THE PILOT OF THE MERMAID
“So, it’s Todd Pemberton, is it?” remarked Frank, “I think it’ll pay us to slow down a little, and look into this white rag-waving business.”
“Goodness gracious! you can’t be thinking that Todd is in touch with the bank robbers, can you, Frank?” Andy exclaimed, astounded, apparently, at the very thought of such a thing.
“Oh! I’m not up to that point of saying anything—yet. But all the same it’s what I call interesting, you know,” the other replied; and from this Andy could easily guess that while Frank might have notions about the matter, he did not care to commit himself so early in the game.
“Yes, that’s so,” Andy replied, still having his eyes glued to the binoculars.
“What’s doing now?” continued Frank.
“Nothing that I c’n see,” replied the other.
“No more white handkerchiefs waving around the point, eh, Andy?”
“Not a blessed thing; and Todd’s quit too. Guess they’ve come to some sort of an understanding. Wish I knew what seven, three, five meant; something pretty interesting, I’ll be bound.” Andy went on to mutter, half to himself.
“Well, we can only guess, and that’s the extent of it,” Frank was saying, in a rather serious tone, as though he believed there might be more in connection with the little affair than a mere exchange of civilities.
“How about Todd Pemberton, Frank?” asked the boy with the glasses.
“Well, you know him as well as I do, perhaps better,” returned his cousin.
“I mean, wasn’t there once something against him? I know, Frank, that my guardian signed a paper about getting Todd his position with the steamboat company this last spring; they always get him to sign everything going, he’s so good-natured and what you call an Easy Mark.”
“Yes, they came to my father too, and he put his name down, I remember. As near as I can say, it was a petition to ask the company to give Todd the position of pilot; and stated the belief of all those who signed that he would make good. He used to be a pilot on Lake Sunrise, and before that on one of the Great Lakes.”
“But, Frank, why the petition, if he was able to fill the place you’d think all he had to do was to make application, and then jump in?”
“Well, it seemed to be pretty generally known about Bloomsbury that Todd had not always been as straight as he is today; and lots of people believed he would never hold his place a week; but he’s had it all summer now, and seems to be giving satisfaction, all right,” Frank went on to say.
“But there was a past, you mean; Todd had gone the pace, and used to drink and gamble, I suppose. Perhaps, now, he even used to herd with a tough set. How about that, Frank?”
“It’s so all right. Todd got down pretty low, and was even a hobo, I heard, before he took a brace, and came back to Bloomsbury to make a man of himself again.”