“Jonadab,” says I, “what’ll you take for your heirloom?”
“Well,” he says, “Barzilla, the way I feel now, I think I’d take a return ticket to Orham and be afraid of being took up for swindling at that.”
Neither of us says nothing more for a spell, and, first thing you know, we heard a carriage rattling somewhere up the road. I was shipwrecked once and spent two days in a boat looking for a sail. When I heard that rattling I felt just the way I done when I sighted the ship that picked us up.
“Judas!” says Jonadab, “there’s somebody coming!”
We jumped out of our chairs and put for the corner of the house. There was somebody coming—a feller in a buggy, and he hitched his horse to the front fence and come whistling up the walk.
He was a tall chap, with a smooth face, kind of sharp and knowing, and with a stiff hat set just a little on one side. His clothes was new and about a week ahead of up-to-date, his shoes shined till they lit up the lower half of his legs, and his pants was creased so’s you could mow with ’em. Cool and slick! Say! in the middle of that deadliness and compared to Jonadab and me, he looked like a bird of Paradise in a coop of moulting pullets.
“Cap’n Wixon?” he says to me, sticking out a gloved flipper.
“Not guilty,” says I. “There’s the skipper. My name’s Wingate.”
“Glad to have the pleasure, Mr. Wingate,” he says. “Cap’n Wixon, yours truly.”
We shook hands, and he took each of us by the arm and piloted us back to the piazza, like a tug with a couple of coal barges. He pulled up a chair, crossed his legs on the rail, reached into the for’ard hatch of his coat and brought out a cigar case.
“Smoke up,” he says. We done it—I holding my hat to shut off the wind, while Jonadab used up two cards of matches getting the first light. When we got the cigars to going finally, the feller says:
“My name’s Brown—Peter T. Brown. I read about your falling heir to this estate, Cap’n Wixon, in a New Bedford paper. I happened to be in New Bedford then, representing the John B. Wilkins Unparalleled All Star Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ten Nights in a Bar-room Company. It isn’t my reg’lar line, the show bus’ness, but it produced the necessary ‘ham and’ every day and the excelsior sleep inviter every night, so—but never mind that. Soon as I read the paper I came right down to look at the property. Having rubbered, back I go to Orham to see you. Your handsome and talented daughter says you are over here. That’ll be about all—here I am. Now, then, listen to this.”
He went under his hatches again, rousted out a sheet of paper, unfolded it and read something like this—I know it by heart:
“The great sea leaps and splashes before you as it leaped and splashed in the old boyhood days. The sea wind sings to you as it sang of old. The old dreams come back to you, the dreams you dreamed as you slumbered upon the cornhusk mattress in the clean, sweet little chamber of the old home. Forgotten are the cares of business, the scramble for money, the ruthless hunt for fame. Here are perfect rest and perfect peace.