The Voice of the Archangel

IN the old days, Mrs. Lucy Cashdollar used to run a cooks’ agency for bachelor boaters over Bentley’s Oyster Booth and Bar in Utica. Her office was a large room, very colorfully got up, with wall-paper patchings, mostly of red and blue; a white china set in the corner cupboard, with broad red stripes round the bulge of the cups; a high walnut bed with a blue quilt folded triangle-wise at the foot; a green rag rug with a yellow border; yellow curtains at the window; and a Franklin stove. When she was n’t on duty in the barroom, Mrs. Cashdollar held office hours. At such times she might have been considered the chief ornament of the room.

She generally sat in a Boston rocker, wearing a scarlet Mother Hubbard, her stocking feet—red or yellow, according to her humor — stretched out to the wood fire, the big toes curled back — through a hole, as likely as not. There she sat, very comfortable and quiet, her meerschaum pipe trailing smoke toward the flames; and, if no one came in for half an hour, her broad nostrils sang a song in very close harmony with the copper kettle on the stove.

Her face was remarkable for exceedingly blue eyes and a rubicund good humor which led one to suspect that she considered it her duty to sample the offerings of the bar before they were put on sale. Her face was plump, but not so plump as her bosom; and her bosom found ample support in the comfortable dimensions of her middle; and the whole of her was held up, in the occasional moments in which she was forced to make use of her feet, by a pair of ankles of proportions superior, if anything, to the rest of her.

In her capacity as cooks’ agent for canal-boaters on the Erie, she picked up all the news; her room was a clearing house for gossip. Once a month or so the Gospel Messenger would send an editor down to interview her; and she always had on hand five or six stories from which the paper might take its choice, and which it wrote up with great literary taste, but — being a religious periodical — with considerable reversed English on the morals. Mrs. Cashdollar enjoyed these interviews hugely; and she kept a file of the papers containing ‘her articles’ in a cedar chest under her bed.

It was in one of these dusty numbers that the present writer discovered the facts of the following story — disguised, though they were, with the religious principles of the Gospel Messenger. Had Mrs. Cashdollar been endowed with the ability to read, she would unhesitatingly have denounced the editor as a liar; but secretly she would have considered his point of view very beautiful and touching.


They had bought a boat to run together, and they came to her in search of a cook. Because they had the same name, most people spoke of them as brothers; but they were not kin. They did not resemble each other in any way. Stephen Glenn was about twentytwo or -three, dark, slender, and wiry, quick, high-colored. There was a dusky bloom on his cheeks and a sensitive mobility in his full lips suggestive of Southern blood. His smile was eager. Andrew Herkimer Glenn, behind him as they stood in the doorway of Lucy Cashdollar’s room, towered a head above him. His blue eyes stared at a height from the ground equal to his own, and completely over Mrs. Cashdollar’s head. The two of them, with the light of the fire playing on their dark shirts and ruddy faces, made quite a picture.

Mrs. Cashdollar removed her pipe from her mouth and sent a smoke ring over one of her big toes.

‘What, can I do for you two gentlemen?’ she asked.

Stephen, who had removed his hat, made a lithe bow, and smiled.

‘ We come for business,’ said Andrew, heavily, and he took off his hat with both hands and spat over it into the fire and cocked his head to hear the hiss. Mrs. Cashdollar frowned. Then she saw Stephen smiling at her half apologetically, as if to say, ‘It’s just his way — he don’t mean nothing by it’; and she grunted and grinned, and thereafter confined her attention to him, without observing the effect of the firelight on the shaggy yellow hair of Andrew.

‘Set down,’ she said to Stephen, motioning toward the Windsor chair with her right foot. ‘Excuse me having no slippers on — it’s the gout troubles me.’ She smiled back at him; she was almost prettily plump in those early days.

The big man sat down on the bed, because there were no other chairs, and cleared his throat.

‘It’s nothing,’ he said. ‘I take off my own shoes, once in a while.’

Lucy laid one finger to her right nostril and made a sort of snort through the other. Stephen raised his soft eyes from the toes of his boots and looked at her.

‘We’ve a boat,’ he said. ‘We’ve just got her, and she’s very nice; but we thought we’d need a cook, ma’m. Joe, downstairs, said you might help us getting one.’

‘I suppose the pay’s all right.’

‘Fifteen dollars—dommed high, too,’ growled Andrew, shaking the yellow hair from his eyes and hawking his throat clear.

‘Don’t you spit again in my room!’ cried Lucy, and a shudder ran up her back that made her quiver in front like a mould of jelly.

Andrew went over to the window, raised it, and put his head outside.

‘That’s better,’ said Lucy, when he had lowered the sash. ‘Of course it’s over the front door — but that ain’t my lookout.’

‘His’n,’ said Andrew.

Lucy took stock of the bigness of him for the first time. With his yellow hair bushy about his ears, his thick beard, and his great shoulders and hands, he looked monstrous. Stephen, somehow, in his fancy waistcoat and light-colored pants, suited his immediate surroundings. She liked to look at him across the embers of her own fire. Any woman might, she said to herself. But the old gray clothes of Andrew, the calluses on his hands, his long square-ended feet — they made the fixings in her room look contemptuously small and out of place, like a bed of zinnias planted in the prairie. And the bright, farsighted blue of his eyes, staring at the opposite wall, had a chilling vacancy.

‘The wood basket’s by your cheer,’ she said to Stephen. ‘Would you mind sticking a piece on to the fire?’

As she watched him laying it on, her ridiculous shiver passed up over her again. But the oily sputter of the birch bark soon sent a yellow warmth along her legs, and she pulled at her pipe and settled herself to business.

‘Well,’ she said, ‘you boys want a cook? I’ve got one or two on hand looking for places. I guess you’d like one young and pretty?’

‘I guess I would.’ replied Stephen, giving her his quick smile, so that even she felt a little fire stir under her side.

‘Well, I got one might do — seeing your price is agreeable and regular.’

‘How old is she?’ asked Stephen.

‘Nineteen. She’s new on the canal; but she’s been cooking for me this week, and she’s no slouch at it.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘May Friendly.’


‘Yes, she is. She’s a nice-looking gal, too; nice-complected; dark hair. Sort of pretty little chitter.’

Andrew swallowed audibly, lowered his eyes to the back of Mrs. Cashdollar’s head, and took over the conversation.

‘Be her hands good strong ones?’

‘What do you mean?’ Mrs. Cashdollar was amazed.

‘I want to see her.’

‘Oh, all right. She’s in the next room. I’ll call her.'

Mrs. Cashdollar heaved herself out of her chair and went over to the door behind the stove.

‘ May! ’ she called. ‘ May Friend-ly!'

Receiving no audible answer, she disappeared from view of the two Glenns. They caught her voice faintly from what must have been the head of a staircase and heard a subterranean mutter in answer. Then both voices faded into silence.

Stephen laughed softly.

‘I wonder what the old gal will bring us.’

Andrew grunted, stared round the walls until his eye fell upon a voluminous and lacy garment behind the door through which they had entered. To his eyes it bore a suggestive and embarrassing intimacy, and he shifted his feet and fixed his gaze on the lazy ribbon of steam that the kettle was spouting.

Stephen laughed again.

‘If that bothers you, Andy, what’re you going to do with a cook on the boat ? ’

Andrew’s gaze wandered back to the door.

’No funny business —not on my boat.’

‘Cripus!’ said Stephen. ‘It’s as much mine’s’t is your’n.’

‘No funny business,’ repeated Andrew, gnarling his fist into a lump and laying it down very gently on his knee.

Stephen snorted.

‘Shut up.’

The slipperless steps of Mrs. Cashdollar could be heard painfully mounting the stairs beyond the door. They reached the top and paused while she let out a whistling sigh. Then the Glenns heard lighter steps coming up after Mrs. Cashdollar.

‘Well,’ said that lady as she came into the room, ’here we be at last.’

She sank into her chair in slow bulgings, like a quilt tossed on the foot of a bed; and her breast rose and fell deeply. Stephen jumped to his feet.

‘This here’s May Friendly, gents. Mr. Glenn and Mr. Glenn.’

Her hand made a flourish and she went on wrestling with her breath.

‘Pleased,’ said Stephen, looking the girl over boldly.

She glanced down and made pleats in her skirts. As Mrs. Cashdollar had said, she was a nice-looking girl. Her hands were small and well made, though already the skin was roughened from her work. She wore a simple suit of dark gray, the short jacket drawn snug about her waist, its tails flaring piquantly in contrast to her smoothdrawn hair and demure face.

Andrew’s gaze hovered between the suggestive garment on the back of the door and the girl’s feet. For a moment intense silence hung over them, through which the wheeze of Mrs. Cashdollar’s pipe became audible.

‘Well.’ she said, by way of breaking the ice, ‘May says the pay’s agreeable, and if you gents thinks she’s ditto, you and me might settle my commission. That is, if she don’t want to back out.’

‘There ain’t only us two to cook for,’ said Stephen. ‘The boat’s in good shape, new painted. It ain’t hard working for us and we ought to get along good.’

He gave her his smile. She nodded slowly and dropped her lids. Stephen noticed that they had uncommonly long lashes.

The silence was resumed for another awkward moment. Then Andrew’s voice rumbled out of the bed corner.

‘Where you come from?’

She glanced at him.

‘Port Leyden.’

‘I come from Boonville,’ he said slowly. ‘I had a farm there. You’ve got better farming land down the river.’

‘Yes,’ she said, dubiously.

Mrs. Cashdollar wiggled her pudgy shoulders with impatience and drew in her breath in preparation for further conversation. But Andrew went on.

’Know anything about dairying?’

‘Some,’ she said.

‘I like cows,’ he said. ‘Only there ain’t pasture for more’n dinkeys where my farm was.’

’There is n’t much good stock down my way,’ said the girl.

Mrs. Cashdollar sniffed.

‘Durnedest things to ask a cook I ever see!’ she exclaimed. ‘It’s getting late. If you like her and she likes you, why n’t you make a deal? You ain’t asked how she cooks, hut I’ll tell you she’s all right.’

Stephen laughed.

‘You ain’t getting a wife, Andy.’ He turned to the girl. ‘We ain’t hard,’ he said. ‘Ever been to the theatre?’

She looked up quickly.


‘I’ll take you to-morrow night, if you want,’ he promised.

‘I’d like to.’

‘A woman like me’s got to get sleep,’ Mrs. Cashdollar complained. ‘Are you suited, gents?’

‘Yes,’ said Stephen.

‘You, May?’


‘My commission’s two dollars,’ said Mrs. Cashdollar. ‘Cash.’

Andrew slowly pulled a wallet from his hip pocket and paid her.

‘Our boat’s at the Butterfield dock,’ said Stephen. ‘It’s the Eastern Belle.’

‘Got a red stripe,’said Andrew. ‘End boat.’

‘She’ll be down in the morning,’ said Mrs. Cashdollar. ‘Excuse me not getting up, gents. It’s the gout troubles me. Good night.’

They went out, Andrew leading.

‘What’re you looking at him for?’ Mrs. Cashdollar asked. ‘He ain’t nothing but a lump of mud. Now that young feller’s got looks—see him smile. He’ll give you a good time, May — if you want it. ’

She had seen the girl’s eyes fixed on Andrew’s yellow hair as the lamplight picked it out through the darkness in the doorway.

‘You get down and get ’em a good breakfast, and you’ll start right. Give a man a good breakfast and you won’t have to think about him till the next morning. Now go on out. A woman like me’s got to get sleep.’

She closed the door after the girl, knocked out her pipe, and took a yellow-ribboned nightcap from behind the door. In front of her mirror she let down her hair and skewered it up again and adjusted the nightcap with care.

‘Yes, sir, he’ll give her a good time if she wants it — or not Them quiet ones like her’s generally got a devil into them if a man can fetch a-hold of its tail.’

‘I wonder who they be,’ she said to herself as she began to undress. ‘ I never seen them afore.’

Mrs. Cashdollar never saw them again, but she heard about all three of them from time to time.


The two Glenns first ran across each other at an auction in Whitestown. Though they had come into competition over some smaller articles, they had taken no stock in each other until they found themselves and a third man bidding for a heavy work team. The horses were blacks, about eighteen hundred at fifteen hands, and handsome to look at. Andrew, whose passion was cows and horses, hung grimly to the bidding until he had reached one hundred and fifty dollars. Now and then he would turn his eyes from the team and scowl at the other two.

‘One twenty-five,’ Stephen had said; and Andrew had called out, ‘One fifty,’ which was twenty dollars more than he could pay. Stephen had made a grimace and turned his back; but just then the third bidder had said, ‘One sixty.’

This was a thin man with a pointed chin and sloping forehead who had been walking about with a heavy driving whip in his hand, much bored until the team was put up.

The auctioneer rubbed his hands together and echoed, ‘One sixty, in an ecstatic, whispering voice. ‘One sixty,’ he repeated. ‘Ain’t anybody going to raise this gent’s bid? Such a team, so cheap; four and five; own brothers ! Look at ’em!'

Andrew swallowed hard and muttered, ’One sixty-five,’ in his beard, but not loud enough for the auctioneer to hear him.

‘Throw in with me,’ said a voice at his shoulder, ‘and we’ll get him yet.’

He looked down with a sudden gleam in his eye at the little dark man who had been bidding against him a moment before. Stephen smiled eagerly; and all at once a slow grin overspread Andrew’s face, showing his big square teeth; a chuckle rose in him; and he threw back his head and opened his mouth and laughed to himself, a deep laugh, which shook him down in his bowels.

‘How much?’ he asked.

‘I bid one twenty-five,’ said Stephen, grinning over the other’s laugh.

The auctioneer was leaning beseechingly in Andrew’s direction, his pudgy hands moving unctuously, his face sweating as he stretched his remarks to give Andrew time.

‘Own brothers,’ he was saying. ‘Bred in this town. Equal to any weight. Up to any haul. Kind. Gentle. There ain’t a kick into them. Set on their hocks,’ he invited. ‘Look at them quarters. There’s power. Short backs. Look at them legs — run your hand down them. What do you feel? ’ he said to the hostler, who had complied with his request. ‘Nothing!’ he answered himself. ‘Clean and sweet . . .’

The man with the pointed chin cracked his whip savagely.

‘They’re mine,’ he said. ‘No stretching! They was mine two minutes ago, damn you!’

‘Going . . .’ cried the auctioneer. ‘Look at them shoulders! Going . . . There ain’t a sweeter set of legs in this state! You’ve see how they match as a pair, gents?’

‘One seventy-five,’ said Andrew solemnly, his big hands quivering with delight.

The hot noon sun shone straight down on the group in the space the crowd had cleared for them, and touched the coats of the blacks with a gun-metal sheen.

‘Ninety!’ There was a snap in the voice of the man with the pointed chin, and he cracked his whip so that the pair threw up their heads and gathered their haunches under them.

‘You shut up with that whip!’ cried the hostler, running his hand over the withers of the nearest horse.

‘Two hundred,’ said Andrew, and he took off his hat.

The crowd shifted round them in great amusement, and men eased the sweat out of their suspenders with their thumbs.

‘Five,’ said the man with the pointed chin.

‘Ten,’ said Andrew.




The auctioneer rubbed his hands together. ‘ Two sixteen,’ he whimpered. ‘Dollars. Cash.’

‘You’ll get him now,’ Stephen whispered. ‘Twenty-five and he’ll run.’

‘Not all to once,’ rumbled Andrew. ‘I want to make him wiggle.’

It was his first experience in handling what seemed to him unlimited capital.

‘Seventeen,’ he said.





The other drew a long sobbing breath, tried to swear, choked, and pushed his way through the crowd, the long lash of his whip trailing along the ground after him.

‘Two twenty-one!’ cried the auctioneer. ‘Going . . . What a team for the money! Ain’t nobody going to say twenty-two ? ’

‘You shut up!’ Andrew growled.

‘Going . . . Gone!' His mallet came down with a smack on the rail of his booth. ‘This team is sold for two hundred and twenty-one dollars to the big gent with the yellow hair.’

Mixed laughter and applause rose from the crowd.

Andrew went over to the team and laid a soothing hand along their backs and grinned and grinned.

Stephen came after him. ‘Well,’ he said with his quick smile, ‘they’re ours. I calculated sure he would n’t go over twenty.’

Andrew still grinned.

‘Saved four dollars making him wiggle.’

He ran his hand caressingly all over the horse, which twitched its skin with enjoyment.

‘They’re worth the price,’ the hostler vouchsafed. ‘I’ve see ’em when they was foaled and watched them this six year. They’re a pretty team to haul with and used to handling boats.’

‘I thought they was four and five!' exclaimed Stephen.

Andrew gave him a pitying smile. The hostler spat.

‘Was there ever a team auctioned which wasn’t four and five if they was under ten and eleven?’ he asked aggrievedly.

He thrust the lead ropes into Andrew’s hand and shambled off with a friendly slap on the rump of the near horse as he passed. The team looked after him.

‘Well, now they’re ours, what’re we going to do with ’em?'

‘I got a boat this morning,’ said Andrew, running his hand down his nose and over his beard, ‘and I come up here to buy a team. I was aiming to boat it a season. There’s no pay to my farm; it ain’t no land for growth. So I sold it. I reckon I’ll have to take you on to come with me as a partner.’

‘Suits me,’ said Stephen.

Andrew looked down at him, and, Stephen being so much younger and having that soft smiling look in his eyes, he felt a paternal kindliness overwhelming him. He had felt much the same way toward a heifer he had once had. She was the best blood he had on his farm, and she had gentle eyes.

‘Suits me,’ he said.

They settled down to life on Andrew’s boat, the Eastern Belle— one of the old bullhead Erie boats of eighty feet, with a well-built cabin aft and four stalls under the lift hatch forward. Most of their hauling took them westward, for they got pretty steady work from the Butterfield chain of feed mills; and they got to know Syracuse and Rochester and even Buffalo, and the points in between.

Andrew managed the culinary end. In his life alone on his farm he had learned to cook potatoes, and flapjacks, eggs, and coffee — good enough cooking for a man alone, for whom eating becomes part of the day’s chores; but with someone to talk to over the food, there is more need for variety. It irked them both — Stephen especially, who was useless in such matters, and, consequently, particular.

He was city bred, born in New York, where he had acquired a grace which amazed Andrew but left him full of admiration. Beyond a certain gift and liking for horses, Stephen was of no value to the running of the boat. He went off as soon as they tied up at a town or city dock and moved about scraping intimate acquaintances with what women attracted his notice. He was eminently successful; he had a gift for clothes as well as his soft eyes and eager smile to help him. Andrew stayed aboard and growled to himself, for he had the heavy moral sense of inexperience. But his feeling of fatherliness grew deeper; and other men learned that to quarrel with Stephen meant quarreling with Andrew.

Stephen returned his ponderous affection with a bantering good nature, verging at times upon contempt. He listened attentively to Andrew’s slow lectures on thrift and laughed them off with spending his share of the earnings of the Eastern Belle. It became a weekly ritual between them. In his way, each derived a certain pleasure from it.

But the cooking was another matter; the food palled. Stephen suggested a cook. Andrew scoffed at the extravagance until Stephen, appreciating his hold over his partner, began taking his meals in stores along the towpath when he could, and eating ashore altogether while they stayed in the larger ports.

A few weeks of this became unbearable for Andrew. One evening in Utica, as Stephen was leaving the boat, he suggested hiring a cook.

‘It’ll cost a lot,’ said Stephen with lugubrious hesitation.

‘It’ll save you buying your meals. She’ll know better where to save than I do,’ said Andrew.

‘I guess that’s so. Still, you got to pay her a salary.’

‘I’ll ask the ’keep over to Bentley’s what’s right. Joe would do right by me there.’

Stephen shook his head and mumbled to himself in Andrew’s sourest manner, and grinned to see Andrew’s heedlessness.

‘Joe’ll know what’s right,’ said Andrew.

Joe did, but it amused him to mention a top wage for Andrew’s benefit. Being accustomed to all business involving womenfolk, Stephen scented a discrepancy.

‘If you say fifteen dollars to Lucy up above,’ Joe whispered to him, ‘you’ll get a danged good cook. She come in yesterday, and she’s green to the canal’; and he gave an attractive description of a young girl, while Andrew down the bar ruminated over his Black Strap. Fifteen dollars a month was more than he had planned to spend.

But he followed Stephen upstairs, and, between them and Mrs. Cashdollar, they secured the services of May Friendly.


She came aboard early, and from his bunk Stephen heard her chucking wood in the stove. Andrew, whose job it had been to build the fire and put on the coffee, still snored softly.

They slept in a small cubicle behind the cabin, directly under the steersman’s place. What light and air there was came in through small ventilating slits just under the deck. It was a dim little hole, with the planks two feet over your head, so that you had to sit up carefully.

Stephen got up quietly and went out into the cabin with his shirt unbuttoned and his shoes in his hand. He got a drink of water from the barrel under the short steps and looked over the dipper at May while he drank. She was dressed in a red gingham work dress, and the sunlight coming through the small high windows at the side slanted across her back and made a small shadow between her shoulders.

‘Good morning,’ Stephen said.

She gave him a cool glance out of her black eyes, which were pointed finely at the outer corners.

‘Good morning,’ she said. ‘ When do you mostly eat?’

‘Seven,’ he said. ‘But there ain’t no rush. Andy’s sleeping.’

He went out on deck with a bucket to wash. She listened to him sloshing round busily and then went on with her inspection of the cabin. On the whole, it was fairly clean. It was tiny — with little more than room enough for the stove and three chairs and a small cupboard in the corner. It was the first boat May Friendly had been on, and the disposition of pans and dishes in out-of-the-way lockers fascinated her. With all the sunlight streaming into its windows, it seemed more spacious than she had imagined a boat cabin could be. The walls were papered in a nasturtium pattern, the spruce floor was oiled. When curtains had been put at the windows and the shaving mug and razors had been relegated to properly remote corners, the room would have possibilities. She had resigned herself already to the apathetic satisfaction of a woman who has lived a life of conscientious routine.

At the back of the cabin was a curtain of faded green stuff through which she had seen Stephen appear. He had said that Andrew was sleeping, but she hesitated before lifting it. She could hear Stephen rubbing himself down with short gasps on deck. As her fingertips met the curtain, she blushed suddenly and vividly. Then she pulled it open. She could just see the bunks side by side, with their heads toward the stern, and she drew in her breath on observing that there was no partition. It was very dark and the air was none too good; but, above the even breathing, she could hear a pleasant sound of ripples along the stern of the boat. A finger of sunlight from a knothole had enabled her barely to see; and now she noticed that it moved slowly, as though the boat had swung a trifle on its moorings. Suddenly it caught up an answering gleam in Andrew’s yellow hair, moved upward along his cheek.

When she heard Stephen walking back to the cabin steps, she slipped over to the stove and lifted the lid of the coffee kettle. The finger of sunlight had left a green spot on her vision, but in the sleeping cuddy it continued its slow creeping along Andrew’s cheek. As Stephen entered Andrew sneezed violently and rolled over on his bunk.

Stephen came over to where she stood and got hot water for shaving. His beard was light and he shaved quickly; he was done by the time Andrew emerged from the sleeping cuddy, grumbling to himself. While he was on deck, Stephen showed May how to let down the table. It had two drop legs which unfolded to support the outer corners. In a recess behind it stood salt and pepper and vinegar and sugar, ready for the meal.

‘ Well, now!’ exclaimed May. ‘That’s real clever.’

Wishing she had crockery, she laid out the tin dishes.

‘Now you’re here,’ Stephen observed, ‘and we’re putting on shine like this, I guess we ought to have chineyware.’

‘I seen a nasturtium set over to Banton’s, marked down reasonable and missing a cup. It would look real good here,’ she said eagerly, glancing at the wall paper.

‘It would, at that.’

He sat down, while the smell of frying eggs wove its way into the coffee perfume.

‘Would you like to go out to-night, May?’

Her head came up jerkily, like a bird’s, at the name; but she smiled and nodded. Her smile was slightly square, showing pretty teeth for a countrywoman, and gave one pleasantly the impression that she was startled.

Stephen pulled a handbill out of his shirt pocket.

Mr. WINFIELD (Professor of Canagogy) wishes to inform the CITIZENS of UTICA that he will give an EXHIBITION of his DogSchool, on Saturday Evening, July 12th (1856) at the Mechanics’ Hall. Doors open at SEVEN, and Performance at HALF-PAST SEVEN. Admittance 25 cents.

He read it to her.

‘Want to see it?’ He asked. ‘The dogs is kind of cute.’


Andrew came in wet and glistening, a damp towel in his hand. He had not bothered much in his dressing, as had Stephen. You were conscious of his undershirt. ‘Got to load up to-day. Pull out to-morrow morning. You be on hand, Steve?’

‘This morning,’ said Stephen. ‘Got an errand this afternoon; and me and May’s going to Winfield’s dog show after supper. Come with us? ’


‘I’ll pay,’ said Stephen with a grin.

Andrew growled and filled his mouth with coffee. Stephen looked at May with a smile, as if he had given her the reason for Andrew’s reluctance. She smiled back. She did not know that Stephen had borrowed from Andrew the night before.


She made quite a picture as she walked down the gang to the dock. She and Stephen matched well. If it were n’t for the old boat, you would have taken them for man and wife, gentleman and lady. And the boat did n’t look so badly after all, Andrew told himself. He had chosen the red for the striping. Stephen had not cared; he kept up himself, where Andrew kept up his property.

Andrew watched them off from the cabin window. Not man and wife — he corrected himself—they did not look like man and wife: rather they might be lovers, girl and boy going together. The curtain over the window obstructed his view of them and he brushed it aside angrily. While he and Stephen had loaded in the morning, she had gone off on her own hook and bought this checked gingham, a sort of orangebrown, — too bright, Andrew thought, — but he had to admit to himself that it made the cabin look better. The cabin itself wore an appearance of unaccustomed neatness and smelt clean, and faintly of soap.

Over dinner he had watched Stephen making up to her. He wondered how she could be so cool about it. Toward the end of the meal Stephen had become almost awkward in his eagerness for her approval. Andrew had never seen him like that. He began to think that she must have been on the canal more than Mrs. Cashdollar had admitted.

In the afternoon Stephen had disappeared into the town; and he had not got back until supper. But Andrew had managed to finish loading the boat; he had not had to give time to getting the meals.

While he loaded, May sat in her rocker on the cabin deck and hemmed the curtains. The sun shone on her back and cast her shadow into the pit, where it fell upon Andrew as he moved from one side to the other. Now and then she looked down at him. He handled the bags easily. It was pleasant to see her shadow in the pit beside him — not that he put any stock in such notions. But afterward he went up and sat down on the deck beside her chair and smoked. She had smiled — a small smile that showed mostly in her eyes.

A breeze drew down the Mohawk Valley from the west and plucked up a ripple on the canal. There were not many boats along the canal front; most of the warehouses, with their yellow and brown windowless fronts, seemed deserted. A clerk, a little shambling man with a puzzled expression on his face, came along the planks and stopped beside the Eastern Belle.

‘All right, Andrew?’

Andrew grunted.

‘I’ve arranged with McCormick at the weighlock to pass you through to-morrow morning. Mr. Butterfield wanted you to get through to Boonville by Monday night if you could. McCormick knows your boat, so he’ll let you right through, so it’s all right. It’s quite all right.’

He shoved his hat back on his head and peered up at the two.

‘It’s quite all right,’ he said again. ‘He knows your capacity — so it’s quite all right.’

‘Eanh,’ said Andrew.

The little man shuffled on. May glanced up from her sewing as he passed from sight round a corner of the Butterfield granaries.

‘Poor old man,’ she said, half to herself.

Andrew grunted.

The city rose behind them up the gentle slope of the valley hills, the smoke pulling away to the east, and the church steeples piercing it like needles. On the other bank, the open meadows could be seen between the buildings.

He smoked on quietly to May’s sewing. There was no sound but the wash of the ripples.

Then a faint bell ringing came to them down the canal, and away to the west they saw a line of boats drawing in. All at once Andrew drew his pipe from his mouth.

‘What’d you get them for?’ he demanded, pointing at the gingham lying on her knee.

She looked down at him with her half smile, and he growled something about needless waste and frowned.

Deliberately she held the stuff up at arm’s length, and the motion freed the line of her throat.

‘Don’t you think they would look pretty, now?’ she asked, putting her head a little to one side, as though to appraise the curtains herself. She ruffled them slightly and held them out again. But he was not looking at the curtains; he was thinking how smooth her throat would be to kiss. The blood came to his cheeks, and he felt it there. It angered him.

‘Don’t you go wasting my money after this without asking me.’

‘I did n’t,’ she said. ‘I got them myself.’

He grunted — and she, seeing the look on his face, got up after a moment and went down into the cabin.

Andrew sat on by himself for a time. He heard the halters of the team in the bows rattling, and he realized that it would soon be time to feed them. But he stayed where he was. Perhaps he was expecting May to come out again.

About five-thirty, Stephen came aboard and went below. When Andrew had finished feeding the horses and came down to the cabin, he found the supper ready, and Stephen and May dressed up to go out. He sat between them glowering. The sunset slanting through the windows touched the faces of both and found nests in May’s hair. Andrew frowned at the curtains, which were hanging over the windows with a sober sort of defiance, and ate stolidly. He scarcely returned their ‘ Good night ’ when the meal was over; but he watched them go down the gang to the dock.


After a while he lit the lamp, bracketed to the wall, with a little vent in the ceiling above it to let out the smoke and heat. It became very still; the ripple alongside died away to a whisper. He heard one of the horses forward lie down in its stall. Then he got his Bible from the shelf on which stood also a small black clock, surmounted by the gilded figure of an angel with a horn. The angel was drawn up to his full height, and the arm carrying the trumpet was slightly flexed, as though the impulse to blow had just possessed his mind.

At times at night, when he heard the clock striking through his sleep, Andrew would jump up suddenly in his bunk, knocking his head against the beams above it, with a cold sweat on him, and a dream of the Last Judgment ringing out. of his brain.

Now, as he sat down with his Bible, he let it fall open on his knee, and dropped the index finger of his right hand haphazard on the page after the manner of the superstitiously religious. The passage he thus chanced upon was new to his reading.

15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel . . .

And at the word the clock behind Andrew rang the half hour. He turned swiftly on his chair — but the angel still stood in his accustomed attitude, with the impulse to blow written in the curve of his arm, still waiting the word.

When he dropped his eyes to the page again, he saw that in his start he had lost the place; but he was vaguely thrilled by the words of the last verse he had read — of the shout, of the voice of the archangel. Somewhere he felt in them the presence of a personal truth, too indefinable to be detected by one of his slow mind. He sat brooding, the Bible closed upon his knees, his hands, half clenched, hanging by the seat of the chair.

He was brought to himself by a knock on the door. It opened to admit a man carrying a package.

‘Banton’s,’ said the man, mouthing a cigar. ‘ Package collect for Glenn. You him?’

‘Eanh,’ said Andrew. ‘What is it?’

‘How should I know? I’ve got trouble enough looking up this sty so late a Saturday.’

‘You don’t want to sniff at any sty you’re into,’ said Andrew, slowly. ‘You’re kind of likely to get butchered.’

‘All right,’ said the man, with a tentative approach toward jocularity in his tone.

‘How much?’

The man named eight dollars, which Andrew paid.

‘Give me a receipt,’ said Andrew.

The man pulled a notebook from his pocket and tore off a page.

‘Glenn. . . . Glenn?’


‘All right.'

He went out on deck and down the gang.

‘Here, pig! pig! pig!' he called from the dock; and the next instant his heels thumped rapidly away on the boards.

Hardly had the sound died out than Andrew heard a high unmusical whistle coming down the street. It reminded him of the squeak of a knife-grinder’s barrow. Methodically he folded the receipt and placed it between the pages of the Bible, which he returned to its proper position on the shelf. He went out on deck and sat down facing his shadow outside of the cabin door. Black driven clouds scuttled across a half moon high over the valley from north to south; but on the canal there was no wind.

The whistle approached tortuously in tone and volume, and between the notes halting footsteps became audible. At length a small figure of a man, surmounted by a large pack which gave him the appearance of an immense humpback, rose out of the darkness by the boat side.

‘Hullo, Andrew,’ said a high voice.

‘That you, Harvey?’


‘Come aboard a spell.’

The little man toiled up the gang and plunked his pack down at Andrew’s feet.

‘Just packed up,’ he said. ‘Aiming to work through the Watertown road.’

Harvey Cannywhacker was one of the cigar peddlers who used to haunt the canal and the surrounding country. They moved from town to town, rolling cigars according to demand; they were met on back roads and the trails leading into the lumber camps; they toiled along miles of towpath, sleeping in lock-tenders’ shanties or appearing out of the dark beside boats tied up for the night. They went, everywhere, knew everyone, saw everything, the bag upon their backs a badge of privilege.

‘Been up to Lucy Cashdollar’s. She said you’d got a cook.’


‘Any good?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Andrew.

‘ I seen Steve and her going into Mechanics’ Hall,’ said Harvey. ‘He looked like he was making a set at her. She’s a good-looker.’

Harvey slipped the palms of his hands outward along his knees, as though he were rolling a cigar, and he murmured under his breath his selling chant, ‘One for a penny, a penny for one; built right and rolled tight; and warranted to drawr.’

‘Ah,’ he said aloud after a moment. ‘I knowed her back Port Leyden way. Her family was a great one with cows. She’s a good hand for dairyin’.’

‘Is that right?’ said Andrew. ‘Lucy Cashdollar said she was new on the canal. I had n’t thought so.’

‘Where ’re you a-hauling to?’

‘Boonville,’ said Andrew.

‘One for a penny,’ Harvey muttered; then aloud, ‘It’s been a hard winter, last winter.’


‘You like boating?’

Andrew grunted.

‘Boonville ain’t no land for heavy farming.’

‘No,’ said Andrew.

‘You and Steve get along good?’

‘Pretty good,’ Andrew said. It did not occur to him to be ruffled by this personal questioning. One expected it of a cigar peddler; besides, he knew Harvey.

‘He’s a good boy,’ he said, with an air of comfortable pride, as if he had been responsible for Stephen’s character.

‘Lazy,’ said Harvey. ‘Tags after women. . . . One for a penny . . .’

The dew was beginning to glisten on the deck, and the clouds under the moon grew thin.

‘You don’t like boating, Andrew,’ Harvey said suddenly. ‘You was n’t cut for it. You ought to go back to farming! ’


‘You ought to go west; go out to Ohio; go further.’

‘That’s too fur.’

‘No, it ain’t. Good land costs too much here. You was built for that land, Andrew.’

‘How do you know?’

Harvey hunched himself over his thin knees, and as he fronted the moon his eyes gleamed under his brows.

‘I been there, Andrew. It’s all flat country. It’s a long, flat country. The earth’s heavy on a plough. You can raise heavy cattle there.’


‘I been there. But it ain’t no land for a little man like me.’

‘I got money saved up,’ Andrew said after a while. ‘But I had n’t ought to leave Steve. He would n’t come.’

‘He’d leave you if he wanted,’ said Harvey.

‘I had n’t ought to leave him.’

They listened awhile to the water wash.

‘You ought to marry,’ said Harvey. ‘A man ought to marry.’

‘Who? Who’d I marry?’

‘ Marry your cook — take her out to Ohio with you. She’s good for dairyin’. I knew her Port Leyden way. I knew her folks.’

‘Steve wants her,’ said Andrew.

‘What’s he done for you?’

Harvey got up from the deck and swung his pack on to his shoulders.

‘Maybe I ’ll see you on the feeder. I aim to cut across Potato Hill and come down Delta way.’

His pack bowing him down, he shuffled off the boat.

In the cabin behind Andrew the clock struck the hour, and he started again — the words of the verses he had read coming back to him.

‘Go west,’ Harvey had said. ‘It’s a long, flat country. You was built for that land.’

The earth was heavy against a plough out there — his big hands itched for the helves. He had always wanted to go where he could raise heavy cattle.

But there was the question of Stephen. He had spent a life alone until he had come across Stephen: he could not leave him now.

Hunched forward, with his hands hanging over his knees, Andrew muddled over his problem. His years of loneliness had unsuited him for discerning his own wishes; his mind was dozing; he ruminated moodily, but he seldom thought — rather he accepted two sides of a question and drifted between them until circumstances reared one of them to actuality. All his life he had hungered after a fat land; and all his life he had hung on to the bare living of his little farm by Boonville. Now that he had sold it, he had only a vague idea of how the sale had come about. Someone had offered him more than the farm was really worth. He had been unable to refuse the opportunity of laying by a little money; his mother had left him a little money which he had refused to touch; his neighbors called him miserly. The boat had come as part payment for the farm; so now he was boating. That was all there was to it.

He got up and went back into the cabin and took off his shoes. His glance fell upon the package that had come earlier in the evening; but he did not open it.

May had fashioned a sort of partition between her bunk and the others, so that the sleeping cuddy was sufficiently divided into two rooms.

Andrew stretched out, with his arms under his head, scowling at the chink of light the lowered lamp cast over the curtains. The clock struck eleven in the cabin. May and Stephen were later than he had expected; or, seeing that it was Stephen, he might have expected it after all.... A man ought to marry, Harvey had said. . . . He heard the clock strike the half hour again, and he dozed.

He did not hear them when they came in a little later. They did not speak for a moment; but he saw their shadows make a single silhouette against the curtains. Then May’s voice broke out, and Stephen warned her not to wake Andrew. They both laughed, quietly, a little awkwardly.

For a while each turned on the bunk on either side of Andrew; but his even breathing was undisturbed. The wind rose and riffled the water against the stern of the Eastern Belle, and the clock struck midnight, and finally the three slept.


They pulled out from the weighlock at six o’clock. Behind them the keeper of the lock stared sleepily at their wake and held the shuddering tails of his nightshirt down about his legs. A heavy mist lay on the water, which looked black a long the quays and reflected the lower parts of boats, the decks of which remained invisible. Shadows in the whiteness marked the entrances to streets. A delicious stillness hovered round them, imparting ghostliness to the smooth glide of the boat. It seemed to May upon the cabin deck that the world slipped by beneath them while they hung quiet as a cloud in a noonday sky. Only the plodding heave of the black team ahead and Andrew’s long stride connected them with earth.

As the horses moved out on to the open towpath, a breeze from the hills brought them the smell of meadows; trees rose up beside them now and then with a whispering of leaves and restless shapes. Looking behind her, May saw the lower houses appearing here and there, and a dull gold gleam on the water; but the mist still clung to the crest of the city. While she watched, she heard a stir upon the air; and the high crown of mist was filled with the sound of church bells ringing early Mass. A cow floundered out of a swale alongside the towpath, her big head glistening, a pocket of denser mist loitering about her horns. Cowbells echoed faintly from the hills; a dog barked; and a rooster crowed away off on her left. And all at once the glow on the water shot swiftly after the Eastern Belle and fell about May’s face; and as the mist lifted suddenly she saw that the sun was risen.

A little below her, on the small deck left for the steersman, Stephen stood, his brown shirt open over his chest, showing the smooth brown skin. He gave her his quick smile suddenly and cast a half-humorous glance ahead of them to where Andrew walked beside the black horses, hat in hand, with the new sunlight on his yellow hair.

‘He says he’s been telling you you been extravagant with them curtains and all.’

‘Eanh,’ said May with a slow smile.

He’ll probably give you some more talk every week. He was born kind of miserly; he can’t help it.’

He spoke with the consciousness of his own liberality strong upon him; he forgot that the preceding night’s entertainment had been borrowed.

He’s a kind of a sod,’ Stephen said. He likes to set quiet and let his roots grow down close. I’ll bet he set here on the boat all last night.’

May also glanced amusedly at Andrew and then looked back at Stephen, and they both laughed. Andrew heard them, for his head lifted quickly, but he walked on without turning.

‘There’s a package downstairs from Banton’s,’ said Stephen. ‘I got it yesterday; it’s for you. You’d better go and open it.’

She opened her eyes wide.

‘For me?’

He laughed again.

‘You better go see.’

She went into the cabin and sat down opposite the package. Her previous evening with Stephen had been a new experience to her. The crowded hall, the brilliance of the lanterns on the stage, the subdued murmuring of the crowd, at first had frightened her by their newness. But as she glanced round she perceived that Stephen was as handsome as any escort in the assemblage; when he leaned dose to her to whisper some remark, he looked almost beautiful; the reflection of the stage lighting just lit his soft eyes. Then she saw that men watched her as she moved, and it came upon her that she suited his looks; that the pair of them could match with any pair about them. Contrary to Stephen’s expectation, instead of making her dependent on him, the experience gave her native hardiness a sudden perspective and she found a reliance in her own judgment. She was fond of him already, he could see that; but she was not carried away. She had let him kiss her on their return, several times; and she had responded with a warmth she had never divined in herself; but at that point she had stopped him. Though she appreciated his beauty, it did not dominate her. Instead of her fearing him, her feeling was one of almost contemptuous friendliness. He might take liberties with her, but he could not claim her.

It was in this mood that she opened the package and unwrapped the nasturtium china set she coveted. A wave of pleasure swept her as the sun picked out the bright reds and greens and yellows against the white. She ranged the pieces on the table to admire their lines. There was a commodiousness about the belly of the teapot which transmitted through her hand, as she wiped away the shop dust, a comforting sense of establishment. She held it up in both hands and then poured herself imaginary tea into one of the cups. Her knowledge of china was limited to the ancestral assortment of odds and ends common to farmers’ houses. An entire set dazed her. She raised the empty cup to her lips.

Then she ran out on deck to thank Stephen. He held her with one arm, and in her delight she almost granted him the efficacy of his bribe, for she read it as such in his eyes.

‘There’s hardly room for all of it,’ she said.

‘It ought to go into the cupboard.’

‘The teapot won’t.’

‘Set it out by the clock.’

‘But there’s only room for Andrew’s Bible there.’

‘Set it somewheres else,’ he said.

She had longed for permission. She wanted the pot where she could see it continually. But as she turned to go down her eyes fell upon Andrew walking beside the team with his deliberate tread. The sight sobered her.

Andrew frightened her. Her instinct made her aware of a possible upheaval of his phlegmatic nature which would overwhelm her woman’s nice sense of balance. Stephen was more easily understood, his purpose being readable and reducing all consideration of him in a woman’s mind to the power of his beauty. Beyond his size and yellow hair, Andrew possessed no striking features; beside Stephen he resembled a somnolent great forest tree, unaffected by the surface breezes shivering the sapling, but terrible in the high winds. His blue eyes were not cold, but cool from lack of decision. His heavy face remained immobile, even in a fight, and was lighted only by a petty astuteness in money matters. She had had evidence of that already; he would give her no freedom. But at least she had a china set.

She placed the dishes in the cupboard, after hiding the former tin ones on a small shelf behind the stove, until she came to the teapot. This, as she had foreseen, would not fit in the cupboard, so she turned to the clock shelf. Andrew’s Bible was one of the large leather varieties, blooming with manycolored prints; there was no chance of wedging the teapot between it and the clock. She took it down, and her shoulder sagged as she felt the weight. The pages opened slightly to let a slip of paper flutter to the floor. Hastily she stooped to pick it up.

It was inevitable that her eye should fall upon the writing, and as inevitable that she should read it. The penciled hand was sprawly, but sufficiently legible. It was the receipt for a package from Banton’s, collect on delivery, made out to Andrew Glenn, signed by W. Ad. Joynt, agent. The date was of the preceding day. She went back to the wrappings of the parcel and turned them over until she found the letters C. O. D. It became evident to her then that, whoever had ordered the dishes, Andrew had paid for them.


They tied up for the night outside of Delta on the Boonville feeder. The town itself was a mile and a half back from the canal; but Denslow’s Delta House took the town’s place pretty well. It was a long rambling structure with odd wings growing out of the sides of a big square house of three stories, like whelps out of Scylla’s belly. At times they could give forth as much noise, and almost as unlovely. But in the off season the house stood very quiet, with lights only in the ground-floor centre windows, and a white whisper of smoke coming out of one corner of the great chimney.

They had come down from Boonville empty, and ahead of them when they tied up at the wharf was another boat as empty as their own. It was a late hour for supper, for the sun was set, and a cloudy sky made it seem later. But Andrew ate deliberately across the table from May. Stephen had gone up to the Delta House as soon as they landed.

Andrew glowered. Although an air of established comfort and neatness now pervaded the cabin of the Eastern Belle, it was evident that he and May were ill at ease. Harvey Cannywhacker’s advice had taken root in him, obsessed him, until he had approached May. He had asked her above Boonville, in the midst of the bleak hills in which he had been born, to go west with him. Slim and selfcontained, as she walked beside him on the towpath, she had told him no. She had had more than a taste of his parsimony, which, as a farmer’s child, she was born to understand, but which, in his present way of living, she found it hard to forgive. She had felt an unresistible impulse to hurt him, and she had given way to it. If she had expected an outward sign of pain, she was disappointed; and instantly she had regretted her weakness, remembering his unclaimed gift. He spoke nothing about himself, so that it was impossible for her to read any purpose in him.

Andrew had walked on beside the team and repeated her answer to himself. For his slow mind there had not been time for pain to sink in. He had asked her because a man, according to Harvey, ought to be married. He would not be hurt until he woke to the realization of being in love. At the moment it was another deal closed, as it happened, in his disfavor.

But the sight of her about his boat, and the feeling of her presence, made the idea of going to Ohio seem empty. That idea had run so supremely in his head that he had not realized his omission of a proposal of marriage. The two were synonymous ideas; and she had understood them so. But he had taken it for granted that her negative implied her attachment to Stephen. He could not know that a few hours afterward she had denied Stephen. Had he been informed of it, he would have refused to believe it. It was not in Stephen’s character to be denied.

He finished his tea from the new nasturtium cup and rose from the table. May glanced up at him with a peculiar veiled expression in her eyes.

‘They’re real pretty,’ she said, giving him an opening. ‘I like them a lot.’

He snorted.

‘ All puddery snick-snacks. It’s land counts in this land — land and stock. Building on the land and growing on to it’s what counts. You can’t make no progress in a chiney set.’

He reached for his hat.

‘Where’re you going?’

‘I got to find Stephen.’

He paused for a minute in the doorway and cast a long look over the cabin. It was this he would leave to go west — all of it pretty puddery, but he was growing to like it. But it was all puddery — he would go west. The horses forward stamped all at once. A big team — they ought to be pulling on a plough, not taking a square-ended boat back and forth between little nowheres. He looked at May — and she seemed to him very desirable there, sitting with her hands among the crockery dishes. She ought to be raising children. While he watched her, the color mounted to her face. His eyes fell on a small mirror across the cabin; and in it he saw the yellow of his hair, and his eyes clear blue, filling the small glass. He stooped to go out of the door, and he awoke to his own size; the boat had grown too small to hold him. As he came out on deck he heard the clock strike eight — clear notes, suddenly resonant on the night air.

There was a smell of frost in the night; the stars were beginning to show among the clouds; here and there they found reflections in the black water of the canal.

Andrew went over to the other boat and knocked on the cabin door; but no one answered him. He walked forward to the stable to look at the horses. It was inky dark there, and the horses shifted in their stalls at his unfamiliar smell. But he stepped in beside them and felt them over. They were heavy horses, as heavy as the black team, hard and in good condition — a trifle poor, perhaps. He knew the owner, Reuben Philmy, a little dazed man who wanted enough money to set up a little garden — a little garden! Andrew felt a quiver in the legs of the horse by which he stood, as if he, too, snorted at the thought.

When he came out on deck again, Andrew heard Philmy coming aboard.

‘Hello,’ said Andrew. ‘It’s me, Andrew Glenn.’

‘I thought that was your boat,’ said the other in a small, weak voice. ‘Hello, Andrew.’

‘I want to buy your boat,’ said Andrew.

They talked for a while in the starlight, and then Andrew reached into his pocket, and a little later he walked away toward the Delta House.

As he paused before the door, the moon, a full white moon, came out from the clouds, bringing a bright wind with it. He could see the white gleam of the plank road running straight away to Westernville, on the far side of the canal. Close at hand, it spanned the water over a bridge, the white rails of which arched from shore to shore like a web of silver mist. On this he heard now the thump of heels sounding with a tight, frosty ring; and presently a high unmusical whistle proceeded from the lips of the walker. In a few moments his humped shadow became visible, black against the gray-washed stillness of the roadside fields. Andrew went out to meet him.

‘ I guessed I might run into you here, Andrew.’

‘We just stopped for the night, Harvey.’

The peddler dumped his pack down and leaned back against the snake fence where the protruding crossed ends of the rails made a rest for his back.

‘Going on in the morning?' he asked.

‘Eanh — as far as Rome.’

‘Where’re you heading?’

‘West,’ said Andrew.

The peddler pushed his hat forward over his eyes and drew in his breath with a low whistle.

‘I bought Philmy’s boat and team,’ said Andrew.

‘Going alone?’


The cold breeze rustled the roadside grass.

‘A man ought to get married,’ said the peddler.

‘I reckon,’ Andrew said.

‘Did you ask her?’


‘ She said no.’


‘Why?’ Harvey asked.

‘I reckon she wants Stephen.’

‘She’s said no to him, too,’ said Harvey.

‘How’d you know that?’

‘He’s setting up the road a spell by himself.’

‘He’s tired of her,’ Andrew said.

‘He would n’t leave her with nobody else round to tag after. I’ll bet she’s turned him off.’

With his forefinger Andrew outlined the toe of his boot in the road where he squatted.

‘She’d make a good wife,’ said Harvey.

‘ I guess that’s so.’

‘What I think is,’ said Harvey, ‘that she wants a bit of both of you.’

Andrew was silent.

‘Either you take her or you don’t. One of you alone could take her in a minute.’

’I can’t leave Steve by himself,’ said Andrew. ’It ain’t right.’

‘You’ll have to if you’re going west, You’d better settle it between you right off if you ’re going to start west.’


‘You could do it a lot of ways — you could fight it out.’

‘Cripus! He would n’t stand no show.’

The peddler chuckled.

‘Well, you might draw lots.’

Andrew deliberated.

‘That’d be too sudden,’ he said after a while.

‘I got some cards.’ said the peddler. ‘I allus carry them.’


‘Well, you could mix ’em good and then draw off the top for the first queen.’

This protracted method appealed to Andrew.

‘That’s all right,’ he said.

In the act of pulling the cards out of his pocket, the peddler cocked his head.

At the same instant Stephen’s face appeared over the snake fence behind them.

‘What do you want to win for?’ he asked Andrew. ‘What good would that do you?’

Andrew hunched lower under the remark; he had not thought of that. For the first time he felt the pang at her refusal which had lain dormant in him.

Harvey cursed beneath his breath; then glanced up at Stephen. The moon shone in his small black eyes. He looked all at once like a crouched, inquisitive rat.

‘I don’t see as it ’ll help you an awful lot to win, either,’ he observed.

Stephen drew back, and his cheek darkened.

’If it was n’t for Andrew being round all the while, I’d have learned her already. Where are your damn cards?’

The peddler held them up.

‘I’ll mix,’ he said, and he did so, slipping the cards dexterously from one hand to the other with his nimble fingers, until, in the moonlight, they became a running thread, with a faint gleam now and then against their backs. Suddenly he offered them to Andrew, backs up, upon his palm.

‘Let him draw first,’said Andrew.

Stephen laughed.

‘Andy ’s scared.’

He took off the top card and held it slantwise against the moon.

‘Pip,’ he said.

Andrew drew and struck a match where he squatted and laid the card down by his feet. Stephen drew again; then Andrew. And again they laid down the cards.

Stephen took another card, quickly, and laughed as he turned it down. He seemed quite at ease and asked for one of Harvey’s cigars and borrowed Andrew’s last match to light it. Andrew drew and examined his card by the glow of the cigar end, the faint light just touching his nose and brows and the outer hairs of his beard. Stephen looked at the next card, and laughed again.

‘There! The damn black hussy. Tough luck, Andy.’

Andrew grunted.

He held his card close to the cigar — the two of clubs. Then he picked up the cards he had put down and handed them to Harvey.

Stephen vaulted over the fence.

‘It’s too bad, Andy,’ he said again. There was a note of genuine disappointment in his voice, and he added quite honestly, ‘We ’ll miss you.’

Andrew got slowly to his feet until he faced him.

‘Good-bye,’ he said. ‘You can have the boat.’

Then he hit him with his full strength on the side of the face. Stephen crumpled backward on his heels and stretched out, his fingers plucking at the dust.

‘Jeepers!’ Harvey whispered. ‘Jeepers Cripus!’

And his hand went unconsciously to his own jaw.

‘Jeepers!’ he said once more.

Andrew stared from his fist to Stephen and back again. He shook his head.

After a moment he reached over and picked Stephen up and slung him across his shoulders.

‘I’d better take him back,’ he said.

Harvey swung up his pack and they set off for the boats. As they went side by side their shadows looked like the shadows of twins.


‘Come on in,’ May said.

Harvey opened the door and Andrew bunted his way in and dropped Stephen in the rocking-chair. Then, as if to survey his work, he stood back and looked him over in the lamplight. Stephen’s skin was waxy, with an unpleasant yellow tinge beginning to show. The long lashes folded on his high cheeks might have been a woman’s, as might his slim-fingered hands. He lay back with a grotesque crumpledness in his arms and legs. On his waistcoat there was still a white spot made by his cigar ash.

May looked from him to Andrew with a wondering horror.

‘What’ve you been doing?’ she cried suddenly. ‘What’ve you done to him?’

Though she did not mind picking a flower herself, she could not bear to see one wilt under another’s hand.

Andrew gazed at his fist before answering her.

‘Why, I guess I hit him one.’

‘Jeepers!’ exclaimed Harvey. ‘I ’ll bet your neck!’


May got some water from the butt and began daubing Stephen’s face and neck. Andrew watched her for a moment. Then he turned heavily to Harvey.

‘I reckon I better start now. Will you steer me’s fur ’s Rome?’

‘Why, yes,’ Harvey said. ‘I reckon I might as well.’

May glanced up quickly.

‘Where ’re you going?’

‘West,’ said Andrew. He banged the cabin door after him.

Harvey started to pick up his pack; but before he could swing it up May caught his arm.

‘Tell me,’ she said breathlessly.

He looked at her with relish.

‘Why, you could n’t pick neither one of ’em, and Andrew would n’t let him have you while he was round, so they played for you with these-here cards,’ — he produced them as evidence, — ‘and Steve won, and Andrew busted him for it. He did it real handy.’

‘You know,’ he went on, reading her expression, ‘he’s liable to do that.’

He swung up his pack and opened the door. They heard the tump-tump of the horses coming down the gang of the boat ahead and a jangle of traces.

‘It’s a good boat, but I’ll bet it’s dirty,’ Harvey said.

’You stay here,’ said May. She ran out after Andrew and went aboard the other boat while he hitched the team to the eveners.

‘All right, Harvey,’ Andrew said, as he came back and pushed the gang back on deck.

‘All right,’ replied Harvey, from the bow of the Eastern Belle.

He grinned as the boat swung away from the wharf. In the pale light he saw May Friendly raise her arm to him. He waved back. The moon traced the wash from the stern as the boat went round a bend. He waited a few minutes longer.

‘Low bridge!’ he heard Andrew’s deep voice calling.

‘Lo-ow bridge!’ May’s voice faintly gave the steersman’s answer.

Harvey chuckled as he returned to the cabin. He sat down at the table and opened his pack and began rolling cigars.

‘One for a penny, a penny for one,’ he chanted. ' Built right and rolled tight, and warranted to drawr.’

Behind him Stephen moaned.

‘That you, Harvey?’ he asked weakly. ‘ Where’s Andy ? ’

‘I guess he woke up,’ said Harvey. ‘Them sleepy ones wake up once in a while.’

He sifted the filling on to a leaf.

‘It’s like something inside of them said, “Jeepers!”' he went on, ‘and they did n’t hear it for a while.’

‘Where’s May?’

Harvey chuckled.

‘She don’t seem to believe in cards,’ he replied. ‘By grab!’ he added. ' Durned if she did n’t wake up, too! ’

He licked his thumbs with relish and rolled the wrapping on tight.