But Daddy only patted my hand, and I have decided that he is a wonderfully clever man. I am sure he understood that I was just forcing myself to talk, and that he could say nothing that would make me feel better.
Then there was a knock at the door, and Stefansson came in with one of his long faces.
“Good evening,” said Daddy. “Have a cigar? The box is there on the table. I have good news for you, since I know you don’t enjoy this place much. Too far from Long Island Sound, isn’t it? I want to sail to-morrow morning.”
Our skipper’s long Swedish face lengthened out a bit more, and he looked a very picture of distress.
“But you told me yesterday that you were going to stay at least another week, Mr. Jelliffe,” he objected. “So to-day when the engineer he tells me about bearings needing new packing, and about a connecting rod being a bit loose, I told him to get busy.”
“I’d like to know what you fellows were doing all the time in St. John’s?” asked Daddy, angrily.
“Engines always need looking after, Mr. Jelliffe,” replied the skipper in an injured tone that was not particularly convincing. “Of course I can make him work all night, and to-morrow, with his helper, so that maybe we can start day after to-morrow early. Everything is all apart now. If you say so we can start under sail, but I know you don’t like bucking against contrary winds without a bit of steam to help, and this is a forsaken coast to be knocking about, Mr. Jelliffe, and I’ll be glad to get away from it.”
“Well, I suppose that a day or so won’t make much difference,” said Daddy. “How’s your coal?”
“Plenty coal, sir.”
“All right, get those fellows at work in the engine room, Stefansson. They haven’t had much to do of late.”
Our skipper departed and I was so happy that I wanted to dance. In the kitchen Susie was washing dishes and assisting her work by intoning the most doleful hymn. I turned up the lamp a little, and things seemed ever so much more cheerful.
So I suppose that I have been ever so foolish. Just now I can hear Daddy and Mr. Barnett saying good night, and I know that they have been fighting tooth and nail over that chess board. And I hear Mr. Barnett thanking Daddy, in a voice that is all choked up with emotion. I am so glad to think the dear little man is happy. Isn’t it too bad, Aunt Jennie, that we can’t all be happy all the time?
From John Grant’s Diary
Here I am writing again, just for the purpose of trying to keep awake. A fellow in my profession, in such places as this, is much like a billiard ball that finds itself shot into all sorts of corners, without the slightest ordering from any consciousness of its own. I left that child at Atkins’ doing fairly well, and have once more been compelled to make one of those rather harrowing choices I dread. I had either to abandon that child, though its mother is fairly intelligent and seems to understand my instructions, fortunately, or to refuse to answer this call, where another man with a large family is lying at the point of death.