“Didn’t I tell you,” said the younger man, turning to the other—“didn’t I tell you he’d say that?”
“He can say what he likes,” said the other, “but we’ve got him now. If he gets away from me he’ll be cleverer than what he thinks he is.”
“What are we to do with him now we’ve got him?” inquired his son.
The elder man clenched a huge fist and eyed Mr. Carter savagely. “If I was just considering myself,” he said, “I should hammer him till I was tired and then chuck him into the sea.”
His son nodded. “That wouldn’t do Nancy much good, though,” he remarked.
“I want to do everything for the best,” said the other, “and I s’pose the right and proper thing to do is to take him by the scruff of his neck and run him along to Nancy.”
“You try it,” said Mr. Carter, hotly. “Who is Nancy?”
The other growled, and was about to aim a blow at him when his son threw himself upon him and besought him to be calm.
“Just one,” said his father, struggling, “only one. It would do me good; and perhaps he’d come along the quieter for it.”
“Look here!” said Mr. Carter. “You’re mistaking me for somebody else, that’s what you are doing. What am I supposed to have done?”
“You’re supposed to have come courting my daughter, Mr. Somebody Else,” said the other, re-leasing himself and thrusting his face into Mr. Carter’s, “and, after getting her promise to marry you, nipping off to London to arrange for the wedding. She’s been mourning over you for four years now, having an idea that you had been made away with.”
“Being true to your memory, you skunk,” said the son.
“And won’t look at decent chaps that want to marry her,” added the other.
“It’s all a mistake,” said Mr. Carter. “I came down here this morning for the first time in my life.”
“Bring him along,” said the son, impatiently. “It’s a waste of time talking to him.”
Mr. Carter took a step back and parleyed. “I’ll come along with you of my own free will,” he said, hastily, “just to show you that you are wrong; but I won’t be forced.”
He turned and walked back with them towards the town, pausing occasionally to admire the view. Once he paused so long that an ominous growl arose from the elder of his captors.
“I was just thinking,” said Mr. Carter, eying him in consternation; “suppose that she makes the same mistake that you have made? Oh, Lord!”
“Keeps it up pretty well, don’t he, Jim?” said the father.
The other grunted and, drawing nearer to Mr. Carter as they entered the town, stepped along in silence. Questions which Mr. Carter asked with the laudable desire of showing his ignorance concerning the neighborhood elicited no reply. His discomfiture was increased by the behavior of an elderly boatman, who, after looking at him hard, took his pipe from his mouth and bade him “Good-evening.” Father and son exchanged significant glances.