“That’s about it, Miss.”
“And how is your daughter getting along?”
“Fust rate. We’ve no trouble with her. She’s a good worker, happy an’ cheerful as a bird, an’ does what she’s told. She’s a fine gal, Flo is, an’ thar’s no mistake about that. I wish to goodness Eben was like her.”
“It seems to me, Captain, that you tried too hard to raise your son, and spoiled him. Isn’t that it?”
“D’ye think so?”
“I am sure of it. You are not the only ones who have spent all their care upon their sons and let their daughters grow up as they please. I know too much about it.”
“Ye do!” Samuel’s eyes opened wide in wonder. “An’ you only a young gal, too.”
“But I am old in experience, and know what I say is true. But what is that?” A startled look leaped into her eyes. “Do you suppose it is someone after me?”
With a bound the captain sprang up the stairs. He paused for an instant, however, and glanced back.
“Don’t be scared, Miss,” he encouraged. “It’s only Eben. He’s bumped hard aginst the boat. You keep close under cover, an’ I’ll do what I kin with the boy.”
By the time the captain reached the side of the boat, Eben had his small skiff tied to the deck-rail. He was standing up, a tall, gaunt, ungainly youth, freckled faced, and sandy haired. He wore a dark-brown sweater, and a pair of overalls, baggy at the knees. He did not speak as his father approached, but mechanically handed up to him a jug of molasses, and several paper parcels. He then leaped lightly upon deck, and headed for the cabin. But the captain detained him by laying a firm and heavy hand upon his shoulder.
“Keep out of thar,” he ordered. “I’ve jist been scrubbin’ an’ don’t want ye to dirty the place up.”
The tone of his father’s voice caused Eben to swing suddenly around.
“Me feet ain’t dirty,” he drawled. “An’ s’pose they are, what’s the difference? The cabin ain’t no parler. Let me go; I’m most starved.”
But the captain’s grip increased as he yanked his son a few feet back.
“I’m in charge of this craft,” he reminded, “an’ what I say goes. Yer not goin’ down into that cabin to-night, so jist make up yer mind to that fust as last.”
The boy now stared in speechless amazement. Never before had he seen his father so agitated, nor heard him speak to him in such a manner.
“D’ye understand?” the captain asked.
“That yer not goin’ down in that cabin. Isn’t that what I jist said? Where are yer ears?”
A sullen look leaped into the boy’s eyes, and with an effort he shook himself free from his father’s grasp.
“D’ye mean it?” he growled.
“Sartinly I mean it. An’ what’s more, I don’t want ye to ask any fool questions. We’ll eat an’ sleep on deck to-night, up forrad. I’ll bring the grub an’ clothes from the cabin, but you stay out.”