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Woman's home companion
Vol. LXIV, No. 6 (1937)

Nason, Leonard H.
The colonel's knife,   pp. 13-14 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 14

14
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carried on a vague
business in real estate.
'Morning, Mark!"
said Mr. Jones with    Oo,
the false heartiness of
the professional
booster. "How are
you this fine bright
rare June morning?"
"Well, I guess I'll
live through the day,"           "Of course I cou
said Mark. "What                 have the pair I've
can I do for you this
morning?"
" I'm going fishing with Colonel Knight this after-
noon," replied Jones. "We were looking over his
tackle and he found he hadn't any sheath forthis knife."
"Let me see the knife!" said Mark.
He picked up the knife that Carberry Jones laid on
the counter. It was a short wide-bladed affair, glitter-
ing in its newness, with the back of the blade notched
for scaling fish.
"That's a funny kind of knife," muttered Mark
drawing his thumb along the edge. "Why, it isn't
even sharp!"
"Well, never mind that; see if you've got a sheath
that will fit it. I don't suppose you could make one,
could you?"
"I guess I could. Wouldn't take a minute to sew
one up. But this knife isn't worth having a sheath for!
He can't do anything with this knife! It won't cut,
and it's too thick to split a fish with."
"Well, it's got a picture of a fish on the blade!" ex-
claimed Carberry Jones impatiently. "It must have
something to do with fish!"
"Did you buy this knife or did Colonel Knight buy
it?"
"He bought it and I want to buy a sheath for it,
without so much argument!"
"Don't that beat the Dutch, didn't even get a
sheath for it!" said Mark. "Well, you come back
about noon and I'll have you one."
CARBERRY JONES turned to the door, but only
to look into the street. Then he stepped quickly
back.
"Mark," said Carberry Jones in a confidential tone,
"things ain't so hot here at the store, eh?" He
winked in the direction of the bank. "Tell me, would
you like to sell a little piece of property? Not for much
money. Coupla hundred. But maybe-if you throw
the dog a bone, hey-he might leave you alone,
hey?"
"What property have I got that I could sell, and
who to?" asked Mark instantly.
" Your family owns a right of way out to Weetamoe
Neck!" whispered Carberry. "It's the only way any-
one can get out there without takin' a boat. Now,
Mark, I'm willing to gamble that some day somebody
is going to build a house on Weetamoe and they'll
want that right of way. I'll gamble two hundred dol-
lars on it!"
Mark thought quickly. Weetamoe Neck was a
tract of marshland away down where the Weetamoe
River met the sea, frequented only by coot hunters.
The old road that Carberry mentioned had been used
in the days when trading schooners up from New Bed-
ford landed at a pier there,
and Mark's grandfather had
gone down to buy merchan-
dise from them. Colonel
Knight's own home was just
across the river from it.
"You want this sheath
sewed?*" murmured Mark
examining the fish knife.
"Or you just want it
Id let you              riveted?"
got on-"                  "Mark," cried Carberry,
his face crimson, "stop fuss-
in' with that knife! May-
be Colonel Knight bought it to pick his teeth with,
who cares? What do you say about that right of
way? "
"Did you come in here to buy a leather sheath or a
piece of land?" asked Mark swiftly.
"Oh well, Mark," T. Carberry Jones said lamely,
"if you're going to take that attitude-" He walked
away and pretended to examine a rack of oilskins.
k   "GOIN' to the wedding, Carberry?" asked Mark
cheerfully as he selected a piece of leather and
began marking it for the sheath.
" I am, yes. So is everyone else in town, ain't
they? "
" Yup. You ought to stand out from the masses,
Carberry. Want to hire a suit?"
"What do you mean, suit?" demanded Carberry.
"My father laid in some cutaways and some full
dress suits for hire," explained Mark, "just so no
one could ever say he didn't have something they
wanted. He started the style of getting married
in cutaways here. Those suits are
godfathers to half the population of Stan-
dish."
"The same suits?" gasped Carberry.
"Not the same suits, no. We have to re-
new stock right along, like everything else.
Those suits are cleaned every time they
come back and we're just as careful who we
rent them to as any big house in Boston. If
you want one, I'll save you one to wear to
the wedding. There's a five-dollar deposit.
Payable in advance. With the sheath
that'll be six dollars."
" You ought to go far,
Mark!" said Carberry Jones
sourly as he counted out the
money. "How about that
little right of way to Wee-
tamoe Neck? Take two hun-
dred for it now?"
Mark deposited Jones'
money in the old-fashioned
cash drawer and wrote him
out a receipt.
"That right of way has
been in my family a long
time," said Mark looking up
at the beams and appearing
to inspect the side lights,
masthead lanterns and vari-
ous sizes of blocks that hung
there. "My grandfather had
some idea of a ship-railway that could carry the trad-
ing schooners right over to the bayside and save them
two days' sailing. He bought that right of way and
he took it along a ridge of rock. Now the only way
you can get to Weetamoe Neck with an automobile is
along my road. I think I ought to have five hundred
dollars for it!"
"Five hundred dollars for a road that don't go any-
where? You're crazy!"
He went out and slammed the screen door behind
him.
When Carberry had gone Mark went toward the
back of the store, still idly feeling of Colonel Knight's
new knife. He got down on his knees and rummaged
under the counter, then got up again, holding an old
bayonet. It was part of a lot that had been purchased
years ago for interior decoration, when the war was
still fresh in people's minds. Mark put down the new
knife beside one of the bayonets.
"Hmrmm!" he told himself. "The locking ring has
been ground off, the blade has been cut off halfway up
and a point ground onto it, and that fish scraper has
been cut in the back of the blade. That knife was
made out of an old bayonet! Those bayonets cost us
ten cents apiece. There's a little nickel plate, a little
grinding and a little polishing been done; maybe the
whole thing stood the maker seventy-five cents." He
rubbed the price mark on the blade with a meditative
thumb. "Now why do you suppose a man would pay
three-fifty for this thing that hasn't even got an edge
on it?"
%   DURING the ensuing days business was brisk at
>Mark's store for almost the entire town had been
invited to see Colonel Knight's daughter given in wed-
lock. Every time Mark pulled out a drawer,
every time he hauled a bolt of cloth from a
shelf, or entered the cedar-lined storeroom
in the cellar where the dress suits were
kept, he thought, "Maybe this is the last
time!" Maybe he ought to sell that right of
#'      way for what he could get for it! But
Colonel Knight would have to have more
than two hundred on a fifteen-hundred-dol-
lar debt!
On the morning of the wedding no one
came in, for they were all staying at home
putting the last touches on
their finery. All the stores
were to close at noon in honor
of the wedding anyway.
Mark, his formal coat hang-
ing carefully on a rack,
worked at an inventory he
was completing, to see how
nearly the stock of the store
would come to meeting the
indebtedness. Just at his
most discouraged moment,
Carberry Jones appeared in
the [OONTINUED ON PAGE 92
"I'll have it stopped!
They can't do it with-
out my permission"


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