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- Cape Cod Stories - 1/33 -


CAPE COD STORIES

ALSO PUBLISHED UNDER THE TITLE OF "THE OLD HOME HOUSE"

by

JOSEPH C. LINCOLN

CONTENTS

TWO PAIRS OF SHOES

THE COUNT AND THE MANAGER

THE SOUTH SHORE WEATHER BUREAU

THE DOG STAR

THE MARE AND THE MOTOR

THE MARK ON THE DOOR

THE LOVE OF LOBELIA 'ANKINS

THE MEANNESS OF ROSY

THE ANTIQUERS

HIS NATIVE HEATH

"JONESY"

THE "OLD HOME HOUSE"

TWO PAIRS OF SHOES

I don't exactly know why Cap'n Jonadab and me went to the post- office that night; we wa'n't expecting any mail, that's sartin. I guess likely we done it for the reason the feller that tumbled overboard went to the bottom--'twas the handiest place TO go.

Anyway we was there, and I was propping up the stove with my feet and holding down a chair with the rest of me, when Jonadab heaves alongside flying distress signals. He had an envelope in his starboard mitten, and, coming to anchor with a flop in the next chair, sets shifting the thing from one hand to the other as if it 'twas red hot.

I watched this performance for a spell, waiting for him to say something, but he didn't, so I hailed, kind of sarcastic, and says: "What you doing--playing solitaire? Which hand's ahead?"

He kind of woke up then, and passes the envelope over to me.

"Barzilla," he says, "what in time do you s'pose that is?"

'Twas a queer looking envelope, more'n the average length fore and aft, but kind of scant in the beam. There was a puddle of red sealing wax on the back of it with a "D" in the middle, and up in one corner was a kind of picture thing in colors, with some printing in a foreign language underneath it. I b'lieve 'twas what they call a "coat-of-arms," but it looked more like a patchwork comforter than it did like any coat ever _I_ see. The envelope was addressed to "Captain Jonadab Wixon, Orham, Mass."

I took my turn at twisting the thing around, and then I hands it back to Jonadab.

"I pass," I says. "Where'd you get it?"

"'Twas in my box," says he. "Must have come in to-night's mail."

I didn't know the mail was sorted, but when he says that I got up and went over and unlocked my box, just to show that I hadn't forgot how, and I swan to man if there wa'n't another envelope, just like Jonadab's, except that 'twas addressed to "Barzilla Wingate."

"Humph!" says I, coming back to the stove; "you ain't the only one that's heard from the Prince of Wales. Look here!"

He was the most surprised man, but one, on the Cape: I was the one. We couldn't make head nor tail of the business, and set there comparing the envelopes, and wondering who on earth had sent 'em. Pretty soon "Ily" Tucker heads over towards our moorings, and says he:

"What's troubling the ancient mariners?" he says.

"Barzilla and me's got a couple of letters," says Cap'n Jonadab; "and we was wondering who they was from."

Tucker leaned away down--he's always suffering from a rush of funniness to the face--and he whispers, awful solemn: "For heaven's sake, whatever you do, don't open 'em. You might find out." Then he threw off his main-hatch and "haw-hawed" like a loon.

To tell you the truth, we hadn't thought of opening 'em--not yet-- so that was kind of one on us, as you might say. But Jonadab ain't so slow but he can catch up with a hearse if the horses stop to drink, and he comes back quick.

"Ily," he says, looking troubled, "you ought to sew reef-points on your mouth. 'Tain't safe to open the whole of it on a windy night like this. First thing you know you'll carry away the top of your head."

Well, we felt consider'ble better after that--having held our own on the tack, so to speak--and we walked out of the post-office and up to my room in the Travellers' Rest, where we could be alone. Then we opened up the envelopes, both at the same time. Inside of each of 'em was another envelope, slick and smooth as a mack'rel's back, and inside of THAT was a letter, printed, but looking like the kind of writing that used to be in the copybook at school. It said that Ebenezer Dillaway begged the honor of our presence at the marriage of his daughter, Belle, to Peter Theodosius Brown, at Dillamead House, Cashmere-on-the-Hudson, February three, nineteen hundred and so forth.

We were surprised, of course, and pleased in one way, but in another we wa'n't real tickled to death. You see, 'twas a good while sence Jonadab and me had been to a wedding, and we know there'd be mostly young folks there and a good many big-bugs, we presumed likely, and 'twas going to cost consider'ble to get rigged--not to mention the price of passage, and one thing a' 'nother. But Ebenezer had took the trouble to write us, and so we felt 'twas our duty not to disappoint him, and especially Peter, who had done so much for us, managing the Old Home House.

The Old Home House was our summer hotel at Wellmouth Port. How me and Jonadab come to be in the summer boarding trade is another story and it's too long to tell now. We never would have been in it, anyway, I cal'late, if it hadn't been for Peter. He made a howling success of our first season and likewise helped himself along by getting engaged to the star boarder, rich old Dillaway's daughter--Ebenezer Dillaway, of the Consolidated Cash Stores.

Well, we see 'twas our duty to go, so we went. I had a new Sunday cutaway and light pants to go with it, so I figgered that I was pretty well found, but Cap'n Jonadab had to pry himself loose from considerable money, and every cent hurt as if 'twas nailed on. Then he had chilblains that winter, and all the way over in the Fall River boat he was fuming about them chilblains, and adding up on a piece of paper how much cash he'd spent.

We struck Cashmere-on-the-Hudson about three o'clock on the afternoon of the day of the wedding. 'Twas a little country kind of a town, smaller by a good deal than Orham, and so we cal'lated that perhaps after all, the affair wouldn't be so everlasting tony. But when we hove in sight of Dillamead--Ebenezer's place--we shortened sail and pretty nigh drew out of the race. 'Twas up on a high bank over the river, and the house itself was bigger than four Old Homes spliced together. It had a fair-sized township around it in the shape of land, with a high stone wall for trimming on the edges. There was trees, and places for flower-beds in summer, and the land knows what. We see right off that this was the real Cashmere-on-the-Hudson; the village folks were stranded on the flats--old Dillaway filled the whole ship channel.

"Well," I says to Jonadab, "it looks to me as if we was getting out of soundings. What do you say to coming about and making a quick run for Orham again?"

But he wouldn't hear of it. "S'pose I've spent all that money on duds for nothing?" he says. "No, sir, by thunder! I ain't scared of Peter Brown, nor her that's going to be his wife; and I ain't scared of Ebenezer neither; no matter if he does live in the Manufacturers' Building, with two or three thousand fathom of front fence," he says.

Some years ago Jonadab got reckless and went on a cut-rate excursion to the World's Fair out in Chicago, and ever sence then he's been comparing things with the "Manufacturers' Building" or the "Palace of Agriculture" or "Streets of Cairo," or some other outlandish place.

"All right," says I. "Darn the torpedoes! Keep her as she is! You can fire when ready, Gridley!"

So we sot sail for what we jedged was Ebenezer's front-gate, and just as we made it, a man comes whistling round the bend in the path, and I'm blessed if 'twa'n't Peter T. Brown. He was rigged to kill, as usual, only more so.

"Hello, Peter!" I says. "Here we be."


Cape Cod Stories - 1/33

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