Dickory’s face flushed.
“I bring no message from a hiding-place,” he said, “nor any from your husband. He went to sea in his ship, but Mistress Kate Bonnet left the vessel before it sailed, and her clothes having been injured by water, she sent me for what a young lady in her station might need, supposing rightly that you would know what that might be.”
“Indeed I do!” cried Madam Bonnet. “What she needs are the clouts of a fish-girl, and a stick to her back besides.”
“Madam!” cried Newcombe, but she heeded him not; she was growing more angry.
“A fine creature she is,” exclaimed the lady, “to run away from my house in this fashion, and treat me with such contumely, and then to order me to send her her fine clothes to deck herself for the eyes of strangers!”
“But, young man,” cried Newcombe, “where is she? Tell that without further delay. Where is she?”
“I don’t care where she is!” interrupted Madam Bonnet. “It matters not to me whether she is in the town, or sitting waiting for her finery on the bridge. If she didn’t go with her father (cowardly sneak that he is), that gives her less reason to stay away all night from her home, and send her orders to me in the morning. No, I will have none of that! If my husband’s daughter wants anything of me, let her come here and ask for it, first giving me the reason of her shameful conduct.”
“Madam!” cried Newcombe, “I cannot listen to such speech, such—”
“Then stop your ears with your thumbs,” she exclaimed, “and you will not hear it.”
Then turning to Dickory: “Now, go you, and tell the young woman who sent you here she must come in sackcloth and ashes, if she can get them, and she must tell me her tale and her father’s tale, without a lie mixed up in them; and when she has done this, and has humbly asked my pardon for the foul affront she has put upon me, then it will be time enough to talk of fine clothes and fripperies.”
Newcombe now expostulated with much temper, but Dickory gave him little chance to speak.
“I carry no such message as that,” he said. “Do you truly mean that you deny the young lady the apparel she needs, and that I am to tell her that?”
“Get away from here!” cried Madam Bonnet, with her face in a blaze. “I send her no message at all; and if she comes here on her knees, I shall spurn her, if it suit me.”
If Dickory had waited a little he might have heard more, but he did not wait; he quickly turned, and away he went in his boat. And away went Martin Newcombe after him. But as the younger man was barefooted, the other one could not keep up with him, and the canoe was pushed off before he reached the water’s edge.
“Stop, you young rascal!” cried Newcombe. “Where is Kate Bonnet? Stop! and tell me where she is!”
Troubled as he was at the tale he was going to tell, Dickory laughed aloud, and he paddled down the river as few in that region had ever paddled before.