“Oh, heavens alive! I say is—Ha, there you be, Mr. Ellery. Mornin’, Keziah.”
The minister and Mrs. Coffin, the former with a napkin in his hand, had emerged from the side door of the parsonage and now came hurrying down to the gate.
“Land of Goshen!” exclaimed the captain, “you don’t mean to tell me you ain’t done breakfast yet, and it after seven o’clock. Why, we’re thinkin’ about dinner up to our house.”
Keziah answered. “Yes,” she said, “I shouldn’t wonder. Your wife tells me, Zeb, that the only time you ain’t thinkin’ about dinner is when you think of breakfast or supper. We ain’t so hungry here that we get up to eat in the middle of the night. What’s the matter? Hettie Peters is hollerin’ at you; did you know it?”
“Did I know it? Tut! tut! tut! I’d known it if I was a mile away, ’less I was paralyzed in my ears. Let her holler; ’twill do her good and keep her in practice for Come-Outer meetin’. Why, Mr. Ellery, I tell you: Em’lous Sparrow, the fish peddler, stepped up to our house a few minutes ago. He’s just come down from the shanties over on the shore by the light—where the wreck was, you know—and he says there’s a ’morphrodite brig anchored three or four mile off and she’s flyin’ colors ha’f mast and union down. They’re gettin’ a boat’s crew together to go off to her and see what’s the row. I’m goin’ to drive over and I thought maybe you’d like to go along. I told the old lady—my wife, I mean—that I thought of pickin’ you up and she said ‘twas a good idee. Said my likin’ to cruise with a parson in my old age was either a sign that I was hopeful or fearful, she didn’t know which; and either way it ought to be encouraged. He, he, he! What do you say, Mr. Ellery? Want to go?”
The minister hesitated. “I’d like to,” he said. “I’d like to very much. But I ought to work on my sermon this morning.”
Keziah cut in here. “Cat’s foot!” she sniffed. “Let your sermon go for this once, do. If it ain’t long enough as it is, you can begin again when you’ve got to the end and preach it over again. Didama Rogers said, last circle day, that she could set still and hear you preach right over n’ over. I’d give her a chance, ’specially if it did keep her still. Keepin’ Didama still is good Christian work, ain’t it, Zeb?”
Captain Mayo slapped his knee. “He, he, he!” he chuckled. “Cal’late you’re right, Keziah.”
“Indeed, I am. I believe it would be Christianity and I know ’twould be work. There! there! run in and get your coat and hat, Mr. Ellery. I’ll step across and ease Hettie’s mind and—and lungs.”
She went across the road to impart the news of the vessel in distress to the curious Mrs. Peters. A moment later the minister, having donned his hat and coat, ran down the walk and climbed into the chaise beside Captain Zeb. The white horse, stimulated into a creaky jog trot by repeated slappings of the reins and roars to “Get under way!” and “Cast off!” moved along the sandy lane.