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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 15. A Package Of Letters
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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 15. A Package Of Letters Post by :MalcolmL Category :Long Stories Author :Francis Hopkinson Smith Date :May 2012 Read :2514

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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 15. A Package Of Letters

CHAPTER XV. A PACKAGE OF LETTERS

Under the influence of the new arrival it was not at all strange that many changes were wrought in the domestic life at Cobden Manor.

My lady was a sensuous creature, loving color and flowers and the dainty appointments of life as much in the surroundings of her home as in the adornment of her person, and it was not many weeks before the old-fashioned sitting-room had been transformed into a French boudoir. In this metamorphosis she had used but few pieces of new furniture--one or two, perhaps, that she had picked up in the village, as well as some bits of mahogany and brass that she loved--but had depended almost entirely upon the rearrangement of the heirlooms of the family. With the boudoir idea in view, she had pulled the old tables out from the walls, drawn the big sofa up to the fire, spread a rug--one of her own--before the mantel, hung new curtains at the windows and ruffled their edges with lace, banked the sills with geraniums and begonias, tilted a print or two beside the clock, scattered a few books and magazines over the centre-table, on which she had placed a big, generous lamp, under whose umbrella shade she could see to read as she sat in her grandmother's rocking-chair--in fact, had, with that taste inherent in some women--touched with a knowing hand the dead things about her and made them live and mean something;--her talisman being an unerring sense of what contributed to personal comfort. Heretofore Doctor John had been compelled to drag a chair halfway across the room in order to sit and chat with Jane, or had been obliged to share her seat on the sofa, too far from the hearth on cold days to be comfortable. Now he could either stand on the hearth-rug and talk to her, seated in one corner of the pulled-up sofa, her work-basket on a small table beside her, or he could drop into a big chair within reach of her hand and still feel the glow of the fire. Jane smiled at the changes and gave Lucy free rein to do as she pleased. Her own nature had never required these nicer luxuries; she had been too busy, and in these last years of her life too anxious, to think of them, and so the room had been left as in the days of her father.

The effect of the rearrangement was not lost on the neighbors. They at once noticed the sense of cosiness everywhere apparent, and in consequence called twice as often, and it was not long before the old-fashioned sitting-room became a stopping-place for everybody who had half an hour to spare.

These attractions, with the aid of a generous hospitality, Lucy did her best to maintain, partly because she loved excitement and partly because she intended to win the good-will of her neighbors--those who might be useful to her. The women succumbed at once. Not only were her manners most gracious, but her jewels of various kinds, her gowns of lace and frou-frou, her marvellous hats, her assortment of parasols, her little personal belongings and niceties--gold scissors, thimbles, even the violet ribbons that rippled through her transparent underlaces--so different from those of any other woman they knew--were a constant source of wonder and delight. To them she was a beautiful Lady Bountiful who had fluttered down among them from heights above, and whose departure, should it ever take place, would leave a gloom behind that nothing could illumine.

To the men she was more reserved. Few of them ever got beyond a handshake and a smile, and none of them ever reached the borders of intimacy. Popularity in a country village could never, she knew, be gained by a pretty woman without great discretion. She explained her foresight to Jane by telling her that there was no man of her world in Warehold but the doctor, and that she wouldn't think of setting her cap for him as she would be gray-haired before he would have the courage to propose. Then she kissed Jane in apology, and breaking out into a rippling laugh that Martha heard upstairs, danced out of the room.

Little Ellen, too, had her innings; not only was she prettily dressed, presenting the most joyous of pictures, as with golden curls flying about her shoulders she flitted in and out of the rooms like a sprite, but she was withal so polite in her greetings, dropping to everyone a little French courtesy when she spoke, and all in her quaint, broken dialect, that everybody fell in love with her at sight. None of the other mothers had such a child, and few of them knew that such children existed.

Jane watched the workings of Lucy's mind with many misgivings. She loved her lightheartedness and the frank, open way with which she greeted everybody who crossed their threshold. She loved, too, to see her beautifully gowned and equipped and to hear the flattering comments of the neighbors on her appearance and many charms; but every now and then her ear caught an insincere note that sent a shiver through her. She saw that the welcome Lucy gave them was not from her heart, but from her lips; due to her training, no doubt, or perhaps to her unhappiness, for Jane still mourned over the unhappy years of Lucy's life--an unhappiness, had she known it, which had really ended with Archie's safe adoption and Bart's death. Another cause of anxiety was Lucy's restlessness. Every day she must have some new excitement--a picnic with the young girls and young men, private theatricals in the town hall, or excursions to Barnegat Beach, where they were building a new summer hotel. Now and then she would pack her bag and slip off to New York or Philadelphia for days at a time to stay with friends she had met abroad, leaving Ellen with Jane and Martha. To the older sister she seemed like some wild, untamable bird of brilliant plumage used to long, soaring flights, perching first on one dizzy height and then another, from which she could watch the world below.

The thing, however, which distressed Jane most was Lucy's attitude towards Archie. She made every allowance for her first meeting at the station, and knew that necessarily it must be more or less constrained, but she had not expected the almost cold indifference with which she had treated the boy ever since.

As the days went by and Lucy made no effort to attach Archie to her or to interest herself either in his happiness or welfare, Jane became more and more disturbed. She had prayed for this home-coming and had set her heart on the home-building which was sure to follow, and now it seemed farther off than ever. One thing troubled and puzzled her: while Lucy was always kind to Archie indoors, kissing him with the others when she came down to breakfast, she never, if she could help it, allowed him to walk with her in the village, and she never on any occasion took him with her when visiting the neighbors.

"Why not take Archie with you, dear?" Jane had said one morning to Lucy, who had just announced her intention of spending a few days in Philadelphia with Max Feilding's sister Sue, whom she had met abroad when Max was studying in Dresden--Max was still a bachelor, and his sister kept house for him. He was abroad at the time, but was expected by every steamer.

"Archie isn't invited, you old goosie, and he would be as much out of place in Max's house as Uncle Ephraim Tipple would be in Parliament."

"But they would be glad to see him if you took him. He is just the age now when a boy gets impressions which last him through--"

"Yes, the gawky and stumble-over-things age! Piano-stools, rugs, anything that comes in his way. And the impressions wouldn't do him a bit of good. They might, in fact, do him harm," and she laughed merrily and spread her fingers to the blaze. A laugh was often her best shield. She had in her time dealt many a blow and then dodged behind a laugh to prevent her opponent from striking back.

"But, Lucy, don't you want to do something to help him?" Jane asked in a pleading tone.

"Yes, whatever I can, but he seems to me to be doing very well as he is. Doctor John is devoted to him and the captain idolizes him. He's a dear, sweet boy, of course, and does you credit, but he's not of my world, Jane, dear, and I'd have to make him all over again before he could fit into my atmosphere. Besides, he told me this morning that he was going off for a week with some fisherman on the beach--some person by the name of Fogarty, I think."

"Yes, a fine fellow; they have been friends from their boyhood." She was not thinking of Fogarty, but of the tone of Lucy's voice when speaking of her son.

"Yes--most estimable gentleman, no doubt, this Mr. Fogarty, but then, dear, we don't invite that sort of people to dinner, do we?" and another laugh rippled out.

"Yes, sometimes," answered Jane in all sincerity. "Not Fogarty, because he would be uncomfortable if he came, but many of the others just as humble. We really have very few of any other kind. I like them all. Many of them love me dearly."

"Not at all strange; nobody can help loving you," and she patted Jane's shoulder with her jewelled fingers.

"But you like them, too, don't you? You treat them as if you did."

Lucy lifted her fluted petticoat, rested her slippered foot on the fender, glanced down at the embroidered silk stocking covering her ankle, and said in a graver tone:

"I like all kinds of people--in their proper place. This is my home, and it is wise to get along with one's neighbors. Besides, they all have tongues in their heads like the rest of the human race, and it is just as well to have them wag for you as against you."

Jane paused for a moment, her eyes watching the blazing logs, and asked with almost a sigh:

"You don't mean, dear, that you never intend to help Archie, do you?"

"Never is a long word, Jane. Wait till he grows up and I see what he makes of himself. He is now nothing but a great animal, well built as a young bull, and about as awkward."

Jane's eyes flashed and her shoulders straightened. The knife had a double edge to its blade.

"He is your own flesh and blood, Lucy," she said with a ring of indignation in her voice. "You don't treat Ellen so; why should you Archie?"

Lucy took her foot from the fender, dropped her skirts, and looked at Jane curiously. From underneath the half-closed lids of her eyes there flashed a quick glance of hate--a look that always came into Lucy's eyes whenever Jane connected her name with Archie's.

"Let us understand each other, sister," she said icily. "I don't dislike the boy. When he gets into trouble I'll help him in any way I can, but please remember he's not my boy--he's yours. You took him from me with that understanding and I have never asked him back. He can't love two mothers. You say he has been your comfort all these years. Why, then, do you want to unsettle his mind?"

Jane lifted her head and looked at Lucy with searching eyes--looked as a man looks when someone he must not strike has flung a glove in his face.

"Do you really love anything, Lucy?" she asked in a lower voice, her eyes still fastened on her sister's.

"Yes, Ellen and you."

"Did you love her father?" she continued in the same direct tone.

"Y-e-s, a little-- He was the dearest old man in the world and did his best to please me; and then he was never very well. But why talk about him, dear?"

"And you never gave him anything in return for all his devotion?" Jane continued in the same cross-examining voice and with the same incisive tone.

"Yes, my companionship--whenever I could. About what you give Doctor John," and she looked at Jane with a sly inquiry as she laughed gently to herself.

Jane bit her lips and her face flushed scarlet. The cowardly thrust had not wounded her own heart. It had only uncovered the love of the man who lay enshrined in its depths. A sudden sense of the injustice done him arose in her mind and then her own helplessness in it all.

"I would give him everything I have, if I could," she answered simply, all her insistency gone, the tears starting to her eyes.

Lucy threw her arms about her sister and held her cheek to her own.

"Dear, I was only in fun; please forgive me. Everything is so solemn to you. Now kiss me and tell me you love me."

That night when Captain Holt came in to play with the little "Pond Lily," as he called Ellen, Jane told him of her conversation with Lucy, not as a reflection on her sister, but because she thought he ought to know how she felt toward Archie. The kiss had wiped out the tears, but the repudiation of Archie still rankled in her breast.

The captain listened patiently to the end. Then he said with a pause between each word:

"She's sailin' without her port and starboard lights, Miss Jane. One o' these nights with the tide settin' she'll run up ag'in somethin' solid in a fog, and then--God help her! If Bart had lived he might have come home and done the decent thing, and then we could git her into port some'er's for repairs, but that's over now. She better keep her lights trimmed. Tell her so for me."

What this "decent thing" was he never said--perhaps he had but a vague idea himself. Bart had injured Lucy and should have made reparation, but in what way except by marriage--he, perhaps, never formulated in his own mind.

Jane winced under the captain's outburst, but she held her peace. She knew how outspoken he was and how unsparing of those who differed from him and she laid part of his denunciation to this cause.

Some weeks after this conversation the captain started for Yardley to see Jane on a matter of business, and incidentally to have a romp with the Pond Lily. It was astonishing how devoted the old sea-dog was to the child, and how she loved him in return. "My big bear," she used to call him, tugging away at his gray whiskers. On his way he stopped at the post-office for his mail. It was mid-winter and the roads were partly blocked with snow, making walking difficult except for sturdy souls like Captain Nat.

"Here, Cap'n Holt, yer jest the man I been a-waitin' for," cried Miss Tucher, the postmistress, from behind the sliding window. "If you ain't goin' up to the Cobdens, ye kin, can't ye? Here's a lot o' letters jest come that I know they're expectin'. Miss Lucy's" (many of the village people still called her Miss Lucy, not being able to pronounce her dead husband's name) "come in yesterday and seems as if she couldn't wait. This storm made everything late and the mail got in after she left. There ain't nobody comin' out to-day and here's a pile of 'em--furrin' most of 'em. I'd take 'em myself if the snow warn't so deep. Don't mind, do ye? I'd hate to have her disapp'inted, for she's jes' 's sweet as they make 'em."

"Don't mind it a mite, Susan Tucher," cried the captain. "Goin' there, anyhow. Got some business with Miss Jane. Lord, what a wad o' them!"

"That ain't half what she gits sometimes," replied the postmistress, "and most of 'em has seals and crests stamped on 'em. Some o' them furrin lords, I guess, she met over there."

These letters the captain held in his hand when he pushed open the door of the sitting-room and stood before the inmates in his rough pea-jacket, his ruddy face crimson with the cold, his half-moon whiskers all the whiter by contrast.

"Good-mornin' to the hull o' ye!" he shouted. "Cold as blue blazes outside, I tell ye, but ye look snug enough in here. Hello, little Pond Lily! why ain't you out on your sled? Put two more roses in your cheeks if there was room for 'em. There, ma'am," and he nodded to Lucy and handed her the letters, "that's 'bout all the mail that come this mornin'. There warn't nothin' else much in the bag. Susan Tucher asked me to bring 'em up to you count of the weather and 'count o' your being in such an all-fired hurry to read 'em."

Little Ellen was in his arms before this speech was finished and everybody else on their feet shaking hands with the old salt, except poor, deaf old Martha, who called out, "Good-mornin', Captain Holt," in a strong, clear voice, and in rather a positive way, but who kept her seat by the fire and continued her knitting; and complacent Mrs. Dellenbaugh, the pastor's wife, who, by reason of her position, never got up for anybody.

The captain advanced to the fire, Ellen still in his arms, shook hands with Mrs. Dellenbaugh and extended three fingers, rough as lobster's claws and as red, to the old nurse. Of late years he never met Martha without feeling that he owed her an apology for the way he had treated her the day she begged him to send Bart away. So he always tried to make it up to her, although he had never told her why.

"Hope you're better, Martha? Heard ye was under the weather; was that so? Ye look spry 'nough now," he shouted in his best quarter-deck voice.

"Yes, but it warn't much. Doctor John fixed me up," Martha replied coldly. She had no positive animosity toward the captain--not since he had shown some interest in Archie--but she could never make a friend of him.

During this greeting Lucy, who had regained her chair, sat with the letters unopened in her lap. None of the eagerness Miss Tucher had indicated was apparent. She seemed more intent on arranging the folds of her morning-gown accentuating the graceful outlines of her well-rounded figure. She had glanced through the package hastily, and had found the one she wanted and knew that it was there warm under her touch--the others did not interest her.

"What a big mail, dear," remarked Jane, drawing up a chair. "Aren't you going to open it?" The captain had found a seat by the window and the child was telling him everything she had done since she last saw him.

"Oh, yes, in a minute," replied Lucy. "There's plenty of time." With this she picked up the bunch of letters, ran her eye through the collection, and then, with the greatest deliberation, broke one seal after another, tossing the contents on the table. Some she merely glanced at, searching for the signatures and ignoring the contents; others she read through to the end. One was from Dresden, from a student she had known there the year before. This was sealed with a wafer and bore the address of the cafe where he took his meals. Another was stamped with a crest and emitted a slight perfume; a third was enlivened by a monogram in gold and began: "Ma chere amie," in a bold round hand. The one under her hand she did not open, but slipped into the pocket of her dress. The others she tore into bits and threw upon the blazing logs.

"I guess if them fellers knew how short a time it would take ye to heave their cargo overboard," blurted out the captain, "they'd thought a spell 'fore they mailed their manifests."

Lucy laughed good-naturedly and Jane watched the blaze roar up the wide chimney. The captain settled back in his chair and was about to continue his "sea yarn," as he called it, to little Ellen, when he suddenly loosened the child from his arms, and leaning forward in his seat toward where Jane sat, broke out with:

"God bless me! I believe I'm wool-gathering. I clean forgot what I come for. It is you, Miss Jane, I come to see, not this little curly head that'll git me ashore yet with her cunnin' ways. They're goin' to build a new life-saving station down Barnegat way. That Dutch brig that come ashore last fall in that so'easter and all them men drownded could have been saved if we'd had somethin' to help 'em with. We did all we could, but that house of Refuge ain't half rigged and most o' the time ye got to break the door open to git at what there is if ye're in a hurry, which you allus is. They ought to have a station with everything 'bout as it ought to be and a crew on hand all the time; then, when somethin' comes ashore you're right there on top of it. That one down to Squam is just what's wanted here."

"Will it be near the new summer hotel?" asked Lucy carelessly, just as a matter of information, and without raising her eyes from the rings on her beautiful hands.

"'Bout half a mile from the front porch, ma'am"--he preferred calling her so--"from what I hear. 'Tain't located exactly yet, but some'er's along there. I was down with the Gov'ment agent yesterday."

"Who will take charge of it, captain?" inquired Jane, reaching over her basket in search of her scissors.

"Well, that's what I come up for. They're talkin' about me," and the captain put his hands behind Ellen's head and cracked his big knuckles close to her ear, the child laughing with delight as she listened.

The announcement was received with some surprise. Jane, seeing Martha's inquiring face, as if she wanted to hear, repeated the captain's words to her in a loud voice. Martha laid down her knitting and looked at the captain over her spectacles.

"Why, would you take it, captain?" Jane asked in some astonishment, turning to him again.

"Don't know but I would. Ain't no better job for a man than savin' lives. I've helped kill a good many; 'bout time now I come 'bout on another tack. I'm doin' nothin'--haven't been for years. If I could get the right kind of a crew 'round me--men I could depend on--I think I could make it go."

"If you couldn't nobody could, captain," said Jane in a positive way. "Have you picked out your crew?"

"Yes, three or four of 'em. Isaac Polhemus and Tom Morgan--Tom sailed with me on my last voyage--and maybe Tod."

"Archie's Tod?" asked Jane, replacing her scissors and searching for a spool of cotton.

"Archie's Tod," repeated the captain, nodding his head, his big hand stroking Ellen's flossy curls. "That's what brought me up. I want Tod, and he won't go without Archie. Will ye give him to me?"

"My Archie!" cried Jane, dropping her work and staring straight at the captain.

"Your Archie, Miss Jane, if that's the way you put it," and he stole a look at Lucy. She was conscious of his glance, but she did not return it; she merely continued listening as she twirled one of the rings on her finger.

"Well, but, captain, isn't it very dangerous work? Aren't the men often drowned?" protested Jane.

"Anything's dangerous 'bout salt water that's worth the doin'. I've stuck to the pumps seventy-two hours at a time, but I'm here to tell the tale."

"Have you talked to Archie?"

"No, but Tod has. They've fixed it up betwixt 'em. The boy's dead set to go."

"Well, but isn't he too young?"

"Young or old, he's tough as a marline-spike--A1, and copper fastened throughout. There ain't a better boatman on the beach. Been that way ever since he was a boy. Won't do him a bit of harm to lead that kind of life for a year or two. If he was mine it wouldn't take me a minute to tell what I'd do."

Jane leaned back in her chair, her eyes on the crackling logs, and began patting the carpet with her foot. Lucy became engrossed in a book that lay on the table beside her. She didn't intend to take any part in the discussion. If Jane wanted Archie to serve as a common sailor that was Jane's business. Then again, it was, perhaps, just as well for a number of reasons to have him under the captain's care. He might become so fond of the sea as to want to follow it all his life.

"What do you think about it, Lucy?" asked Jane.

"Oh, I don't know anything about it. I don't really. I've lived so long away from here I don't know what the young men are doing for a living. He's always been fond of the sea, has he not, Captain Holt?"

"Allus," said the captain doggedly; "it's in his blood." Her answer nettled him. "You ain't got no objections, have you, ma'am?" he asked, looking straight at Lucy.

Lucy's color came and went. His tone offended her, especially before Mrs. Dellenbaugh, who, although she spoke but seldom in public had a tongue of her own when she chose to use it. She was not accustomed to being spoken to in so brusque a way. She understood perfectly well the captain's covert meaning, but she did not intend either to let him see it or to lose her temper.

"Oh, not the slightest," she answered with a light laugh. "I have no doubt that it will be the making of him to be with you. Poor boy, he certainly needs a father's care."

The captain winced in turn under the retort and his eyes flashed, but he made no reply.

Little Ellen had slipped out of the captain's lap during the colloquy. She had noticed the change in her friend's tone, and, with a child's intuition, had seen that the harmony was in danger of being broken. She stood by the captain's knee, not knowing whether to climb back again or to resume her seat by the window. Lucy, noticing the child's discomfort, called to her:

"Come here, Ellen, you will tire the captain."

The child crossed the room and stood by her mother while Lucy tried to rearrange the glossy curls, tangled by too close contact with the captain's broad shoulder. In the attempt Ellen lost her balance and fell into her mother's lap.

"Oh, Ellen!" said her mother coldly; "stand up, dear. You are so careless. See how you have mussed my gown. Now go over to the window and play with your dolls."

The captain noted the incident and heard Lucy's reproof, but he made no protest. Neither did he contradict the mother's statement that the little girl had tired him. His mind was occupied with other things--the tone of the mother's voice for one, and the shade of sadness that passed over the child's face for another. From that moment he took a positive dislike to her.

"Well, think it over, Miss Jane," he said, rising from his seat and reaching for his hat. "Plenty of time 'bout Archie. Life-savin' house won't be finished for the next two or three months; don't expect to git into it till June. Wonder, little Pond Lily, if the weather's goin' to be any warmer?" He slipped his hand under the child's chin and leaning over her head peered out of the window. "Don't look like it, does it, little one? Looks as if the snow would hold on. Hello! here comes the doctor. I'll wait a bit--good for sore eyes to see him, and I don't git a chance every day. Ask him 'bout Archie, Miss Jane. He'll tell ye whether the lad's too young."

There came a stamping of feet on the porch outside as Doctor John shook the snow from his boots, and the next instant he stepped into the room bringing with him all the freshness and sunshine of the outside world.

"Good-morning, good people," he cried, "every one of you! How very snug and cosey you look here! Ah, captain, where have you been keeping yourself? And Mrs. Dellenbaugh! This is indeed a pleasure. I have just passed the dear doctor, and he is looking as young as he did ten years ago. And my Lady Lucy! Down so early! Well, Mistress Martha, up again I see; I told you you'd be all right in a day or two."

This running fire of greetings was made with a pause before each inmate of the room--a hearty hand-shake for the bluff captain, the pressing of Mrs. Dellenbaugh's limp fingers, a low bow to Lucy, and a pat on Martha's plump shoulder.

Jane came last, as she always did. She had risen to greet him and was now unwinding the white silk handkerchief wrapped about his throat and helping him off with his fur tippet and gloves.

"Thank you, Jane. No, let me take it; it's rather wet," he added as he started to lay the heavy overcoat over a chair. "Wait a minute. I've some violets for you if they are not crushed in my pocket. They came last night," and he handed her a small parcel wrapped in tissue paper. This done, he took his customary place on the rug with his back to the blazing logs and began unbuttoning his trim frock-coat, bringing to view a double-breasted, cream-white waistcoat--he still dressed as a man of thirty, and always in the fashion--as well as a fluffy scarf which Jane had made for him with her own fingers.

"And what have I interrupted?" he asked, looking over the room. "One of your sea yarns, captain?"--here he reached over and patted the child's head, who had crept back to the captain's arms--"or some of my lady's news from Paris? You tell me, Jane," he added, with a smile, opening his thin, white, almost transparent fingers and holding them behind his back to the fire, a favorite attitude.

"Ask the captain, John." She had regained her seat and was reaching out for her work-basket, the violets now pinned in her bosom--her eyes had long since thanked him.

"No, do YOU tell me," he insisted, moving aside the table with her sewing materials and placing it nearer her chair.

"Well, but it's the captain who should speak," Jane replied, laughing, as she looked up into his face, her eyes filled with his presence. "He has startled us all with the most wonderful proposition. The Government is going to build a life-saving station at Barnegat beach, and they have offered him the position of keeper, and he says he will take it if I will let Archie go with him as one of his crew."

Doctor John's face instantly assumed a graver look. These forked roads confronting the career of a young life were important and not to be lightly dismissed.

"Well, what did you tell him?" he asked, looking down at Jane in the effort to read her thoughts.

"We are waiting for you to decide, John." The tone was the same she would have used had the doctor been her own husband and the boy their child.

Doctor John communed with himself for an instant. "Well, let us take a vote," he replied with an air as if each and every one in the room was interested in the decision. "We'll begin with Mistress Martha, and then Mrs. Dellenbaugh, and then you, Jane, and last our lady from over the sea. The captain has already sold his vote to his affections, and so must be counted out."

"Yes, but don't count me in, please," exclaimed Lucy with a merry laugh as she arose from her seat. "I don't know a thing about it. I've just told the dear captain so. I'm going upstairs this very moment to write some letters. Bonjour, Monsieur le Docteur; bonjour, Monsieur le Capitaine and Madame Dellenbaugh," and with a wave of her hand and a little dip of her head to each of the guests, she courtesied out of the room.

When the door was closed behind her she stopped in the hall, threw a glance at her face in the old-fashioned mirror, satisfied herself of her skill in preserving its beautiful rabbit's-foot bloom and freshness, gave her blonde hair one or two pats to keep it in place, rearranged the film of white lace about her shapely throat, and gathering up the mass of ruffled skirts that hid her pretty feet, slowly ascended the staircase.

Once inside her room and while the vote was being taken downstairs that decided Archie's fate she locked her door, dropped into a chair by the fire, took the unopened letter from her pocket, and broke the seal.

"Don't scold, little woman," it read. "I would have written before, but I've been awfully busy getting my place in order. It's all arranged now, however, for the summer. The hotel will be opened in June, and I have the best rooms in the house, the three on the corner overlooking the sea. Sue says she will, perhaps, stay part of the summer with me. Try and come up next week for the night. If not I'll bring Sue with me and come to you for the day.

"Your own Max."

For some minutes she sat gazing into the fire, the letter in her hand.

"It's about time, Mr. Max Feilding," she said at last with a sigh of relief as she rose from her seat and tucked the letter into her desk. "You've had string enough, my fine fellow; now it's my turn. If I had known you would have stayed behind in Paris all these months and kept me waiting here I'd have seen you safe aboard the steamer. The hotel opens in June, does it? Well, I can just about stand it here until then; after that I'd go mad. This place bores me to death."

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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 16. The Beginning Of The Ebb The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 16. The Beginning Of The Ebb

The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 16. The Beginning Of The Ebb
CHAPTER XVI. THE BEGINNING OF THE EBBSpring has come and gone. The lilacs and crocuses, the tulips and buttercups, have bloomed and faded; the lawn has had its sprinkling of dandelions, and the duff of their blossoms has drifted past the hemlocks and over the tree-tops. The grass has had its first cutting; the roses have burst their buds and hang in clusters over the arbors; warm winds blow in from the sea laden with perfumes from beach and salt-marsh; the skies are steely blue and the cloud puffs drift lazily. It is summer-time--the season of joy and gladness, the season
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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 14. High Water At Yardley The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 14. High Water At Yardley

The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 14. High Water At Yardley
CHAPTER XIV. HIGH WATER AT YARDLEYTen years have passed away. The sturdy little fellow in knee-trousers is a lad of seventeen, big and strong for his age; Tod is three years older, and the two are still inseparable. The brave commander of the pirate ship is now a full-fledged fisherman and his father's main dependence. Archie is again his chief henchman, and the two spend many a morning in Tod's boat when the blue-fish are running. Old Fogarty does not mind it; he rather likes it, and Mother Fogarty is always happier when the two are together. "If one of 'em
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