“Oh, I heerd Jim hed gone to Califor—”
“Pshaw!” said Miss Peekin, contemptuously; “that was days ago! I mean Brown—the New York chap—Millie Botayne’s lover!”
“But I do; an’ what’s more, he had to. Ther wuz men come after him in the nighttime, but he must hev heard ’em, fur they didn’t find him in his room, an’ this mornin’ they found that his sailboat was gone, too. An’ what’s more, ther’s a printed notice up about him, an’ he’s a defaulter, and there’s five thousand dollars for whoever catches him, an’ he’s stole twenty-five, an’ he’s all described in the notice, as p’ticular as if he was a full-blood Alderney cow.”
“Poor fellow,” sighed the deacon, for which interruption he received a withering glance from Miss Peekin.
“They say Millie’s a goin’ on awful, and that she sez she’ll marry him now if he’ll come back. But it ain’t likely he’ll be such a fool; now he’s got so much money, he don’t need hern. Reckon her an’ her father won’t be so high an’ mighty an’ stuck up now. It’s powerful discouragin’ to the righteous to see the ungodly flourishin’ so, an’ a-rollin’ in ther wealth, when ther betters has to be on needles all year fur fear the next mack’ril catch won’t ‘mount to much. The idee of her bein’ willin’ to marry a defaulter! I can’t understand it.”
“Poor girl!” sighed Mrs. Crankett, wiping one eye with the corner of her apron. “I’d do it myself, ef I was her?”
The deacon dropped the ax-helve, and gave his wife a tender kiss on each eye.
Perhaps Mr. Darwin can tell inquirers why, out of very common origin, there occasionally spring beings who are very decided improvements on their progenitors; but we are only able to state that Jim Hockson was one of these superior beings, and was himself fully aware of the fact. Not that he was conceited at all, for he was not, but he could not help seeing what every one else saw and acknowledged.
Every one liked him, for he was always kind in word and action, and every one was glad to be Jim Hockson’s friend; but somehow Jim seemed to consider himself his best company.
His mackerel lines were worked as briskly as any others when the fish were biting; but when the fish were gone, he would lean idly on the rail, and stare at the waves and clouds; he could work a cranberry-bog so beautifully that the people for miles around came to look on and take lessons; yet, when the sun tried to hide in the evening behind a ragged row of trees on a ridge beyond Jim’s cranberry-patch, he would lean on his spade, and gaze until everything about him seemed yellow.