Lawford cast on the ribald Milt a somewhat angry glance. Yet he did not speak again for a moment.
“Tidy craft,” grunted Cap’n Joab, eying the young woman who was approaching the store along the white road.
“I saw her get out of Noah’s ark when he landed at the post-office this noon,” Lawford explained to Cap’n Joab. “She looks like a nice girl.”
“Trim as a yacht,” declared the old man admiringly.
She was plainly city bred—and city gowned—and she carried her light traveling bag by a strap over her shoulder. Her trim shoes were dusty from her walk and her face was pink under her wide hat brim.
Lawford stepped out upon the porch. His gaze was glued again to this vision of young womanhood; but as he stood at one side she did not appear to see him as she mounted the steps.
The heir of the Salt Water Taffy King was twenty-four, his rather desultory college course behind him; and he thought his experience with girls had been wide. But he had never seen one just like Louise Grayling. He was secretly telling himself this as she made her entrance into Cap’n Abe’s store.
IN CAP’N ABE’S LIVING-ROOM
Louise came into the store smiling and the dusty, musty old place seemed actually to brighten in the sunshine of her presence. Her big gray eyes (they were almost blue when their owner was in an introspective mood) now sparkled as her glance swept Cap’n Abe’s stock-in-trade—the shelves of fly-specked canned goods and cereal packages, with soap, and starch, and half a hundred other kitchen goods beyond; the bolts of calico, gingham, “turkey red,” and mill-ends; the piles of visored caps and boxes of sunbonnets on the counter: the ship-lanterns, coils of rope, boathooks, tholepins hanging in wreaths; bailers, clam hoes, buckets, and the thousand and one articles which made the store on the Shell Road a museum that later was sure to engage the interest of the girl.
Now, however, the clutter of the shop gained but fleeting notice from Louise. Her gaze almost immediately fastened upon the figure of the bewhiskered old man, with spectacles and sou’wester both pushed back on his bald crown, who mildly looked upon her—his smile somehow impressing Louise Grayling as almost childish, it was so kindly.
Cap’n Joab had dodged through the door after Lawford Tapp. The other boys from The Beaches followed their leader. Old Washy Gallup and Amiel Perdue suddenly remembered that it was almost chore time as this radiant young woman said:
“I wish to see Mr. Abram Silt—Captain Silt. Is he here?”
“I’m him, miss,” Cap’n Abe returned politely.
Milt Baker surely would have remained of all the crowd of idlers, gaping oilily at the visitor across the top of the rusty stove, had not a shrill feminine voice been heard outside the store,