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- Cap'n Eri - 1/51 -


CAP'N ERI

by Joseph Lincoln

CONTENTS

I. A LAMB FOR THE SACRIFICE

II. THE TRAIN COMES IN

III. THE "COME-OUTERS'" MEETING

IV. A PICTURE SENT AND A CABLE TESTED

V. THE WOMAN FROM NANTUCKET

VI. THE SCHOOLHOUSE BELL RINGS

VII. CAPTAIN ERI FINDS A NURSE

VIII. HOUSEKEEPER AND BOOK AGENT

IX. ELSIE PRESTON

X. MATCHMAKING AND LIFE-SAVING

XI. HEROES AND A MYSTERY

XII. A LITTLE POLITICS

XIII. CAPTAIN JERRY MAKES A MESS OF IT

XIV. THE VOYAGE OF AN "ABLE SEAMAN"

XV. IN JOHN BAXTER'S ROOM

XVI. A BUSINESS CALL

XVII. THROUGH FIRE AND WATER

XVIII. THE SINS OF CAPTAIN JERRY

XIX. A "NO'THEASTER" BLOWS

XX. ERI GOES BACK ON A FRIEND

XXI. "DIME-SHOW BUS'NESS"

CAP'N ERI

CHAPTER I

A LAMB FOR THE SACRIFICE

"Perez," observed Captain Eri cheerfully, "I'm tryin' to average up with the mistakes of Providence."

The Captain was seated by the open door of the dining room, in the rocker with the patched cane seat. He was apparently very busy doing something with a piece of fishline and a pair of long-legged rubber boots. Captain Perez, swinging back and forth in the parlor rocker with the patch-work cushion, was puffing deliberately at a wooden pipe, the bowl of which was carved into the likeness of a very rakish damsel with a sailor's cap set upon the side of her once flaxen head. In response to his companion's remark he lazily turned his sunburned face toward the cane-seated rocker and inquired:

"What on airth are you doin' with them boots?"

Captain Eri tied a knot with his fingers and teeth and then held the boots out at arm's length.

"Why, Perez," he said, "I'm averagin' up, same as I told you. Providence made me a two-legged critter, and a two-legged critter needs two boots. I've always been able to find one of these boots right off whenever I wanted it, but it's took me so plaguey long to find the other one that whatever wet there was dried up afore I got out of the house. Yesterday when I wanted to go clammin' I found the left one on the mantelpiece, no trouble at all, but it was pretty nigh high water before I dug the other one out of the washb'iler. That's why I'm splicin' 'em together this way. I don't want to promise nothin' rash, but I'm in hopes that even Jerry can't lose 'em now."

"Humph!" grunted Captain Perez. "I don't think much of that plan. 'Stead of losin' one you'll lose both of 'em."

"Yes, but then I shan't care. If there ain't NO boots in sight; I'll go barefoot or stay at home. It's the kind of responsibleness that goes with havin' one boot that's wearin' me out. Where IS Jerry?"

"He went out to feed Lorenzo. I heard him callin' a minute ago. That cat ain't been home sence noon, and Jerry's worried."

A stentorian shout of "Puss! puss! Come, kitty, kitty, kitty!" came from somewhere outside. Captain Eri smiled.

"I'm 'fraid Lorenzo's gittin' dissipated in his old age," he observed. Then, as a fat gray cat shot past the door, "There he is! Reg'lar prodigal son. Comes home when the fatted ca'f's ready."

A moment later Captain Jerry appeared, milk pitcher in hand. He entered the dining room and, putting the pitcher down on the table, pulled forward the armchair with the painted sunset on the back, produced his own pipe, and proceeded to hunt through one pocket after the other with a troubled expression of countenance.

"Where in tunket is my terbacker?" he asked, after finishing the round of pockets and preparing to begin all over again.

"I see it on the top of the clock a spell ago," said Captain Perez.

"Was that yours, Jerry?" exclaimed Captain Eri. "Well, that's too bad! I see it there and thought 'twas mine. Here 'tis, or what's left of it."

Captain Jerry took the remnant of a plug from his friend and said in an aggrieved tone:

"That's jest like you, Eri! Never have a place for nothin' and help yourself to anything you happen to want, don't make no odds whose 'tis. Why don't you take care of your terbacker, same's I do of mine?"

"Now see here, Jerry! I ain't so sure that is yours. Let me see it. Humph! I thought so! This is 'Navy Plug' and you always smoke 'Sailor's Sweetheart.' Talk about havin' a place for things!"

"That's MY terbacker, if you want to know," observed Captain Perez. "I've got yours, Eri. Here 'tis."

"Well, then, where IS mine?" said Captain Jerry somewhat snappishly.

"Bet a dollar you've got it in your pocket," said Captain Eri.

"Bet ten dollars I ain't! I ain't quite a fool yit, Eri Hedge. I guess I know--well, I snum! I forgot that upper vest pocket!" and from the pocket mentioned Captain Jerry produced the missing tobacco.

There was a general laugh, in which Captain Jerry was obliged to join, and the trio smoked in silence for a time, while the expanse of water to the eastward darkened, and the outer beach became but a dusky streak separating the ocean from the inner bay. At length Captain Perez rose and, knocking the ashes from his pipe, announced that he was going to "show a glim."

"Yes, go ahead, Jerry!" said Captain Eri, "it's gittin' dark."

"It's darker in the grave," observed Captain Perez with lugubrious philosophy.

"Then for the land's sake let's have it light while we can! Here, Jerry! them matches is burnt ones. Try this, 'twon't be so damagin' to the morals."

Captain Jerry took the proffered match and lit the two bracket lamps, fastened to the walls of the dining room. The room, seen by the lamplight, was shiplike, but as decidedly not shipshape. The chronometer on the mantel was obscured by a thick layer of dust. The three gorgeous oil paintings--from the brush of the local sign painter--respectively representing the coasting packet Hannah M., Eri Hedge, Master, and the fishing schooners, Georgie Baker, Jeremiah Burgess, Master, and the Flying Duck, Perez Ryder, Master, were shrouded in a very realistic fog of the same dust. Even the imposing gilt-lettered set of "Lives of Great Naval Commanders," purchased by Captain Perez some months before, and being slowly paid for on an apparently never-ending installment plan, was cloaked with it. The heap of newspapers, shoved under the couch to get them out of the way, peeped forth in a tell-tale manner. The windows were not too clean and the floor needed sweeping. Incidentally the supper table had not been cleared. Each one of the three noted these things and each sighed. Then Captain Eri said, as if to change the subject, though no one had spoken:

"What started you talkin' about the grave, Perez? Was it them clam fritters of Jerry's?"

"No," answered the ex-skipper of the Flying Duck, pulling at his grizzled scrap of throat whisker and looking rather shamefaced. "You see, M'lissy Busteed dropped in a few minutes this mornin' while you fellers was out and--"

Both Captain Eri and Captain Jerry set up a hilarious shout.

"Haw! haw!" roared the former, slapping his knee. "I wouldn't be so fascinatin' as you be for no money, Perez. She'll have you yit; you can't git away! But say, I don't wonder you got to thinkin'


Cap'n Eri - 1/51

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