is exactly, bein' somethin' o' a stranger here,” one
of the women said. “But I was told he was some poor relation who allers
lived among the fisher folk. But he does seem to know how to run thet
autermobile, don't he?”
“I should say!” returned the other woman. “An' he's well spoken,
too—from what I heard him say down to the store.”
“Yes, I know that too. Well, I hope he buys the outfit—Jimmy wants
to sell it bad enough—an' needs the money, believe me!” And thereupon
the two women took their departure.
The conversation hung in Louisa's mind and she looked exceedingly
thoughtful when Cap'n Amazon broke away from those with whom he had
been talking and joined her.
“Nice man, that Reverend Jimson, I guess,” the captain said, as they
wended their way homeward; “but he's got as many ways of holdin' a
feller as an octopus. And lemme tell you, that's a plenty! Arms seem to
grow on devilfish 'while you wait' as the feller said.
“I sha'n't ever forget the time I was a boy in the old Mary
Bedloe brig, out o' Boston, loaded with sundries for Jamaica, to
bring back molasses—and something a leetle mite stronger. That's 'bout
as near as I ever got to having traffic with liquor—and 'twas an
unlucky v'y'ge all the way through.
“Before we ever got the rum aboard,” pursued Cap'n Amazon, “on our
way down there, our water went bad. Yes, sir! Water does get stringy
sometimes on long v'y'ges. It useter on whalin' cruises—get all
stringy and bad; but after she'd worked clear she'd be fit to drink
“But this time in the Mary Bedloe it was something mysterious
happened to the drinking water. Made the hull crew sick. Cap'n Jim
Braman was master. He was a good navigator, but an awful profane man.
Swore without no reason to it.
“Well——Where was I? Oh, yes! We had light airs in the Caribbean
for once, and didn't make no more headway in a day than a brick barge
goin' upstream. We come to an island—something more than a key—and
Cap'n Braman ordered a boat's crew ashore for water. I was in the
second's boat so I went. We found good water easy and the second
officer, who was a nice young chap, let us scour around on our own hook
for fruit and such, after we'd filled the barrels.
“I was all for shellfish them days, and I see some big mussels
attached to the rocks, it bein' low water. Some o' them mussels, when
ye gut 'em same as ye would deep-sea clams, make the nicest fry you
“Wal,” said Cap'n Amazon, walking sedately home from church with his
amused niece on his arm, “I wanted a few of them mussels. There was a
mud bottom and so the water was black. Just as I reached for the first
mussel I felt something creeping around my left leg. I thought it was
eel-grass; then I thought it was an eel.
“Next thing I knowed it took holt like a leech in half a dozen
places. I jumped; but I didn't jump far. There was two o' the things
had me, and that left leg o' mine was fast as a duck's foot in the
“Oh, Uncle Amazon!” gasped Louise.
“Yep. A third arm whipped out o' the water had helt me round the
waist tighter'n any girl of my acquaintance ever lashed her best
feller. Land sakes, that devilfish certainly give me a hi-mighty hug!
“But I had what they call down in the Spanish speakin' islands a
machette—a big knife for cuttin' your way through the jungle. I hauled
that out o' the waistband of my pants and I began slicing at them
snake-like arms of the critter and yelling like all get-out.
“More scare't than hurt, I reckon. I was a young feller, as I tell
you, and hadn't seen so much of the world as I have since,” continued
Cap'n Amazon. “But the arms seemed fairly to grow on that devilfish. I
wasn't hacked loose when the second officer come runnin' with his gun.
I dragged the critter nearer inshore and he got a look at it. Both
barrels went into that devilfish, and that was more than it could
stomach; so it let go,” finished the captain.
“Mercy! what an experience,” commented Louise, wondering rather
vaguely why the minister of the First Church had reminded her uncle of
“Yes. 'Twas some,” agreed Cap'n Amazon. “But let's step along
a little livelier, Niece Louise. I'm goin' to give you a re'l
fisherman's chowder for dinner, an' I want to git the pork and onions
over. I like my onions well browned before I slice in the potaters.”
Cap'n Amazon insisted on doing most of the cooking, just as Cap'n
Abe had. Louise had baked some very delicate pop-overs for breakfast
that morning and the captain ate his share with appreciation.
“Pretty average nice, I call 'em, for soft-fodder,” he observed.
“But, land sakes! give me something hearty and kind of solid for
reg'lar eating. Ordinary man would starve pretty handy, I guess, on
breadstuff like this.”
The chowder was both as hearty and as appetizing as one could
desire. Nor would the captain allow Louise to wash the dishes
“No, girl. I'll clean up this mess. You go out and see how fur you
can walk on that hard beach now it's slack tide. You ain't been up
there to Tapp P'int yit and seen that big house that belongs to the
candy king. Neither have I, of course,” he added; “but they been
tellin' me about it in the store.”
Louise accepted the suggestion and started to walk up the beach; but
she did not get far. There was a private dock running out beyond
low-water mark just below the very first bungalow. She saw several men
coming down the steps from the top of the bluff to the shore and the
bathhouses; a big camera was set up on the sands. This must be
Bozewell's bungalow, she decided; the one engaged by the moving picture
If Judson Bane was to be leading man of the company the picture was
very likely to be an important production; for Bane would not leave the
legitimate stage for any small salary. Seeing no women in the party and
that the men were heading up the beach, Louise went no farther in that
direction, and instead walked out upon the private dock to its end.
It was not until then that she saw, shooting inshore, the swift
launch in which Lawford Tapp had come over in the morning previous. The
wind being off the land she had not heard its exhaust. In three minutes
the launch glided in beside the dock where she stood.
“Come for a sail, Miss Grayling?” he asked her, with his very widest
smile. “I'll take you out around Gull Rocks.”
“Oh! I am not sure——”
“Surely you're not down here to work on Sunday?” and he glanced at
She laughed. “Oh, no, Mr. Tapp. I do not work on Sundays. Uncle
Amazon would not even let me wash the dishes.”
“I should think not,” murmured Lawford with an appreciative glance
at her ungloved hands. “He's a pretty decent old fellow, I guess. Will
you come aboard? She's perfectly safe, Miss Grayling.”
If he had invited her to enter the big touring car he had driven
that morning, to go for a “joy ride,” Louise Grayling would certainly
have refused. To go on a pleasure trip at the invitation of a chauffeur
in his employer's car was quite out of consideration.
But this was somehow different, or so it seemed. She hesitated not
because of who or what he was (or what she believed him to be), but
because she had seen something in his manner and expression of
countenance that warned her he was a young man not to be lightly
In that moment of reflection Louise Grayling, asked herself if she
felt that he possessed a more interesting personality than almost any
man she had ever met socially before. She did so consider him, she told
herself, and so—she stepped aboard the launch.
She did not need his hand to help her to the seat beside him. She
was boatwise. He pushed off, starting his engine; and they were soon
chug-chugging out upon the limitless sea.
CHAPTER XI. THE LEADING MAN
“I saw you with Cap'n Amazon going to church this morning,” Lawford
said. “To the First Church, I presume?”
“Oh, I drove the folks over to Paulmouth. There is an Episcopal
Church there and the girls think it's more fashionable. You don't see
many soft-collared shirts among the Paulmouth Episcopalians.”
There spoke the “native,” Louise thought; and she smiled.
“It scarcely matters, I fancy, which denomination one attends. It is
the spirit in which we worship that counts.”
He gazed upon her seriously. “You're a thoughtful girl, I guess. I
should not have looked for that—in your business.”
“In my business? Oh!”
“We outsiders have an idea that people in the theatrical line are a
peculiar class unto themselves,” Lawford went on.
“But I——” On the point of telling him of his mistake she
hesitated. He was unobservant of her amusement and went on with
“I guess I'm pretty green after all. I don't know much about the
world—your world, at least. I love the sea, and sailing, and all the
seashore has to offer. Sometimes I'm out here alone all day long.”
“But what is it doing for you?” she asked him rather sharply.
“Surely there can be very little in it, when all's said and done. A man
with your intelligence—you have evidently had a good education.”
“I suppose I don't properly appreciate that,” he admitted.
“And to really waste your time like this—loafing longshore, and
sailing boats, and—and driving an automobile. Why! you are a regular
beach comber, Mr. Tapp. It's not much of an outlook for a man I should
She suddenly stopped, realizing that she was showing more interest
than the occasion called for. Lawford was watching her with smoldering
“Don't you think it is a nice way to live?” he asked. “The sea is
really wonderful. I have learned more about sea and shore already than
you can find in all the books. Do you know where the gulls nest, and
how they hatch their young? Did you ever watch a starfish feeding? Do
you know what part of the shellfish is the scallop of commerce? Do you
know that every seventh wave is almost sure to be larger than its
fellows? Do you——”
“Oh, it may be very delightful,” Louise interrupted this flow of
badly catalogued information to say. He expressed exactly her own
desires. Nothing could be pleasanter than spending the time, day after
day, learning things “at first hand” about nature. For her father—and
of course for her—to do this was quite proper, Louise thought. But not
for this young fisherman, who should be making his way in the world.
“Where is it getting you?” she demanded.
“Yes,” she declared with vigor, yet coloring a little. “A man should
“But I'm not idle.”
“He should work to get ahead—to save—to make something of
himself—to establish himself in life—to have a home.”
He smiled then and likewise colored. “I—I———A man can't do that
alone. Especially the home-making part.”
“You don't suppose any of these girls about here—the nice girls, I
mean—want a man who is not a home provider?”
He laughed outright then. “Some of them get that kind, I fear, Miss
Grayling. Mandy Card, for instance.”
“Are you planning to be another Milt Baker?” she responded with
“Oh, now, you're hard on a fellow,” he complained. “I'm always busy.
And, fixed as I am, I don't see why I should grub and moil at
Louise shrugged her shoulders and made a gesture of finality. “You
are impossible, I fear,” she said and put aside—not without a secret
pang—her interest in Lawford Tapp, an interest which had been
developing since she first met the young man.
He allowed the subject to lapse and began telling her about the
ledges on which the rock cod and tautog schooled; where bluefish might
be caught on the line, and snappers in the channels going into the
“Good sport. I must take you out in the Merry Andrew,” he
said. “She's a peach of a sailer—and my very own.”
“Oh! do you own the sloop, Mr. Tapp?”
“I guess I do! And no money could buy her,” he cried with boyish
enthusiasm. “She's the best lap-streak boat anywhere along the Cape.
“I love sailing,” she confessed, with brightening visage.
“Say! You just set the day—so it won't conflict with your work—and
I'll take you out,” he declared eagerly,
“But won't it conflict with your duties?”
“Humph!” he returned. “I thought your idea was that I didn't have
any duties. However,” and he smiled again, “you need not worry about
that. When you want to go I will arrange everything so that I'll have a
“But not alone, Mr. Tapp?”
“No,” he agreed gravely. “I suppose that wouldn't do. But we can
rake up a chaperon somewhere.”
“Oh, yes!” and Louise dimpled again. “We'll take Betty Gallup along.
She's an able seaman, too.”
“I bet she is!” ejaculated Lawford with emphasis.
He handled the boat with excellent judgment, and his confidence
caused Louise to see no peril when they ran almost on the edge of the
maelstrom over Gull Rocks. “I know this coast by heart,” he said. “I
believe there's not one of them sailing out of the Haven who is a
better pilot than I am. At least, I've learned that outside of
textbooks,” and he smiled at her.
Louise wondered how good an education this scion of a Cape Cod
family really had secured. The longer she was in his company the more
she was amazed by his language and manners. She noted, too, that he was
much better dressed to-day. His flannels were not new; indeed they were
rather shabby. But the garments' original cost must have been
prohibitive for a young man in his supposed position. Very likely,
however, they had been given him, second-hand, by some member of the
family for which he worked.
The more she saw of him, and the more she thought about it, the
greater was Louise's disappointment in Lawford Tapp. She was not
exactly sorry she had come out with him in the motor boat; but her
feeling toward him was distinctly different when she landed, from that
which had been roused in her first acquaintance.
It was true he was not an idle young man—not exactly. But he
betrayed an ability and a training that should already have raised him
above his present situation in the social scale, as Louise understood
it. She was disappointed, and although she bade Lawford Tapp good-bye
pleasantly she was secretly unhappy.
The next morning she chanced to need several little things that were
not to be found in Cap'n Abe's store and she went uptown in quest of
them. At midday she was still thus engaged, so she went to the Inn for
Gusty Durgin spied her as she entered and found a small table for
Louise where she would be alone. A fat woman whom Gusty mentioned as
“the boss's sister, Sara Ann Whipple,” helped wait upon the guests.
Several of the business men of the town, as well as the guests of the
Inn, took their dinners there.
To one man, sitting alone at a table not far distant, Louise saw
that Gusty was particularly attentive. He was typically a city man; one
could not for a moment mistake him for a product of the Cape.
He was either a young-old or an old-young looking man, his hair
graying at the temples, but very luxuriant and worn rather long. A
bright complexion and beautifully kept teeth and hands marked him as
one more than usually careful of his personal appearance. Indeed, his
character seemed to border on that of the exquisite.
His countenance was without doubt attractive, for it was intelligent
and expressed a quiet humor that seemed to have much kindliness mixed
with it. His treatment of the unsophisticated Gusty, who hovered about
him with open admiration, held just that quality of good-natured
tolerance which did not offend the waitress but that showed discerning
persons that he considered her only in the light of an artless child.
“D'you know who that is?” Gusty whispered to Louise when she found
time to do so. The plump girl was vastly excited; her hands shook as
she set down the dishes. “That's Mr. Judson Bane.”
“Yes. I chanced to meet Mr. Bane once, as I told you,” smiled
Louise, keeping up the illusion of her own connection with the fringe
of the theatrical world.
“And Miss Louder and Miss Noyes have come. My, you ought to see
them!” said the emphatic waitress. “They've got one o' them
flivvers. Some gen'leman friend of Miss Noyes' lent it to 'em. They're
out now hunting what they call a garridge for it. That's a fancy name
for a barn, I guess. And dressed!” gasped Gusty finally. “They're
dressed to kill!”
“We shall have lively times around Cardhaven now, sha'n't we?”
Louise commented demurely.
“We almost always do in summer,” Gusty agreed with a sigh. “Last
summer an Italian lost his trick bear in the pine woods 'twixt here and
Paulmouth and the young 'uns didn't darest to go out of the houses for
a week. Poor critter! When they got him he was fair foundered eating
green cranberries in the bogs.”
“Something doing,” no matter what, was Gusty's idea of life as it
should be. Louise finished her meal and went out of the dining-room. In
the hall her mesh bag caught in the latch of the screen door and
dropped to the floor. Somebody was right at hand to pick it up for her.
“Allow me.” said a deep and cultivated voice. “Extremely annoying.”
It was Mr. Bane, hat in hand. He restored the bag, and as Louise
quietly thanked him they walked out of the Inn together. Louise was
returning to Cap'n Abe's store, and she turned in that direction before
she saw that Mr. Bane was bound down the hill, too.
“I fancy we are fellow-outcasts,” he said. “You, too, are a visitor
to this delightfully quaint place?”
“Yes, Mr. Bane,” she returned frankly. “Though I can claim
relationship to some of these Cardhaven folk. My mother came from the
“Indeed? It is not such a far cry to Broadway from any point of the
compass, after all, is it?” and he smiled engagingly down at her.
“You evidently do not remember me, Mr. Bane?” she said, returning
his smile. “Aboard the Anders Liner, coming up from Jamaica, two years
ago this last winter? Professor Ernest Grayling is my father.”
“Indeed!” he exclaimed. “You are Miss Grayling? I remember you and
your father clearly. Fancy meeting you here!” and Mr. Bane insisted on
taking her hand. “And how is the professor? No need to ask after your
health, Miss Grayling.”
As they walked on together Louise took more careful note of the
actor. He had the full habit of a well-fed man, but was not gross. He
was athletic, indeed, and his head was poised splendidly on broad
shoulders. Louise saw that his face was massaged until it was as pink
and soft as a baby's, without a line of close shaving to be detected.
The network of fine wrinkles at the outer corners of his eyes was
scarcely distinguishable. That there was a faint dust of powder upon
his face she noted, too.
Judson Bane was far, however, from giving the impression of
effeminacy. Quite the contrary. He looked able to do heroic things in
real life as well as in the drama. And as their walk and conversation
developed, Louise Grayling found the actor to be an interesting person.
He spoke well and without bombast upon any subject she ventured on.
His vocabulary was good and his speaking voice one of the most pleasing
she had ever heard.
So interested was Louise in what Mr. Bane said that she scarcely
noticed Lawford Tapp who passed and bowed to her, only inclining her
head in return. Therefore she did not catch the expression on Lawford's
“A fine-looking young fisherman,” observed Mr. Bane patronizingly.
“Yes. Some of them are good-looking and more intelligent than you
would believe,” Louise rejoined carelessly. She had put Lawford Tapp
aside as inconsequential.
CHAPTER XII. THE DESCENT OF AUNT
It was mid forenoon the following day, and quite a week after Louise
Grayling's arrival at Cap'n Abe's store on the Shell Road, that the
stage was set for a most surprising climax.
The spirit of gloom still hovered over Betty Gallup in the rear
premises where she was sweeping and dusting and scrubbing. Her idea of
cleanliness indoors was about the same as that of a smart skipper of an
old-time clipper ship.
“If that woman ain't holystonin' the deck ev'ry day she thinks we're
wadin' in dirt, boot-laig high,” growled Cap'n Amazon.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness!” quoted Louise, who was in the
store at the moment.
“Land sakes!” ejaculated the captain. “It's next door to a lot of
other things, seems like, too. I shouldn't say that Bet Gallup was
spillin' over with piety.”
Louise, laughing softly, went to the door. There was a cloud of dust
up the road and ahead of it came a small automobile. Cap'n Amazon was
singing, in a rather cracked voice:
“'The Boundin' Biller, Captain Hanks,
She was hove flat down on the Western Banks;———”
With a saucy blast of its horn the automobile flashed past the
store. There were two young women in it, one driving. Louise felt sure
they were Miss Louder and Miss Noyes, mentioned by Gusty Durgin the day
before, and their frocks and hats were all that their names suggested.
“Them contraptions,” Cap'n Amazon broke off in his ditty to say, “go
past so swift that you can't tell rightly whether they got anybody to
the helm or not. Land sakes, here comes another! They're getting as
common as sandfleas on Horseneck Bar, and Washy Gallup says that's
He did not need to come to the door to make this discovery of the
approach of the second machine. There sounded another blast from an
auto horn and a considerable racket of clashing gears.
“Land sakes!” Cap'n Amazon added. “Is it going to heave to here?”
Louise had already entered the living-room, bound for her chamber to
see if, by chance, Betty had finished dusting there. She did not hear
the second automobile stop nor the cheerful voice of its gawky driver
as he said to his fare:
“This is the place, ma'am. This is Cap'n Abe's.”
His was the only car in public service at the Paulmouth railroad
station and Willy Peebles seldom had a fare to Cardhaven. Noah Coffin's
ark was good enough for most Cardhaven folk if they did not own
equipages of their own.
When Willy reached around and snapped open the door of the covered
car a lady stepped out and, like a Newfoundland after a plunge into the
sea, shook herself. The car was a cramped vehicle and the ride had been
dusty. Her clothing was plentifully powdered; but her face was not.
That was heated, perspiring, and expressed a mixture of indignation and
“Are you sure this is the place, young man?” she demanded.
“This is Cap'n Abe Silt's,” repeated Willy.
“Why—it doesn't look———”
“Want your suitcase, ma'am?” asked Willy.
“Wait. I am not sure. I—I must see if I——. I may not stay. Wait,”
she repeated, still staring about the neighborhood.
As a usual thing, she was not a person given to uncertainty, in
either manner or speech. Her somewhat haughty glance, her high-arched
nose, her thin lips, all showed decision and a scorn of other people's
opinions and wishes. But at this moment she was plainly nonplused.
“There—there doesn't seem to be anybody about,” she faltered.
“Oh, go right into the store, ma'am. Cap'n Abe's somewheres around.
He always is.”
Thus encouraged by the driver the woman stalked up the store steps.
She was not a ponderous woman, but she was tall and carried
considerable flesh. She could carry this well, however, and did. Her
traveling dress and hat were just fashionable enough to be in the mode,
but in no extreme. This well-bred, haughty, but perspiring woman
approached the entrance to Cap'n Abe's store in a spirit of frank
On the threshold she halted with an audible gasp, indicating
amazement. Her glance swept the interior of the store with its strange
conglomeration of goods for sale—on the shelves the rows of glowingly
labeled canned goods, the blue papers of macaroni, the little green
cartons of fishhooks; the clothing hanging in groves, the rows and rows
of red mittens; tiers of kegs of red lead, barrels of flour, boxes of
hardtack; hanks of tarred ground-line, coils of several sizes of
cordage, with a small kedge anchor here and there. It was not so much a
store as it was a warehouse displaying many articles the names and uses
for which the lady did not even know.
The wondrous array of goods in Cap'n Abe's store did not so much
startle the visitor, as the figure that rose from behind the counter,
where he was stooping at some task.
She might be excused her sudden cry, for Cap'n Amazon was an
apparition to shock any nervous person. The bandana he wore seemed, if
possible, redder than usual this morning; his earrings glistened; his
long mustache seemed blacker and glossier than ever. As he leaned
characteristically upon the counter, his sleeves rolled to his elbows,
the throat-latch of his shirt open, he did not give one impression of a
peaceful storekeeper, to say the least.
“Mornin', ma'am,” said Cap'n Amazon, not at all embarrassed. “What
can I do for you, ma'am?”
“You—you are not Captain Silt?” the visitor almost whispered in her
“Yes, ma'am; I am.”
“Captain Abram Silt?”
“No, ma'am; I ain't. I'm Cap'n Am'zon, his brother. What can I do
for you?” he repeated. The explanation of his identity may have been
becoming tedious; at least, Cap'n Amazon gave it grimly.
“Is—is my niece, Louise Grayling, here?” queried the lady, her
voice actually trembling, her gaze glued to the figure behind the
“'Hem!” said the captain, clearing his throat. “Who did you say you
“I did not say,” the visitor answered stiffly enough now. “I asked
you a question.”
“Likely—likely,” agreed Cap'n Amazon. “But you intimated that you
was the a'nt of a party by the name of Grayling. I happen to be her
uncle myself. Her mother was my ha'f-sister. I don't remember—jest
who'd you say you was, ma'am?”
“I am her father's own sister,” cried the lady in desperation.
“Oh, yes! I see!” murmured Cap'n Amazon. “Then you must be her A'nt
'Phemie. I've heard Louise speak of you. Tubbesure!”
“I am Mrs. Conroth,” said Mrs. Euphemia Conroth haughtily.
“Happy to make your acquaintance,” said Cap'n Amazon, bobbing his
head and putting forth his big hand. Mrs. Conroth scorned the hand,
raised her lorgnette and stared at the old mariner as though he were
some curious specimen from the sea that she had never observed before.
Cap'n Amazon smiled whimsically and looked down at his stained and
“I see you're nigh-sighted, ma'am. Some of us git that way as we
grow older. I never have been bothered with short eyesight myself.”
“I wish to see my niece at once,” Mrs. Conroth said, flushing a
little at his suggestion of her advancing years.
“Come right in,” he said, lifting the flap in the counter.
Mrs. Conroth glared around the store through her glass. “Cannot
Louise come here?” She asked helplessly.
“We live back o' the shop—and overhead,” explained Cap'n Amazon.
“Come right in, I'll have Betty Gallup call Louise.”
Bristling her indignation like a porcupine its quills, the majestic
woman followed the spry figure of the captain. Her first glance over
the old-fashioned, homelike room elicited a pronounced sniff.
“Catarrh, ma'am?” suggested the perfectly composed Cap'n Amazon.
“This strong salt air ought to do it a world of good. I've known a sea
v'y'ge to cure the hardest cases. They tell me lots of 'em come down
here to the Cape afflicted that way and go home cured.”
Mrs. Conroth stared with growing comprehension at Cap'n Amazon. It
began to percolate into her brain that possibly this strange-looking
seaman possessed qualities of apprehension for which she had not given
“Sit down, ma'am,” said Cap'n Amazon hospitably. “Abe ain't here,
but I cal'late he'd want me to do the honors, and assure you that you
are welcome. He always figgers on having a spare berth for anybody that
boards us, as well as a seat at the table.
“Betty,” he added, turning to the amazed Mrs. Gallup, just then
appearing at the living-room door, “tell Louise her A'nt 'Phemie is
here, will you?”
“Say Mrs. Conroth, woman,” corrected the lady tartly.
Betty scowled and went away, muttering: “Who's a 'woman,' I want to
know? I ain't one no more'n she is,” and it can be set down in
the log that the “able seaman” began by being no friend of Aunt
It was with a sinking at her heart that Louise heard of her aunt's
arrival. She had written to her Aunt Euphemia before leaving New York
that she had decided to try Cape Cod for the summer and would go to her
mother's relative, Captain Abram Silt. Again, on reaching the store on
the Shell Road, she had dutifully written a second letter announcing
She had known perfectly well that some time she would have to “pay
the piper.” Aunt Euphemia would never overlook such a thing. Louise was
sure of that. But the idea that the Poughkeepsie lady would follow her
to Cardhaven never for a moment entered Louise's thought.
She had put off this reckoning until the fall—until the return of
daddy-professor. But here Aunt Euphemia had descended upon her as
unexpectedly as the Day of Wrath spoken of in Holy Writ.
As she came down the stairs she heard her uncle's voice in the
living-room. Something had started him upon a tale of adventure above
and beyond the usual run of his narrative.
“Yes, ma'am,” he was saying, “them that go down to the sea in
ships, as the Good Book says, sartain sure meet with hair-raisin'
experiences. You jumped then, ma'am, when old Jerry let out a peep. He
was just tryin' his voice I make no doubt. Ain't sung for months they
say. I didn't know why till I—I found out t'other day he was
“Some thinks birds don't know nothing, or ain't much account in this
man-world——But, as I was sayin', I lay another course. I'll never
forget one v'y'ge I made on the brigantine Hermione. That was
'fore the day of steam-winches and we carried a big crew—thirty-two
men for'ard and a big after-guard.
“Well, ma'am! Whilst she was hove down in a blow off the Horn an
albatross came aboard. You know what they be—the one bird in all the
seven seas that don't us'ally need a dry spot for the sole of his foot.
If Noah had sent out one from the ark he'd never have come back with
any sprig of promise for the land-hungry wanderers shut up in that
“'Tis bad luck they do say to kill an albatross. Some sailors claim
ev'ry one o' them is inhabited by a lost soul. I ain't superstitious
myself. I'm only telling you what happened.
“Dunno why that bird boarded us. Mebbe he was hurt some way. Mebbe
'twas fate. But he swooped right inboard, his wing brushing the men at
the wheel. Almost knocked one o' them down. He was a Portugee man named
Tony Spadello and he had a re'l quick temper.
“Tony had his knife out in a flash and jumped for the creature. The
other steersman yelled (one man couldn't rightly hold the wheel alone,
the sea was kicking up such a bobberation) but Tony's one slash was
enough. The albatross tumbled right down on the deck, a great cut in
its throat. It bled like a dog shark, cluttering up the deck.”
“Horrid!” murmured Mrs. Conroth with a shudder of disgust.
“Yes—the poor critter!” agreed Cap'n Amazon. “I never like to see
innocent, dumb brutes killed. Cap'n Hicks—he was a young man in them
days, and boastful—cursed the mess it made, yanked off the bird's
head, so's to have the beautiful pink beak of it made into the head of
a walking-stick, and ordered Tony to throw the carcass overboard and
clean up the deck. I went to the wheel in his stead, with Jim Ledward.
Jim says to me: 'Am'zon, that bird'll foller us. Can't git rid of it so
easy as that.'
“I thought he was crazy,” went on Cap'n Amazon, shaking his head. “I
wasn't projectin' much about superstitions. No, ma'am! We had all we
could do—the two of us—handlin' the wheel with them old graybacks
huntin' us. Them old he waves hunt in droves mostly, and when one did
board us we couldn't scarce get clear of the wash of it before another
would rise right up over our rail and fill the waist, or mebbe sweep
ev'rything clean from starn to bowsprit.
“It was sundown (only we hadn't seen no sun in a week) when that
albatross was killed and hove overboard. At four bells of the mornin'
watch one o' them big waves come inboard. It washed everything that
wasn't lashed into the scuppers and took one of our smartest men
overboard with it. But there, floatin' in the wash it left behind, was
the dead albatross!”
“Oh, how terrible!” murmured Mrs. Conroth, watching Cap'n Amazon
much as a charmed bird is said to watch a snake.
“Yes, ma'am; tough to lose a shipmate like that, I agree. But that
was only the beginning. Cap'n Hicks pitched the thing overboard
himself. Couldn't ha' got one of the men, mebbe, to touch it. Jim
Ledward says: 'Skipper, ye make nothin' by that. It's too late. Bad
luck's boarded us.'
“And sure 'nough it had,” sighed Cap'n Amazon, as though reflecting.
“You never did see such a time as we had in gettin' round the Cape. And
we got it good in the roarin' forties, too—hail, sleet, snow, rain,
and lightnin' all mixed, and the sea a reg'lar hell's broth all the
“I beg of you, sir,” breathed the lady, shuddering again. Cap'n
Amazon, enthralled by his own narrative, steamed ahead without noticing
her shocked expression.
“One hurricane on top of another—that's what we got. We lost four
men overboard, includin' the third officer, one time and another. I was
knocked down myself and got a broken arm—had it in a sling nine weeks.
We got fever in a port that hadn't had such an epidemic in six months,
and seven of the crew had to be took ashore.
“Bad luck dogged us and the ship. Only, it never touched the skipper
or Tony Spadello—the only two that had handled the albatross. That is,
not as far as I know. Last time I see Cappy Hicks he was carryin' his
cane with the albatross beak for a handle; and Tony Spadello has made a
barrel of money keeping shop on the Bedford docks.
“But birds have an influence in the world, I take it, like other
folks. You wouldn't think, ma'am, how much store my brother Abe sets by
old Jerry yonder.”
Aunt Euphemia jumped up with an exclamation of relief. “Louise!” she
uttered as she saw the girl, amusement in her eyes, standing in the
CHAPTER XIII. WASHY GALLUP'S
“I do not see how you can endure it, Louise! He is impossible—quite
impossible! I never knew your tastes were low!”
Critical to the tips of her trembling fingers, Aunt Euphemia sat
stiffly upright in Louise's bedroom rocking chair and uttered this
harsh reflection upon her niece's good taste. Louise never remembered
having seen her aunt so angry before. But she was provoked herself, and
her determination to go her own way and spend her summer as she chose
stiffened under the lash of the lady's criticism.
“What will our friends think of you?” demanded Mrs. Conroth. “I am
horrified to have them know you ever remained overnight in such a
place. There are the Perritons. They were on the train with me coming
down from Boston. They are opening their house here at what they call
The Beaches—one of the most exclusive colonies on the coast, I
understand. They insisted upon my coming there at once, and I have
promised to bring you with me.”
“You have promised more than you can perform. Aunt Euphemia,” Louise
replied shortly. “I will remain here.”
“I will remain here with Cap'n Amazon. And with Uncle Abram when he
returns. They are both dear old men——”
“That awful looking pirate!” gasped Mrs. Conroth.
“You do not know him,” returned the girl. “You do not know how
worthy and now kind he is.”
“You have only known him a week yourself,” remarked Aunt Euphemia.
“What can a young girl like you know about these awful
creatures—fishermen, sailors, and the like? How can you judge?”
Louise laughed. “Why, Auntie, you know I have seen much of the world
and many more people than you have. And if I have not learned to judge
those I meet by this time I shall never learn, though I grow to be as
old as”—she came near saying “as you are,” but substituted
instead—“as Mrs. Methuselah. I shall remain here. I would not insult
Cap'n Amazon or Cap'n Abe, by leaving abruptly and going with you to
the Perritons' bungalow.”
“But what shall I say to them?” wailed Aunt Euphemia.
“What have you already said?”
“I said I expected you were waiting for me at Cardhaven. I would not
come over from Paulmouth in their car, but hurried on ahead. I wished
to save you the disgrace—yes, disgrace!—of being found here in
this—this country store. Ugh!” She shuddered again.
“I am determined that they shall not know your poor, dear father
unfortunately married beneath him.”
“Aunt Euphemia!” exclaimed Louise, her gray eyes flashing now.
“Don't say that. It offends me. Daddy-prof never considered my mother
or her people beneath his own station.”
“Your father, Louise, is a fool!” was the lady's tart reply.
“As he is your brother as well as my father,” Louise told her
coldly, “I presume you feel you have a right to call him what you
please. But I assure you, Aunt Euphemia, it does not please me to hear
you do so.”
“You are a very obstinate girl!”
“That attribute of my character I fancy I inherit from
daddy-professor's side of the family,” the girl returned bluntly.
“I shall be shamed to death! I must accept the Perritons'
invitation. I already have accepted it. They will think you a very
queer girl, to say the least.”
“I am,” her niece told her, the gray eyes smiling again, for Louise
was soon over her wrath. “Even daddy-prof says that.”
“Because of his taking you all over the world with him as he did. I
only wonder he did not insist upon your going on this present horrid
“No. I have begun to like my comfort too well,” and now Louise
laughed outright. “A mark of oncoming age, perhaps.”
“You are a most unpleasant young woman, Louise.”
Louise thought she might return the compliment with the exchange of
but a single word; but she was too respectful to do so.
“I am determined to remain here,” she repeated, “so you may as well
take it cheerfully, auntie. If you intend staying with the Perritons
any length of time, of course I shall see you often, and meet them. I
haven't come down here to the Cape to play the hermit, I assure you.
But I am settled here with Cap'n Amazon, and I am comfortable. So, why
should I make any change?”
“But in this common house! With that awful looking old sailor! And
the way he talks! The rough adventures he has experienced—and the way
he relates them!”
“Why, I think he is charming. And his stories are jolly fun. He
tells the most thrilling and interesting things! I have before heard
people tell about queer corners of the world—and been in some of them
myself. Only the romance seems all squeezed out of such places
nowadays. But when Cap'n Amazon was young!” she sighed.
“You should hear him tell of having once been wrecked on an island
in the South Seas where there were only women left of the tribe
inhabiting it, the men all having been killed in battle by a
neighboring tribe. The poor sailors did not know whether those
copper-colored Eves would decide to kill and eat them, or merely marry
“Louise!” Aunt Euphemia rose and fairly glared at her niece. “You
show distinctly that association with these horrid people down here has
already contaminated your mind. You are positively vulgar!”
She sailed out of the room, descended the stairs, and “beat up"
through the living-room and store, as Betty Gallup said “with ev'ry
stitch of canvas drawin' and a bone in her teeth.” Louise agreed about
the “bone”—she had given her Aunt Euphemia a hard one to gnaw on.
The girl followed Mrs. Conroth to the automobile and helped her in.
Cap'n Amazon came to the store door as politely as though he were
seeing an honored guest over the ship's side.
“Ask your A'nt 'Phemie to come again. Too bad she ain't satisfied to
jine us here. Plenty o' cabin room. But if she's aimin' to anchor near
by she'll be runnin' in frequent I cal'late. Good-day to ye, ma'am!”
Aunt Euphemia did not seem even to see him. She was also afflicted
with sudden deafness.
“Louise! I shall never forget this—never!” she declared haughtily,
as Willy Peebles started the car and it rumbled on down the Shell Road.
Unable to face Cap'n Amazon just then for several reasons, Louise
did not re-enter the store but strolled down to the sands. There was a
skiff drawn up above high-water mark and the hoop-backed figure of
Washy Gallup sat in it. He was mending a net. He nodded with
friendliness to Louise, his jaw working from side to side like a cow
chewing her cud—and for the same reason. Washy had no upper teeth
“How be you this fine day, miss?” the old fellow asked sociably.
“It's enough to put new marrer in old bones, this weather. Cold weather
lays me up same's any old hulk. An' I been used to work, I have, all my
life. Warn't none of 'em any better'n me in my day.”
“You have done your share, I am sure, Mr. Gallup,” the girl said,
smiling cheerfully down upon him. “Yours is the time for rest.”
“Rest? How you talk!” exclaimed Washy. “A man ought to be able to
aim his own pollock and potaters, or else he might's well give up the
ship. I tell 'em if I was only back in my young days where I could do a
full day's work, I'd be satisfied.”
Louise had turned up a fiddler with the toe of her boot. As the
creature scurried for sanctuary, Washy observed:
“Them's curious critters. All crabs is.”
“I think they are curious,” Louise agreed. “Like a cross-eyed man.
Look one way and run another.”
“Surely—surely. Talk about a curiosity—the curiousest-osity I ever
see was a crab they have in Japanese waters; big around's a clam-bucket
and dangling gre't long laigs to it like a sea-going giraffe.”'
Louise was thankful for this opportunity for laughter, for that
“curiousest-osity” was too much for her sense of the ludicrous.
Like almost every other man of any age that Louise had met about
Cardhaven—save Cap'n Abe himself—Washy had spent a good share of his
life in deep-bottomed craft. But he had never risen higher than petty
“Some men's born to serve afore the mast—or how'd we git sailors?”
observed the old fellow, with all the philosophy of the unambitious
man. “Others get into the afterguard with one, two, three, and a jump!”
His trembling fingers knotted the twine dexterously. “Now, there's your
“Uncle Amazon?” asked Louise.
“No, miss. Cap'n Abe, I mean. This here Am'zon Silt, 'tis plain to
be seen, has got more salt water than blood in his veins. Cap'n
Abe's a nice feller—not much again him here where he's lived and kep'
store for twenty-odd year. 'Ceptin' his yarnin' 'bout his brother all
the time. But from the look of Cap'n Am'zon I wouldn't put past him
anything that Cap'n Abe says he's done—and more.
“But Abe himself, now, I'd never believed would trust himself on
“Yet,” cried Louise, “he's shipped on a sailing vessel, Uncle Amazon
says. He's gone for a voyage.”
“Ye-as. But has he?” Washy retorted, his head on one side and
his rheumy old eyes looking up at her as sly as a ferret's.
“What do you mean?”
“We none of us—none of the neighbors, I mean—seen him go. As fur's
we know he didn't go away at all. We're only taking his brother's word
“Why, Mr. Gallup! You're quite as bad as Betty. One would think to
hear you and her talk that Cap'n Amazon was a fratricide.”
“That he had murdered his brother,” explained the girl.
“That's fratter side, is it? Well, I don't take no stock in such
foolishness. Them's Bet Gallup's notions, Cap'n Am'zon's all right, to
my way o' thinkin'. I was talkin' about Cap'n Abe.”
“I do not understand you at all, then,” said the puzzled girl.
“I see you don't just foller me,” he replied patiently. “I ain't
casting no alligators at your Uncle Am'zon. It's Cap'n Abe. I doubt his
goin' to sea at all. I bet he never shipped aboard that craft his
brother tells about.”
“Goodness! Why not?”
“'Cause he ain't a sea-goin' man. There's a few o' such amongst Cape
Codders. Us'ally they go away from the sea before they git found out,
“'Found out?'“ the girl repeated with exasperation. “Found out in
“That they're scare't o' blue water,” Washy said decidedly.
“Nobody 'round here ever seen Cap'n Abe outside the Haven. He wouldn't
no more come down here, push this skiff afloat, and row out to deep
water than he'd go put his hand in a wild tiger's mouth—no, ma'am!”
“Why, isn't that very ridiculous?” Louise said, not at all pleased.
“Of course Cap'n Abe shipped on that boat just as Cap'n Amazon said he
was going to. Otherwise he would have been back—or we would have heard
“He did, hey?” responded Washy sharply, springing the surprise he
had been leading up to. “Then why didn't he take his chist with him?
It's come back to the Paulmouth depot, so Perry Baker says, it not
being claimed down to Boston.”
CHAPTER XIV. A CHOICE OF CHAPERONS
Washy Gallup's gossip should not have made much impression upon
Louise Grayling's mind, but it fretted her. Perhaps her recent
interview with Aunt Euphemia had rasped the girl's nerves. She left the
old fisherman with a tart speech and returned to the store.
There were customers being waited upon, so she had no opportunity to
mention the matter of Cap'n Abe's chest to the substitute storekeeper
at once. Then, when she had taken time to consider it, she decided not
to do so.
It really was no business of hers whether Cap'n Abe had taken his
chest with him when he sailed from Boston or not. She had never asked
Cap'n Amazon the name of the vessel his brother was supposed to have
shipped on. Had she known it was the Curlew, the very schooner
on which Professor Grayling had sailed, she would, of course, have
shown a much deeper interest. And had Cap'n Amazon learned from Louise
the name of the craft her father was aboard, he surely would have
mentioned the coincidence.
It stuck in the girl's mind—the puzzle about Cap'n Abe's chest—but
it did not come to her lips. Looking across the table that evening,
after the store was closed, as they sat together under the hanging
lamp, she wondered that Cap'n Amazon did not speak of it if he knew his
brother's chest had been returned to the Paulmouth express agent.
Without being in the least grim-looking in her eyes, there was an
expression on Cap'n Amazon's face, kept scrupulously shaven, that made
one hesitate to pry into or show curiosity regarding any of his private
He might be perfectly willing to tell her anything she wished to
know. He was frank enough in relating his personal experiences up and
down the seas, that was sure!
Cap'n Amazon puffed at his pipe and tried to engage the attention of
Diddimus. The big tortoise-shell ran from him no longer; but he utterly
refused to be petted. He now lay on the couch and blinked with a bored
manner at the captain.
If Louise came near him he purred loudly, putting out a hooked claw
to catch her skirt and stop her, and so get his head rubbed. But if
Cap'n Amazon undertook any familiarities, Diddimus arose in dignified
silence and changed his place or left the room.
“Does beat all,” the Captain said reflectively, reaching for his
knitting, “what notions dumb critters get. We had a black man and a
black dog with us aboard the fo'master Sally S. Stern when I was
master, out o' Baltimore for Chilean ports. Bill was the blackest
negro, I b'lieve, I ever see. You couldn't see him in the dark with his
mouth and eyes both shut. And that Newfoundland of his was just as
black and his coat just as kinky as Bill's wool. The crew called 'em
the two Snowballs.”
“What notion did the dog take, Uncle Amazon?” Louise asked as he
halted. Sometimes he required a little urging to “get going.” But not
“Why, no matter what Bill did around the deck, or below, or
overside, or what not, the dog never seemed to pay much attention to
him. But the minute Bill started aloft that dog began to cry—whine and
bark—and try to climb the shrouds after that nigger. Land sakes, you
never in your life saw such actions! Got so we had to chain the dog
Snowball whenever it came on to blow, for there's a consarned lot o'
reefin' down and hoistin' sail on one o' them big fo'masters. The
skipper't keeps his job on a ship like the Sally S. Stern must
get steamboat speed out o' her.
“So, 'twas 'all hands to stations!' sometimes three and four times
in a watch. Owners ain't overlib'ral in matter of crew nowadays. Think
because there's a donkey-engine on deck and a riggin' to hoist your big
sails, ye don't re'lly need men for'ard at all.
“That v'y'ge out in pertic'lar I remember that there was two weeks
on a stretch that not a soul aboard had more'n an hour's undisturbed
sleep. And that dog! Poor brute, I guess he thought Bill was goin' to
heaven and leavin' him behind ev'ry time the nigger started for the
“I most always,” continued Cap'n Amazon, “seen to it myself that the
dog was chained when Bill was likely to go aloft. I liked that dog. He
was a gentleman, if he was black. And Bill was a good seaman, and with
a short tongue. The dog was about the only critter aboard he seemed to
cotton to. Nothin' was too good for the dog, and the only way I got
Bill to sign on was by agreeing to take the Newfoundland along.
“Well, we got around the Horn much as us'al. Windjammers all have
their troubles there. And then, not far from the western end o' the
Straits we got into a belt of light airs—short, gusty winds that blew
every which way. It kept the men in the tops most of the time. Some of
'em vowed they was goin' to swing their hammocks up there.
“Come one o' those days, with the old Sally just loafin'
along,” pursued Cap'n Amazon, sucking hard on his pipe, “when I spied a
flicker o' wind comin', and the mate he sent the men gallopin' up the
shrouds. I'd forgot the dog. So had Nigger Bill, I reckon.
“Bill was one o' the best topmen aboard. He was up there at work
before the dog woke up and started ki-yi-ing. He bayed Bill like a
beagle hound at the foot of a coon tree. Then, jumping, he caught the
lower shrouds with his forepaws.
“The new slant of the wind struck us at the same moment. The old
Sally S. heeled to larboard and that Newfoundland was jerked over
“The poor thing!” Louise cried.
“You'd ha' thought so. I wouldn't have felt no worse if one of the
men had gone over. Owner's business, or not, I sung out to the second
to get his boat out and I kicked off my shoes, grabbed a life-ring, and
“You! Uncle Amazon?” gasped his niece.
“Yep. The mate had the deck and I was the only man free. There
wasn't much of a sea runnin', anyway. No pertic'lar danger. That is,
“But the minute I come up to the surface and rose breast-high,
dashin' the water out o' my eyes so's to look around for the dog, I
seen I'd been a leetle mite too previous, as the feller said. I hadn't
taken into consideration one pertic'lar chance—like the feller't
married one o' twins an' then couldn't tell which from t'other.
“I see Snowball the dog, all right; but headin' for him like a
streak o' greased lightin' was the triandicular fin of a shark. I'd
forgot all about those fellers; and we hadn't see one for weeks,
anyway. In warmer waters than them the Sally S. Stern was then
in, the sharks will come right up and stand with their noses out o' the
sea begging like a dog for scraps. They'd bark, if they knew how, by
“Well,” went on Cap'n Amazon while Louise listened spellbound, “that
dog Snowball was in a bad fix. A dog's a dog—almost human as you might
say. But I wasn't aimin' puttin' myself in a shark's mouth for a whole
kennel full o' dogs.
“Mind you, not minutes but only seconds had passed since the dog
shot outboard. The ship was not movin' fast. She heeled over again' and
her spars and flappin' canvas was almost over my head as I glanced up.
“And then I seen a sight—I did, for a fact. I cal'late you never
give a thought to how high the teetering top of a mast on such a vessel
as the Sally S. Stern is, from the ocean level. Never did, eh?
“Well,” as the enthralled Louise shook her head, “they're taller
than a lot of these tall buildings you see in the city. 'Skyscrapers'
they call 'em. That's what the old Sally's topmasts looked like gazin'
up at 'em out of the sea. They looked like they brushed the wind-driven
clouds chasin' overhead.
“And out o' that web of riggin' and small spars, and slattin'
canvas, and other gear, I seen a man's body hurled into the air. It was
Snowball, the man. Bill his right name was.
“Flung himself, he did, clean out o' the ship and as she heeled back
to starboard he shot down, feet first, straight as a die, and made a
hole in the sea not ha'f a cable's length from me and nearer the dog
than I was. And as he came down I seen his open knife flashing in his
“Yes, my dear, that was a mem'rable leap. Talk about these fellers
jumpin' off that there Brooklyn Bridge! 'Tain't much higher.
“The mate brought the Sally S. Stern up into the wind, the
second's crew got the boat over, and they picked me up in a jiffy. Then
I stood up and yelled for 'em to pull on, for I could see the man, the
dog, and the shark almost in a bunch together.
“But,” concluded Cap'n Amazon, “a nigger ain't often much afraid of
a shark. When we got to 'em there was a patch of bloody water and foam;
but it wasn't the blood of neither of the Snowballs that was spilled.
They come out of it without a scratch.”
“Oh, Cap'n Amazon, what a really wonderful life you have led!”
Louise said earnestly.
Cap'n Amazon's eye brightened, and he looked vastly pleased.
Whenever he made a serious impression with one of his tales of personal
achievement or peril, he was as frankly delighted as a child.
“Yes, ain't I?” he observed. “I don't for the life of me see how
Abe's stood it ashore all these years. An' him keepin' a shop!” and he
Before Louise could make rejoinder, or bolster up the reputation of
the absent Cap'n Abe in any way, the noise of an automobile stopping
before the store was audible,
“Now, if that's one o' them summer fellers, for gas I shall raise
the price of it—I vow!” ejaculated Cap'n Amazon, but getting up
briskly and laying aside his pipe and knitting.
The summons did not come on the store door. Somebody opened the
gate, came to the side door and rapped. Cap'n Amazon shuffled into the
hall and held parley with the caller.
“Why, come right in! Sure she's here—an' we're both sittin' up for
comp'ny,” Louise heard the captain say heartily.
He ushered in Lawford Tapp. Not the usual Lawford, in rough
fisherman's clothing or boating flannels—or even in the chauffeur's
uniform Louise supposed he sometimes wore. But in the neat,
well-fitting clothing of what the habit-advertising pages of the
magazines term the “up to date young man.” His sartorial appearance
outclassed that of any longshoreman she had ever imagined.
Louise gave him her hand with just a little apprehension. She
realized that for a young man to make an evening call upon a girl in a
simple community such as Cardhaven might cause comment which she did
not care to arouse. But it seemed Lawford Tapp had an errand.
“I do not know, Miss Grayling, whether you care to go out in my
Merry Andrew now that your friends have arrived,” he said. “But if
you do, we might go on Thursday.”
“Day after to-morrow? Why not?” she replied with alacrity. “Of
course I shall be glad to go—as I already assured you.
My—er—friends' coming makes no difference.” She thought he referred
to Aunt Euphemia and the Perritons. “They will not take up so much of
my time that I shall have to desert all my other acquaintances.”
Lawford cheered up immensely at this statement. Cap'n Amazon had
gone into the store at once and now returned with, his box of “private
stock two-fors,” one of which choice cigars each of the men took.
“Light up! Light up!” he said cordially. “My niece don't mind the
smell of tobacker.” Cap'n Amazon was much more friendly with Lawford
than Louise might have expected him to be. But, of course, hospitality
was a form of religion with the Silt brothers. They could neither of
them have treated a guest shabbily.
Indeed, under the influence of the cigar and the presence of another
listener, the captain expanded. With little urging he related incident
after incident of his varied career—stories of stern trial, of
dangerous adventure, of grim fights with the ravening sea; peril by
shipwreck, by fire, by savages; encounters with whales and sharks, with
Malay pirates; voyaging with a hold full of opium-crazed coolie
laborers, and of actual mutiny on the hermaphrodite brig, Galatea, when Cap'n Amazon alone of all the afterguard was left alive to fight
the treacherous crew and navigate the ship.
Those two hours were memorable—and would remain so in Louise's mind
for weeks. Lawford Tapp, too, quite gave himself up to the charm of the
old romancer. To watch Cap'n Amazon's dark intent face and his glowing
eyes, while he told of these wonders of sea and land, would have
thrilled the most sophisticated listener.
“Isn't he a wonder?” murmured Lawford, as Louise accompanied him to
the gate and watched him start the automobile engine. “I never heard
such a fellow in my life. And good as gold!”
Louise had made up her mind to be distinctly casual with the young
man hereafter; but his hearty praise of her uncle warmed her manner
toward him. Besides, she had to confess in secret that Lawford was most
She mentioned her aunt's arrival in the neighborhood and he asked,
“Oh, then shall we have her for our chaperon?”
“Aunt Euphemia? Mercy, no! I have chosen Betty Gallup and believe
me, Mr. Tapp, Betty is much to be preferred.”
It was odd that Louise had not yet discovered who and what Lawford
Tapp was. Yet the girl had talked with few of the neighbors likely to
discuss the affairs of the summer residents along The Beaches. And, of
course, she asked Cap'n Amazon no questions, for he was not likely to
possess the information.
After she had bidden her uncle good-night and retired, thoughts of
Lawford Tapp kept her mind alert. She could not settle herself to
sleep. With the lamp burning brightly on the stand at the bedside and
herself propped with pillows, she opened the old scrapbook found in the
storeroom chest and fluttered its pages.
Almost immediately she came upon a story related in the Newport
Mercury. It was the supposedly veracious tale of an ancient sea
captain who had been a whaler in the old days.
There, almost word for word, was printed the story Cap'n Amazon had
told her that evening about the black man and the black dog!
CHAPTER XV. THE UNEXPECTED
The finding of one of Cap'n Amazon's amazing narratives of personal
prowess in the old scrapbook shocked Louise Grayling. The mystery of
the thing made alert her brain and awoke in the girl vague suspicions
that troubled her for hours. Indeed, it was long that night before she
could get to sleep.
During these days of acquaintanceship and familiarity with the old
sea captain she had learned to love him so well for his good qualities
that it was easy for her to forgive his faults. If he “drew the long
bow” in relating his adventures, his niece was prepared to excuse the
There was, too, an explanation of this matter, and one not at all
improbable. The reporter of the Mercury claimed to have taken
down the story of the black man who had fought a shark for the life of
his dog just as it fell from the lips of an ancient mariner. This
mariner might have been Cap'n Amazon Silt himself. Why not? The captain
might have been more modest in relating his personal connection with
the incident when talking with the reporter than he had been in
relating the story to his niece.
Still, even with this suggested explanation welcomed to her mind,
Louise Grayling was puzzled. She went through the entire scrapbook,
skimming the stories there related, to learn if any were familiar. But
no. She found nothing to suggest any of the other tales Cap'n Amazon
had related in her hearing. And it was positive that her uncle had not
read this particular story of the black man and the black dog since
coming to the store on the Shell Road, for Louise had had possession of
Therefore she was quite as mystified when she fell asleep at dawn as
she had been when first her discovery was made. She was half determined
to probe for an explanation of the coincidence when she came downstairs
to a late breakfast. But no good opportunity presented itself for the
broaching of any such inquiry.
She wished to make preparations for the fishing party in the
Merry Andrew, and that kept her in the kitchen part of the day. She
baked a cake and made filling for sandwiches.
Betty Gallup accepted the invitation to accompany Louise on the
sloop without hesitation. She approved of Lawford Tapp. Yet she dropped
nothing in speaking of the young man to open Louise's eyes to the fact
that he was the son of a multi-millionaire.
The activities of the moving picture company increased on this day;
but it was not until the following morning, when Louise went shoreward
with the tackle and the smaller lunch basket, that she again saw Mr.
Judson Bane to speak to. As she sat upon the thwart of the old skiff
where Washy Gallup had mended his net, the handsome leading man of the
picture company strolled by.
Bane certainly made a picturesque fisherman, whether he looked much
like the native breed or not. An open-air studio had been arranged on
the beach below the Bozewell bungalow, and Louise could see a director
trying to give a number of actors his idea of what a group of fishermen
mending their nets should look like.
“He should engage old Washy Gallup to give color to the group,”
Louise said to Bane, laughing.
“Anscomb is having his own troubles with that bunch,” sighed the
leading man. “Some of them never saw a bigger net before than one to
catch minnows. Do you sail in this sloop I see coming across from the
millionaire's villa, Miss Grayling?”
“Yes,” Louise replied. “Mr. Tapp is kind enough to take us fishing.”
“You are, then, one of these fortunate creatures,” and Bane's
sweeping gesture indicated that he referred to the occupants of the
cottages set along the bluff above The Beaches, “who toil not, neither
do they spin. I fancied you might be one of us. Rather, I've heard that
“That surmise gained coinage when I first arrived at Cardhaven,”
Louise said, dimpling. “I did nothing to discourage the mistake, and I
presume Gusty Durgin still believes I pose before the camera.”
“Gusty has aspirations that way herself,” chuckled Bane. “She is a
“I wonder what kind of screen actress I would make?”
He smiled down at her rather grimly. “The kind the directors call
the appealing type, I fancy, Miss Grayling. Though I have no doubt you
would do much better than most. Making big eyes at a camera is the
limit of art achieved by many of our feminine screen stars. I do not
expect to put in a very pleasant summer amid my present surroundings.”
“Oh, then you are here for more than one picture.”
“Several, if the weather proves propitious. I shall play the
fisherman hero, or the villain, until my manager has my new play ready
in the fall. Believe me, Miss Grayling, I am not in love with this
picture drama. But when one is offered for his resting season half as
much again as he can possibly earn during the run of a legitimate
Broadway production he must not be blamed for accepting the contract.
We all bow to the power of gold.”
Louise, whose gaze was fixed upon the approaching sloop, smiled. She
was thinking; “All but Lawford Tapp, the philosophic fisherman!”
“I believe,” Bane said, with flattery, “that I should delight to
play opposite to you, Miss Grayling, rank amateur though you would be.
This Anscomb really is a wonderful director and gets surprising results
from material that cannot compare with you. I'll speak to him if you
say the word. He'd oblige me, I am sure. One of the scripts he has told
me about has a part fitted to you.”
“Oh, Mr. Bane!” she cried. “I'd have to think about that, I fear.
And such a tempting offer! Now, if you said that to Gusty Durgin——”
At the moment Betty Gallup came into view. Masculine in appearance
at any time in her man's hat and coat, she was doubly so now. She
frankly wore overalls, but had drawn a short skirt over them; and she
wore gum boots. Bane stared at this apparition and gasped:
“Is—is it a man—or what?”
“Why, Mr. Bane! That is my chaperon.”
“Chaperon! Ye gods and little fishes! Miss Grayling, no matter where
you go, or with whom, you are perfectly safe with that as a
“How rediculous, Mr. Bane!” the girl cried, laughing. Betty strode
through the sand to the spot where they stood. “This is Mr. Bane,
Betty,” Louise continued, “Mrs. Gallup, Mr. Bane.”
The actor swept off his sou'wester with a flourish. Betty eyed him
“So you're one o' them play-actors, be you? Land sakes! And tryin'
to look like a fisherman, too! I don't s'pose you know a grommet from
the bight of a hawser.”
“Guilty as charged,” Bane admitted with a chuckle. “But we all must
live, Mrs. Gallup.”
“Humph!” grunted the old woman. “Are you sure that's so in ev'ry
case? There's more useless folks on the Cape now than the Recordin'
Angel can well take care on.”
“Oh, Betty!” Louise gasped.
But Bane was highly amused. “I'm not at all sure you're not right,
Mrs. Gallup. I sometimes feel that if I were a farmer and raised
onions, or a fisherman and caught the denizens of the sea, I might feel
a deeper respect for myself. As it is, when I work I am only playing.”
“Humph!” exploded Betty again. “'Denizens of the sea,' eh? New one
on me. I ain't never heard of them fish afore.”
The sail of the sloop slatted and then came down with the rattle of
new canvas. Having let go the sheet, Lawford ran forward and pitched
the anchor over. Then he drew in the skiff that trailed the Merry
Andrew, stepped in, and sculled himself ashore, beaching the boat,
just as Cap'n Amazon came down from the store with a second basket of
“Wish I was goin' with ye,” he said heartily. “Would, too, if I
could shut up shop. But I promised Abe I'd stay by the ship till he
come home again.”
Louise introduced her uncle to Mr. Bane; but during the bustle of
getting into the skiff and pushing off she overlooked the fact that
Lawford and the actor were not introduced.
“Bring us home a mess of tautog,” Cap'n Amazon shouted. “I sartainly
do fancy blackfish when they're cooked right. Bile 'em, an' serve with
an egg sauce, is my way o' puttin' 'em on the table.”
“That was Cap'n Abe's way, too,” muttered Betty.
The cloud on Lawford Tapp's countenance did not lift immediately as
he sculled them out to the anchored sloop. Louise saw quickly that his
ill humor was for Bane.
“I must keep this young man at a distance,” she thought, as she
waved her hand to Uncle Amazon and Mr. Bane. “He takes too much for
granted, I fear. Perhaps, after all, I should have excused myself from
She eyed Lawford covertly as, with swelling muscles and lithe,
swinging body, he drove his sculling oar. “But he does look more 'to
the manner born'—much more the man, in fact—than that actor!”
Lawford could not for long forget his duty as host, and he was as
cheerful and obliging as usual by the time the three had scrambled
aboard the Merry Andrew.
Immediately Betty Gallup cast aside her skirt and stood forth
untrammeled in the overalls. “Gimme my way and I'd wear 'em doin'
housework and makin' my garding,” she declared. “Land sakes! I allus
did despise women's fooleries.”
Louise laughed blithely.
“Why, Betty,” she said, “lots of city women who do their own
housework don 'knickers' or gymnasium suits to work in. No excuse is
“Humph!” commented the old woman. “I had no idee city women had so
much sense. The ones I see down here on the Cape don't show it.”
The morning breeze was light but steady. The Merry Andrew was
a sweetly sailing boat and Lawford handled her to the open admiration
of Betty Gallup. The old woman's comment would have put suspicion in
Louise's mind had the girl not been utterly blind to the actual
identity of the sloop's owner.
“Humph! you're the only furiner, Lawford Tapp, I ever see who could
sail a smack proper. But you got Cape blood in you—that's what 'tis.”
“Thank you, Betty,” he returned, with the ready smile that crinkled
the corners of his eyes. “That is a compliment indeed.”
The surf only moaned to-day over Gull Rocks, for there was little
ground swell. The waves heaved in, with an oily, leisurely motion and,
it being full sea, merely broke with a streak of foam marking the ugly
A little to the seaward side of the apex of the reef Betty, at a
word from Lawford, cast loose the sheet and then dropped the anchor.
“Mussel beds all about here,” explained the young man to his guest.
“That means good feeding for the blackfish. Can't catch them anywhere
save on a rock bottom, or around old spiles or sunken wrecks. Better
let me rig your line, Miss Grayling. You'll need a heavier sinker than
that for outside here—ten ounces at least. You see, the tug of the
undertow is considerable.”
Betty Gallup, looking every whit the “able seaman” now, rigged her
own line quickly and opened the bait can.
“Land sakes!” she exclaimed. “Where'd you get scallop bait this time
o' year, Lawford? You must be a houn' dog for smellin' 'em out.”
“I am,” he laughed. “I know that tautog will leave mussels for
scallop any time. And we'll have the eyes of the scallops fried for
lunch. They're all ready in the cabin.”
The pulpy, fat bodies of the scallop—a commercial waste—were
difficult to hang upon the short, blunt hooks; but Lawford seemed to
have just the knack of it. He showed Louise how to lower the line to
the proper depth, advising:
“Remember, you'll only feel a nibble. The tautog is a shy fish. He
doesn't swallow hook, line, and sinker like a hungry cod. You must snap
him quick when he takes the hook, for his mouth is small and you must
get him instantly—or not at all.”
Louise found this to be true. Her hooks were “skinned clean” several
times before she managed to get inboard her first fish.
She learned, too, why the tackle for tautog has to be so strong.
Once hooked, the fish darts straight down under rocks or into
crevasses, and sulks there. He comes out of that ambush like a chunk of
The party secured a number of these dainty fish; but to lend variety
to the day's haul they got the anchor up after luncheon and ran down to
the channels there to chum for snappers. Lawford had brought along
rods; for to catch the young and gamey bluefish one must use an
entirely different rigging from that used for tautog.
Louise admired the rod Lawford himself used. She knew something
about fancy tackle, and this outfit of the young man, she knew, never
cost a penny less than a hundred dollars.
“And this sloop, which is his property,” she thought, “is another
expensive possession. I can see where his money goes—when he has any
to spend. He is absolutely improvident. Too bad.”
She had to keep reminding herself, it seemed, of Lawford Tapp's most
glaring faults. Improvidence and a hopeless leaning toward extravagance
were certainly unforgivable blemishes in the character of a young man
in the position she believed Lawford held.
The sport of chumming for snappers, even if they hooked more of
sluggish fluke than of the gamier fish to tempt which the chopped bait
is devoted, was so exciting that Betty, sailing the sloop, overlooked a
pregnant cloud that streaked up from the horizon almost like a puff of
The squall was upon them so suddenly that Louise could not wind in
her line in good season. Lawford was quicker; but in getting his tackle
inboard he was slow to obey Betty's command:
“Let go that sheet! Want to swamp us, foolin' with that fancy fish
“Aye, aye, skipper!” he sang out, laughing, and jumped to cast off
the line in question just as the sail bulged taut as a drumhead with
the striking squall.
There was a “lubber's loop” in the bight of the sheet and as the
young man loosed it his arm was caught in this trap. The boom swung
viciously outboard and Lawford went with it. He was snatched like some
inanimate object over the sloop's rail and, the next instant, plunged
beneath the surface of the suddenly foam-streaked sea.
CHAPTER XVI. A TRAGEDY OF ERRORS
Lawford came up as the sloop swept by on her new tack, his smile as
broad as ever. He blew loudly and then shouted:
“Going—-too—fast—for—me! Whoa! Back up a little, ladies, and let
me climb aboard.”
“Well, of all the crazy critters!” the “able seaman” declared.
“Stand by with that boathook, Miss Lou, and see if you can harpoon
Louise swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to laugh too. To
tell the truth, the accident to Lawford Tapp had frightened her
dreadfully at the moment it occurred.
Betty Gallup put over the wheel and the Merry Andrew, still
under propulsion of the bursting squall, flew about, almost on her
heel. Louise, who was shielding her eyes from the flying spray under
the sharp of her hand and watching the head and shoulders of Lawford as
he plowed through the jumping waves with a great overhand stroke,
suddenly shrieked aloud:
“What's the matter? Land sakes!”
Both saw the peril threatening the swimmer. The light skiff at the
end of the long painter whipped around when the line tautened. As Betty
cried out in echo to Louise's wail, the gunnel of the skiff crashed
down upon Lawford's head and shoulders.
“Oh! Oh! He's hurt!” cried Louise.
“He's drowned—dead!” ejaculated Betty Gallup. “Here, Miss Lou, you
take the wheel——”
But the girl had no intention of letting the old woman go overboard.
Betty in her heavy boots would be wellnigh helpless in the choppy sea.
If it were possible to rescue Lawford Tapp she would do it herself.
The human mind is a wonderfully constituted—mechanism, may we call
it? It receives and registers impressions that are seemingly
incoordinate; then of a sudden each cog slips into place and the
perfection of a belief, of an opinion, of a desire, even of a most
momentous discovery, is attained.
Thus instantly Louise Grayling had a startling revelation, “Handle
the boat yourself, Betty!” she commanded. “I am going to get him.”
Her skirt was dropped, even as she spoke. She wore “sneaks” to-day
instead of high boots, and she kicked them off without unlacing them.
Then, poising on the rail for a moment, she dived overboard on a long
She swam under the surface for some fathoms and coming up dashed the
water from her eyes to stare about.
The black squall had passed. The sea dimpled in blue and green
streaks as before. A few whitecaps only danced about the girl. Where
Lawford had gone down——
A round, sleek object—like the head of a seal—bobbed in the
agitated water. It was not ten yards away. Had she not been so near she
must have overlooked it. He might have sunk again, going down forever,
for it was plain the blow he had suffered had deprived Lawford of
Louise wasted no breath in shouting, nor moments in looking back at
Betty and the sloop. All her life she had been confident in the water.
She had learned to ride a surfboard with her father like the natives in
Hawaii. A comparatively quiet sea like this held no terrors for Louise
She dived in a long curve like a jumping porpoise, and went down
after the sinking man. In thirty seconds she had him by the hair, and
then beat her way to the surface with her burden.
Lawford's face was dead white; his eyes open and staring. There was
a cut upon the side of his head from which blood and water dribbled
upon her shoulder as she held him high out of the sea.
There sounded the clash of oars in her ears. How Betty had lowered
the jib, thrown over the anchor, and manned the skiff so quickly would
always be a mystery to Louise. But the “able seaman” knew this coast as
well, at least, as Lawford Tapp. They were just over a shoal, and there
was safe anchorage for a small craft.
“Give him to me. Land sakes!” gasped Betty over her head. “I never
see no city gal like you, Miss Lou.”
Nor had Louise ever seen a woman with so much muscular strength and
the knowledge of how to apply it as Betty displayed. She lifted Lawford
out of the girl's arms and into the skiff with the dexterity of one
trained in hauling in halibut, for Betty had spent her younger years on
the Banks with her father.
Louise scrambled into the skiff without assistance. Betty was
already at the oars and Louise took the injured head of the man in her
lap. He began to struggle back to life again.
“I—I'm all right,” he muttered. “Sorry made such a—a
“Hush up, you!” snapped Betty. “I'd ought to have seed to
this skiff. Then you wouldn't have got battered like you did.” A tear
ran frankly down Betty's nose and dripped off its end. “If anything
really bad had happened to you, Lawford, I'd a-never forgive myself. I
thought you was a goner for sure.”
“Thanks to you, I'm not, I guess, Betty,” he said more cheerfully.
He did not know who had jumped overboard to his rescue.
For some reason the girl was suddenly embarrassed by this fact.
The skiff reached the plunging sloop and Louise got inboard and
aided Betty to get Lawford over the rail. Then she slipped on her
Lawford slumped down in the cockpit, saying he was all right but
looking all wrong.
“Going to get him back to Tapp Point just as quick as I can,”
declared the “able seaman” to Louise. “Doctor ought to see that cut.”
“Now, now, Miss Lou,” murmured the old woman with the light of
sudden comprehension in her eyes. “Don't take on now! You've been a
brave gal so fur.”
“And I will keep my courage,” Louise said with tremulous smile.
“Go right over there an' hold his head, Miss Lou. Pet him up a
leetle bit; 'twon't hurt a mite.”
The vivid blush that dyed the girl's cheeks signaled the fact that
Betty had guessed more of the truth than Louise cared to have her or
anybody know. She shook her head negatively to the keen-eyed old woman;
nevertheless she went forward, found one of Lawford's handkerchiefs and
bound up his head. The cut did not seem very deep; yet the shock of the
blow he had suffered certainly had dulled the young man's
“Thank you—thank you,” he muttered and laid his head down on his
Betty rounded the end of the Neck where the lighthouse stood. One of
the lightkeepers was on the gallery just under the lamp chamber and had
been watching them through his glasses. He waved a congratulatory hand
as the Merry Andrew shot along, under the “able seaman's"
“I'm goin' to put you ashore in the skiff right there by the store,
Miss Lou,” Betty said.
“Shouldn't I get a doctor and send him over to the Point?”
“They've got a telephone there,” Betty told her.
“I—I hope they'll take good care of him.”
“They ought to,” sniffed Betty. “I'll see to it he's all right, Miss
Lou, before I leave him.”
“Thank you, Betty,” returned the girl, too honest to make any
further attempt to deny her deep interest in the man.
When the sail rattled down and Louise tossed over the anchor,
Lawford roused a bit. “Sorry the trip turned out so rotten bad, Miss
Grayling,” he mumbled. “I—I don't feel just right yet.”
Louise patted his shoulder. “You poor boy!” she said tenderly.
“Don't mind about me. It's you we are worrying about. But I am sure you
cannot be seriously injured. Betty will take you directly over to the
Point and the folks there will get a doctor for you. Next time we'll
have a much nicer fishing trip, Mr. Tapp. Good-bye.”
He muttered his adieu and watched her get into the skiff after Betty
and the baskets. The “able seaman” rowed quickly to the beach. The
sharp eyes of Mr. Bane noted their arrival, and he strode over to the
spot where the skiff came in, to help Louise out of the boat and bring
the baskets ashore.
“You need a handy man, I see,” the actor observed. “What a fine
catch you have had—blackfish, snappers, and fluke, eh? I'll carry the
baskets up to your uncle's store for you. Fine old man, your uncle,
Miss Grayling. And what stories he can tell of his adventures—my
“Come over to-night and tell me how he is, betty, won't you?” the
girl whispered to the “able seaman” and the latter, nodding her
comprehension, pulled back to the sloop. Neither of them saw that
Lawford was watching the little group on shore and that when Bane and
the girl turned toward the store the young man looked after them with
The girl's replies to Bane's observation were most inconsequential.
Her mind was upon Lawford and his condition. She was personally
uncomfortable, too; for although the sun and wind had dried her hair
and her blouse, beneath the dry skirt her clothing was wet.
As they came to the Shell Road the long, gray roadster Louise had
seen before came down from town. L'Enfant Terrible was at the wheel
while her two older sisters sat in the narrow seat behind. Cecile
tossed a saucy word over her shoulder, indicating Louise and Bane, and
her older sisters smiled superciliously upon the two pedestrians.
Louise was too deeply occupied with thoughts of the injured man to note
CHAPTER XVII. THE ODDS AGAINST HIM
“Horrid taste she has, I must say,” drawled Marian. Marian was the
eldest of the Tapp girls. To tell the truth (but this is strictly in
confidence and must go no further!) she had been christened Mary Ann
after Israel Tapp's commonplace mother. That, of course, was some time
before I. Tapp, the Salt Water Taffy King, had come into his kingdom
and assumed the robe and scepter of his present financial position.
“Oh!” ejaculated Cecile. “That's Judson Bane, the Broadway star,
she's walking with. I'd like to know him myself.”
“You coarse little thing!” drawled Marian.
“And you not out yet!” Prue, the second sister, observed cuttingly.
“You're only a child. I wish you'd learn your place and keep it.”
“Oh, fudge!” responded L'Enfant Terrible, not deeply impressed by
these sisterly admonitions.
Marian was twenty-six—two years Lawford's senior. She was a heavy,
lymphatic girl, fast becoming as matronly of figure as her mother. She
still bolstered up her belief that she had matrimonial prospects; but
the men who wanted to marry her she would not have while those she
desired to marry would not have her. Marian Tapp was becoming bored.
Prue was a pretty girl. She was but nineteen. However, she had
likewise assumed a bored air after being in society a single season.
“That big actor man will put poor Fordy's nose out of joint with the
film lady,” Prue said. “Look out for that dog, Cis. It's the
Perritons'. If you run over him——”
“Nasty little thing!” grumbled Cecile.
“And the apple of Sue Perriton's eye,” drawled Marian. “Be careful
what you are about, Cecile. It all lies with the Perritons whether we
get into society this season or not.”
“And that Mrs. Conroth who is with them,” put in Prue. “She
is the real thing—the link between the best of New York and Albany
society. Old family—away back to the patroons—so old she has to keep
moth balls hung in her family tree. My! if mother could once become the
familiar friend of miladi Conroth——”
“No such luck,” groaned Marian. “After all's said and done, mother
can't forget the candy kitchen. She always looks to me, poor dear, as
though she had just been surreptitiously licking her fingers.”
“We do have the worst luck!” groaned the second sister.
“There's that Dot Johnson coming. Mother says daddy insists, and when
I. Tapp does put down his foot——Well!”
“We'll put her off on Fordy,” suggested, the brighter-witted Cecile.
“She rather fancies Ford, I think.”
“Dot Johnson!” chorused the older girls, in horror. “Not really?”
Marian continued. “The Johnsons are impossible.”
“They've got more money than daddy has,” said Prue.
“But they have no aspirations—none at all,” murmured Marian, in
horror. “If Lawford married Dot Johnson it would be almost as bad as
his being mixed up with that picture actress.”
“For him; not for us,” said Prue promptly. “Of course, as far as the
Johnsons go, they are too respectable for anything. Poor Fordy!”
“Goodness!” snapped Cecile. “It's not all settled. The banns aren't
The girls wheeled into the grounds surrounding the Tapp villa just
as Betty Gallup guided the Merry Andrew to the dock and leaped
ashore with the mooring rope.
Tapp Point consisted of about five acres of bluff and sand. At great
expense the Taffy King had terraced the bluff and had made to grow
several blades of grass where none at all had been able to gain root
The girls saw the queer-looking Betty Gallup helping their brother
out of the sloop.
“Say! something's happened to Ford, I guess,” Cecile cried, stopping
the car short of the porte-cochere.
“Run down and see,” commanded Marian languidly.
But Prue hopped out of the roadster and started down the path
immediately. She and Lawford still had a few things in common. Mutual
affection was one of them.
“What's happened to him?” she cried. “You're Mrs. Gallup, aren't
“I'm Bet Gallup—yes. You run call up Doc Ambrose from over to
Paulmouth. Your brother's got a bad knock on the head.”
“And he's been overboard!” gasped Prue.
“I—I'm all right,” stammered Lawford. “Let me lie down for a little
while. Don't need a doctor.”
“You're as wet as a drowned rat,” his sister said. “Come on up and
get some dry clothes, Ford. I'm sure you're awful kind, Mrs. Gallup. I
will telephone for the doctor at once.”
“You bet she's kind! Good old soul!” murmured Lawford. “I'd have
been six fathoms deep if it hadn't been for Betty.”
“She hauled you into the boat, did she?” Prue said in a sympathetic
tone. “Well, we won't forget that.”
Betty had stepped aboard the sloop again to reef down and make all
taut. Her sailor-soul would not allow her to leave the lapstreak in a
Meanwhile Cecile came flying down from the garage, and between his
two sisters Lawford was aided up to the house. Despite the young man's
protests, Dr. Ambrose was called and he rattled over in what the jolly
medical man termed his “one-horse shay.” That rattletrap of a
second-hand car was known in every town and hamlet for miles around.
Sometimes he got stalled, for the engine of the car was one of the
crankiest ever built, and the good physician had to get out and proceed
on foot. When this happened the man who owned a horse living nearest to
the unredeemed automobile always hitched up and dragged the car home.
For Dr. Ambrose was beloved as few men save a physician is ever loved
in a country community.
“You got a hard crack and no mistake, young man,” the physician
said, plastering his patient's head in a workmanlike manner. “But
you've a good, solid cranium as I've often told you. Not much to get
hurt above the ears—mostly bone all the way through. Not easy to
crack, like some of these eggshell heads.”
Lawford felt the effects of the blow, however, for the rest of the
evening. His father was away and so he had no support against the
organized attack of the women of the family. Although it is doubtful if
I. Tapp would have sided with his son.
“It really serves you right, Ford, for taking that movie actress
sailing,” drawled Marian.
“It is a judgment upon him,” sighed their mother, wiping her eyes.
“Oh, Ford, if you only would settle down and not be so wild!”
“'Wild!' Oh, bluey!” murmured L'Enfant Terrible, who considered her
brother a good deal of a tame cat.
“At least,” Marian pursued, “you might carry on your flirtation in a
less public manner.”
“'Flirtation!'“ ejaculated Lawford, with a spark of anger—and then
settled back on the couch with a groan.
“My goodness me, Ford!” gasped Prue. “You're surely not in earnest?”
“I should hope not,” drawled Marian.
“Oh, Ford, my boy——”
“Now, mother, don't turn on the sprinkler again,” advised L'Enfant
Terrible. “It will do you no good. And, anyway, I guess Ford hasn't any
too bright a chance with the Grayling. You ought to have seen that
handsome Judson Bane lean over her when they were walking up to Cap'n
Abe's. I thought he was going to nibble her ear!”
“Horrid thing!” Prue exclaimed. “I don't know where she gets such
“That boarding school last winter completely spoiled her,”
complained the mother. “And I sent her to it because Sue Perriton and
Alice Bozewell go there.”
“And I had a fine chance to get chummy with them!” snapped
Cecile. “They were both seniors.”
“But really,” Marian went on, “your entanglement with that movie
actress is sure to make trouble for us, Ford. You might be a little
more considerate. Just as we are getting in with the Perritons. And
their guest, Mrs. Conroth, was really very nice to mother this morning
on the beach. She has the open sesame to all the society there is on
this side of the Atlantic. It's really a wonderful chance for us,
“And—he's bound—to spoil—it all!” Mrs. Tapp sobbed into an
expensive bit of lace.
“You might be a good sport, Fordy, dear,” urged Prue.
“Yes, Fordy; don't crab the game,” added the vulgar Cecile.
“You know very well,” said the elder sister, “how hard we have tried
to take our rightful place here at The Beaches. We have the finest home
by far; daddy's got the most money of any of them, and let's us spend
it, too. And still it's like rolling a barrel up a sand bank. Just a
little thing will spoil our whole season here.”
“Do, do be sensible, Ford!” begged his mother.
“Sacrifice yourself for the family's good,” said Prue.
“Dear Ford,” began Mrs. Tapp again, “for my sake—for all our
sakes—take thought of what you are doing. This—this actress person
cannot be a girl you could introduce to your sisters——”
“No more of that, mother!” exclaimed the young man, patience at last
ceasing to be a virtue. “Criticise me if you wish to; but I will hear
nothing against Miss Grayling.”
“Oh, dear! Now I have offended him again!” sobbed the matron.
“You are too utterly selfish for words!” declared Marian.
“You're a regular pig!” added Prue.
“If you get mixed up with an actress, Fordy, I'll have a fine time
when I come out, won't I?” complained Cecile.
“Caesar's ghost!” burst from the lips of the badgered young man. “I
wish Betty Gallup had let me drown instead of hauling me inboard this
CHAPTER XVIII. SOMETHING BREAKS
An express wagon, between the shafts of which was a raw-boned gray
horse leaning against one shaft as a prop while he dozed, stood before
Cap'n Abe's store as Louise and Mr. Judson Bane came up from the shore
front. She thanked the actor as he set the heavy baskets on the porch
“Those blackfish look so good I long for a fish supper,” he said,
smiling in open admiration upon her.
Louise was quick to establish a reputation for hospitality. Perhaps
it was the Silt blood that influenced her to say: “Wait till I speak to
Uncle Amazon, Mr. Bane.”
There was a tall gaunt man in overalls and jumper, who, somehow,
possessed a family resemblance to the gray horse, leaning against the
door frame, much as his beast leaned against the wagon shaft. Perry
Baker and the gray horse had traveled so many years together about
Paulmouth and Cardhaven that it was not surprising they looked alike.
When Louise mounted the porch steps she could not easily pass the
expressman, who was saying, in drawling tones:
“Well, I brought it over, seeing I had a light load. I didn't know
what else to do with it. Of course, it was Cap'n Abe give it to me to
ship. Let's see, I didn't happen to see you here that night you came,
an' I brought the young lady's trunks over, did I?”
“Not as I know on,” barked Cap'n Amazon with brevity.
“Funny how we didn't meet then,” drawled Perry Baker.
There seemed to be a tenseness to the atmosphere of the old store.
Louise saw the usual idlers gathered about the cold stove—Washy Gallup
on his nail-keg, his jaw wagging eagerly; Milt Baker and Amiel Perdue
side by side with their elbows on the counter; Cap'n Joab Beecher
leaning forward on his stick—all watching Cap'n Amazon, it seemed,
with strained attention.
It was like a scene set for a play—for the taking of a film,
perhaps. The whimsical thought came to Louise that the director had
just shouted: “Get set!” and would immediately add: “Action! Camera!
“Course,” Perry Baker drawled, “I sent it to Boston as consigner,
myself; so when the chest warn't called for within a reasonable time
they shipped it back to me, knowin' I was agent. Funny Cap'n Abe didn't
show up for to claim it.”
Cap'n Amazon, grim as a gargoyle, leaned upon the counter and stared
the expressman out of countenance, saying nothing. Perry shifted
uneasily in the doorway. The captain's silence and his stare were
becoming irksome to bear.
“Well!” he finally ejaculated, “that's how 'tis. I'd ha' waited
till—till Cap'n Abe come home—if he ever does come; but my
wife, Huldy, got fidgety. She reads the papers, and she's got it into
her head there's something wrong 'bout the old chest. She dreamed 'bout
it. An' ye know, when a woman gets to dreamin' she'll drag her anchors,
no matter what the bottom is. She says folks have been murdered 'fore
now and their bodies crammed into a chest——”
“Why, you long-winded sculpin!” exclaimed Cap'n Amazon, at length
goaded to speech. “Bring that chest in and take a reef in your
jaw-tackle. I knew a man once't looked nigh enough like you to be your
twin; and he was purt nigh a plumb idiot, too.”
Louise had never before heard her uncle's voice so sharp. It was
plain he had not seen his niece until after Perry Baker turned and
clumped out upon the porch, thus giving the girl free entrance to the
store. She turned, smiling a little whimsically, and said to Bane:
“The moment is not propitious, I fear. Uncle Amazon seems to be put
out about something.”
“Don't bother him now, I beg,” urged the actor, lifting his hat. “I
will call later—if I may.”
“Certainly, Mr. Bane,” she said with seriousness. “Uncle Amazon and
I will both be glad to see you.”
The expressman came heavily up the steps with a green chest on his
shoulder. It had handles of tarred rope and had plainly seen much
service; indeed, it was brother to the box in the storeroom which
Louise had found filled with nautical literature.
The girl entered the store ahead of the staggering expressman, but
stepped aside for him to precede her, for she wished to beckon to Amiel
to come out for the baskets of fish.
“Watch out where you're putting your foot, Perry!” Cap'n Joab
His warning was too late. Some youngster, eager to peel his banana,
had flung its treacherous skin upon the floor. The expressman set his
clumsy boot upon it.
“Whee! 'Ware below!” yelled Amiel Perdue.
To recover his footing Perry let go of the chest. It fell to the
floor with a mighty crash, landing upon one corner and bursting open.
During the long years it had stood in Cap'n Abe's storeroom the wood
had suffered dry rot.
“Land o' Liberty an' all han's around!” bawled the irrepressible
Milt Baker. “There ain't ho corpse in that dust, for a fac'!”
“What kind of a mess d'ye make that out to be, I want to know?”
cackled Washy Gallup.
The hinges had torn away from the rotting wood so that the lid lay
wide open. Tumbled out upon the floor were several ancient garments,
including a suit of quite unwearable oilskins, and with them at least a
wheelbarrow load of bricks!
“Well, I vum!” drawled the expressman, at length recovering speech.
“I hope Huldy'll be satisfied.”
But Cap'n Joab Beecher was not. He stood up and pointed his stick at
the heap of rubbish on the floor and his voice quavered as he shrilly
“Then, where's Cap'n Abe?”
They all turned to stare again at Cap'n Amazon. That hardy mariner
seemed to be quite as self-possessed as usual. His grim lips opened and
in caustic tone he said:
“You fellers seem to think that I'm Abe Silt's keeper. I ain't.
Abe's old enough—and ought to be seaman enough—to look out for Abe
Silt. What tomfoolery he packed into that chest is none o' my consarn.
I l'arnt years ago that Moses an' them old fellers left the chief
commandment out o' the Scriptures. That's 'Mind your own business.'
Abe's business ain't mine. Here, you Amiel! clear up that clutter an'
let's have no more words about it.”
The decisive speech of the master mariner closed the lips of even
Cap'n Joab. The latter did not repeat his query about Cap'n Abe but,
with a baffled expression on his weather-beaten countenance, departed
with Perry Baker.
That a trap had been for Cap'n Amazon, that it had been sprung and
failed to catch the master mariner, seemed quite plain to Louise. Betty
Gallup's oft-expressed suspicions and Washy Gallup's gossip suddenly
impressed the girl. With these vague thoughts was connected in her mind
the discovery she had made that one of Cap'n Amazon's thrilling stories
was pasted into the old scrapbook. Why she should think of that
discovery just now mystified her; but it seemed somehow to dovetail
into the enigma.
Cap'n Amazon lifted the flap in the counter for Louise and in his
usual kindly tone said:
“Good fishin', Niece Louise? Bring home a mess?”
“Yes, indeed,” she told him. “The baskets are outside. Let Amiel
bring them around to the back.”
“Aye, aye!” returned the captain briskly. “Tautog? We'll have 'em
for supper,” and let her pass as though nothing extraordinary had
But to Louise's troubled mind the bursting of the old chest was like
the explosion of a bomb in Cap'n Abe's store.
What was the meaning of it all? Why had the chest been filled with
bricks and useless garments? And by whom?
If by Cap'n Abe, what was his object in doing such a perfectly
incomprehensible thing? He had deliberately, it seemed, shipped a quite
useless chest to Boston with no expectation of calling for it at the
express office. Then, where had he gone?
Cap'n Joab's query was the one uppermost in Louise Grayling's
thought. All these incomprehensible things seemed to lead to that most
important question. Had Cap'n Abe gone to sea, or had he not? If not,
what had become of him?
And how much more regarding his brother's disappearance did Cap'n
Amazon know than the neighbors or herself? In her room Louise sat and
faced the problem. She deliberated upon each incident connected with
Cap'n Abe's departure as she knew them.
From almost the first moment of her arrival at the store on the
Shell Road, the storekeeper had announced the expected arrival of Cap'n
Amazon and his own departure for a sea voyage if his brother would
undertake the conduct of the store.
The incidents of the night of Cap'n Amazon's coming and of Cap'n
Abe's departure seemed reasonable enough. Here had arisen the
opportunity long desired by the Shell Road storekeeper. His brother
would remain to look out for his business while he could go seafaring.
Cap'n Amazon knew just the craft for the storekeeper to sail in,
clearing from the port of Boston within a few hours.
There was not much margin of time for Cap'n Abe to make his
preparations. Perry Baker was at hand with Louise's trunks, and the
storekeeper had sent off his chest, supposedly filled with an outfit
for use at sea. Just what he had intended to do with useless clothing
and a hod of bricks it was impossible to understand.
Cap'n Abe had come to her bedroom door to bid Louise good-bye, and
she had seen him depart in the fog just at dawn. Yet nobody had
observed him at the railroad station and he had not called for the
chest at the Boston express office.
The chest! That was the apex of the mystery. Never in this world had
Cap'n Abe intended to take the chest with him to sea—or wherever else
he had it in his mind to go.
Nor was the chest intended to be returned to the store until Cap'n
Abe himself came back from his mysterious journey. The fact that Perry
Baker had shipped it in his own name instead of that of the owner had
brought about this unexpected incident.
Washy Gallup's gossip—his doubt regarding Cap'n Abe's shipping on a
sea voyage—now came home to Louise with force. Washy suggested that
the storekeeper was afraid of the sea; that in all his years at
Cardhaven he had never been known to venture out of the quiet waters of
To the girl's mind, too, came the remembrance of that talk she had
had with Cap'n Abe on the evening of her arrival at the store. Was
there something he had said then that explained this mystery?
He had told her of the wreck of the Bravo and the drowning of
Captain Joshua Silt, his father, in sight of his mother's window. She
had been powerfully affected by that awful tragedy; this could not be
And the son, Cap'n Abe, a posthumous child, might indeed have come
into the world with that horror of the sea which must have filled his
poor mother's soul.
“It would explain why Uncle Abram never became a sailor—the only
Silt for generations who remained ashore. Yet, he spoke that night as
though he loved the sea—or the romance of it, at least,” Louise
“Perhaps, too, his own inability to sail to foreign shores and his
terror of the sea made him so worship Cap'n Amazon's prowess. For they
say he was continually relating stories of his brother's
adventures—even more marvelous tales than Cap'n Amazon himself has
“Such a misfortune as Cap'n Abe's fear of the sea may easily explain
his brother's good-natured scorn of him. Uncle Amazon doesn't say much
about him; but I can see he looks upon Cap'n Abe as a weakling.
“But,” sighed the girl in conclusion, “even this does not explain
the mystery of the chest, or where Cap'n Abe can be hiding. I wonder if
Uncle Amazon knows?”
CHAPTER XIX. MUCH ADO
As on previous occasions, Louise Grayling was deterred from putting
a searching question to Cap'n Amazon because of his look and manner.
The little she had seen of Cap'n Abe assured her that she would have
felt no hesitancy in approaching the mild-mannered storekeeper upon any
But the master mariner seemed to be an entirely different
personality. The way he had overawed the idlers in the store that
afternoon when the old chest was broken open, and his refusal to make
any further explanation of Cap'n Abe's absence, pinched out Louise's
courage as one might pinch out a candle wick.
That suspicion was rife in the community, and that the story of the
strange contents of Cap'n Abe's chest had spread like a prairie fire,
Louise was sure. Yet at supper time Cap'n Amazon was as calm and
cheerful as usual and completely ignored the accident of the afternoon.
“Hi-mighty likely mess of tautog you caught, Louise,” he said,
ladling the thick white gravy dotted with crumbly yellow egg yolk upon
her plate with lavish hand. “That Lawford Tapp knows where the critters
school, if he doesn't know much else.”
“Oh, Uncle Amazon! I think he is a very intelligent young man. Only
he wastes his time so!”
“He knows enough book l'arnin', I do allow,” agreed Cap'n Amazon.
“But fritters away his time as you say. They all do that over to Tapp
P'int, I cal'late.”
“I wonder how it came to be called Tapp Point?” Louise asked, with a
suddenly sharpened curiosity.
“'Cause it's belonged to the Tapps since away back,—or, so Cap'n
Joab says. That sand heap never was wuth a punched nickel a ton till
these city folks began to build along The Beaches.”
Louise, in her own mind, immediately constructed another theory
about Lawford Tapp, “the fisherman's son.” The sandy point had been
sold to the builder of the very ornate villa now crowning it, and the
proceeds of that sale had paid for the Merry Andrew sloop and
the expensive fishing rod and the clothes of superquality which the
young man wore.
She shrank, however, from commenting upon this extravagant and
spendthrift trait in his character, even to Uncle Amazon. Nor would she
have spoken to anybody else upon the subject.
Something had happened to Louise Grayling on this adventurous
afternoon—something of which she scarcely dared think, let alone talk!
The grip of fear at her heart when she thought Lawford was drowning
had startled her as much as the accident itself. She had seen men in
peril before—in deadly peril—without feeling any personal terror for
In that moment when Lawford was sinking and she was preparing to
leap to his aid, Louise had realized this fact. And in her inmost soul
she admitted—with a thrill that shook her physically as well as
spiritually—that her interest in this Cape Cod fisherman's son was an
interest rooted in her inmost being.
The incident of the wrecked sea chest held her attention in only a
secondary degree. All through supper she was listening for Betty
Gallup's heavy step. She knew she could not sleep that night without
knowing how Lawford was.
For the very reason that she felt so deeply regarding it, she shrank
from talking with Cap'n Amazon of the accident that had happened to
Lawford. She was glad the substitute storekeeper had “gone for'ard"
again to attend to customers when Betty came clumping up the back
“He's all right, Miss Lou,” said the kindly woman, patting the
girl's hand. “I waited to see Doc Ambrose when he come back from the
P'int. He says there ain't a thing the matter with him that vinegar an'
brown paper won't cure.
“But land sakes! Miss Lou, ain't this an awful thing 'bout your
Uncle Abe's chest? That old pirate knows more'n he'd ought to 'bout
what's come o' Cap'n Abe, even if they ain't brought it home to him
“Now, Betty, I wish you wouldn't,” begged the girl. “Why should you
give currency to such foolish gossip?”
“What foolish gossip?” snapped the woman.
“Why, about my Uncle Amazon.”
“How d'ye know he's your uncle at all?” demanded Betty. “You
never seen him before he come here. You never knowed nothin' 'bout him,
so you said, 'fore you come here to Cardhaven.”
“Ain't no 'buts' about it!” fiercely declared the “able seaman.”
“Cap'n Abe's gone—disappeared. We don't know what's become of him.
Course, Huldy Baker was a silly to think Cap'n Abe had been murdered
and cut up like shark bait and shipped away in that old chest.”
“Yes. 'Cause Perry seen Cap'n Abe himself that night when he took
the chest away. That was ridic'lous. But then, Huldy Baker ain't got
right good sense, nor never had.
“But it stands to reason Cap'n Abe had no intent of shipping aboard
any craft with sich dunnage in his chest as they say was in it.”
“No-o. I suppose that is so,” admitted Louise.
“Then, what's become of the poor man?” Betty ejaculated.
“Why, nobody seems to know. Not even Uncle Amazon.”
“Have you axed him?” demanded the other bluntly.
“No. I haven't done that.”
“Humph!” was the rejoinder. “You're just as much afeared on him as
the rest on us. You take it from me, Miss Lou, he's been a hard man on
his own quarter-deck. He ain't no more like Cap'n Abe than buttermilk's
like tartaric acid.
“Cap'n Abe warn't no seafarin' man,” pursued Betty, “though he had
the lingo on his tongue and 'peared as salt as a dried pollock. It's in
my mind that he wouldn't never re'lly go to sea—'nless he was egged on
Here it was again! That same doubt as expressed by Washy Gallup—the
suggestion that Cap'n Abe Silt possessed an inborn fear of the sea that
he had never openly confessed.
“Why do you say that, Betty?” Louise hesitatingly asked the old
“'Cause I've knowed Cap'n Abe for more'n twenty year, and in all
that endurin' time he's stuck as close to shore as a fiddler. With all
his bold talk about ships and sailin', I tell you he warn't a seafarin'
“But what has Uncle Amazon to do with the mystery of his brother's
absence?” demanded Louise.
“Humph! If he is Cap'n Abe's brother. Now, now, you don't
know no more about this old pirate than I do, Miss Lou. He influenced
Cap'n Abe somehow, or someway, so't he cut his hawser and drifted out
o' soundings—that's sure! Here this feller callin' himself Am'zon Silt
has got the store an' all it holds, an' Cap'n Abe's money, and
“Oh, Betty, how foolishly you talk,” sighed the girl.
“Humph! Mebbe. And then again, mebbe it ain't foolish. Them men
to-day thought they could scare that old pirate into admittin'
something if they sprung Cap'n Abe's chest on him. Oh, I knowed they
was goin' to do it,” admitted Betty.
“Course, they had no idee what was in the chest. Bustin' it open was
an accident. Perry Baker's as clumsy as a cow. But you see, Miss Lou,
just how cool that ol' pirate took it all. Washy was tellin' me. He
just browbeat 'em an' left 'em with all their canvas slattin'.
“Oh, you can't tell me! That old pirate's handled a crew without no
tongs, you may lay to that! And what he's done to poor old Cap'n
She went away shaking a sorrowful head and without finishing her
sentence. Louise was unable to shake off the burden of doubt of Cap'n
Amazon's character and good intentions. She felt that she could not
spend the long evening in his company, and bidding him good-night
through the open store door she retired to the upper floor.
She felt that sleep was far from her eyelids on this night;
therefore she lit a candle and went into the storeroom to get something
to read. She selected a much battered volume, printed in an early year
of the nineteenth century, its title being:
Seafaring Yarns of a Lubber.
Louise became enthralled by the narratives of perilous adventure and
odd happenings on shipboard which the author claimed to have himself
observed. She read for an hour or more, while the sounds in the store
below gradually ceased and she heard Cap'n Amazon close and lock the
front door for the night.
Silence below. Outside the lap, lap, lap of the waves on the strand
and the rising moan of the surf over Gulf Rocks.
Louise turned a page. She plunged into another yarn. Breathlessly
and, almost fearfully she read it to the end—the very story of the
murdered albatross and the sailors' superstitious belief in the bird's
bad influence, as she had heard Cap'n Amazon relate it to Aunt Euphemia
She laid down the book at last in amazement and confusion. There was
no doubt now of Cap'n Amazon's mendacity. This book of nautical tales
had been written and printed long before Amazon Silt was born!
And if the falseness of his wild narratives was established, was it
a far cry to Betty Gallup's suspicions and accusations? What and who
was this man, who called himself Amazon Silt who had taken Cap'n Abe's
place in the store on the Shell Road?
Louise lay with wide-open eyes for a long time. Then she crept out
of bed and turned the key in the lock of her door—the first time she
had thought to do such a thing since her arrival at Cardhaven.
CHAPTER XX. THE SUN WORSHIPERS
“Them movin' picture people are hoppin' about The Beaches like
sandpipers,” observed Cap'n Amazon at the breakfast table. “And I opine
they air pretty average useless, too. They were hurrahin' around all
day yest'day while you was out fishin'. Want to take a picture of Abe's
old store here. Dunno what to do about it.”
Louise was too much disturbed by her discoveries of overnight to
give much attention to this subject.
“It's Abe's store, you see,” went on Cap'n Amazon. “Dunno how he'd
feel 'bout havin' it took in a picture and showed all over the country.
It needs a coat o' paint hi-mighty bad. Ought to be fixed up some 'fore
havin' its picture took—don't ye think so, Niece Louise?”
The girl awoke to the matter sufficiently to advise him:
“The lack of paint will not show in the picture, Uncle Amazon. And I
suppose they want the store for a location just because it is
weather-beaten and old-fashioned.”
“I want to know! Well, now, if I was in the photograftin' business,
seems t' me I'd pick out the nice-lookin' places to make pictures of. I
knowed a feller once that made a business of takin' photografts in
furin' parts. He sailed with me when I was master of the Blue
Sparrow—clipper built she was, an' a spankin' fine craft. We——”
“Oh, Uncle Amazon!” Louise cried, rising from, the table suddenly,
“you'll have to excuse me. I—I forgot something upstairs. Yes—I've
finished my breakfast. Betty can clear off.”
She fairly ran away from the table. It seemed to her as though she
could not sit and listen to another of his preposterous stories. It
would be on the tip of her tongue to declare her disbelief in his
accuracy. How and where he had gained access to Cap'n Abe's store of
nautical romances she could not imagine; but she was convinced that
many, if not all, of his supposedly personal adventures were entirely
fictitious in so far as his own part in them was concerned.
She put on her hat and went out of the back door in order to escape
further intercourse with Cap'n Amazon for the present. On the shore she
found the spot below the Bozewell bungalow a busy scene. This was a
perfect day for “the sun worshipers,” as somebody has dubbed motion
picture people. Director Anscomb was evidently planning to secure
several scenes and the entire company was on hand.
Louise saw that there were a number of spectators besides
herself—some from the town, but mostly young folk from the cottages
along The Beaches.
Lawford Tapp was present, and she waved her hand to him, yet
preserving an air of merely good comradeship. She was glad that he did
not know that it was she who had leaped to his rescue the day before.
Considering the nature of the feeling she had for him, into the
knowledge of which his peril had surprised her, the girl could not
endure any intimate conversation with Lawford. Not just then, at least.
Tapp was in the midst of a group of girls, and she remarked his ease
of manner. She did not wonder at it, for he was a gentleman by instinct
no matter what his social level might be. Three of the girls were those
Louise Grayling believed to be daughters of Lawford's employer.
She saw that he was breaking away from the group with the intention
of coming to her. L'Enfant Terrible said something to him and laughed
shrilly. She saw Lawford's cheek redden.
So Louise welcomed the approach of Mr. Bane, who chanced at the
moment to be idle.
“Now you will see us grinding them out, Miss Grayling,” the actor
Louise broke into a series of questions regarding the taking of the
pictures. Her evident interest in the big leading man halted Lawford's
approach. Besides, Miss Louder, who had evidently been introduced to
the Taffy King's son, attached herself to him.
She was a pretty girl despite the layers of grease paint necessary
to accentuate the lights and shadows of her piquant face. Her manner
with men was free without being bold. With a big parasol over her
shoulder, she adapted her step to Lawford's and they strolled nearer.
Bane was speaking of the script he had previously mentioned as
containing a part eminently fitted for Louise. As Lawford and Miss
Louder passed he said:
“I am sure you can do well in that part, Miss Grayling. It is
exactly your style.”
Had Lawford any previous reason for doubting Louise Grayling's
connection with the moving picture industry this overheard remark would
have lulled such a doubt to sleep.
The young man realized well enough that Louise was a very different
girl from the blithe young woman at his side. But how could he make I.
Tapp see it?
Money was not everything in the world; Lawford Tapp was far from
thinking it was. He had always considered it of much less importance
than the things one could exchange it for.
However, never having felt the necessity for working for mere pelf,
and being untrained for any form of industry whatsoever, his father's
threat of disowning him loomed a serious menace to the young man.
Not for himself did Lawford fear. He felt warm blood in his veins,
vigor in his muscles, a keen edge to his nerves. He could
work—preferably with his hands. He realized quite fully his limitation
of brain power.
But what right had he to ask any girl to share his lot—especially a
girl like Louise Grayling, who he supposed won a sufficient livelihood
in a profession the emoluments of which must be far greater than those
of any trade he might seek to follow?
He saw now that after his somewhat desultory college course, his
months of loafing about on sea and shore had actually unfitted him for
concentration upon any ordinary work. And he was not sanguine enough to
expect an extraordinary situation to come his way.
Then, too, the young man realized that Louise Grayling had not given
him the least encouragement to lead him to believe that she thought of
him at all. At this moment her preference for Bane's society seemed
marked. Already Cecile had rasped Lawford regarding the leading man's
attentions to Louise.
Lawford could not face the taunting glances of Marian and Prue. They
had come down to the beach on this particular morning he felt sure to
comment—and not kindly—upon Louise Grayling. He hoped that she was
not included in the director's plans for the day, and he was glad to
see that she had no make-up on, as had these other young women.
So he strolled on grimly with Miss Louder, who would not be called
for work for an hour. But the young man heard little of her chatter.
The tide was at the ebb and the two walked on at the edge of the
splashing surf, where the strand was almost as firm as a cement walk.
The curve of the beach took them toward the lighthouse and here,
approaching with bucket and clam hoe along the flats, was the very
lightkeeper who had watched the Merry Andrew and her crew the
day, before when Lawford met with his accident.
“There ye be, Mr. Lawford,” crowed the man, “as chipper as a
sandpiper. But I swanny, I didn't ever expect t' hail ye again this
side o' Jordan, one spell yest'day.”
“You had your glass on us, did you?” Lawford said languidly.
“I did, young man—I did. An' when that bobbin' skiff walloped ye on
the side of the head I never 'spected t' see you come up again. If it
hadn't been for this little lady who———Shucks, now! This ain't her
'tall, is it?”
“Oh, Mr. Tapp, were you in a boating accident yesterday?” cried Miss
“I was overboard—yes,” responded Lawford, but rather blankly, for
he was startled by the lightkeeper's statement. “What do you mean,
Jonas?” to the lightkeeper. “Didn't Betty Gallup haul me inboard?”
“Bet Gallup—nawthin'!” exploded Jonas with disgust. “She handled
that sloop o' yourn all right. I give her credit for that. But 'twas
that there gal stayin' at Cap'n Abe's. Ye had her out with ye, eh?”
“Miss Grayling? Certainly.”
“She's some gal, even if she is city bred,” was the lightkeeper's
enthusiastic observation. “An' quick! My soul! Ye'd ought to seen her
kick off her skirt an' shoes an' dive after ye! I swanny, she was a
“I should think she would have been!” gasped Miss Louder with some
scorn. “Goodness me, she must be a regular stunt actress!” and she
But Lawford gave her small attention. “Jonas, do you mean that?” he
asked. “I thought it was Betty who saved me. Why, dad said this morning
he was going to send the old woman a check. He doesn't much approve of
me,” and the heir of the Taffy King smiled rather grimly, “but as I'm
the last Tapp——”
“He's glad ye didn't git done for com-pletely, heh?”
suggested Jonas, and giggled. “I wouldn't for a minute stand in the way
of Bet Gallup's gittin' what's due her. She did pick ye both up,
Lawford. But, land sakes! ye'd been six fathoms down, all right, if it
hadn't been for that gal at Cap'n Abe's.”
“I—I had no idea of it. I never even thanked her,” muttered
Lawford. “What can she think of me?”
But not even Miss Louder heard this. She realized, however, that the
young man who she had been told was “the greatest catch at The Beaches"
was much distrait and that her conversation seemed not to interest him
They went back toward the scene of the film activities. It was the
hour of the usual promenade on the sands. Everybody in the summer
colony appeared on the beach while the walking along the water's edge
was fine. This promenade hour was even more popular than the bathing
hour which was, of, course, at high tide.
Groups of women, young and old, strolled under gay parasols, or
camped on the sands to chat. Brilliantly striped marquees were set up
below some of the cottages, in which tea and other refreshments were
served. The younger people fluttered about, talking and laughing, much
like a flock of Mother Carey's chickens before a storm.
There were several wagons over from the Haven, in which the
small-fry summer visitors arrived and joined their more aristocratic
neighbors. The wagons stopped upon the Shell Road and the passengers
climbed down to the beach between two of the larger cottages.
The people at The Beaches had tried on several occasions to inclose
the stretch of shore below their summer homes, and to make it a private
beach. But even the most acquisitive of the town councilmen (and there
were several of the fraternity of the Itching Palm in the council)
dared not establish such a precedent. The right of the public to the
shore at tide-water could not safely be ignored in a community of
fishermen and clam diggers.
So the shore on this morning had become a gay scene, with the
interest centering on the open air studio of the film company. Lawford
saw Louise walking on alone along the edge of the water. Bane had been
called into conference by the director.
Lawford could not well hasten his steps and desert Miss Louder, but
he desired strongly to do so. And ere the film actress lingeringly left
him to rejoin her company, Louise was some distance in advance.
His sisters were near her. Lawford could see them look at her most
superciliously, and the saucy Cecile said something that made Prue
Just beyond the Tapp girls was approaching a group of women and men.
Lawford recognized them as the Perritons and their friends. Lawford had
no particular interest in the summer crowd himself; but he knew the
Perritons were influential people in the social world.
With them was a majestic person the young man had never seen before.
Undoubtedly the “Lady from Poughkeepsie.” Her pink countenance and
beautifully dressed gray hair showed to excellent advantage under the
black and white parasol she carried.
She stepped eagerly before the party, calling:
Louise Grayling raised her head and waved a welcoming hand.
“What brings you forth so early in the morning, auntie?” she asked,
her voice ringing clearly across the sands.
There were at least four dumfounded spectators of this meeting, and
they were all named Tapp.
Lawford stood rooted to the sands, feeling quite as though the
universe had fallen into chaos. It was only L'Enfant Terrible who found
“Oh, my!” she cried. “What a mistake! The movie queen turns out to
be some pumpkins!”
CHAPTER XXI. DISCOVERIES
Louise, knowing Aunt Euphemia so well, was immediately aware that
the haughty lady had something more than ordinarily unpleasant to
communicate. It was nothing about Uncle Amazon and the Shell Road
store; some other wind of mischance had ruffled her soul.
But the girl ignored Aunt Euphemia's signals for several minutes;
until she made herself, indeed, more familiar with the manner and
personal attributes of these new acquaintances. There was a Miss
Perriton of about her own age whom she liked at first sight. Two or
three men of the party were clean-cut and attractive fellows. Despite
the fact that their cottage had been so recently opened for the season,
the Perritons had already assembled a considerable house party.
“Louise, I wish to talk to you,” at last said Mrs. Conroth grimly.
“True,” sighed her niece. “And how extremely exact you always are in
your use of the language, auntie. You never wish to talk with
me. You will do all the talking as usual, I fear.”
“You are inclined to be saucy,” bruskly rejoined Aunt Euphemia. “As
your father is away I feel more deeply my responsibility in this
matter. You are a wayward girl—you always have been.”
“You don't expect me to agree with you on that point, do you,
auntie?” Louise asked sweetly.
Mrs. Conroth ignored the retort, continuing: “I am not amazed, after
seeing your surroundings at the Silt place, that you should become
familiar with these common longshore characters. But this that I have
just learned—only this forenoon in fact—astonishes me beyond measure;
it does, indeed!”
“Let me be astonished, too, auntie. I love a surprise,” drawled her
“Where were you yesterday?” demanded Aunt Euphemia sharply.
Louise at once thought she knew what was coming. She smiled as she
replied: “Out fishing.”
“And with whom, may I ask?”
“With Betty Gallup, Uncle Abram's housekeeper.”
“But the man?”
“Oh! Mr. Tapp, you mean? A very pleasant young man, auntie.”
“That is what I was told, Louise,” her aunt said mournfully. “With
young Tapp. And you have been seen with him frequently. It is being
remarked by the whole colony. Of course, you can mean nothing by this
intimacy. It arises from your thoughtlessness, I presume. You must
understand that he is not—er——Well, the Tapps are not of our set,
“My goodness, no!” laughed the girl cheerfully. “The Tapps are real
Cape Codders, I believe.”
Aunt Euphemia raised her eyebrows and her lorgnette together. “I do
not understand you, I fear. What the Tapps are by blood, I do not know.
But they are not in society at all—not at all!”
“Not in society?” repeated Louise, puzzled indeed.
“Scarcely. Of course, as Mrs. Perriton says, the way the cottagers
are situated here at The Beaches, the Tapps must be treated with
a certain friendliness. That quite impossible 'I. Tapp,' as he
advertises himself, owns all the Point and might easily make it very
disagreeable for the rest of the colony if he so chose.”
She stopped because of the expression on her niece's countenance.
“What do you mean?” Louise asked. “Who—who are these Tapps?”
“My dear child! Didn't you know? Was I blaming you for a fault of
which you were not intentionally guilty? See how wrong you are to go
unwarned and unaccompanied to strange places and into strange company.
I thought you were merely having a mild flirtation with that young man
in the full light of understanding.”
Louise controlled her voice and her countenance with an effort.
“Tell me, Aunt Euphemia,” she repeated, “just who Lawford Tapp is?”
“His father is a manufacturer of cheap candies. He is advertised far
and wide as 'I. Tapp, the Salt Water Taffy King.' Fancy! I presume you
are quite right; they probably were nothing more than clam diggers
originally. The wife and daughters are extremely raw; no other word
expresses it. And that house! Have you seen it close to? There was
never anything quite so awful built outside an architect's nightmare.”
“They own Tapp Point? That is Lawford's home? Those girls are
his sisters?” Louise murmured almost breathlessly.
“Whom did you take that young man to be, Louise?”
“A fisherman's son,” confessed her niece, in a very small voice. And
at that Aunt Euphemia all but fainted.
But Louise would say nothing more—just then. On the approach of
some of her friends, Mrs. Conroth was forced to put a cap upon her
vexation, and bid her niece good-day as sweetly as though she had never
dreamed of boxing her ears.
Louise climbed the nearest stairs to the summit of the bluff. She
felt she could not meet Lawford at this time, and he was between her
and the moving picture actors.
Within the past few hours several things that had seemed stable in
Louise Grayling's life had been shaken.
She had accepted in the very first of her acquaintanceship with
Lawford Tapp the supposition that his social position was quite
inferior to her own. She was too broadly democratic to hold that as an
insurmountable barrier between them.
Her disapproval of the young man grew out of her belief in his
identity as a mere “hired man” of the wealthy owner of the villa on the
Point. She had considered that a man who was so intelligent and well
educated and at the same time so unambitious was lacking in those
attributes of character necessary to make him a success in life.
His love for the open—for the sea and shore and all that pertained
to them—coincided exactly with Louise's own aspirations. She
considered it all right that her father and herself spent much of their
time as Lawford spent his. Only, daddy-prof often added to the
sum-total of human knowledge by his investigations, and sometimes added
to their financial investments through his work as well.
Until now she had considered Lawford Tapp's tendencies toward living
such an irresponsible existence as all wrong—for him. The rather
exciting information she had just gained changed her mental attitude
toward the young man entirely.
Louise gave no consideration whatsoever to Aunt Euphemia's snobbish
stand in the matter of Lawford's social position. Professor Grayling
had laughingly said that Euphemia chose to ignore the family's small
beginnings in America. True, the English Graylings possessed a crest
and a pedigree as long as the moral law. But in America the family had
begun by being small tradespeople and farmers.
Of course, Louise considered, Aunt Euphemia would be very unpleasant
and bothersome about this matter. Louise had hoped to escape all that
for the summer by fleeing to Cap'n Abe's store at Cardhaven.
However (and the girl's lips set firmly) she was determined to take
her own gait—to stand upon her own opinion—to refuse to be swerved
from her chosen course by any consideration. Lawford Tapp was in a
financial situation to spend his time in the improvement of his body
and mind without regard to money considerations. Louise foresaw that
they were going to have a delightful time together along the shore
here, until daddy-prof came home in the fall. And then——
She saw no such cloud upon the horizon as Lawford saw. Louise
acknowledged the existence of nothing—not even Aunt Euphemia's
opposition—which could abate the happiness she believed within her
She admitted that her interest in Lawford had risen far above the
mark of mere friendly feeling. When she had seen him sinking the day
before, and in peril of his life, she knew beyond peradventure that his
well-being and safety meant more to her than anything else in the
Now she was only anxious to have him learn that she instead of Betty
had leaped into the sea after him. She would avoid him no more. Only
she did not wish to meet him there on the beach before all those
idlers. Louise feared that if she did so, she would betray her
happiness. She thrilled with it—she was obsessed with the thought that
there was nothing, after all, to separate Lawford and herself!
Yet the day passed without his coming to the store on the Shell
Road. Louise still felt some disturbance of mind regarding Cap'n
Amazon. She kept away from him as much as possible, for she feared that
she might be tempted to blurt out just what she thought of his
She did not like to hear Betty Gallup utter her diatribes against
the master mariner; although in secret she was inclined to accept as
true many of the “able seaman's” strictures upon Cap'n Amazon's
It was really hard when she was in his presence to think of him as
an audacious prevaricator—and perhaps worse. He was so kindly in his
manner and speech to her. His brisk consideration for her comfort at
all times—his wistful glances for Jerry, the ancient canary, and the
tenderness he showed the bird—even his desire to placate Diddimus, the
tortoise-shell cat—all these things withstood the growing ill-opinion
being fostered in Louise Grayling's mind. Who and what was this
mysterious person calling himself Cap'n Amazon Silt?
She had, too, a desire to know just how many of those weird stories
he told were filched from Cap'n Abe's accumulation of nautical
literature. When Cap'n Amazon had gained access to the chest of books
Louise could not imagine; but the fact remained that he had at least
two of the stories pat.
Louise had promised to spend the evening at the Perritons, and did
so; but she returned to Cap'n Abe's store early and did not invite her
escort in, although he was a youth eager to taste the novelty of being
intimate with “one of these old Cape Codders,” as he expressed it.
“No,” she told young Malcolm Standish firmly. “Uncle Amazon is not
to be made a peepshow of by the idle rich of The Beaches. Besides, from
your own name, you should be a descendant of Miles Standish, and blood
relation to these Cape Codders yourself. And Uncle Amazon and Uncle
Abram are fine old gentlemen.” She said it boldly, whether she could
believe it about Cap'n Amazon or not. “I will not play showman.”
“Oh, say! Ford Tapp comes here. I saw his car standing outside the
“Mr. Tapp,” Louise explained calmly, “comes in the right spirit. He
is a friend of the—ahem—family. He is well known to Cap'n Abe who
owns the store and has made himself acquainted with Cap'n Amazon over
“And how has he made himself so solid with you, Miss Grayling?”
Standish asked impudently.
“By his gentlemanly behavior, and because he knows a deal more about
boat-sailing and the shores than I know,” she retorted demurely.
“Leave it to me!” exclaimed Malcolm Standish. “I am going to learn
navigation and fishology at once.”
“But—don't you think you may be too late?” she asked him, running
up the steps. “Good-night, Mr. Standish!”
Upon going indoors she did not find Cap'n Amazon. The lamp was
burning in the living-room, but he was not there and the store was
dark. Louise mounted the stairs, rather glad of his absence; but when
she came to the top of the flight she saw the lamplight streaming
through the open door of her uncle's bedroom. Diddimus, with waving
tail, was just advancing into the “cabin,” as Cap'n Amazon called the
chamber he occupied.
Knowing that he particularly objected to having any of his
possessions disturbed, and fearing that Diddimus might do some mischief
there, Louise followed the tortoise-shell, calling to him:
“Come out of there! Come out instantly, Diddimus! What do you mean
by venturing in where we are all forbidden to enter? Don't you know,
Diddimus, that only fools dare venture where angels fear to tread?
Something on the washstand caught Louise's glance. In the bottom of
the washbowl was the stain of a dark brown liquid. Beside it stood a
bottle the label of which she could read from the doorway.
She caught her breath, standing for half a minute as though
entranced. Diddimus, hearing a distant footstep, and evidently
suspecting it, whisked past Louise out of the room.
There were other articles on the washstand that claimed the girl's
notice; but it was to the bottle labeled “Walnut Stain” that her gaze
returned. She crept away to her own room, lit her lamp, and did not
even see Cap'n Amazon Silt again that night.
CHAPTER XXII. SHOCKING NEWS
“Ford Tapp was here last night,” Cap'n Amazon told Louise at the
breakfast table. “I cal'late he was lookin' for you, though he didn't
just up an' say so. Seemed worried like for fear't you wouldn't have a
good opinion of him.”
“Mercy! what has he done?” cried the girl laughing, for even the
sound of Lawford's name made her glad.
“Seems it's what he ain't done. What's all this 'bout your jumpin'
overboard t'other day and savin' him from drownin'?” and the mariner
fairly beamed upon her.
“Oh, uncle, you mustn't believe everything you hear!”
“No? But Bet Gallup says 'tis so. You air a hi-mighty plucky girl, I
guess. I allus have thought so—and so did Abe. But I kind of feel as
though I'm sort o' responsible for your safety an' well-bein' while you
air here, and I can't countenance no such actions.”
“Fellers like Ford Tapp air as plenty as horse-briers in a sand lot;
but girls like you ain't made often, I cal'late. Next time that feller
has to be rescued, you let Bet Gallup do it.”
She knew Cap'n Amazon well enough now to see that his roughness was
assumed. His eyes were moist as his gaze rested on her face, and he
blew his nose noisily at the end of his speech.
“You take keer o' yourself, Louise,” he added huskily. “If anything
should happen to you, what—what would Abe say?”
The depth of his feeling for her—so plainly and so unexpectedly
displayed—halted Louise in her already formed intention. She had
arisen on this morning, determined to “have it out” with Cap'n Amazon
Silt. On several points she wished to be enlightened—felt that she had
a right to demand an explanation.
For she was quite positive that Cap'n Amazon was not at all what he
claimed to be. His actual personality was as yet a mystery to her; but
she was positive on this point: He was not Captain Amazon Silt,
master mariner and rover of the seas. He was an entirely different
person, and Louise desired to know what he meant by this masquerade.
His seamanship, his speech, his masterful manner, were assumed. And
in the matter of his related adventures the girl was confident that
they were mere repetitions of what he had read.
Now Louise suddenly remembered how Cap'n Abe had welcomed her here
at the old store, and how cheerfully and tenderly this piratical
looking substitute for the storekeeper had assumed her care. No
relative or friend could have been kinder to her than Cap'n Amazon.
How could she, then, stand before him and say: “Cap'n Amazon, you
are an impostor. You have assumed a character that is not your own. You
tell awful stories about adventures that never befell you. What do you
mean by it all? And, in conclusion and above all, Where is Cap'n Abe
This had been Louise's intention when she came downstairs on this
morning. The nagging of Betty Gallup, the gossip of the other
neighbors, the wild suspicions whispered from lip to lip did not
influence her so much. It was what she had herself discovered the
evening before in the captain's “cabin” that urged her on.
Now Cap'n Amazon's display of tenderness “took all the wind out of
her sails,” as Betty Gallup would have said.
Louise watched him stirring about the living-room, chirruping to old
Jerry and thrusting his finger into the cage for the bird to hop upon
it, and finally shuffling off into the store. She hesitatingly followed
him. She desired to speak, but could not easily do so. And now Cap'n
Joab Beecher was before her.
Amiel Perdue had been uptown and brought down the early mail, of
which the most important piece was always the Boston morning paper.
Cap'n Joab had helped himself to this and was already unfolding it.
“What's in the Globe paper, Joab?” asked Cap'n Amazon. “You
millionaires 'round here git more time to read it than ever I
do, I vum!”
“It don't cost you nothin' to have us read it,” said Cap'n Joab
easily. “The news is all here arter we git through.”
“Uh-huh! I s'pose so. I'd ought to thank ye, I don't dispute, for
keepin' the paper from feelin' lonesome.
“I dunno why Abe takes it, anyway, 'cept to foller the sailin's and
arrivals at the port o' Boston—'nless he finds more time to read than
ever I do. I ain't ever been so busy in my life as I be in this
store—'nless it was when I shipped a menagerie for a feller at a Dutch
Guinea port and his monkeys broke out o' their cages when we was two
days at sea and they tried to run the ship.
“That was some v'y'ge, as the feller said,” continued Cap'n Amazon,
getting well under way as he lit his after-breakfast pipe. “Them
monkeys kep' all the crew on the jump and the afterguard scurcely got a
meal in peace, I was——”
“Belay there!” advised Cap'n Joab, with disgust. “Save that yarn for
the dog watch. What was it ye said that craft was named Cap'n Abe
Cap'n Amazon stopped in his story-telling and was silent for an
instant. Louise, who had stood at the inner doorway listening, turned
to go, when she heard the substitute storekeeper finally say:
“Curlew, out o' Boston.”
The name caught the girl's instant attention and she felt suddenly
“Here's news o' her,” Cap'n Joab said in a hushed voice. “And it
ain't good news, Cap'n Silt.”
“What d'ye mean?” asked the latter.
“Report from Fayal. A Portugee fisherman's picked up and brought in
a boat with 'Curlew' painted on her stern, and he saw spars and
wreckage driftin' near the empty boat. There's been a hurricane out
there. It—it looks bad, Cap'n Silt.”
Before the latter could speak again Louise was at his side and had
seized his tattooed arm.
“Uncle Amazon!” she gasped. “Not the Curlew? Didn't I tell
you before? That is the schooner daddy-prof's party sailed upon. Can
there be two Curlews?”
“My soul and body!” exclaimed Cap'n Joab.
It was Cap'n Amazon who kept his head.
“Not likely to be two craft of the same name and register—no, my
dear,” he said, patting her hand. “But don't take this so much to
heart. It's only rumor. A dozen things might have happened to set that
boat adrift. Ain't that so, Cap'n Joab?”
Cap'n Joab swallowed hard and nodded; but his wind-bitten face
displayed much distress. “I had no idee the gal's father was aboard
that schooner with Cap'n Abe.”
“Why, sure! I forgot it for a minute,” Cap'n Amazon said cheerfully.
“There, there, my dear. Don't take on so. Abe's with your father, if so
be anything has happened the Curlew; and Abe'll take keer o'
him. Sure he will! Ain't he a Silt? And lemme tell you a Silt never
backed down when trouble riz up to face him. No, sir!”
“But if they have been wrecked?” groaned Louise. “Both father and
Uncle Abram. What shall we do about it, Uncle Amazon?”
In this moment of trouble she clung to the master mariner as her
single recourse. And impostor or no, he who called himself Amazon Silt
did not fail her.
“There ain't nothing much we can rightly do at this minute, Niece
Louise,” he told her firmly, still patting her morsel of a hand in his
huge one. “We'll watch the noospapers and I'll send a telegraph
dispatch to the ship news office in N'York and git just the latest word
there is 'bout the Curlew.
“You be brave, girl—you be brave. Abe an' Professor Grayling being
together, o' course they'll get along all right. One'll help t'other.
Two pullin' on the sheet can allus h'ist the sail quicker than one.
Keep your heart up, Louise.”
She looked at him strangely for a moment. The tears frankly standing
in his eyes, the quivering muscles of his face, his expression of keen
sorrow for her fears—all impressed her. She suddenly kissed him in
gratitude, impostor though she knew him to be, and then ran away. Cap'n
Joab hissed across the counter:
“Ye don't know that Cap'n Abe's on that there craft, Am'zon
“Well, if I don't—an' if you don't—don't lemme hear you makin' any
cracks about it 'round this store so't she'll hear ye,” growled Cap'n
Amazon, boring into the very soul of the flustered Joab with his fierce
Louise did not hear the expression of these doubts; but she suffered
uncertainties in her own mind. She longed to talk with somebody to whom
she could tell all that was in her thoughts. Aunt Euphemia was out of
the question, of course; although she must reveal to her the possible
peril menacing Professor Grayling. Betty Gallup could not be trusted,
Louise knew. And the day dragged by its limping hours without Lawford
Tapp's coming near the store on the Shell Road.
This last Louise could not understand. But there was good reason for
Lawford's effacing himself at this time. In the empire of the Taffy
King there was revolution, and this trouble dated from the hour on the
previous morning when Louise had met and greeted Aunt Euphemia on the
The Tapp sisters may have been purse-proud and a little vulgar—from
Aunt Euphemia's point of view, at least—but they did not lack acumen.
They had seen and heard the greeting of Louise by the Ferritons and the
extremely haughty Lady from Poughkeepsie, and knew that Louise must be
Cecile, young and bold enough to be direct, was not long in making
discoveries. With a rather blank expression of countenance L'Enfant
Terrible, for once almost speechless, beckoned her sisters to one side.
“Pestiferous infant,” drawled Marian, “tell us who she is?”
“Is she a Broadway star?” asked Prue.
“Oh, she's a star all right,” Cecile said, with disgust in her tone.
“We've been a trio of sillies, ignoring her. Fordy's fallen on
both feet—only he's too dense to know it, I s'pose.”
“Tell us!” commanded Prue. “Who is she?”
“She's no screen actress,” answered the gloomy Cecile.
“Who is she, then?” gasped Marian.
“Sue Perriton says she is Mrs. Conroth's niece, and Mrs. Conroth is
all the Society with a capital letter there is. Now, figure it
out,” said Cecile tartly. “If you smarties had taken her up right at
“But we didn't kno-o-ow!” wailed Marian.
“Go on!” commanded Prue grimly.
“Why, Miss Grayling's father is a big scientist, or something, at
Washington. Her mother happened to be born here on the Cape; she was a
Card. This girl is just stopping over there with that old fellow who
keeps the store—her half-uncle—for a lark. What do you know about
“My word!” murmured Marian.
“He's mamma's precious white-haired boy this time,” declared
the slangy Cecile.
“Do—do you suppose he knew it all the time?” questioned Marian.
“Never! Just like old Doc Ambrose says, there isn't much above
Fordy's ears but solid bone,” scoffed L'Enfant Terrible.
“Wait till ma hears of this,” murmured Prue, and they proceeded to
beat a retreat for home that their mother might be informed of the
wonder. Lawford was already out of sight.
“How really fortunate Fordy is,” murmured Mrs. Tapp, having received
the shocking news and been revived after it. “Fancy! Mrs. Conroth's own
“It's going to put us in just right with the best of the
crowd at The Beaches,” Prue announced. “We've only been tolerated so
“Oh, Prudence!” admonished Mrs. Tapp.
“That's the truth,” her second daughter repeated bluntly. “We might
as well admit it. Now, if Fordy only puts this over with this Miss
Grayling, they'll have to take us up; for it's plain to be seen
they won't drop Miss Grayling, no matter whom she marries.”
“If Fordy doesn't miss the chance,” muttered Cecile.
“He wouldn't be mean enough to drop her just to spite us!” wailed
“No,” said Prue. “He won't do that. Ford isn't a butterfly. You must
admit that he's as steadfast as a rock in his likes and dislikes. Once
he gets a thing in that head of his———Well! I'm sure he's fond of
“But that big actor?” suggested Cecile.
“Surely,” gasped Mrs. Tapp, “the girl cannot fancy such a person as
“My! you should just see Judson Bane,” sighed Cecile.
“He's the matinee girl's delight,” drawled Marian. “Ford has the
advantage, however, if he will take it. He's too modest.”
Mrs. Tapp's face suddenly paled and she clasped a plump hand to her
bosom. “Oh, girls!” she gasped.
“Now what, mother?” begged Prue.
“What will I. Tapp say?”
“Oh, bother father!” scoffed L'Enfant Terrible.
“He doesn't care what Ford does,” Prue said.
“Does he ever really care what any of us does?” observed Marian, yet
looking doubtfully at her mother.
“You don't understand, girls!” wailed Mrs. Tapp, wringing her hands.
“You know he made me write and invite that Johnson girl here.”
“Oh, Dot Johnson!” said Prue. “Well, she is harmless.”
“She's not harmless,” declared Mrs. Tapp. “I. Tapp ordered me
to get her here because, he wants Ford to marry her.”
“Marry Dot Johnson?” gasped Prue.
“Oh, bluey!” ejaculated the slangy Cecile.
“But of course Ford won't do it,” drawled Marian.
“Then he means to disinherit poor Ford! Oh, yes, he will!” sobbed
the lady. “They've had words about it already. You know very well that
when once I. Tapp makes up his mind to do a thing, he does it.” And
there she broke down utterly, with the girls looking at each other in
CHAPTER XXIII. BETWEEN THE FIRES
The discovery of Louise's identity was but a mild shock to Lawford
after all. His preconceived prejudice against the ordinary feminine
member of “The Profession” had, during his intercourse with Cap'n Abe's
niece, been lulled to sleep. Miss Louder and Miss Noyes more nearly
embodied his conception of actresses—nice enough young women, perhaps,
but entirely different from Louise Grayling.
Lawford forgave the latter for befooling him in the matter of her
condition in life; indeed, he realized that he had deceived himself. He
had accepted the gossip of the natives—Milt Baker was its originator,
he remembered—as true, and so had believed Louise Grayling was
connected with the moving picture company.
Her social position made no difference to him. At first sight
Lawford Tapp had told himself she was the most charming woman he had
For a college graduate of twenty-four he was, though unaware of the
fact, rather unsophisticated regarding women.
He had given but slight attention to girls. Perhaps they interested
him so little because of his three sisters.
He remembered now that he and Dot Johnson had been pretty good
“pals” before he had gone to college, and while Dot was still in middy
blouse and wore her hair in plaits.
Now, as he walked along the beach and thought of the daughter of his
father's partner, he groaned. He, as well as the women of the family,
knew well the Taffy King's obstinacy.
His streak of determination had enabled I. Tapp to reach the
pinnacle of business wealth and influence. When he wanted a thing he
went after it, and he got it!
If his father was really determined that Lawford should marry Dot
Johnson, and her parents were willing, the young man had an almost
uncanny feeling that the candy manufacturer's purpose would be
And yet Lawford knew that such was a coward-nature feeling. Why
should he give up the only thing he had ever really wanted in life—so
it seemed to him now—because of any third person's obstinacy?
“Of course, she won't have me anyway,” an inner voice told him. And,
after a time, Lawford realized that that, too, was his coward-nature
On the other hand: “Why should I give her up? Further, why should I
marry Dot Johnson against my will, whether I can get Louise Grayling or
This thought electrified him. His easy-going, placid disposition had
made a coward of him. In his heart and soul he was now ready to fight
for what he desired. It was now not merely the question of winning
Louise's love. Whether he could win her or not his determination grew
to refuse to obey his father's command. He revolted, right then and
there. Let his father keep his money. He, Lawford Tapp, would go to
work in any case and would support himself.
This was no small resolve on the part of the millionaire's son. He
could not remember of ever having put his hand into an empty pocket.
His demands on the paternal purse had been more reasonable than most
young men of his class perhaps, because of his naturally simple tastes
and the life he had led outside the classroom. Without having “gone in"
for athletics at Cambridge he was essentially an out-of-door man.
Nevertheless, to stand in open revolt against I. Tapp's command was
a very serious thing to do. Lawford appreciated his own shortcomings in
the matter of intellect. He knew he was not brilliant enough to make
his wit entirely serve him for daily bread—let alone cake and other
luxuries. If his father disinherited him he must verily expect to earn
his bread by the sweat of his brow.
It was that evening, after his fruitless call at Cap'n Abe's store,
that the young man met his father and had it out. Lawford came back to
Tapp Point in the motor boat. As he walked up from the dock there was a
sudden eruption of voices from the house, a door banged, and the Taffy
King began exploding verbal fireworks as he crunched the gravel under
“I'll show him! Young upstart! Settin' the women on me! Ha! Thinks
he can do as he pleases forever and ever, amen! I'll show him!”
Just then he came face to face with “the young upstart.” I. Tapp
seized his son's arm with a vicious if puny grasp and yelled:
“What d'you mean by it?”
“Mean by what, dad?” asked the boy with that calmness that always
irritated I. Tapp.
“Settin' your ma and the girls on me? They all lit on me at once.
All crying together some foolishness about your marrying this Grayling
girl and putting the family into society.”
“Into society?” murmured Lawford. “I—I don't get you.”
“You know what they're after,” cried the candy manufacturer. “If a
dynamite bomb would blow in the walls of that exclusive Back Bay set,
they'd use one. And now it turns out this girl's right in the
swim———I thought you said she was a picture actress?”
“I thought she was,” stammered Lawford.
“Bah! You thought? You never thought a thing in your life of any
The young man was silent at this thrust. His silence made I. Tapp
“But it makes no difference—no difference at all, I tell you. If
she was the queen of Sheba I'd say the same,” went on the candy
manufacturer wildly. “I've said you shall marry Dorothy Johnson—I've
always meant you should; and marry her you shall!”
“No, dad, I'm not going to do any such thing.”
Suddenly the Taffy King quieted down. He struggled to control his
voice and his shaking hands. A deadly calm mantled his excitement and
his eyes glittered as he gazed up at his tall son.
“Is this a straight answer, Lawford? Or are you just talking to hear
yourself talk?” he asked coldly.
“I am determined not to marry Dot.”
“And you'll marry that other girl?”
“If she'll have me. But whether or no I won't be forced into
marriage with a girl I do not love.”
“Love!” exploded the Taffy King. Then in a moment he was calm again,
only for that inward glow of rage. “People don't really love each other
until after marriage. Love is born of propinquity and thrives on usage
and custom. You only think you love this girl. It's after two
people have been through a good deal together that they learn what love
Lawford was somewhat startled by this philosophy; but he was by no
“Whether or no,” he repeated, “I think I should have the same right
that you had of choosing a wife.”
His father brushed this aside without comment. “Do you understand
what this means—if you are determined to disobey me?” he snarled.
“I suppose you won't begrudge me a bite and sup till I find a job,
dad?” the son said with just a little tremor in his voice. “I know I
haven't really anything of my own. You have done everything for me.
Your money bought the very clothes I stand in. You gave me the means to
buy the Merry Andrew. I realize that nothing I have called my
own actually belongs to me because I did not earn it——”
“As long as you are amenable to discipline,” put in his father
gloomily, “you need not feel this way.”
“But I do feel it now,” said Lawford simply. “You have made me. And,
as I say, I'll need to live, I suppose, till I get going for myself.”
His father winced again. Then suddenly burst out:
“D'you think for a minute that that society girl will stand for your
getting a job and trying to support her on your wages?”
“She will if she loves me.”
“You poor ninny!” burst out I. Tapp. “You've got about as much idea
of women as you have of business. And where are you going to work?”
“Well,” and Lawford smiled a little whimsically, serious though the
discussion was, “I've always felt a leaning toward the candy business.
I believe I have a natural adaptability for that. Couldn't I find a job
in one of your factories, dad?”
“You'll get no leg-up from me, unless you show you're worthy of it.”
“But you'll give me a job?”
“I won't interfere if the superintendent of any of the factories
takes you on,” growled I. Tapp. “But mind you, he'll hire you on his
own responsibility—he'll understand that from me. But I tell you right
now this is no time to apply for a job in a candy factory. We're
discharging men—not hiring them.”
“I will apply for the first opening,” announced the son.
I. Tapp stamped away along the graveled walk, leaving the young man
alone. Lawford's calmness was as irritating to him as sea water to a
CHAPTER XXIV. GRAY DAYS
Those days were dark for Louise Grayling; on her shoulders she bore
double trouble. Anxiety for her father's safety made her sufficiently
unhappy; but in addition her mind must cope with the mystery of Cap'n
Amazon's identity and Cap'n Abe's whereabouts.
For she was not at all satisfied in her heart that the storekeeper
had sailed from the port of Boston on the Curlew; and the status
of the piratical looking Amazon Silt was by no means decided to her
satisfaction. Her discoveries in his bedroom had quite convinced the
young woman that Cap'n Amazon was in masquerade.
His comforting words and his thoughtfulness touched her so deeply,
however, that she could not quarrel with the old man; and his
insistence that Cap'n Abe had sailed on the Curlew and would be at hand
to assist Professor Grayling if the schooner had been wrecked was
kindly meant, she knew. He scoffed at the return of Cap'n Abe's chest
as being of moment; he refused to discuss his brother's reason for
stuffing the old chest with such useless lumber as it contained.
“Leave Abe for knowing his own business, Niece Louise. 'Tain't any
of our consarn,” was the most he would say about that puzzling
Louise watched the piratical figure of Cap'n Amazon shuffling around
the store or puttering about certain duties of housekeeping that he
insisted upon doing himself, with a wonder that never waned.
His household habits were those which she supposed Cap'n Abe to have
had. She wondered if all sailors were as neat and as fussy as he. He
still insisted upon doing much of the cooking; it was true that he had
good reason to doubt Betty Gallup's ability to cook.
When there were no customers in the store Louise often sat there
with Cap'n Amazon, with either a book or her sewing in her hand.
Sometimes they would not speak for an hour, while the substitute
storekeeper “made up the books,” which was a serious task for him.
He seemed normally dexterous in everything else, but he wrote with
his left hand—an angular, upright chirography which, Louise thought,
showed unmistakably that he was unfamiliar with the use of the pen.
“Writing up the log” he called this clerkly task, and his awkward
looking characters in the ledger were in great contrast to Cap'n Abe's
round, flowing hand.
For several days following the discovery in the “Globe paper"
of the notice about the Curlew, Louise Grayling and Cap'n Amazon
lived a most intimate existence. She would not allow Betty Gallup to
criticise the captain even slightly within her hearing.
They received news from New York which was no news at all. The
Boston Chamber of Commerce had heard no further word of the schooner.
Louise and the captain could only hope.
The world of seafaring is so filled with mysteries like this of the
Curlew, that Louise knew well that no further word might ever be
received of the vessel.
Cap'n Amazon rang the changes daily—almost hourly—upon sea escapes
and rescues. He related dozens of tales (of course with the personal
note in most), showing how ships' companies had escaped the threat of
disaster in marvelous and almost unbelievable ways.
Louise had not the heart now to stop this flow of narrative by
telling him bluntly that she doubted the authenticity of his tales. Nor
would she look into the old books again to search out the originals of
the stories which flowed so glibly from his lips.
Who and what he could really be puzzled Louise quite as much as
before; yet she had not the heart to probe the mystery with either
question or personal scrutiny. The uncertainty regarding the Curlew
and those on board filled so much of the girl's thought that little
else disturbed her.
Save one thing. She desired to see Lawford Tapp and talk with him.
But Lawford did not appear at the store on the Shell Road.
Mr. Bane came frequently to call. He was an eager listener to Cap'n
Amazon's stories and evidently enjoyed the master mariner hugely.
Several of the young people from the cottages along The Beaches called
on Louise; but if the girl desired to see Aunt Euphemia she had to go
to the Perritons, or meet the Lady from Poughkeepsie in her walks along
the sands. Aunt Euphemia could not countenance Cap'n Amazon in the
“It is a mystery to me, Louise—a perfect mystery—how you are able
to endure that awful creature and his coarse stories. That dreadful
tale of the albatross sticks in my mind—I cannot forget it,” she
complained. “And his appearance! No more savage looking man did I ever
behold. I wonder you are not afraid to live in the same house with
Louise would not acknowledge that she had ever been fearful of Cap'n
Amazon. Her own qualms of terror had almost immediately subsided. The
news from the Curlew, indeed, seemed to have smothered the
neighborhood criticism of the captain, if all suspicions had not
actually been lulled to rest.
Cap'n Amazon spoke no more of his brother, save in connection with
Professor Grayling's peril, than he had before. He seemed to have no
fears for Cap'n Abe. “Abe can look out for himself,” was a frequent
expression with him. But Cap'n Amazon never spoke as though he held the
danger of Louise's father in light regard.
“I'll give 'em a fortnight to be heard from,” Cap'n Joab Beecher
said confidently. “Then if ye don't hear from Cap'n Abe, or the
noospapers don't print nothin' more about the schooner, I shall write
her down in the log as lost with all hands.”
“Don't you be too sartain sure 'bout it,” growled Cap'n Amazon.
“There's many a wonder of the sea, as you an' I know, Joab Beecher.
Look at what happened the crew of the Mailfast, clipper built,
out o' Baltimore—an' that was when you an' I, Cap'n Joab, was
sharpenin' our milk teeth on salt hoss.”
“What happened her, Cap'n Am'zon?” queried Milt Baker, reaching for
a fresh piece of Brown Mule, and with a wink at the other idlers. “Did
she go down, or did she go up?”
“Both,” replied Cap'n Amazon unruffled. “She went up in smoke an'
flame, an' finally sunk when she'd burned to the Plimsol mark.
“Every man of the crew and afterguard got safely into two boats.
This wasn't far to the westward of Fayal—in mebbe somewhere near the
same spot where that Portugee fisherman reports pickin' up the
“When the Mailfast burned the sea was calm; but in six hours
a sudden gale came up and drove the two boats into the southwest. They
wasn't provisioned or watered for a long v'y'ge, and they had to run
for it a full week, ev'ry mile reeled off takin' them further an'
further from the islands, and further and further off the reg'lar
course of shipping.”
“Where'd they wind up at, Cap'n Am'zon?” asked Milt.
“Couldn't hit nothin' nearer'n the Guineas on that course,” growled
“There you're wrong,” the substitute storekeeper said. “They struck
seaweed—acres an' acres of it—square miles of it—everlastin'
“Sargasso Sea!” exploded Washy Gallup, wagging his toothless jaw. “I
“I've heard about that place, but never seen it,” said Cap'n Joab.
“And you don't want to,” declared the narrator of the incident. “It
ain't a place into which no sailorman wants to venture. The
Mailfast's comp'ny—so 'tis said—was driven far into the pulpy,
grassy sea. The miles of weed wrapped 'em around like a blanket. They
couldn't row because the weed fouled the oars; and they couldn't sail
'cause the weed was so heavy. But there's a drift they say, or a
suction, or something that gradually draws a boat toward the middle of
“Then, by golly!” exclaimed Milt Baker, “how in tarnation did they
git aout? I sh'd think anybody that every drifted into the Sargasso Sea
would be there yit.”
“P'r'aps many a ship an' many a ship's company have found
their grave there,” said Cap'n Amazon solemnly. “'Tis called the
graveyard of derelicts. But there's the chance of counter-storms.
Before the two boats from the Mailfast were sucked down, and
'fore the crew was fair starved, a sudden shift of wind broke up the
seaweed field and they escaped and were picked up.
“The danger of the Sargasso threatens all sailin' ships in them
seas. Steam vessels have a better chance; but many a craft that's
turned up missin' has undoubtedly been swallowed by the Sargasso.”
Louise, who heard this discussion from the doorway of the store,
could not fail to be impressed by it. Could the Curlew, with her
father and Cap'n Abe aboard, have suffered such a fate? There was an
element of probability in this tale of Cap'n Amazon's that entangled
the girl's fancy. However, the idea colored the old man's further
imagination in another way.
“Sargasso Sea,” he said reflectively, between puffs of his pipe,
after the idlers had left the store. “Yes, 'tis a fact, Niece Louise.
That's what Abe drifted in for years—a mort of seaweed and pulp.”
“What do you mean, Uncle Amazon?” gasped the girl, shocked by
“This,” the master mariner said, with a wide sweep of his arm taking
in the cluttered store. “This was Abe's Sargasso Sea—and it come nigh
to smotherin' him and bearin' him down by the head.”
“Oh! you mean his life was so confined here?”
Cap'n Amazon nodded, “I wonder he bore it so long.”
“I am afraid Uncle Abram is getting all he wants of adventure now,”
Louise said doubtfully.
Cap'n Amazon stared at her unwinkingly for a minute. Then all he
CHAPTER XXV. AUNT EUPHEMIA MAKES A
Lawford Tapp did not appear at the store and Louise continued to
wonder about it; but she shrank from asking Betty Gallup, who might
have been able to inform her why the young man did not come again.
However, on one bright morning the gray roadster stopped before the
door and Louise, from her window, saw that the three Tapp girls were in
She thought they had come to make purchases, for the store on the
Shell Road was often a port of call for the automobiles of the summer
colonists. Suddenly, however, she realized that L'Enfant Terrible was
standing up in the driver's seat and beckoning to her.
“Oh, Miss Grayling!” shrilled Cecile. “May I come up? I want to
speak to you.”
“No,” commanded Prue firmly, preparing to step out of the car. “I
will speak to Miss Grayling myself.”
“I don't see why she can't come down,” drawled Marian, the languid.
“I have a message for her.”
“Why!” ejaculated the surprised Louise, “if you all wish to see me
I'd better come down, hadn't I?” and she left the window at once.
She had remarked on the few occasions during the last few days that
she had met the Tapp sisters on the beach, that they had seemed
desirous of being polite to her—very different from their original
attitude; but so greatly taken up had Louise's mind been with more
important matters that she had really considered this change but
Therefore it was with some curiosity that she descended the stairs
and went around by the yard gate to the side of the automobile.
“Dear Miss Grayling,” drawled Marian, putting out a gloved hand.
“Pardon the informality. But mother wants to know if you will help us
pour tea at our lawn fete and dance Friday week? It would be so nice of
Louise smiled quietly. But she was not a stickler for social
proprieties; so, although she knew the invitation savored of that
“rawness” of which her aunt had remarked, she was inclined to meet
Lawford's family halfway. She said:
“If you really want me I shall be glad to do what I can to make your
affair a success. Tell your mother I will come—and thank you.”
“So kind of you,” drawled Marian.
But Cecile was not minded to let the interview end so tamely—or so
“Say!” she exclaimed, “did Ford see you, Miss Grayling, before he
“He has gone away, then?” Louise repeated, and she could not keep
the color from flooding into her cheeks.
“He wanted to see you, I'm sure,” Cecile said bluntly. “But he
started off in a hurry. Had a dickens of a row with dad.”
“Cecile!” admonished Prue. “That sounds worse than it is.”
Louise looked at her curiously, though she did not ask a question.
“Well, they did have a shindy,” repeated L'Enfant Terrible. “When
daddy gets on his high horse———”
“Ford wished to see you before he went away, Miss Grayling,” broke
in Prue, with an admonitory glare at her young sister. “He told us he
was so confused that day he fell overboard from the Merry Andrew
that he did not even thank you for fishing him out of the sea. It was
awfully brave of you.”
“Bully, I say!” cried Cecile.
“Really heroic,” added Marian. “Mother will never get over talking
“Oh! I wish you wouldn't,” murmured Louise. “I'm glad Betty and I
saved him. Mrs. Gallup did quite as much as I——”
“We know all that,” Prue broke in quickly. “And daddy's made it up
“Yes. I know. He was very liberal,” Louise agreed.
“But mercy!” cried Prue. “He can't send you a check, Miss
Grayling. And we all do feel deeply grateful to you. Ford is an awfully
good sort of a chap—for a brother.”
Louise laughed outright at that. “I suppose, though never having had
a brother, I can appreciate his good qualities fully as much as you
girls,” she said. “Will he be long away?”
“That we don't know,” Marian said slowly. Louise had asked the
question so lightly that Miss Tapp could not be sure there was any real
interest behind it. But Cecile, who had alighted to crank up, whispered
“You know what he's gone away for? No? To get a job! He and father
have disagreed dreadfully.”
“Oh! I am so sorry,” murmured Louise. She would not ask any further
questions. She was troubled, however, by this information, for L'Enfant
Terrible seemed to have said it significantly. Louise wondered very
much what had caused the quarrel between Lawford and his father.
She got at the heart of this mystery when she appeared at the lawn
fete to help the Tapp girls and their mother entertain. She was
introduced at that time to the Taffy King. Louise thought him rather a
funny little man, and his excitability vastly amused her.
She caught him staring at her and scowling more than once; so, in
her direct way, she asked him what he meant by it.
“Don't you approve at all of me, Mr. Tapp?” she asked, presenting
him with a cup of tea that he did not want.
“Ha! Beg pardon!” ejaculated the candy manufacturer. “Did you think
I was watching you?”
“I know you were,” she rejoined. “And your disapproval is
marked. Tell me my faults. Of course, I sha'n't like you if you do; but
I am curious.”
“Huh! I'd like to see what that son of mine sees in you, Miss
Grayling,” he blurted out.
“Does he see anything particular in me?” Louise queried, her color
rising, but with a twinkle in her eye.
“He's crazy about you,” said I. Tapp.
“Oh! Is that why you and he disagreed?”
“It's going to cost him his home and his patrimony,” the candy
manufacturer declared fiercely. “I won't have it, I tell you! I've
other plans for him. He's got to do as I say, or——”
Something in the girl's face halted him at the very beginning of one
of his tirades. Positively she was laughing at him?
“Is that the reef on which you and Lawford have struck?”
Louise asked gently. “If he chooses to address attentions to me he must
“I'll cut him off without a cent if he marries you!” threatened I.
“Why,” murmured Louise, “then that will be the making of him, I have
no doubt. It is the lack I have seen in his character from the
beginning. Responsibility will make a man of him.”
“Ha!” snarled I. Tapp. “How about you? Will you marry a poor
man—a chap like my son who, if he ever makes twenty dollars a week,
will be doing mighty well?”
“Oh! This is so—so sudden, Mr. Tapp!” murmured Louise, dimpling.
“You are not seriously asking me to marry your son, are you?”
“Asking you to?” exploded the excitable Taffy King, with a wild
gesture. “I forbid it! Forbid it! do you hear?” and he rushed away from
the scene of the festivities and did not appear again during the
Mrs. Tapp, all of a flutter, appeared at Louise's elbow.
“Oh, dear, Miss Grayling! What did he say? He is so
excitable.” She almost wept. “I hope he has said nothing to offend
Louise looked at her with a rather pitying smile.
“Don't be worried, Mrs. Tapp,” she assured her. “Really, I think
your husband is awfully amusing.”
Naturally disapproval was plainly enthroned upon Aunt Euphemia's
countenance when she saw her niece aiding in the entertainment of the
guests at the Tapp lawn fete. The Lady from Poughkeepsie had come with
the Perritons because, as she admitted, the candy manufacturer's family
must be placated to a degree.
“But you go too far, Louise. Even good nature cannot excuse this. I
am only thankful that young man is not at home. Surely you cannot be
really interested in Lawford Tapp?”
“Do spare my blushes,” begged Louise, her palms upon her cheeks but
her eyes dancing. “Really, I haven't seen Lawford for days.”
“Surely I would not deceive you, auntie,” she said. “He may have
lost all his interest in me, too. He went away without bidding me
“Well, I am glad of that!” sighed Aunt Euphemia. “I feared it was
different. Indeed, I heard something said———Oh, well, people will
gossip so! Never mind. But these Tapps are so pushing.”
“I think Mrs. Tapp is a very pleasant woman; and the girls are quite
nice,” Louise said demurely.
“You need not have displayed your liking for them in quite this
way,” objected Aunt Euphemia. “You could easily have excused
yourself—the uncertainty about your poor father would have been reason
enough. I don't know—I am not sure, indeed, but that we should go into
mourning. Of course, it would spoil the summer——”
“Oh! Aunt Euphemia!”
“Yes. Well, I only mentioned it. For my own part I look extremely
well in crepe.”
Louise was shocked by this speech; yet she knew that its apparent
heartlessness did not really denote the state of her aunt's mind. It
was merely bred of the lady's shallowness, and of her utterly
That evening, long after supper and after the store lights were out,
and while Cap'n Amazon and Louise were sitting as usual in the room
behind the store, a hasty step on the porch and a rat-tat-tat upon the
side door announced a caller than whom none could have been more
“Aunt Euphemia!” cried Louise, when the master mariner ushered the
lady in. “What has happened?”
“Haven't you heard? Did you not get a letter?” demanded Mrs.
Conroth. But she kept a suspicious eye on the captain.
“From daddy-prof?” exclaimed Louise, jumping up.
“Yes. Mailed at Gibraltar. Nothing has happened to that vessel he is
on. That was all a ridiculous story. But there is something else,
“Sit down, ma'am,” Cap'n Amazon was saying politely. “Do sit down,
“Not in this house,” declared the lady, with finality. “I do not
feel safe here. And it's not safe for you to be here, Louise, with
this—this man. You don't know who he is; nobody knows who he is. I
have just heard all about it from one of the—er—natives. Mr. Abram
Silt never had a brother that anybody in Cardhaven ever saw. There is
no Captain Amazon Silt—and never was!”
“Oh!” gasped Louise.
“Nor does your father say a word in his letter to me about Abram
Silt being with him aboard that vessel, the Curlew. Nobody knows
what has become of your uncle—the man who really owns this store. How
do we know but that this—this creature,” concluded Aunt Euphemia, with
dramatic gesture, “has made away with Mr. Silt and taken over his
“It 'ud be jest like the old pirate!” croaked a harsh voice from the
kitchen doorway, and Betty Gallup appeared, apparently ready to back up
Mrs. Conroth physically, as well as otherwise.
CHAPTER XXVI. AT LAST
That hour in the old-fashioned living-room behind Cap'n Abe's store
was destined to be marked indelibly upon Louise Grayling's memory. Aunt
Euphemia and Betty Gallup had both come armed for the fray. They
literally swept Louise off her feet by their vehemence.
The effect of the challenge on Cap'n Amazon was most puzzling. As
Mrs. Conroth refused to sit down—she could talk better standing,
becoming quite oracular, in fact—the captain could not, in politeness,
take his customary chair. And he had discarded his pipe upon going to
the door to let the visitor in.
Therefore, it seemed to Louise, the doughty captain seemed rather
lost. It was not that he displayed either surprise or fear because of
Aunt Euphemia's accusation. Merely he did not know what to do with
himself during her exhortation.
The fact that he was taxed with a crime—a double crime, indeed—did
not seem to bother him at all. But the clatter of the women's tongues
seemed to annoy him.
His silence and his calmness affected Mrs. Conroth and Betty Gallup
much as the store idlers had been affected when they tried to bait
him—their exasperation increased. Cap'n Amazon's utter disregard of
what they said (for Betty did her share of the talking, relieving the
Lady from Poughkeepsie when she was breathless) continued unabated. It
was a situation that, at another time, would have vastly amused Louise.
But it was really a serious matter. Mrs. Conroth was quite as
excited as Betty. Both became vociferous in acclaiming the captain's
irresponsibility, and both accused him of having caused Cap'n Abe's
“Mark my word,” declared Aunt Euphemia, with her most indignant air,
“that creature is guilty—guilty of an awful crime!”
“The old pirate! That he is!” reiterated Betty.
“Louise, my child, come away from here at once. This is no place for
a young woman—or for any self-respecting person. Come.”
For the first time since the opening of this scene Cap'n Amazon
displayed trouble. He turned to look at Louise, and she thought his
countenance expressed apprehension—as though he feared she might go.
“Come!” commanded Mrs. Conroth again. “This is no fit place for you;
it never has been fit!”
“Avast, there, ma'am!” growled the captain, at last stung to retort.
“You are an old villain!” declared Aunt Euphemia.
“He's an old pirate!” concluded Betty Gallup. Here Louise found her
voice—and she spoke with decision.
“I shall stay just the same, aunt. I am satisfied that you all
misjudge Captain Amazon.” His face—the sudden flash of gratitude in
“Louise!” cried her aunt.
“You better come away, Miss Lou,” said Betty. “The constable'll git
that old pirate; that's what'll happen to him.”
“Stop!” exclaimed Louise. “I'll listen to no more. I do not believe
these things you say. And neither of you can prove them. I'm going to
bed. Good-night, Aunt Euphemia,” and she marched out of the room.
That closed the discussion. Cap'n Amazon bowed Mrs. Conroth politely
out of the door and Betty went with her. Louise did not get to sleep in
her chamber overhead for hours; nor did she hear the captain come
upstairs at all.
In the morning's post there was a letter for Louise from her
father—a letter that had been delayed. It had been mailed at the same
time the one to Aunt Euphemia was sent. The Curlew would soon
turn her bows Bostonward, the voyage having been successful from a
scientific point of view. Professor Grayling even mentioned the loss of
a small boat in a squall, when it had been cast adrift from the
taffrail by accident.
Betty, with face like a thundercloud, had brought the letter up to
Louise. When the girl had hastily read it through she ran down to show
it to Cap'n Amazon. She found him reading an epistle of his own, while
Cap'n Joab, Milt Baker, Washy Gallup, and several other neighbors
“Yep. I got one myself,” announced Cap'n Amazon.
“Yep. From Abe. Good reason why your father didn't speak of Abe in
his letter to your a'nt. Didn't in yours, did he?”
Louise shook her head.
“No? Listen here,” Cap'n Amazon said. “'I haven't spoke to Professor
Grayling. He don't know Abe Silt from the jib-boom. Why should he? I am
a foremast hand and he lives abaft. But he is a fine man. Everybody
says so. We've had some squally weather——'
“Well! that's nothin'. Ahem!”
He went on, reading bits to the interested listeners now and then,
and finally handed the letter to Cap'n Joab Beecher. The latter,
looking mighty queer indeed, adjusted his spectacles and spread out the
“Ye-as,” he admitted cautiously. “That 'pears to be Cap'n Abe's
handwritin', sure 'nough.”
“Course 'tis!” squealed Washy Gallup. “As plain, as plain!”
“Read it out,” urged Milt while the captain went to wait upon a
Louise listened with something besides curiosity. The letter was a
rambling account of the voyage of the Curlew, telling little
directly or exactly about the daily occurrences; but nothing in it
conflicted with what Professor Grayling had written Louise—save one
The girl realized that the arrival of this letter from Cap'n Abe had
finally punctured that bubble of suspicion against the captain that had
been blown overnight. It seemed certain and unshakable proof that the
substitute storekeeper was just whom he claimed to be, and it once and
for all put to death the idea that Cap'n Abe had not gone to sea in the
Yet Louise had never been more puzzled since first suspicion had
been roused against Cap'n Amazon. A single sentence in her father's
letter could not be made to jibe with Cap'n Abe's epistle, and
therefore she folded up her own letter and thrust it into her pocket.
In speaking of his companions on shipboard, the professor had written:
“I am by far the oldest person aboard the Curlew, skipper
included. They are all young fellows, both for'ard and in the
afterguard. Yet they treat me like one of themselves and I am having a
most enjoyable time.”
Cap'n Abe was surely much older than her daddy-prof! It puzzled her.
It troubled her. There was not a moment of that day when it was not the
uppermost thought in her mind.
People came in from all around to read Cap'n Abe's letter and to
congratulate Cap'n Amazon and Louise that the Curlew was safe.
The captain took the matter as coolly as he did everything else.
Louise watched him, trying to fathom his manner and the mystery
about him. Yet, when the solution of the problem was developed, she was
most amazed by the manner in which her eyes were opened.
Supper time was approaching, and the cooler evening breeze blew in
through the living-room windows. Relieved for the moment from his store
tasks, Cap'n Amazon appeared, rubbing his hands cheerfully, and briskly
approached old Jerry's cage as he chirruped to the bird.
“Well! well! And how's old Jerry been to-day?” Louise heard him say.
Then: “Hi-mighty! What's this?”
Louise glanced in from the kitchen. She saw him standing before the
cage, his chin sunk on his breast, the tears trickling down his
That hard, stern visage, with its sweeping piratical mustache and
the red bandana above it, was a most amazing picture of grief.
“Oh! What is it?” cried the girl, springing to his side.
He pointed with shaking index finger to the bird within the cage.
“Dead!” he said brokenly, “Dead, Niece Louise! Poor old Jerry's
dead—and him and me shipmates for so many, many years.”
“Oh!” screamed the girl, grasping his arm. “You are Cap'n Abe!”
CHAPTER XXVII. SARGASSO
After all, when she considered it later, Louise wondered only that
she had not seen through the masquerade long before.
From the beginning—the very first night of her occupancy of the
pleasant chamber over the store on the Shell Road—she should have
understood the mystery that had had the whole neighborhood by the ears
during the summer.
She, more than anybody else, should have seen through Cap'n Abe's
masquerade. Louise had been in a position, she now realized, to have
appreciated the truth.
“You are Cap'n Abe,” she told him, and he did not deny it. Sadly he
looked at the dead canary in the bottom of the cage, and wiped his
“Poor Jerry!” her uncle said, and in that single phrase all the
outer husk of the rough and ready seaman—the character he had assumed
in playing his part for so many weeks—sloughed away. He was the
simple, tender-hearted, almost childish Cap'n Abe that she had met upon
first coming to Cardhaven.
Swiftly through her mind the incidents of that first night and
morning flashed. She remembered that he had prepared her—as he had
prepared his neighbors—for the coming of this wonderful Cap'n Amazon,
whose adventures he had related and whose praises he had sung for so
Cap'n Abe had taken advantage of Perry Baker's coming with Louise's
trunk to send off his own chest, supposedly filled with the clothes he
would need on a sea voyage.
Then, the house clear of the expressman and Louise safe in bed, the
storekeeper had proceeded to disguise himself as he had long planned to
Not content with the shaving of his beard only, he had dyed his hair
and the sweeping piratical mustache left him. Walnut juice applied to
his face and body had given him the stain of a tropical sun. Of course,
this stain and the dye had to be occasionally renewed.
The addition of gold rings in his ears (long before pierced for the
purpose, of course) and the wearing of the colored handkerchief to
cover his bald crown completed a disguise that his own mother would
have found hard to penetrate.
Cap'n Abe was gone; Cap'n Amazon stood in his place.
To befool his niece was a small matter. At daybreak he had come to
her door and bidden Louise good-bye. But she had not seen him—only his
figure as he walked up the road in the fog. Cap'n Abe had, of course,
quickly made a circuit and come back to re-enter the house by the rear
From that time—or from the moment Lawford Tapp had first seen him
on the store porch that morning—the storekeeper had played a huge game
of bluff. And what a game it had been!
In his character of Cap'n Amazon he had commanded the respect—even
the fear—of men who for years had considered Cap'n Abe a butt for
their poor jests. It was marvelous, Louise thought, when one came to
think of it.
And yet, not so marvelous after all, when she learned all that lay
behind the masquerade. There had always been, lying dormant in Cap'n
Abe's nature, characteristics that had never before found expression.
Much she learned on this evening at supper, and afterward when the
store had been closed and they were alone in the living-room. Diddimus,
who still had his doubts of the piratical looking captain, lay in
Louise's lap and purred loudly under the ministration of her gentle
hand, while Cap'n Abe talked.
It was a story that brought to the eyes of the sympathetic girl the
sting of tears as well as bubbling laughter to her lips. And in it all
she found something almost heroic as well as ridiculous.
“My mother marked me,” said Cap'n Abe. “Poor mother! I was born with
her awful horror of the ravenin' sea as she saw the Bravo an' Cap'n
Josh go down. I knew it soon—when I was only a little child. I knew I
was set apart from other Silts, who had all been seafarin' men since
the beginnin' of time.
“And yet I loved the sea, Niece Louise. The magic of it, its
mystery, its romance and its wonders; all phases of the sea and
seafarin' charmed me. But I could not step foot in a boat without
almost swoonin' with fright, and the sight of the sea in its might
filled me with terror.
“Ah, me! You can have no idea what pains I suffered as a boy because
of this fear,” said Cap'n Abe. “I dreamed of voyagin' into unknown
seas—of seein' the islands of the West and of the East—of visitin'
all the wonderful corners of the world—of facin' all the perils and
experiencin' all the adventures of a free rover. And what was my fate?
“The tamest sort of a life,” he said, answering his own question.
“The flattest existence ever man could imagine. Hi-mighty! Instead of a
sea rover—a storekeeper! Instead of romance—Sargasso!” and he
gestured with his pipe in his hand. “You understand, Louise? That's
what I meant when I spoke of the Sargasso Sea t'other day. It was my
doom to live in the tideless and almost motionless Sea of Sargasso.
“But my mind didn't stay tame ashore,” pursued Cap'n Abe. “As a boy
I fed it upon all the romances of the sea I could gather. Ye-as. I
suppose I am greatly to be blamed. I have been a hi-mighty liar,
“It began because I heard so many other men tellin' of their
adventoors, an' I couldn't tell of none. My store at Rocky Head where I
lived all my life till I come here (mother came over to Cardhaven with
her second husband; but I stayed on there till twenty-odd year ago)—my
store there was like this one. There's allus a lot of old barnacles
like Cap'n Joab and Washy Gallup clingin' to such reefs as this.
“So I heard unendin' experiences of men who had gone to sea. And at
night I read everything I could get touchin' on, an' appertainin' to,
sea-farin'. In my mind I've sailed the seven seas, charted unknown
waters, went through all the perils I tell 'bout. Yes, sir, I don't
dispute I'm a hi-mighty liar,” he repeated, sighing and shaking his
“But when I come here to the Shell Road, where there warn't nobody
knowed me, it struck me forcible,” pursued Cap'n Abe, “that my fambly
bein' so little known I could achieve a sort of vicarious repertation
as a seagoin' man.
“Ye see what I mean? I cal'lated if I'd had a brother—a brother who
warn't marked with a fear of the ocean—he would ha' been a
sailor. Course he would! All us Silts was seafarin' men!
“An' I thought so much 'bout this brother that I might ha'
had, and what he would ha' done sailin' up an' down the world, learnin'
to be a master mariner, an' finally pacin' his own quarter-deck, that
he grew like he was real to me, Niece Louise—he re'lly did. I give him
a name. 'Am'zon' has been a name in our fambly since Cap'n Reba Silt
first put the nose of his old Tigris to the tidal wave of the
Am'zon River—back in seventeen-forty. He come home to New Bedford and
named his first boy, that was waitin' to be christened, 'Am'zon Silt.'
“So I called this—this dream brother of mine—'Am'zon.' These
Cardhaven folks warn't likely to know whether I had a brother or not.
And I made up he went to sea when he was twelve—like I told ye, my
dear. Ye-as. I did hate to lie to ye, an' you just new-come here. But
I'd laid my plans for a long while back just to walk out, as it were,
an' let these fellers 'round here have a taste o' Cap'n Am'zon Silt
that they'd begun to doubt was ever comin' to Cardhaven. An'
hi-mighty!” exploded Cap'n Abe, with a great laugh, “I have give
'em a taste of him, I vum!”
“Oh, you have, Uncle Abram! You have!” agreed Louise, and burst,
into laughter herself. “It is wonderful how you did it! It is
marvelous! How could you?”
“Nothin' easier, when you come to think on't,” replied Cap'n Abe.
“I'd talked so much 'bout Cap'n Am'zon that he was a fixed idea in
people's minds. I said when he come I'd go off on a v'y'ge. I'd fixed
ev'rything proper for the exchange when you lit down on me, Niece
Louise. Hi-mighty!” grinned Cap'n Abe, “at first I thought sure you'd
spilled the beans.”
Louise rippled another appreciative laugh. “Oh, dear!” she cried,
clapping her hands together. “It's too funny for anything! How you
startled Betty! Why, even Lawford Tapp was amazed at your appearance.
You—you do look like an old pirate, Uncle Abram.”
“Don't I?” responded Cap'n Abe, childishly delighted.
“That awful scar along your jaw—and you so brown,” said the girl.
“How did you get that scar, Uncle Abram?”
“Fallin' down the cellar steps when I was a kid,” said the
storekeeper. “But these fellers think I must ha' got it through a
cutlass stroke, or somethin'. Oh, I guess I've showed 'em what a real
Silt should look like. Yes, sir! I cal'late I look the part of a feller
that's roved the sea for sixty year or so, Niece Louise.”
“You do, indeed. That red bandana—and the earrings—and the
mustache—and stain. Why, uncle! even to that tattooing——”
He looked down at his bared arm and nodded proudly.
“Ye-as. That time I went away ten year ago and left Joab to run the
store (and a proper mess he made of things!) I found a feller down in
the South End of Boston and he fixed me up with this tattoo work for
twenty-five dollars. Course, I didn't dare show it none here—kep' my
sleeves down an' my throat-latch buttoned all winds and weathers. But
He laughed again, full-throated and joyous like a boy. Then,
suddenly, he grew grave.
“Niece Louise, I wonder if you can have any idea what this here
dead-and-alive life all these years has meant to me? Lashed hard and
fast to this here store, and to a stay-ashore life, when my heart an'
soul was longin' to set a course for 'way across't the world?
Sargasso—that's it. This was my Sargasso Sea—and I was smothered in
“I think I understand, Cap'n Abe,” the girl said softly, laying her
hand in his big palm.
“An' now, Louise, that I've got a taste of romance, I don't want to
come back to humdrum things—no, sir! I want to keep right on bein'
Cap'n Am'zon, and havin' even them old hardshells like Cap'n Joab and
Washy Gallup look on me as a feller-salt.”
“They never really respected Cap'n Abe,” her uncle hurried on to
say. “I find my neighbors did love him, an' I thank God for
that! But they knew he warn't no seaman, and a man without salt water
in his blood don't make good with Cardhaven folks.
“But Cap'n Am'zon—he's another critter entirely. They mebbe think
he's an old pirate or the like,” and he chuckled again, “but they
sartin sure respect him. Even Bet Gallup fears Cap'n Am'zon; but, to
tell ye the truth, Niece Louise, she used to earwig Cap'n Abe!”
“But when the Curlew arrives home?” queried the girl
“Hi-mighty, ye-as! I see that,” he groaned. “Looks to me as
though somethin'll have to happen to Abe Silt 'twixt Boston and this
port. And you'll have to stop your father's mouth, Louise. I depend
upon you to help me. Otherwise I shall be undone—completely undone.”
“Goodness!” cried the girl, choked with laughter again. “Do you mean
to do away with Cap'n Abe? I fear you are quite as wicked as Betty
Gallup believes you to be—and Aunt Euphemia.”
He grinned broadly once more. “I got Cap'n Abe's will filed away
already—if somethin' should happen,” said the old intriguer.
“Everything's fixed, Niece Louise.”
“I'll help you,” she declared, and gave him her hand a second time.
CHAPTER XXVIII. STORM CLOUDS
The next week Gusty Durgin made her debut as a picture actress. She
had pestered Mr. Bane morn, noon, and night at the hotel until finally
the leading man obtained Mr. Anscomb's permission to work the buxom
waitress into a picture.
“But nothin' funny, Mr. Bane,” Gusty begged. “Land sakes! It's the
easiest thing in the world to get a laugh out of a fat woman fallin'
down a sand bank, or a fat man bein' busted in the face with a custard
pie. I don't want folks to laugh at my fat. I want 'em to forget that I
“Do you know, Miss Grayling,” said Bane, recounting this to Louise,
“that is art. Gusty has the right idea. Many a floweret is born
to blush unseen, the poet says. But can it be we have found in Gusty
Durgin a screen artist in embryo?”
Louise was interested enough to go to the beach early to watch Gusty
in a moving picture part.
“A real sad piece 'tis, too,” the waitress confided to Louise. “I
got to make up like a mother—old, you know, and real wrinkled. And
when my daughter (she's Miss Noyes) is driv' away from home by her
father because she's done wrong, I got to take on like kildee 'bout it.
It's awful touchin'. I jest cried about it ha'f the night when this Mr.
Anscomb told me what I'd have to do in the picture.
“Land sakes! I can cry re'l tears with the best of 'em—you see if I
can't, Miss Grayling. You ought to be a movie actress yourself. It
don't seem just right that you ain't.”
“But I fear I could not weep real tears,” Louise said.
“No. Mebbe not. That's a gift, I guess,” Gusty agreed. “There! I got
to go now. He's callin' me. The boss's sister will have to wait on all
the boarders for dinner to-day. An' my! ain't she sore! But if I'm a
success in these pictures you can just believe the Cardhaven Inn won't
see me passin' biscuits and clam chowder for long.”
In the midst of the rehearsal Louise saw a figure striding along the
shore from the direction of Tapp Point, and her heart leaped. Already
there seemed to be a change in the appearance of Lawford.
His sisters, who came frequently to see Louise at Cap'n Abe's, had
told her their brother, was actually working in one of his father's
factories. He had not even obtained a position in the office, but in
the factory itself. He ran one of the taffy cutting machines, for one
thing, and wore overalls!
“Poor Ford!” Cecile said, shaking her head. “He's up against it. I'm
going to save up part of my pocket money for him—if he'll take it. I
think daddy's real mean, and I've told him so. And when Dot Johnson
comes I'm not going to treat her nice at all.”
Lawford, however, did not look the part of the abused and disowned
heir. He seemed brisker than Louise remembered his being before and his
smile was as winning as ever.
“Miss Grayling!” he exclaimed, seizing both her hands.
“Lawford! I am so glad to see you,” she rejoined frankly. And
then she had to pull her hands away quickly and raise an admonitory
finger. “Walk beside me—and be good,” she commanded. “Do you realize
that two worlds are watching us—the world of The Beaches and the movie
world as well?”
“Hang 'em!” announced Lawford with emphasis, his eyes shining.
“Think! I've never even thanked you for what you did for me that day. I
thought Betty Gallup hauled me out of the sea till Jonas Crabbe at the
lighthouse put me wise.”
“Never mind that,” she said. “Tell me, how do you like your work?
And why are you at home again?”
“I'm down here for the week-end—-to get some more of my duds, to
tell the truth. I'm going to be a fixture at the Egypt factory—much to
dad's surprise, I fancy.”
“Do you like it?” she asked him, watching his face covertly.
“I hate it! But I can stick, just the same. I have a scheme for
improving the taffy cutting machines, too. I think I've a streak in me
for mechanics. I have always taken to engines and motors and other
“Yes. Why not?” he asked soberly, “Oh! I'm not going to be one of
those inventors who let sharp business men cheat them out of their
eye-teeth. If I improve that candy cutter it will cost I. Tapp real
money, believe me!”
Louise's eyes danced at him in admiration and she dimpled. “I think
you are splendid, Lawford!” she murmured.
It was a mean advantage to take of a young man. They were on the
open beach and every eye from the lighthouse to Tapp Point might be
watching them. Lawford groaned deeply—and looked it.
“Don't,” she said. “I know it's because of me you have been driven
“You know that, Miss Grayling? Louise!”
“Yes. I had a little talk with your father. He's such a funny
“If you can find anything humorous about I. Tapp in his present mood
you are a wonder!” he exclaimed. “Oh, Louise!” He could not keep his
hungry gaze off her face.
“You're a nice boy, Lawford,” she told him, nodding. “I liked you a
lot from the very first. Now I admire you.”
“Don't look like that at me,” she commanded. “They'll see you.
And—and I feel as though I were about to be eaten.”
“You will be,” he said significantly. “I am coming to the store
to-night. Or shall I go to see your aunt first?”
“You'd better keep away from Aunt Euphemia, Lawford,” she replied,
laughing gayly. “Wait till my daddy-prof comes home. See him.”
“And you really love me? Do you? Please . . . dear!”
She nodded, pursing her lips.
“But eighteen dollars a week!” groaned Lawford. “I think the super
would have made it an even twenty if it hadn't been for dad.”
“Never mind,” she told him, almost gayly. “Maybe the invention will
make our fortune.”
At that speech Lawford's cannibalistic tendencies were greatly and
visibly increased. Louise was no coy and coquettish damsel without a
thorough knowledge of her own heart. Having made up her mind that
Lawford was the mate for her, and being confident that her father would
approve of any choice she made, she was willing to let the young man
know his good fortune.
Nor was Lawford the only person to learn her mind. Cap'n Abe said:
“Land sakes! you come 'way down here to the Cape to be took in by a
feller like Ford Tapp, Niece Louise? I thought you was a girl with too
much sense for that!”
“But what has love to do with sense, uncle?” she asked him,
“Hi-mighty! I s'pect that's so. An', anyway, he does seem to
improve. He's really gone to work, they tell me, in one of his father's
“But that's the one thing about him I'm not sure I approve of,”
sighed Louise. “We could have so much better times if he and I could
play along the shore this summer and not have to think about hateful
“My soul an' body!” gasped the storekeeper, as though she had spoken
irreverently about sacred things. “Money ain't never hateful, Niece
On Sunday I. Tapp did not accompany his family to church at
Paulmouth. Returning, the big car stopped before Cap'n Abe's store and
Mrs. Tapp came in to call on Louise. The good woman hugged the girl and
wept on her bosom.
“I'm so happy and so sorry, both together, that I'm half sick,” she
said. “Lawford is so proud and joyful that I could cry every time I
look at him. And his father's so cross and unhappy that I have to cry
for him, too.”
Which seemed to prove that Mrs. Tapp was being kept in a moist state
most of the time.
“But I know I. Tapp is sorry for what he's done. Only there's no use
expectin' him to admit it, or that he'll change. If Fordy won't marry
Dot Johnson I. Tapp will never forgive him. I don't know what I shall
say to her when she does come.”
“Maybe she will not appear at all,” Louise suggested comfortingly.
“I don't know. I got a letter from her mother putting the visit off
till later. But it can't be put off forever. Anyhow, when she comes
Lawford says he won't be at home. I hope the girls will act nice to
“I will,” Louise assured her. “And I'll make Mr. Tapp like me
yet; you see if I don't.”
“Oh, I can't hope for that much, my dear,” sighed the lachrymose
lady, shaking her head; but she kissed Louise again.
Lawford waved a hand to her at her chamber window early on Monday
morning as L'Enfant Terrible drove him in the roadster to Paulmouth to
catch the milk train. All the girls were proud of their brother
because, as Cecile said, he was proving himself to be “such a perfectly
good sport after all.” And perhaps I. Tapp himself admired his son for
the pluck he was showing.
They corresponded after that—Louise and Lawford. As she could not
hope to hear from the Curlew again until the schooner made the
port of Boston, Lawford's letters were the limit of her correspondence.
Louise had always failed to make many close friends among women.
Her interests aside from those at the store and with the movie
people were limited, too. The butterfly society of The Beaches did not
much attract Louise Grayling.
Aunt Euphemia manifestly disapproved of her niece at every turn. The
Lady from Poughkeepsie had remained on the Cape for the full season in
the hope of breaking up the intimacy between Louise and Lawford Tapp.
His absence, which she had believed so fortunate, soon proved to be
merely provocative of her niece's interest in the heir of the Taffy
Nor could she wean Louise from association with the piratical
looking mariner at Cap'n Abe's store. The girl utterly refused to be
guided by the older woman in either of these particulars.
“You are a reckless, abandoned girl!” Aunt Euphemia declared. “I am
sure, no matter what others may say, that awful sailor is no fit
companion for you.
“And as, for Lawford Tapp——Why, his people are impossible, Louise.
Wherever you have your establishment, if you marry him, his people,
when they visit you will have to be apologized for,” the indignant
“Let—me—see,” murmured Louise. “How large an 'establishment'
should you think, auntie, we could keep up on eighteen dollars a week?”
“Eighteen dollars a week!” exclaimed Aunt Euphemia, aghast.
“Yes. That is Lawford's present salary. Wages, I think they call it
at the factory. He gets it in cash—in a pay envelope.”
“Mercy, Louise! You are not in earnest?”
“Certainly. My young man is going to earn our living. If he marries
me his father will cut him off with the proverbial shilling. I. Tapp
has other matrimonial plans for Lawford.”
“What?” gasped the horrified Mrs. Conroth. “He does not approve of
“Too true, auntie. I have driven poor Lawford to work in a candy
“That—that upstart!” exploded the lady. But she did not refer to
It was evident that Aunt Euphemia saw nothing but the threat of
storm clouds for her niece in the offing. Trouble, deep and black,
seemed, to her mind to be hovering upon the horizon of the future,
As it chanced, the weather about this time seemed to reflect Aunt
Euphemia's mood. The summer had passed with but few brief tempests.
Seldom had Louise seen any phase of the sea in its wrath.
September, however, is an uncertain month at best. For several days
a threatening haze shrouded the distant sea line. The kildees,
fluttered and shrieked over the booming surf.
Washy Gallup, meeting Louise as she strolled on the beach,
“Shouldn't be surprised none, Miss Lou, if we had a spell of
weather. Mebbe we'll have an airly equinoctooral. We sometimes do.
“Then ye'll hear the sea sing psalms, as the feller said, an' no
mistake. Them there picture folks'll mebbe git a show at a re'l storm.
That's what they been wishin' for—an' a wreck off shore. Land sakes!
if they'd ever seed a ship go to pieces afore their very eyes
they wouldn't ask for a second helpin'—no, ma'am!”
That evening threatening clouds rolled up from seaward and mantled
the arch of the sky. The fishing boats ran to cover in the harbor
before dark. The surf rumbled louder and louder along the shore.
And all night the sea mourned its dead over Gull Rocks.
CHAPTER XXIX. THE SCAR
Another fishfly (or was it the same that had droned accompaniment to
Cap'n' Abe's story-telling upon a former occasion?) boomed against the
dusty panes of the window while the fretful, sand-laden wind swept
searchingly about the store on the Shell Road.
It was early afternoon; but a green and dreary light lay upon sea
and land as dim as though the hour was that of sunset. In the silence
punctuating the desultory conversation, the sharp swish, swish
of the sand upon the panes almost drowned the complaint of the fishfly.
“We're going to have a humdinger of a gale,” announced Milt Baker,
the last to enter and bang the store door. “She's pullin' 'round into
the no'th-east right now, and I tell Mandy she might's well make up her
mind to my lyin' up tight an' dry for a while. Won't be no clams
shipped from these flats to-morrow.”
“High you'll likely be,” agreed the storekeeper. “How dry
ye'll be, Milt, remains to be seen.”
“In-side, or aout?” chuckled Cap'n Joab, for
Milt Baker's failing was not hidden under a bushel.
Amiel hastened to toll attention away from his side partner. “This
wind's driv' them picture folks to cover,” he said. “They was makin'
some fillums over there on the wreck of the Goldrock, that's
laid out four year or so in Ham Cove———”
“Nearer five year,” put in Cap'n Joab, a stickler for facts.
“You air right, cap'n,” agreed Washy Gallup.
“Well,” said Amiel, “four or five. The heave of her made ha'f
of 'em sick, and that big actor man, Bane, got knocked off into the
water an' 'twas more by good luck than good management he warn't
drowned. I cal'late he's got enough.”
“The gale that brought the Goldrock ashore had just such
another beginning as this,” Cap'n Joab said reflectively. “But she'd
never been wrecked on a lee shore if her crew had acted right. They
mutineed, you know.”
“The sculpins!” ejaculated the storekeeper briskly. “Can't excuse
that. Anything but a crew that'll turn on the afterguard that they've
signed on for to obey!”
“That's right, Cap'n Am'zon,” said Cap'n Joab. “Ye say a true word.”
“An' for good reason,” declared the mendacious storekeeper. “I've
had experience with such sharks,” and he ran his finger reflectively
down the old scar upon his jaw.
“I always wanted to ask you 'bout that scar, Cap'n Am'zon,” put in
Milt Baker encouragingly. “Did you get it in a mutiny?”
“I didn't know but ye got it piratin',” chuckled Milt. “Bet Gallup,
she swears you sailed under the Jolly Roger more'n once.”
“So I did,” declared the captain boldly. “This crew o' mutineers I
speak of turned pirates, and they held me—the only one of the
afterguard left alive—to navigate the ship.
“Guess mebbe you've heard tell, Cap'n Joab, of the mutiny of the
Galatea?” went on the narrator unblushingly.
His fellow skipper nodded. “I've heard of it—yes. But you don't
mean to say you sailed on her, Am'zon?”
“Yes, I did,” the storekeeper declared. “I was third aboard her—she
carried a full crew. She sailed out o' N'York for Australia and home by
the way of the Chile ports and the Horn—a hermaphrodite brig she was;
“But she warn't well found. The grub was wuss'n a Blue-nose herrin'
smack's. Weevilly bread and rusty beef. The crew had a sayin' that the
doc didn't have to call 'em to mess; the smell of it was sufficient.
“They was a hard crew I allow—them boys; many of 'em dock rats and
the like. Warn't scurcely half a dozen able seamen in the whole crew.
And the skipper and mate was master hard on 'em. In the South Atlantic
we got some bad weather and the crew was worked double tides, as you
“The extry work on top o' the poor grub finished 'em,” said the
storekeeper. “One day in the mornin' watch the whole crew come boilin'
aft and caught the skipper and the mate at breakfast. They lived
well. The second was in his berth and I had the deck.
“I got knocked out first thing—there's the scar of it,” and the
captain put a finger again on the mark along his jaw which actually was
a memento of contact with the cellar step when he was a child.
“Belayin' pin. Knocked me inside out for Sunday. But I cal'late they
didn't put the steel to me 'cause I'd been fairly decent to 'em comin'
down from N'York.
“Then, after the fight was over and they'd hove the others
overboard, they begun to see they needed me to navigate the Galatea. They give me the choice of four inches of cold steel or actin' as
navigator—the bloody crew o' pirates!”
“And what did ye do?” demanded Amiel Perdue, his mouth ajar.
“Well,” snorted the storekeeper, “ye can see I didn't choose a knife
in my gizzard. We sailed up an' down the coast of Brazil and the
Guineas for two months, sellin' the cargo piecemeal to dirty little
Portugee traders an' smugglers. Then we h'isted the black flag and took
our first prize—an English barque goin' down to Rio. It was me saved
her crew's lives and give 'em a chance't in their longboat. They made
Para all right, I heard afterward.
“We burned that barque,” proceeded the storekeeper dreamily, “after
we looted her of everything wuth while. Then——”
The door was flung open with a gust of wind behind it. A lanky,
half-grown lad stuck his head in at the opening to shrill:
“Hi! ain't ye heard 'bout it?”
“Bout what?” demanded Milt Baker.
“There's a schooner drivin' in on to the Gull Rocks,” cried the news
vender. “Something gone wrong with her rudder, they say. She's goin'
spang onto the reef. Ev'rybody's down there, an' the life-savers are
comin' around from Wellriver with their gear.”
“Gale out o' the no'theast, too!” exclaimed Cap'n Joab, starting for
The story-teller saw his audience melt away in a minute. He went out
on the porch. Fluttering across the fields and sand lots from all
directions were the neighbors—both men and women. The possibility of a
wreck—the great tragedy of long-shore existence—would bring everybody
not bed-ridden to the sands.
He saw Betty Gallup in high boots, her pea-coat buttoned tightly
across her flat bosom, her man's hat pulled down over her ears, already
halfway to the shore. From the cottage on the bluffs above The Beaches
the summer visitors were trailing down. Below Bozewell's bungalow the
motion picture company were running excitedly about.
“Like sandpipers,” muttered the storekeeper. “Crazy critters. Wonder
where that schooner is.”
He hesitated to leave the premises. Cap'n Abe had never been known
to follow the crowd to the beach when an endangered craft was in the
offing. Indeed, he never looked in the direction of the sea if he could
help it when a storm lashed its surface and piled the breakers high
upon the strand.
But suddenly the man remembered that he was not Cap'n Abe! He
stood here in an entirely different character. Cap'n Amazon, the rough
and ready mariner, had little in common with the timid creature who had
tamely kept store on the Shell Road for twenty-odd years.
What would the neighbors think of Cap'n Amazon if he remained away
from the scene of excitement at such a time? He turned back into the
store for his hat and coat and later came out and closed the door. Then
he shuffled down the road.
At first he closed his eyes—squeezing the lids tight so as not to
see the gale-ridden sea. But finally, stumbling, he opened them. Far
away where the pale tower of the lighthouse lifted staunchly against
the greenish gray sky, the surf was rolling in from the open sea, the
waves charging up the strand one after the other like huge white
horses, their manes of spume tossed high by the breath of the gale.
Black was the sea, and streaked angrily with foam.
Thunderously did it roar and break over the Gull Rocks. A curtain of
spoondrift hung above that awful reef and almost shut from the view of
those ashore the open sea and what swam on it.
The old storekeeper reached the sands below the Shell Road.
Scattered in groups along the strand were the people of all classes and
degrees brought together by the word that a vessel was in peril. Here a
group of fishermen in guernseys and high boots, their sou'westers
battened down upon their heads. Yonder Bane and his fellow actors in
natty summer suits stood around the camera discussing with the director
the possibility of making a film of the scene. Farther away huddled a
party of women from the neighborhood, with shawls over their heads and
children at their skirts. Beyond them the people from the cottages on
the bluff were hurrying to the spot—women in silk attire and men in
the lounge suits that fashion prescribed for afternoon wear.
The storekeeper saw and appreciated all this. He stood squarely up
to the wind, the ends of the red bandana over his ears snapping in the
rifted airs, and shaded his eyes with his hand. With his other hand he
stroked the scar along his jaw. He had a feeling that he had been
cheated. That story of the mutiny of the Galatea was destined to
be one of his very best narratives.
He had come to take great pride in these tales, had Cap'n Abe. He
had heard enough men relate personal reminiscences to realize that his
achievements in the story-telling line had a flavor all their own. He
could hold his course with any of them, was his way of expressing it.
And here something had intervened to shut him off in the middle of a
narrative. Cap'n Abe did not like it.
His keen vision swept the outlook once more. How darkly the clouds
lowered! And the wind, spray-ridden down here on the open strand, cut
shrewdly. It would be a wild night. Casually he thought of his cheerful
living-room, with his chintz-cushioned rocker, Diddimus purring on the
couch, and the lamplight streaming over all.
“Lucky chap, you, Abe Silt, after all,” he muttered. “Lucky you
ain't at sea in a blow like this.”
It was just then that he saw the laboring schooner in the offing.
Her poles were completely bare and by the way she pitched and tossed
Cap'n Abe knew she must have two anchors out and that they were
She was so far away that she looked like a toy on the huge waves
that rolled in from the horizon line. Now and then a curling wave-crest
hid even her topmasts. Again, the curtain of mist hanging above Gull
Rocks shrouded her.
For the craft was being driven steadily upon the rocks. Unless the
wind shifted—and that soon—she must batter her hull to bits upon the
The storekeeper, who knew this coast and the weather conditions so
well, saw at once that the schooner had no chance for salvation. When
the wind backed around into the northeast, as it had on this occasion,
it foreran a gale of more than usual power and of more than twenty-four
“She's doomed!” he whispered, and wagged his head sadly.
The might of the sea made him tremble. The thought of what was about
to happen to the schooner—a fate that naught could avert—sickened
him. Yet he walked on to join the nearest group of anxious watchers,
the spray beating into that face which was strangely marred.
CHAPTER XXX. WHEN THE STRONG TIDES
It was the tag-end of the season for the summer colony at The
Beaches. Mrs. Conroth expected to leave the Perritons that evening—was
leaving lingeringly, for she had desired to bear her niece off to New
York with her. But on that point Louise had been firm.
“No, Aunt Euphemia,” she had said. “I shall wait for daddy-prof and
the Curlew to arrive at Boston. Then I shall either go there to
meet him, or he will come here. I want him to meet Lawford just as
quickly as possible, for we are not going to wait all our lives to be
“Louise!” gasped Mrs. Conroth with horror. “How can you say such a
“I mean it,” said the girl, nodding with pursed lips.
“You are behaving in a most selfish way,” the Lady from Poughkeepsie
declared. “Everybody here has remarked how you have neglected me for
those Tapps. They have taken full advantage of your patronage to push
themselves into the society of their betters.”
“Perhaps,” sighed Louise. “But consider, auntie. This is a free and
more or less independent republic. After all, money is the only
recognized mark of aristocracy.”
“Yes. How far would the Perritons' blue blood get them—or the
Standishes'—or the Graylings'—without money? And consider our own
small beginnings. Your great, great, great grandfather was a knight of
the yardstick and sold molasses by the quart.”
“You are incorrigible, Louise,” cried Aunt Euphemia, her fingers in
her ears. “I will not listen to you. It is sacrilegious.”
“It's not a far cry,” her niece pursued, “from molasses to taffy.
And it seems to me one is quite as aristocratic as the other.”
So she left Mrs. Conroth in a horrified state of mind and stepped
out to face the gale. Seeing others streaming down upon the sands,
Louise, too, sought the nearest flight of steps and descended to the
foot of the bluff.
This was Saturday and she hoped that Lawford would come for the
week-end. It was not Lawford, however, but his father into whose arms
she almost stumbled as she came out from under the shelter of the bank
into the full sweep of the gale.
“Oh, Mr. Tapp! Why is everybody running so? What has happened?”
The Taffy King had a most puzzling expression upon his face. He
glared at her as though he did not hear what she said. In his hand he
clutched an envelope.
“Ha! That you, Miss Grayling?” he growled. “Seen Ford?”
“No. Is he at home?”
“He's here fast enough,” was I. Tapp's ungracious rejoinder. “I
supposed he'd come over to see you.”
“Perhaps he has,” she returned wickedly. “He is a very faithful
“He's a perfect ninny, if that's what you mean,” snapped the
Taffy King. “He's made a fool of me, too. I shouldn't wonder if he knew
this all along,” and he shook the letter in his hand and scowled.
“You arouse my curiosity,” Louise said. “I hope Lawford has done
nothing more to cause you vexation.”
“I don't know whether he has or not. The young upstart! I feel like
punching him one minute, and then the next I've got to take off my hat
to him, Miss Grayling. D'you know what he's done?”
“Something really fine, I hope. I do not think you wholly appreciate
Lawford, Mr. Tapp,” the girl told him firmly.
“Ha! No. I s'pose he's got to go outside his immediate family to be
appreciated,” he snarled.
But at that Louise merely laughed. “You don't tell me what he has
done,” she urged.
“Why, the young rascal's solved a problem in mechanics that has
puzzled us candy makers for years. I'm having a new cutting machine
built after his suggestions.”
“I hope Lawford will be properly reimbursed for his idea,” she
interrupted. “You know, he and I are going to need the money.”
“Ha!” snorted I. Tapp again. “Ford's no fool, it seems, when it
comes to a contract. He's got me tied hard and fast to a royalty
agreement and a lump sum down if the machine works the way he says it
“I'm so glad!” cried Louise.
“You are, eh? What for?”
“Because we need not wait so long to be married,” she frankly told
I. Tapp stood squarely in the path and looked at her.
“So you are going to marry him, whether I agree or not?”
“Right in my very teeth?”
“I—I hope you won't be very angry, Mr. Tapp,” Louise said
softly. “You see—we love each other.”
“Love!” began I. Tapp. Then he stopped, turning the thick letter
over and over in his hand. “Well!” and he actually blew a sigh.
“Perhaps there is something in that. Seems to be. I set my heart on
having my fortune and my partner's joined by Ford and Dot Johnson—and
see what's come of it.”
He suddenly thrust the missive into Louise's hand.
“Look at that!”
With a growing suspicion of what it meant she opened the outer
envelope and then the inner one, drawing out the engraved inclosure.
Before she could speak a commotion along the beach drew their
“What can it be?” Louise cried. “The lifesavers!”
“And their gear—lifeboat and all,” Mr. Tapp agreed. “Must be a
His gaze swept the sea and he seized Louise's arm. “There! Don't you
see her? A vessel in distress sure enough. She's drifting in upon Gull
Rocks. Bad business, Miss Grayling.”
“Oh, there is Lawford!” murmured Louise. “He's with the surfmen!”
Two teams of heavy farm horses were dragging the boat and the
surfmen's two-wheeled cart along the hard sand at the edge of the surf.
The bursting waves wetted all the crew as they helped push the wagons,
and the snorting horses were sometimes body deep in the water.
Lawford, in his fishermen's garments, waved his hand to Louise and
his father. The girl smiled upon him proudly and the Taffy King, seeing
the expression on her face, suddenly seized the missive from her hand.
“I give up! I give up!” he exclaimed. “I said I'd disown him if he
refused to marry Dorothy Johnson, my partner's daughter. But 'tain't
really Lawford's fault, I s'pose, if Dot won't marry him. It seems she
had other ideas along that line, too, and I never knew it till we got
this invitation to her wedding.”
Louise smiled on the little man with tolerance. “Of course, I knew
you would see it in the right light in time. But it really has been the
making of Lawford,” she said calmly.
“You think so, do you?” returned the Taffy King. “I wonder what good
it would have done him if you hadn't been the prize he wanted? I'm not
sure I shouldn't pay you out, Louise Grayling, by making the two of you
live for a year on his eighteen dollars a week.”
“Are you sure that would be such a great punishment?” she asked him
They moved on with the crowd about the gear and boat. The patrol had
come in good season. It was not probable that the schooner would hold
together long after she struck the reef.
Not until this moment, when she saw the stern faces of the men and
the wan countenances of the women, did Louise understand what the
incident really meant. A few children, clinging to their mother's
skirts, whimpered. The men talked in low voices, the women not at all.
Her heart suddenly shorn of its happiness, Louise Grayling stared
out at the distant, laboring craft. Death rode on the gale, and lurked
where the billows roared and burst over Gull Rocks. The schooner was
That might be the Curlew out there—the schooner her father
was aboard—instead of this imperiled vessel. Only the night before she
and her uncle had figured out the Curlew's course homeward-bound
from her last port of call. She might pass in sight of Cardhaven Head
and the lighthouse any day now.
The thought sobered Louise. Clinging to I. Tapp's arm she went
nearer to the spot where the surfmen had brought their gear and boat.
The sea beyond the line of surf—between the strand and the
reef—was foam-streaked and broken, a veritable cauldron of boiling
water. The captain of the life-saving crew shrank from launching the
boat into that wild waste.
If the line could be shot as far as the reef the moment the schooner
struck, a breeches buoy could be rigged with less danger and, perhaps,
with a better chance of bringing the ship's company safely ashore.
“'Tis a woeful pickle of water,” Washy Gallup shrieked in Louise's
ear. “And the wind a-risin'. 'Tis only allowed by law to shoot a
sartain charge o' powder in the pottery little gun. Beyond that, is
like to burst her. But mebbe they can make it. Cap'n Jim Trainor knows
his work; and 'tis cut out for him this day.”
Gradually the seriousness of the situation began to affect all the
lighter-minded spectators. Louise saw the group of moving picture
actors at one side. The men dropped their cigarettes and strained
forward as they watched the schooner drive in to certain destruction.
It was like a play. The schooner, rearing on each succeeding wave,
drew nearer and nearer. A hawser parted and they saw her bows swing
viciously shoreward, the jib-boom thrusting itself seemingly into the
very sky as she topped a huge breaker.
The crew had to slip the cable of the second anchor. The foremast
came crashing down before she struck. Then, with a grinding thud those
on the shore could not hear, but could keenly sense, the fated craft
rebounded on the reef.
A gasping cry—the intake of a chorused breath—arose from the
throng of spectators. The fishermen and sailors recoiled from the cart
and left an open space in which the life-saving crew could handle their
Cap'n Trainor, the grizzled veteran of the crew, had already loaded
the gun and now aimed it. The shot to which was attached the line was
slipped into the muzzle.
“Back!” the old man ordered, and waved his hand. Then he pulled the
The line fled out of the box with a speed that made it smoke. But
the shot fell short.
“'Tis too much wind, skipper,” squealed Washy Gallup. “You be
a-shootin' into the wind's eye. An' she's risin' ev'ry minute.”
His only answer was a black look from Cap'n Trainor. The latter
loaded the gun again, and yet again. The last time he waited for every
one to get well back before he fired the cannon. When she went off she
did not burst as they half expected—she turned a double back
“'Tis no use, boys!” the captain roared at them, smiting his hands
together. “We must try the boat. But that's a hell's broth out there,
and no two ways about it.”
The stranded schooner, all but hidden at times in the smother of
flying spume and jumping waves, hung halfway across the reef. They
could see men, like black specks, lashed to her after rigging. Louise,
between bursting waves, counted twenty of these figures.
“It may be the Curlew!” she cried to the Taffy King. “Father
told me in his letter there were twenty people aboard her afore and
abaft. He may be out there!” and the girl shuddered.
“No, no,” said I. Tapp. “Not possible. Don't think of such a thing,
my girl. But whoever they are, they are to be pitied.”
There rose a shout at the edge of the surf. The fringe of fishermen
had rushed in to aid in launching the boat. Anscomb and his camera man
had taken up a good position with the machine. The director was going
to get some “real stuff.”
Louise saw that Lawford was foremost among the volunteers. The
lifeboat crew, their belts strapped under their arms, had taken their
places in the boat. Captain Trainor stood in the stern with his
steering oar. On its truck the lifeboat was run into the surf.
“Now!” shrieked the excited moving picture director. “Action!
There was something unreal about it—it was like a play. And yet out
there on that schooner her crew faced bitter death, while the men of
the Coast Patrol took their lives in their hands as the lifeboat was
run through the bursting surf.
The volunteers ran in till those ahead were neck deep in the sea.
Then the boat floated clear and, with a mighty shove from behind the
surfmen pulled out.
Lawford and his mates staggered back with the gear. The lifeboat
lifted to meet the onrolling breakers. The men tugged at the oars.
Somebody screamed. Those ashore saw the white gash of a split oar.
The man in the bow went overboard, not being strapped to the seat. His
mate reached for him and the banging broken oar handle hit him on the
The boat swung broadside and the next instant was rolling over and
over in the surf, the crew half smothered.
The spectators ran together in a crowd. But Lawford and some of the
men who had helped to launch the boat rushed into the surf and dragged
the overturned craft and her crew out upon the beach.
“One of the crew with a broken arm; another knocked out complete
with that crack on the head,” sputtered Cap'n Jim Trainor. “Two of my
very best men. Come on, boys! Who'll take their places?”
Lawford was already putting on the belt he had unbuckled from about
one of the injured surfmen. The Taffy King, seeing what his son was
“Ford! Ford! Don't dare do that! I forbid you!”
Lawford turned a grim face upon his father. “I earn eighteen a week,
dad. I am my own boss.”
A soft palm was placed upon I. Tapp's lips before he could reply.
Louise was weeping frankly, but she urged:
“Don't stop him, Mr. Tapp. Don't say another word to him. My—my
heart is breaking; but I am glad—oh, I am so glad!—that he is a real
Cap'n Trainor's hard gaze swept the circle of strained faces about
him. After all, the men here were mostly “second raters”—weaklings
like Milt Baker and Amiel Perdue, or cripples like Cap'n Joab and Washy
Suddenly the captain's gaze descried a figure well back in the
crowd—one who had not pushed forward during these exciting moments,
but who had been chained to the spot by the fascination of what was
“Ain't that Cap'n Am'zon Silt back there?” demanded the skipper of
the lifeboat crew. “You pull a strong oar, I know, Cap'n Am'zon. We
CHAPTER XXXI. AN ANCHOR TO THE SOUL
The storekeeper had stretched no point when he told his niece that
the thought of setting foot in a boat made him well-nigh swoon. His
only ventures aboard any craft were in quiet waters.
He could pull as strong an oar, despite his years, as any man along
the Cape, but never had he gripped the ash save in the haven or in
similar land-locked water.
His heart was wrung by the sight of those men clinging to the
shrouds of the wrecked schooner. And he rejoiced that the members of
the Coast Patrol crew displayed their manhood in so noble an attempt to
reach the wreck.
But his very soul was shaken by the spectacle of the storm-fretted
sea, and terror gnawed at his vitals when the lifeboat was thrust out
into that awful maelstrom of tumbling water.
Relating imaginary events of this character or repeating what
mariners had told or written about wreck and storm at sea in the safe
harbor of the old store on the Shell Road was different from being an
eyewitness of this present catastrophe.
Trembling, the salt tears stinging his eyes more sharply than the
salt spray stung his cheeks, the storekeeper had ventured into the
crowd of spectators on the sands. So enthralled were his neighbors by
what was going forward that they did not notice his appearance.
And well they did not. This character of the bluff and ready master
mariner that Cap'n Abe had builded—a new order of Frankenstein—and
with which he had deceived the community for these many weeks, came
near to being wrecked right here and now.
He all but screamed aloud in fear when the lifeboat was overturned.
Pallid, shaking, panting for every breath he drew, he was slipping out
of the unnoticing crowd when Cap'n Jim Trainor of the lifeboat crew
called to him.
“You pull a strong oar, I know, Cap'n Am'zon. We need you.”
For the space of a breath the storekeeper “hung in the wind.” He had
been poised for flight and the shock of the lifeboat captain's call
almost startled him into running full speed up the beach.
Then the thought smote upon his harassed mind that Cap'n Trainor was
not speaking to Cap'n Abe, storekeeper. The call for aid was addressed
to Cap'n Amazon Silt.
It was to Cap'n Amazon, the man who had been through all manner of
perils by sea and land, who had suffered stress of storm and shipwreck
himself, whose reputation for courage the Shell Road storekeeper had
builded so long.
Should all this fall in a moment? Should he show the coward's side
of the shield after all his effort toward vicarious heroism? Another
moment of hesitancy and as Cap'n Amazon Silt he would never be able to
hold up his head in the company of Cardhaven folk again.
Cursed by the horror his mother had felt for the cruel sea that had
taken her husband before her very eyes, Cap'n Abe had ever shrunk from
any actual venture upon deep water. But Cap'n Amazon must be true to
his manhood—must uphold by his actions the character the storekeeper
had builded for him.
He buttoned his coat tightly across his chest and pushed through the
group. Men and women alike made way for him, and in his ringing ears he
heard such phrases as:
“He's the man to do it!”
“That's Cap'n Am'zon for ye!”
“There's one Silt ain't afraid of salt water, whatever Cap'n
Abe may be!”
“Will you come, Cap'n Am'zon?” called the skipper of the life-saving
“I'm coming,” mumbled the storekeeper, and held up his arms that
Milt Baker might fasten the belt about his body.
Afterward Milt was fond of declaring that the look on Cap'n Amazon's
face at that moment prophesied the tragedy that was to follow. “He seen
death facin' him—an' he warn't afraid,” Milt said reverently.
“In with you, boys!” shouted the skipper. “And hook your
belts—every man of you! If she overturns again I want to be able to
count noses when we come right side up. Now!”
A shuddering cry from the women, in which Louise found herself
joining; a “Yo! heave-ho!” from the men who launched the craft. Then
the lifeboat was in the surf again, her crew laboring like the sons of
Hercules they were to keep her head to the wind and to the breakers.
The storekeeper was no weakling; rowing was an accomplishment he had
excelled in from childhood. It was the single activity in any way
connected with the sea that he had learned and maintained.
At first he kept his eyes shut—tight shut. A strange thrill went
through him, however. All these years he had shrunk from an unknown, an
unexperienced, peril. Was it that Cap'n Abe had been frightened by a
bogey, after all?
He opened his eyes, pulling rhythmically with the oar—never missing
a stroke. His gaze rested on the face of that old sea-dog, Cap'n Jim
Trainor. The fierce light of determination dwelt there. The skipper
meant to get to the wrecked schooner. He had no doubt of accomplishing
this, and Cap'n Abe caught fire of courage from the skipper's
As for Lawford Tapp, no member of Cap'n Trainor's crew pulled a
better oar than he. With the bow ash he drove on like a young giant.
Fear did not enter into his emotions.
There was nobody to notice the pallor of the storekeeper's visage.
Every man's attention was centered on his own oar, while the skipper
gazed ahead at the wave-beaten schooner grounded hard and fast upon the
There was no lull in the gale. Indeed, it seemed as though the
strength of the wind steadily rose. The lifeboat only crept from the
shore on its course to Gull Rocks. Each yard must be fought for by the
Occasionally Cap'n Trainor called an encouraging sentence at them.
For the most part, however, only the ravening sea roared malice in
Around them the hungry waves leaped and fought for their lives; but
the buoyant boat, held true to her course by the skipper, bore up nobly
under the strain. They won on, foot by foot.
The thunder of the breakers over the reef finally deafened them. The
rocking schooner, buffeted by waves that could not drive her completely
over the reef, towered finally above the heads of the men in the
Cap'n Trainor's straining eyes deciphered her name painted on the
bow. He threw a hand upward in a surprised gesture, still clinging to
the steering oar with his other hand, and shrieked aloud:
“The Curlew! By mighty! who'd ha' thought it? 'Tis the
Curlew.” He, too, knew of Cap'n Abe's supposed voyage on the
The oarsmen read the word upon the skipper's lips rather than heard
his voice. Two, at least, were shocked by the announcement—Lawford and
the storekeeper. There was no opportunity for comment upon this wonder.
Skillfully the lifeboat was brought around under the lee of the
wreck. Already most of her crew had crept down to the rail and were
waiting, half submerged, to drop into the lifeboat. But one figure was
still visible high up in the shrouds.
When the waves sucked out from under her the keel of the lifeboat
almost scratched the reef. Then it rose on a swell to the very rail of
the wreck, wedged so tightly on the rock.
The castaways came inboard rapidly, bringing their injured skipper
with them. The lifeboat was quickly overburdened with human freight.
“No more! No more!” shouted Cap'n Trainor. “We'll have to make
“Where's the professor? Bring down the professor! There he is!”
yelled the mate of the Curlew, who had given his attention to
the injured master of the wrecked craft. “Who lashed him fast up
There was a movement forward. The storekeeper had got up and pulled
a stout-armed member of the Curlew's crew into his place.
“Take my oar!” commanded Cap'n Abe. “I got a niece—he's her father.
Hi-mighty! I just got to get him aboard!”
With an agility that belied his years he leaped for the schooner's
rail as the next surge rose. He swarmed inboard and started up the
shrouds. Those below remained silent while he climbed.
He reached the helpless man, whipped out his knife, cut the
lashings. Slight as the storekeeper seemed, his muscles were of steel.
As though the half-conscious professor were a child, he lowered him to
the slanting deck.
“Only room for one o' you!” roared Cap'n Trainor. “Only one! We're
overloaded as 'tis. Better wait.”
“You'll take him!” shouted Cap'n Abe, and dropped his burden
at Lawford Tapp's feet.
The next moment the lifeboat shot away from the side of the wreck,
leaving the Man Who Was Afraid marooned upon her deck.
That was a perilous journey for the overladen boat. Only the good
management of Cap'n Trainor could have brought her safely to shore. And
when she banged upon the beach it was almost a miracle that she did not
start all her bottom boards.
Many willing hands hauled the heavy boat up upon the sands. The
rescued crew of the schooner tumbled out and lifted their injured
captain ashore. But it was Lawford who brought in Professor Grayling.
Louise had watched with the Taffy King all through the battle of the
lifeboat with the sea, suffering pangs of terror for Lawford's safety,
yet feeling, too, unbounded pride in his achievement.
Now she pressed down to meet him at the edge of the sea and found
that the drenched, dazed man Lawford bore up in his arms was her own
The meeting served to rouse the professor. He stared searchingly
over the group of rescued men.
“Where's the man who cut my lashings and helped me down to the deck?
I don't see him,” he said. “Louise, my dear, this is a very, very
strange homecoming. And all my summer's work gone for nothing! But that
“Cap'n Amazon Silt,” said Lawford. “He stayed behind. There wasn't
room in the boat.”
“Cap'n Am'zon!” exclaimed several excited voices. But only one—and
that Louise Grayling's—uttered another name:
“Cap'n Abe! Isn't he with you? Didn't you bring him ashore?”
“By heaven! that's so, Louise!” groaned Lawford. “They must both be
out there. The two brothers are marooned on that rotten wreck!”
Already the kindly neighbors were hurrying the castaways in groups
of twos and threes to the nearer dwellings. Anscomb was getting foot
after foot of “the real stuff.” The moving picture actors and the
cottagers hung on the outskirts of the throng of natives, wide-eyed and
marveling. They had all, on this day, gained a taste of the stern
realities of life as it is along the shore.
Louise was desirous of getting her father to the store, for he was
exhausted. Lawford turned back toward the group of life-saving men
standing about the beached boat.
“If they can get her launched again they'll need me,” he shouted
back over his shoulder. “Poor Cap'n Abe and Cap'n Amazon———”
“You've done enough, boy,” his father declared, clinging to the
sleeve of Lawford's guernsey. “Don't risk your life again.”
“Don't worry, dad. A fellow has to do his bit, you know.”
Betty Gallup came to the assistance of Louise and helped support the
professor. The woman's countenance was all wrinkled with trouble.
“He must be out there, too,” she murmured to Louise. “Ain't none o'
these chaps off the Curlew jest right yet—scar't blue, or
suthin'. They don't seem to rightly sense that Cap'n Abe was with 'em
all the time aboard that schooner.”
“Poor Cap'n Abe!” groaned Louise again.
“And that old pirate's with him,” said Betty. But her tone lacked
its usual venom in speaking of Cap'n Amazon. “Who'd ha' thought it? I
reckoned he was nothing but a bag o' wind, with all his yarns of bloody
murder an' the like. But he is a Silt; no gettin' around that. And
Cap'n Abe allus did say the Silts were proper seamen.”
“Poor, poor Cap'n Abe!” sobbed Louise.
“Now, now!” soothed Betty. “Don't take on so, deary. They'll get 'em
both. Never fear.”
But the rising gale forbade another launching of the lifeboat for
hours. The night shut down over the wind-ridden sea and shore, and by
the pallid light fitfully playing over the tumbling waters the watchers
along the sands saw the stricken Curlew being slowly wrenched to
pieces by the waves that wolfed about and over her.
CHAPTER XXXII. ON THE ROLL OF HONOR
Stretched upon the couch in the living-room behind the store, with
Diddimus purring beside him, Professor Grayling heard that evening the
story of Cap'n Abe's masquerade. Betty Gallup had gone back to the
beach and Louise could talk freely to her father.
“And he saved me, for your sake!” murmured the professor. “He gave
me his place in the lifeboat! Ah, my dear Lou! there is something
besides physical courage in this world. And I don't see but that your
uncle has plenty of both kinds of bravery. Really, he is a wonderful
“He was a wonderful man,” said Louise brokenly.
“I do not give up hope of his ultimate safety, my dear. The gale
will blow itself out by morning. Captain Ripley is so badly hurt that
he is being taken to Boston to-night, and the crew go with him. But if
there is interest to be roused in the fate of the last man left upon
“Oh, I am sure the neighbors will do everything in their power. And
Lawford, too!” she cried.
“The schooner is not likely to break up before morning. The
departure of her crew to-night will make it all the easier for Mr.
Abram Silt's secret to be kept,” the professor reminded her.
“Yes. We will keep his secret,” sighed Louise. “Poor Uncle Abram!
After all, he can gain a reputation for courage only vicariously. It
will be Cap'n Amazon Silt who will go down in the annals of Cardhaven
as the brave man who risked his life for another, daddy-prof.”
Aunt Euphemia did not leave The Beaches on this evening, as she had
intended. Even she was shaken out of her usual marble demeanor by the
wreck and the incidents connected with it. She came to the store after
dinner and welcomed her brother with a most subdued and chastened
“You have been mercifully preserved, Ernest,” she said, wiping her
eyes. “I saw young Lawford Tapp bring you ashore. A really remarkable
young man, and so I told Mrs. Perriton just now. So brave of him to
venture out in the lifeboat as a volunteer.
“I have just been talking to his father. Quite a remarkable man—I.
Tapp. One of these rough diamonds, you know, Ernest. And he is so
enthusiastic about Louise. He has just pointed out to me the spot on
the bluff where he intends to build a cottage for Lawford and Louise.”
“What's this?” demanded Professor Grayling, sitting up so suddenly
on the couch that Diddimus spat and jumped off in haste and anger.
“I—I was just going to tell you about Lawford,” Louise said in a
“Oh, yes! A little thing like your having a lover slipped your mind,
I suppose?” demanded her father.
“And a young man of most excellent character,” put in the surprising
Mrs. Conroth. “Perhaps his family is not all that might be desired; but
I. Tapp is e-nor-mously wealthy and I understand he will settle
a good income upon Ford. Besides, the young man has some sort of
interest in the manufacturing of candies.”
Trust the Lady from Poughkeepsie to put the best foot forward when
it became necessary to do so. The professor was gazing quizzically at
the flushed face of his daughter.
“So that is what you have been doing this summer, is it?” he said.
“That—and looking after Cap'n Abe,” confessed Louise.
“I'll have to look into this further.”
“Isn't it terrible?” interrupted Mrs. Conroth. “They say the two
brothers are out on that wreck and they cannot be reached until the
gale subsides. And then it will be too late to save them. Well, Louise,
that old sailor was certainly a brave man. I am really sorry I spoke so
harshly about him. They tell me it was he who put your father in the
boat. I hope there is some way you can fittingly show your
“I hope so,” said Professor Grayling grimly.
Lawford came to the store before bedtime—very white and
serious-looking. He had tried with the patrol crew to launch the boat
again and go to the rescue of the two old men supposed to be upon the
wreck. But the effort had been fruitless. Until the gale fell and the
tide turned they could not possibly get out to Gull Rocks.
“A brave man is Cap'n Amazon,” Lawford Tapp said. “And if Cap'n Abe
was in the schooner's crew——Why, Professor Grayling! surely you must
remember him? Not a big man, but with heavy gray beard and
mustache—and very bald. Mild blue eyes and very gentle-spoken. Don't
you remember him in the crew of the Curlew?”
“It would seem quite probable that he was aboard,” Professor
Grayling returned, “minding his p's and q's,” as Louise had warned him.
“But you see, Mr. Tapp, being only a passenger, I had really little
association with the men forward. You know how it is aboard
ship—strict discipline, and all that.”
“Yes, sir; I see. And, after all, Cap'n Abe was a man that could
easily be overlooked. Not assertive at all. Not like Cap'n Amazon.
Quite timid and retiring by nature. Don't you say so, Louise?”
“Oh, absolutely!” agreed the girl. “And yet, when you come to think
of it, Uncle Abram is a wonderful man.”
“I don't see how you can say so,” the young man said. “It's Cap'n
Amazon who is wonderful. There were other men down on the beach better
able to handle an oar than he. But he took the empty seat in the
lifeboat when he was called without saying 'yes or no'! And he pulled
with the best of us.”
“He is no coward, of that I am sure,” said Professor Grayling. “He
gave me his place in the boat. We can but pray that the lifeboat will
get to him in the morning.”
That hope was universal. All night driftwood fires burned on the
sands and the people watched and waited for the dawn and another sight
of the schooner on the reef.
The tide brought in much wreckage; but it was mostly smashed top
gear and deck lumber. Therefore they had reason to hope that the hull
of the wreck held together.
It was just at daybreak that the wind subsided and the tide was so
that the lifeboat could be launched again. Wellriver station owned no
motor-driven craft at this time, or Cap'n Jim Trainor and his men would
have been able to reach the wreck at the height of the gale.
It was no easy matter even now to bring the lifeboat under the lee
of the battered schooner. Her masts and shrouds were overside,
anchoring her to the reef. Not a sign of life appeared anywhere upon
One of the crew of the lifeboat leaped for the rail and clambered
aboard. Down in the scuppers, in the wash of each wave that climbed
aboard the wreck, he spied a huddled bundle.
“Here's one of 'em, sure 'nough!” he sang out.
Making his way precariously down the slanting deck, he reached in a
minute the spot where the unfortunate lay. The man had washed back and
forth in the sea water so long that he was all but parboiled. The
rescuer seized him by the shoulders and drew him out of this wash.
He was a very bald man with gray hair, a stubble of beard on his
cheeks, and a straggling gray mustache.
“Why, by golly!” yelled the surfman. “This here's Cap'n Abe Silt!”
“Ain't his brother Am'zon there?”
“No, I don't see his brother nowhere.”
“Take a good look.”
“Trust me to do that,” answered the surfman.
But the search was useless. Nobody ever saw Cap'n Amazon again. He
had gone, as he had come—suddenly and in a way to shock the placid
thoughts of Cardhaven people. A stone in the First Church graveyard is
all the visible reminder there remains of Cap'n Amazon Silt, who for
one summer amazed the frequenters of the store on the Shell Road.
The life-savers brought Cap'n Abe, the storekeeper, back from the
wreck, the last survivor of the Curlew's crew. He was in rather
bad shape, for his night's experience on the wreck had been serious
They put him to bed, and Louise and Betty Gallup took turns in
nursing him, while Cap'n Joab Beecher puttered about the store, trying
to wait on customers and keep things straight.
At first, as he lay in his “cabin,” Cap'n Abe did not have much to
say—not even to Louise. But after a couple of days, on an occasion
when she was feeding him broth, he suddenly sputtered and put away the
spoon with a vexed gesture.
“What's the matter, Uncle Abram?” she asked him. “Isn't it good?”
“The soup's all right, Niece Louise. 'Tain't so fillin' as chowder,
I cal'late, but it'll keep a feller on deck for a spell. That ain't it.
I was just a-thinkin'.”
“Hi-mighty! It's all over, ain't it?” he said in desperation. “Can't
never bring forward Cap'n Am'zon again, can I? I got to be Cap'n
Abe hereafter, whether I want to be or not. It's a turrible
“I ain't sorry I went out there in that boat. No. For I got your
father off, an' he'd been carried overboard if he'd been let stay in
“But land sakes! I did fancy bein' Cap'n Am'zon 'stead o'
myself. And the worst of it is, Niece Louise, I can't have nothin' new
to tell 'bout Cap'n Am'zon's adventures. He's drowned, an' he can't
never go rovin' no more.”
“But think of what you've done, Cap'n Abe,” Louise urged. “You
feared the sea—and you overcame that fear. All your life you shrank
from venturing on the water; yet you went out in that lifeboat and
played the hero. Oh, I think it is fine, Cap'n Abe! It's wonderful!”
“Wonderful?” repeated Cap'n Abe. “P'r'aps 'tis. Mebbe I've been too
timid all my life. P'r'aps I could ha' been a sailor and cruised in
foreign seas if I'd just had to.
“But mother allus was opposed. She kept talkin' against it when I
was a boy—and later, too. She told how scar't she was when Cap'n Josh
and the Bravo went down in sight of her windows. And mebbe I
ketched it more from her talkin' than aught else.
“But I never realized that stress of circumstances could push me
into it an' make a man of me. I had a feelin' that I'd swoon away an'
fall right down in my tracks if I undertook to face such a sea as that
was t'other day.
“And see! Nothing of the kind happened! I knew I'd got to make good
Cap'n Am'zon's character, or not hold up my head in Cardhaven again. I
don't dispute I've been a hi-mighty liar, Niece Louise. But—but it's
sort o' made a man o' me for once, don't ye think?
“I dunno. Good comes out o' bad sometimes. Bitter from the sweet as
well. And when a man's got a repertation to maintain——There was that
feller Hanks, on the Lunette, out o' Nantucket. I've heard Cap'n
Am'zon tell it——”
“Cap'n Abe!” gasped Louise.
“Hi-mighty! There I go again,” said the storekeeper mournfully. “You
can't teach an old dog new tricks—nor break him of them he's l'arned!”
Louise and her father remained at the store on the Shell Road until
Cap'n Abe was up and about again. Then they could safely leave him to
the ministrations of Betty Gallup.
“Somehow,” confessed that able seaman, “he don't seem just like he
used to. He speaks quicker and sharper—more like that old pirate,
Am'zon Silt, though I shouldn't be sayin' nothin' harsh of the dead, I
s'pose. I don't dispute that Cap'n Am'zon was muchly of a man, when ye
come to think on't.
“But Cap'n Abe's more to my taste. Now the place seems right again
with him in the house. Cap'n Abe's as easy as an old shoe. And, land
sakes! I ain't locked out o' his bedroom when I want to clean!
“One thing puzzles me, Miss Lou. I thought Cap'n Abe would take on
c'nsiderable about Jerry. But when I told him the canary was dead he up
and said that mebbe 'twas better so, seem' the old bird couldn't see no
more. Now, who would ha' told him Jerry was blind?”
There were a few other things about the returned Cap'n Abe that
might have amazed his neighbors. He seemed to possess an almost uncanny
knowledge of what had happened during the summer. Besides, he seemed to
have achieved Cap'n Amazon's manner of “looking down” a too inquisitive
inquirer into personal affairs and refusing to answer.
Because of this, perhaps, nobody was ever known to ask the
storekeeper why he had filled his sea chest with bricks and useless
dunnage when he shipped it to Boston. That mystery was never explained.
Before Louise and her father were ready to leave Cardhaven most of
the summer residents along The Beaches, including Aunt Euphemia, had
gone. And the moving picture company had also flown.
With the latter went Gusty Durgin, bravely refusing to have her
artistic soul trammeled any longer by the claims of hungry boarders at
the Cardhaven Inn.
“I don't never expect to be one of these stars on the screen,” she
confided to Louise. “But I can make a good livin', an' ma's childern by
her second husband, Mr. Vleet, has got to be eddicated.
“I'm goin' to make me up a fancy name and make a repertation. They
ain't goin' to call me 'Dusty Gudgeon' no more. Miss Louder tells me I
can 'bant'—whatever that is—to take down my flesh, and mebbe you'll
see me some day, Miss Lou, in a re'l ladylike part. An' I can always
cry. Even Mr. Bane says I'm wuth my wages when it comes to the tearful
The Tapps were flitting to Boston, Mrs. Tapp and the girls sure of
“getting in” with the proper set at last. Their summer's campaign,
thanks to Louise, had been successful to that end.
Louise and Lawford walked along the strand below the cottages. The
candy cutting machine had proved a success and Lawford was giving his
attention to a new “mechanical wrapper” for salt water taffy that would
do away with much hand labor.
On the most prominent outlook of Tapp Point were piles of building
material and men at work. The pudgy figure of I. Tapp was visible
walking about, importantly directing the workmen.
“It's going to be a most, wonderful house, Louise dear,” sighed
Lawford. “Do you suppose you can stand it? The front elevation looks
like a French chateau of the Middle Ages, and there ought to be a moat
and a portcullis to make it look right.”
“Never mind,” she responded cheerfully. “We won't have to live in
it—much. See. We have all this to live in,” with a wide gesture. “The
sea and the shore. Cape Cod forever! I shall never be discontented
They wandered back to the store on the Shell Road. There was a chill
in the fall air and Cap'n Abe had built a small fire in the rusty
stove. About it were gathered the usual idlers. A huge fishfly droned
on the window pane.
“It's been breedin' a change of weather for a week,” said Cap'n
“Right ye air, sir,” agreed Washy Gallup, wagging his head.
“I 'member hearin' Cap'n Am'zon tell 'bout a dry spell like this,”
began Cap'n Abe, leaning his hairy fists upon the counter. “Twas when
he was ashore once at Teneriffe——”
“Don't I hear Mandy a-callin' me?” Milt Baker suddenly demanded,
making for the door.
“I gotter git over home myself,” said Cap'n Joab apologetically.
“Me, too,” said Washy, rising. “'Tis chore time.”
Cap'n Abe clamped his jaws shut for a minute and his eyes blazed.
Only the mild and inoffensive Amiel was left of his audience.
“Huh!” he growled. “Ain't goin' to waste my breath on you,
Amiel Perdue. Go git me a scuttle of coal.”
Then, when the young fellow had departed, the storekeeper grinned
ruefully and whispered in his niece's ear:
“Hi-mighty! Cap'n Amazon's cut the sand out from under my feet. They
think he told them yarns so much better'n I do that they won't even
stay to hear me. Hard lines. Niece Louise, hard lines. But mebbe I