“I’ll be back in an hour,” said the new boarder. “I’ve got a little business to attend to before supper.”
When he had gone out, Aunt Rachel began to cough ominously. Evidently some remonstrance was coming.
“Martha,” she said, solemnly, “I’m afraid you’ve done wrong in taking that sailor man.”
“He’s a strange man.”
“I don’t see anything strange about him,” said Jack.
“He spoke to me about having a beau,” said Aunt Rachel, in a shocked tone.
Jack burst into a fit of hearty laughter. “Perhaps he’s going to make you an offer, Aunt Rachel,” he said. “He wants to see if there’s anybody in the way.”
Rachel did not appear so very indignant.
“It was improper for a stranger to speak to me on that subject,” she said, mildly.
“You must make allowances for the bluntness of a sailor,” said Mrs. Harding.
For some reason Rachel did not seem as low-spirited as usual that evening. Capt. Bowling entertained them with narratives of his personal adventures, and it was later than usual when the lamps were put out, and they were all in bed.
THE CAPTAIN’S DEPARTURE
“Jack,” said the captain, at breakfast, the next morning, “how would you like to go round with me to see my vessel?”
“I’ll go,” said Jack, promptly.
“Very likely he’ll fall over into the water and be drowned,” suggested Aunt Rachel, cheerfully.
“I’ll take care of that, ma’am,” said Capt. Bowling. “Won’t you come yourself?”
“I go to see a vessel!” repeated Rachel.
“Yes; why not?”
“I am afraid it wouldn’t be proper to go with a stranger,” said Rachel, with a high sense of propriety.
“I’ll promise not to run away with you,” said the captain, bluntly. “If I should attempt it, Jack, here, would interfere.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” said Jack. “It wouldn’t be proper for me to interfere with Aunt Rachel’s plans.”
“You seem to speak as if your aunt proposed to run away,” said Mr. Harding, jocosely.
“You shouldn’t speak of such things, nephew; I am shocked,” said Rachel.
“Then you won’t go, ma’am?” asked the captain.
“If I thought it was consistent with propriety,” said Rachel, hesitating. “What do you think, Martha?”
“I think there is no objection,” said Mrs. Harding, secretly amazed at Rachel’s entertaining the idea.
The result was that Miss Rachel put on her things, and accompanied the captain. She was prevailed on to take the captain’s arm at length, greatly to Jack’s amusement. He was still more amused when a boy picked up her handkerchief which she had accidentally dropped, and, restoring it to the captain, said, “Here’s your wife’s handkerchief, gov’nor.”
“Ho! ho!” laughed the captain. “He takes you for my wife, ma’am.”