The Destroyer of Homes

INTO the velvet blackness of the night I heard a voice call, —

“’Manuel! ’Manuel!”

It was a rich, throaty voice, a fat voice. It could have come only from a comfortable round throat. Then we heard it say in a lower key to some one near by, —

“You seen you’ broth, Ma’gratta?” A voice came in answer, that, for all its American pronunciation of the individual words, chimed like a bell: —

“ ’Manuel’s out in Silva’s boat, I guess.”

Then again called the fat voice: —

“ ’Manuel! ’Manuel! You come off da watta now. You hear me, ’Manuel ? ” Far off a little boy squeaked obedient, “ Yes, Ma.”

Then no further sound. The night was so still that the incoming tide made no lapping on the beach. Silence. Then the girl chimed again: —

“ You, ’Manuel, come right in this minute when you’re called.”

In answer to this came the far-off sound of oars dipping hastily into the water, with the rhythmic accompaniment of oars thumping against thole-pins.

Next us on the “ bulkhead ” sat a little gray shadow whom I knew to be my fellow lodger, with whom I had already exchanged greetings. She turned to me and said, —

“ It needs faith to call out into blackness like that.”

And so it did. There was such an impenetrable quality to the darkness of the night, it seemed so immeasurable in its blackness, that it did need faith to lift up one’s puny, human voice and call out aloud into this mystery. I know exactly how my unknown companion felt, though I would not have had the courage to “ voice my thought,”as she would have said. From near the side of me came a deep, booming, —

“ Guess when you’ve been here a time you’ll find more faith ’n work in the Portogees.”

This I knew to come from Captain Sanderson. It was in his house that my fellow lodger, the gray shadow, and I were staying. It was on his “ bulkhead” we were sitting. I fancied by the sound that my companion turned towards Captain Sanderson as she said,—

“ Don’t you like the Portuguese? ”

“ I don’t mind ’em,” he boomed. “ Kind o’ lighten things up, they do — the girls I mean, though they get fat. Kind o’ give us somethin’ to talk about.”

He lapsed into silence, and I could see the red dottle brighten and pale as he puffed at his pipe leisurely.

In the darkness instinctively we two women moved closer. Our shadowy outlines became faintly visible to each other. The night closed round about us and gave us three strangers a curious sense of intimacy, as though the impenetrable blackness had in some way cut us off from the rest of humankind.

My companion made the most of this moment. I guessed then, and afterwards learned I was right, that she had a quivering interest in everything connected with the little fishing village in which we found ourselves. She confessed that it was the first time she had ever had a chance to become “ acquainted with the sea.” She came, it seemed, from the Middle West, and she was astonishingly well up on sea literature. Stevenson she had read, of course, and Dana and Clark Russell; and, further, the moderns, like Conrad. She had followed every writer who had made his characters go down to the sea in ships, and it had been the dream of her life to be in just such a place as she now was in, and talking to just such an individual as she was talking to.

I do not mean that I found out about her all at once, but I gathered how much it meant to her to be in Long Haven, and how wonderful it seemed to listen to Captain Sanderson’s stories of his life. As a lad he had been a whaler. He had been on one or two trips with the sealers. That, he said, was too bloody work for him. He had been a banker in the great days of salt-fishing, and then, as refrigerating plants came in order, he had become a “fresh fisherman.” And now, in his old age, he owned a couple of traps and occasionally got up to go mackereling, and for the rest sat around and told his picturesque experiences with great simplicity.

He was a great powerful beef of a man, such as the sea breeds. He had fists like hams, and a beard like Father Neptune’s, and twinkling blue eyes — quite the ideal old sea captain, as I remarked the next day to my fellow lodger, who let me see, more by her stillness and a certain little excited quality that I noticed in her, how much an ideal old sea captain she thought him.

I had seen ideal old sea captains before. I had listened to tales of shipwreck and hardship, and great catches and narrow escapes, in my time, and so, while I liked our host, as any one must needs have liked such a fine, upstanding old fellow, he was no novelty to me. My fellow lodger captivated me much more.

She was a still, unobtrusive woman, already middle-aged, but distinguished from the crowd by a quality that I can describe by no other term than luminous. It was as if a light shone through her pale features. I do not know if she was always like this, and if other people in other places felt this dim, shining quality as I did. It may be that it was there only because I saw her at her great moment, as she was finding the ideal of her lifetime fulfilled. It was a humble little yearning enough, this yearning of hers to become “ intimate with the sea,” as she called it, and to know the people who had sailed on it, and grown old amid the clamor of it, and gained their livings from it, and almost died on it. But it was what she had wanted, and I happened to be there when this desire of her lifetime was fulfilled.

This was why Captain Sanderson, who to my everyday eyes was in no way different from a dozen other fine old fellows I had known, and who told the same yarns in the same language that they all used, seemed to her the incarnation of high romance.

To me his sister Liza was a more interesting character. She was a spare, angular woman, of quite as fine heroical build as her brother. She had a keener wit and more caustic tongue, while he rattled on in an even flow of dry humor all day long.

I thought Captain Sanderson talked too much. I am frank to confess that even before “ the book ” he sometimes bored me—just as he bored Liza. I liked everything about Liza: her looks, and her talk, and her pleasant relations with Captain Sanderson’s pretty little daughterin-law, who, with young Bill Sanderson, Captain Sanderson’s son, formed the rest of the household. He was a handsome young fellow, of the same heroic mould as his father, and he and his aunt and the Captain all joined in spoiling his gay, pretty little wife, who nevertheless refused resolutely to be spoiled. She insisted on helping Liza with the work, with a gay graciousness that was charming to see. Altogether, it was a happy household to be in, and an interesting one, too.

But for Sophie Warner, which was my fellow lodger’s name, the interest all centred in the old man. She had almost what amounted to scorn for young Sanderson, who made a good deal of money summers by taking out fishing parties instead of being about the real business of the sea.

Liza from the first had no patience with Miss Warner’s point of view.

“ One ’ud think,” said she dryly, “ to hear her talk, that she wanted men to resk their lives; and ef she’d seen as many lives resked — an’ lost too — as me, she would n’t talk so much. But there,” Liza continued, with the large tolerance that made her relations so pleasant with her niece-in-law, “ I s’pose writer folks always talks a lot.”

For a writer was what Miss Warner was. I had known her stories before I met her, and had always liked them. They were plain, unpretentious tales of the life she knew, and she told them with a certain ringing enthusiasm that idealized the plain people whom she portrayed with touching accuracy.

“ I s’pose it’s the poetry in writer people that makes ’em so fond of the sea and storms and such; though what poetry they can see in a whale is more than I know. Listen to her goin’ on now! She ’s talkin’ with Henry ’bout his whalin’ days. Now, what do you s’pose she finds interestin’ in Henry’s whalin’ days ? But there, she ain’t had to set next to Henry at supper nights fer twenty years, an’ hear him tell, ‘ There she blows! ’ an’

‘ There she beaches! ’ an’ about how generous the whale cut up. It may be ungrateful in me, for my folks got their livin’ from fishes ever sence I was born and before, but I never could abear the sight of a fish, small or big; an’ a fish bigger ’n a cow, like a whale, always seemed repellant to me. But Mis’ Warner, she’s special cracked on whales. She’d look at an old fishin’ net like’t was a lan’scape! ”

It was, you see, as though Liza had scented trouble, from the first, in Miss Warner’s intimacy with her brother, although she saw no harm in the book — for Miss Warner confessed early in the summer that she intended, if she might, to make a book out of Captain Sanderson’s sea stories.

” Though,” said Liza to me, “ what she sees in ’em to write about, I don’t see! ” And she refused to supply any details of the Captain’s early life. “ He ain’t changed much from what he was when he was young,” she would tell Miss Warner. ” He was about like what he is now. He always could talk for two. Poor Mary never had a chance in her lifetime to get a word in edgewise; but she liked listenin’ to Henry same as you do. She was awful nervous when he was off on the banks, Mary was. Her folks came up from down Sandwich way, and she wa n’t used to see the men go off fishin’ like we.”

Miss Warner’s kind eyes clouded with tears. She confided to me afterwards that Liza’s few words gave her a swift vision of the life-tragedy of this silent New England woman, who could n’t bear to see her handsome husband go into danger, but who yet bore it so heroically.

“ I suppose,” said Miss Warner, “ that is why he has always been faithful to her memory. I think constancy in a man is a wonderful thing.”

She spoke with her usual simplicity, quite without gush.

“ You see, Captain Sanderson has everything that would make him enviable here, — good looks, and a competence,— and yet all these years he has remained faithful to the memory of his poor wife! ” And the kind creature went to her room, I have no doubt, to write another chapter of her book. It may be that it was that afternoon that she wrote the touching words about Captain Sanderson’s constancy, which later brought tears to so many eyes.

I am sure you will remember that book. It was one of those spectacular successes from the point of view of being a “ best seller,” and yet it was such a humble little book, and a book, too, of so few pages, that no one could possibly have foretold its popularity; and after you had read it you were at a loss to account for its place. It was as unpretentious as its little writer, but it had in it certain heart-compelling human qualities: a little humor, some quite real pathos, and above all it was a-quiver with the enthusiasm of its author. It was not, properly speaking, a book with a plot; it was just Captain Sanderson, one of those one-character books. The humor was the Captain’s dry humor of the sea; the wise saws that people found so quotable were the Captain’s, — edited, to be sure, and sharpened up by Captain Sanderson’s biographer. One could hardly recognize in this apotheosis of an old seaman the mellow, garrulous old fellow that one loved; and yet, for all her idealization, wonderfully enough, Sophie Warner had not dehumanized her hero. In the book he became one of those unconscious heroes who perform great deeds without knowing it; in the book he was conspicuously faithful to his dear wife’s memory, although no prolonged grief had been allowed to darken the lives of those dear to him. He had borne his solitude with a smile, as he had shown his heroism on the sea, — without ostentation.

It was another one of those books demonstrating how the world loves a lovable person, and that any one who can draw such a one from the heart can throw out of the window all the rest of the basket of tricks, including consecutive plot. Miss Warner’s sincerity carried the thing. She wrote about the Captain as she had seen him, unconscious to what a degree she had magnified him; and others saw him as she did. There was nothing in the book of the show-man who presents a new-found curiosity. There were those critics who called the whole thing twaddle, people sophisticated enough to realize what very strong magnifying glasses the author was asking her public to wear; but the sentimental caught the contagion of the writer’s enthusiasm.

For myself, I don’t pretend to judge the book. Not even the harshest critic denied it a kindly spirit; and how kind this was, and how sincere, I, who had been present at the book’s making, knew. All through the winter, while the book was going from one edition to another, I was filled with curiosity to know how my Long Haven friends had taken it.

I wrote early to Liza, engaging my room, and in her reply I caught an inkling of the state of things. I had spoken of the book in my letter, to which Liza had answered tartly that ” a man was never too old to be made a fool of.”

When I arrived Liza greeted me with more effusion than I had ever suspected her of:—

“ Well, ef I ain’t glad to see ye,” she cried, looking down on me. “ I tell you, I most had to turn the hose on ’em to keep ’em off. Why, if I was the Bayshore House I could have filled all my rooms! But I tell you, none of ’em ain’t goin’ to live here. I says to Henry, ‘ Let ’em bring hammocks and put ’em up on the bulkheads if they want to,’ says I. ‘ They might ’s well, seein ’s they ’re here the fust thing in the mornin’ and the last thing at night; but there ain’t no one of ’em goin’ to clap a foot over my doorsill, Henry Sanderson, while I’m keepin’ house fer ye! ’ Jest take a peek out of the winder and see what ye see! ”

I “ peeked ” out of the little window. There on the bulkhead, resplendent in new clothes, sat my Captain. Around him, encamped in various attitudes of adoration, were ten or a dozen admiring females. That was all there were, for I counted; but on the little bulkhead they gave the impression of an invading horde.

The Captain talked; they listened, exchanged looks, from time to time, of admiration; hung on his words. You could almost hear them saying, “ Is n’t he exactly like the book! ”

Liza faced me, her mouth drawn to a grim line.

“ Don’t it beat all ? Ain’t they got him goin’?” she demanded, with suppressed fierceness. “ There ain’t no fool like an old fool, is they? an’ when you think it’s only the beginnin’ of the season ! She let out that Henry was the original and sot to her for his picture, — picture!” snorted Liza. “ Ef Henry’d ben one half sech a no’count idjit as the captain in that book was, I would n’t a-kept house for him all these years, sister or no sister. Oh, Mis’ Norton, you dunno what I ben through. First there was Henry pleased as Punch about the book. I did n’t mind that. Later says I to him, ‘ Henry you jest better get a halo and wings right off to-morrow, and put ’em right on and wear ’em,’ says I. He read that book and he read it, and pretty soon you could jest see he was gettin’ to think himself about too good to live. Bill, he joked his pa about it. ' Say, Cap’n, she’s got you carryin’ about all the canvas you’ll stand, ain’t she? ’ he says. ‘ My land! ’ says Bill, ‘hope it won’t hurt your upper works none.’ And Emily she says, ‘ Say, Pop, I never knew you was such a hero, — have you got all the lifesavin’ medals as that book says you deserve ? I could have had ’em made into a belt for me.’ So we jokes him about bein’ a hero and about his halo, and he took it all smilin’, and then I realized what he was up to. Says I, ‘Bill, there’s trouble brewin’. You watch your pa. He ain’t actin’ natural. You know ’s well as I do your pa never was one to stand much chaffin’ without gettin’ a little hot under the collar, — you watch him, Bill. The matter with him is, and what he keeps his temper so good for is, he’s tryin’ to act like that old chromo of a sea-captain in that book! ’

“ Well, Bill he laughed till I thought he ’d blow off his head.

“ ‘ Aunt Liza, you’re right,’ says he. Pritty soon, I begun gettin’ letters askin’ for rooms, and Henry begun gettin’ letters. He went an’ bought some new store clothes, and pritty soon them wimmen began to come. Before long, of course, the town near talked its tongue off, and it made me near about sick. So they ’d come and say, ‘ Well, Henry, did n’t know ye was a hero! Well, Henry, they ’ve got your photograph pressed into the book, ain’t they ? ’ And to see Henry take it with a grin and not know they was makin’ fun of him! ’Course we knew ’t want no more like Henry than a smelt’s like a sculpin! And if that was all! The worst was to see all them ” — Liza jerked her thumb toward the bulkhead — “ make a fool of him. ‘ ’T won’t be long now,’ said Bill, when they began softsoapin’ him, ‘ before he’ll have the foolishness knocked out of him,’ but he swallerd it all down! When they come fust I was perlite to ’em, — thought I had to be. Em’ly kept up bein’ perlite longer ’n me, but Em’ly’s quit it too, and it’s the Lord’s own mussy that I had sense enough not to take none of ’em in the house.”

This was Liza’s account of the situation.

Supper that evening was not the merry meal that it had formerly been. The Captain was a curious mixture of himself and the glorified being whom Sophie Warner had depicted; or rather, not that person, but the person who was posing for him, for, alas! that was what my poor old friend Captain Sanderson was doing, — he was posing, posing for my benefit, and he did it pretty well, too. One can understand the rapt expressions of his adorers. But as he posed at me, I felt my backbone stiffen in sympathy with Liza’s, and I had difficulty not to let my eyes seek my plate shamestricken, as did Emily’s. Trying to hold up my side of it, and the Captain’s pose, and the growing self-consciousness of the two women, made the scene a trying one.

Hardly were we through supper when some one tapped at the door. Liza went to it; I heard her voice saying grimly, “Yes, he’s home, Henry, there’s ladies wants you! ”

At this the Captain wiped his mouth, disappeared hurriedly, and led his guests out to the bulkhead.

Here Emily, who had a most un-New England trick of showing her emotions, sniffed, while tears flooded her pretty eyes.

“ Oh, ain’t it awful ? ” she wept; " he’s gettin’ worse every day, Mis’ Norton.”

“ Where ’s Captain Bill? ” I asked.

Emily lifted tearful eyes to mine. " Bill did n’t come to supper; he’s awful ’shamed. Bill said he knew jest how you’d take it, and he did n’t want to see you. And when I think She’s cumin’! We can’t turn her away, ’cause ’t ain’t her fault, and She engaged her room last year; seems to me I can’t stand it! ”

Here a shadow sidled into the room.

“ It’s Bill,” said Emily, and departed.

After our exchange of greetings, " You seen how ’t is, ain’t you ? ” the young man gloomed.

“ Are n’t you taking it a little too seriously? ” said I; " he’ll get over it, won’t he, after a little ? ”

“ Well, ’t ain’t much comfort to anybody who’s got any of his folks sick with the smallpox to reflect that they may get over it, — they may, and they may not,” replied Bill. " Here we are the laffin’-stock of the hull town. Here’s our house bein’ visited like’t was a Roman shrine. There’s him, — there ain’t nobody had a better father nor me, — there’s him, settin’ there listenin’ to the palaver of all them fool women. How’m I goin’ to get him away from ’em ? How ’m I goin’ to stop folks in town from laffin’ at ’m! He ’s jest lost to shame! ”

“ Think how he enjoys it,” I comforted, tactlessly.

“ I do.” In the gloom of the little sitting-room Bill shifted before me, huge and wavering. " You bet I think!” There was a fund of bitterness in his words. " Well, good-night, there ain’t nuthin’ to do but let it run its course.”

And as Fate had decreed that I should see every side of the little drama, I chanced to have a few words alone with the Captain that night.

“ You read the book, ain’t ye? ” He beamed at me with simple geniality. His pleasure in it was touching.

Yes, I had read the book, I said.

“ I never expected to be the hero of any book,” he gave out. There was a little quaver of a question in his voice as touching as his pleasure. He was trying to see just how the land lay with me.

I gave the book cordial praise. He was radiant.

“ I’m glad you feel that way,” he went on. " You won’t believe it, but Em’ly and Liza, they don’t like the book; they won’t hear anything about it; don’t like folks should come and talk to me about it, — sorter jealous, I guess they are, that’s how I figger it; and Bill, he’s with ’em.” Then he broke out: “ They don’t understand me, you know; you can jest see from the book they ain’t never understood me; and now some folks comes along that does, and they don’t like it.”

Vanity spoke in his tone, the querulous vanity of the matinée hero. It was hard to bear.

“ You would n’t believe how queer they be,” he continued. “ I can see they don’t even like it when I go to speak about poor Mary, they’re so jealous.”

That plumbed the matter for me. The year before I had never heard him refer to poor Mary except in answer to Miss Warner’s questions. So poor Mary had not escaped, even; she, together with the rest of the family, was being piled upon the altar to his vanity.

This was the beginning of the Captain’s fame. The rest came just as the book’s popularity had, with a landslide beginning with an illustrated account in a Sunday paper of the Captain and his homestead. Liza’s comments upon the visitors, whose numbers grew daily, went as follows : —

“ Land’s sake, I did n’t know there was so many women with nuthin’ to do, in the world. Ain’t they got no homes! What ails a woman to make her come traipsin’ clear down to Long Haven to look at an old man ? Some days, Mis’ Norton, seems to me like I was livin’ in the asylum, when I come out and see them women, and some of ’em young and pretty, hangin’ on Henry’s words. Talk about your theatres! I don’t wonder the neighbors crane their necks out so that they’ve all got two inches longer ones than last year; I don’t wonder they laff, as Bill says, till their lanyards most part. Who’d a-dreamed that Henry had it in him! ’T was her who begun it; she started him off last year. Listen to him talkin’ about fishin’ ’s ef he was readin’ the Gospel ! My Lord, now listen to that! He’s tellin’ about the whale agin; he’d ougliter charge admission. Mis’ Norton, Henry Sanderson’s told the story about how that whale chawed the dory up under him hundreds of times this summer ef he’s told it once; it’s ben in the newspapers. I ’ ve give up walkin’ on the streets with him, — I don’t go to church no more.”

Of course it sounds grotesque as I tell it, but there was nothing grotesque about it to poor Liza. It was deep and bitter humiliation, and one which Captain Bill and his wife felt even more than the older woman.

I happened to be down in the kitchen talking with Liza when the crisis came. It was one of those quiet affairs without fireworks, such as occur in decent New England families. Bill and Emily came in together. Feeling something in the air, I started to leave.

“ Don’t go,” said Bill, gently. “ Don’t get up, Mis’ Norton; you’ve got to know about it some time.” I think it was a relief for him to have me there.

“ I jest come to tell you, Aunt Liza, Em’ly and me we made up our minds to have a little vacation — a — little — vacation.”

His aunt looked from one to the other. “ I don’t blame you,” she said slowly. “ Why don’t you come out with the truth, Bill ? What makes you talk about vacations to me! ”

“ We — we ain’t goin’ for good,” Bill answered.

“ No,” echoed Emily tearfully, throwing her arms around Liza’s neck, “ we ain’t goin’ for good, Aunt Liza, though when it comes to him tellin’ me that he wanted me to make over some of Bill’s mother’s old clothes so I could remind him of his blessed Mary settin’ around, and I knew how he’d told all them wimmen outside there what I was goin’ to do, it was more ’n I could stand! Oh, do you suppose he’s right in his head? Think of his askin’ me to make over Bill’s mother’s old clothes! ”

Liza patted her niece gently. “ There, there, don’t take on like that,” she comforted. “ You two can’t do no good here. Some days I wish he was plumb crazy and I’d clap him up somewheres where they couldn’t get at him; and there’s other days when I wish some ’n ’d shet me up.”

From outside the bulkhead came a chorus: “Good-by, Captain, it’s been a great treat to meet you.” “Good-by, Captain — ” “ Can I have just one little rose, one little rose from this rambler? ” “ To-morrow, Captain, — you won’t forget! ” And the Captain boomed out a bass accompaniment to their shrill soprano chorus.

As they went away I could hear them saying,—

“ No, his own people don’t understand him one bit. You know how these New England women are! ”

He joined us in the kitchen, aglow with enthusiasm, still acting his part.

“ Well, Bill! — Well, Emily! ” he exclaimed jovially. Then seeing something was amiss, “ What’s up? ” he asked.

Bill shuffled uneasily; Liza turned her back on her brother. It was left for Emily to say, —

“ Bill and me we’re going to take a little vacation.”

“It ’ll be a long one, I can tell you,” came from Liza.

Captain Sanderson sat down heavily in a chair. He looked at them dazed.

“ You ain’t goin’ away,” he muttered. “ What in land’s sake fur? ” He blinked unsteadily at first one and then another of them.

“ What fur! ” echoed Liza, in bitterness.

But Bill took up the word hastily: —

“ Jest fur a little while, Pa, ’cause seems to me Em’ly’s lookin’ peaked.”

“ Ain’t you goin’ to wait to see Her ? ” he faltered. “ She’s comin’ day after to-morrer.”

Bill did not meet his father’s eye.

“ No, I thought I’d take Em’ly right off before she got reel run down.”

The Captain got up and walked around the room, his shoulders bowed. He simply could n’t grasp it that his children were going to leave him. But that is what it amounted to, for he could see through the “ little vacation ” bluff as well as any one, even if he did n’t see what they were leaving for.

As can be imagined, I had been uncomfortable enough during this scene, and now made my escape. As I went out I heard Liza’s voice saying, with a certain grim tenderness, —

“ Never mind, Henry, I won’t leave you, no matter what happens ! ” Which, being interpreted, meant, “ No matter what kind of a fool you make of yourself.”

The next day arrived the Destroyer of Homes. Her little subdued radiance burned brighter. Success had been good for her, she had grown young under it. That she did not understand why it should have come to her, and was the same unassuming little creature that she had always been, I was glad to see.

“ It was he who did everything for me, — all of them, — altogether, that is,” she told me eagerly. “ I wish there was some way that I could give them half of it.”

“ You shared your success,” I remarked significantly.

She followed my eyes out of the window. She had arrived a little earlier than she had expected, so they had not met her at the station.

On the bulkhead sat Captain Sanderson with his cortége, but all Miss Warner saw was the Captain himself. She fluttered out to him, and that was how it happened that they met publicly, with the admiring chorus around, and that was how it happened that a young journalist wrote the little article on “ Hero and Author Meet.” Some one snapped a kodak on them.

I watched to see the situation dawn on her, — it never had occurred to me that it would not, for Miss Warner had a good fund of shrewdness under her enthusiasm. I had been glad to have her come: quite logically I wanted her to see the havoc she had wrought. Of course it was not Sophie Warner’s fault, but when one sees a home broken up the way she had broken up Captain Sanderson’s, one likes to blame some one; it seemed to me only fair that she should be made uncomfortable too, since Bill and Emily had been driven out, and Liza’s life was a misery. And now, behold the blindness of the creator ! Miss Warner saw absolutely nothing but the Captain. She had made him, or rather I should say she had made him up — and she saw him only through the lens of her poetic vision. He was not to her a nice, elderly man whose head has been turned by seeing himself in a book and by the silly talk of a parcel of silly women, any more than last year he had been Captain Sanderson, a genial old man, a pleasant example of an ordinary type. Then, as now, he was the embodiment of the romance and heroism of the sea, with a fine touch of personal romance that his much-praised constancy had added. So now, both at home and abroad, the poor Captain was soaked in the enervating atmosphere of admiration. His visitor’s presence softened for him the loss of his son and daughter. Liza watched them narrowly, and the result of her watching she gave to me.

“ I’ll be buttered,” said she, “ if Henry ain’t makin’ up to Miss Warner.”

“ What do you mean ? ” I asked.

“What I say!” responded Liza; “ he’s makin’ up to her! ”

“ Where ’s his constancy? ” I asked.

Liza chuckled.

“ That’s what I’ve been askin’ myself. But she won’t have him, — he need n’t worry! Land sakes, I wish she would, sometimes, then I could go out and leave ’em to their foolishness. I ain’t got a word against her; she did n’t mean nuthin.”

Which, considering all things, showed rather a wide tolerance on Liza’s part.

But now see what a pose can do for a person when carried to its logical conclusion.

To Liza and myself came in one day Miss Warner. In her hand she held a newspaper. Distress was written over her gentle little face.

“ Oh, see what has happened! ” she cried. “ Oh, I do hope the Captain won’t see the paper to-day. They have hinted, actually dared to hint, that we — he and I — ” she could not bring it out.

Liza’s New England training stood her in good stead.

“ He’d be awful distressed,” she said seriously.

“ Oh, poor man! I should never have told — never have let any one know who he was. When I think how awfully kind he has been to all those women that come around him, how patient! and now to have his sacred memories trifled with! ”

“ Don’t take it too hard, Miss Warner,” Liza remarked. “ Henry’s awful generous about things! ”

I saw the Captain on the beach; in his hand he also held a paper.

“ Oh, he’s got it,” cried Miss Warner; “ I must go to him! ”

They stood silhouetted against the water, each holding a newspaper. I could see the little woman explaining in her still eager way. I saw the Captain take a noble attitude; he was living up to his part: he was being noble, noble as anything, — noble just in time. Liza was right. For had Miss Warner’s attitude toward the linking of their names together not shown him what was expected of him, he would have played another and less graceful part.

After a few moments Miss Warner fluttered back to us, leaving the Captain alone on the bulkhead, sunk in revery. Liza and I looked at each other. We knew he was mourning the blessed memory of his dear Mary, as per schedule!

“ I am going right back,” she told us. “ Of course I won’t stay here a moment after that meddling notice, — I should be a constant affront to him. I hate to go before the summer’s over, but I shall always have your dear brother, Miss Liza, just the same, even though I shall not see him again! ” Which was entirely true. Miss Warner would have him, the thing she had made out of him, at least; but poor Liza would not have him, nor would Bill nor Emily.

So you see Sophie Warner went away, having innocently wrecked the home of the innocent people who had befriended her; went away without a fly having been cast in her pot of ointment; went away with the last poetic memory of the Captain’s kindness, under what she deemed extreme provocation. Say what you please, the guilty do not suffer in this world as they ought to.

She, the cause of all this mischief, was the only one who escaped scot-free. Captain Sanderson paid in more ways than in having his household broken up. His fate followed the fortunes of that of the book, which, like all the “ best sellers,” ceased after a time to sell, and he therefore ceased to be a public personage. But when a person has tasted that sort of adulation late in life, and taken it in such good faith and such simplicity, it is hard to go without it. If you go to Long Haven Captain Sanderson will probably stop you, as a newcomer; he will tell you how his dory was chawed out under him, and let you know that he is the hero of Miss Warner’s book, for, as Liza says bitterly, “ They got tired of him, but he ain’t got tired of them.”