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- Cap'n Dan's Daughter - 1/65 -


CAP'N DAN'S DAUGHTER

by

JOSEPH C. LINCOLN

1914

CAP'N DAN'S DAUGHTER

CHAPTER I

The Metropolitan Dry Goods and Variety Store at Trumet Centre was open for business. Sam Bartlett, the boy whose duty it was to take down the shutters, sweep out, dust, and wait upon early-bird customers, had performed the first three of these tasks and gone home for breakfast. The reason he had not performed the fourth-- the waiting upon customers--was simple enough; there had been no customers to wait upon. The Metropolitan Dry Goods and Variety Store was open and ready for business--but, unfortunately, there was no business.

There should have been. This was August, the season of the year when, if ever, Trumet shopkeepers should be beaming across their counters at the city visitor, male or female, and telling him or her, that "white duck hats are all the go this summer," or "there's nothin' better than an oilskin coat for sailin' cruises or picnics." Outing shirts and yachting caps, fancy stationery, post cards, and chocolates should be changing hands at a great rate and the showcase, containing the nicked blue plates and cracked teapots, the battered candlesticks and tarnished pewters, "genuine antiques," should be opened at frequent intervals for the inspection of bargain-seeking mothers and their daughters. July and August are the Cape Cod harvest months; if the single-entry ledgers of Trumet's business men do not show good-sized profits during that season they are not likely to do so the rest of the year.

Captain Daniel Dott, proprietor of the Metropolitan Store, bending over his own ledger spread on the little desk by the window at the rear of his establishment, was realizing this fact, realizing it with a sinking heart and a sense of hopeless discouragement. The summer was almost over; September was only three days off; in another fortnight the hotels would be closed, the boarding houses would be closing, and Trumet, deserted by its money spending visitors, would be falling asleep, relapsing into its autumn and winter hibernation. And the Dott ledger, instead of showing a profit of a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, as it had the first summer after Daniel bought the business, showed but a meager three hundred and fifty, over and above expenses.

Through the window the sun was shining brightly. From the road in front of the store--Trumet's "Main Street"--came the rattle of wheels and the sound of laughter and conversation in youthful voices. The sounds drew nearer. Someone shouted "Whoa!" Daniel Dott, a ray of hope illuminating his soul at the prospect of a customer, rose hurriedly from his seat by the desk and hastened out into the shop.

A big two-horsed vehicle, the "barge" from the Manonquit House, had stopped before the door. It was filled with a gay crowd, youths and maidens from the hotel, dressed in spotless flannels and "blazers," all talking at once, and evidently carefree and happy. Two of the masculine members of the party descended from the "barge" and entered the store. Daniel, smiling his sweetest, stepped forward to meet them.

"Good mornin', good mornin'," he said. "A fine mornin', ain't it?"

The greeting was acknowledged by both of the young fellows, and one of them added that it was a fine morning, indeed.

"Don't know as I ever saw a finer," observed Daniel. "Off on a cruise somewhere, I presume likely; hey?"

"Picnic down at the Point."

"Well, you've got picnic weather, all right. Yes sir, you have!"

Comment concerning the weather is the inevitable preliminary to all commercial transactions in Trumet. Now, preliminaries being over, Daniel waited hopefully for what was to follow. His hopes were dashed.

"Is--is Miss Dott about?" inquired one of the callers.

"Miss Dott? Oh, Gertie! No, she ain't. She's gone down street somewheres. Be back pretty soon, I shouldn't wonder."

"Humph! Well, I'm afraid we can't wait. We hoped she might go with us on the picnic. We--er--we wanted her very much."

"That so? I'm sorry, but I'm afraid she couldn't go, even if she was here. You see, it's her last day at home, and--we--her mother and I--that is, I don't believe she'd want to leave us to-day."

"No; no, of course not. Well, tell her we wish she might have come, but we understand. Yes, yes," in answer to the calls from the "barge," "we're coming. Well, good by, Captain Dott."

"Er--good by. Er--er--don't want anything to take along, do you? A nice box of candy, or--or anything?"

"No, I think not. We stopped at the Emporium just now, and loaded up with candy enough to last a week. Good morning."

"How are you fixed for sun hats and things? I've got a nice line of hats and--well, good by."

"Good by."

The "barge" moved off. Daniel, standing dejectedly in the door, remembered his manners.

"Hope you have a nice time," he shouted. Then he turned and moved disconsolately back to the desk. He might have expected it. It was thus in nine cases out of ten. The Emporium, Mr. J. Cohen, proprietor, was his undoing in this instance as in so many others. The Emporium got the trade and he got the good bys. Mr. Cohen was not an old resident, as he was; Mr. Cohen's daughter was not invited to picnics by the summer people; Mrs. Cohen was not head of the sewing circle and the Chapter of the Ladies of Honor, and prominent socially, as was Mrs. Dott; but Mr. Cohen bought cheap and sold cheap, and the Emporium flourished like a green bay tree, while the Metropolitan Store was rapidly going to seed. Daniel, looking out through the front window at the blue sea in the distance, thought of the past, of the days when, as commander and part owner of the three masted schooner Bluebird, he had been free and prosperous and happy. Then he considered the future, which was bluer than the sea, and sighed again. Why had he not been content to stick to the profession he understood, to remain on the salt water he loved; instead of retiring from the sea to live on dry land and squander his small fortune in a business for which he was entirely unfitted?

And yet the answer was simple enough. Mrs. Dott--Mrs. Serena Dott, his wife--was the answer, she and her social aspirations. It was Serena who had coaxed him into giving up seafaring; who had said that it was a shame for him to waste his life ordering foremast hands about when he might be one of the leading citizens in his native town. It was Serena who had persuaded him to invest the larger part of his savings in the Metropolitan Store. Serena, who had insisted that Gertrude, their daughter and only child, should leave home to attend the fashionable and expensive seminary near Boston. Serena who--but there! it was all Serena; and had been ever since they were married. Captain Daniel, on board his schooner, was a man whose word was law. On shore, he was law abiding, and his words were few.

The side door of the store--that leading to the yard separating it from the Dott homestead--opened, and Azuba Ginn appeared. Azuba had been the Dott maid of all work for eighteen years, ever since Gertrude was a baby. She was married, but her husband, Laban Ginn, was mate on a steam freighter running between New York and almost anywhere, and his shore leaves were short and infrequent. Theirs was a curious sort of married life. "We is kind of independent, Labe and me," said Azuba. "He often says to me--that is, as often as we're together, which ain't often--he says to me, he says, 'Live where you want to, Zuby,' he says, 'and if you want to move, move! When I get ashore I can hunt you up.' We don't write many letters because time each get t'other's, the news is so plaguey old 'tain't news at all. You Dotts seem more like home folks to me than anybody else, so I stick to you. I presume likely I shall till I die."

Azuba entered the store in the way in which she did most things, with a flurry and a slam. Her sleeves were rolled up, she wore an apron, and one hand dripped suds, demonstrating that it had just been taken from the dishpan. In the other, wiped more or less dry on the apron, she held a crumpled envelope.

"Well!" she exclaimed, excitedly. "If some human bein's don't beat the Dutch then _I_ don't know, that's all. If the way some folks go slip-slop, hit or miss, through this world ain't a caution then-- Tut! tut! tut! don't talk to ME!"

Captain Dan looked up from the ledger.

"What?" he asked absently.

"I say, don't talk to ME!"

"We--ll," with deliberation, "I guess I shan't, unless you stop talkin' yourself, and give me a chance. What's the matter now, Zuba?"

"Matter! Don't talk to ME! Carelessness is the matter! Slip- sloppiness is the matter! Here's a man that calls himself a man and goes mopin' around pretendin' to BE a man, and what does he


Cap'n Dan's Daughter - 1/65

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