“No,” she told young Malcolm Standish firmly. “Uncle Amazon is not to be made a peepshow of by the idle rich of The Beaches. Besides, from your own name, you should be a descendant of Miles Standish, and blood relation to these Cape Codders yourself. And Uncle Amazon and Uncle Abram are fine old gentlemen.” She said it boldly, whether she could believe it about Cap’n Amazon or not. “I will not play showman.”
“Oh, say! Ford Tapp comes here. I saw his car standing outside the other evening.”
“Mr. Tapp,” Louise explained calmly, “comes in the right spirit. He is a friend of the—ahem—family. He is well known to Cap’n Abe who owns the store and has made himself acquainted with Cap’n Amazon over the counter.”
“And how has he made himself so solid with you, Miss Grayling?” Standish asked impudently.
“By his gentlemanly behavior, and because he knows a deal more about boat-sailing and the shores than I know,” she retorted demurely.
“Leave it to me!” exclaimed Malcolm Standish. “I am going to learn navigation and fishology at once.”
“But—don’t you think you may be too late?” she asked him, running up the steps. “Good-night, Mr. Standish!”
Upon going indoors she did not find Cap’n Amazon. The lamp was burning in the living-room, but he was not there and the store was dark. Louise mounted the stairs, rather glad of his absence; but when she came to the top of the flight she saw the lamplight streaming through the open door of her uncle’s bedroom. Diddimus, with waving tail, was just advancing into the “cabin,” as Cap’n Amazon called the chamber he occupied.
Knowing that he particularly objected to having any of his possessions disturbed, and fearing that Diddimus might do some mischief there, Louise followed the tortoise-shell, calling to him:
“Come out of there! Come out instantly, Diddimus! What do you mean by venturing in where we are all forbidden to enter? Don’t you know, Diddimus, that only fools dare venture where angels fear to tread? Scat!”
Something on the washstand caught Louise’s glance. In the bottom of the washbowl was the stain of a dark brown liquid. Beside it stood a bottle the label of which she could read from the doorway.
She caught her breath, standing for half a minute as though entranced. Diddimus, hearing a distant footstep, and evidently suspecting it, whisked past Louise out of the room.
There were other articles on the washstand that claimed the girl’s notice; but it was to the bottle labeled “Walnut Stain” that her gaze returned. She crept away to her own room, lit her lamp, and did not even see Cap’n Amazon Silt again that night.
“Ford Tapp was here last night,” Cap’n Amazon told Louise at the breakfast table. “I cal’late he was lookin’ for you, though he didn’t just up an’ say so. Seemed worried like for fear’t you wouldn’t have a good opinion of him.”