Tamawaca Folks/Chapter 2

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CHAPTER II.

JIM.

A whistle blew; the little tug strained at its cable, and snorting and puffing in the supreme struggle it drew the great steamer "Plymouth" away from its dock to begin its journey down the river to the open lake and thence, discarding its tug, across mighty Michigan to Iroquois Bay, Tamawaca, and the quaint city of Kochton.

The passengers thronged both the ample decks to catch the cooling breeze that came as soon as they were in motion, for the day had been especially warm for June. The older folks drew long lines of chairs to the rails, while the young people walked up and down, chattering and gay. To nearly all the voyage meant the beginning of a holiday, and hearts were light and faces eager and expectant.

Jarrod had no sooner located his family in a comfortable corner than he was attracted by a young man who sauntered by.

"Why, Jim, is it you?" he exclaimed, jumping up to hold out a hand in greeting.

The other paused, as if astonished, but then said in a cordial tone:

"You here, Mr. Jarrod?"

He was a tall, athletic looking fellow, with a fine face, a straightforward look in his eyes and a clean-cut air about him that was pleasant to behold. Jarrod had recognized him as the only son of a man he had known in St. Louis—a man very prominent and wealthy, he remembered.

"What are you doing here, Jim?" he enquired.

"Why, I live in Chicago now, you know," was the reply.

"You do?"

"Did n't you know, sir? I left home over a year ago. I'm hoeing my own row now, Mr. Jarrod."

"What's wrong, Jim?'

"Father and I could n't agree. He wanted me to take to the patent medicine business, because he has made a fortune in it."

"Very natural," nodding.

"The poor father suffers a good deal from rheumatism, you know; so as soon as I left college he proposed to turn over to me the manufacture and sale of his great rheumatism cure."

"Ah."

"And I balked, Mr. Jarrod. I said the proprietor of a rheumatism cure had no business to suffer from rheumatism, or else no business to sell the swindling remedy."

"To be sure. I know your father, Jim, so I can imagine what happened, directly you made that statement. Did he give you anything when you—er—parted?"

"Not a sou. I'm earning my own living."

"Good. But how?"

"They don't take a boy just out of college for the president of a bank or the director of a railway. I'm just a clerk in Marshall Field's."

Jarrod looked him over, critically. The cheap new summer suit—perhaps it had cost fifteen dollars could not disguise his manly bearing. On another man it might have proclaimed its cheapness; on Jim no one noticed its texture.

"How much do you earn?" asked the lawyer, quietly.

"Twelve dollars a week. But it's an interesting experience, Mr. Jarrod. You've no idea how well a fellow can live on twelve dollars a week—unless you've tried it."

Jarrod smiled.

"Where are you bound for?" he asked.

"A little place called Tamawaca, there to spend my two weeks' vacation. Just think of it! After fourteen months I've saved enough for an outing. It is n't a princely sum, to be sure—nothing like what I spent in a day at college—but by economy I can make it do me in that out-of-the-way place, where the hotel board is unusually cheap."

"I'm told it is as bad as it is cheap," said Jarrod.

"That stands to reason, sir. I'm not expecting much but rest and sunshine and fresh air—and perhaps a nice girl to dance with in the evening."

"I see."

"And, by the way, Mr. Jarrod," this with some hesitation, "please don't tell anyone who I am, if you're asked. I call myself James Ingram—Ingram was my mother's name, you know—and I'd rather people would n't know who my father is, or why I'm living in this modest way. They would either blame me or pity me, and I won't endure either from strangers, for it's none of their business."

"I'll remember, Jim. Will you let me present you to Mrs. Jarrod?"

"Not tonight, please. This meeting has a little upset me. Wait till I get settled a bit. You're going to Tamawaca.

"Yes. We shall spend the summer there, if we like it."

"Then, sir, I'll be sure to see you again. Good night, Mr. Jarrod."

The young man walked on, and the lawyer looked after him approvingly.

"He'll do," he muttered. "He has n't crushed down the pride yet, and I hope he never will. But he's got a backbone, and that's worth everything!"

In drawing a chair to the rail he found that seated beside him was the little fat man he had noticed at the Annex. This jovial individual was smoking a big cigar and leaning back contentedly with his feet against the bulwark. Jarrod thought the expression upon the round face invited companionship.

"Going to Tamawaca?" he asked.

"Yep," said Geo. B. Still.

"Been there before?" continued Jarrod, leaning back in turn.

"Yep. Own a cottage there."

"Oh," said the other; "then I'm glad to meet you."

"Because I own a cottage?"

"No; because you can tell me something about the place."

"Sure thing!" responded Geo. B. "Climate's fine. When I first went there I had a bad case of indigestion. Doc said I was as good as dead. Told me to eat toasted straw for breakfast and have my wife get her black ready. Look at me now! Would a crape manufacturer smile at my picture? Pshaw!"

"You seem very well," remarked Jarrod. "Was it the breakfast food, or the climate?"

"Climate, I guess. My taste don't run to breakfast foods. I'd make a poor horse. So I shovelled in plenty of welsh rabbits and lobster newburgs and corn fritters and such remedies, an' washed 'em down with good beer and a few bottles of sherry. Why, sir, the treatment worked like magic! Digestion perfect—pulse reg'lar—spirits gay and unconfined—happiness rampant. That Tamawaca climate's a peach."

"Do you think I can rent a cottage there?"

"Sure. Ask Wilder. He'll fix you."

"Is there a grocery handy, where one can purchase supplies?"

"Yep. Wilder runs it."

"And a meat market?"

"Wilder's."

"Can I rent a good boat, for fishing?"

"Wilder has 'em."

"Good. Dear me! I forgot to get a bathing suit in Chicago."

"Never mind. Wilder's Bazaar has 'em. Two dollars for the dollar kind."

"What time does the boat get to Tamawaca.

"Four o'clock in the morning. But you stay on board and ride to Kochton, and get your sleep out. Then, in the morning you take a trolley back to Tam. The steamer puts your baggage off at Iroquois Bay, just across the channel."

"What becomes of it?"

"Wilder ferries it over for twenty-five cents a piece. It's too far to jump."

"But is n't that a heavy charge?"

"Not for Wilder. It's a good deal, of course, but Wilder's deals are always good—for Wilder. You're lucky he don't take the baggage."

"Oh. Is he that kind?"

"Exactly. What you get, you get of Wilder. What Wilder has n't got, you don't get. When you allow for expenses you want to figure on so many dollars for living, and so much to Wilder for letting you live."

"But that's an outrage."

Geo. B. laughed.

"It always strikes a stranger that way—till he gets used to it," he said. "I've been to a good many summer resorts, in my day, and always there's somebody on hand to relieve the innocent resorter of his wad. If there was n't, you'd feel you'd missed something. It's like going to law—don't matter much which lawyer you go to, you're bound to be robbed."

Jarrod smiled.

"Therefore, if you want Tamawaca, sir, you've just got to take Wilder with it," resumed the little man; "and perhaps you could n't be half so happy there if Wilder was gone."

"Does he own the place?"

"Of course. He and old man Easton. Wilder has one-third and old man Easton two-thirds of the whole place; but then, Easton also has Wilder, just the same as all the rest of us have him."

"What sort of a man is Easton?"

"Fine old religious duffer, who loves to pray for your spiritual well-fare while he feels for your pocket-book. Public opinion's divided between the two partners. Some say Wilder's a highwayman and Easton's a robber, while others claim Easton's the highwayman and Wilder's the robber. You can take your choice."

"What a bad state of affairs!" ejaculated Jarrod, with twinkling eyes. "I'm sorry the boat has started."

"Never mind. It is n't as bad as Atlantic City, by a long shot. Why, last year a friend of mine went to Atlantic City with a letter of credit and an automobile, and in three months he was working at the hotel for money enough to get home and the hotel man was riding in his automobile. Tamawaca isn't as bad as that, so sit up and look pleasant. Tamawaca's the gem of the world—a heaven for loafers, lovers, bridge-players and students of nature—including human. You'll like it there. But as for Wilder and Easton—say! any combination lock on your inside pocket?"

"No."

"Then use a safety pin, and keep your coat buttoned."

Jarrod smiled again. His spirits rose. He scented battle as a cat scents cream. Here was a delightful condition of affairs existing in a tucked-away resort where he was going to spend the summer, and the chances were he would be amply amused. Any capricious manifestation of human nature was sure to charm him, no matter what phase it exhibited, and the man who had for years fought and conquered the terrible Crosbys was not likely to shrink from a pair so frankly enterprising as Easton and Wilder seemed to be. And, if he must put in three long months at Tamawaca, Jarrod simply had to be amused.

He slept well on the boat that night—the first sound sleep he had enjoyed for months.