MARBLEHEAD MADNESS

C. M. LINDSAY July 1 1921

MARBLEHEAD MADNESS

C. M. LINDSAY July 1 1921

MARBLEHEAD MADNESS

C . M . LINDSAY

THE COTTAGE stood a little back from the lane, a somewhat uneven and stormbeaten paling marking the line of de-

marcation between the public way and the private garden. The rambling morning-glories and larkspur, however, took no account of this ineffectual barrier, growing in equal profusion on either side, though on the outer edge somewhat hampered by the flourishing weeds and grasses. Roger Adams, ambling along the quiet byways of Marblehead, came to a point opposite the cottage, and paused. He surveyed the tiny house with its quaint* old-fashioned garden, riotous with color, and drew a deep and appreciative breath in which the tang of the salt air and the fragrance of the flowers commingled; then resolutely pushed open the gate. The path up which he walked was bordered by bright-hued mari-

golds and petunias, and over by the well was a pansycovered dory. The entrance to the cottage was particularly inviting. There was a quaint portico above the door, and on either side—close against the vine-clad latticework,—a low bench of such sturdy workmanship as our Maritime forefathers loved to fashion. The door itself, originally a dark green, was weather-stained and scarred; but the large brass knocker in the centre had been polished until it shone resplendently—almost aggressively. He rapped out a summons such as served to waken the echoes. This vigorous procedure was, of course, quite unnecessary, indeed it was probable that the inmates of the cottage had been curiously regarding him from the chintz-curtained windows of the sittingroom since he first paused at the gate. At all events, the door was immediately flung wide and'the caller found himself confronted by a very graceful and capable-looking young woman, the sleeves of whose gingham gown were rolled up, revealing tw’o very white and perfectly-moulded arms. Her hair was an uncompromising auburn; her eyes a deep and scintillating blue like to the waters of the harbor, and hèr carriage exceedingly erect. She now inclined her head slightly—almost imperceptibly—and stood aw'aiting his pleasure. Though not one easily abashed in the presence of the fair sex, he was for the moment plainly disconcerted by this unexpected vision of youth and beauty; but quickly recovering his equanimity and his manners he removed his hat—rather a shabby affair by contrast with his generally correct attire—and after an affable “Good morning” remarked pleasantly: “I called in regard to buying this cottage-and the grounds. Pray at what figure do you hold them ?” TnE GIRL stared at him in pure amazement as A though she half believed him to be one bereft of his senses. “Why, we haven’t the slightest desire to sell!” she declared. “Who told you that we had?” “No one,” he replied cheerfully. “You see, it’s this way. I like this place immensely and I’ve made up my mind I must have it!” Again she stared, and for a half moment seemed

hesitating between yielding to amazement or anger. Finally she assui’ed him with considerable spirit: “Really, we don’t care to dispose of the property! In fact, there isn’t enough money in all Marblehead to buy it!” “No?—Well, maybe not. I don’t know very much about Marblehead. Never been here before in my life.” “One can readily see that,” she responded with ironic emphasis. He laughed whimsically. “Nevertheless, as I said before, it’s just the place I’ve been hunting for. I’ll give you three thousand dollars for it. What do you say to that?” “Haven’t I just told you it’s not for sale?—Why, mother and I have lived here ever since I was born!— We wouldn’t part with it for the world !” “I don’t blame you!” he assented with the ghost of a sigh as though he thoroughly understood and sympathized with her attitude and yet couldn’t change his own point of view. Shading his eyes he looked off across the bee-haunted garden to where the waters of the harbor glistened in the afternoon sun. Very slowly his gaze returned to the quiet lane, to the flower bordered walk and finally to the trim figure of the girl before him. “I don’t blame you!” he repeated. “But, you see, I’ve set my heart on this thing!—Suppose we say four thousand ?” A gleam of genuine anger came into the blue eyes, and despite the disarming twinkle in the brown ones of the caller, she would have made a sharp retort had it not been for the opportune appearance of a third party,—a comfortable looking, matronly woman, who beamed good-naturedly at him over the girl’s shoulder. “Mother, did you ever hear of such a thing! He But she was not allowed to complete the sentence. “Won’t you come in?” invited the elder woman, pleasantly. “It’s pretty warm out there in the sun. Might as well come in and sit a while!” He bowed and followed her into the low-ceilinged

living-room. Auburn-Hair giving way rather grudgingly and then slowly entering in their wake. His hostess pointed to a Windsor

rocker by the window and into this he dropped with a sigh as soon as the two women had seated themselves. The younger chose a straight - backed chair in which she sat stiffly erect, “I heard you say suthin’ about wantin’ to buy the place,” began the old lady. “But land’s sake! There ain’t any use tryin’ to bargain for it; —we don’t want to sell.” “I’ve told him so four times!” interjected the girl. “Pardon me, only three!” he corrected, with a quick side glance. UOWEVER, she -*• merely sniffed at the quibble and became interested in adjusting a wisp of her tawny hair. “I can send you to a very good place, if you’re lookin’ for board,” resumed the other. “Nice folk an’ good

“Nice folk an’ good home cookin’.” “I don’t want it!” he declared promptly. “I like this house and this garden! The fact of the matter is I’ve been dreaming of this house and this garden— oh, for twenty years! I like the way”—looking out of the white-curtained window—“those nasturtiums straggle all over the place! I like that old dory out there with the pansies in it!—Though I’d ’ve filled it with Sweet Williams myself.” “Of all things!” gasped the girl. “Who asked your opinion?” He made no reply; merely laughed and shot an exploring glance across the narrow hall into the chamber opposite the door of which stood wide. He could glimpse a quaint old mirror on the further wall, surmounted with a gilded eagle. “Hello!” he exclaimed. “That’s a wonderful-looking heirloom in there,—isn’t it?” “Yes! it’s been in our family for years and years.” “May I go in and look at it?” “Why, o’ course!” Smilingly the old lady rose and led the way into the other room where, after having appreciatively examined the mirror, the visitor looked about him with increasing enthusiasm. The room was evidently a “company” chamber; an old four-poster stood in one corner, with an elegant spread. “Awfully cozy here!” he commented.—“I’ll wager that that bedstead’s a hundred years old, eh?” “More’n that,” nodded his hostess. “Great-greatgranther Moulton bought it long before Wolfe defeated Montcalm. He was wounded on the Plains of Abraham and I guess he was glad he had such a comfortable bed to lie on.” Stepping over to the fire-place with its wide hearth, he took the tongs and began poking about the brick work. Then abandoning this he turned and exclaimed with another comprehensive glance about him: “Say, this is great!—That old highboy there,— the genuine thing, by Jove!—And how one could sit and doze in that warm window seat! Why, it’s immense!—See here, couldn’t you—er—take me in and do for me, for a while, anyhow?” His enthusiasm w'as so engaging that the old lady replied, albeit with some hesitation, “Well, I suppose

I could—-for a week or two, mebbe; that is, if you’re so set on cornin’!”

“Mother!” protested Auburn-Hair. She had'come to the threshold and stood there with the fingers of one hand spread against the lintel. “You know we've never taken anyone in!”

“No-o”, agreed her mother. “We never have, but—”

“Of course not,” he broke in. “I quite understand all that!”

“Well, I shan’t look after him!” declared the girl.

“I shan’t expect you to!” he said promptly. “You’ll be too busy with the garden. A garden needs a lot o’ looking after;—I don’t!—Now as to terms—”

A GAIN the girl protested, addressing her mother.

“Why, we don’t even knowwho this person is,

“Here are my references,” he went on eagerly. And taking a wallet from his pocket extracted therefrom a goodly number of bills of large dgnomination, which he laid on the centre-table.

“My land!” exclaimed the old lady, glancing at this display of wealth. “I don’t calc’late on keepin’ you more’n a couple of weeks!”

He laughed. “Well, you take what you think’s right—and I’ll put the rest back.”

She did so.

“My name’s Adams,” he informed her when this matter had been duly adjusted. “Roger Adams.”

“An’ mine’s Trumbull. This is my daughter, Susannah.”

He bowed elaborately to each in turn, which courtesy however the latter acknowledged by only the merest of nods; then, turning, she went out into the garden.

“Your daughter doesn’t take to strangers,” he laughed.

“You mustn’t mind her!—She’s high-spirited and likes to have her own way. Gets her stubbornness from her great-uncle Ebenezer;—nothing could budge him—short of dynamite!”

He nodded appreciatively. “I see.—Well, now I’m going down after my traps. Left ’em at the station.”

Making his way out into the sunshine he was at

Susannah’s side ere she was aware of his approach, being busily engaged in snipping dead leaves from a rose-bush.

“Er—may I have just a single bloom for a boutonniere?” he inquired, pausing to sniff the fragrant blossoms.

“Yes,” she replied. “There’s plenty of them!” And by a sweep of her arm indicated the surrounding bushes.

But, Mrs. Trumbull, who had followed her guest to the door, overheard his request and the reply.

“Susannah, you might pick one o’ those Lady Ursulas for him,” she suggested tactfully.

“Let him pick his own Lady Ursulas!” was the tart retort.

Roger, apparently not in the least put out of countenance, proceeded to leisurely select a budding tea-rose of a deep carmine, and having carefully placed it in his coat-lapel, continued on his way. The gate as it closed behind him creaked alarmingly on its hinges.

“Needs oiling!” was the cheerful comment he flung over his shoulder.

Doubtless she caught this remark; and it is equally certain that she vouchsafed no reply.

The steady snip-snip of her garden shears was all he heard. With a chuckle and shrug of his broad shoulders he swung easily down the lane while Susannah rising to her full height and gazing after his retreating figure exclaimed:

“Did one ever hear of such impudence!”

Her mother smiled deprecatingly. “Oh, I dunno!” she remonstrated. “I wouldn’t say that! He seems a very clever sort of fellow!—

Do try an’ be a little civil to him while he’s

“I shan’t feel safe a minute!”

“Land o’ Canaan! I should like to know why not!”

“Mother, we don’t know anything about him! He comes in from the street and you take him as a lodger! Whoever heard of such a thing?”

fRS. TRUMBULL made no reply. Reentering the cottage she busied herself with such preparations as were necessary to the end that Mr. Adams’ room might be ready for him on his return.

When he did return, his traps proved to consist of a good-sized traveling-bag, a bulging suitcase (apparently brand new) and an umbrella. The umbrella he put in a corner and the contents of the bag he distributed impartially in the drawers of the highboy and upon the closet shelves. But the suitcase remained—at least to all appearances—unpacked.

The following morning Susannah, lifting it that she might sweep the floor beneath, was astonished at its weight. (She had agreed to tidy up the room each day— when Roger was out, but beyond that declined to minister to his needs). String as she was she could scarcely lift it. She was equally surprised on the second day and on the third to find that he apparently had no intention of unpacking it. One might think this a trivial matter; but curiosity was a trait shared by Susannah with Eve’s daughters in general, and she greatly wondered what the case contained. Roger himself gave no hint, and as she had elected to confine her own remarks at the dining-table to such broad suojoets as the weather, old Marblehead and rose-culture, she could not satisfy her curiosity by means of the ‘c .:-

versational exhaust” method. To betray an interest in the affairs of Roger Adams was a thing not to be thought of.

Aside from the mystery of the suitcase there were other peculiarities in connection with their “paying guest” which aroused the wonder of both women. On the afternoon of the day following his arrival he remained shut in his room; and sounds emanating therefrom at intervals indicated that he was engaged in manual labor of some description. Susannah, busying herself about the house, heard the noise of heavyblows being struck, the occasional rattle of tools upon the floor, and now and again sundry “whoofs” and grunts testifying to extraordinary exertions upon the part of their guest.

She discussed the probable nature of these labors with her mother but without reaching any satisfactory conclusion. Mrs. Trumbull, however, hopefully made it an object to fetch some clean towels to his room. But the room in which Susannah had heard the keyturned in its lock some hours since, remained closed. He but approached to inquire the nature of her errand and then cheerily requested that she hang the towels on the door-knob. Therefore nothing was gained

When the next morning he had departed on an errand of his own, carrying ^-ith him a large package. Susannah with commendable zeal lost no time in putting his room to rights; but if she expected to find any clue to the nature of his labors, she was disappointed. The floor was speckless. Clearly he had himself carefully cleaned up any muss before going out. As to the tools she saw no sign of them and was fain to conclude that he had taken them away or that theyconstituted the contents of the suitcase and had been returned. But why the attempt at concealment?

The afternoon he employed in a manner similar to the one preceding and Susannah who was repairing some trellises in the garden noted that, the curtains, which she had carefully looped up in the morning, had been allowed to fall in place again. Of course he saw her; but he made no effort to communicate with her as he might easily have done by stepping to the window. Whereat she was unaccountably vexed—though Continued on page 42.

Continued from page 27.

she told herself that really it was a matter of not the slightest consequence to her.

THAT afternoon’s work appeared to complete his manual labors; nevertheless during the balance of the week he spent several hours each day in his room and Susannah frequently caught a clinking sound such as might be made by the handling of coins. This so interested her that one day she ventured to quietly approach his door and stand there, listening intently to what went on within. It certainly seemed as if he were engaged in handling money of some description, for every now and then would come a sharp clink as of one coin being tossed upon a pile of its fellows. There were intervening silences of some duration and unfortunately for her it was during one of these that the door was suddenly opened and Susannah almost fell into the arms of Mr. Adams.

“I beg your pardon!” she exclaimed, reddening at this unexpected contretemps. “I—I believe I left my broom in here this morning!”

He released her with some reluctance, chanting gaily: “Broom! Broom! Who’s got the broom!” If he doubted the truth of her statement he certainly exhibited no suspicion, but gallantly assisted in looking for the useful household article referred to, which, _ of course, was not found. But in passing the center-table Susannah joggled it and from a canvas bag which was lying thereon a number of bright coins slid out and went jingling to the floor.

“O, isn’t that too bad!” she exclaimed, bending over in search for the runaways.

“Pray don’t bother!” said he. And indeed, before she could get a good look ! at the coins he had recovered and restored them to the bag.

“A fine afternoon for a sail,” he suggested. “Suppose you and Mrs. Trumbull come along with me. You see, I’ve hired a boat in which to take a turn , around the harbor and visit the exact spot where that famous old mariner,

' Captain William Briggs, lost his ship.” “That was on a shoal; you can’t get j very near.”

“Do you believe he was really a pirate?”

“No; he was an ancestor of mine. “Then he wasn’t a pirate. But how about the trip?”

“Really, I don’t believe I could.— Mother might.”

He looked disappointed. “And why not you?”

“I’ve got so much to do.”

He regarded her quizzically, whereat Susannah reddened but said nothing more. Mrs. Trumbull wouldn’t go without her and so he went alone. When he had departed Susannah brought up the matter of the coins.

“It’s very queer,” said she, “about all that money—and his locking himself ¡n—and the work he was doing! And why is he so secretive about it?” “Well, it’s really none of our affair.” “But—perhaps he’s a coiner or—or something like that!”

“My soul, no!”

“Well, we ought to just take a look around his room, oughtn’t we ? ^ We don’t know just what he might be!” She agreed to this with some hesitaI tion. But Roger left absolutely nothing that wasn’t under lock and key to give any clue as to his occupation.

“It’s all foolishness!” declared Mrs. I Trumbull. “Why, he’d have to have—a

—a—die—and oh, all sorts of things; that’s certain!”

She didn’t know much about coining and such matters, but though she was willing to allow that his actions were a bit peculiar she refused to believe that there was anything out of the way in his doings and took up the cudgels for him stoutly. Susannah, despite an unconfessed liking for Mr. Adams, thereupon became all the more obstinate in her own view of the situation.

HPHE LAST day of the two weeks ar*■ rived, and in the afternoon Susannah allowed Roger to lend a hand in the completion of the repairs to the treU lises. He was really quite handy in such matters, and she was grateful for his assistance; then, too, all the time he kept up a running fire of comment and jest which amused her despite the fact that she apparently paid little heed to his remarks.

“You’ve never been far away from Marblehead, have you?” he queried. “No,—and I don’t wish to go, either!” He nodded. “I should like to have lived here when there were witches— and smugglers—and pirates!”

“You seem to take a great interest in pirates!”

“More in witches—though I don’t care for the old crones! I prefer the modern enchantresses — with blue

“Look out!” she exclaimed. “You’re ruining that wistaria!”

“It’s an ideal place for poets and pirates,—but I’m neither, and yet I feel as if I could never be happy—completely so-^unless I lived in a snug little cottage in Marblehead—and had some one to talk to. Do you ever get lonesome?” “No—never!”

“Oh!—I see! Well, one never can tell! The sky isn’t always blue—even

“I think,” she remarked irrelevantly, “that we shall just get this done before dark.”

Very soon the last nail was driven and the last wire adjusted.

“A few moments more,” said he, “and we wouldn’t be able to see.”

“Thank you very much for your help,” said Susannah, picking up a hammer and preparing to go in.

“Don’t go—yet!” he begged. “I’ve something I want to ask you!”

“What is it?”

“This, you know, is the end of my fortnight. I’ve had more reasons than one to enjoy it. Now, I’d like to be allowed to remain for—say a week or two more—if you don’t object. Do you?”

“That’s for mother to decide.”

“I think it is for you to decide!” said he, and looking steadily into her blue eyes, he took her free hand in his own. “May I stay?”

She withdrew her hand and turned away, feeling more disturbed than she cared to own. But remembering that he might be a—oh, nobody knew what he might be!—she made no reply.

“I’ve offended you!” he said at length.

“No—o!”

“You don’t like me!”

“I didn’t say so!”

“If you did,—you wouldn’t object to my staying—would you?”

“It isn’t that!”

“What then?”

“I can’t tell you!—I think I’ll be going in.”

She started again toward the cottage door.

I “Susannah!” he called, “Susannah!

! I—»

“You mustn’t say it!” And with that I she fled.

The evening meal that night was a I rather gloomy affair. Conversation ! was maintained with the greatest dif: ficulty and after it was over Roger repaired to his room there to engage in packing his duds. The next day he I was prepared to bid goodby to the cottage and its occupants. Susannah had addressed scarcely a single word to him since she had fled from him in the garden.

IXfHEN he entered the pleasant liv’* ing-room to say goodby, she was sitting there with her mother. And despite the air of studied indifference which she strove to maintain she really seemed a bit nervous and out-of-sorts. Roger himself looked more than grave; the twinkle which usually lurked in his eyes was quite gone and he bore him himself in a very quiet and dignified manner in contrast with his usual cheery confidence.

“Before I say goodby,” he began, “there is something I have to tell you. I fancy you’ve both been a bit—perturbed—as to what I’ve been up to nere these two weeks. I’ll explain.”

Here he laid upon the table two bulging canvas bags which he had carried under his arm.

“There; each contains valuable and rare coins—old fellows dating back to the beginnings of British settlement in Canada—and beyond that even. I’m leaving them with you since they really belong to you.”

“To us!” exclaimed Mrs. Trumbull. “Yes, I dug ’em up underneath your hearth.”

“My soul and body!” gasped Mrs. Trumbull. “I don’t understand!” Susannah opened her lips to speak but thought better of it and sat back in her chair.

“You see,” went on Roger quietly. “I’m a college professor at Acadia— and incidentally a student of numismatics. The reason I wished to buy this house was that I wanted to dig up these

“But—land o’ Canaan! What would you do with the house after you got ’em—-and how did you know they were

“I should have considered it a cheap investment as far as the cottage goes,” he answered, “even if these coins didn’t cover the price. I really did want the house. As to my knowing they were here—well, you see I’ve read a lot about Captain William Briggs; I knew a deal about his doings and even that he used to stop in this very house. Perhaps you’ve heard some of the legends regarding the treasure he was reputed to have buried somewhere in Marblehead—but I was the only person who had any clue as to where this place was. I got this clue from an old letter in the archives at Ottawa and which no one else could make either head or tail of.”

Mrs. Trumbull stared at him—then at the bags of coin.

“And you dug up under the hearth and found all these?”

“Yes; they’re worth a lot, too! I didn’t tell you anything about it until now because I wanted to have all the glory of finding them myself—-and I wanted the coins, too. But since you wouldn’t sell the house, why the treasure’s yours, also!”

Susannah still remained silent; Mrs. Trumbull went over to the table and stood examining the coins.

“That’s all,” remarked Roger, quietly. “Now I’ll be going.”

“No you won’t!—Half o’ this stuff belongs to you, anyhow! An’I don’t want you to go, Mr. Adams! You stay here jus’ as long as you’ve a mind to!” “No,” he insisted. “I shall make a report of the find,—and perhaps exhibit a few of the rarer specimens if you permit me, for a time. But they’re all yours—and Miss Trumbull's!”

“But why not stay? My land! There’s so much I want to ask you!”

i He shook his head, whereupon Susanj nah looked at him rather shyly and rei marked: “I think you really ought to ! take half of the treasure. And—I

I wish you could stay—longer*!”

Again he declined. “No,” said he firmly. "There’s something a great deal more valuable than these coins here that I want; -It’s a treasure not to be mentioned in the same breath with such things,—and if I can’t have it, for my own, why I don’t wish to stay here where I can see it and know that it can never be mine!”

“Perhaps it isn’t really as valuable as you fancy,” murmured Susannah.

“It is!” he declared firmly.

“Then I think,” she faltered, “that you’d better stay—and continue the search—if you really want it as badly as all that!”