Eben was about to reply in an angry manner, when the form of his countenance instantly changed, and a peculiar expression, half-humorous, appeared in his eyes. He stood looking at his father for a few seconds in an absent-minded manner. Then, without a word, he picked up the jug of molasses and strode up forward. The captain gazed after him in astonishment, greatly wondering what had come over his son to make him so obedient all of a sudden. He said nothing, however, but went at once down into the cabin where he found the girl making herself perfectly at home tidying up the place.
“Eben’s come,” the captain laconically remarked,
“So I understand,” and the girl smiled.
“Ye heard what was said, eh?”
“Certainly. I’m not deaf.”
“Sure, sure. Me temper got the best of me to-night. But I couldn’t help it, fer that boy did more’n stir me up. Guess he’s cooled down now, though I’m mighty surprised that he knuckled under so soon. It’s not a bit like Eb’s way, let me tell ye that.”
“I am very sorry to give all this trouble,” the girl acknowledged. “I feel ashamed of myself.”
“Most likely ye do, Miss. We all feel that way at times. But I must git a hustle on, an’ tote up some clothes fer the night, an’ a snack of grub fer Eben. He’s mighty fond of his stummick, that boy is. He’d eat every hour of the day, jist the same as a chicken, an’ then wouldn’t be satisfied.”
Captain Tobin was much surprised that his son asked him no questions that night. He did not even refer to the cabin, but after he had eaten two large slices of bread, well soaked in molasses, he stretched himself out upon the deck, drew a heavy quilt over his body, and was soon fast asleep. The captain, however, did not sleep for some time. He sat upon the cover of the hatchway and puffed at an old corn-cob, which had been brought into service after the ruin of his favourite clay pipe. It was a beautiful night, and not a breath of wind ruffled the surface of the river. The captain was thinking seriously, as he was greatly puzzled what to do with the girl who had thrust herself so unceremoniously upon him. He could not put her ashore, that was quite evident, and he knew that he could not keep her presence a secret from Eben for any length of time. And then there was Martha. What would she and Flo say when they heard of it? This thought brought the perspiration to his forehead, causing him to shift uneasily. And the neighbours! What a rare bit of gossip it would be when they heard of it. And hear of it they certainly would, and he would be disgraced. It was somewhat late when he at length rolled himself up in his blanket by his son’s side. Silence reigned near the cabin, and he fell asleep feeling that he had done the best that he could under the circumstances.