John Ellery was silent. What could he say? Keziah went on.
“I don’t run away from it,” she exclaimed, “and you mustn’t run away from yours. Your church depends on you, they trust you. Are you goin’ to show ’em their trust was misplaced? The girl you wanted is to marry another man, that’s true, and it’s mighty hard. But she’ll marry a good man, and, by and by, she’ll be happy.”
“Happy!” he said scornfully.
“Yes, happy. I know she’ll be happy because I know she’s doin’ what’ll be best for her and because I know him that’s to be her husband. I’ve known him all my life; he’s that other one that—that—and I give him up to her; yes, I give him up to her, and try to do it cheerful, because I know it’s best for him. Hard for you? Great Lord A’mighty! do you think it ain’t hard for me? I—I—”
She stopped short; then covering her face with her apron, she ran from the room. John Ellery heard her descending the stairs, sobbing as she went.
All that afternoon he remained in his chair by the window. It was six o’clock, supper time, when he entered the kitchen. Keziah, looking up from the ironing board, saw him. He was white and worn and grim, but he held out his hand to her.
“Mrs. Coffin,” he said, “I’m not going away. You’ve shown me what devotion to duty really means. I shall stay here and go on with my work.”
Her face lit up. “Will you?” she said. “I thought you would. I was sure you was that kind.”
IN WHICH THE SEA MIST SAILS
They buried Captain Eben in the little Come-Outer cemetery at the rear of the chapel. A bleak, wind-swept spot was that cemetery, bare of trees and with only a few graves and fewer headstones, for the Come-Outers were a comparatively new sect and their graveyard was new in consequence. The grave was dug in the yellow sand beside that of Mrs. Hammond, Nat’s mother, and around it gathered the fifty or sixty friends who had come to pay their last tribute to the old sailor and tavern keeper.
The Come-Outers were there, all of them, and some members of the Regular society, Captain Zeb Mayo, Dr. Parker, Keziah Coffin, Mrs. Higgins, and Ike. Mrs. Didama Rogers was there also, not as a mourner, but because, in her capacity as gatherer of gossip, she made it a point never to miss a funeral. The Rev. Absalom Gott, Come-Outer exhorter at Wellmouth, preached the short sermon, and Ezekiel Bassett added a few remarks. Then a hymn was sung and it was over. The little company filed out of the cemetery, and Captain Eben Hammond was but a memory in Trumet.
Keziah lingered to speak a word with Grace. The girl, looking very white and worn, leaned on the arm of Captain Nat, whose big body acted as a buffer between her and over-sympathetic Come-Outers. Mrs. Coffin silently held out both hands and Grace took them eagerly.