“I have an injunction forbidding the marriage of your daughter, Mollie Muldoon, to a fisherman named Bill,” Judge Hilliard’s peremptory voice rang out. “You are forcing your daughter into this marriage against her will.”
“I ain’t forcing Moll,” denied Captain Mike, glaring at Phil and Madge. He was driven into a corner, and he knew nothing else to say.
“I would like to ask the girl what she desires,” the judge announced.
“Moll,” called Mike.
For the first time Mollie lifted her head. She left the boat and came slowly toward the little party.
Judge Hilliard stared, and for a moment he forgot to speak to her. Madge and Phil had assured him that their protege was beautiful, but he had expected to behold the simple beauty of a country girl; this young woman was exquisitely lovely.
Madge and Phil trembled with excitement. Suppose Mollie should not understand the Judge’s question and make the wrong answer? Suppose the poor girl had been bullied into submission? Suppose she should not even recall the struggle of yesterday? She forgot so much—would she forget this?
“Do you desire to marry this ’Bill’?” Judge Hilliard queried, looking with puzzled wonder into Mollie’s lovely, expressionless face.
Mollie shook her head gently. Madge and Phil held their breath.
“I will not marry him,” Mollie answered simply. “Nothing could make me do so.”
“Then you will come home to the houseboat with us, Mollie,” Madge and Phil pleaded together, taking hold of the girl’s hands to lead her away.
“I am sorry,” interposed Judge Hilliard, speaking to the girls, “but we can’t take her away at once. We must observe the law. Muldoon,” continued the Judge as he took a document out of his pocket and handed it to the sailor, “of course you know that you can not force this girl to marry against her will whether she is of age or not, but, aside from that, here is an order of court directing you to show cause why the girl should not be taken from you upon the ground of cruelty and neglect. The case will be heard in the court at the county seat of Anne Arundel County five days hence, the 30th of the month. You will, of course, be expected to prove that the girl is your daughter. This order also contains an injunction forbidding you to take the girl out of this jurisdiction within that time. These officers will remain here to see that the order of the court is carried out. If you make any attempt to remove the girl from this vicinity, you will be arrested at once.”
“And now, ladies,” said Judge Hilliard, turning to the girls, “we will go aboard the ’Greyhound’.”
“I say, Judge,” broke in Muldoon, starting hurriedly after Judge Hilliard, “I don’t want to get mixed up in the law. I’ll tell you something if you won’t be too hard on me. Moll isn’t my daughter! I picked her up almost drowned on a beach on the coast of Florida. My first old woman took a liking for the kid, so we just kept her. We didn’t intend her any harm. That was ten or twelve years ago.”