“But a day come when the man fell asleep and had a nightmare or something, and kicked out, cracking that cat on the snout with his heel. Next breath the cat had a chunk out o’ his calf and if I hadn’t been there with a gun he’d pretty near have eat the feller!”
The personal touch always entered into Cap’n Amazon’s stories. He had always been on me spot when the thing in point happened—and usually he was the heroic and central figure. No foolish modesty stayed his tongue when it came to recounting adventures.
He had all his wits, as well as all his wit, about him, had Cap’n Amazon. This was shown by an occurrence that very Saturday afternoon.
Milt Baker, like the other neighbors, was becoming familiar, if not friendly, with the substitute storekeeper and, leaning on the showcase. Milt said:
“Leave me have a piece of Brown Mule, Cap’n Am’zon. I’m all out o’ chewin’. Put it on the book and Mandy’ll pay for it.”
“Avast there!” Cap’n Amazon returned. “Seems to me I got something in the bill o’ ladin’ ’bout that,” and he drew forth the long memorandum Cap’n Abe had made to guide his substitute’s treatment of certain customers. “No,” the substitute storekeeper said, shaking his head negatively. “Can’t do it.”
“Why not, I want to know?” blustered Milt. “I guess my credit’s good.” He already had the Brown Mule in his hand.
“Your wife’s credit seems to be good,” Cap’n Amazon returned firmly. “But here’s what I find here: ’Don’t trust Milt Baker for Brown Mule ’cause Mandy makes him pay cash for his tobacker and rum. We don’t sell no rum.’ That’s enough, young man.”
Milt might have tried to argue the case with Cap’n Abe; but not with Cap’n Amazon. There was something in the steady look of the latter that caused the shiftless clam digger to dig down into his pocket for the nickel, pay it over, and walk grumblingly out of the store.
“Does beat all what a fool a woman will be,” commented Cap’n Amazon, rather enigmatically; only Louise, who heard him, realized fully what his thought was. Jealous and hard-working Mandy Baker had chosen for herself a handicap in the marriage game.
WHAT LOUISE THINKS
Sunday morning such a hush pervaded the store on the Shell Road, and brooded over its surroundings, as Lou Grayling had seldom experienced save in the depths of the wilderness.
She beheld a breeze-swept sea from her window with no fishing boats going out. There was nobody on the clam flats, although the tide was just right at dawn. The surfman from the patrol station beyond The Beaches paced to the end of his beat dressed in his best, like a man merely taking a Sunday morning stroll.
The people she saw seemed to be changed out of their everyday selves. Not only were they in Sabbath garb, but they had on their Sabbath manner. Even to Milt Baker, the men were cleanly shaven and wore fresh cotton shirts of their wives’ laundering.