by Margaret Deland
[Illustration: [See page 4
WHEN ALFRED PRICE FELL IN LOVE WITH MISS LETTY MORRIS]
THE AWAKENING OF HELENA RICHIE
DR. LAVENDER'S PEOPLE
OLD CHESTER TALES
ALICE BARBER STEPHENS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER &BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1904, 1907, by HARPER &BROTHERS.
All rights reserved.
Published October, 1907.
WHEN ALFRED PRICE FELL IN LOVE WITH
MISS LETTY MORRIS Frontispiece
THE CAPTAIN AND CYRUS WERE AFRAID
OF GUSSIE Facing p 18
THERE WAS A LITTLE SILENCE, AND THEN
DR. LAVENDER BEGAN 76
According to Old Chester, to be romantic was just one shade less
reprehensible than to put on airs. Captain Alfred Price, in all his
seventy years, had never been guilty of putting on airs, but certainly
he had something to answer for in the way of romance.
However, in the days when we children used to see him pounding up
the street from the post-office, reading, as he walked, a newspaper
held at arm's-length in front of him, he was far enough from romance.
He was seventy years old, he weighed over two hundred pounds, his big
head was covered with a shock of grizzled red hair; his pleasures
consisted in polishing his old sextant and playing on a small
mouth-harmonicon. As to his vices, it was no secret that he kept a fat
black bottle in the chimney-closet in his own room, and occasionally he
swore strange oaths about his grandmother's nightcap. He used to
blaspheme, his daughter-in-law said; but I said, 'Not in my presence,
if you please!' So now he just says this foolish thing about a
nightcap. Mrs. Drayton said that this reform would be one of the
jewels in Mrs. Cyrus Price's crown; and added that she prayed that some
day the Captain would give up tobacco and rum. I am a poor,
feeble creature, said Mrs. Drayton; I cannot do much for my
fellow-men in active mission-work,but I give my prayers. However,
neither Mrs. Drayton's prayers nor Mrs. Cyrus's active mission-work had
done more than mitigate the blasphemy; the rum (which was good
Monongahela whiskey) was still on hand; and as for tobacco, except when
sleeping, eating, playing on his harmonicon, or dozing through one of
Dr. Lavendar's sermons, the Captain smoked every moment, the ashes of
his pipe or cigar falling unheeded on a vast and wrinkled expanse of
No; he was not a romantic object. But we girls, watching him stump
past the school-room window to the post-office, used to whisper to one
another, Just think! he eloped.
There was romance for you!
To be sure, the elopement had not quite come off, but except for the
very end, it was all as perfect as a story. Indeed, the failure at the
end made it all the better: angry parents, broken heartsonly, the
worst of it was, the hearts did not stay broken! He went and married
somebody else; and so did she. You would have supposed she would have
died. I am sure, in her place, any one of us would have died. And yet,
as Lydia Wright said, How could a young lady die for a young gentleman
with ashes all over his waistcoat?
But when Alfred Price fell in love with Miss Letty Morris, he was
not indifferent to his waistcoat, nor did he weigh two hundred pounds.
He was slender and ruddy-cheeked, with tossing red-brown curls. If he
swore, it was not by his grandmother nor her nightcap; if he drank, it
was hard cider (which can often accomplish as much as rum"); if he
smoked it was in secret, behind the stable. He wore a stock, and (on
Sunday) a ruffled shirt; a high-waisted coat with two brass buttons
behind, and very tight pantaloons. At that time he attended the
Seminary for Youths in Upper Chester. Upper Chester was then, as in our
time, the seat of learning in the township, the Female Academy being
there, too. Both were boarding-schools, but the young people came home
to spend Sunday; and their weekly returns, all together in the stage,
were responsible for more than one Old Chester match....
The air, says Miss, sniffing genteelly as the coach jolts past the
blossoming May orchards, is most agreeably perfumed. And how fair is
the prospect from this hill-top!
Fair indeed! responds her companion, staring boldly.
Miss bridles and bites her lip.
I was not observing the landscape, the young gentleman
hastens to explain.
In those days (Miss Letty was born in 1804, and was eighteen when
she and the ruddy Alfred sat on the back seat of the coach)in those
days the conversation of Old Chester youth was more elegant than in our
time. We, who went to Miss Bailey's school, were sad degenerates in the
way of manners and language; at least so our elders told us. When Lydia
Wright said, Oh my, what an awful snow-storm! dear Miss Ellen was
displeased. Lydia, said she, is there anything 'awe'-inspiring in
this display of the elements?
No, 'm, faltered poor Lydia.
Then, said Miss Bailey, gravely, your statement that the storm is
'awful' is a falsehood. I do not suppose, my dear, that you
intentionally told an untruth; it was an exaggeration. But an
exaggeration, though not perhaps a falsehood, is unladylike, and should
be avoided by persons of refinement. Just here the question arises:
what would Miss Ellen (now in heaven) say if she could hear Lydia's
Lydia, just home from college, remarkBut no: Miss Ellen's precepts
shall protect these pages.
But in the days when Letty Morris looked out of the coach window,
and young Alfred murmured that the prospect was fair indeed,
conversation was perfectly correct. And it was still decorous even when
it got beyond the coach period and reached a point where Old Chester
began to take notice. At first it was young Old Chester which giggled.
Later old Old Chester made some comments; it was then that Alfred's
mother mentioned the matter to Alfred's father. He is young, and, of
course, foolish, Mrs. Price explained. And Mr. Price said that though
folly was incidental to Alfred's years, it must be checked.
Just check it, said Mr. Price.
Then Miss Letty's mother awoke to the situation, and said, Fy, fy,
Letitia! let me hear no more of this foolishness.
So it was that these two young persons were plunged in grief. Oh,
glorious grief of thwarted love! When they met now, they did not talk
of the landscape. Their conversation, though no doubt as genteel as
before, was all of broken hearts. But again Letty's mother found out,
and went in wrath to call on Alfred's family. It was decided between
them that the young man should be sent away from home. To save him,
says the father. To protect my daughter, says Mrs. Morris.
But Alfred and Letty had something to say.... It was in December;
there was a snow-storma storm which Lydia Wright would certainly have
called awful; but it did not interfere with true love; these two
children met in the graveyard to swear undying constancy. Alfred's
lantern came twinkling through the flakes, as he threaded his way
across the hill-side among the tombstones, and found Letty just inside
the entrance, standing with her black serving-woman under a tulip-tree.
The negress, chattering with cold and fright, kept plucking at the
girl's pelisse to hurry her; but once Alfred was at her side, Letty was
indifferent to storm and ghosts. As for Alfred, he was too cast down to
think of them.
Letty, they will part us.
No, my dear Alfred, no!
Yes. Yes, they will. Oh, if you were only mine!
Miss Letty sighed.
Will you be true to me, Letty? I am to go on a sailing-vessel to
China, to be gone two years. Will you wait for me?
Letty gave a little cry; two years! Her black woman twitched her
Miss Let, it's gittin' cole, honey.
(Don't, Flora.)Alfred, two years! Oh, Alfred, that is an
eternity. Why, I should beI should be twenty!
The lantern, set on a tombstone beside them, blinked in a snowy
gust. Alfred covered his face with his handshe was shaken to his
soul; the little, gay creature beside him thrilled at a sound from
behind those hands.
Alfred,she said, faintly; then she hid her face against his arm;
my dear Alfred, I will, if you desire itfly with you!
Alfred, with a gasp, lifted his head and stared at her. His slower
mind had seen nothing but separation and despair; but the moment the
word was said he was aflame. What! Would she? Could she? Adorable
Miss Let, my feet done git cole
(Flora, be still!)Yes, Alfred, yes. I am thine.
The boy caught her in his arms. But I am to be sent away on Monday!
My angel, could youfly, to-morrow?
And Letty, her face still hidden against his, shoulder, nodded.
Then, while the shivering Flora stamped, and beat her arms, and the
lantern flared and sizzled, Alfred made their plans, which were simple
to the point of childishness. My own! he said, when it was all
arranged; then he held the lantern up and looked into her face,
blushing and determined, with snowflakes gleaming on the curls that
pushed out from under her big hood. You will meet me at the
minister's? he said, passionately. You will not fail me?
I will not fail you! she said; and laughed joyously; but the young
man's face was white.
She kept her word; and with the assistance of Flora, romantic again
when her feet were warm, all went as they planned. Clothes were packed,
savings-banks opened, and a chaise abstracted from the Price stable.
It is my intention, said the youth, to return to my father the
value of the vehicle and nag, as soon as I can secure a position which
will enable me to support my Letty in comfort and fashion.
On the night of the elopement the two children met at the minister's
house. (Yes, the very old Rectory to which we Old Chester children went
every Saturday afternoon to Dr. Lavendar's Collect class. But of course
there was no Dr. Lavendar there in those days).
Well; Alfred requested this minister to pronounce them man and wife;
but he coughed and poked the fire. I am of age, Alfred insisted; I
am twenty-two. Then Mr. Smith said he must first go and put on his
bands and surplice; and Alfred said, If you please, sir. And off went
Mr. Smithand sent a note to Alfred's father and Letty's mother!
We girls used to wonder what the lovers talked about while they
waited for the return of the surpliced traitor. Ellen Dale always said
they were foolish to wait. Why didn't they go right off? said Ellen.
If I were going to elope, I shouldn't bother to get married.
But, oh, think of how they felt when in walked those cruel parents!
The story was that they were torn weeping from each other's arms;
that Letty was sent to bed for two days on bread and water; that Alfred
was packed off to Philadelphia the very next morning, and sailed in
less than a week. They did not see each other again.
But the end of the story was not romantic at all. Letty, although
she crept about for a while in deep disgrace, and brooded upon
deaththat interesting impossibility, so dear to youthmarried, if you please! when she was twenty, somebody called North,and went
away to live. When Alfred came back, seven years later, he got married,
too. He married a Miss Barkley. He used to go away on long voyages, so
perhaps he wasn't really fond of her. We tried to think so, for we
liked Captain Price.
In our day Captain Price was a widower. He had given up the sea, and
settled down to live in Old Chester; his son, Cyrus, lived with him,
and his languid daughter-in-lawa young lady of dominant feebleness,
who ruled the two men with that most powerful domestic rod, foolish
weakness. This combination in a woman will cause a mountain (a
masculine mountain) to fly from its firm base; while kindness, justice,
and good sense leave it upon unshaken foundations of selfishness. Mrs.
Cyrus was a Goliath of silliness; when billowing black clouds heaped
themselves in the west on a hot afternoon, she turned pale with
apprehension, and the Captain and Cyrus ran for four tumblers, into
which they put the legs of her bed, where, cowering among the feathers,
she lay cold with fear and perspiration. Every night the Captain
screwed down all the windows on the lower floor; in the morning Cyrus
pulled the screws out. Cyrus had a pretty taste in horseflesh, but
Gussie cried so when he once bought a trotter that he had long ago
resigned himself to a friendly beast of twenty-seven years, who could
not go much out of a walk because he had string-halt in both hind legs.
But one must not be too hard on Mrs. Cyrus. In the first place, she
was not born in Old Chester. But, added to that, just think of her
name! The effect of names upon character is not considered as it should
be. If one is called Gussie for thirty years, it is almost impossible
not to become gussie after a while. Mrs. Cyrus could not be Augusta;
few women can; but it was easy to be gussieirresponsible, silly,
selfish. She had a vague, flat laugh, she ate a great deal of candy,
and she was afraid ofBut one cannot catalogue Mrs. Cyrus's fears.
They were as the sands of the sea for number. And these two men were
governed by them. Only when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed
will it be understood why a man loves a fool; but why he obeys her is
obvious enough: Fear is the greatest power in the world; Gussie was
afraid of thunder-storms, or what not; but the Captain and Cyrus were
afraid of Gussie! A hint of tears in her pale eyes, and her husband
would sigh with anxiety and Captain Price slip his pipe into his pocket
and sneak out of the room. Doubtless Cyrus would often have been glad
to follow him, but the old gentleman glared when his son showed a
desire for his company.
Want to come and smoke with me? 'Your granny was Murray!'you're
sojering. You're first mate; you belong on the bridge in storms. I'm
before the mast. Tend to your business!
* * * * *
It was forty-eight years before Letty and Alfred saw each other
againor at least before persons calling themselves by those old names
saw each other. Were they Letty and Alfredthis tousled, tangled,
good-humored old man, ruddy and cowed, and this small, bright-eyed old
lady, Mrs. North, led about by a devoted daughter? Certainly these two
persons bore no resemblance to the boy and girl torn from each other's
arms that cold December night. Alfred had been mild and slow; Captain
Price (except when his daughter-in-law raised her finger) was a
pleasant old roaring lion. Letty had been a gay, high-spirited little
creature, not as retiring, perhaps, as a young female should be, and
certainly self-willed; Mrs. North was completely under the thumb of her
daughter Mary. Not that under the thumb means unhappiness; Mary North
desired only her mother's welfare, and lived fiercely for that single
purpose. From morning until night (and, indeed, until morning again,
for she rose often from her bed to see that there was no draught from
the crack of the open window), all through the twenty-four hours she
was on duty.
[Illustration: THE CAPTAIN AND CYRUS WERE AFRAID OF GUSSIE]
When this excellent daughter appeared in Old Chester and said she
was going to hire a house, and bring her mother back to end her days in
the home of her girlhood, Old Chester displayed a friendly interest;
when she decided upon a house on Main Street, directly opposite Captain
Price's, it began to recall the romance of that thwarted elopement.
Do you suppose she knows that story about old Alfred Price and her
mother? said Old Chester; and it looked sidewise at Miss North with
polite curiosity. This was not altogether because of her mother's
romantic past, but because of her own manners and clothes. With painful
exactness, Miss North endeavored to follow the fashion; but she looked
as if articles of clothing had been thrown at her and some had stuck.
As to her manners, Old Chester was divided; Mrs. David Baily said, with
delicate disgust, that they were bad; but Mrs. Barkley said, that the
trouble was she hadn't any manners; and as for Dr. Lavendar, he
insisted that she was just shy. But, as Mrs. Drayton said, that was
like Dr. Lavendar, always making excuses for wrong-doing! Which, said
Mrs. Drayton, is a strange thing for a minister to do. For my part, I
cannot understand impoliteness in a Christian female. But we
must not judge, Mrs. Drayton ended, with what Willy King called her
holy look. Without wishing to judge, it may be said that, in the
matter of manners, Miss Mary North, palpitatingly anxious to be polite,
told the truth; and as everybody knows, truthfulness and agreeable
manners are often divorced on the ground of incompatibility. Miss North
said things that other people only thought. When Mrs. Willy King
remarked that, though she did not pretend to be a good house-keeper,
she had the backs of her pictures dusted every other day, Miss North,
her chin trembling with shyness, said, with a panting smile:
That's not good house-keeping; it's foolish waste of time. And
when Neddy Dilworth's wife confessed coquettishly, that one would
hardly take her to be a year or two older than her husband, would one?
Mary North exclaimed, in utter astonishment: is that all? Why, you
look twelve years older! Of course such truthfulness was far from
genteel,though Old Chester was not as displeased as you might have
While Miss North, timorous and sincere (and determined to be
polite), was putting the house in order before sending for her mother,
Old Chester invited her to tea, and asked her many questions about
Letty and the late Mr. North. But nobody asked whether she knew that
her opposite neighbor, Captain Price, might have been her fatherat
least that was the way Miss Ellen's girls expressed it. Captain Price
himself did not enlighten the daughter he did not have; but he went
rolling across the street, and pulling off his big shabby felt hat,
stood at the foot of the steps, and roared out: Morning! Anything I
can do for you? Miss North, indoors, hanging window-curtains, her
mouth full of tacks, shook her head. Then she removed the tacks and
came to the front door.
Do you smoke, sir?
Captain Price removed his pipe from his mouth and looked at it.
Why! I believe I do, sometimes, he said.
I inquired, said Miss North, smiling tremulously, her hands
gripped hard together, because, if you do, I will ask you to desist
when passing our windows.
Captain Price was so dumfounded that for a moment words failed him.
Then he said, meekly, Does your mother object to tobacco smoke,
It is injurious to all ladies' throats, Miss North explained, her
voice quivering and determined.
Does your mother resemble you, madam? said Captain Price, slowly.
Oh no! my mother is pretty. She has my eyes, but that's all.
I didn't mean in looks, said the old man; she did not look in the
least like you; not in the least! I mean in her views?
Her views? I don't think my mother has any particular views, Miss
North answered, hesitatingly; I spare her all thought, she ended, and
her thin face bloomed suddenly with love.
Old Chester rocked with the Captain's report of his call; and Mrs.
Cyrus told her husband that she only wished this lady would stop his
Just look at his ashes, said Gussie; I put saucers round
everywhere to catch 'em, but he shakes 'em off anywhereright on the
carpet! And if you say anything, he just says, 'Oh, they'll keep the
moths away!' I worry so for fear he'll set the house on fire.
Mrs. Cyrus was so moved by Miss North's active mission-work that the
very next day she wandered across the street to call. I hope I'm not
interrupting you, she began, but I thought I'd just
Yes; you are, said Miss North; but never mind; stay, if you want
to. She tried to smile, but she looked at the duster which she had put
down upon Mrs. Cyrus's entrance.
Gussie wavered as to whether to take offence, but decided not toat
least not until she could make the remark which was buzzing in her
small mind. It seemed strange, she said, that Mrs. North should come,
not only to Old Chester, but right across the street from Captain
Why? said Mary North, briefly.
Why? said Mrs. Cyrus, with faint animation. Gracious! is
it possible that you don't know about your mother and my
Your father-in-law?my mother?
Why, you know, said Mrs. Cyrus, with her light cackle, your
mother was a little romantic when she was young. No doubt she has
conquered it by this time. But she tried to elope with my
Oh, bygones should be bygones, Mrs. Cyrus said, soothingly;
forgive and forget, you know. I have no doubt she is perfectlywell,
perfectly correct, now. If there's anything I can do to assist you,
ma'am, I'll send my husband over; and then she lounged away, leaving
poor Mary North silent with indignation. But that night at tea Gussie
said that she thought strong-minded ladies were very unladylike; they
say she's strong-minded, she added, languidly.
Lady! said the Captain. She's a man-o'-war's-man in petticoats.
She's as flat as a lath, the Captain declared; if it hadn't been
for her face, I wouldn't have known whether she was coming bow or stern
I think, said Mrs. Cyrus, that that woman has some motive in
bringing her mother back here; and right across the street,
What motive? said Cyrus, mildly curious.
But Augusta waited for conjugal privacy to explain herself: Cyrus,
I worry so, because I'm sure that woman thinks she can catch your
father again. Oh, just listen to that harmonicon down-stairs! It sets
my teeth on edge!
Then Cyrus, the silent, servile first mate, broke out: Gussie,
you're a fool!
And Augusta cried all night, and showed herself at the
breakfast-table lantern-jawed and sunken-eyed; and her father-in-law
judged it wise to sprinkle his cigar ashes behind the stable.
* * * * *
The day that Mrs. North arrived in Old Chester, Mrs. Cyrus commanded
the situation; she saw the daughter get out of the stage, and hurry
into the house for a chair so that the mother might descend more
easily. She also saw a little, white-haired old lady take that
opportunity to leap nimbly, and quite unaided, from the swinging step.
Now, mother! expostulated Mary North, chair in hand, and
breathless, you might have broken your limb! Here, take my arm.
Meekly, after her moment of freedom, the little lady put her hand on
that gaunt arm, and tripped up the path and into the house, where,
alas! Augusta Price lost sight of them. Yet even she, with all her
disapproval of strong-minded ladies, must have admired the tenderness
of the man-o'-war's-man. Miss North put her mother into a big chair,
and hurried to bring a dish of curds.
I'm not hungry, protested Mrs. North.
Never mind. It will do you good.
With a sigh the little old lady ate the curds, looking about her
with curious eyes. Why, we're right across the street from the old
Price house! she said.
Did you know them, mother? demanded Miss North.
Dear me, yes, said Mrs. North, twinkling; why, I'd forgotten all
about it, but the eldest boyNow, what was his name? Alsomething.
AlfredAlbert; no, Alfred. He was a beau of mine.
Mother! I don't think it's refined to use such a word.
Well, he wanted me to elope with him, Mrs. North said, gayly; if
that isn't being a beau, I don't know what is. I haven't thought of it
If you've finished your curds you must lie down, said Miss North.
Oh, I'll just look about
No; you are tired. You must lie down.
Who is that stout old gentleman going into the Price house? Mrs.
North said, lingering at the window.
Oh, that's your Alfred Price, her daughter answered; and added,
that she hoped her mother would be pleased with the house. We have
boarded so long, I think you'll enjoy a home of your own.
Indeed I shall! cried Mrs. North, her eyes snapping with delight.
Mary, I'll wash the breakfast dishes, as my mother used to do!
Oh no, Mary North protested; it would tire you. I mean to take
every care from your mind.
But, Mrs. North pleaded, you have so much to do; and
Never mind about me, said the daughter, earnestly; you are my
I know it, my dear, said Mrs. North, meekly. And when Old Chester
came to make its call, one of the first things she said was that her
Mary was such a good daughter. Miss North, her anxious face red with
determination, bore out the assertion by constantly interrupting the
conversation to bring a footstool, or shut a window, or put a shawl
over her mother's knees. My mother's limb troubles her, she explained
to visitors (in point of modesty, Mary North did not leave her mother a
leg to stand on); then she added, breathlessly, with her tremulous
smile, that she wished they would please not talk too much.
Conversation tires her, she explained. At which the little, pretty
old lady opened and closed her hands, and protested that she was not
tired at all. But the callers departed. As the door closed behind them,
Mrs. North was ready to cry.
Now, Mary, really! she began.
Mother, I don't care! I don't like to say a thing like that, though
I'm sure I always try to speak politely. But it's the truth, and to
save you I would tell the truth no matter how painful it was to do so.
But I enjoy seeing people, and
It is bad for you to be tired, Mary said, her thin face quivering
still with the effort she had made; and they sha'n't tire you while I
am here to protect you. And her protection never flagged. When Captain
Price called, she asked him to please converse in a low tone, as noise
was bad for her mother. He had been here a good while before I came
in, she defended herself to Mrs. North, afterwards; and I'm sure I
The fact was, the day the Captain came, Miss North was out. Her
mother had seen him pounding up the street, and hurrying to the door,
called out, gayly, in her little, old, piping voice, AlfredAlfred
The Captain turned and looked at her. There was just one moment's
pause; perhaps he tried to bridge the years, and to believe that it was
Letty who spoke to himLetty, whom he had last seen that wintry night,
pale and weeping, in the slender green sheath of a fur-trimmed pelisse.
If so, he gave it up; this plump, white-haired, bright-eyed old lady,
in a wide-spreading, rustling black silk dress, was not Letty. She was
The Captain came across the street, waving his newspaper, and
saying, So you've cast anchor in the old port, ma'am?
My daughter is not at home; do come in, she said, smiling and
nodding. Captain Price hesitated; then he put his pipe in his pocket
and followed her into the parlor. Sit down, she cried, gayly. Well,
WellMrs. North! he said; and then they both laughed, and
she began to ask questions: Who was dead? Who had so and so married?
There are not many of us left, she said. The two Ferris girls and
Theophilus Morrison and Johnny Gordonhe came to see me yesterday. And
Matty Dilworth; she was younger than Ioh, by ten years. She married
the oldest Barkley boy, didn't she? I hear he didn't turn out well. You
married his sister, didn't you? Was it the oldest girl or the second
It was the secondJane. Yes, poor Jane. I lost her in
You have children? she said, sympathetically.
I've got a boy, he said; but he's married.
My girl has never married; she's a good daughter,Mrs. North
broke off with a nervous laugh; here she is, now!
Mary North, who had suddenly appeared in the doorway, gave a
questioning sniff, and the Captain's hand sought his guilty pocket; but
Miss North only said: How do you do, sir? Now, mother, don't talk too
much and get tired. She stopped and tried to smile, but the painful
color came into her face. Andif you please, Captain Price, will you
speak in a low tone? Large, noisy persons exhaust the oxygen in the
Mary! cried poor Mrs. North; but the Captain, clutching his
old felt hat, began to hoist himself up from the sofa, scattering ashes
about as he did so. Mary North compressed her lips.
I tell my daughter-in-law they'll keep the moths away, the old
gentleman said, sheepishly.
I use camphor, said Miss North, Flora must bring a dust-pan.
Flora? Alfred Price said. Now, what's my association with that
She was our old cook, Mrs. North explained; this Flora is her
daughter. But you never saw old Flora?
Why, yes, I did, the old man said, slowly. Yes. I remember Flora.
Well, good-bye,Mrs. North.
Good-bye, Alfred. Come again, she said, cheerfully.
Mother, here's your beef tea, said a brief voice.
Alfred Price fled. He met his son just as he was entering his own
house, and burst into a confidence: Cy, my boy, come aft and splice
the main-brace. Cyrus, what a female! She knocked me higher than
Gilroy's kite. And her mother was as sweet a girl as you ever saw! He
drew his son into a little, low-browed, dingy room at the end of the
hall. Its grimy untidiness matched the old Captain's clothes, but it
was his one spot of refuge in his own house; here he could scatter his
tobacco ashes almost unrebuked, and play on his harmonicon without
seeing Gussie wince and draw in her breath; for Mrs. Cyrus rarely
entered the cabin. I worry so about its disorderliness that I won't
go in, she used to say, in a resigned way. And the Captain accepted
her decision with resignation of his own. Crafts of your bottom can't
navigate in these waters, he agreed, earnestly; and, indeed, the room
was so cluttered with his belongings that voluminous hoop-skirts could
not get steerageway. He has so much rubbish, Gussie complained; but
it was precious rubbish to the old man. His chest was behind the door;
a blow-fish, stuffed and varnished, hung from the ceiling; two colored
prints of the Barque Letty M., 800 tons, decorated the walls;
his sextant, polished daily by his big, clumsy hands, hung over the
mantel-piece, on which were many dusty treasuresthe mahogany spoke of
an old steering-wheel; a whale's tooth; two Chinese wrestlers, in
ivory; a fan of spreading white coral; a conch-shell, its beautiful red
lip serving to hold a loose bunch of cigars. In the chimney-breast was
a little door, and the Captain, pulling his son into the room after
that call upon Mrs. North, fumbled in his pocket for the key. Here,
he said; (as the Governor of North Carolina said to the Governor of
South Carolina)Cyrus, she handed round beef tea!
But Cyrus was to receive still further enlightenment on the subject
of his opposite neighbor:
She called him in. I heard her, with my own ears! 'Alfred,' she
said, 'come in.' Cyrus, she has designs; oh, I worry so about it! He
ought to be protected. He is very old, and, of course, foolish. You
ought to check it at once.
Gussie, I don't like you to talk that way about my father, Cyrus
You'll like it less later on. He'll go and see her to-morrow.
Why shouldn't he go and see her to-morrow? Cyrus said, and added a
modest bad word; which made Gussie cry. And yet, in spite of what his
wife called his blasphemy, Cyrus began to be vaguely uncomfortable
whenever he saw his father put his pipe in his pocket and go across the
street. And as the winter brightened into spring, the Captain went
quite often. So, for that matter, did other old friends of Mrs. North's
generation, who by-and-by began to smile at one another, and say,
Well, Alfred and Letty are great friends! For, because Captain Price
lived right across the street, he went most of all. At least, that was
what Miss North said to herself with obvious common-senseuntil Mrs.
Cyrus put her on the right track....
What! gasped Mary North. But it's impossible!
It would be very unbecoming, considering their years, said Gussie;
but I worry so, because, you know, nothing is impossible when people
are foolish; and of course, at their age, they are apt to be foolish.
So the seed was dropped. Certainly he did come very often. Certainly
her mother seemed very glad to see him. Certainly they had very long
talks. Mary North shivered with apprehension. But it was not until a
week later that this miserable suspicion grew strong enough to find
words. It was after tea, and the two ladies were sitting before a
little fire. Mary North had wrapped a shawl about her mother, and given
her a footstool, and pushed her chair nearer the fire, and then pulled
it away, and opened and shut the parlor door three times to regulate
the draught. Then she sat down in the corner of the sofa, exhausted but
If there's anything you want, mother, you'll be sure and tell me?
Yes, my dear.
I think I'd better put another shawl over your limbs?
Oh no, indeed!
Mother, are you sure you don't feel a draught?
No, Mary; and it wouldn't hurt me if I did!
I was only trying to make you comfortable
I know that, my dear; you are a very good daughter. Mary, I think
it would be nice if I made a cake. So many people call, and
I'll make it to-morrow.
Oh, I'll make it myself, Mrs. North protested, eagerly; I'd
Mother! Tire yourself out in the kitchen? No, indeed! Flora and I
will see to it.
Mrs. North sighed.
Her daughter sighed too; then suddenly burst out: Old Captain Price
comes here pretty often.
Mrs. North nodded pleasantly. That daughter-in-law doesn't half
take care of him. His clothes are dreadfully shabby. There was a button
off his coat to-day. And she's a foolish creature.
Foolish? she's an unladylike person! cried Miss North, with so
much feeling that her mother looked at her in mild astonishment. And
coarse, too, said Mary North; I think married ladies are apt to be
coarse. From association with men, I suppose.
What has she done? demanded Mrs. North, much interested.
She hinted that hethat you
That he came here toto see you.
Well, who else would he come to see? Not you! said her mother.
She hinted that he might want toto marry you.
Wellupon my word! I knew she was a ridiculous creature, but
Mary's face softened with relief. Of course she is foolish; but
Poor Alfred! What has he ever done to have such a daughter-in-law?
Mary, the Lord gives us our children; but Somebody Else gives us
Mother! said Mary North, horrified, you do say such things! But
really he oughtn't to come so often. People will begin to notice it;
and then they'll talk. I'llI'll take you away from Old Chester rather
than have him bother you.
Mary, you are just as foolish as his daughter-in-law, said Mrs.
And, somehow, poor Mary North's heart sank.
Nor was she the only perturbed person in town that night. Mrs. Cyrus
had a headache, so it was necessary for Cyrus to hold her hand and
assure her that Willy King said a headache did not mean brain-fever.
Willy King doesn't know everything. If he had headaches like mine,
he wouldn't be so sure. I am always worrying about things, and I
believe my brain can't stand it. And now I've got your father to worry
Better try and sleep, Gussie. I'll put some Kaliston on your head.
Kaliston! Kaliston won't keep me from worrying. Oh, listen to that
Gussie, I'm sure he isn't thinking of Mrs. North.
Mrs. North is thinking of him, which is a great deal more
dangerous. Cyrus, you must ask Dr. Lavendar to interfere.
As this was at least the twentieth assault upon poor Cyrus's
common-sense, the citadel trembled.
Do you wish me to go into brain-fever before your eyes, just from
worry? Gussie demanded. You must go!
Well, maybe, perhaps, to-morrow
To-nightto-night, said Augusta, faintly.
And Cyrus surrendered.
Look under the bed before you go, Gussie murmured.
Cyrus looked. Nobody there, he said, reassuringly; and went on
tiptoe out of the darkened, cologne-scented room. But as he passed
along the hall, and saw his father in his little cabin of a room,
smoking placidly, and polishing his sextant with loving hands, Cyrus's
heart reproached him.
How's her head, Cy? the Captain called out.
Oh, better, I guess, Cyrus said. (I'll be hanged if I speak to
That's good, said the Captain, beginning to hoist himself up out
of his chair. Going out? Hold hard, and I'll go 'long. I want to call
on Mrs. North.
Cyrus stiffened. Cold night, sir, he remonstrated.
'Your granny was Murray, and wore a black nightcap!' said the
Captain; you are getting delicate in your old age, Cy. He got up, and
plunged into his coat, and tramped out, slamming the door heartily
behind himfor which, later, poor Cyrus got the credit. Where you
Ohdown-street, said Cyrus, vaguely.
Sealed orders? said the Captain, with never a bit of curiosity in
his big, kind voice; and Cyrus felt as small as he was. But when he
left the old man at Mrs. North's door, he was uneasy again. Maybe
Gussie was right! Women are keener about those things than men. And his
uneasiness actually carried him to Dr. Lavendar's study, where he tried
to appear at ease by patting Danny.
What's the matter with you, Cyrus? said Dr. Lavendar, looking at
him over his spectacles. (Dr. Lavendar, in his wicked old heart, always
wanted to call this young man Cipher; but, so far, grace had been given
him to withstand temptation.) What's wrong? he said.
And Cyrus, somehow, told his troubles.
At first Dr. Lavendar chuckled; then he frowned. Gussie put you up
to this, Cyrus? he said.
Well, my wife's a woman, Cyrus began, and they're keener on such
matters than men; and she said, perhaps you wouldwould
What? Dr. Lavendar rapped on the table with the bowl of his
pipe, so loudly that Danny opened one eye. Would what?
Well, Cyrus stammered, you know, Dr. Lavendar, as Gussie says,
'there's no fo'
You needn't finish it, Dr. Lavendar interrupted, dryly; I've
heard it before. Gussie didn't say anything about a young fool, did
she? Then he eyed Cyrus. Or a middle-aged one? I've seen middle-aged
fools that could beat us old fellows hollow.
Oh, but Mrs. North is far beyond middle age, said Cyrus,
Dr. Lavendar shook his head. Well, well! he said. To think that
Alfred Price should have such aAnd yet he is as sensible a man as I
Until now, Cyrus amended. But Gussie thought you'd better caution
him. We don't want him, at his time of life, to make a mistake.
It's much more to the point that I should caution you not to make a
mistake, said Dr. Lavendar; and then he rapped on the table again,
sharply. The Captain has no such ideaunless Gussie has given it to
him. Cyrus, my advice to you is to go home and tell your wife not to be
a goose. I'll tell her, if you want me to?
Oh no, no! said Cyrus, very much frightened. I'm afraid you'd
hurt her feelings.
I'm afraid I should, said Dr. Lavendar, grimly.
She's so sensitive, Cyrus tried to excuse her; you can't think
how sensitive she is, and timid. I never knew anybody so timid! Why,
she makes me look under the bed every night, for fear there's somebody
Well, next time, tell her 'two men and a dog'; that will take her
mind off your father. It must be confessed that Dr. Lavendar was out
of tempera sad fault in one of his age, as Mrs. Drayton often said;
but his irritability was so marked that Cyrus finally slunk off,
uncomforted, and afraid to meet Gussie's eye, even under its bandage of
a cologne-scented handkerchief.
However, he had to meet it, and he tried to make the best of his own
humiliation by saying that Dr. Lavendar was shocked at the idea of the
Captain being interested in Mrs. North. He said father had been, until
now, as sensible a man as he knew, and he didn't believe he would think
of such a dreadful thing. And neither do I, Gussie, honestly, Cyrus
But Mrs. North isn't sensible, Gussie protested, and she'll
Dr. Lavendar said 'there was no fool like a middle-aged fool,'
Middle-aged! She's as old as Methuselah!
That's what I told him, said Cyrus.
* * * * *
By the end of April Old Chester smiled. How could it help it? Gussie
worried so that she took frequent occasion to point out possibilities;
and after the first gasp of incredulity, one could hear a faint echo of
the giggles of forty-eight years before. Mary North heard it, and her
heart burned within her.
It's got to stop, she said to herself, passionately; I must speak
to his son.
But her throat was dry at the thought. It seemed as if it would kill
her to speak to a man on such a subject, even to as little of a man as
Cyrus. But, poor, shy tigress! to save her mother, what would she not
do? In her pain and fright she said to Mrs. North that if that old man
kept on making her uncomfortable and conspicuous, they would leave Old
Mrs. North twinkled with amusement when Mary, in her strained and
quivering voice, began, but her jaw dropped at those last words; Mary
was capable of carrying her off at a day's notice! The little old lady
trembled with distressed reassurancesbut Captain Price continued to
And that was how it came about that this devoted daughter, after
days of exasperation and nights of anxiety, reached a point of tense
determination. She would go and see the man's son, and say ... That
afternoon, as she stood before the swinging glass on her high bureau,
tying her bonnet-strings, she tried to think what she would say. She
hoped God would give her wordspolite words; for I must be
polite, she reminded herself desperately. When she started across the
street her paisley shawl had slipped from one shoulder, so that the
point dragged on the flagstones; she had split her right glove up the
back, and her bonnet was jolted over sidewise; but the thick Chantilly
veil hid the quiver of her chin.
Gussie met her with effusion, and Mary, striving to be polite,
smiled painfully, and said:
I don't want to see you; I want to see your husband.
Gussie tossed her head; but she made haste to call Cyrus, who came
shambling along the hall from the cabin. The parlor was dark, for
though it was a day of sunshine and merry May wind, Gussie kept the
shutters bowedbut Cyrus could see the pale intensity of his visitor's
face. There was a moment's silence, broken by a distant harmonicon.
Mr. Price, said Mary North, with pale, courageous lips, you must
stop your father.
Cyrus opened his weak mouth to ask an explanation, but Gussie rushed
You are quite right, ma'am. Cyrus worries so about it (of course we
know what you refer to). And Cyrus says it ought to be checked
immediately, to save the old gentleman!
You must stop him, said Mary North, for my mother's sake.
Well Cyrus began.
Have you cautioned your mother? Gussie demanded.
Yes, Miss North said, briefly. To talk to this woman of her mother
made her wince, but it had to be done. Will you speak to your father,
Of course he will! Gussie broke in; Cyrus, he is in the cabin
Well, to-morrow I Cyrus got up and sidled towards the door.
Anyhow, I don't believe he's thinking of such a thing.
Miss North, said Gussie, rising, I will do it.
What, now? faltered Mary North.
Now, said Mrs. Cyrus, firmly.
Oh, said Miss North, II think I will go home. Gentlemen, when
they are crossed, speak soso earnestly.
Gussie nodded. The joy of action and of combat entered suddenly into
her little soul; she never looked less vulgar than at that moment.
Cyrus had disappeared.
Mary North, white and trembling, hurried out. A wheezing strain from
the harmonicon followed her into the May sunshine, then ended,
abruptlyMrs. Price had begun! On her own door-step Miss North stopped
and listened, holding her breath for an outburst.... It came: a roar of
laughter. Then silence. Mary North stood, motionless, in her own
parlor; her shawl, hanging from one elbow, trailed behind her; her
other glove had split; her bonnet was blown back and over one ear; her
heart was pounding in her throat. She was perfectly aware that she had
done an unheard-of thing. But, she said, aloud, I'd do it again. I'd
do anything to protect her. But I hope I was polite? Then she thought
how courageous Mrs. Cyrus was. She's as brave as a lion! said Mary
North. Yet, had Miss North been able to stand at the Captain's door,
she would have witnessed cowardice....
Gussie, I wouldn't cry. Confound that female, coming over and
stirring you up! Now don't, Gussie! Why, I never thought ofGussie, I
I have worried almost to death. Pro-promise!
Oh, your granny was MurGussie, my dear, now don't.
Dr. Lavendar said you'd always been so sensible; he said he didn't
see how you could think of such a dreadful thing.
What! Lavendar? I'll thank Lavendar to mind his business! Captain
Price forgot Gussie; he spoke earnestly. Dog-gone these people that
pry intoOh, now, Gussie, don't!
I've worried so awfully, said Mrs. Cyrus. Everybody is talking
about you. And Dr. Lavendar is soso angry about it; and now the
daughter has charged on me as though it is my fault! Of course, she is
Queer? she's queer as Dick's hatband! Why do you listen to her?
Gussie, such an idea never entered my heador Mrs. North's either.
Oh yes, it has! Her daughter said that she had had to speak to
Captain Price, dumfounded, forgot his fear and burst out: You're a
pack of fools, the whole caboodle! I swear I
Oh, don't blaspheme! said Gussie, faintly, and staggered a little,
so that all the Captain's terror returned. If she fainted!
Hi, there, Cyrus! Come aft, will you? Gussie's getting white around
Cyrus came, running, and between them they got the swooning Gussie
to her room; Afterwards, when Cyrus tiptoed down-stairs, he found the
Captain at the cabin door. The old man beckoned mysteriously.
Cy, my boy, come in herehe hunted about in his pocket for the
key of the cupboardCyrus, I'll tell you what happened; that female
across the street came in, and told poor Gussie some cock-and-bull
story about her mother and me! The Captain chuckled, and picked up his
harmonicon. It scared the life out of Gussie, he said; then, with
sudden angry gravity,these people that poke their noses into other's
people's business ought to be thrashed. Well, I'm going over to see
Mrs. North. And off he stumped, leaving Cyrus staring after him,
* * * * *
If Mary North had been at home, she would have met him with all the
agonized courage of shyness and a good conscience. But she had fled out
of the house, and down along the River Road, to be alone and regain her
The Captain, however, was not seeking Miss North. He opened the
front door, and advancing to the foot of the stairs, called up: Ahoy,
there! Mrs. North!
Mrs. North came trotting out to answer the summons. Why, Alfred!
she exclaimed, looking over the banisters, when did you come in? I
didn't hear the bell ring. I'll come right down.
It didn't ring; I walked in, said the Captain. And Mrs. North came
down-stairs, perhaps a little stiffly, but as pretty an old lady as you
ever saw. Her white curls lay against faintly pink cheeks, and her lace
cap had a pink bow on it. But she looked anxious and uncomfortable.
(Oh, she was saying to herself, I do hope Mary's out!)Well,
Alfred? she said; but her voice was frightened.
The Captain stumped along in front of her into the parlor, and
motioned her to a seat. Mrs. North, he said, his face red, his eye
hard, some jack-donkeys have been poking their noses (of course
they're females) into our affairs; and
Oh, Alfred, isn't it horrid in them? said the old lady.
Darn 'em! said the Captain.
It makes me mad! cried Mrs. North; then her spirit wavered. Mary
is so foolish; she says she'llshe'll take me away from Old Chester. I
laughed at first, it was so foolish. But when she said thatoh dear!
Well, but, my dear madam, say you won't go. Ain't you skipper?
No, I'm not, she said, dolefully. Mary brought me here, and
she'll take me away, if she thinks it best. Best for me, you
know. Mary is a good daughter, Alfred. I don't want you to think she
isn't. But she's foolish. Unmarried women are apt to be foolish.
The Captain thought of Gussie, and sighed. Well, he said, with the
simple candor of the sea, I guess there ain't much difference in 'em,
married or unmarried.
It's the interference makes me mad, Mrs. North declared, hotly.
Damn the whole crew! said the Captain; and the old lady laughed
Thank you, Alfred!
My daughter-in-law is crying her eyes out, the Captain sighed.
Tck! said Mrs. North; Alfred, you have no sense. Let her cry.
It's good for her!
Oh no, said the Captain, shocked.
You're a perfect slave to her, cried Mrs. North.
No more than you are to your daughter, Captain Price defended
himself; and Mrs. North sighed.
We are just real foolish, Alfred, to listen to 'em. As if we didn't
know what was good for us.
People have interfered with us a good deal, first and last, the
Captain said, grimly.
The faint color in Mrs. North's cheeks suddenly deepened. So they
have, she said.
The Captain shook his head in a discouraged way; he took his pipe
out of his pocket and looked at it absent-mindedly. I suppose I can
stay at home, and let 'em get over it?
Stay at home? Why, you'd far better
What? said the Captain.
Come oftener! cried the old lady. Let 'em get over it by getting
used to it.
Captain Price looked doubtful. But how about your daughter?
Mrs. North quailed. I forgot Mary, she admitted.
I don't bother you, coming to see you, do I? the Captain said,
Why, Alfred, I love to see you. If our children would just let us
First it was our parents, said Captain Price. He frowned heavily.
According to other people, first we were too young to have sense; and
now we're too old. He took out his worn old pouch, plugged some shag
into his pipe, and struck a match under the mantel-piece. He sighed,
with deep discouragement.
Mrs. North sighed too. Neither of them spoke for a moment; then the
little old lady drew a quick breath and flashed a look at him; opened
her lips; closed them with a snap; then regarded the toe of her slipper
fixedly. The color flooded up to her soft white hair.
The Captain, staring hopelessly, suddenly blinked; then his honest
red face slowly broadened into beaming astonishment and satisfaction.
Captain Price! she parried, breathlessly.
So long as our affectionate children have suggested it!
Let's give 'em something to cry about!
Look here: we are two old fools; so they say, anyway. Let's live up
to their opinion. I'll get a house for Cyrus and Gussieand your girl
can live with 'em, if she wants to! The Captain's bitterness showed
She could live here, murmured Mrs. North.
What do you say?
The little old lady laughed excitedly, and shook her head; the tears
stood in her eyes.
Do you want to leave Old Chester? the Captain demanded.
You know I don't, she said, sighing.
She'd take you away to-morrow, he threatened, if she knew I
She sha'n't know it.
Well, then, we've got to get spliced to-morrow.
Oh, Alfred, no! I don't believe Dr. Lavendar would
I'll have no dealings with Lavendar, the Captain said, with sudden
stiffness; he's like all the rest of 'em. I'll get a license in Upper
Chester, and we'll go to some parson there.
Mrs. North's eyes snapped. Oh, no, no! she protested; but in
another minute they were shaking hands on it.
Cyrus and Gussie can go and live by themselves, said the Captain,
joyously, and I'll get that hold cleaned out; she's kept the ports
shut ever since she married Cyrus.
And I'll make a cake! And I'll take care of your clothes; you
really are dreadfully shabby; she turned him round to the light, and
brushed off some ashes. The Captain beamed. Poor Alfred! and there's a
button gone! that daughter-in-law of yours can't sew any more than a
cat (and she is a cat!). But I love to mend. Mary has saved me
all that. She's such a good daughterpoor Mary. But she's unmarried,
* * * * *
However, it was not to-morrow. It was two or three days later that
Dr. Lavendar and Danny, jogging along behind Goliath under the
buttonwoods on the road to Upper Chester, were somewhat inconvenienced
by the dust of a buggy that crawled up and down the hills just a little
ahead. The hood of this buggy was up, upon which factit being a May
morning of rollicking wind and sunshineDr. Lavendar speculated to his
companion: Daniel, the man in that vehicle is either blind and deaf,
or else he has something on his conscience; in either case he won't
mind our dust, so we'll cut in ahead at the watering-trough. G'on,
But Goliath had views of his own about the watering-trough, and
instead of passing the hooded buggy, which had stopped there, he
insisted upon drawing up beside it. Now, look here, Dr. Lavendar
remonstrated, you know you're not thirsty. But Goliath plunged his
nose down into the cool depths of the great iron caldron, into which,
from a hollow log, ran a musical drip of water. Dr. Lavendar and Danny,
awaiting his pleasure, could hear a murmur of voices from the depths of
the eccentric vehicle which put up a hood on such a day; when suddenly
Dr. Lavendar's eye fell on the hind legs of the other horse. That's
Cipher's trotter, he said to himself, and leaning out, cried: Hi!
Cy? At which the other horse was drawn in with a jerk, and Captain
Price's agitated face peered out from under the hood.
Where! Where's Cyrus? Then he caught sight of Dr. Lavendar. '
The devil and Tom Walker!' said the Captain, with a groan. The
buggy backed erratically.
Look out! said Dr. Lavendarbut the wheels locked.
Of course there was nothing for Dr. Lavendar to do but get out and
take Goliath by the head, grumbling, as he did so, that Cyrus
shouldn't own such a spirited beast.
I am somewhat hurried, said Captain Price, stiffly.
The old minister looked at him over his spectacles; then he glanced
at the small, embarrassed figure shrinking into the depths of the
(Hullo, hullo, hullo! he said, softly. Well, Gussie's done it.)
You'd better back a little, Captain, he advised.
I can manage, said the Captain.
I didn't say 'go back,' Dr. Lavendar said, mildly.
Oh! murmured a small voice from within the buggy.
I expect you need me, don't you, Alfred? said Dr. Lavendar.
What? said the Captain, frowning.
Captain, said Dr. Lavendar, simply, if I can be of any service to
you and Mrs. North, I shall be glad.
Captain Price looked at him. Now, look here, Lavendar, we're going
to do it this time, if all the parsons inwell, in the church, try to
I'm not going to try to stop you.
But Gussie said you said
Alfred, at your time of life, are you beginning to quote Gussie?
But she said you said it would be
Captain Price, I do not express my opinion of your conduct to your
daughter-in-law. You ought to have sense enough to know that.
Well, why did you talk to her about it?
I didn't talk to her about it. But, said Dr. Lavendar, thrusting
out his lower lip, I should like to.
We were going to hunt up a parson in Upper Chester, said the
Dr. Lavendar looked about, up and down the silent, shady road, then
through the bordering elder-berries into an orchard. If you have your
license, he said, I have my prayer-book. Let's go into the orchard.
There are two men working there we can get for witnessesDanny isn't
quite enough, I suppose.
[Illustration: THERE WAS A LITTLE SILENCE, AND THEN DR. LAVENDER
The Captain turned to Mrs. North. What do you say, ma'am? he said.
She nodded, and gathered up her skirts to get out of the buggy. The two
old men led their horses to the side of the road and hitched them to
the rail fence; then the Captain helped Mrs. North through the
elder-bushes, and shouted out to the men ploughing at the other side of
the orchard. They camebig, kindly young fellows, and stood gaping at
the three old people standing under the apple-tree in the sunshine. Dr.
Lavendar explained that they were to be witnesses, and the boys took
off their hats.
There was a little silence, and then, in the white shadows and
perfume of the orchard, with its sunshine, and drift of petals falling
in the gay wind, Dr. Lavendar began.... When he came to Let no man put
asunder Captain Price growled in his grizzled red beard, Nor woman,
either! But only Mrs. North smiled.
When it was over, Captain Price drew a deep breath of relief. Well,
this time we made a sure thing of it, Mrs. North!
Mrs. North? said Dr. Lavendar; and then he did chuckle.
Oh said Captain Price, and roared at the joke.
You'll have to call me Letty, said the pretty old lady, smiling
Oh, said the Captain; then he hesitated. Well, now, if you don't
mind, II guess I won't call you Letty. I'll call you Letitia.
Call me anything you want to, said Mrs. Price, gayly.
Then they all shook hands with one another and with the witnesses,
who found something left in their palms that gave them great
satisfaction, and went back to climb into their respective buggies.
We have shore leave, the Captain explained; we won't go back to
Old Chester for a few days. You may tell 'em, Lavendar.
Oh, may I? said Dr. Lavender, blankly. Well, good-bye, and good
He watched the other buggy tug on ahead, and then he leaned down to
catch Danny by the scruff of the neck.
Well, Daniel, he said, 'if at first you don't succeed'
And Danny was pulled into the buggy.