They attracted considerable attention, in their good clothes and solemn faces, and finally, as they stood on the parson’s doorstep, two of the captain’s own deckhands saw him, and straightway drank themselves into a state of beastly intoxication in trying to decide what the captain could want of a preacher.
The minister entered, cordially greeted Mrs. Simmons, and expressed his pleasure at forming the captain’s acquaintance.
“Parson,” said the captain, in trembling accents—“don’t go away, Mrs. Simmons—parson, my good friend here tells me you know all about my case; now the question is, how soon can you do the business?”
The reverend gentleman shivered a little at hearing the word “business” applied to holy things, but replied, in excellent temper:
“The next opportunity will occur on the first Sabbath of the coming month, and I shall be truly delighted to gather into our fold one whose many worthy qualities have been made known to us by our dearly beloved sister Simmons. And let me further remind you that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, and that therefore—”
“Just so, parson,” interrupted the captain, wincing a little, and looking exceedingly puzzled—“just so; but ain’t thar no day but Sunday for a man to be married—”
“Married!” ejaculated the minister, looking inquiringly at Mrs. Simmons.
“Married!” screamed the old lady, staring wildly at the captain—“married! Oh, what shall I do? I thought you’d experienced a change! And I’ve told everybody about it!”
The captain burst into a laugh, which made the minister’s chandeliers rattle, and the holy man himself, seeing through the mistake, heartily joined the captain.
But poor Mrs. Simmons burst into an agony of tears.
“My dear, good old friend,” said the captain, tenderly putting his arm about her, “I’m very sorry you have been disappointed; but one thing at a time, you know. When you see my angel, you’ll think I’m in a fair way to be an angel myself some day, I guess. Annie’s her name—Annie May—an’ I’ve named the boat after her. Don’t take on so, an’ I’ll show you the old boat, new painted, an’ the name Annie May stuck on wherever there’s a chance.”
But the good old woman only wrung her hands, and exclaimed:
“Thar’s a lovely experience completely spiled—completely spiled!”
At length she was quieted and escorted home, and a few days afterward appeared, in smiles and the new bombazine, at the captain’s wedding.
The bride, a motherless girl, speedily adopted Mrs. Simmons as mother, and made many happy hours for the old lady; but that venerable and pious person is frequently heard to say to herself, in periods of thoughtfulness:
“A lovely experience completely spiled!”
[Illustration: THE CAPTAIN BURST INTO A LAUGH, WHICH MADE THE MINISTER’S CHANDELIERS RATTLE.]