“Oh, thank you so much,” and the girl’s face brightened. “You will never regret your kindness to me. And look, I’m going to pay you well for letting me stay.”
“Pay!” The captain’s eyes bulged with astonishment.
“Yes, pay,” and the girl smiled. “I’m a passenger, you see, so I’m going to pay my fare. There, you must not object, for I have made up my mind, so it’s no use for you to say a word. I’m going to give you fifty dollars now and more later.”
The pipe fell from the captain’s hand and broke in two upon the floor.
“Blame it all!” he growled, as he stood staring upon the wreck. “I wonder what’s comin’ over me, anyway? Guess I’m losin’ me senses.”
“No you’re not; you are just getting them, Captain. It’s better to break a pipe than a girl’s heart, isn’t it?”
“I s’pose so, Miss. But a pipe means a good smoke, while a woman means——”
He paused, and looked helplessly around.
“What?” The girl’s eyes twinkled.
“Trouble; that’s what.”
“But isn’t she worth it?”
“That all depends upon what an’ who she is.”
“Certainly. Now you are talking sense. Isn’t your daughter worth all the trouble she has been to you?”
“Sure, sure; yer sartinly right thar, Miss. Flo’s given me a heap of trouble, but not half as much as Eben. That boy’s a caution, an’ he’s given me an’ Martha no end of worry.”
“In what way?”
The captain scratched his head in perplexity, and shifted uneasily from one foot to another.
“I kin hardly explain,” he at length replied. “He don’t drink, nor swear, nor do nuthin’ bad. But the trouble is, he don’t do nuthin’, an’ don’t want to do nuthin’ but sleep an’ eat.”
“Perhaps you have not brought him up right, Captain.”
“Not brought him up right!” Samuel’s amazement was intense. “Why, Miss, we’ve done nuthin’ but bring that boy up. Me an’ Martha have slaved fer the raisin’ of Eben. We started when he was a baby to raise him, right, an’ the very next Sunday after he was born didn’t they sing in church—
“’Here I’ll raise my Ebenezer’.”
“And so you’ve been singing it ever since, even when scrubbing the cabin?” The girl smiled at the recollection of the suddenly discontinued tune.
“Sure, why shouldn’t I? It’s a great hymn, it sartinly is, an’ it’s inspired me many a time. It has kept before me my duty, an’ if Eben doesn’t amount to somethin’, it won’t be my fault, nor Martha’s, either, fer that matter.”
“Have you taken the same care with your daughter?” the girl asked.
“No, not as much,” was the reluctant confession. “Gals don’t need sich special care. They ginerally grow up all right, an’ git along somehow. But it’s different with boys. They’re a problem, they sartinly are.”
“And so you have given most of your attention to your son, and let your daughter grow up any way. Is that it, Captain?”