Old Jock, indeed, protested.
“You see, boys,” said he, “real good liquor, like that, don’t do nobody no harm. That was the real stuff,—prime old apple-jack ’at I’d had in my cellar ten year last Christmas; an’ it jest toled that feller across the bay, and captered him, without no manner of diffikilty.”
There were some among his auditors who could have testified to a decidedly different kind of “capture.”
One effect of Dab’s work on the day of the yachting-trip, including his special performances as cook, and as milliner to the lobsters, was, that he felt himself thenceforth bound to be somewhat carefully polite to Joe and Fuz. The remaining days of their visit would have been altogether too few for the varied entertainments he laid out for them, in his own mind, by way of reparation for his unlucky “practical joke.” They were to catch all there was in the bay. They were to ride everywhere. They were to be shown every thing there was to see.
“They don’t deserve it, Dab,” said Ford; “but you’re a real good fellow. Mother says so.”
“Does she?” said Dab; and he evidently felt a good deal relieved, after that.
Mr. Richard Lee, when his friends once more found time to think of him, had almost disappeared from the public eye.
Some three days after “the trip,” while all the other boys were out in the “Jenny,” having a good time with their hooks and lines, Dick’s mother made her appearance in Mrs. Kinzer’s dining-room, or Miranda’s, with a face that was even darker than usual, with a cloud of motherly anxiety.
“Miss Kinzer,” she said, “has you seen my Dick, dis week?”
“No: he hasn’t been here at all. Is there any thing the matter with him?”
“Dat’s de berry question. I jes’ doesn’t know wot to make ob ’im.”
“Why, Glorianna, do you think he’s studying too hard?”
“It ain’t jes’ de books; I isn’t so much afeard ob dem: but it’s all ’long ob de ‘Cad’my. I wish you’d jes’ take a good look at ’im, fust chance ye git.”
“Does he look badly?”
“No: ‘tain’t jes’ altogedder his looks. He’s de bes’ lookin’ boy ’long shoah. But den de way he’s a-goin’ on to talk. ’Tain’t natural. He used to talk fust-rate.”
“Can’t he talk now?”
“Yes, Miss Kinzer, he kin talk; but den de way he gits out his words. Nebber seen sech a t’ing in all my born days. Takes him ebber so long jes’ to say good-mornin’. An’ he doesn’t say it like he use ter. I wish you’d jes’ take a good look at ’im.”
Mrs. Kinzer promised, and she gave her black friend what comfort she could; but Dick Lee’s tongue would never again be the free-and-easy member of society it had been. Even when at home, and about his commonest “chores,” he was all the while struggling with what he called his “pronounciation.” If he should succeed as well with the rest of his “schooling,” it was safe to say that it would not be thrown away upon him.