CAP'N ASEL has met with an adventure. The result of that adventure is that he has been obliged to give up wearing his everyday coat, because it is a ruin. He is now to be seen in a very long garment of the cut styled the Prince Albert, which gives him an air of being in a sort of demi-full dress: it is very confusing to see him thus. This coat, I understand, was given him some years ago by one of the summer visitors to the shore, and has until now been held sacred to such times as Cap'n Asel was obliged to attend funerals. He never goes to church, and has no public entertainment of any kind now save that afforded him by funerals: as the permanent population here is not large, and the smell from the ma'sh is very "healthy," there are not many deaths in the course of a year. My friend and I have become convinced that we have been a great boon to Cap'n Asel. Since we came to this shore he has kept up an unintermittent watch over us. I should not perhaps use that adjective, for there have been periods of time when he has been obliged to leave us, that he might go through the neighborhood and report minutely as to what he had found out about "them two women and their tent."

Not until yesterday did we know that as soon as he had discovered that we were to take our meals at the Widow Marlow's, which of course was immediately, he had expressed his belief to all along the ridge that one of us would be "a-settin' her cap for Mr. Simms." He is one of that large number of people who know, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that every unmarried woman always, to a more or less degree, "sets her cap" for every unmarried man she meets. It would be a curious and interesting thing to discover exactly what is thought of marriage in a mind like Captn Asel's.

It was against the Cap'n that he was not on good terms with Mrs. Marlow. Had he been in her good graces, he would have invited himself to a meal at her table, and would then and there have made his observations regarding Mr. Simms, and afterward have published his conclusions. Mr. Simms did not have to work for a living, and did not subsist on charity: therefore that gentleman was, as Cap'n Asel put it, "mighty well off; mighty 'forehanded." Of course any woman would "e'en a'most jump out of her skin to git him." Nothing on this earth could have persuaded the old man otherwise. It was surely not worth while to try to persuade him.

As I have said, it was hard on him that he could not actually see us in the presence of Mr. Simms. Every time we met Cap'n Asel,--and that was every time we stepped out of the tent,--he took occasion to mention something about "that feller that boarded at the end o' the ma'sh," and he would look at us with wooden persistence to see how we took his remarks. This soon became very wearing, but there seemed no way of avoiding the infliction.

It was after we had been two or three days at Mrs. Marlow's that, as we came out of the house,--where we had just had our supper, at which meal we had been late, --Mr. Simms was sitting in a rocking-chair by the door. He must have been free from nightmare for the last night and have been in excellent spirits, for he went so far as to remark voluntarily that it was a fine night, and he lifted his hat as we left him. This behavior was almost startling to us, though I am not sure that we considered that he was "courting." As we started to wade through the sand I raised my eyes, and saw Cap'n Asel leaning on his crutches. I knew immediately that he had been a witness to this tell-tale love scene. He began to hobble along beside us.

"I tell um," he said, "that there could n't no woman do better. What's dyspepsy? Lor, who's a-goin' to mind dyspepsy? He wants his mind taken up; sorter occypied, ye know."

We began to walk so fast that it was impossible for him to keep near us. He fell behind, muttering something about our being so shy.

That evening the carpenter who had pitched our tent came over to talk about some shelves we had ordered to be put up. It had been moonlight of late, and we were sitting within our tent with no other illumination than that given by the moon, which poured in at the entrance, across which we had mosquito - netting carefully draped. When the carpenter entered, Max was sitting placidly on his haunches, not far away.

In a few moments I heard the sound of slow-moving feet crunching in the pebbles; then I forgot the sound. In two minutes more, however, there was a low, remonstrant growl which I knew came from Mnx. More crunching at the rear of the tent; more growling. I did not think it best to interfere. If any one were prowling there, I was fully convinced that Max could give a better lesson without my interference.

We tried to continue our conversation about shelves, but the talk lagged, and we all gave ourselves up undisguisedly to listening. For a short time there was entire silence; then suddenly a noisy scramble among the stones; a fall and a rattle, as of wood striking the shingles; another more decided growl, followed by these forcible words:--

"Tarnation cuss that dorg!"

Entire silence now, save for a very slight sound as of the tearing of rotten woolen cloth.

We had by this time all risen to our feet, and were looking at each other. The carpenter seemed to think he ought to be the first to go out, but he said he "was n't afraid to own he was afraid of that dog; but he would try to stand by us against any human critter."

Having thus stated his position, he brought up the rear as we filed carefully past the mosquito-netting.

My friend and I reached the scene of the catastrophe at the same moment, and the carpenter stood behind, looking over our heads. The moon was very bright and there was no fog; therefore we had no difficulty in taking in the details of the picture.

There was a man lying motionless on his face, behind the tent and close to it. Near him lay two crutches, and over him stood Max, looking extremely large and protective. The dog was holding in his mouth an extensive shred of the back of the man's coat, the end of the fragment being still attached to the garment.

Of course we knew the man immediately. It was Cap'n Asel. We called Max away, but it was some time before we could persuade that prone figure to stir. He kept asking, with his mouth still in the sand, "Be ye sure the dorg ain't there ?"

At last the carpenter lifted the Cap'n to his leg and his crutches. He had n't any back to his coat; or rather the back was removed from its proper place, and hung down in a very useless manner. When tile old man was at last placed on his usual supports, and seemed capable of coherent speech, we asked him if he were hurt. We felt tolerably sure that he was not, for the mastiff is very unwilling to put his teeth into human flesh.

" I sh'll prosecute ye," was the reply.

Cap'n Asel continued to repeat this remark until we had lost all interest in it. The carpenter left us, and we were still standing behind our tent with Cap'n Asel, and he was still telling us he would prosecute us.

"We understand fully what you intend to do," I said at last, entirely out of patience. "But before you prosecute I wish you would tell why you were sneaking at the back of the tent, instead of coming round to the front."

"'Cause," he answered boldly," I did n't care nothin' 'bout comin' in, 'n' I heard a man's voice, 'n' I jest thought I 'd find out if it was that feller that boards to the Widder Marlow's,--that feller that ye both was a-smirkin' at so when ye left him to-night. I didn't know but you'd got him to come a-courtin'."

'And you forgot the dog?" I said.

"Yes," he answered grimly, "I forgot the dorg."

Then he informed us again that he intended to prosecute us.

At this stage of the incident a tall figure came slouching slowly up the hill. It had a basket on its arm, and we soon saw that the new-comer was Marsh Yates. Max ran wagging toward him, for Max had from the first been very friendly with Yates. It naturally happened that Marsh heard the expression of Cap'n Asel's intentions. After setting down his basket, Marsh looked about for something to lean against. Not finding anything, he put his hands in his pockets and stood on his left foot. Then he asked in the laziest kind of a way "what 'n' thunder the row was about." Before any one could reply he remarked:--

"Seems to me, Cap'n, you've lost a slice outer yer coat. Ben a-fightin'? "

These words made the Cap'n raise one crutch belligerently, and repeat fiercely his former remark concerning his intentions.

Carlos gave Marsh a rapid recital of what had happened. The fisherman threw back his head and laughed in such a way that we both joined him heartily. Then he told the old man he'd better make sail for home along with him, and the two men went away together. Marsh turned to shout back:--

"Them lobsters in the basket are for you folks. We had 'em left over, and did n't know but you 'd relish 'em between meals."

As we had lobster put before us three times a day, we had some doubts about relishing "'em between meals," but we were grateful for Marsh's kindness.

When Carlos related at the supper-table, last night, the tale of Cap'n Asel's mishap, --with important reservations concerning a gentleman present,--there came upon the face of Mr. Simms the nearest approach to a smile which we have yet seen there. Was it possible that he was going to allow himself to be "chippered up"? But I had scarcely asked that question of myself before a creeper gloom came over that cadaverous countenance, and I knew that he was wondering if the hot doughnuts were going to distress him.

Meanwhile Cap'n Asel wears a Prince Albert coat, and we are not yet prosecuted. On the contrary, he seems to bear no malice, but is always near enough to know all our movements, and if there is anything he does not fully understand he is not too diffident to make inquiries. He hats, moreover, taken to bringing fish-heads and other tokens of amity, which he offers to Max, who accepts all, but with an air as if his acceptance were, to speak legally, "without prejudice." The mastiff claims the privilege of still having his own opinions.


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