“I thought you would meet him,” she said. “He was here a little while ago and I asked him to wait. I guess Zeb’s yarn was too much for him; he doesn’t like to be praised.”
“So? Was he here? At the Regular parsonage? I’m surprised.”
“He and I have known each other for a long while.”
“Well, I’m sorry he’s gone. I think I should like him.”
Keziah turned from the door.
“I know you would,” she said.
IN WHICH CAPTAIN NAT PICKS UP A DERELICT
It is probable that John Ellery never fully realized the debt of gratitude he owed to the fog and the squall and to Captain Nat Hammond. Trumet, always hungry for a sensation, would have thoroughly enjoyed arguing and quarreling over the minister’s visit to Come-Outer meeting, and, during the fracas, Keziah’s parson might have been more or less battered. But Captain Nat’s brilliant piloting of the old packet was a bit of seamanship which every man and woman on that foam-bordered stretch of sand could understand and appreciate, and the minister’s indiscretion was all but forgotten in consequence. The “Daily Advertisers” gloated over it, of course, and Captain Elkanah brought it up at the meeting of the parish committee, but there Captain Zeb Mayo championed the young man’s course and proclaimed that, fur’s he was concerned, he was for Mr. Ellery more’n ever. “A young greenhorn with the spunk to cruise single-handed right into the middle of the Come-Outer school and give an old bull whale like Eben the gaff is the man for my money,” declared Zebedee. Most of his fellow-committee agreed with him. “Not guilty, but don’t do it again,” was the general verdict.
As for the Come-Outers, they professed to believe that their leader had much the best of the encounter, so they were satisfied. There was a note of triumph and exultation in the “testimony” given on the following Thursday night, and Captain Eben divided his own discourse between thankfulness for his son’s safe return and glorification at the discomfiture of the false prophets. Practically, then, the result of Ellery’s peace overture was an increased bitterness in the feeling between the two societies and a polishing of weapons on both sides.
Keziah watched anxiously for a hint concerning her parson’s walk in the rain with Grace, but she heard nothing, so congratulated herself that the secret had been kept. Ellery did not again mention it to her, nor she to him. A fortnight later he preached his great sermon on “The Voyage of Life,” and its reference to gales and calms and lee shores and breakers made a hit. His popularity took a big jump.
He met Nat Hammond during that fortnight. The first meeting was accompanied by unusual circumstances, which might have been serious, but were actually only funny.
The tide at Trumet, on the bay side, goes out for a long way, leaving uncovered a mile and a half of flats, bare and sandy, or carpeted with seaweed. Between these flats are the channels, varying at low water from two to four feet in depth, but deepening rapidly as the tide flows.