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Joseph C. Lincoln bibliography
posted May 2005
from Everybody's Magazine vol. 22, pages 60-69. July 1910.
New York: Ridgway Co.
THE WAY OF BUSINESS
By JOSEPH C. LINCOLN
Author of " Keziah Coffin," " Cy Whittaker's Place," etc.
Illustrations by Martin Justice
T had got to be the reg'-lar thing, as you might say, and, though we didn't charge nothin' for it —which was next door to sacreligion at the Old Home House—'twas one of the most popular amusements on the male boarders' program that particular fortni't in August.
Take it of a dull day, for instance. Sky overcast and the wind aidgin' round to the sou'east, so's you couldn't tell whether 'twould rain or fair off; too cold to go off to the ledge cod-fishin' and too hot for billiards or bowlin'; a bunch of the younger womenfolks at one end of the piazza playin' bridge; half a dozen men, includin' me and Cap'n Jonadab, smokin' and tryin' to keep awake at t'other end; amidships a gang of females, mainly widows or discards in the matrimony deal, doin' fancy work and gossip. That would be about the usual layout.
Conversation got to you in homeopath doses, somethin' like this:
"Did you say 'Spades'? Well! if I'd known you were going to make us lose our deal like that, I'd never'd have bridged it— not with this hand."
"Oh, Miss Gabble, have you heard what people are sayin' about"—? The rest of it whispers.
"A—oo—owl By George, Bill! this is dead enough, isn't it? Shall we match for the cigars or are you too lazy ? "
Then, from away off in the stillness would come a drawn-out "Honk! honk!" like a wild goose with the asthma, and pretty soon up the road would come sailin' a big red automobile, loaded to the guards with goggles and grandeur, and whiz past the hotel in a hurricane of dust and smell. Then all hands would set up and look interested, and Bill would wink acrost at his chum and drawl:
"That's the way to get over the country! Why, a horse isn't one—two—three with that! Cap'n Wixon, I'm surprised that a sportin' man like you hasn't bought one of those things long afore this."
For the next twenty minutes there wouldn't be any dullness. Jonadab would take care of that. He'd have the floor and be givin' his opinions of autos and them that owned and run 'em. And between the drops of his language shower you'd see them boarders nudg-in' each other and rockin' back and forth contented and joyful.
It always worked. No matter what time of day or night, all you had to say was "auto" and Cap'n Jonadab would sail up out of his chair like one of them hot-air balloons the youngsters nowadays have on Fourth of July. And he wouldn't come down till he was empty of remarks, nuther. You never see a man get so red-faced and eloquent.
It wa'n't because he couldn't afford one himself. I know that's the usual reason for them kind of ascensions, but 'twa'n't his. No sir! the summer hotel business had put a considerable number of dollars in Jonadab's hands, and the said hands was like a patent rat-trap, a mighty sight easier to get into than out of. He could have bought three automobiles if he'd wanted to, but he didn't want to. And the reason he didn't was named Tobias Loveland and lived over to Orham.
Tobias and Cap'n Jonadab never did hitch, anyhow. When they was boys together at school they was always rowin' and fightin', and when they grew up to be thirty and courted the same girl—ten years younger than either of 'em, she was—'twa'n't much better. Neither of 'em got her, as a matter of fact; she married a tin peddler named Bassett over to Hyannis. But both cal'lated they would have won if t'other hadn't been in the race, and consequently they loved each other with a love that passed understandin'. Tobias had got well-to-do in the cranberry-raisin' line and drove a fast horse. Jonadab, durin' the last prosperous year or two, had bought what he thought was some horse, likewise. They met on the road one day and trotted alongside one another for a mile. At the end of that mile Jonadab's craft's jib-boom was just astern of Tobias's rudder. Inside of that week the cap'n had swapped his horse for one with a two-thirty record, and the next time they met Tobias was left with a beautiful, but dusty, view of Jonadab's back hair. So he bought a new horse. And that was the beginnin'.
It went alone; that way for eighteen months. Fust one feller's nag would come home freighted with perspiration and glory, and then t'other's. One week Jonadab would be so bloated with horse pride that he couldn't find room for his vittles, and the next he'd be out in the stable growlin' 'cause it cost so much for hay to stuff an old hide-rack that wa'n't fit to put in a museum. At last it got so that neither one could find a better horse on the Cape, and the two they had was practically an even match. I begun to have hopes that the foolishness was over. And then the tin peddler's widow drifts in to upset the whole calabash.
She made port at Orham fust, this Henrietta Bassett did, and the style she slung killed every female Goliath in the Orham sewin' circle dead. Seems her husband that was had been an inventor, as a sort of side line to ped-dlin' tinware, and all to once he invented somethin' that worked. He made money— nobody knew how much, though all hands had a guess—and pretty soon afterwards he made a will and Henrietta a widow. She'd been livin' in New York, so she said, and had come back to revisit the scenes of her childhood. She was a mighty well-preserved woman—artificial preservatives, I cal'late, like some kinds of tomatter ketchup—and her comin' stirred Orham way down to the burnt places on the bottom of the kettle.
The news of her got over to Wellmouth, and me and Jonadab heard of it. He was some subject to widows—most widower men are, I guess—but he didn't develop no alarmin' symptoms in this case and never even hinted that he'd like to see his old girl. Fact is, his newest horse trade had showed that it was afraid of automobiles, and he was beginnin' to get rabid along that line. Then come that afternoon when him and me was out drivin' together and we— Well, I'll have to tell you about that.
We was over on the long stretch of wood road between Trumet and Denboro, nice hard macadam, the mare—her name was "Celia," but Jonadab had re-christened her "Bay Queen" after a boat he used to own— skimmin' along at a smooth, easy gait, when, lo and behold you! we rounds a turn and there ahead of us is a light, rubber-tired wagon with a man and woman on the seat of it. I heard Jonadab give a kind of snort.
"What's the matter?" says I.
"Nothin'," says he, between his teeth. "Only, if I ain't some mistaken, that's Tobe Loveland's rig. Wonder if he's got his spunk with him? The Queen's feelin' her oats to-day, and I cal'late I can show him a few things."
"Rubbish!" says I, disgusted. "Don't be foolish, Jonadab. I don't know nothin' about his spunk, but I do know there's a woman with him. 'Tain't likely he'll want to race youwhen he'sgot a passenger aboard."
"Oh, I don't know!" says he. "I've got you, Barzilla; so 'twill be two and two. Let's heave alongside and see."
So he clucked to the "Queen," and in a jiffy we was right astern of t'other rig. Loveland looked back over his shoulder.
"Ugh!" he grunts, 'bout as cordial as a plate of ice cream, "'lo, Wixon! that you?"
"Um-hm," begins Jonadab. "How's that crowbait of yours to-day, Tobe ? Got any go in him? 'Cause if he has, I——"
He stopped short. The woman in Love-land's carriage had turned her head and was starin' hard.
"Why!" she gasps. "I do believe— Why, Jonadab!" "
"Hettie!" says the Cap'n.
"Well, after that 'twas pull up, of course, and shake hands .and talk. The widow, she done most of the talkin'. She was .so glad to see him. How had he been all these years? She knew him instantly. He hadn't changed a mite—that is, not so very much. She was plannin' to come over to the Old Home House and stay a spell later on; but now she was havin' such a good time in Orham. Tobias —Mr. Loveland—was makin' it so pleasant for her. She did enjoy drivin' so much, and Mr. Loveland had the fastest horse in the county—did we know that?
Tobias and Jonadab glowered back and forth while all this gush was bein' turned loose, and hardly spoke to one another. But when 'twas over and we was ready to start again, the cap'n says, says he:
"I'll be mighty glad to see you over to the hotel, when you're ready to come, Hettie. I can take you ridin', too. Fur's horse goes, I've got a pretty good one myself."
"Oh!" squeals the widow. "Reallv? Is that him? It's awful pretty, and he looks fast."
"She is," says Jonadab. "There's nothin' round here can beat her."
"Humph!" says Loveland. "Git dap!"
"Git dap!" says Jonadab, agreein' with him for once.
Tobias started, and we started. Tobias makes his horse go a little faster, and Jonadab speeded up some likewise. I see how 'twas goin' to be, and therefore I wa'n t surprised to death when the next ten minutes found us sizzlin' down that road, neck and neck with Loveland, dust flyin', hoofs pound-in', and the two drivers leanin' way for'ard over the dash, reins gripped and teeth sot. For a little ways 'twas an even thing, and then we commenced to pull ahead a little.
"Loveland," yells Jonadab, out of the port corner of his mouth, "if I ain't showin' you my tailboard by the time we pass the fust house in Denboro, I'll eat my Sunday hat."
I cal'late he would 'a' beat, too. We was drawin' ahead all the time and had a three-quarter length lead when we swung clear of the woods and sighted Denboro village, quarter of a mile away. And up the road comes flyin' a big auto, goin' to beat the cars.
Let's forget the next few minutes; they wa'n't pleasant ones for me. Soon's the "Bay Queen" sot eyes on that auto, she stopped trottin' and commenced to hop; from hoppin' she changed to waltzin' and high jumpin'. When the smoke had cleared, the auto was out of sight and we was in the bushes alongside the road, with the "Queen" just gettin' ready to climb a tree. As for Tobias and Henrietta, they was roundin' the turn by the fust house in Denboro, wavin' by-bys to us over the back of the seat.
We went home then; and every foot of the way Cap'n Jonadab called an automobile a new kind of name, and none complimentary. The boarders, they got wind of what had happened and begun to rag him, and the more they ragged the madder he got and the more down on autos.
And, to put a head on the whole business, I'm blessed if Tobias Loveland didn't get in with an automobile agent who was stoppin' in Orham and buy a fifteen-hundred-dollar machine off him. And the very next time Tonadab was out with the "Queen" on the Denboro road, Tobias and the widow whizzed past him in that car so fast he might as well have been hove to. And, by way of rubbin' it in, thev come along back pretty soon and rolled alongside of him easy, while Henrietta gushed about Mr. Loveland's beautiful car and how nice it was to be able to go just as swift as you wanted to. Jonadab couldn't answer back, nuther, bein' too busy keepin' the "Queen" from turnin' herself into a flyin' machine.
'Twas durin' the followin' week that he got himself swore in special constable to arrest
"THE WIDOW.—SHE DONE MOST OF THE TALKIN'."
auto drivers for over-speedin.'; and for days he wandered round layin' for a chance to haul up Tobias and get him fined. He'd have had plenty of game if he'd been satisfied with strangers, but he didn't want them anyhow, and, besides, most of 'em was on their way to spend money at the Old Home House. 'Twould have been poor business to let any of that cash go for fines, and he realized it.
'Twas in early September that the widow come to our hotel. I never thought she meant it when she said she was comin', and so I didn't expect her. Fact is, I was expectin' to hear that she and Tobe Loveland was married or engaged. But there was a slip-up somewheres, for all to once the depot wagon brings her to the Old Home House, she hires a room, and settles down to stay till the season closed, which would be in about a fortn't.
From the very fust she played her cards for Jonadab. He meant to be middlin' average frosty to her, I imagine—her bein' so thick with Tobias prejudiced him, I presume likely. But land sakes! she thawed him out like hot toddy thaws out some folks's tongues. She never took no notice of his coolness, but smiled and gushed and flattered, and looked her prettiest—which was more'n average, considerin' her age—and by the end of the third day he was hangin' round her like a cat round a cook.
It commenced to look serious to me. Jonadab was a pretty old fish to be caught with soft soap and a set of false crimps; but you can't never tell. When them old kind do bite, they gener'lly swallow hook and sinker, and he sartinly did act hungry. I wished more'n once that Peter T. Brown, our business manager, was aboard to help me with advice, but Peter was off tourin' the Yosemite with his wife and her relations, so whatever pilotin' there was I had to do. And every day fetched Jonadab's bows nigher the matrimonial rocks.
I'd about made up my mind to sound the fog horn by askin' him straight out what he was cal'latin' to do; but somethin' I heard one evenin', as I set alone in the hotel office, made me think I'd better wait a spell.
The office window was open and the curtain drawed down tight. I was settin' inside, smokin' and goin' over the situation, when footsteps sounded on the piazza and a couple come to anchor on the settee right by that window. Cap'n Jonadab and Henrietta! I sensed that immediate.She was laughin' and actin' kind of queer, and he was talkin' mighty earnest.
"Oh no, Cap'n! Oh no!" she giggles. "You mustn't be so serious on such a beautiful night as this. Let's talk about the moon."
"Drat the moon!" says Jonadab. "Hettie, I——"
"Oh, just see how beautiful the water looks! All shiny and——"
"Drat the water, too! Hettie, what's the reason you don't want to talk serious with me ? If that Tobe Loveland——"
"Really, I don't see why you bring Mr. Loveland's name into the conversation. He is a perfect gentleman, generous and kind; and as for the way in which he runs that lovely car of his——"
The cap'n interrupted her. He ripped out somethin' emphatic.
"Generous!" he snarls. "'Bout as generous as a hog in the feed trough, he is. And as for runnin' that pesky auto, if I'd demean myself to own one of them things I'll bet my other suit I could run it better'n he does. If I couldn't, I'd tie myself to the anchor and jump overboard."
The way she answered showed pretty plain that she didn't believe him. "Really ? " she says. "Do you think so? Good night, Jonadab."
I could hear her walkin' off acrost the piazza. He went after her. "Hettie," he says, "you answer me one thing. Are you engaged to Tobe Loveland?"
She laughed again, sort of teasin' and slow. "Really," says she, "you are— Why, no, I'm not."
That was all, but it set me to thinkin' hard. She wa'n't engaged to Loveland; she said so, herself. And yet, if she wanted Jonadab she was actin' mighty funny. I ain't had no experience, but it seemed to me that then was the time to bag him and she'd put him off on purpose. She was ages too ancient to be a flirt for the fun of it. What was her game ?
Two days after this we went auto ridin'. The widow and me—yes, I'm tellin' the honest truth—and Cap'n Jonadab. 'Twas Henry G. Bradbury that took us out, him and his bran-new big tourin' car. You see, he landed to board with us a little while after Henrietta come—this Henry G. did—and he was so quiet and easy-spoken and run his car so slow that even a pizen auto-hater like Jonadab couldn't take much offense at him. He wa'n't very well, he said, subject to some kind
WAVIN ' BY-BYS TO US OVER THE BACK OF THE SEAT.
of heart attacks, and had come to the Old Home for rest.
Him and the cap'n had great arguments about the sins of automobilin'. Jonadab was sot on the idee that nine folks out of ten hadn't machine sense enough to run a car. Bradbury, he declared that that was a fact with the majority of autos, but not with his. "Why, a child could run it," says he. "Look here, Cap'n: To start it you just do this. To stop it you do so and so. To make her go slow you haul back on this lever. To make her go faster you shove down this one. And as for steerin'—well, a man that's handled the wheels of as many catboats as you have would simply have a picnic. I'm in entire sympathy with your feelin's against speeders and such—I'd be a constable if I was in your shoes—but this is a gentleman's car and runs like one."
All Jonadab said was "Bosh!" and "Humph!" but he couldn't help actin' interested, particular as Mrs. Bassett kept him alongside of the machine and was so turrible interested herself. And when, this partic'lar afternoon, Henry G. invites us all to go out with him for a little "roll around," the widow was so tickled and insisted so that he just had to go; he didn't dast say no.
Somehow or 'nother—I ain't just sure yet how it happened—the seatin' arrangements was made like this: Jonadab and Bradbury on the front seat, and me and Henrietta in the stuffed cockpit astern. We rolled out and purred along the road, smooth as a cat trot-tin' to dinner. No speedin', no joltin', no nothin'. 'Twas a "gentleman's car"; there wa'n't no doubt about that.
We went way over to Bayport and Harniss and beyond. And all the time Bradbury kept p'intin' out the different levers to Jonadab and tellin' him how to work 'em. Finally, after we'd headed back, he asked Jonadab to take the wheel and steer her a spell. Said his heart was feelin' sort of mean and 'twould do him good to rest.
Jonadab said no, emphatic and more'n average ugly, but Henry G. kept beggin' and pleadin', and pretty soon the widow put in her oar. He must do it, to please her. He had said he could do it—had told her so—and now he must make good. Why, when Mr. Loveland——
"All right," snarls Jonadab. "I'll try. But if ever——"
"Hold on!" says I. "Here's where I get out."
However, they wouldn't let me, and the cap'n took the wheel. His jaw was set and his hands shakin', but he done it. Hettie had give her orders and she was skipper.
For a consider'ble spell we just crawled. Jonadab was steerin' less crooked every minute and it tickled him; you could see that.
"Answers her hellum tiptop, don't she?" he says.
"Bet your life!" says Bradbury. "Better put on a little more speed, hadn't we?"
He put it on himself, afore the new pilot could stop him, and we commenced to move.
"When you want to make her jump," he says, "you press down on that with your foot, and you shove the spark back."
"Shut up!" howls Jonadab. "Belay! Don't you dast to touch that. I'm scart to death as 'tis. Here! you take this wheel."
But he wouldn't, and we went on at a good clip. For a green hand the cap'n was leavin' a pretty straight wake.
"Gosh!" he says, after a spell; "I b'lieve I'm kind of gettin' the hang of the craft."
"Course you are," says Bradbury. "I told— Oh!"
He straightens up, grabs at his vest, and slumps down against the back of the seat.
"What is it?" screams the widow. "Oh, what is it, Mr. Bradbury?"
He answers, plucky, but toler'ble faint-like. "My heart!" he gasps. "I—I'm afraid I'm goin' to have one of my attacks. I must get to a doctor quick."
"Doctor!" I sings out. "Great land of love! there ain't a doctor nigher than Harniss, and that's four mile astern."
"Never mind," cries the Bassett woman. "We must go there, then. Turn around, Jonadab! Turn around at once! Mr. Bradbury——"
But poor Henry G. was curled up against the cushions and we couldn't get nothin' out of him but groans. And all the time we was sailin' along up the road.
"Turn around, Jonadab!" orders Henrietta. "Turn around and go for the doctor!"
Jonadab's hands was clutched on that wheel, and his face was 'white as his rubber collar.
"Jerushy!" he groans, desperate, "I—I don't know how to turn around."
"Then stop, you foolhead!" I bellers. "Stop where you be!"
And he moans—almost cryin' he was. "I —I've forgotten how to stop."
Talk about your situations! If we wa'n't in one then, I miss my guess. Every minute we was sinkin' Harniss below the horizon.
"We must get to a doctor," says the widow. "Where is there another one, Mr. Wingate ? "
"The next one's in Bayport," says I. "and that's ten mile ahead if it's a foot."
However, there wa'n't nothin' else for it. so toward Bayport we put. Bradbury groaned once in a while, and Mrs. Bassett got nervous.
"We'll never get there at this rate," says she. "Go faster, Jonadab. Faster! Press down on- -on that thing he told you to. Please! for my sake!"
"Don't you—" I begun; but 'twas too late. He pressed, and away we went. We was eatin' up the road now, I tell you, and though I was expectin' every minute to be my next, I couldn't help admirin' the way the cap'n steered. And. as for him, he was get-tin' more and more set up and confident.
"She handles like a yacht, Barzilla," he grunts, between his teeth. "See me put her around the next buoy ahead there. Hey! how's that?"
The next "buoy'' was a curve in the road, and we went around it beautiful. So with the next and the next and the next. Bayport wa'n't so very fur ahead. All to once another dreadful thought struck me.
"Look here!" I yells. "How in time are we goin' to stop when we— Ow!"
The Bassett woman had pinched my arm somethin' savage. I looked at her, and she was scowlin' and shakin' her head.
"S-sh-sh!" she whispers. "Don't disturb him. He'll be frightened and——"
"Frightened! Good heavens to Betsy! I cal'late he won't be the only one that's fri——"
But she looked so ugly that I shut up prompt, though I done a heap of thinkin'.
On we went and, as we turned the next "buoy", there, ahead of us, was another auto, somethin' like ours, with only one person in it, a man, and goin' in the same direction we was, though not quite so fast.
Then I was scart. "Hi, Jonadab!" I sings out. ''Heave to! Come about! Shorten sail! Do you want to run him down? Look out!"
I might as well have saved my breath. Heavin' to and the rest of it wa'n't included in our pilot's education. On we went, same as ever. I don't know what might have happened if the widow hadn't kept her head. She leaned over the for'ard rail of the after cockpit and squeezed a rubber bag that was close to Jonadab's starboard arm. It was j'ined to the fog whistle, I cal'late, 'cause from under our bows sounded a heller like a bull afoul of a barb-wire fence.
The feller in t'other car turned his head and looked. Then he commenced to sheer off to wind'ard so's to let us pass. But all the time he kept lookin' back and starin' and, as we got nigher, and I could see him plainer through the dust, he looked more and more familiar. 'Twas somebody I knew.
Then I heard a little grunt, or gasp, from Cap'n Jonadab. He was leanin' for'ard over the wheel, starin' at the man in the other auto. The nigher we got, the harder he stared; and the man in front was actin' similar in regards to him. And, all to once, the head car stopped swingin' off to wind'ard, turned back towards the middle of the road, and begun to go like smoke. The next instant I felt our machine fairly jump beneath me. I looked at Jonadab's foot. 'Twas pressed hard down on the speed lever.
You crazy loon!" I screeched. "You— you—you— Stop it! Take your foot off that! "Do you want to——!"
I was climbin' over the back of the front seat, my knee pretty nigh on Bradbury's head. But, would you believe it, that Jonadab man let go of the wheel with one hand—let go of it, mind you—and give me a shove that sent me backward in Henrietta Bassett's lap.
"Barzilla!" he growled, between his teeth, "you set where you be and keep off the quarter-deck. I'm runnin' this craft. I'll beat that Loveland this time or run him under, one or t'other!"
As sure as I'm alive this minute, the man in the front car was Tobias Loveland!
And from then on— Don't talk! I dream about it nights and wake up with my arms around the bedpost. I ain't real sure, but I kind of have an idee that the bedpost business comes from the fact that I was huggin' the widow some of the time. If I did, 'twa'n't knowin'ly, and she never mentioned it afterwards. All I can swear to is clouds of dust, and horns honkin', and telegraph poles look-in' like teeth in a comb, and Jonadab's face set as the Day of Judgment.
He kept his foot down on the speed place as if 'twas glued. He shoved the "spark"— whatever that is—'way back. Even- once in a while he yelled, yelled at the top of his lungs. What he yelled hadn't no sense to it. Sometimes you'd think that he was drivin' a horse and next that he was handlin' a schooner in a gale.
"Git dap!" he'd whoop. " Go it, you cripples! Keep her nose right in the teeth of it! She's got the best of the water, so let her bile! Whe-e-e!"
We didn't stop at Bayport. Our skipper had made other arrangements. However, the way I figgered it, we was long past needin' a doctor, and you can get an undertaker 'most anywhere. We went through the village like a couple of shootin' stars, Tobias about a length ahead, his hat blowed off, his hair— what little he's got—streamin' out behind, and that blessed red buzz wagon of his fairly skimmin' the hummocks and jumpin' the smooth places. And right astern of him comes Jonadab, hangin' to the wheel, his hat gone, his mouth open, and fillin' the dust with yells and coughs.
You could see folks runnin' to doors and front gates; but you never saw 'em reach where they was goin'—time they done that we was somewheres round the next bend. A pullet run over us once—yes, I mean just that. She clawed the top of the widow's bun-nit as we slid underneath her, and by the time she lit we was so fur away she wa'n't visible to the naked eye. Bradbury—who'd got better remarkable sudden—was pawin' at Jonadab's arm, tryin' to make him ease up; but he might as well have pawed the wind. As for Henrietta Bassett, she was acrost the back of the front seat tootin' the horn for all she was wuth. And curled down in a heap on the cockpit floor was a fleshy, sea-farin' person by the name of Barzilla Wingate, suf-ferin' from chills and fever.
I think 'twas on the long stretch of the Denboro road that we beat Tobias. I know we passed somethin' then, though just what
"I DREAM ABOUT IT NIGHTS AND WAKE UP WITH MY ARMS AROUND THE BEDPOST."
I ain't competent to testify. All I'm sure of is that, t'other side of Denboro village, the landscape got some less streaked and you could most gen'rally separate one house from the next.
Bradbury looked at Henrietta and smiled, a sort of sicklyvsmile. She was pretty pale, but she managed to smile back. I got up off the floor and slumped on the cushions. As for Cap'n Jonadab Wixon, he'd stopped yel-lin', but his face was one broad, serene grin. His mouth, through the dust and the dirt caked around it, looked like a rain gully in a sand-bank. And, occasional, he crowed, hoarse but vain-glorious.
''Did you see me?" he barked. "Did you notice me lick him ? He'll laugh at me, will he?—him and his one-horse tin cart! Ho! ho! Whv, you'd think he was settin' down to rest! I've got him where I want him now! Ho. ho! Say, Henrietta, did you go swift as you—? Land sakes! Mr. Bradbury, I forgot all about you. And I—I guess we must have got a good ways past the doctor's place."
Bradbury said never mind. He felt much better, and he cal'lated he'd do till we fetched the Old Home dock. He'd take the wheel, now, he guessed.
But, would you b'lieve it, that fool Jonadab wouldn't let him! He was used to the ship now, he said, and, if 'twas all the same to Henry G. and Hettie, he'd kind of like to run her into port.
"She answers her hellum fine," he says. ''After a little practice I cal'late I could steer——"
"Steer!" sings out Bradbury. "Steer! Great Cæsar's ghost! I give you my word, Cap'n Wixon, I never saw such handlin' of a machine as you did goin' through Bayport in my life. You're a wonder!""Um-hm," says Jonadab, contented. "I've steered a good many vessels in my time, through traffic and amongst the shoals, and never run afoul of nothin' yet. I don't see much difference on shore—'cept that it's a little easier.''
Easier! Wouldn't that— Well, what's the use of talkin'?
We got to the Old Home House safe and sound; Jonadab, actin' under Bradbury's orders, run her into the yard, slowin' up and stoppin' at the front steps slick as grease. He got out, his chest swelled up like a puffin' pig, and went struttin' in to tell everybody what he'd done to Loveland. I don't know where Bradbury and the widow went. As for me, I went aloft and turned in. And 'twas two days and nights afore I got up again. I had a cold anyway, and what I'd been through didn't help it none.
The afternoon of the second day, Bradbury come up to see me. He was dressed in his city clothes and looked as if he was goin' away. Sure enough, he was; goin' on the next train.
''Where's Jonadab?" says I.
"Oh, he's out in his car," he says. ''Hunt-in' for Loveland again, maybe."
"His car? You mean yours."
"No, I mean his. I sold my car to him yesterday mornin' for twenty-five hundred dollars cash."
I set up in bed. "Go 'long!" I sings out. "You didn't nuther!"
"Yes, I did. Sure thing. After that ride, you couldn't have separated him from that machine with blastin' powder. He paid over the money like a little man."
I laid down again. Jonadab Wixon payin' twenty-five hundred dollars for a plaything! Not promisin', but actually payin' it!
"Has—has the widow gone with him?" I asked, soon's I could get my breath.
He laughed sort of queer. "No," he says, "she's gone out of town for a few days. Ha, ha! "Well, between you and me, Wingate, I doubt if she comes back again. She and I have made all we're likely to in this neighborhood, and she's too good a business woman to waste her time. Good-by; glad to have met you."
But I smelt rat strong and wouldn't let him go without seein' the critter.
"Hold on!" I says. "There's somethin' underneath all this. Out with it. I won't let on to the cap'n if you don't want me to."
"Well," says he, laughin' again, "Mrs. Bassett won't come back and I know it. She and I have sold four cars on the Cape in the last five weeks, and the profits'll more'n pay vacation expenses. Two up in Wareham, one over in Orham, to Loveland——-"
"Did you sell Tobias his?" I asks, settin' up again.
"Hettie and I did—yes. Soon's we landed him, we come over to bag old Wixon. I thought one time he'd kill us before we got him, but he didn't. How he did run that thing! He's a game sport."
"See here!" says I. " You and Hettie sold— What do you mean by that?"
"Mrs. Bassett is my backer in the auto business," says he. "She put in her money and I furnished the experience. We've got a big plant up in—" namin' a city in Connecticut.
I fetched a long breath. "Well!" says I. "'And all this makin' eyes at Tobe and Jonadab was just—just——"
"Just bait, that's all," says he. "I told you she was a good business woman."
I let this sink in good. Then says I, "Humph! I swan to man! And how's your heart actin' now?"
"Fine!" he says, winkin'. "I had that attack so's the cap'n would learn to run on his own hook. I didn't expect quite so much of a run, but I'm satisfied. Don't you worry about my heart disease. That twenty-five hundred cured it. 'Twas all in the way of business," says Henry G. Bradbury.
I don't think Jonadab minded the widow's leavin' so much. He was too crazy about his new auto to care for anything else. Then, too, he was bilin' mad 'cause Loveland swore out a warrant against him for speedin'.
"Nice trick, ain't it?" he says. "I knew Tobe was a poor loser, but I didn't think he'd be so low down as all that. Says I was goin' fifty mile an hour. He! he! Well, I was goin' some, that's a fact. I don't care. 'Twas wuth the twenty-dollar fine."
"Maybe so," I says, "but 'twon't look very pretty to have a special auto constable hauled up and fined for breakin' the law he's s'posed to protect."
He hadn't thought of that. His face clouded over.
"No use, Barzilla," says he; "I'll have to give it up."
"Guess you will," says I. "Automobilin' is——"
"I don't mean automobilin'," he snorts, disgusted. "Course not! I mean bein' constable."
So there you are! From cussin' automobiles he's got so that he can't talk enough good about 'em. And every day sence the Old Home House closed for the season, he's out on the road layin' for another chance at Tobias. I hope he gets that chance pretty soon, because—well, there's a rumor goin' round that Loveland is plannin' to swap his car for a bigger and faster one. If he does . . .