“Isn’t he a wonder?” murmured Lawford, as Louise accompanied him to the gate and watched him start the automobile engine. “I never heard such a fellow in my life. And good as gold!”
Louise had made up her mind to be distinctly casual with the young man hereafter; but his hearty praise of her uncle warmed her manner toward him. Besides, she had to confess in secret that Lawford was most likable.
She mentioned her aunt’s arrival in the neighborhood and he asked, laughing:
“Oh, then shall we have her for our chaperon?”
“Aunt Euphemia? Mercy, no! I have chosen Betty Gallup and believe me, Mr. Tapp, Betty is much to be preferred.”
It was odd that Louise had not yet discovered who and what Lawford Tapp was. Yet the girl had talked with few of the neighbors likely to discuss the affairs of the summer residents along The Beaches. And, of course, she asked Cap’n Amazon no questions, for he was not likely to possess the information.
After she had bidden her uncle good-night and retired, thoughts of Lawford Tapp kept her mind alert. She could not settle herself to sleep. With the lamp burning brightly on the stand at the bedside and herself propped with pillows, she opened the old scrapbook found in the storeroom chest and fluttered its pages.
Almost immediately she came upon a story related in the Newport Mercury. It was the supposedly veracious tale of an ancient sea captain who had been a whaler in the old days.
There, almost word for word, was printed the story Cap’n Amazon had told her that evening about the black man and the black dog!
The finding of one of Cap’n Amazon’s amazing narratives of personal prowess in the old scrapbook shocked Louise Grayling. The mystery of the thing made alert her brain and awoke in the girl vague suspicions that troubled her for hours. Indeed, it was long that night before she could get to sleep.
During these days of acquaintanceship and familiarity with the old sea captain she had learned to love him so well for his good qualities that it was easy for her to forgive his faults. If he “drew the long bow” in relating his adventures, his niece was prepared to excuse the failing.
There was, too, an explanation of this matter, and one not at all improbable. The reporter of the Mercury claimed to have taken down the story of the black man who had fought a shark for the life of his dog just as it fell from the lips of an ancient mariner. This mariner might have been Cap’n Amazon Silt himself. Why not? The captain might have been more modest in relating his personal connection with the incident when talking with the reporter than he had been in relating the story to his niece.
Still, even with this suggested explanation welcomed to her mind, Louise Grayling was puzzled. She went through the entire scrapbook, skimming the stories there related, to learn if any were familiar. But no. She found nothing to suggest any of the other tales Cap’n Amazon had related in her hearing. And it was positive that her uncle had not read this particular story of the black man and the black dog since coming to the store on the Shell Road, for Louise had had possession of the book.