“And where is he now?” asked Louise.
“Why—mebbe!—he’s on his way here. I shouldn’t wonder. He might step in at that door any minute,” and Cap’n Abe’s finger indicated the store door.
There was the sound of a footstep entering the store as he spoke. The storekeeper arose. “I’ll jest see who ’tis,” he said.
While he was absent Louise laid aside her hat and made a closer inspection of the room and its furniture. Everything was homely but comfortable. There was a display of marine art upon the walls. All the ships were drawn exactly, with the stays, spars, and all rigging in place, line for line. They all sailed, too, through very blue seas, the crest of each wave being white with foam.
Flanking the model of the brigantine on the mantle were two fancy shell pieces—works of art appreciated nowhere but on the coast. The designs were ornate; but what they could possibly represent Louise was unable to guess.
She tried to interest the canary by whistling to him and sticking her pink finger between the wires of his cage. He was ruffled and dull-eyed like all old birds of his kind, and paid her slight attention. When she turned to Diddimus she had better success. He rolled on his side, stuck all his claws out and drew them in again luxuriously, purring meanwhile like a miniature sawmill.
When Cap’n Abe came back the girl asked:
“Wasn’t your customer a young man I saw on the porch as I came in?”
“Yep. Lawford Tapp. Said he forgot some matches and a length o’ ropeyarn. I reckon you went to that young man’s head. And his top hamper ain’t none too secure, Niece Louise.”
“Oh, did I?” laughed the girl, understanding perfectly. “How nice.”
“Nice? That’s how ye take it. Lawford Tapp ain’t a fav’rite o’ mine.”
“But he seemed very accommodating to-day when I asked him how to reach your store.”
“So you met him up town?”
“Yes, Uncle Abe.”
“He’s perlite enough,” scolded the storekeeper. “But I don’t jest fancy the cut of his jib. Wanted to know if you was goin’ to stop here.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Louise. “That is what I want to know myself. Am I?”
THE SHADOW OF COMING EVENTS
Cap’n Abe reached for his spectacles and pulled them down upon his nose to look at his guest through the lenses. Not that they aided his sight in the least; but the act helped to cover the fact that he was startled.
“Stop here?” he repeated. “Where’s your father? Ain’t he with you up to the Inn?”
“No, Cap’n Abe. He is in Boston to-day. But he will sail to-morrow for a summer cruise with a party for scientific research. I am all alone. So I came down here to Cape Cod.”
Louise said it directly and as simply as the storekeeper himself might have spoken. Yet it seemed really difficult for Cap’n Abe to get her meaning into his head.