“Oh, so you’re Lord Fiddlesticks’ son, are ye? Glad to meet ye,” and the captain held out his hand. “I’m Sam’l Tobin, captain an’ owner of the ‘Eb an’ Flo,’ layin’ jist out yonder.”
“So I supposed,” was the drawling response. “But it makes no difference to me who or what you are. You might be the devil for all I care. All I want is your small boat.”
“Come, come, Mr. Lord Fiddlesticks, don’t talk in sich a high an’ mighty manner; it might not be good fer yer health. A young chap about your make-up tried it once upon me, but it didn’t work out to his satisfaction. He acknowledged it when he got out of the hospital. See?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to offend you,” and the young man retreated a few steps. “I’m all upset this morning over Miss Randall’s disappearance, and so am hardly responsible for what I say. Let me have your boat, will you? I’ll pay you well for it.”
The captain eyed the young man critically from head to foot, especially his soft white hands. Then he shook his head in a doubtful manner.
“What’s the matter?” the young man impatiently asked. “Is there anything wrong with me ?”
“That’s what I’m jist tryin’ to figger out. I s’pose it’s really me duty to take ye home to yer ma, but I ain’t got time this mornin’. Does she knew where ye are?”
“What do you mean, you ignorant clodhopper? Do you take me for a baby?”
“Not exactly, as yer too big fer one. But accordin’ to yer togs one would imagine that ye’ve jist come from the nursery. No, it wouldn’t be right to let ye have me boat, fer ye’d be sure to spile yer pretty white hands an’ soil yer bib an’ pinny. An’ besides, if anything happened to ye, I’d be held responsible. No, ye’d better trot along home to yer mamma before she comes after ye with a strap.”
The young man was now very angry, and he was about to give vent to his feelings in a furious outburst. But the stopping of an auto on the road near by suddenly arrested his attention, causing him to stare hard at the driver who had just alighted. Glad of this timely diversion, the captain moved away and made toward the store. In passing the car, he did not recognise the driver, who, with his back toward him, was examining the engine, and seemed to be heeding nothing else. But no sooner had the captain passed than he straightened himself up, cast one swift glance toward the man down on the wharf, and at once followed the captain into the store, where he stood quietly at one side without speaking to anybody.
The captain was already at the counter, fumbling with the list which had been given him. He was well acquainted with the storekeeper, a middle-aged man of genial countenance.
“Here’s a list of things I want, Ezry,” he explained, as he handed over the paper. “Guess ye kin make out the writin’.”
The storekeeper adjusted his spectacles and studied the paper for a few minutes. Then he looked keenly at his customer, while his eyes twinkled.