So the next morning we started, me and the Reverend James and Clarissa in the Greased Lightning, Peter’s new motor launch. First part of the trip that Todd man done nothing but ask questions about the launch; I had to show him how to start it and steer it, and the land knows what all. Clarissa set around doing the heavy contemptuous and turning up her nose at creation generally. It must have its drawbacks, this roosting so fur above the common flock; seems to me I’d be thinking all the time of the bump that was due me if I got shoved off the perch.
Well, by and by Lonesome Huckleberries’ shanty hove in sight, and I was glad to see it, although I had to answer a million questions about Lonesome and his history.
I told the Todds that, so fur as nationality was concerned he was a little of everything, like a picked-up dinner; principally Eyetalian and Portugee, I cal’late, with a streak of Gay Head Injun. His real name’s long enough to touch bottom in the ship channel at high tide, so folks got to calling him “Huckleberries” because he peddles them kind of fruit in summer. Then he mopes around so with nary a smile on his face, that it seemed right to tack on the “Lonesome.” So “Lonesome Huckleberries” he’s been for ten years. He lives in the patchwork shanty on the beach down there, he is deaf and dumb, drives a liver-colored, balky mare that no one but himself and his daughter Becky can handle, and he has a love for bad rum and a temper that’s landed him in the Wellmouth lock-up more than once or twice. He’s one of the best gunners alongshore and at this time he owned a flock of live decoys that he’d refused as high as fifteen dollars apiece for. I told all this and a lot more.
When we struck the beach, Clarissa, she took her paint box and umbrella and mosquito ’intment, and the rest of her cargo, and went off by herself to “sketch.” She was great on “sketching,” and the way she’d use up good paint and spile nice clean paper was a sinful waste. Afore she went, she give me three fathom of sailing orders concerning taking care of “James.” You’d think he was about four year old; made me feel like a hired nurse.
James and me went perusing up and down that beach in the blazing sun looking for something to shoot. We went ’way beyond Lonesome’s shanty, but there wa’n’t nobody to home. Lonesome himself, it turned out afterward, was up to the village with his horse and wagon, and his daughter Becky was over in the wood on the mainland berrying. Todd was a cheerful talker, but limited. His favorite remark was: “Oh, I say, my deah man.” That’s what he kept calling me, “my deah man.” Now, my name ain’t exactly a Claude de Montmorency for prettiness, but “Barzilla” ’ll fetch me alongside a good deal quicker’n “my deah man,” I’ll tell you that.
We frogged it up and down all the forenoon, but didn’t git a shot at nothing but one stray “squawk” that had come over from the Cedar Swamp. I told James ’twas a canvasback, and he blazed away at it, but missed it by three fathom, as might have been expected.