“’Tain’t exactly what you’d call summery just now,” I says. And we hauled down sail, run the ice-boat up to the wharf, and went up to our room to pack our extension cases for the next train.
“You see,” says Jonadab, putting in his other shirt, “it’s easy enough to get the best of Cape folks on wash sales and lying, but when it comes to boats that’s a different pair of shoes.”
“I guess Phil’ll agree with you,” I says.
The way we got into the hotel business in the first place come around like this: Me and Cap’n Jonadab went down to Wellmouth Port one day ’long in March to look at some property he’d had left him. Jonadab’s Aunt Sophrony had moved kind of sudden from that village to Beulah Land—they’re a good ways apart, too—and Cap’n Jonadab had come in for the old farm, he being the only near relative.
When you go to Wellmouth Port you get off the cars at Wellmouth Center and then take Labe Bearse’s barge and ride four miles; and then, if the horse don’t take a notion to lay down in the road and go to sleep, or a wheel don’t come off or some other surprise party ain’t sprung on you, you come to a place where there’s a Baptist chapel that needs painting, and a little two-for-a-cent store that needs trade, and two or three houses that need building over, and any Lord’s quantity of scrub pines and beach grass and sand. Then you take Labe’s word for it that you’ve got to Wellmouth Port and get out of the barge and try to remember you’re a church member.
Well, Aunt Sophrony’s house was a mile or more from the place where the barge stopped, and Jonadab and me, we hoofed it up there. We bought some cheese and crackers and canned things at the store, ’cause we expected to stay overnight in the house, and knew there wasn’t no other way of getting provender.
We got there after a spell and set down on the big piazza with our souls full of gratitude and our boots full of sand. Great, big, old-fashioned house with fourteen big bedrooms in it, big barn, sheds, and one thing or ’nother, and perched right on top of a hill with five or six acres of ground ’round it. And how the March wind did whoop in off the sea and howl and screech lonesomeness through the pine trees! You take it in the middle of the night, with the shutters rattling and the old joists a-creaking and Jonadab snoring like a chap sawing hollow logs, and if it wan’t joy then my name ain’t Barzilla Wingate. I don’t wonder Aunt Sophrony died. I’d have died ’long afore she did if I knew I was checked plumb through to perdition. There’d be some company where I was going, anyhow.
The next morning after ballasting up with the truck we’d bought at the store—the feller ’most keeled over when he found we was going to pay cash for it—we went out on the piazza again, and looked at the breakers and the pine trees and the sand, and held our hats on with both hands.