Cap'n Dan's Daughter by Joseph Crosby Lincoln
Captain Dan's fears concerning the safety of his showcases were groundless. Even as he sprang up the steps to the side door of his place of business, he heard familiar voices in the store. He recognized the voices, and, halting momentarily to wipe his forehead with his handkerchief and to regain some portion of his composure and his breath, he walked in.
Gertrude, his daughter, was seated in his chair by the desk, and John Doane was leaning upon the desk, talking with her. In the front of the store, Sam Bartlett, the boy, who had evidently returned from breakfast, was doing nothing in particular, and doing it with his usual air of enjoyment. It was only when required to work that Sam was unhappy.
Gertrude looked up as her father entered; prior to that she had been looking at the blotter on the desk. John Doane, who had been looking at Gertrude, also changed the direction of his gaze. Captain Dan struggled with the breath and the composure.
"Why, Dad!" exclaimed Gertrude. "What is it?"
"What's the matter, Cap'n Dott?" asked Mr. Doane.
Daniel did his best to appear calm; it was a poor best. At fifty-two one cannot run impromptu hurdle races against time, and show no effects.
"Hey?" he panted. "Matter? Nothin's the matter. I left the store alone for a minute and I was in a kind of hurry to get back to it, that's all."
The explanation was not entirely satisfactory. Gertrude looked more puzzled than ever.
"A minute," she repeated. "Left it a minute! Why, John and I have been here fifteen minutes, and Sam was here when we came."
The captain looked at his watch. "Well, maybe 'twas a little more'n a minute," he admitted.
Master Bartlett sauntered up to take part in the conversation.
"I got here twenty minutes ago," he observed, grinning, "and you wasn't here then, Cap'n Dan'l. I was wonderin' what had become of ye."
Daniel seized the opportunity to change the subject.
"Anybody been in since you came?" he asked, addressing Sam.
"No, nobody special. Abel Calvin was in to see if you wanted to buy some beach plums for puttin' up. He said he had about a bushel of first-rate ones, just picked."
"Beach plums! What in time would I want of beach plums? I don't put up preserves, do I? Why didn't he go to the house?"
"I asked him that, myself, and he said 'twa'n't no use."
"No use! What did he mean by that?"
"Well, he said--he said--" Sam seemed suddenly to realize that he was getting into deep water; "he said--he said somethin' or other; I guess I've forgot what 'twas."
"I guess you ain't. What did he say?"
"Well, he said--he said Serena--Mrs. Dott, I mean--was probably gallivantin' down to the lodge room by this time. Said 'twa'n't no use tryin' to get her to attend to common things or common folks nowadays; she was too busy tryin' to keep up with Annette Black."
This literal quotation from the frank Mr. Calvin caused a sensation. Captain Dan struggled to find words. His daughter laid a hand on his sleeve.
"Never mind, Dad," she said, soothingly. "You know what Abel Calvin is; you don't mind what he says. Sam, you shouldn't repeat such nonsense. Run away now and attend to your work. I'm sure there's enough for you to do."
"You--you go and clean up the cellar," ordered the irate captain. Sam departed cellarward, muttering that it wasn't his fault; he hadn't said nothin'. Gertrude spoke again.
"Don't mind that, Dad," she urged. "Why, how warm you are, and how excited you look. What is it? You haven't spoken a word to John."
Her father shook his head. "Mornin', John," he said. "I beg your pardon. I ain't responsible to-day, I shouldn't wonder. I--I've had some news that's drivin' everything else out of my mind."
"News? Why, Dad! what do you mean? Bad news?"
"No, no! Good as ever was, and.... Humph! no, I don't mean that. It is bad news, of course. Your Great-aunt Laviny's dead, Gertie."
He told of the lawyer's letter, omitting for the present the news of the legacy. Gertrude was interested, but not greatly shocked or grieved. She had met her great-aunt but once during her lifetime, and her memory of the deceased was of a stately female, whose earrings and brooches and rings sparkled as if she was on fire in several places; who sat bolt upright at the further end of a hotel room in Boston, and ordered Captain Dan not to bring "that child" any nearer until its hands were washed. As she had been the child and had distinctly disagreeable recollections of the said hands having been washed three times before admittance to the presence, the memory was not too pleasant. She said she was sorry to hear that Aunt Lavinia was no more, and asked when it happened. Her father told what he knew of the circumstances attending the bereavement, which was not much.
"She's gone, anyhow," he said. "It's liable to happen to any of us, bein' cut off that way. We ought to be prepared, I suppose."
"I suppose so. But, Daddy, Aunt Lavinia wasn't cut off exactly, was she? She was your aunt and she must have been quite old."
"Hey? Why, let's see. She was your grandpa's brother's wife, and he--Uncle Jim, I mean--was about four years older than Father. She was three years younger'n he was when he married her. Let's see again. Father--that's your grandpa, Gertie--was sixty-five when he died and... Humph! No, Aunt Laviny was eighty-eight, or thereabouts. She wasn't exactly cut off, was she, come to think of it?"
Gertrude's brown eyes twinkled. "Not exactly--no," she said, gravely. "Well, Daddy, I'm sure I am sorry she has gone, but, considering that she has never deigned to visit us or have us visit her, or even to write you a letter for the past two years, I don't think we should be expected to mourn greatly. And," glancing at him, "I don't understand just what you meant by saying first that the news was good, and then that it was bad. There is something else, isn't there?"
Her father smiled, in an embarrassed way. "Well, ye--es," he admitted, "there is somethin' else, but--but I don't know as I didn't do wrong to feel so good over it. I--I guess I'll tell you by and by, if you don't mind. Maybe then I won't feel--act, I mean--so tickled. It don't seem right that I should be. Let me get sort of used to it first. I'll tell you pretty soon."
His daughter laughed, softly. "I know you will, Dad," she said. "You couldn't keep a secret in that dear old head of yours if you tried. Not from me, anyway; could you, dear?"
"I guess not," regarding her fondly. "Anyhow, I shan't try to keep this one. Well, this time to-morrow you'll be back at college again, in among all those Greek and Latin folks. Wonder she'll condescend to come and talk plain United States to us Cape Codders, ain't it, John."
John Doane admitted that it was a wonder. He seemed to regard Miss Dott as a very wonderful young person altogether. Gertrude glanced up at him, then at her father, and then at the blotter on the desk. She absently played with the pages of the ledger.
"Dad," she said, suddenly, "you are not the only one who has a secret."
The captain turned and looked at her. Her head was bent over the ledger and he could see but the top of a very becoming hat, a stray lock of wavy brown hair, and the curve of a very pretty cheek. The cheek--what he could see of it--was crimson. He looked up at Mr. Doane. That young man's face was crimson also.
"Oh!" said Captain Daniel; and added, "I want to know!"
"Yes, you're not the only one. We--I--there is another secret. Daddy, dear, John wants to talk with you."
The captain looked at Mr. Doane, then at the hat and the face beneath it.
"Oh!" he said, again.
"Yes. I--I--" She rose and, putting her arms about her father's neck, kissed him. "I will be back before long, dear," she whispered, and hurried out. Mr. Doane cleared his throat. Captain Dan waited.
"Well, sir," began the young man, and stopped. The captain continued to wait.
"Well, sir," began Mr. Doane, again, "I--I--" For one who, as Gertrude had declared, wished to talk, he seemed to be finding the operation difficult. "I--Well, sir, the fact is, I have something to say to you."
Captain Dan, who was looking very grave, observed that he "wanted to know." John Doane cleared his throat once more, and took a fresh start.
"Yes, sir," he said, "I have something to say to you--er--something that--that may surprise you."
A faint smile disturbed the gravity of the captain's face.
"May surprise me, hey?" he repeated. "Is that so?"
"Yes. You see, I--Gertie and I--have--are--"
Daniel looked up.
"Hard navigatin', ain't it, John?" he inquired, whimsically. "Maybe I could help you over the shoals. You and Gertie think you'd like to get married sometime or other, I presume likely. Is that what you're tryin' to tell me?"
There was no doubt of it. The young man's face expressed several emotions, relief that the great secret was known, and surprise that anyone should have guessed it.
"Why, yes, sir," he admitted, "that is it. Gertie and I have known each other for years, ever since we were children, in fact; and, you see--you see--" he paused once more, began again, and then broke out impatiently with, "I'm making an awful mess of this. I don't know why."
Captain Dan's smile broadened.
"I made just as bad a one myself, once on a time," he observed. "Just as bad, or worse--and I didn't know why either. There, John, you sit down. Come to anchor alongside here, and let's talk this thing over in comfort."
Mr. Doane "came to anchor" on an empty packing case beside the desk. As he was tall and big, and the box was low and small, the "comfort" was doubtful. However, neither of the pair noticed this at the time.
"So you think you want Gertie, do you, John?" said the captain.
"I know it," was the emphatic answer.
"So. And she thinks she wants you?"
"She says so."
"Humph!" with a sidelong glance. "Think she means it?"
"I'm trying to believe she does."
The tone in which this was uttered caused Captain Dan to chuckle. "'Tis strange, I'll give in," he remarked, drily. "No accountin' for taste, is there--Well," his gravity returning, "I suppose likely you realize that her mother and I think consider'ble of her."
"I realize that thoroughly."
"You don't realize it as much as you will some day, perhaps. Yes, we think Gertie's about right. She's a smart girl and, what's more, she's a good girl, and she's all the child we've got. Of course we've realized that she was growin' up and that--Oh, good mornin', Alphy. Fine weather, ain't it. Lookin' for somethin', was you?"
He hurried out into the store to sell Mrs. Theophilus Berry, known locally as "Alphy Ann," a box of writing paper and a penholder. The transaction completed, he returned to his chair. John Doane, who had recovered, in a measure, from his embarrassment, was ready for him.
"Cap'n Dott," said the young man, "I know how you feel, I think. I know what Gertie is to you and how anxious you and her mother must be concerning her future. If I did not feel certain--practically certain--that I could give her a good home and all that goes with it, I should not have presumed to speak to her, or to you, concerning marriage. My business prospects are good, or I think they are. I--"
The captain held up his hand. "Er--er--John," he said, uneasily, "maybe you'd better tell about that part of it when Serena's around. She's the practical one of us two, I guess, far's money's concerned, anyway. I used to think I was pretty practical when I was on salt water, but--but lately I ain't so sure. I'm afraid--"
He stopped, began to speak again, and then relapsed into silence, seeming to forget his companion altogether. The latter reminded him by saying:
"I shall be glad to tell Mrs. Dott everything, of course. I have been with the firm now employing me for eight years, ever since I left high school. They seem to like me. I have been steadily advanced, my salary is a fairly good one, and in another year I have the promise of a partnership. After that my progress will depend upon myself."
He went on, in a manly, straightforward manner, to speak of his hopes and ambitions. Daniel listened, but the most of what he heard was incomprehensible. Increased output and decreased manufacturing costs were Greek to him. When the young man paused, he brought the conversation back to what, in his mind, was the essential.
"And you're certain sure that you two care enough for each other?" he asked. "Not just care, but care enough?"
"Well, then, I guess I ain't got much to say. There's one thing, though. Gertie's young. She ain't finished her schoolin' yet, and--"
"And you think she should. So do I. She wishes to do it, herself, and I should be the last to prevent her, even if I could. We have agreed that she shall have the final year at college and then come back to you. After that--well, after that, the time of our marriage can be settled. Gertie and I are willing to wait; we expect to. In a few years I shall have a little more money, I hope, and be more sure of success in life. I may never be a rich man, but Gertie's tastes and mine are modest. She does not care for society--"
The captain interrupted. "That's so," he said, hastily, "she don't. She don't care for 'em at all. Her mother has the greatest work to get her to go to lodge meetin's. No, she don't care for societies any more'n I do. Well, John, I--I--it'll come pretty hard to give her up to anybody. Wait till you have a daughter of your own and you'll know how hard. But, if I've got to give her up, I'd rather give her to you than anybody I know. You're a Trumet boy and I've known you all my life, and so's Gertie, for that matter. All I can say is, God bless you and--and take good care of my girl, that's all."
He extended his hand and John seized it. Then the captain coughed, blew his nose with vigor, and, reaching into his pocket, produced two battered cigars.
"Smoke up, John," he said.
At dinner, a meal at which Mrs. Dott, still busy with the lodge room decorations, was not present, Gertrude and her father talked it over.
"It comes kind of hard, Gertie," he admitted, "but, Lord love you, there's a heap of hard things in this world. John's a good fellow and--and, well, we ain't goin' to lose you just yet, anyhow."
Gertrude rose and, coming around the table, put her arms about his neck.
"Indeed you're not, dear," she said. "If I supposed my marriage meant giving you up, I shouldn't think of it."
"Want to know! Wouldn't think of John, either, I suppose, hey?"
"Well, I--I might think of him a little, just a tiny little bit."
"I shouldn't wonder. That's all right. You can't get rid of me so easy. After you two are all settled in your fine new house, I'll be comin' around to disgrace you, puttin' my boots on the furniture and--"
"Won't I? Well, maybe I won't. I cal'late by that time I'll be broke to harness. Your mother's gettin' in with the swells so, lately, Barney Black's wife and the rest, that I'll have to mind my manners. There! let's go into the sittin'-room a few minutes and give Zuba a chance to clear off. Sam's tendin' store and his dinner can wait a spell; judgin' by the time he took for breakfast he hadn't ought to be hungry for the next week."
In the sitting-room they spoke of many things, of Gertrude's departure for school--she was leaving on the three o'clock train--of the engagement, of course, and of the three thousand dollar windfall from Aunt Lavinia. The captain had told that bit of news when they sat down to dinner.
"What is that cousin's name?" asked Gertrude. "The one who inherits all of your aunt's fortune?"
"Let's see. His name? I ought to know it well's I know my own. It's--it's Starvation, or somethin' like that. Somethin' about bein' hungry, anyhow. Hungerford, Percy Hungerford, that's it!"
Gertrude looked surprised.
"Not Percy Hungerford--of Scarford!" she cried. "What sort of a man is he? What does he look like?"
"Looked like a picked chicken, last time I saw him. Kind of a spindlin' little critter, with sandy complexion and hair, but dressed--my soul! there wasn't any picked chicken look about his clothes."
Gertrude nodded. "I believe it is the same one," she said. "Yes, I am sure of it. He came out to the college at one of our commencements. One of the girls invited him. He danced with me--once. They said he was very wealthy."
"Humph! All the wealth he had come from Aunt Laviny, far's I ever heard. He was her pet and the only thing she ever spent money on, except herself. And you met him! Well, this is a small world. Like him, did you?"
"No," said Gertrude, and changed the subject.
Before her father departed for the store and she went to her room to finish packing, she sat upon the arm of his chair and, bending down, said:
"Daddy, if you hadn't got this money, this three thousand dollars, do you know what I had very nearly made up my mind to do?"
"No, I'm sure I don't."
"I had almost decided not to stay at college, but to come back here and live with you and mother."
"For the land sakes! Why?"
"Because I was sure you needed me. You never told me, of course--being you, you wouldn't--but I was sure that you were troubled about--about things."
"Me? Troubled? What put that into your head? I'm the most gay, happy-go-lucky fellow in the world. I don't get troubled enough. Ask your mother if that ain't so."
"I shall not ask anybody but you. Tell me truly: Weren't you troubled; about the business, and the store? Truly, now."
Captain Dan rubbed his chin. He wished very much to deny the allegation, or at least to dodge the truth. But he was a poor prevaricator at any time, and his daughter was looking him straight in the eye.
"Well," he faltered, "I--I--How in time did you guess that? I--Humph! why, yes, I was a little mite upset. You see, trade ain't been first rate this summer, and collections were awful slow. I hate to drive folks, especially when I know they're hard up. I was a little worried, but it's all right now. Aunt Laviny's three thousand fixed that all right. It'll carry me along like a full sail breeze. You go back to school, like a sensible girl, and don't you worry a mite. It's all right now, Gertie."
"Honest to Betsy!" with an emphatic nod.
He meant it; he really thought it was all right. The fact that he owed a thousand already and that the remaining two would almost certainly be swept into the capacious maw of the Metropolitan Store did not occur to him then. Daniel Dott was a failure as a business man but as an optimist he was a huge success.
"Then you're sure you can afford to have me go back for my last year?"
"Course I am. I couldn't afford to do anything else."
His absolute certainty stifled his daughter's doubts for the time, but she asked another question.
"And there's nothing that troubles you at all?"
"No-o." The captain's answer was not quite as emphatic this time. Gertrude smiled, and patted his shoulder.
"Daddy, dear," she said, "you're as transparent as a window pane, aren't you. Well, don't worry any more. That will be all right pretty soon, too. Mrs. Black doesn't stay in Trumet all the year."
Her father gasped. That this child of his, whom he had always regarded as a child, should dive into the recesses of his soul and drag to light its most secret misgivings was amazing.
"What on earth?" he demanded.
"You know what I mean. I'm not blind. I can see. Mother is just a little carried away. She has heard so much about big houses and servants and society and woman's opportunity, and all the rest of it, that she has been swept off her feet. But it won't last, I'm sure. She isn't really discontented; she only thinks she is."
Daniel sighed. "I know," he said. "Fact is, I ain't up-to-date enough, myself, that's what's the matter. She's a mighty able, ambitious woman, your mother is, Gertie, and I don't wonder she gets to thinkin', sometimes, that Trumet is a kind of one-horse town. I like it; I am one-horse, I suppose. But she ain't, and she ain't satisfied to be satisfied, like me. It's a good thing she ain't, I guess. Somebody's got to live up to the responsibilities of life, and--"
Gertrude laughed. "She said that, didn't she," she interrupted.
"Why, yes, she did. She says it every once in a while. How did you know?"
"I guessed. And I imagine Mrs. Phelps Black said it first. But there, Dad, be patient and.... Sh-sh! here's Mother now."
It was Serena, sure enough, breathless from hurrying, her hat a bit on one side, one glove off and the other on, but full of energy and impatience.
"I suppose you've had dinner," she exclaimed. "Well, all right, I don't care. I couldn't help being late, there was so much to do at the lodge rooms and nobody to do it right, except me. If Mrs. Black hadn't helped and superintended and--and everything, I don't know where we should have been. And those visiting delegates from Boston coming! I must get a bite and hurry back. Where's Azuba? Azuba!"
She was rushing in the direction of the kitchen, but her husband detained her.
"Hold on, Serena," he shouted. "Goin' back! What do you mean? You ain't goin' back to that lodge this afternoon, are you? Why, Gertie's goin' on the up-train!"
"I know, but I must go back, Daniel. Goodness knows what would happen if I didn't. If you had seen some of the decorations those other women wanted to put up, you would think it was necessary for someone with respectable taste to be there. Why, Sophronia Smalley actually would have draped the presiding officer's desk--my desk--with a blue flag with a white whale on it, if I hadn't been there to stop her."
"Well, I--Why, Serena, you know Sophrony thinks a sight of that flag. Simeon Smalley, her father, was in the whalin' trade for years, and that flag was his private signal. She always has that flag up somewhere."
"Well, she shan't have it on my desk. Annette--Mrs. Black, I mean--said it was ridiculous. If such a thing happened in Scarford the audience would have hysterics. Would you want your wife to make a spectacle of herself, before those Boston delegates, standing behind a white whale, and a dirty white at that! Gertie, I shall be at the depot to say good by, but I must be at that lodge room first. I must. You understand, don't you?"
Gertrude said she understood perfectly and her mother hurried to the kitchen, where she ate lukewarm fried fish and apple pie, while Azuba washed the dishes and prophesied darkly concerning "dyspepsy." Gertrude went to her room to put the last few things in her trunks, and Captain Dan returned to the store, where he found the Bartlett boy pacifying a gnawing appetite with chocolate creams abstracted from stock.
At a quarter to three the captain was at the railway station, where he was joined by John Doane, who, his vacation over, was returning to Boston. After a five-minute wait Serena and Gertrude appeared. The latter had called at the lodge room for her mother and, during the walk to the station, had broken the news of her engagement.
Serena was not surprised, of course; she, like everyone else, had expected it, and she liked John. But she was a good deal agitated and even the portentous business of the lodge meeting was driven from her mind. She and Mr. Doane shook hands, but the young man felt very much like a thief, and a particularly mean sort of thief, as young men are likely to feel under such circumstances. Farewells were harder to say than usual, although Gertrude tried her best to seem cheerful, and the captain swallowed the lump in his throat and smiled and joked in a ghastly fashion all through the ceremony. Just before the train started, his daughter led him to one side and whispered:
"Now, Daddy, remember--you are not to worry. And, if you need me at any time, you will tell me so, and I shall surely come. You'll promise, won't you? And you will write at least once a week?"
The captain made both promises. They kissed, Serena and Gertrude exchanged hugs, and John Doane solemnly shook hands once more. Then the train moved away from the station.
Daniel and Serena walked homeward, Mrs. Dott wiping her eyes with a damp handkerchief, and her husband very grave and silent. As they passed the lodge building the lady said:
"I ought to go right back in there again. I ought to, but I just can't, not now. I--I want to be with you, Daniel, a time like this."
"Goodness knows I want you, Serena; but--but for mercy sakes don't call it a 'time like this.' Sounds as if we'd just come from the cemetery instead of the depot. We ain't been to a funeral; we're only lookin' for'ard to a weddin'."
In spite of this philosophical declaration the remainder of that afternoon was rather funereal for Captain Dan. He moped about the store, waiting half-heartedly upon the few customers who happened in, and the ring of the supper bell was welcome, as it promised some company other than his thoughts.
But the promise was not fulfilled. He ate his supper alone. Mrs. Dott had gone back to the lodge room, so Azuba said.
"I don't think she was intendin' to," remarked the latter, confidentially. "She said she guessed she'd 'lay down a spell'; said she was 'kind of tired.' But afore she got upstairs scarcely, along comes that Black automobile with that Irish 'shover man'--that's what they call 'em, ain't it?--drivin' it and her in the back seat, and he gets out and comes and rings the front door bell, and when I answer it--had my hands all plastered up with dough, I did, for I was makin' pie, and it took me the longest time to get 'em clean--when I answered it he said that she said she wanted to see her and--"
"Here! hold on, Zuba!" interrupted her bewildered employer. "'Vast heavin' a second, will you? You ought to run that yarn of yours through a sieve and strain some of the 'hes' and 'shes' out of it. 'He said that she said she wanted to see her.' Who wanted to see what?"
"Why, Barney Black's wife. She wanted to see Serena. So in she came, all rigged up in her best clothes and--"
"How do you know they were her best ones?"
"Hey? Well, they would have been my best ones, if I owned 'em, I tell you that. I never see such clothes as that woman has! All trimmin' and flounces and didos, and--"
"Hi! steady there, Zuba. Keep your eye on the compass. You're gettin' off the course again. Annette--Mrs. Black, I mean--came to see Mrs. Dott; that's plain sailin' so far. What happened after that?"
"Why, they went off together in the automobile and Serena said to tell you she had to go to lodge, and she'd be back when she could and not to wait supper. That's all I know."
The captain finished his lonely meal and returned to the store, where he found Abel Blount's wife and their twin boys, aged eight, waiting to negotiate for rubber boots. The boots were for the boys, but Mrs. Blount did the buying and it was a long and talky process. At last, however, the youngsters were fitted and clumped proudly away, bearing their leather shoes in their hands. It was a dry evening, but to separate the twins from those rubber boots would have been next door to an impossibility.
"There!" exclaimed the lady, as she bade the captain good night, "that's done; that much is settled anyhow. I'm thankful I ain't got four twins, instead of two, Cap'n Dott."
Daniel, entering the sale in the ledger, was thankful also. If the lengthy Blount account had been settled he would have been still more so.
At nine o'clock he and Sam locked up, extinguished the lamps, and closed the Metropolitan Store for the night. Crossing the yard to the house, which he entered by the front door, he found Serena in the sitting-room. She was reclining upon the couch. She was tired, and out of sorts.
"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed, acknowledging her husband's greeting with a nod, "I am just about worn out, Daniel."
"I should think you would be, Serena. You've been makin' tracks between here and that lodge room all to-day and yesterday, too. I should think you'd be about dead."
"It isn't that. I don't mind the work. It's the thanklessness of it all that breaks me down. I give my time and effort to help the lodge, and what does it amount to?"
"Well, I--I give in that it don't seem to me to amount to much, 'cordin' to my figurin'. I don't care much for lodge meetin's and sociables and such, myself. I'd rather have one evenin' at home with you than the whole cargo of 'em."
This statement was frank, but it was decidedly undiplomatic. Serena sniffed contempt.
"Of course you would!" she said. "I don't get a bit of encouragement here at home, either. I should think you'd be proud to have your wife the head of the Chapter, presiding at meetings and welcoming the visiting delegates and--and all."
"I am," hastily. "I'm proud of you, Serena. Always have been, far's that goes. But I'm just as proud of you here in this sittin'-room as I am when you're back of that pulpit, poundin' with your mallet and tellin' Alphy Ann Berry to 'come to order.' Notwithstanding that you're the only one can make her come--or go, either--unless she takes a notion. Why," with a chuckle, "it takes her husband half an hour to make her go home after meetin's over."
Mrs. Dott did not chuckle.
"You think it's a joke," she said. "I don't. It is the Berry woman and her kind that make me disgusted. I'm tired of them all. I'm tired of Trumet. I wish we were somewhere where I had an opportunity; somewhere where I might be appreciated."
"I appreciate you, Serena."
Serena ignored the remark. "I wish we had never settled here," she went on. "I'd leave in a minute, if I could. I'd like to be in with nice people, cultivated people, intelligent, up-to-date society, where I could have a chance to go on and be somebody. I'd like to be a leader. I could be. Annette says I would be in a city like Scarford. She says I 'have the faculty of the born leader.' All I lack is the opportunity."
Her husband sighed. He had heard all this before. Inwardly he wished Mrs. Black at Scarford, or China, or anywhere, provided it was not Trumet.
His wife heard the sigh. "There, Daniel," she said; "I won't be complaining. I try not to be. But," she hesitated, "there is one thing I'd like to ask, now that we've got your Aunt Lavinia's three thousand: Don't you suppose I could have some new clothes; I need at least two dresses right away."
"Why--why, I guess likely you could, Serena. Yes, course you can. You go see Sarah Loveland right off."
Miss Loveland was the Trumet dressmaker. At the mention of her name Serena shook her head.
"I don't want Sarah to make them, Daniel," she said. "Mrs. Black says the things she makes are awful old-fashioned; 'country,' she calls them."
Daniel snorted. "I want to know!" he exclaimed. "Well, I remember her husband when his ma used to make his clothes out of his dad's old ones. I don't know whether they was 'country' or not, but they were the dumdest things ever I saw. Country, huh! Scarford ain't any Paris, is it? I never heard it was."
"Well, it isn't Trumet. No, Daniel, if we could afford it, I'd like to have these dresses made up in Boston, where Gertie gets hers. Mrs. Black often speaks of Gertie's gowns; she says they are remarkably stylish, considering."
"Considerin'! What does she mean by that?"
"Don't be cross. I suppose she meant considering that they were not as expensive as her own. Do you suppose I could go to that Boston dressmaker, Daniel?"
Captain Dan's reply was slow in coming. He hated to say no; in fact, he said it so seldom that he scarcely knew how. So he temporized.
"Well, Serena," he began, "I--I'd like to have you; you know that. If 'twasn't for the cost I wouldn't hesitate a minute."
"But we have that three thousand dollars."
"Well, we ain't got all of it. Or we shan't have it long. I was footin' up what I owed--what the store owes, I mean--just now, and it come to a pretty high figure. Over twelve hundred, it was. That's got to be paid. Then there's Gertie's schoolin' and her board. Course, I never tell her we ain't so well off as we were. You and I agreed she shouldn't know. But it takes a lot of money and--"
Mrs. Dott sat up on the couch. Her eyes snapped. "Oh!" she cried; "money! money! money! It's always money! If only just once I had all the money I wanted, I should be perfectly happy. If I wouldn't go it!"
Steps sounded on the front porch, and the patent door bell clicked and clanged.