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The Siren Of Scalawag Run
by [?]

Scalawag Run suspected the sentimental entanglement into which Fate had mischievously cast Dickie Blue and pretty Peggie Lacey and there abandoned them; and Scalawag Run was inclined to be more scornful than sympathetic. What Dickie Blue should have done in the circumstances was transparent to every young blade in the harbor–an instant, bold behavior, issuing immediately in the festive popping of guns at a wedding and a hearty charivari thereafter; and those soft devices to which pretty Peggy Lacey should have resorted without scruple in her own relief, were not unknown, you may be sure, to the wise, whispering maids of the place. It was too complacently agreed that the situation, being left to the direction and mastery of Time, would proceed to a happy conclusion as a matter of course. There would be a conjunction of the light of the moon, for example, with the soft, love-lorn weather of June–the shadows of the alders on the winding road to Squid Cove and the sleepy tinkle of the goats’ bells dropping down from the slopes of The Topmast into the murmur of the sea. There had been just such favorable auspices of late, however–June moonlight and the music of a languorous night, with Dickie Blue and pretty Peggy Lacey meandering the shadowy Squid Cove road together; and the experience of Scalawag Run was still defied–no blushes and laughter and shining news of a wedding at Scalawag Run.

Dickie Blue, returning from the Squid Cove road, found his father, Skipper John, waiting at the gate.

“Well?” Skipper John demanded.

“‘Tis I, sir.”

“I knows that. I been waitin’ for you. How’d ye get along the night?”

“I got along well enough.”

“How far did yer get along?”

“I–I proceeded.”

“What did ye do?”

“Who, sir?” Dickie replied. “Me?”

“Ay, you! Who else?”

“I didn’t do nothin’ much,” said Dickie.

“Ha!” Skipper John snorted. “Nothin’ much, eh! Was you with the maid at all on the roads?”

“Well, yes, sir,” Dickie replied. “I was with her.”

Skipper John spoke in scorn. “You was with her!” said he. “An’ you didn’t do nothin’ much! Well, well!” And then, explosively: “Did you do nothin’ at all?”

“I didn’t go t’ no great lengths with her.”

“What lengths?”

“Well,” Dickie drawled, “I—-“

Skipper John broke in impatiently. “What I wants t’ know,” said he, “is a very simple thing. Did you pop?”

“Me?”

Skipper John was disgusted.

“Ecod!” he ejaculated. “Then you didn’t!”

“I didn’t pop,” said Dickie. “That is–not quite.”

“Did you come into peril o’ poppin’?”

“Well,” Dickie admitted, “I brooded on it.”

“Whew!” Skipper John ejaculated. “You brooded on it, did you? An’ what happened then?”

“I–I hesitated.”

“Well, well! Now that was cautious, wasn’t it? An’ why did you–hesitate?”

“Dang it!” Dickie complained, “t’ hear you talk, a man might think that Peggy Lacey was the only maid in Scalawag Run. I’m willin’ an’ eager t’ be wed. I jus’ don’t want t’ make no mistake. That’s all. Dang it, there’s shoals o’ maids hereabouts! An’ I isn’t goin’ t’ swallow the first hook that’s cast my way. I’ll take my time, sir, an’ that’s an end o’ the matter.”

“You’re nigh twenty-one,” Skipper John warned.

“I’ve time enough yet. I’m in no hurry.”

“Pah!” Skipper John snorted. “‘Tis a poor stick of a man that’s as slow as you at courtin’! No hurry, eh? What ye made of, anyhow? When I was your age—-“

“Have done with boastin’, sir. I’ll not be driven. I’ll pick and choose an’ satisfy my taste.”

“Is Peggy Lacey a wasteful maid?” Skipper John inquired.

“No; she’s not a wasteful maid.”

“Is she good?”

“She’s pious enough for me.”

“Is she healthy?”

“Nothin’ wrong with her health that anybody ever fetched t’ my notice. She seems sound.”

“Is she fair?”

“She’ll pass.”

“I’m not askin’ if she pass. I’m askin’ you if she isn’t the fairest maid in Scalawag Run.”

“‘Tis a matter o’ taste, father.”

“An’ what’s your taste–if you have any?”

“If I was pickin’ a fault,” Dickie replied, “I’d say that she might have a touch more o’ color in her cheeks t’ match my notion o’ beauty.”