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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 17. Breakers Ahead
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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 17. Breakers Ahead Post by :MalcolmL Category :Long Stories Author :Francis Hopkinson Smith Date :May 2012 Read :2837

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The Tides Of Barnegat - Chapter 17. Breakers Ahead

CHAPTER XVII. BREAKERS AHEAD

The summer-home of Max Feilding, Esq., of Walnut Hill, and of the beautiful and accomplished widow of the dead Frenchman was located on a levelled sand-dune in full view of the sea. Indeed, from beneath its low-hooded porticos and piazzas nothing else could be seen except, perhaps, the wide sky--gray, mottled, or intensely blue, as the weather permitted--the stretch of white sand shaded from dry to wet and edged with tufts of yellow grass; the circling gulls and the tall finger of Barnegat Light pointing skyward. Nothing, really, but some scattering buildings in silhouette against the glare of the blinding light--one the old House of Refuge, a mile away to the north, and nearer by, the new Life Saving Station (now complete) in charge of Captain Nat Holt and his crew of trusty surfmen.

This view Lucy always enjoyed. She would sit for hours under her awnings and watch the lazy boats crawling in and out of the inlet, or the motionless steamers--motionless at that distance--slowly unwinding their threads of smoke. The Station particularly interested her. Somehow she felt a certain satisfaction in knowing that Archie was at work and that he had at last found his level among his own people--not that she wished him any harm; she only wanted him out of her way.

The hostelry itself was one of those low-roofed, shingle-sided and shingle-covered buildings common in the earlier days along the Jersey coast, and now supplanted by more modern and more costly structures. It had grown from a farm-house and out-buildings to its present state with the help of an architect and a jig-saw; the former utilizing what remained of the house and its barns, and the latter transforming plain pine into open work patterns with which to decorate its gable ends and facade. When the flags were raised, the hanging baskets suspended in each loop of the porches, and the merciless, omnipresent and ever-insistent sand was swept from its wide piazzas and sun-warped steps it gave out an air of gayety so plausible and enticing that many otherwise sane and intelligent people at once closed their comfortable homes and entered their names in its register.

The amusements of these habitues--if they could be called habitues, this being their first summer--were as varied as their tastes. There was a band which played mornings and afternoons in an unpainted pine pagoda planted on a plot of slowly dying grass and decorated with more hanging baskets and Chinese lanterns; there was bathing at eleven and four; and there was croquet on the square of cement fenced about by poles and clothes-lines at all hours. Besides all this there were driving parties to the villages nearby; dancing parties at night with the band in the large room playing away for dear life, with all the guests except the very young and very old tucked away in twos in the dark corners of the piazzas out of reach of the lights and the inquisitive--in short, all the diversions known to such retreats, so necessary for warding off ennui and thus inducing the inmates to stay the full length of their commitments.

In its selection Max was guided by two considerations: it was near Yardley--this would materially aid in Lucy's being able to join him--and it was not fashionable and, therefore, not likely to be overrun with either his own or Lucy's friends. The amusements did not interest him; nor did they interest Lucy. Both had seen too much and enjoyed too much on the other side of the water, at Nice, at Monte Carlo, and Biarritz, to give the amusements a thought. What they wanted was to be let alone; this would furnish all the excitement either of them needed. This exclusiveness was greatly helped by the red and yellow drag, with all its contiguous and connecting impedimenta, a turnout which never ceased to occupy everybody's attention whenever the small tiger stood by the heads of the satin-coated grays awaiting the good pleasure of his master and his lady. Its possession not only marked a social eminence too lofty for any ordinary habitue to climb to unless helped up by the proffered hand of the owner, but it prevented anyone of these would-be climbers from inviting either its owner or his companion to join in other outings no matter how enjoyable. Such amusements as they could offer were too simple and old-fashioned for two distinguished persons who held the world in their slings and who were whirling it around their heads with all their might. The result was that their time was their own.

They filled it at their pleasure.

When the tide was out and the sand hard, they drove on the beach, stopping at the new station, chatting with Captain Holt or Archie; or they strolled north, always avoiding the House of Refuge--that locality had too many unpleasant associations for Lucy, or they sat on the dunes, moving back out of the wet as the tide reached them, tossing pebbles in the hollows, or gathering tiny shells, which Lucy laid out in rows of letters as she had done when a child. In the afternoon they drove by way of Yardley to see how Ellen was getting on, or idled about Warehold, making little purchases at the shops and chatting with the village people, all of whom would come out to greet them. After dinner they would generally betake themselves to Max's portico, opening out of his rooms, or to Lucy's--they were at opposite ends of the long corridor--where the two had their coffee while Max smoked.

The opinions freely expressed regarding their social and moral status, and individual and combined relations, differed greatly in the several localities in which they were wont to appear. In Warehold village they were looked upon as two most charming and delightful people, rich, handsome, and of proper age and lineage, who were exactly adapted to each other and who would prove it before the year was out, with Pastor Dellenbaugh officiating, assisted by some dignitary from Philadelphia.

At the hostelry many of the habitues had come to a far different conclusion. Marriage was not in either of their heads, they maintained; their intimacy was a purely platonic one, born of a friendship dating back to childhood--they were cousins really--Max being the dearest and most unselfish creature in the world, he having given up all his pleasures elsewhere to devote himself to a most sweet and gracious lady whose grief was still severe and who would really be quite alone in the world were it not for her little daughter, now temporarily absent.

This summary of facts, none of which could be questioned, was supplemented and enriched by another conclusive instalment from Mrs. Walton Coates, of Chestnut Plains, who had met Lucy at Aix the year before, and who therefore possessed certain rights not vouchsafed to the other habitues of Beach Haven--an acquaintance which Lucy, for various reasons, took pains to encourage--Mrs. C.'s social position being beyond question, and her house and other appointments more than valuable whenever Lucy should visit Philadelphia: besides, Mrs. Coates's own and Lucy's apartments joined, and the connecting door of the two sitting-rooms was often left open, a fact which established a still closer intimacy. This instalment, given in a positive and rather lofty way, made plain the fact that in her enforced exile the distinguished lady not only deserved the thanks of every habitue of the hotel, but of the whole country around, for selecting the new establishment in which to pass the summer, instead of one of the more fashionable resorts elsewhere.

This outburst of the society leader, uttered in the hearing of a crowded piazza, had occurred after a conversation she had had with Lucy concerning little Ellen.

"Tell me about your little daughter," Mrs. Coates had said. "You did not leave her abroad, did you?"

"Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Coates! I am really here on my darling's account," Lucy answered with a sigh. "My old home is only a short distance from here. But the air does not agree with me there, and so I came here to get a breath of the real sea. Ellen is with her aunt, my dear sister Jane. I wanted to bring her, but really I hadn't the heart to take her from them; they are so devoted to her. Max loves her dearly. He drives me over there almost every day. I really do not know how I could have borne all the sorrows I have had this year without dear Max. He is like a brother to me, and SO thoughtful. You know we have known each other since we were children. They tell such dreadful stories, too, about him, but I have never seen that side of him, he's a perfect saint to me."

From that time on Mrs. Coates was her loyal mouthpiece and devoted friend. Being separated from one's child was one of the things she could not brook; Lucy was an angel to stand it as she did. As for Max--no other woman had ever so influenced him for good, nor did she believe any other woman could.

At the end of the second week a small fly no larger than a pin's head began to develop in the sunshine of their amber. It became visible to the naked eye when Max suddenly resolved to leave his drag, his tiger, his high-stepping grays, and his fair companion, and slip over to Philadelphia--for a day or two, he explained. His lawyer needed him, he said, and then again he wanted to see his sister Sue, who had run down to Walnut Hill for the day. (Sue, it might as well be stated, had not yet put in an appearance at Beach Haven, nor had she given any notice of her near arrival; a fact which had not disturbed Lucy in the least until she attempted to explain to Jane.)

"I've got to pull up, little woman, and get out for a few days," Max had begun. "Morton's all snarled up, he writes me, over a mortgage, and I must straighten it out. I'll leave Bones (the tiger) and everything just as it is. Don't mind, do you?"

"Mind! Of course I do!" retorted Lucy. "When did you get this marvellous idea into that wonderful brain of yours, Max? I intended to go to Warehold myself to-morrow." She spoke with her usual good-humor, but with a slight trace of surprise and disappointment in her tone.

"When I opened my mail this morning; but my going won't make any difference about Warehold. Bones and the groom will take care of you."

Lucy leaned back in her chair and looked over the rail of the porch. She had noticed lately a certain restraint in Max's manner which was new to her. Whether he was beginning to get bored, or whether it was only one of his moods, she could not decide--even with her acute knowledge of similar symptoms. That some change, however, had come over him she had not the slightest doubt. She never had any trouble in lassoing her admirers. That came with a glance of her eye or a lift of her pretty shoulders: nor for that matter in keeping possession of them as long as her mood lasted.

"Whom do you want to see in Philadelphia, Max?" she asked, smiling roguishly at him. She held him always by presenting her happiest and most joyous side, whether she felt it or not.

"Sue and Morton--and you, you dear girl, if you'll come along."

"No; I'm not coming along. I'm too comfortable where I am. Is this woman somebody you haven't told me of, Max?" she persisted, looking at him from under half-closed lids.

"Your somebodies are always thin air, little girl; you know everything I have ever done in my whole life," Max answered gravely. She had for the last two weeks.

Lucy threw up her hands and laughed so loud and cheerily that an habitue taking his morning constitutional on the boardwalk below turned his head in their direction. The two were at breakfast under the awnings of Lucy's portico, Bones standing out of range.

"You don't believe it?"

"Not one word of it, you fraud; nor do you. You've forgotten one-half of all you've done and the other half you wouldn't dare tell any woman. Come, give me her name. Anybody Sue knows?"

"Nobody that anybody knows, Honest John." Then he added as an after-thought, "Are you sorry?" As he spoke he rose from his seat and stood behind her chair looking down over her figure. She had her back to him. He thought he had never seen her look so lovely. She was wearing a light-blue morning-gown, her arms bare to the elbows, and a wide Leghorn hat--the morning costume of all others he liked her best in.

"No--don't think I am," she answered lightly. "Fact is I was getting pretty tired of you. How long will you be gone?"

"Oh, I think till the end of the week--not longer." He reached over the chair and was about to play with the tiny curls that lay under the coil of her hair, when he checked himself and straightened up. One of those sudden restraints which had so puzzled Lucy had seized him. She could not see his face, but she knew from the tones of his voice that the enthusiasm of the moment had cooled.

Lucy shifted her chair, lifted her head, and looked up into his eyes. She was always entrancing from this point of view: the upturned eyelashes, round of the cheeks, and the line of the throat and swelling shoulders were like no other woman's he knew.

"I don't want you to go, Max," she said in the same coaxing tone of voice that Ellen might have used in begging for sugar-plums. "Just let the mortgage and old Morton and everybody else go. Stay here with me."

Max straightened up and threw out his chest and a determined look came into his eyes. If he had had any doubts as to his departure Lucy's pleading voice had now removed them.

"No, can't do it," he answered in mock positiveness. "Can't 'pon my soul. Business is business. Got to see Morton right away; ought to have seen him before." Then he added in a more serious tone, "Don't get worried if I stay a day or two longer."

"Well, then, go, you great bear, you," and she rose to her feet and shook out her skirts. "I wouldn't let you stay, no matter what you said." She was not angry--she was only feeling about trying to put her finger on the particular button that controlled Max's movements. "Worried? Not a bit of it. Stay as long as you please."

There WAS a button, could she have found it. It was marked "Caution," and when pressed communicated to the heir of Walnut Hill the intelligence that he was getting too fond of the pretty widow and that his only safety lay in temporary flight. It was a favorite trick of his. In the charting of his course he had often found two other rocks beside Scylla and Charybdis in his way; one was boredom and the other was love. When a woman began to bore him, or he found himself liking her beyond the limit of his philosophy, he invariably found relief in change of scene. Sometimes it was a sick aunt or a persistent lawyer or an engagement nearly forgotten and which must be kept at all hazards. He never, however, left his inamorata in either tears or anger.

"Now, don't be cross, dear," he cried, patting her shoulder with his fingers. "You know I don't want to leave you. I shall be perfectly wretched while I'm gone, but there's no help for it. Morton's such a fussy old fellow--always wanting to do a lot of things that can, perhaps, wait just as well as not. Hauled me down from Walnut Hill half a dozen times once, and after all the fellow wouldn't sell. But this time it's important and I must go. Bones," and he lifted his finger to the boy, "tell John I want the light wagon. I'll take the 11.12 to Philadelphia."

The tiger advanced ten steps and stood at attention, his finger at his eyebrow. Lucy turned her face toward the boy. "No, Bones, you'll do nothing of the kind. You tell John to harness the grays to the drag. I'll go to the station with Mr. Feilding."

Max shrugged his shoulders. He liked Lucy for a good many things--one was her independence, another was her determination to have her own way. Then, again, she was never so pretty as when she was a trifle angry; her color came and went so deliciously and her eyes snapped so charmingly. Lucy saw the shrug and caught the satisfied look in his face. She didn't want to offend him and yet she didn't intend that he should go without a parting word from her--tender or otherwise, as circumstances might require. She knew she had not found the button, and in her doubt determined for the present to abandon the search.

"No, Bones, I've changed my mind," she called to the boy, who was now half way down the piazza. "I don't think I will go. I'll stop here, Max, and do just what you want me to do," she added in a softened voice. "Come along," and she slipped her hand in his and the two walked toward the door of his apartments.

When the light wagon and satin-skinned sorrel, with John on the seat and Bones in full view, stopped at the sanded porch, Mrs. Coates and Lucy formed part of the admiring group gathered about the turn-out. All of Mr. Feilding's equipages brought a crowd of onlookers, no matter how often they appeared--he had five with him at Beach Haven, including the four-in-hand which he seldom used--but the grays and the light wagon, by common consent, were considered the most "stylish" of them all, not excepting the drag.

After Max had gathered the reins in his hands, had balanced the whip, had settled himself comfortably and with a wave of his hand to Lucy had driven off, Mrs. Coates slipped her arm through my lady's and the two slowly sauntered to their rooms.

"Charming man, is he not?" Mrs. Coates ventured. "Such a pity he is not married! You know I often wonder whom such men will marry. Some pretty school-girl, perhaps, or prim woman of forty."

Lucy laughed.

"No," she answered, "you are wrong. The bread-and-butter miss would never suit Max, and he's past the eye-glass and side-curl age. The next phase, if he ever reaches it, will be somebody who will make him do--not as he pleases, but as SHE pleases. A man like Max never cares for a woman any length of time who humors his whims."

"Well, he certainly was most attentive to that pretty Miss Billeton. You remember her father was lost overboard four years ago from his yacht. Mr. Coates told me he met her only a day or so ago; she had come down to look after the new ball-room they are adding to the old house. You know her, don't you?"

"No--never heard of her. How old is she?" rejoined Lucy in a careless tone.

"I should say twenty, maybe twenty-two--you can't always tell about these girls; very pretty and very rich. I am quite sure I saw Mr. Feilding driving with her just before he moved his horses down here, and she looked prettier than ever. But then he has a new flame every month, I hear."

"Where were they driving?" There was a slight tone of curiosity in Lucy's voice. None of Max's love-affairs ever affected her, of course, except as they made for his happiness; all undue interest, therefore, was out of place, especially before Mrs. Coates.

"I don't remember. Along the River Road, perhaps--he generally drives there when he has a pretty woman with him."

Lucy bit her lip. Some other friend, then, had been promised the drag with the red body and yellow wheels! This was why he couldn't come to Yardley when she wrote for him. She had found the button. It rang up another woman.

The door between the connecting sitting-rooms was not opened that day, nor that night, for that matter. Lucy pleaded a headache and wished to be alone. She really wanted to look the field over and see where her line of battle was weak. Not that she really cared--unless the girl should upset her plans; not as Jane would have cared had Doctor John been guilty of such infidelity. The eclipse was what hurt her. She had held the centre of the stage with the lime-light full upon her all her life, and she intended to retain it against Miss Billeton or Miss Anybody else. She decided to let Max know at once, and in plain terms, giving him to understand that she didn't intend to be made a fool of, reminding him at the same time that there were plenty of others who cared for her, or who would care for her if she should but raise her little finger. She WOULD raise it, too, even if she packed her trunks and started for Paris--and took him with her.

These thoughts rushed through her mind as she sat by the window and looked out over the sea. The tide was making flood, and the fishing-boats anchored in the inlet were pointing seaward. She could see, too, the bathers below and the children digging in the sand. Now and then a boat would head for the inlet, drop its sail, and swing round motionless with the others. Then a speck would break away from the anchored craft and with the movement of a water-spider land the fishermen ashore.

None of these things interested her. She could not have told whether the sun shone or whether the sky was fair or dull. Neither was she lonely, nor did she miss Max. She was simply angry--disgusted--disappointed at the situation; at herself, at the woman who had come between them, at the threatened failure of her plans. One moment she was building up a house of cards in which she held all the trumps, and the next instant she had tumbled it to the ground. One thing she was determined upon--not to take second place. She would have all of him or none of him.

At the end of the third day Max returned. He had not seen Morton, nor any of his clerks, nor anybody connected with his office. Neither had he sent him any message or written him any letter. Morton might have been dead and buried a century so far as Max or his affairs were concerned. Nor had he laid his eyes on the beautiful Miss Billeton; nor visited her house; nor written her any letters; nor inquired for her. What he did do was to run out to Walnut Hill, have a word with his manager, and slip back to town again and bury himself in his club. Most of the time he read the magazines, some pages two or three times over. Once he thought he would look up one or two of his women friends at their homes--those who might still be in town--and then gave it up as not being worth the trouble. At the end of the third day he started for Barnegat. The air was bad in the city, he said to himself, and everybody he met was uninteresting. He would go back, hitch up the grays, and he and Lucy have a spin down the beach. Sea air always did agree with him, and he was a fool to leave it.

Lucy met him at the station in answer to his telegram sent over from Warehold. She was dressed in her very best: a double-breasted jacket and straw turban, a gossamer veil wound about it. Her cheeks were like two red peonies and her eyes bright as diamonds. She was perched up in the driver's seat of the drag, and handled the reins and whip with the skill of a turfman. This time Bones, the tiger, did not spring into his perch as they whirled from the station in the direction of the beach. His company was not wanted.

They talked of Max's trip, of the mortgage, and of Morton; of how hot it was in town and how cool it was on her portico; of Mrs. Coates and of pater-familias Coates, who held a mortgage on Beach Haven; of the dance the night before--Max leading in the conversation and she answering either in mono-syllables or not at all, until Max hazarded the statement that he had been bored to death waiting for Morton, who never put in an appearance, and that the only human being, male or female, he had seen in town outside the members of the club, was Sue.

They had arrived off the Life-Saving Station now, and Archie had called the captain to the door, and both stood looking at them, the boy waving his hand and the captain following them with his eyes. Had either of them caught the captain's remark they, perhaps, would have drawn rein and asked for an explanation:

"Gay lookin' hose-carriage, ain't it? Looks as if they was runnin' to a fire!"

But they didn't hear it; would not, probably have heard it, had the captain shouted it in their ears. Lucy was intent on opening up a subject which had lain dormant in her mind since the morning of Max's departure, and the gentleman himself was trying to cipher out what new "kink," as he expressed it to himself, had "got it into her head."

When they had passed the old House of Refuge Lucy drew rein and stopped the drag where the widening circle of the incoming tide could bathe the horses' feet. She was still uncertain as to how she would lead up to the subject-matter without betraying her own jealousy or, more important still, without losing her temper. This she rarely displayed, no matter how goading the provocation. Nobody had any use for an ill-tempered woman, not in her atmosphere; and no fly that she had ever known had been caught by vinegar when seeking honey. There might be vinegar-pots to be found in her larder, but they were kept behind closed doors and sampled only when she was alone. As she sat looking out to sea, Max's brain still at work on the problem of her unusual mood, a schooner shifted her mainsail in the light breeze and set her course for the inlet.

"That's the regular weekly packet," Max ventured. "She's making for Farguson's ship-yard. She runs between Amboy and Barnegat--Captain Ambrose Farguson sails her." At times like these any topic was good enough to begin on.

"How do you know?" Lucy asked, looking at the incoming schooner from under her half-closed lids. The voice came like the thin piping of a flute preceding the orchestral crash, merely sounded so as to let everybody know it was present.

"One of my carriages was shipped by her. I paid Captain Farguson the freight just before I went away."

"What's her name?"--slight tremolo--only a note or two.

"The Polly Walters," droned Max, talking at random, mind neither on the sloop nor her captain.

"Named after his wife?" The flute-like notes came more crisply.

"Yes, so he told me." Max had now ceased to give any attention to his answers. He had about made up his mind that something serious was the matter and that he would ask her and find out.

"Ought to be called the Max Feilding, from the way she tacks about. She's changed her course three times since I've been watching her."

Max shot a glance athwart his shoulder and caught a glimpse of the pretty lips thinned and straightened and the half-closed eyes and wrinkled forehead. He was evidently the disturbing cause, but in what way he could not for the life of him see. That she was angry to the tips of her fingers was beyond question; the first time he had seen her thus in all their acquaintance.

"Yes-that would fit her exactly," he answered with a smile and with a certain soothing tone in his voice. "Every tack her captain makes brings him the nearer to the woman he loves."

"Rather poetic, Max, but slightly farcical. Every tack you make lands you in a different port--with a woman waiting in every one of them." The first notes of the overture had now been struck.

"No one was waiting in Philadelphia for me except Sue, and I only met her by accident," he said good-naturedly, and in a tone that showed he would not quarrel, no matter what the provocation; "she came in to see her doctor. Didn't stay an hour."

"Did you take her driving?" This came in a thin, piccolo tone-barely enough room for it to escape through her lips. All the big drums and heavy brass were now being moved up.

"No; had nothing to take her out in. Why do you ask? What has happened, little--"

"Take anybody else?" she interrupted.

"No."

He spoke quite frankly and simply. At any other time she would have believed him. She had always done so in matters of this kind, partly because she didn't much care and partly because she made it a point never to doubt the word of a man, either by suspicion or inference, who was attentive to her. This time she did care, and she intended to tell him so. All she dreaded was that the big horns and the tom-toms would get away from her leadership and the hoped-for, correctly played symphony end in an uproar.

"Max," she said, turning her head and lifting her finger at him with the movement of a conductor's baton, "how can you lie to me like that? You never went near your lawyer; you went to see Miss Billeton, and you've spent every minute with her since you left me. Don't tell me you didn't. I know everything you've done, and--" Bass drums, bass viols, bassoons--everything--was loose now.

She had given up her child to be with him! Everything, in fact--all her people at Yardley; her dear old nurse. She had lied to Jane about chaperoning Sue--all to come down and keep him from being lonely. What she wanted was a certain confidence in return. It made not the slightest difference to her how many women he loved, or how many women loved him; she didn't love him, and she never would; but unless she was treated differently from a child and like the woman that she was, she was going straight back to Yardley, and then back to Paris, etc., etc.

She knew, as she rushed on in a flood of abuse such as only a woman can let loose when she is thoroughly jealous and entirely angry, that she was destroying the work of months of plotting, and that he would be lost to her forever, but she was powerless to check the torrent of her invective. Only when her breath gave out did she stop.

Max had sat still through it all, his eyes expressing first astonishment and then a certain snap of admiration, as he saw the color rising and falling in her cheeks. It was not the only time in his experience that he had had to face similar outbursts. It was the first time, however, that he had not felt like striking back. Other women's outbreaks had bored him and generally had ended his interest in them--this one was more charming than ever. He liked, too, her American pluck and savage independence. Jealous she certainly was, but there was no whine about it; nor was there any flop at the close--floppy women he detested--had always done so. Lucy struck straight out from her shoulder and feared nothing.

As she raged on, the grays beating the water with their well-polished hoofs, he continued to sit perfectly still, never moving a muscle of his face nor changing his patient, tolerant expression. The best plan, he knew, was to let all the steam out of the boiler and then gradually rake the fires.

"My dear little woman,"' he began, "to tell you the truth, I never laid eyes on Morton; didn't want to, in fact. All that was an excuse to get away. I thought you wanted a rest, and I went away to let you have it. Miss Billeton I haven't seen for three months, and couldn't if I would, for she is engaged to her cousin and is now in Paris buying her wedding clothes. I don't know who has been humbugging you, but they've done it very badly. There is not one word of truth in what you've said from beginning to end."

There is a certain ring in a truthful statement that overcomes all doubts. Lucy felt this before Max had finished. She felt, too, with a sudden thrill, that she still held him. Then there came the instantaneous desire to wipe out all traces of the outburst and keep his good-will.

"And you swear it?" she asked, her belief already asserting itself in her tones, her voice falling to its old seductive pitch.

"On my honor as a man," he answered simply.

For a time she remained silent, her mind working behind her mask of eyes and lips, the setting sun slanting across the beach and lighting up her face and hair, the grays splashing the suds with their impatient feet. Max kept his gaze upon her. He saw that the outbreak was over and that she was a little ashamed of her tirade. He saw, too, man of the world as he was, that she was casting about in her mind for some way in which she could regain for herself her old position without too much humiliation.

"Don't say another word, little woman," he said in his kindest tone. "You didn't mean a word of it; you haven't been well lately, and I oughtn't to have left you. Tighten up your reins; we'll drive on if you don't mind."

That night after the moon had set and the lights had been turned out along the boardwalk and the upper and lower porticos and all Beach Haven had turned in for the night, and Lucy had gone to her apartments, and Mr. and Mrs. Coates and the rest of them, single and double, were asleep, Max, who had been pacing up and down his dressing-room, stopped suddenly before his mirror, and lifting the shade from the lamp, made a critical examination of his face.

"Forty, and I look it!" he said, pinching his chin with his thumb and forefinger, and turning his cheek so that the light would fall on the few gray hairs about his temples. "That beggar Miggs said so yesterday at the club. By gad, how pretty she was, and how her eyes snapped! I didn't think it was in her!"

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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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