The Project Gutenberg eBook, Vacation with the Tucker Twins, by Nell Speed, Illustrated by Arthur O. Scott

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Title: Vacation with the Tucker Twins

Author: Nell Speed

Release Date: May 6, 2011 [eBook #36046]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Stephen Hutcheson, Rod Crawford, Dave Morgan, Emmy,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team




Annie Pore has bloomed forth into a regular English rose!—Page 89 Annie Pore has bloomed forth into a regular English rose!—Page 89






I. The Beach5
II. "Sleepy"18
III. Our First Night at the Beach28
IV. Bubbles36
V. Blanche45
VI. A Romance57
VII. Oh, You Chaperone!67
VIII. Letters82
IX. The Start91
X. The Finish102
XI. Cape Henry111
XII. Freckles and Tan126
XIII. The Turkey-Tail Fan134
XIV. A Letter and Its Answer150
XV. The Judge158
XVI. An Axe to Grind175
XVII. Mr. Arthur Ponsonby Pore187
XVIII. The Machinations of Mabel198
XIX. The Wedding205
XX. The After-math225
XXI. Settling Up241
XXII. Good-bye to the Beach261
XXIII. Until Next Time268
XXIV. A Bread-and-Butter Letter282
XXV. Bracken in August285
XXVI. The Picnic298


Annie Pore has bloomed forth into a regular English rose   Frontispiece
A tousled head emerged and then a hot, fat, red face19
Peeping in, we saw the game in full swing145
"Why don't you speak up, girl?"255


Vacation with the Tucker Twins.



My first impression of Willoughby Beach gave me keen disappointment. It was so sandy, so flat, and so absolutely shadeless. I longed for the green hills far away and in my heart felt I could not stand a month of the lonesome stretches of sand and the pitiless glare of the summer sun. It took great self-control and some histrionic ability for me to conceal my emotions from my enthusiastic hostesses.

The Tuckers had been coming to Willoughby for years and loved every grain of sand on the beach. They could hardly wait for the trolley from Norfolk to stop before they jumped out and raced down to the water's edge just to dabble their hands in the ocean.[6]

"My gracious me! How I hate to grow up!" exclaimed Dum. "One year ago I would have had off my shoes and been in bliss by this time."

"Well, maybe you are too grown up to wade, but I'm not," declared Dee. "However, since Zebedee has trusted us to come down and open up the cottage, I fancy we had better go do it and get things ready for our guests."

We three girls were the fore-runners of the famous beach house-party that Mr. Jeffry Tucker, father of the "Heavenly Twins," had promised to give us the winter before as reward of merit if we passed all of our exams at Gresham and got through the year without any very serious mishaps. Mishaps we had had in abundance, but not very serious ones, as all of us were alive to tell the tale; and Mr. Tucker, with his eternally youthful outlook on life, seemed to feel that a scrape that turned out all right was not such a terrible matter after all.

"Just so you can look me in the eye while you are telling me your troubles, it's all right," I have heard him say to his daughters.

The cottage proved to be very attractive. The[7] lower floor was chiefly a large living room with French windows that opened upon three deep, shady verandas. A kitchen and bath rooms were in the rear. A staircase came down into the living room from a low-hung balcony that went around the four sides of the room. Doors from this balcony opened into dressing rooms and they in turn led to the sleeping porches. This style of architecture was new to me and very pleasing. There was a spaciousness to the living room with its high, raftered ceiling that appealed to me greatly. I have never been able to be happy in little, chopped-up rooms. The wood-work, rafters, roof and all, were stained a dark moss green, as were also the long mission dining table and the chairs and settles. At one end was a great fireplace made of rough, grey boulders, with heavy iron fire-dogs and fender. There was no attempt at ornamentation with the exception of several old blue platters and a tea pot on the high mantelpiece and a long runner of Japanese toweling on the table.

"Oh!" burst from us in chorus as we came[8] through the hospitably open door. "Isn't it lovely?"

Just then there emerged from the kitchen a woman with a pail in one hand and broom in the other. Her long, pale face with the sandy hair drawn tightly back into a Mrs. Wiggs knot had no trace of welcome, but rather one of irritation.

"Well, land's sakes! You is greedy fer yo' rights. The fust of July don't mean the fust thing in the morning. The last tenants ain't been gone mor'n a hour an' here you come a-turn-in' up before I kin mor'n turn 'round."

"Well, everything looks lovely," said the tactful Dee.

"Y' aint seen it yet. It's right enough in this here room where I've done put in some licks, but that there kitchen is a mask of grease. These June tenants was jist a passel of boys and I can tell you they pretty near ripped things wide open. They had a triflin', no-'count black man fer cook and if ther' is one thing I hate more'n a nigger woman, it's a nigger man. Sometimes I think I will jist natchally refuse to rent my house to anybody that hires niggers."[9]

"Your house!" escaped from Dum before she could stop herself.

"Yes, Miss, my house! Did you think I'd be cleaning up after a nigger in anybody's house but my own?"

"Then you are Mrs. Rand?" inquired Dee.

"The same! Did you think I might be Capt. Rand?"

"No'm; I—I——"

"You jist didn't expect to see a lady who owns a grand house like this workin' like any common person. Well, you are right, young lady. But if I didn't work like this, ther' wouldn't be no house to rent. Where's your brother?"


"Yes; him what come down last winter to see after rentin' the house. He was a powerful likely young man. Me 'n Capt. Rand took to him from the first minute we clapt eyes on him. I'd a-knowed you two were his sisters anywhere; and this other young lady," indicating me, "I reckon she's his girl, 'cause she sho ain't no kin."

The twins spluttered and I blushed but managed to put Mrs. Rand right as to the Tucker[10] family, explaining to her that Mr. Tucker was the father of my friends and that I was merely a schoolmate who was invited to come to the beach on a visit.

"Well, you may be putting something over on me, as these wild June tenants used to call it. I can't believe that the young man who came down here is the paw of these strapping twins any more than I could believe that you are their maw. Maybe he sent his office boy." That made all of us laugh.

"We've been coming here for years, Mrs. Rand," said Dee. "It is strange we do not know each other. I can't remember ever seeing you before and you never saw us."

"Good reason! I never come here 'til this last fall, when Capt. Rand and I left Virginia Beach. He's been a lifesaver ever since he was a-put inter pants, but his jints is too stiff now. The Government has pensioned him but it looks like so long as we live near the old Life Saving Station that every time there is any cause for gittin' out the boats, Capt. Rand sees some good excuse why he's beholden to go 'long. So I jist up 'n'[11] moved him away from temptation over inter these quiet waters. But when is that so-called paw of yourn comin'?"

"He will be along this evening with Miss Cox, our chaperone, and we want to get everything in order before he comes," said Dum.

"Well, that bein' the case, I'd better get a hump on and finish up the kitchen that greasy nigger left in such a state; and then I'll come right on up to the bedrooms. This lapping and slamming of tenants is right hard on me, but it is the only way I can get my fifteen per cent out of my investment."

"Did you plan the house yourself, Mrs. Rand?" questioned Dum. "It is so pretty."

"What, me? Do I look crazy? When I builds, I builds a house with a parlor and nice, tight bedrooms. I don't 'low the builder to waste no lumber on porches that's nothin' but snares fer lazy folks. I owns three houses over to Virginia Beach, as snug little homes as you ever seed; but somehow it looks like I can't git rich tenants fer 'em, in spite of they bein' on the water front. Rich folks what is got the money to sleep in nice,[12] close bedrooms is all took to sleepin' out doors like tramps; an' when they is got all the time there is to set in the parlors and rock, they ain't content in the house but must take theyselves out in the wind and sun 'til they look like Injuns!

"No, sirree! I had a mortgage on this house an' foreclosed. It was built and owned by a architect from Norfolk. I had a chattel mortgage, too, so I got all his fixin's. I felt real sorry fer him. It looked like he loved the place as if'n it was his own flesh and blood. It is a strange, misshapen lookin' house to me; but they do say if any of yo' children is afflicted, you loves 'em more'n all the others. I wanted to decoration this barn a little with some real fine pictures a lightnin' artist over to Hampton struck off for me while I waited, but the man took on so, jist like he thought I might a-been desecratin' the grave of his child! And he kinder made me promise to leave this room jist as it is with that common old blue chany on the mantel an' this strip of blue and white rag on the table. So that's how it comes to be so bare-like."

"We don't think it is bare, Mrs. Rand, but[13] beautiful," said Dum reverently, and Dee took off her hat and held it just as I had seen her father do when a funeral was passing. "May we go upstairs and see the sleeping porches, and maybe we can help you some?"

"Snoop around all you've a mind to; but I wouldn't ask you to help. When I rents a furnished house I sees that it is turned over to tenants in apple-pie order, and if'n you'd 'a' come in the afternoon instid of morning you'd 'a' found it ship-shape."

"But we'd simply adore helping," urged Dee.

"All right, if you must you must! Here's a basket of clean sheets an' sich, an' here's clean bags fer the mattresses. I never asks one tenant to sleep on the same tick cover that the one before it used, certainly not when boys is been the fore-runners. These was likely boys if'n they was a leetle harum-scarum, but boys at the best is kinder goatish. Jist bundle up the s'iled bedclothes an' trun 'em down the steps, an then when you've buttoned up the mattresses in their clean covers make up the cots to suit your fancy. By that time I'll be up with my broom and rags." And[14] Mrs. Rand bustled out to the kitchen to clean up after her abomination.

We could hardly wait for her to get out of the room to have a good giggle. She was a type that was new to me. Dee declared that she was a real out and out "po' white" if she did own three houses at Virginia Beach and one at Willoughby, and got 15 per cent on her investments. Her dialect was, in some instances, like the coloured people's, but her voice was high and nasal and every sentence ended in a kind of whine. With our coloured friends the dropping of a "g" or "d" makes their speech soft and mellow, but with this so-called "poor white" it seemed to make it only dry and hard. Certainly Mrs. Rand's exterior was not very attractive, but there was a kind of frankness about her that I rather liked. I had an idea that she was going to prove a good and just landlady, which, after all, is very important when one is renting a furnished house for a month at the sea shore.

"Thank goodness, we are spared the lightning artist's pictures," sighed Dum. "Isn't this room wonderful?"[15]

It had indeed the repose and calm of a forest. The light was soft and subdued after the glare of sand and water. The high, vaulted, unplastered ceiling with its heavy green beams and rafters made me think of William Morris's description of the hall of the Nibelungs when the eagles screamed in the roof-tree.

We carried the heavy basket of clean bed linen upstairs and made our way through the dressing rooms, which were little more than closets, to the spacious sleeping porches, overlooking the bay. We found the place in very good order, considering boys had been keeping bach there for a month, and it was not at all "goatish," as we had been led to expect to find it. On the first porch we discovered an old checked cap on a hook, and some discarded tennis shoes in a corner, under one pillow a wallet, rather fat with bank bills, and under another a large gold watch.

"Aren't boys the limit, though?" exclaimed Dee as she carefully placed the valuables in a drawer. "That means they'll be coming back for their treasures. Maybe we had better save the old hat and shoes, too;" which we did with as[16] much care as we had shown the watch and wallet. We bundled up the bed clothes according to instructions and decided to visit the other porches and get rid of all the soiled linen before we commenced to make up the cots. There were three large porches, with two dressing rooms to each porch, and two small porches in the back, one of them, we fancied, intended for the servant and the other one for some person who preferred solitude to company, as there was room for only one bed on it.

This porch was the last one we visited and we found it in terrible disarray. There were clothes and shoes all over the floor and the bed was piled high with a conglomeration of sweaters, baseball suits and what not.

"My, what a mess!" I cried, being the first to enter. "And this is the room of all others to get in order, as I fancy Miss Cox, our chaperone, will occupy it."

"Yes, this would be best," said Dum. "She could have more privacy, and then, too, she would escape the morning sun. Here, you girls, catch hold of the corners of the sheet and let's take up[17] all of this trash and 'trun' it down the steps and let Mrs. Rand sort it out."

We laid hold with a good will, but it proved to be very heavy, so heavy, in fact, that just as we got it off the bed, Dee let go her end and the contents fell to the floor with a resounding bump.




The mass of bed clothes and sweaters and shoes went through a great upheaval, and an arm, encased in a striped pajama sleeve, was thrust forth. We did what girls always do, we screamed and then we giggled.

"Gee, it's hot!" came in muffled tones. "It's hard enough to be waked before daybreak but you fellows might at least wake me like gentlemen and not pull me out of bed, keeping up such an infernal cackling, too, sounding like a lot of fool girls."

Of course, the thing to do was to get out of the room, or rather off the porch, as fast as we could, but, as Dee and I were at the foot of the bed and the floor space was occupied by the squirming mass, we had no chance to make a graceful exit.

A tousled head emerged and then a hot, fat, red face.—Page 19 A tousled head emerged and then a hot, fat, red face.—Page 19

"Jump!" came in a sibilant whisper from Dum,[19] and we got ready for a feat not very difficult for two girls as athletic as we were; but a fit of giggles attacked us and we were powerless to do anything but cling to each other in limp helplessness.

"I'm afraid we would step on it," I managed to squeak out through my convulsions.

"I just dare you to!" spluttered the owner of the arm, and a tousled head emerged and then a hot, fat, red face. It was a rather good-looking face in spite of the fact that it was swollen with sleep and crimson with heat and distorted with rage at having been "awakened before dawn." I never expect again in all my life to see anything half so ludicrous as that boy's expression when it dawned on him that the rude awakening was not the work of his erstwhile companions, but of a lot of "fool girls." His eyes, half shut with sleep and blinking with the glare of unexpected daylight, were blinded for a moment, but as Dee and I still clung to each other and giggled, the youth's eyes began to widen and the mouth, sullen from heavy slumber, formed itself into a panic-stricken O. His face had seemed as red[20] as a face could get, but, no! It took on several shades more of crimson until it was really painful to behold. He did the wisest thing he could possibly have done under the circumstances: hid his head and burrowed deep under the cover.

"Now, jump!" cried Dum; and jump we did, clearing the hurdle in great shape, and then we raced down to Mrs. Rand to tell her of our ridiculous predicament.

"Well, land's sake! Don't that beat all? And you was fixin' to gather him up with the s'iled clothes! 'Twould 'a' served him right if'n you had a-trunned him down the steps and let him take his chanct with the la'ndry." And the old woman laughed until her Mrs. Wiggs knot came down and she had to put down her scrubbing brush and twist it up. "I'm about through here and I'll go up and 'ten' to him."

"Oh, Mrs. Rand, I am sure he is up by this time, and the poor fellow is embarrassed enough. Don't say anything to him," begged Dee.

"I ain't so sho 'bout that. I spec it's the one they call 'Sleepy,' an' if'n it is, he's mo'n apt to be[21] gone back to bed," and she stalked like a grenadier up the steps to rout out poor "Sleepy."

Two boys came up on the piazza as we turned from viewing the now spotless kitchen, and, caps in hand, asked to see Mrs. Rand. They were what that lady would have called a "likely pair." Both were dressed in white flannels and had the unmistakable look of clean-living athletes.

Mrs. Rand's voice was heard from the balcony as she rapped sharply on the dressing-room door:

"You, there! Git up! This ain't no tramps' hotel."

Then a growl came from the den as from a wounded, sore-headed bear.

"Sleepy!" gasped the boys, and they went off into roars of laughter in which we perforce joined them. "Not up yet!"

Mrs. Rand, coming down the steps from her valiant attack on the back sleeping porch, espied the laughing boys and renewed the offensive:

"Now what's bringing you here? This here cottage ain't yourn no longer. If'n youse after that fat sleepy-head up thar you is welcome to[22] him, but what's the reason you didn't take him with you, I can't see."

"You see, Mrs. Rand, it's this way," said the taller of the two boys, approaching Mrs. Rand with an engaging smile. "We did wake up Sleepy and then piled all his clothes on top of him, thinking the weight and heat of them would make it impossible for him to sleep longer. We had to go get our tents pitched and provision our camp and we couldn't stay to see that our scheme worked. We are mighty sorry if it has caused you any trouble or annoyance."

"No trouble to me," and Mrs. Rand gave a snaggled-tooth smile at the polite young man, "but it was some trouble for these young ladies; which no doubt is the reason, these young ladies, I mean, that t'other young fellow is so busy winking at me about, kinder specting me to hand out a interduction. Well, as I'm what you might call chaperoon 'til their paw comes, I'll favor you and make you acquainted;" which she did with stiff formality. The tall boy was named James Hart, and the other one, the winker, Stephen White, but he was never again to be known as[23] Stephen, or even Steve, for on and after that first day of July he was known as "Wink." Boys are quick to give a nickname and slow to relinquish a joke on one of their companions.

"Mrs. Rand," said Wink, (I'll begin now to call these boys by the names we soon knew them by,) "we simply hate to be a nuisance to you and to these young ladies but we can't provision our camp for the reason that we have lost all our money. I was almost sure I had put the money in my pocket, but now that I can't find it, I am hoping maybe I left it here somewhere."

"No, you didn't, young man. Th' ain't no money loose 'round here," and Mrs. Rand got ready for battle.

"Oh, the wallet!" we cried in chorus, and Dee rushed upstairs and came down in a trice bearing the wallet, watch, old cap and shoes.

"My, what a relief!" sighed Wink. "I am supposed to be the careful member of the crowd, so they intrusted me with all the funds, and this is the way I behaved. Your watch, Jim! I fancy your great-grandfather would turn in his grave if he knew how careless you were. And old Rags[24] left his cap and shoes! I am glad I wasn't the only forgetter."

"Well, I'm a-thinking, young men, that it's a good thing this here cottage is owned by a respectable woman an' the July tenants is what they is, or you'd be minus some prop'ty. That there Sleepy up there come mighty near being bundled up in the s'iled linen an' sent to the la'ndry, an' if'n these young ladies hadn't a-been what they is yo' camp never would 'a' been provisioned. But now I must git to work an' clear out that there upstairs," and Mrs. Rand betook herself to the regions above.

"Please tell us about Sleepy," begged Jim Hart. "Did he get mixed up with the laundry?" But the Tuckers and I felt that poor Sleepy had had embarrassment enough and were mum as to our experience with him that morning.

"Come on, Jim, let's go up and see him. Maybe he is too shy to come out," and the two boys went up two steps at a time to rout out their embarrassed friend.

The bird had flown. There was no trace of the poor fat boy. The clothes which had filled the[25] room were gone; the boy was gone; and only a hole in the sand below gave silent witness to his manner of flight.

"Well, poor Sleepy, if he hasn't jumped off the porch and gone, bag and baggage! He almost dug a well in the process of going. That was some jump, I can tell you," and Jim and Wink came down in a broad grin.

"What is Sleepy's real name?" I asked.

"George Massie, a perfectly good name, and he is the best old fellow in the world, especially when he is asleep, which he is on long stretches. In fact, most of the time, except in football season, and then you bet he is awake and up and doing. He is on the University Eleven and is sure to be captain next year," answered Jim.

I was rather glad to hear of his prowess in football as it meant that the poor, sleepy boy could take care of himself if his companions teased him too much in their anxiety to hear what had occurred. A centre rush on a college eleven does not have to submit to much teasing.

"We are certainly obliged to you ladies for your kindness in finding our belongings, and[26] when we get our camp in order we hope you will come to see us. We understand there is to be quite a party of you," said Wink, preparing to depart.

"Yes, besides Miss Cox, our chaperone, there are to be two more girls with us for the whole month and our father is to bring down week-end parties from Richmond. We are to have some boys for part of the time but we can't stand them as steady things," blundered Dum.

"Well, come on, Jim, we don't want to get in bad the first thing. To become popular with this young lady we must make ourselves scarce," and they went gaily off, while we returned to assist Mrs. Rand until our luggage arrived. When it came, we unpacked at once, and then were ready for the lunch which we had brought with us from Richmond.

We had a busy afternoon visiting the little shops, laying in our housekeeping supplies and interviewing the swarm of hucksters and fish mongers that sprang up like magic the moment the word had gone forth that a new tenant had arrived. Our cook was not to come until the next[27] day so we were very cautious in ordering, being well aware of our limitations in the culinary art. Dum wanted to have baked, stuffed red snapper the first night because Zebedee was so fond of it, but Dee and I vetoed it and we got Spanish mackerel to broil instead.

"We simply live on fish at the beach. I hope you like it, Page," said Dee, "because you fare pretty badly down here if you don't."

"Of course I do; and I am going to eat a lot of it so I can become fishy and learn to swim. It is a terrible mortification to me that I can't swim."

"Why, honey, Zebedee can teach you in one lesson, just so you are not timid," and Dee put her arm around me. "There is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. You could hardly have learned to swim in your grandfather's hat-tub."




By the time Mr. Tucker and Miss Cox arrived, late that evening, Tweedles and I felt as though we had been keeping house for years. Mrs. Rand had the cottage in apple-pie order and had taken herself off, very much concerned for fear we were not going to have a good supper for "that there so-called 'paw'." But we did have a very good one by careful division of labour. Dum set the table and looked after the butter and ice water; Dee attended to the coffee, baked potatoes and salad; and to my lot fell the broiling of the fish and toasting of the bread.

We had had a long and eventful day and very tired and hungry were the three of us when the trolley from Norfolk finally arrived with Miss Cox and Mr. Tucker, also tired and hungry and very dirty after a trip on a soft coal train. Miss Cox had come all the way from the mountains[29] of Albemarle on a local train and she seemed to be about all in; but she declared that supper and bed would make her over and we must not worry about her.

"It would be a pretty piece of business for me to come down here as a chaperone and then be a baby," she said.

"Well, a baby is about as good a chaperone as one could want," laughed Mr. Tucker; "and now, Jinny, I am going to insist upon your being a baby for a few days until you get yourself all rested up. We appreciate your coming to us more than we can tell you and one and all mean to wait on you."

"We do, indeed, Miss Cox, and I bid to bring your breakfast up to your room," said Dee.

"And I bid to unpack for you," put in Dum.

"And I—I—I don't know what I will do for you, but please let me help some," I begged.

"Oh, people, people! Don't be too good to me or I'll cry," and Miss Cox gave a wan smile. She had been tutoring all during the month of June, beginning just as soon as her labours were over at Gresham; and having had no rest at all[30] she was in a state of exhaustion pitiable to behold. I believe her nerves would have snapped if it had not been for that timely trip to the beach.

"Well, I call this a pretty good supper for three girls just turning sixteen to get up all by their lonesomes," said Mr. Tucker, giving a sigh of complete satisfaction as he got out a cigar for an after-dinner smoke.

"Page did all the real cooking," tweedled the twins.

"Why, Dee, you cooked the potatoes and the coffee, and Dum did a million other things that are much more tedious than cooking. I love to cook but I hate the scullery part." Then I was sorry I had said that because they utterly refused to let me help wash the dishes and I felt like an awful shirker.

Miss Cox was escorted to her sleeping porch which she pronounced "Heaven." It presented a different appearance than it had in the morning when poor Sleepy had been concealed in the soiled linen like a modern Falstaff (not that we seemed much like the Merry Wives of Windsor).[31]

"Now stay in bed in the morning so I can bring your breakfast up to you," begged Dee.

"And don't dare to unpack yourself, but let me do it," demanded Dum.

"I hope the mantle of Sleepy will fall on you, Miss Cox, and you will slumber as peacefully as he did," said I, lowering the striped awning to keep the early morning light from waking the poor, tired lady.

"Well, good night to all of you. I only hope I can get undressed before I fall asleep."

It was a wondrous night, and since the girls would not let me help with the dishes, I accepted Mr. Tucker's invitation to stroll on the beach with him while he finished his cigar. How pleasant the night was after the terrible glare of the day! For the first time I began to feel that the beach was going to be what I had dreamed it to be. The sun had set but there was a soft afterglow.

"And in the Heavens that clear obscure,
So softly dark and darkly pure,
Which follows the decline of day,
As twilight melts beneath the moon away,"


quoted Mr. Tucker. "I am afraid you are pretty tired, too, Page. You do not seem to have your usual spirits. I bet a horse I know what it is! You are disappointed in Willoughby Beach."

"Oh, please don't think it, Mr. Tucker——"

"I don't think it, I just know it. You must not feel bad about it. Everybody always is disappointed in it at first, and then in a few days wonders how he could have been anything but in love with it. You question now how anyone could be contented without trees or grass, and in a week's time you wonder what is the good of trees and grass, anyhow. I know today you felt like old Regulus when his captors cut off his eyelids and exposed him to the sun. You'll get used to the sun, too, and even scorn a hat as Tweedles do."

I was really embarrassed at Mr. Tucker's divining my feelings as he did, but it was no new thing, as he often seemed to be able to guess my thoughts. I, too, often found that I had thought out something just as he was in the act of giving voice to it. I had been desperately disappointed in the beach. The great stretches of unbroken[33] sand, the cloudless sky and a certain flatness everywhere had given me a sensation of extreme heaviness and dreariness; but now that the blessed darkness had come and I no longer had to scrooch up my eyes, I began to feel that it was not such a stale, flat, unprofitable place after all. And it was certainly very pleasant out there, pacing up and down on the sand with Mr. Tucker, who treated me just like one of his daughters in a way but at the same time gave me a feeling that he thought I was quite grown-up enough to be talked to and listened to. He had called me "Miss Page" at first, but now that he had dropped the "Miss" and I was just plain Page I seemed more of a companion to him than before.

Tweedles soon came racing out, having finished the dish washing.

"We didn't wipe 'em, but scalded 'em and let 'em dreen. Dee broke two cups—I broke a saucer!" exclaimed Dum. "It's entirely too lovely a night to waste indoors."

"So it is, but it is also a mighty good night for sleeping and I think all of us had better turn in pretty early," said Mr. Tucker.[34]

"Oh, not yet, Zebedee!" tweedled the girls, "we are not a bit sleepy. You are always wanting people to go to bed before they are ready." And with that they flopped themselves down on the sand, Dum with her head on my knee and Dee with hers on her father's shoulder and in one minute they were fast asleep.

"Now what are we going to do with these babies, Page?"

"I hate to wake them but they will be sure to catch cold," I replied. And so wake them we had to and lead them stumbling to the cottage and up the steps to the east porch, where they were with difficulty persuaded to go through what they considered, in their sleepy state, to be the unnecessary formality of undressing.

I had been sleeping pretty well for almost sixteen years but after that first night at Willoughby Beach on a sleeping-porch, I knew that I had never really realized what sleep meant. No matter how many windows you may have open in your bedroom, it is still a room, and no matter how much you may protect a porch, it is still out-of-doors. We were in bed by nine o'clock[35] and we were asleep almost before we were in bed, and while my sleep was perfectly dreamless I was, in a measure, conscious of a delicious well being, a sentiment de bien être. All through the night I was rocked in this feeling and I was then and there reconciled to the beach, flatness, glare and all. A place that had such sleep-giving powers was one to be loved and not scorned, and forthwith I began to love it.




The sun finds an east porch very early in the morning and five o'clock was late enough to sleep, anyhow, when one has gone to bed at nine. Tweedles and I had many duties to perform and we were glad enough to be up and doing.

"Me for a dip in the briny, before I grapple with the day!" exclaimed Dum. That sounded good to Dee and me, so we all piled into our bathing suits. I felt rather strange in mine and very youthful, never before having had one on. Father and I had had several nice trips together but we had always gone to some city and had never taken in a seaside resort. I had a notion I was going to like the water and almost knew I would not be afraid. I determined to look upon the ocean as just a large-sized hat-tub.

"Hadn't we better start the kitchen fire before we go out, Dum?" I asked.[37]

"I'm not Dum! I'm Dee! Dum's gone to peek at Zebedee to see if he is awake." For the first time in my acquaintance with the Tucker Twins I found myself at a loss to tell them apart. Of course it was Dee. The eyes were grey and there was a dimple in her chin, but the bathing cap concealed her hair and forehead; and, after all, the colour of the twins' hair and the way it grew on their foreheads were the chief points of difference. Their eyes were exactly the same shape if they were of different colours, and a difference that you had to stare at to find out was not much of a difference after all.

Dum came back to announce that Zebedee was awake and would join us in a moment, so we raced down to the kitchen, careful not to make any noise and wake up poor Miss Cox. We started the fire and put on the tea kettle and, as an afterthought, I went back and filled the Marion Harland percolator, putting in plenty of coffee. The morning was rather chilly and I knew that when we got back from our dip, coffee would not go amiss.

"Front door wide open! What kind of a[38] locker-up are you, Zebedee, anyhow?" chided Dum.

"Well, I could have sworn I shut it last night and locked it. In fact, I can swear it."

"Well, if we had burglars they didn't burgle any. The pure German silver is all intact and the blue tea-pot is still on the mantelpiece. Come on, I'll race you to the water's edge," and Dum and Zebedee were off like two children, while Dee and I followed.

"Someone's out ahead of us," said Zebedee, pointing to a head far out in the bay. "Some swimmer, too! Just look how fast he's going!" The swimmer was taking long, even strokes and was shooting through the water like a fish.

How I did envy that swimmer! I felt very slim and very shy as I walked gingerly to the water's edge and let the waves creep up on my feet and ankles. The Tuckers wanted to stay with me but I would not hear of it. I knew that they were longing to get out into deep water and I have always had a wholesome dread of being a nuisance. They plunged in and were off like a school of porpoise, one minute under water and[39] the next leaping high into the air. They seemed to be truly amphibious animals while I felt very much of an earthworm. I walked out in the bay up to my chin and then decided that I would try to swim back, although I had no more idea of how a body went to work to swim than to fly.

I lay down on the water and felt my feet rising to the surface and then a panic seized me, and such another struggling and splashing and gurgling as I was guilty of! My head went under and my feet refused to leave the surface. I thought I would surely drown, although I knew perfectly well I was not beyond my depth. Foolish poetry flashed into my brain:

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white,
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
I do it again and again."

From that I went on with Clarence's dream:[40]

"O Lord! methought what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea,
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit there were crept
(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.

. . . . but still the envious flood
Kept in my soul and would not let it forth
To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;
But smothered it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea."

All this time that my brain was busy in this absurd way, my legs and arms were busy, too, and just when I got to the last line, quoted above, I felt a strong hand on the back of my bathing suit and I was pulled from the briny deep.

"Why, Page, why are you making a little submarine of yourself? You scared me to death, child. I was way out in the bay when I looked back to see what you were up to and not a sign of your precious little head could I see, nothing[41] but bubbles to mark the spot where my dear little friend had gone down. But oh, such big bubbles! I thought you had ventured out beyond your depth, and here it is not much more than four feet of water," and Zebedee held me up while I spluttered and gurgled. Only the night before Zebedee had demanded that I should stop calling him Mr. Tucker, so now I was to think of him and speak of him as Zebedee. I had been thinking of him as Zebedee for a long time and it was very easy to stop calling him by the formal name of Mr. Tucker.

"Lend me a handkerchief!" I demanded just as soon as I could stop spluttering enough to speak, and then we both burst out laughing, as naturally he did not have one.

"I tell you what you do, little girl, you trot on up to the house and get into dry clothes, and I'll collect those water dogs as soon as I can and we will join you. I don't approve of staying in the water too long in the early morning, certainly not on the first day at the beach. The morning swim should be nothing more than a dip."

"Well, that's all mine was," and I scrambled[42] out. My wet suit felt very heavy but my body felt light and there was a delicious tingle all over me as the morning air, a little cooler than the water, struck me. I raced to the cottage and into the downstairs bathroom—which had an outside entrance—where we had put our bath gowns so we would be able to drop our wet suits there. It took me only a few minutes to rub down and get into some dry clothes (thanks to middy blouses, which were surely invented for girls in a hurry). I was dressed and in the kitchen before Zebedee was able to collect his water dogs. The coffee was in a state of perfection, and glad indeed was I for a cup of the beverage which shares with tea the quality of cheering without inebriating.

The oven to the little range was piping hot so I made so bold as to stir up a pan of batter bread, Mammy Susan's kind with lots of eggs, and I then proceeded to set the table for breakfast.

"See here, this is a shame for you to be slaving so!" exclaimed Zebedee. "I simply won't have it—but gee, what a grand smell of coffee! You don't mean you've got some all made?" and he came through the living room and back into the[43] kitchen in his wet suit, although he was the one who had made the rule the night before that bathers must enter from the rear and leave their wet suits in the bathrooms. I hadn't the heart to remind him; besides, I knew Tweedles would take great joy in doing so. I gave him a cup of steaming coffee and then made him hurry off to get into his clothes by letting him have a peep at my batter bread, which was behaving as batter bread should when it is made with plenty of eggs and the oven is piping hot—that is, it was rising like an omelette and a delicate brown was appearing over the surface.

"It must be eaten hot, so you had better hurry," I said as I put the sliced bacon in the frying pan and then cracked ice for the cantaloupe.

"All right, Mammy Susan, I'll show you what a lightning change artist I can be. I know I can beat Tweedles. They are still in the bathroom. By the way, do you know who the swimmer was we saw out in the bay? None other than our chaperone, Miss Jinny Cox! I just knew I had locked the door. You see, Jinny opened it. She has decided not to let anybody wait on her, after[44] all. Tweedles are quite disconsolate. They have been planning to be so unselfish and here Jinny is refusing to be ill, and here you are, the honored guest, cooking breakfast on this, our first morning at the beach." He started up the steps but came down again, and, taking me impulsively by both hands, he exclaimed: "I am mighty glad you did not succeed in drowning yourself in four feet of water, little friend. You made very beautiful bubbles but I am going to teach you how to swim before the week is out."




"Who is to go over to Norfolk with me to meet the guests, also the cook lady from Keysville?" demanded Zebedee as he scraped the very last vestige of batter bread sticking to the sides of the pan. Annie Pore and Mary Flannagan, our schoolmates, were to arrive on a James River boat and our much needed cook on the train.

The cook was a great niece of Mammy Susan's dead husband, who was being educated at an industrial school for coloured boys and girls. I had never seen her, but Mammy Susan had been rather impressed by what she had heard of the girl and it was because of her recommendation that the Tuckers had determined to employ her.

"She's got good Afgan blood in her," declared Mammy, "but th' aint no tellin' what schoolin' is done did to'ds spilin' of her."

We were willing to gamble on the good[46] "Afgan" blood and now we were to meet the girl, Blanche Johnson by name. I had written her telling her exactly what train to take and to be sure to pin a red bow on her left shoulder as a means of identification.

"Page must go because she did so much work this morning, besides getting most drowned," and Dum got up from the devastated breakfast table and began clearing off the dishes.

"And Miss Cox must go——"

"Why don't you all go?" put in Zebedee. "Leave these stupid old dishes for the lily fair Blanche."

"Oh, Jeffry Tucker, never!" exclaimed Miss Cox. "If she found us with dirty dishes she would think we like 'em dirty and give 'em to us for the rest of the time. No, you girls go on with your irresponsible parent and I will stay and do this little dab of dish washing. I don't want to go to Norfolk. In fact, I never do want to go to Norfolk." I detected a slight trembling of her lip and a painful flush on her countenance, but as she turned away quickly I thought I was the only person who had noticed it.[47]

"But I can't allow you to do so much, Jinny," objected Zebedee.

"Well, we've got at least fifteen minutes before the trolley leaves. Let's all of us turn in and get it done before the time is up," and I set the example by grabbing the batter bread pan from Zebedee, who was trying to find just one more crumb. "Come on and help. I'll make you some more this evening for supper."

Such another bustling and hurrying as then went on! The dishes were already scraped by the voracious swimmers, so there was nothing to do but plunge them into the hot, soapy water where Miss Cox officiated with a dish mop, and then into the rinse water. Dee was ready with a tea towel and Dum put them away, while I put butter and milk in the refrigerator and wiped off the table. Zebedee stood around in everybody's way doing what he called "head work."

"If it takes one lone chaperone one hour to do the dishes, how long will it take her to do them with the assistance of one learned gentleman and three charming young ladies, when two of them are twins and the other one the most famous[48] blower of bubbles in the world? Answer, teacher!"

"Just twelve minutes by the clock, and it would have been only ten if the learned gentleman had not made us walk around him so much," laughed Miss Cox. "Now off with you or you'll have to run for your car. Don't worry about me. I may go back to sleep."

The boat was in when we reached Norfolk but the girls had been instructed to stay aboard until we got there. We could see dear old Mary Flannagan's red head as we put foot on the pier and as soon as she saw us she began to crow like chanticleer. What fun it was to see these girls again!

We were a strangely assorted quintette. The Tucker twins, Annie Pore, Mary Flannagan and I; but our very difference made us just that much more congenial. The twins were not a bit alike in disposition. Dum,—Virginia,—was artistic, sometimes a trifle moody, very impulsive and hot-tempered but withal the most generous and noble-minded person I knew, quite like her father in lots of ways. Dee,—Caroline,—was more[49] practical and even-tempered with a great deal of tact prompted by her kind heart, the tenderest heart in all the world, that took in the whole animal kingdom from elephants to ants.

Annie Pore, our little English friend, had developed so since our first meeting that she seemed hardly the same person who had sat so forlornly in the station in Richmond only ten short months before.

She had lost the timid, nervous look and was growing more beautiful every day. She had had thirty days of such growing since I had last beheld her and she had made good use of her time. I had a feeling the minute I saw her that perhaps she had come to some more satisfactory understanding with her father. In fact, she must have, since he had permitted her to join the house party at Willoughby Beach.

Mary Flannagan was the same old Mary, red head, freckled face, bunchy waist and all; but there never was a more good-natured, merry face than Mary's. Her blue eyes had a twinkle in them that was better than mere beauty and her frequent laughs disclosed a set of perfectly clean,[50] white teeth. On the whole, Mary was not so very homely and to us, her best friends, she was almost beautiful.

As for me, Page Allison, I was just a girl, neither beautiful nor ugly, brilliant nor stupid; but I was still as determined as I had been on that morning in September when I started out from Bracken for boarding school, not to rest until I had made a million friends. I had made a pretty good start and I intended to keep it up.

"Well, we are glad to see you!" exclaimed Zebedee, shaking hands with both girls at once as he met them on the gangway. "I hope your father is well, Miss Annie, and is favourably considering joining us for a week end at Willoughby."

"I don't know, Mr. Tucker, what he will do," answered Annie, smiling; "he enjoyed seeing you so much that I shall not be astonished if he takes you at your word and comes to visit you."

That was the most wonderful conquest ever made! Zebedee had been down to Price's Landing and deliberately captivated the stiff, unbending Englishman, Mr. Arthur Ponsonby Pore. I[51] asked him to tell me about it and he answered quite simply in the words of Cæsar: "'Veni! Vidi! Vici!' Why, Page, the man is peculiar but he is more lonesome than anything else. All I did was to treat him like a human being and take for granted he would treat me the same way, and sure enough he did. And here is poor little Annie, to show the wisdom of taking it for granted that a man is going to be kind. I asked him to let her come to the house party as though he would of course be delighted to give his daughter this pleasure, and he complied with the greatest cordiality."

After seeing to the girls' trunks and transferring them to the baggage trolley for Willoughby Beach (and this time Annie, having a neat, new little trunk which she called a "box," was not embarrassed by the bulging telescope she had taken to Gresham), we then went to the station to await the arrival of the precious cook.

"S'pose she doesn't come!" wailed Dum.

"Well, if it would mean more of Page's batter bread, I shan't mind much," declared Zebedee as the train puffed in.[52]

"Look for a girl with a red bow on her shoulder," said I, peering at every passenger who got out of the coloured coach. There were many as there was an excursion to Ocean View and a picnic given by "The Sons and Daughters of the Morning." The dusky crowd swarmed by, laden with boxes and baskets of lunch, all of them laughing and happy and any of them looking as though she might be a good cook, but not one of them was Blanche. Red there was in abundance but never in the form of a bow on the left shoulder. Red hats, red cravats, red parasols passed us by, and even a stair-steps row of six little nigs in rough-dry white dresses with all of their pigtails tightly "wropped" with red string and a big red bow of ten-cent store ribbon on top of each happy, woolly head,—and still no Blanche.

"Ah, I see visions of more and more batter bread of the Page brand," murmured Zebedee. "I'm going to purchase a big baking dish so you can mix up twice as much."

"Look, there is a girl coming back! Could that be Blanche?" and Dee pointed to a very fat, good-looking, brown-skinned girl, dressed in the[53] very latest and most extreme style of that summer. She wore a very tight skirt of black and white silk with stripes about an inch and a half broad, slit up over a flounced petticoat of royal purple. Her feet, substantial, to say the least, were encased in white canvas shoes with purple ties, and purple cotton stockings were stretched to their utmost over her piano legs (I mean the old square pianos), stretched so tight, in fact, that they took on the gloss of silk. A lavender crêpe de Chine blouse very much open, exposing her capacious chest, and a purple straw hat trimmed with black roses, perched on top of a towering, shiny pompadour, completed the colour scheme. Pinned on her left shoulder was an artificial orchid with a purple bow. In her hand she carried a huge basket covered with a newspaper.

"Are you Blanche Johnson?" I questioned.

"I was about to propound the same inquisition to you when I seen you approaching I," she answered with a mincing manner. "I am consigned to the kind ospices of Mr. Tucker and Miss Page Allison, a young lady who has been since infantry[54] under the jurisprudence of Mrs. Susan Black, my great arnt once removed by intermarriage."

"Well, Blanche, I am Miss Page Allison and this is Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Tucker's daughters, Miss Virginia and Miss Caroline. We came very near missing you as we were looking for the red bow, pinned on your left shoulder."

"Well, now, Miss Page, it was very disappointmenting for me not to be compliable to your requisition, but I belong to an uplifting club at my school and one of our first and most important relegations is that the mimbers must never do nothing nigrified. An' they have decided that the unduly bedizenment of yourself in red garments is the first and foremost nigrification of the race. Hence, therefore, I resolutioned to trust that my kind frinds would indemnify me with this orchard."

"And so we have, Blanche, and now we will go take the electrics for Willoughby," and Zebedee, his face crimson from suppressed merriment, led the way to the car line, while Blanche kept up a steady fire of polite talk.

"There was another reason for my abandonment[55] of the red bow, Miss Page, and that was that I am in kinder sicond mournin' for the disease of my only brother's offspring."

"Oh, I am sorry, Blanche! How old was the child? Was it a boy or girl?"

"Well, it wa'nt to say any age, as the angel was borned daid, and as for the slight differentation in sex, I was so woeful I done forgot to arsk my po' bereaved brother whether it were the fair sex or the inversion."

"Well, if the little thing had to die, it must have been a relief for your brother to know it had never lived."

"No'm, no'm! 'Twould a been a gret comfort if'n it had lived a while. You see Mandy, Jo's wife, is sickly and her offspring is cosequentially sickly and Jo always has heretoforth been able to collect a little insuriance on his prodigy by bein' very promptitude in the compilation of the policies. Yes! Yes! Po' Jo! I felt that it was the least I could do to show respec' for his great bereavement by puttin' on the traps of woefulness," and she smoothed with pride her striped[56] skirt and looked with evident admiration at her fearfully and wonderfully clad feet.

"How old does a child have to be to collect insurance?" I asked.

"Well, some companies is agreeable to the acceptance of infantry at a very tinder age and will pay at their disease if the contractioning parties can prove there ain't no poultry play."

"Poultry play?" I gasped.

"Yes'm, poultry play! That is to say, foul play. You see, Miss Page, one of our club relegations is to use the word with the most syllabubs as we seem to feel more upliftable. And poultry sounds much mo' elegant than jis' foul."

I was bursting for a laugh but had to hold in, while all of those bad girls with the disgraceful Zebedee pretended to see something in a shoe shop window that was sufficiently funny to keep them in a gale of mirth.




As we waited for our car, a very pleasant looking man, seemingly much older than Zebedee, glanced at our crowd rather curiously (and Blanche was enough to make anyone glance at us curiously) and then his face lit up as he recognized Zebedee. He hastened to his side and grasped him by the hand, exclaiming:

"Jeffry Tucker! I'm glad to see you! What are you doing in Norfolk?"

"Well, I'm getting out of it as fast as I can on my way down to Willoughby. Have taken a cottage down there for a month,—let me introduce you to my girls and their friends."

The gentleman was Mr. Robert Gordon, a classmate of Zebedee's at the University. He was not really more than a year or so older than Zebedee, but his hair and moustache were iron grey and his fine eyes were tired and sad looking.[58] He had been for years teaching at a school in South Carolina but had recently been given the chair of English at a college in Norfolk.

"You must come over and stay with us, Bob. The girls can tell you what heaps of room we have."

"Oh, heaps and heaps!" tweedled the twins.

"Make it this evening, Bob, and stay over Sunday. You are your own master this time of year surely, while I have to go back to the grind on Monday. I'll get my holiday a little later on, however. Now come on! I want you to know my girls and my girls to know you."

"I have a great mind to take you up," and Mr. Gordon looked admiringly at the twins. "I can hardly believe they are yours, Jeff. Yes, I'll come this evening."

"Good boy! That's the way to talk. We will expect you before supper. By the way," whispering, "this is our new cook we are taking out. I hope she won't scare you off. We've got an old friend of yours out there, too, Jinny Cox,——"

"I really think, Jeff, I had better not come this[59] evening," stammered Mr. Gordon, turning quite pale and showing extreme agitation. "I—I——"

"Now look here, Bob, you have accepted and we are going to expect you." The trolley arrived just then and we hurriedly got aboard while Zebedee shouted hospitable imprecations on the head of his old friend if he should fail to keep his word. "That was a strange way for Bob Gordon to behave," he said, sinking into the seat by me. "First he said he would come and seemed delighted and then when I cracked a joke about our poor, dear Blanche, he suddenly decided he had better not come. While poor, dear Blanche is certainly some dresser, she is very clean looking and has a good face, and I can't see anything about her to make a man behave as Bob did."

Zebedee always thereafter spoke of Blanche as "poor, dear Blanche," and there was something so ludicrous in his way of saying it that for the entire month we were at the beach and ever after, in fact, when our vacation of that July was mentioned, he could set all of us in a perfect gale by his "poor, dear Blanche."

I looked at Zebedee in amazement. He really[60] seemed to think that it was Blanche who had made Mr. Gordon turn so pale and stammer so strangely. Men are funny animals. Here was Zebedee, a "so-called paw" of girls as old as I was, a man of the world and a newspaper man with a nose for news that was unsurpassed in the South, so my father thought, and still he had not had the intuition to see that his friend Bob had turned pale when he found Miss Cox was with us. I could have wagered anything that all the girls knew what was the matter, even Blanche. I said nothing to Zebedee, feeling perhaps that it would be a little unkind to Miss Cox to give voice to my convictions to a mere man, but I was dying to get with one of the girls and see if the subject would not be immediately broached.

Zebedee went out on the back platform to smoke and Dee made a dive for his seat. "Page, I'm dying to find out if you noticed Mr. Gordon's agitation over Miss Cox's being with us!"

"Surely I did!"

"Oh, isn't it exciting? And didn't she blush, though, when she said she never wanted to go to Norfolk?" So Dee had noticed that, too. "Dum[61] thought it was because she had had some kind of love affair there three years ago and could not bear the place and all around it, but I kind of hoped maybe it was because the man lived there still. I wonder if he will come and if we had better warn her. I am so afraid she will run away if she finds out he is coming, and then the romance cannot be completed."

"Well, I think we had better keep out of it altogether and let your respected parent put his foot in it, which he is sure to do. He thinks Mr. Gordon held back because of Blanche's appearance."

"He doesn't! Well, of all the stupids! Got his start, too, as what he calls 'a gum-shoe reporter' doing detective work on his paper. If I had no more insight into human nature than that, I'd take to cracking rock as a profession," and Dee sniffed scornfully. She agreed with me that we would say nothing to Zebedee as it wouldn't be quite fair to our sex to gossip with a man about a love affair.

Annie and Mary had been as quick to see the possible romance as we had been, so we had to[62] tell them of Miss Cox's agitation when Norfolk was mentioned, and one and all we pitied poor Zebedee's masculine blindness. We had always liked Miss Cox, but now we had a tenderness for her that amounted to adoration. Our surmises were many as to the reason for her separation from her lover.

"Maybe there was insanity in the family," suggested Mary.

"Perhaps she had a very stern father who scorned her lover," and Annie blushed that her mind should run on stern fathers.

"I believe it was just a matter of spondulix," said the practical Dee.

"Oh, no! surely not!" exclaimed Dum. "I don't believe Miss Cox is the kind of woman to give up a man because he is poor. I believe it was because she thought she was so homely."

"Well, he must have been a pretty poor stick of a lover if he could not persuade her that she was beautiful. I'd hate to think that of Mr. Gordon. Maybe he gave her up because he was poor. School teaching is 'mighty po' pickin's,' as Mammy Susan says."[63]

"Well, I hope they won't keep us waiting very long, because I'm simply dying to know," sighed Dum.

This conversation was held after we got back to the beach and were installing the guests in their quarters. We had decided to sleep, all five of us, on one porch, as it was so much more fun. It made the cots come rather close together but that made giggling and whispering just so much simpler.

Miss Cox had had a pleasant morning, she declared, and had the table all set for luncheon with tempting viands thereon. We had brought a supply of delicacies from Schmidt's in Richmond and I had a fine ham, cooked by Mammy Susan's own method, which I produced from my trunk as a surprise for Zebedee, so "poor, dear Blanche" did not have to officiate at this meal but could spend her time getting her sleeping porch in order and unpacking her huge basket of clothes.

We had been rather concerned about how a sleeping porch would be looked on by the cook, but she set our minds at rest with great tact.

"Yes'm, I is quite customary to air in my sleeping[64] department. At school the satinary relegations is very strengulous and we are taught that germcrobes lurks in spots least inspected. And now I will take off my begalia of travel and soon will be repaired to be renitiated into the hysterics of domestic servitude." And we were going to have to listen to this talk for a whole month and keep straight faces or perhaps lose the services of "poor, dear Blanche"!

"I simply can't stand it!" exploded Dum as soon as she got out of earshot. "It will give me apoplexy."

Luncheon was a merry meal that day as Zebedee was in an especially delightful mood and Mary Flannagan had many funny new stories to tell. She was an indefatigable reader of jokes and could reel them off by the yard, but all the time our romantic souls were atremble to see how Miss Cox would take the news of the proposed visit of her one-time lover. We half hoped and half feared that Zebedee would mention the fact that he had extended this invitation to Mr. Gordon, and perhaps she might faint. We did not want her to faint, but if she did faint we hoped[65] we would be there to see it. We kept wondering why Zebedee did not tell her and finally quite casually he asked:

"Where do you think we had better put Gordon, Jinny?"

"Gordon? Gordon who?"

"Why, Bob Gordon! Didn't the girls tell you he is coming out to stay over Sunday?"

"No—we—we—you—we thought——" but no one ever found out what we did think nor did we find out what Miss Cox thought of the return of her supposed lover, for just at this juncture Blanche came into view ready for the "hysterics of domestic servitude." In taking off her "begalia of travel" she had also removed the large, shiny pompadour and disclosed to view a woolly head covered with little tight "wropped" plaits. She had on a blue checked long-sleeved apron made by what is known as the bungalow pattern, her expression was quite meek and she looked very youthful and rather pathetic. I realized that her vast amount of assurance had come entirely from her fine clothes, and now that she had taken them off she was nothing more nor less than a[66] poor, overgrown country darkey who had been sent to school and taught a lot of stuff before she had any foundation to put it on. It turned out later that she could neither read nor write with any ease, and all of her high-sounding, mispronounced words she had gathered from lectures she had attended in the school. She was suffering from this type of schooling as I would have suffered had I gone straight from Bracken to college without getting any training at Gresham.

The effect was so startling, to see this girl whom we had left only a few minutes ago arrayed in all her splendor, now looking for all the world like a picked chicken, that Miss Cox and her romance were for the moment forgotten and all our energies were taken up in trying to compose our countenances. Then Mary Flannagan swallowed a sardine whole and had to be well thumped, and by that time Miss Cox was able to control her voice (if she had ever lost control of it), and she asked, in a most matter-of-fact way, questions about the expected guest; and if her colour was a little heightened, it might have been Blanche who had caused it. Were we not all of us as red as roses?




Dum and Dee were to take turns keeping house but I had a steady job as the Advisory Board and we hoped to manage without worrying Miss Cox. The girls had tossed up to find out who should begin, and Dee had first go, which meant breaking in Blanche. We were glad to see that she seemed to understand dish washing and that she moved rapidly considering her size and shape.

"Now, Blanche," said Dee with a certain pardonable importance, "my father is to have a guest this evening and we want to have a very nice supper, so you must tell us what are the dishes you can make best."

"Well, Miss Tucker, I is had great successfulness with my choclid cake and blue mawnge."

"Oh, I did not mean dessert but the substantial part of the supper," gasped Dee. Blanche[68] was always making us gasp, as she was so unexpected.

"Well, as for that my co'se is not took up many things as yit, but I is mastered the stuffin' of green peppers and kin make a most appetizement dish. Up to the presence, the the'ry of domesticated silence has been mo' intrusting to me than the practization."

Dee looked forlornly to me for help and indeed I felt it was time for the Advisory Board to step in.

"Blanche," I said, rather sternly, "did you ever cook any before you went to school?"

"Cook? Of co'se I did, Miss Page. I'se been a-cookin' ever sence I could take a ask cake out'n the fire 'thout burnin' myse'f up."

"Good! Now see here, Blanche, we want you to cook for us the way you cooked before you ever went to school. Just forget all about domestic science and cook."

"Don't you want no choclid cake an' no blue mawnge?"

"Not tonight," said Dee gently as Blanche's countenance was so sad. "We want some fried[69] fish and some batter bread and perhaps some hot biscuit or waffles. There are some beautiful tomatoes in the refrigerator and some lettuce and we can have peaches and cream for dessert."

"'Thout no cake?"

"Well, I tell you what you can do," said the tender-hearted Dee. "You can make us a chocolate cake for Sunday dinner if your supper turns out well this evening."

"Oh, thank you, Miss Tucker. I is got so much sentiment fer cake. Now which do you choose to have, biscuit or waffles?"

We thought biscuit would be best to start Blanche on and after cautioning her to call us if she was in doubt about anything, we left her to work her own sweet will.

Her own sweet will turned out to be a pretty good one and we were wise to leave her to it. I did get out in the kitchen just in time to keep her from putting sugar in the batter bread, something she had picked up in school from her Northern teachers. I thought it best to take the batter bread in my own hands after that, and to Zebedee's[70] great comfort, made it until I felt sure Blanche could do it as well as I could.

Zebedee and I were on the porch waiting for supper and Mr. Gordon to arrive, while Dee went out to put the finishing touch to her housekeeping. Dum and the two other girls had strolled in the direction of the trolley to meet the guest whom we rather expected to come on the next car. Miss Cox had not yet made her appearance after the second dip we had had that day.

"Have you known Mr. Gordon very long?" I queried.

"Ever since our first year at the University. He's a bully good fellow but awfully queer in a way. Used to be very quick-tempered, but I fancy all these years of teaching have rather toned down his temper. Jinny Cox used to be a perfect pepper pot; but temper and teaching don't go very well together and she is as mild as a May morning now."

"Did Miss Cox know Mr. Gordon very well in those old days?"

"Why, bless me if I remember. We all of us[71] ran in a crowd. As well as I can recall, it seems to me that Bob Gordon and Jinny Cox were always rowing about one thing or another. You see I was so in love with my little Virginia that all I can remember of those days is just what touched us," and Zebedee wiped his eyes, which had filled with tears as they always did when he spoke of his little wife who had lived such a short time. "I do kind of half remember that one day we spent at Montecello on a picnic when it rained cats and dogs, Jinny and Bob had such a row they could not go back together although he was her escort. That was the time Jinny and I made up the tune and danced the Lobster Quadrille," and Zebedee was laughing before he had quite dried his tears, as was the way with all the Tuckers. "Bob left the University soon after that,—some financial difficulties at home because his father had lost his fortune,—and then I believe old Bob got a job in a district school and has been teaching ever since—Look here, Page, do you know I believe my soul Bob and Jinny were engaged then! I have a kind of half memory that my little Virginia told me they were, on[72] the way home from Montecello. Well, if I'm not an ass! Why, it was not poor, dear Blanche, after all, that was scaring off Gordon, but Jinny Cox! Well, well!"

I couldn't help smiling in rather a superior way and Zebedee exclaimed:

"I believe you knew it all the time," but just then the girls returned, bringing Mr. Gordon with them and what I knew or did not know had to keep for another time.

Mr. Gordon was very much spruced up and did not look nearly so old and tired as he had in the morning. His light grey suit and hat were in excellent taste, setting off his iron-grey hair and moustache, and on the whole his appearance was so distinguished that we were more thrilled than ever at the thought of just how Miss Cox was going to treat him.

I fancy there is no human so romantic as a sixteen-year-old girl and here were five girls all in the neighbourhood of sixteen and all simply bubbling over with sentimentality. Miss Cox came out on the porch and there we stood fully prepared for any outburst. We all of us noted that[73] Miss Cox looked remarkably well in a blue and white lawn that showed off her really very good figure to perfection. I had long ago found out that Miss Cox was not so very homely, after all. To be sure her face was rather crooked, and her smile very twisted, but her head was well set, and her hair thick and glossy, and her figure athletic and graceful.

"Hello, Bob!"

"Hello, Jinny!" and that was all! They shook hands in quite a matter-of-fact way.

"I believe we were mistaken," whispered Dum to me.

"Wait and see," I cautioned, "they could not fall on each other's necks right before all of us."

"Maybe not, but they need not greet each other like long lost fish," grumbled Dum.

But I knew very well if they had been nothing at all to each other but just acquaintances who had not met for about seventeen years, they would have had some conventional remarks to make and not just said "Hello!"

At this crucial moment poor, dear Blanche appeared announcing supper:[74]

"Your repast is reserved, Miss Tucker," and in we went to a very good meal. Blanche had evidently found it no trouble to forget what she had learned at school in the way of domestic science and she had cooked as good a Virginia supper as one could wish. The Hampton spots were done to a turn; the biscuit were light and fluffy, and as I had seen to the batter bread, if I do say it who shouldn't, it was about perfect.

Mr. Gordon may have been suffering with lovesickness of seventeen years' standing, but he certainly proved himself a good trencher knight.

"All of you have some excuse for appetites as I wager anything you have been in the water twice today, but I have no excuse except that the food is so good and I am so tired of boarding," said our guest as he helped himself to another fluffy biscuit that poor, dear Blanche was handing around with an elegant air like a duchess at a tea.

"Well, we did go in twice today, although it is supposed to be a bad thing to do. Somehow I never can resist it myself and naturally I don't[75] expect the girls to resist what I can't myself," said Zebedee.

"How was the water; pretty warm?"

"Oh, fine this morning before breakfast but rather brillig this afternoon," answered Dum.


"Yes, brillig! Don't you know your Alice?

"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.'"

And then a strange thing happened. Before Dum got half through her quotation Miss Cox's face was suffused with blushes, and Mr. Gordon first looked pained and then determined and when he answered he spoke to Dum but he looked at Miss Cox.

"Well, I don't know my Alice as well as I might, but I have read it and re-read it and think it a most amusing book. I don't remember that strange verse, however,—— Do you know, Miss Dum, I used to be such a silly ass as to think there was nothing amusing in Alice in Wonderland, and once a long time ago I fell out with the[76] very best friend I ever had in the world because I said the Lobster Quadrille was the kind of thing that no one but a child could find anything funny in? And she thought differently, and before we knew it we were at it hammer and tongs, and both of us said things we did not really mean (at least I did not mean them)——"

"Neither did I, Bob," said Miss Cox, frankly. I certainly liked Miss Cox for the way she spoke. She was what Tweedles calls a "perfect gentleman."

"And what is more, Jinny, the Lobster Quadrille is my favourite poem now," and Mr. Gordon looked very boyish, "or it might be unless you think the charming bit Miss Dum has just recited is better."

"How do you like this?" said Dum, rather bent on mischief I fancied:

"'In winter when the fields are white,
I sing this song for your delight—

In spring, when woods are getting green,
I'll try and tell you what I mean.

In summer, when the days are long,
[77]Perhaps you'll understand the song.

In autumn, when the leaves are brown,
Take pen and ink and write it down.

I sent a message to the fish:
I told them, 'This is what I wish.'

The little fishes of the sea,
sent an answer back to me.

The little fishes' answer was,
'We cannot do it, Sir, because——'

I sent to them again to say,
'It will be better to obey.'

The fishes answered with a grin,
'Why, what a temper you are in!'

I told them once, I told them twice;
They would not listen to advice.

I took a kettle, large and new,
Fit for the deed I had to do.

My heart went hop, my heart went thump;
I filled the kettle at the pump.

Then someone came to me and said,
'The little fishes are in bed.'

I said to him, I said it plain,
'Then you must wake them up again.'

I said it very loud and clear;
I went and shouted in his ear.

But he was very stiff and proud;
[78]He said, 'You need not shout so loud!'

And he was very proud and stiff,
He said, 'I'll go and wake them, if——'

I took a corkscrew from the shelf;
I went to wake them up myself.

And when I found the door was locked,
I pulled and pushed and kicked and knocked.

And when I found the door was shut,
I tried to turn the handle, but——'"

Dum recited this poem with fervor and great elocutionary effects and simply convulsed the crowd. The whole thing was said directly to Mr. Gordon and the naughty girl seemed to have some personal meaning when she said, "My heart went hop, my heart went thump," and when she ended up with a hopeless wail, "I tried to turn the handle, but——," Mr. Gordon actually went to Miss Cox, as we arose from the supper table, drew her hand within his arm and deliberately led her out on the beach, and in plain hearing of all of us, said:

"The door isn't shut for good, is it, Jinny?"

And we heard her answer: "No, Bob, not if you 'pull and push and kick and knock.'"

Well, Bob certainly did "pull and push and[79] kick and knock." I have never imagined a more persistent lover. He seemed to be trying to catch even for all he had lost in those seventeen years. He told Zebedee that after the foolish quarrel he and Miss Cox had had on that wet, wet picnic, he had been called home by the financial disaster of his father, and while he knew he had been hard-headed in the affair, he felt she had been unreasonable, too, in demanding that he should agree with her about the absurd poem in Alice in Wonderland; and so had left the University without trying to right matters. Then when he had realized the tremendous difficulty his family was in, and found that not only would he have to go immediately to work but that his mother and sister would be dependent on his exertions, he felt that it was on the whole best that he and Miss Cox should separate. The engagement was already broken and he went off to his long and up-hill work saddened and forlorn; and Miss Cox, rather embittered by the experience, feeling that she had been hasty and exacting but too proud to make a move towards a reconciliation, had spent all the long years in vain regrets.[80]

"Well, I hope they will be very happy," sighed Dum when we were discussing the matter while we lay on our closely packed cots the first night of Mr. Gordon's visit. "It does seem terribly unromantic for the separation to have been caused by the Lobster Quadrille."

"It might have been a permanent separation if it had been just plain lobster, 'specially in cans," said funny Mary Flannagan.

"Didn't Miss Cox look sweet in that blue dress? I thought she was almost pretty but maybe it was the love-light in her eyes," sentimentalized Annie Pore.

"Isn't it a pity they are so old?" deplored Dee. "His hair is real grey."

"It's trouble that has done it," said Mary. "I wondered, Dum, you didn't get off that verse on him about the voice of the lobster. Maybe that would have been too personal:

"'Tis the voice of the lobster, I heard him declare,
'You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.'
As a duck with his eyelids, so he with his nose,
Trims his belt and his buttons and turns out his toes.'


It would have been rather personal because Mr. Gordon's hair does look rather sugared and certainly Miss Cox has baked him pretty brown."

"What do you s'pose your Cousin Park Garnett would say, Page, if she knew that our chaperone for the house party had gone and got herself as good as engaged the very second evening?" laughed Dee.

"I fancy with her characteristic elegance she would exclaim: 'Oh, you chaperone!'"



To Dr. James Allison from Page Allison.
Willoughby Beach,
July—, 191—.
My Dearest Father:

We are having the grandest time that ever was and all we want now is for you to take a little holiday and come down to see us. It would do you worlds of good and surely your patients can let you go for a little while. Sometimes I think you should get an assistant or try to persuade some young doctor to settle in the neighbourhood. You never have any fun. I feel very selfish to have gone off and left you and Mammy Susan when I have been away all winter, but I promise to come back the first of next month and not to budge from Bracken until it is time to go to school the middle of September. I hope Cousin Sue Lee will be with us then, as I should hate to miss her visit, one moment of it. On the other hand I devoutly hope that Cousin Park Garnett will pay her yearly visitation while I am away. I heard a rumor that a Mrs. Garnett was expected at the hotel here, but I am trusting in my hitherto lucky stars that it is not Cousin Park. If she comes to Willoughby, I am going to bury my[83] head in the sand, like an ostrich, and pretend I'm somebody else.

There is a camp of boys near us and they are just as nice as can be and seem to think it is their affair to give all of us girls a good time. They rented this cottage for last month and liked Willoughby so much that when their time was up they started a camp. They are James Hart, Stephen White, George Massie and Ben Raglan. They are called Jim, Wink, Sleepy and Rags, and as we have come to know them pretty well and they are not the kind of boys one stands on ceremony with, we call them by their nicknames, too. Wink White is studying medicine and so is Sleepy, when he is not playing foot-ball or sleeping. Wink is very clever and intensely interested in his work.

Mr. Tucker (only I call him Zebedee now) is teaching me how to swim. He says I am a very apt pupil because I am not a bit afraid; although he teases me a great deal because one day, the very first time I went in, I politely went to the bottom, and he says I made the biggest bubbles he ever saw. He calls me "Sis Mud Turkle," but I don't mind a bit. There is some kind of joke on all of us, even Annie Pore, who is so touchy we have to be careful. But Zebedee just has to tease and he says he can't leave out Annie, as it might make her feel bad.

Of course Mary Flannagan has a joke on everybody and everybody has a joke on her. She is a delightful person to be on a house party with, always so full of fun and always starting something.[84]

Dum and Dee are the same old Tweedles, the very most charming and agreeable persons in the world. I have saved up the most important to the last:—our chaperone, Miss Cox, has gone and got herself engaged! It is an old lover she used to have when she was a girl and he has turned up in the most unexpected and romantic way, and all of us girls are so excited over it we can hardly eat and sleep. We are going to miss her terribly at Gresham. She can make me understand mathematics, which is going some, and how I am to proceed into quadratic equations without her, I cannot see. We do not know when they are to be married, but rather think it will be soon. Zebedee bids to be flower girl.

You may be sure that Miss Cox and Mr. Gordon come in for their share of teasing. I used to think Miss Cox was very old but since she got engaged she does not seem to be any older than we are, and while Mr. Gordon has very grey hair, he is really not old at all, not much older than Zebedee, who is the youngest person of my acquaintance.

All the old girls at Willoughby run after Zebedee, much to Tweedles' disgust. I believe it would about kill the twins if their father should ever marry again, and indeed I think it would be hard on them and I hope he never will, certainly not any of these society girls who are down here at the beach. I don't believe they would any of them make him happy.

Tell Mammy Susan that her great niece is doing very well and everyone likes her. Do not tell her that she is a perfect scream, using the longest,[85] most ridiculous words in the world, never by any accident pronounced properly or in the right place. She is certainly proof positive of a little learning being a dangerous thing; but she is a kindly, sweet-tempered creature and as soon as we persuaded her to cook as she did before she went to school, we found her very capable.

Good-bye, my dearest Father, and please come see us. We are one and all longing for you. Give my best love to Mammy Susan and the dogs.

Your devoted daughter,

From Blanche Johnson to Mammy Susan.
Willerbay beech.
Dere ant Susen—

i Take my pen in han to enform you that this leves me in pore helth and hopes it finds You in the same. The son of the C show is very hard on my complexshun and i think the endsewing yer i will spind my vocation in the montings. the yung ladys my hostages is most kind and considerable to me and Mis page tretes me like her own sister. Our shapperoon is in the throws of coarting and all of us maidens is very rheumatic in consequince thereof. Mis page and the other young female ladys who is engaged in this visitation declares they is got little if no use for the opposition sect but that is one thing i do not give very cerus credentials to as our pieazzer is one mask of yuths who no doubt would be spry to leve if they did not suspicion they was welcum. My kind empoyerer is now taken what he designs[86] as his much kneaded rest but I cannot see that he rests none as he keeps up with all the other boys and dances and frolix just like he was the parient of nothin. I ask Mis page if he want her bow and she took on so dignifidedly that i done see i ain't made no mistake, ennybody ken see that Mis page is the favoright of the party, The twinses is plum crazzy about her but i dont bleive they suspicion that they pa is so intrusted. They keeps theyselves quite busy shoein off some fine ladys what is most attentave to they pa and never seems to see what is under they feet, uv cose i no Mis page is yung yit but evy day she is making out to grow a little older and it looks lak mister Tucker is standin still or even gittin some younger. i bleive they will meet in this path of life (as a pote done said) and then proceed together. No more from yose at presence. Mis page has done invitided me to stop at Bracken to pay you a visitation before i return to the cemetary of learning and if nothin ocurs to prevint me i will take gret plesure in compiling with her request.

your gret nease,
Blanche Johnson.

From Annie Pore to her father, Mr. Arthur Ponsonby Pore, of Price's Landing.
My Dear Father:

I should have written you immediately on my arrival at Willoughby Beach, but we had so many delightful pleasures planned for us by our[87] kind host that I found very little time for correspondence.

I can never thank you enough for permitting me to join this charming house party. Everyone is so very kind to me, I find myself gradually overcoming my habit of extreme shyness and now endeavour to join in the gaieties and to make myself as agreeable as possible, feeling that that is the way I can repay my friends for their hospitality.

I am learning to swim but am not so quick at it as Page Allison. Already she is able to keep up for many strokes. Mr. Tucker himself is teaching us and his patience is wonderful. He first taught us to float, as he says if we are in an accident and can float we will surely be saved, as anyone can tow a floating person to safety. The Tucker twins and Mary Flannagan are fine swimmers and Miss Cox is the strongest swimmer on the beach.

We are all quite excited over the fact that Miss Cox is to be married. I am very glad of her happiness but very sorry that she will not be at Gresham next year as she was so interested in my voice and encouraged me so kindly. Page feels badly, too, as Miss Cox is the only teacher she has ever had who could make her comprehend mathematics.

Mr. Tucker sends you many messages and repeats his invitation for you to come to Willoughby for a week-end. I do sincerely hope you will do so. It would be a pleasant change for you and no doubt your assistant could take care of the shop in your absence. Harvie Price is to[88] be here next week, also another boy who attended Hill Top, Thomas Hawkins. The cottage is quite roomy so there is no danger of crowding, and I can assure you it would be splendid if you could come.

Your devoted daughter,
Annie De Vere Pore.

Miss Josephine Barr from Miss Caroline Tucker.
Willoughby Beach,
July — ——.
My dear old Jo:

If you only could have come! We are having such times and such heaps of them. In the first place, all five of us girls are sleeping on the same porch with our cots so close together the cover hasn't room to slip. We go in the water twice a day, although every day Zebedee says it must be the last day, but every day he is the first one in and the last one out. Our before-breakfast swim is nothing more than just in and out, and such appetite as it gives us! I am dying to tell you the great news, and Miss Cox says I may tell you. She is going to be married!!! A lovely man that used to be stuck on her ages and ages ago! I tell you he is stuck still, all right, all right. He goes by the name of Robert Gordon and looks like a vrai hero of romance, iron-grey hair and moustache and the most languishing gaze you ever beheld. We are right silly about him because he certainly does know how to make love. As for Coxy, she is simply great and rises to the occasion in fine shape. She looks real young here[89] lately and has given up looking as though she were trying not to smile. Instead of that, she laughs outright, which is certainly much more becoming.

I wish you could see your little room-mate, Annie Pore. She has bloomed forth into a regular English rose! I never saw anything like the way the boys swarm around her, just like bees! She is not nearly so shy as she used to be, but she is still very quiet and demure and has a kind of sympathetic way of listening that surely fetches the hemales. She is really beautiful and is always so anxious to help and is so considerate of others. I fancy her selfish old father has been good for her disposition in a way. We are rather expecting Mr. Pore to come see us. I hope if he does come he will not cast a damper over Annie's spirits.

Mary Flannagan is simply splendid. Page calls her our clown dog, and the name suits her to a T. She is the funniest girl in the world and her good nature is catching. She is a good swimmer and how she does it in the bathing suit she wears, I cannot see. Fancy swimming with three yards of heavy serge gathered around your waist! I think Mary and Annie will room together next year at Gresham since you are not to be there. They will be good for one another, but no one could do for Annie what you did.

I have not told you anything about Page, but you know what Page always is—just Page. She is still busy making her million friends, but she never gives up her old friends for the new ones.

Guess who is here at Willoughby! That Mabel[90] Binks! She arrived yesterday and is stopping at the hotel. I hope she will keep herself to herself but I 'most know she won't. She is bent on getting in with Zebedee and he is so dead polite where girls are concerned that he is sure to submit. She is kin to one of the boys in the camp near us and is pushing the relationship for all it is worth. Poor Stephen White (Wink for short) is the cousin and I have an idea he is not very proud of the connection, but is too much of a gentleman to say so. Wink and Page are great friends, have been from the first minute they met, and I bet you a hat Mabel Binks butts in on that friendship and tries to break it up. She has had it in for Page ever since the time the caramel cake gave all of us fever blisters and Page used the blisters, of which Mabel boasted a huge one, as circumstantial evidence that Mabel had stolen a hunk of our cake.

Good bye, dear Jo. All the girls send you lots of love and Dum says she will write next time.

Very affectionately,
Dee Tucker.




"Well, I've a great mind not to go!" exclaimed Dum pettishly. "I can't see why that old Mabel Binks always has to go where we go. We can't even spend a month at Willoughby without her traipsing here after us."

"Yes! And for her to make out to Wink that we are her very best friends at Gresham just so he will ask her on the sailing party! Gee, I can't stand her. I'll stay at home if you do, Dum," and Dee began to take off the clean middy blouse she was in the act of donning to go on a sailing party that the boys from the camp were getting up for our benefit.

"Well, that will certainly leave Mabel with a clear field for action. Didn't we agree last winter that the best thing to do with Mabel was to be very polite to her? What excuse could you give the boys?" I asked, hoping to bring Tweedles to reason.[92]

"Tell them the truth!"

"The truth! Well, I must say it would sound fine to say to Wink: 'We just naturally despise your cousin and since she is to be on this party that you have been so kind as to get up for us, we will have to decline. Besides, this cousin of yours is so dead set after our father that we can't sit by and watch her manœuvres, but feel that the best thing for us to do is to leave him to her tender mer——'" I was not allowed to finish, but Tweedles immediately saw how impossible it would be to stay off the party. Dee put her clean middy back on and in a jiffy we were down on the porch with the rest of the crowd.

It was irritating for Mabel Binks to come as a discordant element in our little circle, but as for her being at Willoughby, she certainly had as much right there as we had and it was absurd for the twins to take the stand that she had come there because of them. Zebedee seemed to have very little use for the dashing Mabel but the sure way to enlist his sympathy for her was to be rude to the girl. She was very polite to all the Tuckers but had it in for Annie Pore and me; and as[93] for Mary Flannagan: she simply ignored Mary's existence, much to that delightful person's amusement. Mary could imitate her until you could declare that Mabel was there and sometimes she would do it when you least expected it, as on this morning while we were waiting for the boys to come for us. They were to go by for Mabel first and then pick us up on the way to the landing where the two boats were in readiness for us, a cat boat and a naphtha launch. Neither boat was big enough for the whole crowd so we had decided to divide the party.

"I have determined how we are to sit," said Mary in the coarse, nasal tone that belonged to Mabel, "I prefer the naphtha launch, as cat boats are so dirty. I intend that the Tuckers, especially Mr. Tucker, shall accompany me, also Stephen White and Mr. Hart. Page and Annie and Mary must find room in the cat boat while I will allow Sleepy and Rags to look after them. Oh! Miss Cox! I forgot her! She can go in the cat boat, too, but we will make room for Mr. Gordon in the launch."

We were convulsed at this remark. Mary had[94] not only imitated her tone but had clearly voiced the character of Mabel, who by the way had not been told of Miss Cox's engagement and had amused all of us very much by her endeavours to attract Mr. Gordon.

"What's the joke?" demanded Wink, arriving with Mabel and the boys while we were still laughing at Mary's mimicry.

"Oh, the kind of joke that would lose in repetition," declared Dum.

"I bet it was something on me," said poor Sleepy, "but if it was, I'm sure to hear of it, though. There is one thing certain, if there is a joke on me it is obliged to come out."

"Not if you can keep it to yourself," laughed Dum. "You know perfectly well the time you got mixed up with the laundry you told on yourself. None of us was going to breathe a word of it."

"Well, how did I know? I thought girls always told and I was determined that the fellows should understand exactly how it happened and so—and so——"

"And so you will never hear the last of it.[95] Well, next time trust the girls a little and you will fare better."

It had taken Sleepy some time to get over his extreme embarrassment occasioned by his natural shyness combined with the unfortunate occurrence of our first meeting with him. He was something of a woman-hater, anyhow, according to his friends, but we decided that he was really more afraid of us than anything else; and when he found out that we were not going to bite him nor yet gobble him up whole, he made up his mind to be friends with us; and when he once made up his mind to like us, he outdid even the courtly Jim, and the genial Wink, and the sympathetic Rags, in his attentions. Wherever we went, the young giant could be seen hunching along in our wake with that gait peculiar to football players.

"It looks like old Sleepy had waked up at last," Wink said to me. "To my certain knowledge he never said two words to a girl before and now, look at him! I wish he would fall in love and maybe it would give him some ambition to get ahead in his studies. You see, Sleepy's people[96] have got oodlums of chink and Sleepy knows that he has got a living without making it. The old fellow has a wonderfully good mind but absolutely no ambition, except of course to make the team and to keep up his football record. He is supposed to be studying medicine, but I'll wager anything he does not yet know the bones in the body."

"Maybe he is going to be an oculist and won't have to know the bones in the human body," I ventured. "He seems to be vastly interested in Annie's eyes lately." Indeed there was something of the clinging vine in our little English friend that appealed to George Massie's great strength, and he had assumed the attitude of protector and forest oak, one singularly becoming to him.

"You had better go in the naphtha launch," I heard him say to Annie. "It is ever so much safer, and you can't swim."

"Well, let me go wherever the rest think best. I don't want to take any one else's place," said Annie, anxious as usual to efface herself.

She need have had no fear of being allowed to[97] take any one else's place with Mabel Binks the self-elected chief cook and bottle washer of the occasion. That young woman was looking extremely handsome in a white linen tailored suit with a red parasol, Panama hat of the latest cut, red tie, red belt and red silk stockings. The seashore was a very becoming place for Mabel, as sunburn brought out her good points, giving an added glow to her rather lurid beauty. She looked really magnificent on that morning of the sailing party and her grown-up, stylish clothes made all of us feel rather childish in our middy blouses and khaki shirts and hats.

Miss Cox was dressed very much as we were except that she tucked in her middy, and Mabel's effulgence seemed to take all the colour from our beloved chaperone, who had been seeming to us almost beautiful lately because of the love-light in her eyes. Mabel's brilliancy outshone even love-light. I became very conscious of the many new freckles on my nose and Dee said afterwards hers seemed so huge to her that they actually hurt her eyes. Dee and I always got freckled noses and it was a source of some distress to both of us.[98] As for Mary, the freckles had met long ago on her turkey-egg countenance, while Dum had long streamers of peelings hanging from her nose. She did not freckle but declared she grew fifteen brand new skins every summer.

Annie was a great comfort to me as I took a quick inventory of my friends, who on that day compared so unfavourably with the glowing beauty. Annie looked as lovely as ever. She had that very fair skin that neither tans nor freckles, and her ripe wheat hair was curling in little tendrils around her white neck and calm forehead.

"Thank goodness my hair curls, too," I thought, "and the dampness won't make me look too stringy," and then I took myself to task for thinking about such foolish things, as though it made any difference what we, a lot of kids, looked like, anyhow.

Zebedee was carrying Mabel's parasol and they seemed to be having a most intimate conversation, certainly a very spirited one into which she constantly drew Mr. Gordon; and as Miss Cox had hooked her arm in Mary's and everyone[99] else was coupled off, Mr. Gordon soon fell into step with the gay pair.

"Disgusting!" I heard Dum mutter, but I hoped she would not let anyone see how furious she was. I noticed she closed her eyes and I saw her lips move and knew she was praying, "Don't let me biff Mabel Binks, don't let me biff her," just as she had at the football match at Hill Top the fall before. We reached the landing where the boats were anchored and as Dum had not biffed Mabel, I suppose her prayer was answered.

"Oh, there are the boats! What a darling little launch! Dum and Dee and I bid to go in that. Mr. Gordon, will you please arrange those cushions in the stern for me? Be sure and don't lose me, Mr. Tucker, and I will finish that delicious yarn I was in the midst of. Stephen, you will run the launch, I know, as that will give you such a good chance to be near Dee, and, Mr. Hart, here is a nice seat for you right by Dum."

Her words were so exactly what Mary had said they would be, that we who had heard Mary's prophetic imitation could hardly contain our merriment; and strange to say, the twins, in a[100] measure hypnotised by her determination to carry out her schemes, stepped with unaccustomed docility into the pretty launch; but the polite Mr. Gordon arranged the cushions and then got out determined not to be separated from his inamorata for the sail. Wink and Jim naturally complied with the arrangement as far as being near the Tuckers was concerned, but Wink said:

"Put me where I look best, but I think Sleepy had better run his own launch, especially since I don't know the first thing about it."

And Sleepy thought so, too, but he quietly determined that Annie Pore should go along. The girl was too sensitive to be willing to risk the withering scorn of Mabel's black-eyed glance and begged to be allowed to take a seat in the cat boat. Just as the launch was ready to start, Zebedee, who had been stowing the bathing suits away under the seats, made a flying leap for the landing, calling back:

"That story will have to keep, Miss Binks, as I have been promising myself the pleasure of giving Page a sailing lesson today," and for once[101] in their lives I feel sure that Tweedles were glad to have their beloved father leave them.

Mabel lay back on her cushions like a sulky Cleopatra with the expression that the queen herself might have worn had Antony refused to ride in the royal barge, choosing instead to paddle his own mud scow down the Nile.




We were a merry party in spite of this little contretemps. The day was perfect and a fresh breeze gave promise of good sailing. Our destination was Cape Henry, where we planned to have a dip in the surf and then a fish dinner at the pavilion. The launch could make much better time than the cat boat, so Sleepy was to run over ahead of us and give the order for dinner. Sleepy was not greatly pleased with the arrangement of guests and I heard him mutter something about being the goat, but his good nature was never long under a cloud and Dum and Dee, being in a state of extreme hilarity over the outcome of Mabel's machinations, kept the male passengers on the launch in a roar of laughter. Jim told me afterwards that he had never seen the twins more amusing and even the sullen beauty finally decided that the day was too pretty to[103] keep up her ill humour. After all, there were other fish in the sea besides Zebedee: namely, Mr. George Massie, alias Sleepy; so she moved her seat from the comfortable stern and exercised her fascinations on the shy engineer by demanding a lesson in running the motor.

Sailing was a new and exciting experience to Annie and me. I never expect to be more thrilled until I am finally allowed to fly. The boat was a very light one. Zebedee thought the sail was a little heavy for the hull but we went skimming along like a swallow. Tacking was a mysterious performance that must be explained to me and I was even allowed to help a little. Zebedee endeavoured to make me learn the parts of the boat but I was singularly stupid about it, having a preconceived notion of what a sheet meant and a hazy idea of which was fore and which aft, which starboard and which port.

Occasionally the launch circled around us and got within hailing distance and we would exchange pleasantries, but Mabel never deigned to notice us. She was sitting by Sleepy and seemed[104] to have mastered the art of running a naphtha launch. Tweedles told me afterwards that she made a dead set at the young giant but that he seemed to be perfectly unconscious of what she was after, and as soon as she had learned the extremely simple engine, after warning her to keep well away from the cat boat, he curled himself up on a pile of sweaters and went fast asleep. They say it was too funny for anything when Mabel realized the desertion of her teacher. She addressed a honeyed remark to him and received no answer but a smothered snort; she turned, and there he was lying prone on the deck, an expression on his rosy countenance like a cherub's, while he emitted an occasional soft, purring snore.

"There was a young lady named Fitch,
Who heard a loud snore, at which
She raised up her hat
And found that her rat
Had fallen asleep at the switch,"
sang Wink. "Hard luck, Mabel, but that is the way Sleepy always does. You must not take it personally. He even falls asleep when Miss[105] Page Allison is entertaining him. The more amused he is, the quicker he is overcome with sleep. Miss Annie Pore is the only person who can keep him awake for any length of time, and that is because she is so quiet it is up to him to talk; and while he may be talking in his sleep, it doesn't sound like it."

"Awful pity we didn't insist on her coming in the launch if for no other reason than to keep him awake," said Jim. "She is a wonderfully charming girl and so pretty, don't you think so, Miss Binks?"

"Pretty and charming! You can't mean Orphan Annie! Why, she is the laughing stock of Gresham,—namby, pamby cry-baby!"

"Mabel Binks, you must have forgotten that Annie is our guest and one of our very best friends," stormed Dum.

"And no one ever laughed at her except persons with neither heart nor breeding. I will not say who they were as I respect Wink too much to be insulting to his guest," said Dee, tears of rage coming into her eyes.[106]

"Oh, don't mind me!" exclaimed Wink uneasily, fearing a free fight was imminent.

All this time the two boats were coming nearer and nearer together. We were on the starboard tack and several times before during the morning we had come quite close to the launch and then the faster boat had swerved out of our way and we had gone off on a new tack, after calling out some form of repartee to our friends.

I never did believe Mabel meant to do it, but Tweedles to this day declares it was with malice of forethought that she deliberately held the launch in its course, and it was only by the most lightning of changes that Zebedee avoided a collision. The sail swung around without the ceremony of warning us to duck, and as we realized the danger we were in of being struck by the faster boat we instinctively crowded to the other side of our little vessel; and what with the sudden swerving of the heavy sail and the shifting of its human cargo and the added swell of waves made by the launch, we turned over as neatly as Mammy Susan could toss a flap jack.[107]

"Down went Maginty to the bottom of the sea,
Dressed in his best suit of clothes."

There was no time to think, no time to grab at straws or anything else; nothing to do but just go down as far as your weight and bulk scientifically took you and then as passively come up again. I wasn't nearly as scared as I had been when I went under in four feet of water, as I just knew I could float and determined when I got to the top to lie down on my back and do it, as Zebedee had so patiently taught me. My khaki skirt was not quite so easy to manage as a bathing suit had been, but it was not very heavy material and my tennis shoes were not much heavier than bathing shoes. I spread out my limbs like a starfish and without a single struggle found myself lying almost on top of the water looking up into a blue, blue sky and hoping that Annie Pore would remember just to let herself float and not struggle. Everyone else could swim and a turnover was nothing to them. I floated so easily and felt so buoyant, as one does always feel in very deep water, that if I had only known that Annie was safe I would have been serenely happy.[108] Annie was safe because Sleepy, awakened by the screams from the women and shouts from the men, had rolled out of the launch much more quickly than he had ever rolled out of bed (except perhaps on that memorable occasion when we had dumped him out), and with swift, sure strokes had reached the spot where Annie had gone down; and when her scared face appeared above water he was there to grab her. Wink and Jim had dived in, too, both intent on saving me, and Zebedee was by me in a moment, praising me for a grand floater.

Mary Flannagan was paddling around like a veritable little water spaniel with her red head all slick with the ducking, and Miss Cox and Mr. Gordon were gaily conversing as they tread water side by side. It did not seem at all like an accident, but more like a pleasant tea party that we happened to be having out in the middle of the bay.

"Look here, Dum, we are missing too much fun," declared Dee. "Come on! Let's jump in, too. It will be low to be dry when everybody else is wet. That is, everybody we care anything[109] about." And those crazy girls slid into the water, too, leaving the crestfallen Mabel to man the launch.

"Tweedles! What do you mean?" exclaimed their father. "Aren't we wet enough without you?"

"Yes, but you seem to forget that the cat boat is going to have to be righted and all of you men are paddling around here while the poor Goop is slowly filling and sinking." Goop was the singularly appropriate name for our top-heavy craft and sure enough she was in imminent danger of going down for good.

Annie and I were helped into the launch and Sleepy took his place with his hand on the little engine. Mabel was silently consigned to the stern and the Cleopatra cushions, where she very humbly sat to the end of our voyage. It did not take very long to right the Goop, and when she was bailed out, half of the wet crowd clambered back into her and the rest into the launch and we headed for Cape Henry, the hot sun doing its best to dry our soaking wet clothes.[110]

"Wasn't that grand?" exclaimed Mary. "I simply adore to swim in deep water."

"Splendid," said Zebedee. "If I were not so modest, I should suggest a rising vote of thanks to the person who so ably brought about this disaster."

"Why modest?" inquired Dee. "It was certainly not your fault."

"Oh, yes it was, honey," and Zebedee looked meaningly at his daughter; and she understood that it would be certainly pleasanter all around if he took the blame. "I did it on purpose, too. I wanted to see if my pupils would remember what I had told them about floating. I see Page did remember,—or perhaps she is a born floater, just as she is a bubble maker. I don't believe you remembered any of my instructions at all, did you, Annie?"

"Oh, yes, sir, I did. I was just going to try to lie down on the water, although I was terribly scared, when George came to my assistance. I—I—was very glad to see him."

"Thank you, ma'am," and Sleepy blushed a deeper crimson than the sun had already painted him.




We were still rather damp when we disembarked at Cape Henry and it was decided that the best thing to do was to get into our bathing suits immediately and spread out our clothes to dry. Bath houses were engaged and with them a coloured maid who took charge of our wet things.

"Lawd love us! You is sho' wettish! White folks is pow'ful strange, looks lak dey jes' tries to fall in de water. An' now you is goin' in agin'. You must a got so-so clean out yander in de bay."

"Don't you ever go in bathing?" asked Dum.

"Who, me? No'm, not me! I hets up some water of a Sat'day night efen I ain't too wo'out, an' I takes a good piece er lye soap an' I gibs myse'f a scrubbin' dat I specks to las' me 'til nex' time," and with a rich chuckle the girl added: "An' so fer it has."[112]

"But all of us simply adore the water!" exclaimed Dum. "Don't you like the feel of it?"

"No'm, it don't feel no way but jes' wet to me. You all what likes it is welcome to it. I reckon it's a good thing niggers is black so de dirt won't show an' dat white folks is fond er water, 'cause any little siled place on 'em looms up mighty important. Yessum, I's goin' ter hab yo' clothes good an' dry when you feel lak you is done got clean 'nuf to come outn de ocean," and the grinning darkey carried off our damp things to hang on a line and we joined the masculine members of our party to take a dip in the surf.

The bathing at Willoughby is quiet, with rarely any surf, but at Cape Henry great waves come rolling in, seemingly from the other side of the ocean. There is a long sand bar running parallel with the beach, which at high tide is submerged but at low tide shines out dry and white like the back of an enormous sea monster. This bar forms a lovely little pool, calm and clear, in strong contrast to the dashing waves outside. As soon as the tide begins to recede, which it was doing when we emerged from the bath houses,[113] many little children come to play in this pool, being as safe there as they would be in their bath tubs at home. Curious shells are to be found there and wonderful pebbles, dear to the hearts of children. I sometimes wonder what finally becomes of children's treasures, the things they gather so laboriously and guard so carefully. They always disappear in spite of the care the tots give them. I used to think when I was a little thing that the brownies stole my treasures and took them to the baby fairies to play with while their mothers were off painting the flowers or mending the butterflies' wings. I hoped that the baby fairies enjoyed my precious bits of coloured glass and the pieces of shining mica, and wondered if they knew what little girl had owned them, and if, some day, when they would grow up to be full-sized fairies, they would not do something very nice for me because I had let the brownies steal my toys.

Some of the older children had on bathing suits and were playing in the shallow water, while the younger ones in rompers were seated on the beach, digging for dear life in the warm, dry[114] sand, filling their brightly painted pails, patting down the contents and then turning out the most wonderful and appetizing cakes. Meanwhile, their mammies gossiped together, interfering occasionally when some childish vandal knocked over a prize cake or made off with a purloined spade.

"'Ook, Mammy! ain' my ittle take pitty?" said a dumpling of a baby in pink rompers and a pink beach bonnet tied on over a perfect riot of golden curls.

"Yes, honey chile, it sho' is booful. Mammy's doll baby kin make de pootiest cakes on dis here sand pile. Ain't you gonter gib yo' Mammy a bite? Mammy is pow'ful fond er choclid cake." And the old woman looked at her little charge as though she could eat her up, too, pink rompers and all.

"I'll dive oo a ittle bit, Mammy, but oo mustn't eat much. It might make oo sick an den baby hab to gib oo nas'y med'cine," and the little one scooped up some of the sand cake in a shell and her old nurse pretended to eat it with a great show of enjoyment. "Don't oo want some?" and she[115] held out a tempting shell full to Dee. Dee always attracted all children and animals and was attracted by them.

"Delighted, I'm sure!" and she dropped down on the sand beside the darling baby. For a time even the joys of surf bathing had to be postponed while she played with her newly made conquest.

Annie Pore decided to keep in the shallow pool, having had enough of deep water for the day, and Sleepy stayed with her as though she must be protected from even two feet of water, which was the greatest depth of the pool.

I found that I had learned to swim in some mysterious way. I struck boldly out and took the waves as though I had always been surf bathing.

"Bravo!" exclaimed Zebedee, "how well you are coming on!"

"It is getting turned over that has done it," I declared. "You see, I have found out that I can keep up and I am no longer afraid. I verily believe I could swim over to Africa."

"Well, please don't leave us yet," begged Wink.

It was a wonderful sensation to find myself[116] actually swimming without the least fear. Swimming was after all nothing more than walking and water was a medium to be used and not feared. Confidence was all that was needed and my spill in the bay had given me that.

"I am very proud of my pupil," boasted Zebedee. "If the worst comes to the worst and I lose my newspaper job, I'll give swimming lessons for a living."

"Will you always employ the Venetian method and throw the babies out in deep water and let them sink or swim?" I teased.

"Yes, and I'll take Miss Binks into partnership as an expert wrecker," he whispered.

That young woman was looking even finer than before in a very handsome black silk bathing suit, slashed and piped in crimson. She had restored herself to good humour and was having a very pleasant time with some acquaintances she had met on the beach. We hoped her good humour would last until she got safely back to Willoughby, as that meant more or less good manners, too, and all we wanted from the belligerent Mabel was peace at any price. At least,[117] that was all I wanted and surely all Annie Pore wanted. Tweedles were ready to give battle at any moment and Mary Flannagan looked full of mischief.

"Do you s'pose Mabel is going to content herself with a sand bath?" whispered Mary to me. "Maybe her suit is too fine to get wet."

"She certainly looks very stunning under that red parasol, posing up there on the beach," said Dum, riding a wave and landing almost on top of me. "I can't abide her but I must confess she is very paintable, especially the red parasol. I'll never cease to regret that I did not hook my foot in the handle and drag it overboard with me when I dived off the launch. I thought about it while I was slipping off my shoes and it would have been as easy as dirt to make out it was an accident; but it would have been too Mabelesque an act and I could not quite make up my mind to do it."

"I should say not, but if it could have happened and been a real accident it would certainly have been fun," I exclaimed. "I can see you leaping into the air with your toe hitched to the[118] parasol like a kind of a parachute. Who are her friends?"

"Search me! but I notice she does not see fit to introduce them. I wonder whether she is ashamed of them or ashamed of us."

"'Mother dear, may I go swim?'
'Yes, my darling daughter,
Hang your clothes on a hickory limb
But don't go near the water,'"
sang Mary, throwing her voice so it seemed to come from behind Mabel. Then we dived under the water and our giggles came up in the form of my specialty, bubbles. Mabel never did wet her suit, however.

When we had had all the swim we wanted, we raced back to the bath houses and found the humorous maid had our clothes all nicely dried. The effect was rather rough-dried, but we were not in a position to be choosy.

"Well, here you is back agin! I can't sees dat you look no cleaner dan you did befo'. I low all dat soakin' will draw de suption outn yo' bones an' dey ain't nuf strength lef' in you to make a pot er soup."[119]

And the truth was, I did feel a little feeble from the two swims and realized that I was only fit for soupe maigre or some very weak broth. Food was what I needed; and as soon as we got into our rumpled clothes, dinner was ready. What a dinner it was! Clam chowder first, with everything in it that the proprietor could find, and seasoned to a king's taste; then soft shell crabs with tartar sauce; then baked blue-fish with roasted corn and creamed potatoes; then tomato salad; then any kind of pie your fancy dictated.

"All I ask of you is not to eat ice cream," begged Zebedee; "it is fatal along with crabs." And so we refrained, although it did seem to me with all the layers of food between the crabs and dessert, it would have been safe.

Dinner over, we determined to explore the Cape. It was a tremendously interesting spot. In the first place it was at Cape Henry that the English first disembarked in 1607. A stone tablet now supplants the old wooden cross raised by the first settlers to mark the spot where the adventurers landed on American soil. It is a bleak place with little vegetation of any sort, nothing[120] but the beach grass and a few stunted oaks that look as though they had bowed their heads to invincible storms from the moment that their little lives had burst from the acorns.

"They remind me of poor little factory children trying to grow to manhood," I said to Zebedee who was showing us the sights. "When I think of the oaks at Bracken and see these, it is difficult to realize that they are all trees and all sprung from acorns. It is like a little factory child by the side of George Massie, for instance." Zebedee the sympathetic wiped his eyes at the thought of all the little mill hands that we seemed to be powerless to help.

The old light-house built in 1690 was thrilling and I could hardly tear myself away from it to go view the modern, up-to-date one that was open for inspection. The wireless telegraph station, the first I had ever seen, was not far from the old light-house, and it seemed strange to think of the tremendous strides science had made since those sturdy pioneers had built that picturesque old tower.

The sand dunes at Cape Henry are famous.[121] They over-topped the cottages in places and the little church was almost buried at one end. They say this loose sand drifts like snow and the big wind storms in winter pile it up into great hills so that the cottagers, returning for their summer holidays, often have to dig out their homes before they can get to housekeeping.

We had great larks sliding down these dunes and we got so dusty we were ashamed to face the maid who had dried our clothes, knowing she would have some invidious remarks to make about the uselessness of our having washed, as she designated our sea bathing.

And now it was time to go home. We bade the grinning maid farewell, much richer from our visit, as she was handsomely tipped by Wink, the purse-bearer from the camp, and Zebedee, the ever lavish.

"When you gits dirty agin they's always plinty er water here," she called out.

We changed places going back, as it was deemed not quite safe for Annie and me to travel in the cat boat again. "Even if you can swim to Africa," said Jim.[122]

Annie was glad enough to get into the safer boat, but I enjoyed sailing more than motoring, although that was delightful enough. Miss Cox and Mr. Gordon came with us and Mary and Rags. Sleepy ran the boat and although we were very quiet on the trip, everyone feeling a little tired and very peaceful, I noticed that Sleepy did not go to sleep; when he was not running the engine, he seemed to be taken up with looking after Annie's comfort.

Once when our craft came close to the cat boat, Dum called out:

"Sing, Annie, sing!" and all of the rest, with the exception of Mabel, joined in the request. And Annie sang:

"'Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

"'Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
[123]Father will come to thee soon:
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep my little one, sleep my pretty one, sleep.'"

"Ah, ha, Miss Page Allison!" broke in Mabel's strident voice as we disembarked at Willoughby, after the very smooth, peaceful journey, "'The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.'"

"That's so, but why this remark?" I asked. "What race has there been and what battle?" The men were making all ship-shape in the boats while we girls strolled on ahead. I had not the slightest idea what Mabel was talking about.

"Why, I got your middle-aged beau, all right, all right! I fancy he was glad enough to get away from you bread-and-butter school girls and have some sensible conversation with a grown-up." I could not help smiling at this, having often listened entranced to Mabel's methods of entertaining men. If that was what she called sensible[124] conversation, Zebedee must have been truly edified.

"Well, it was a good thing Mr. Tucker, if that is the middle-aged beau in question, was wise enough to take his bread-and-butter first before he indulged in the rich and heavy mental food that you fed him on. If he had taken it on an empty head, as it were, it might have seriously impaired his mental digestion." I fired this back at Mabel, angered in spite of myself.

"And so, Miss, you say Mr. Tucker has an empty head! How should you like for me to tell him you said so?"

"Tell him what you choose," I answered, confident of Zebedee's knowing me too well to believe I said anything of the sort. "And how would you like me to tell Mr. Tucker you called him middle-aged?" and I left the ill-natured girl with her mouth wide open. I wanted peace, but if Mabel wanted battle then I was not one to run away. No one had heard her remark and I felt embarrassed at the thought of repeating it. I could hardly tell Tweedles that Mabel called their father "my middle-aged beau," and certainly I could not repeat[125] such a thing to Zebedee himself. Mabel was evidently bent on mischief but I felt pretty sure that in a battle of wits I could come out victorious. All I feared was that she would do something underhand. Certainly she was not above it. Like most deceitful persons, she was fully capable of thinking others were as deceitful as herself.




The next day we were lazy after the excitement of the sail to Cape Henry. All of us slept late and when we did wake, we seemed to be not able to get dressed.

"Let's have a kimono day," yawned Dee. "Zebedee and Miss Cox have gone to Norfolk and there is not a piece of a hemale or grown-up around, so s'pose we just loaf all day."

"That will be fine, not to dress at all until time to go to the hop!" we exclaimed in chorus. There was to be a hop that night at the hotel, to which we were looking forward with great enthusiasm. Zebedee was to meet Harvie Price and Thomas Hawkins (alias Shorty) in Norfolk and bring them back to Willoughby, where they expected to stay for several days. These were the two boys we had liked so much at Hill Top, the boys' school near Gresham, and Zebedee had taken a great fancy to both of them.[127]

"I do wish my hateful, little, old nose wasn't so freckled," I moaned. "I know I got a dozen new ones yesterday,—freckles, not noses. I'd like to get a new nose, all right."

"Me, too!" chimed in Dee. "What are we going to look like at a ball with these noses and necks?"

"Thank goodness, my freckles all run together," laughed Mary, "and the more freckled I get the more beautiful I am," and she made such a comical face that we burst out laughing.

"But look how I am peeling!" said Dum, examining her countenance in a hand mirror. "Now freckles look healthy but these great peelings streaming from my nose make me look as though I were just recovering from scarlet fever. I do wish I could pull them all off before night."

Annie was the only one of us neither tanned nor freckled. Miss Cox had taken on a healthy brown, which was rather becoming to her.

"If you young ladies is begrievin' over the condition of yo' cutlecles, I is in a persition to reform you of a simple remedy that will instore yo' complictions to they prinstine frishness," said[128] Blanche who, coming upstairs with the mail, had overheard our jeremiads on the subject of our appearances.

"What is it! What is it!"

"You must first bedizen yo' count'nances in buttermilk, which will be most soothing to the imbrasions, an' then you must have some nice dough, made of the best flour an' lard, with yeast and seas'ning same as for light rolls; an' this must be rolled out thin like, with holes cut fer the nostrums fer the purpose of exiling. Then you must lie down fer several hours and whin you remove this masquerade, you will find the yeast is done drawed the freckles an' sun burn, an' all of you will be as beautiful as the dawning."

"Oh, Blanche, please mix us up some dough right off! And is there any buttermilk here?" asked Dum.

"Yes, Miss Dum, we've been gittin' it reg'lar fer waffles an' sich. I'll bring up a little bucket of it fer yo' absolutions an' then I'll mix up the dough."[129]

"Be sure and make plenty, Blanche! I want to put it on my neck, too," said Dee.

"Well, we is mos' out er flour but I'll stretch it bes' I kin. The impersonal 'pearance of female ladies is of more importation than economics, an' I'm sure yo' paw will not be the one to infuse to buy another bag of flour for the beautyfaction of his twinses an' they lady guests."

Well, we washed and washed in buttermilk until we smelled like old churns. Then we lay down while Blanche placed tenderly on each burning countenance a dough mask. Annie did not need it, but she must have one, too, even though it was in a measure "gilding the lily."

"Let me have a mouth hole instead of one for my nostrils," I demanded. "I can breathe through my mouth for a while and I don't want to do anything to keep the dough from doing its perfect work on my poor nose."

We must have presented a ridiculous appearance, lying stretched out on our cots, each girl with her countenance supporting what looked like a great hoe cake.[130]

"Well, I tell you, one has to suffer to be beautiful!" exclaimed Mary.

"I don't mind it as much on my face as my neck," declared Dee. "It feels like a great boa constrictor throttling me, but it would never do to have my face as fair as a lily and my neck as red as a rose."

The air was fresh and soothing and we were tired anyhow; our masks were not conducive to conversation, so one by one we dropped off to sleep while the dough was getting in its perfect work. We slept for hours I think, and while the dough was busy, the yeast was not idle but responded readily to the warmth occasioned by our poor faces. The air-holes, seemingly too large in the beginning, gradually began to close in as the little leaven leavened the whole lump. Lying on your back is sure to make you snore at any rate, and lying on your back with almost all air cut off from you will cause stertorious breathing fearful to hear.

I do not know how long we had been lying there, but I know I was having a terrible dream. I dreamed I was under water, and the water was[131] hot. I was trying to get to the top, knowing I could float if I could only get to the top, but every time I would come to the surface Mabel Binks would sit on my face and down I would sink again. I was struggling and clutching wildly at the air and trying to call Zebedee, and then Zebedee pulled Mabel off me and I floated into the pure air. Incidentally I opened my eyes to find the real Zebedee bending over me simply convulsed with laughter, while Miss Cox pulled the mask off of Mary, who was making a noise like a little tug trying to get a great steamer out of harbour. Dum and Dee were sitting up rubbing their eyes and Annie was blinking at the light and wondering where she was and what it was all about.

"Well, it is a good thing we came home when we did or our whole house party would have broken up in asphyxiation. When we opened the door down stairs there was no sign of Blanche, but such noise as was issuing from this sleeping porch! Sawing gourds was sweet music compared to it What on earth do you mean by this peculiar performance?" and Zebedee burst out[132] into renewed peals of laughter and Miss Cox sank helpless on the foot of my cot.

"If you could have seen yourselves!" she gasped. "Five girls in kimonos, lying prone, and each one, in the place of a head, sporting a great dumpling."

We looked woefully at our prized masks and to be sure each one had risen to three times its original bulk. Little wonder breathing had been difficult.

Dee still had the remedy around her neck, puffed out like an enormous goitre, her chin resting comfortably on it. All of us felt as foolish as we looked and that was saying a good deal.

"You certainly smell like a dairy lunch up here," sniffed Zebedee. "Please tell me if you were assisting poor, dear Blanche and raising her dough for her. Is this the method you housekeepers have employed all summer to have such good bread? I wondered how you did it. But don't I smell buttermilk, too?" We knew we were in for a good teasing and we got it, although Miss Cox did her best to make Zebedee call a halt. "Is all of this beautifying for the benefit of Harvie[133] and Shorty, who by the way are coming out in about an hour? I feel sad that you did not think I was worth making yourselves pretty for, but maybe you knew that I like freckles. If you did, I feel sadder than ever that you should have taken away what I consider so charming."

I don't believe one single freckle was removed by our torture; but our skin felt soft and satiny, and Dum's peelings all came off with her mask. Then the long sleep had rested all of us so, after all, there was no harm done except that all the flour was used up. That night we had no bread but batter bread for supper, but since Blanche had mastered the mixing of that dish, dear to the heart of all Virginians, we none of us minded, just so she made enough of it, which she did.




Harvie and Shorty arrived in due time and very glad we were to see them. Mary and Shorty rushed together like long lost brother and sister. They made a pony team it was hard to beat.

"Gee, I'm glad to see you!" exclaimed the boy. "You and I don't have to be grown up, do we, Mary?"

"Not on your life! No one will expect the impossible of us. The boys we know here are real grown-ups, lots older than Harvie Price, real college men. They are very nice but I feel like an awful kid with them. Of course Mr. Tucker is as young as any of us."

"Of course!" echoed Shorty. "Isn't he just great?"

"You bet."

When we were all dressed for the hop, Zebedee declared we looked pretty well in spite of our tan and freckles. He kept us on needles and pins[135] all the time, threatening to tell the boys of our dough masks. At supper he repeatedly asked Blanche for hot rolls, insisting that she must have them.

"I certainly smelled hot rolls when I got back from Norfolk and it seems to me I saw batch after batch rising. Couldn't you spare me just one, Blanche?" And when the girl rushed from the room to explode in the kitchen, he said in a tone of the greatest concern: "Why, what is the matter with poor, dear Blanche? Do you think perhaps she has eaten them all herself?"

"Mr. Tucker come mighty near infectin' my irresistibles," Blanche said to us after supper was over. "I tell you a kersplosion was eminent! 'Twas all I could do to keep from bringing disgracement on us all, in fact, to speak in vulgar langige, I was nigh to bus'in'. I certainly do think you young ladies looks sweet an' whin you puts a little talcim on yo' prebosseses the sunburn won't be to say notificationable. I'll be bound that ev'y las' one of you will be the belledom of the ball." All we hoped for was not to be wall flowers.[136]

A hop was quite an event to most of us. Annie and I had never been to one in our lives, not a real hop. The dance at the Country Club when I visited the Tuckers in Richmond was the nearest I had ever come to a hop, and if this was to come up to that, I was expecting a pretty good time. Annie was very nervous as her dancing had all been done at Gresham and with girls, but we assured her that she was sure to do finely. The Tucker twins had been going to hops ever since they could hop, almost ever since they could crawl, so they were not very excited, but Mary was jumping around like a hen on a hot griddle, trying new steps all the time I was tying her sash. You may know that Mary would wear a great bulging sash, instead of a neat girdle or belt. Chunky persons with thick waists always seem to have a leaning towards sashes with huge bows. Mary looked very nice, although her dress did have about twice as much material in it as was necessary and she had put on an extra petticoat for luck and style. Since it was the summer of very narrow skirts, the effect was rather voluminous. She looked like the hollyhock babies[137] I used to make for my fairy lands, only their heads were green while Mary's was red; but Mary's looks were the least thing about her. It was her good cheerful disposition and her ready, kindly wit and humour that counted with her friends.

Annie was lovely in the beautiful white crêpe de Chine, the dress that had been her mother's and that she had worn at the musicale at Gresham where she had charmed the audience with her old ballads. It was a pity for her to wear this dress to dance in on a hot night as it was really very handsome though so simple, but poor Annie had very few clothes and her father seemed to think that a girl her age needed none at all.

The Tuckers were appropriately dressed in white muslin, Dum with a pink girdle, Dee with a blue.

"Not that I should wear pink," grumbled Dum, "nor that Dee should wear blue, as I look better in blue and Dee looks better in pink; but Zebedee cuts up so when we go anywhere with him and don't dress in the colours we were born in, that to keep the peace we have to do as he wants us to.[138] They tied pink ribbons on me and blue ribbons on Dee to tell us apart, and Zebedee declares he still has to have something tied on us to tell, which is perfectly absurd, as we do not look the least alike."

"You never have looked much alike to me, but I took such a good look at you the first time I saw you that I never have got you mixed up except once when I first saw you in bathing caps. I really do not think you look as much like each other as you both look like your father. Now he has Dee's dimple in his chin; and his hair grows on his forehead just like Dum's, in a little widow's peak; and all three of you have exactly the same shoulders."

"Well, all I know is I can tell myself from Dum on the darkest night." With which Irish bull, Dee, having hooked on the offending blue girdle, hustled us downstairs where the boys from the camp were awaiting our coming.

"Let me see, eight escorts for six ladies!" exclaimed Zebedee. "That means a good time all around!" And that is just what we had, a good time all around.[139]

The ballroom at the hotel was quite large with a splendid floor, and if there was a breeze to be caught, it caught it. Seated on chairs ranged around the wall were what Zebedee called the non-combatants, many old ladies: maids, wives and widows, some with critical eyes, some with kindly, but one and all bent on seeing and commenting on everything that was doing.

The first person I beheld on entering the ballroom was no other than Cousin Park Garnett, sitting very stiff and straight in a tight bombazine basque, at least, I fancy it must have been bombazine—not that I know what bombazine is; but bombazine basque sounds just like Cousin Park looked. With majestic sweeps she fanned herself with a turkey-tail fan, and her general expression was one of conscious superiority to her surroundings. How I longed for a magic cap so that I might become invisible to my relative! All sparkle went out of the scene for me. I felt that it would not be much fun to dance with the critical eye of Mrs. Garnett watching my every step and her unnecessarily frank tongue ready to inform me of my many defects. If I could only[140] dissemble and pretend not to see her maybe she would not recognize me! But conscience whispered:

"Page Allison, aren't you ashamed of yourself? You know perfectly well what your father would say: 'She is our kinswoman, daughter, and proper respect must be shown her.' Go up and speak to her and give her no real cause for criticism." So, in the words of somebody or other, "I seen my duty and done it."

"How burned and freckled you are, child!" was her cheerful greeting, as she presented a hard, uncompromising cheek for me to peck.

"Yes, I've been on the water a good deal," I ventured meekly. "When did you come?"

"I have been here only a few hours but I have heard already of the very irregular household in which you are visiting."

"Irregular! Why, we have our meals exactly on time. Who said we didn't?"

"I was not referring to meals but morals," and the bombazine basque creaked anew as she once more took up the task of cooling herself with the turkey-tail fan. I felt myself getting very hot[141] with a heat that a turkey-tail fan could not allay.

"Morals, Cousin Park! Why, Blanche is a very respectable coloured girl highly recommended by the president of her industrial school and Mammy Susan, besides."

"Blanche! I know nothing of Mr. Tucker's domestic arrangements. What I mean is that I hear from Miss Binks that you are absolutely unchaperoned and I consider that highly immoral."

"Unchaperoned! How ridiculous! Miss Jane Cox is our chaperone and there never was a lovelier one. Mabel Binks knows perfectly well Miss Cox is there with us and she herself would give her eyes to be one of the party," and then I bit my lip to keep from saying anything else about the mischief-making girl.

"I understood from Miss Binks that there were only five young girls in the cottage and that a camp of boys spent most of their time there and that the carryings on were something disgraceful. She had some tale to tell of your going up to wake one of the boys yourselves and dragging him out of bed."[142]

And so Mabel had distorted the truth about Sleepy to suit her own ends. I flushed painfully and to the best of my ability told the story, but it sounded very flat and stupid recounted to the unsympathetic, unhumorous ears of Mrs. Garnett. I brought up Miss Cox and introduced her to the turkey-tail fan, and our chaperone's quiet manner and dignity did much to reassure my strict relative. I was laughing in my boots when I realized that Mabel did not know of Miss Cox's engagement and so had not told Cousin Park of it, or that irate dame would have considered our chaperone not much of a chaperone, after all.

Zebedee claimed the first dance with me, speaking cordially to Cousin Park, but she gave him a curt nod and turned with unexpected amiability and condescension to converse with a faded little gentlewoman at her side who had up to that time been overshadowed by that lady's conscious superiority.

"Oh, my whole evening is ruined!" I wailed in Zebedee's ear. "It won't be a bit of fun to dance, no matter how many or how few partners I may get, while Cousin Park sits there and watches[143] my every step, making mental notes of the disagreeable truths she will get off to me or poor Father the first time she gets a chance at him."

"Why, you poor little girl! Do you think I am going to let your first hop be a failure? I am going to get that old Harpie out of this room if I have to carry her out myself and propose to her in the bargain."

When the dance was over, Zebedee might have been seen eagerly looking around the hotel as if in search of someone, on the porches, in the lobby and finally in the smoking room, and then to pounce on a certain old Judge Grayson of Kentucky, who was there poring over the afternoon paper and smoking a very bad cigar. Judge Grayson was judge by courtesy and custom, as Zebedee afterwards told me. He had never been on any bench but the anxious bench of the grand stand, being a great judge of horses.

"Ha, Judge, I am glad to see you! Have a cigar." The Judge accepted with alacrity, first carefully extinguishing the light on the poor one he was engaged in consuming and economically putting it back into his cigar case, quoting in[144] a pleasant, high old voice: "'For though on pleasure she was bent, she had a frugal mind.' How are you, Tucker? Gad, I'm glad to see you, boy! Dull hole this!"

"Do you find it so? Why don't you get up a game of auction? I wish I could join you, but I've got my daughters and some of their young friends here and dancing is the order of the evening for me."

"Gad, I'd like a game but don't know a soul. Fool to come to such a place. I'll be off to Virginia Beach tomorrow."

"Now don't do that; you come see us tomorrow. I'll be bound you will fall in love with all my girls and no doubt they will fight over you."

"Why, that would be nice, Tucker. No doubt this place is all right but I have been lonesome," and the old fellow beamed on Zebedee.

Peeping in, we saw the game in full swing—Page 145 Peeping in, we saw the game in full swing—Page 145

"Of course you have. Come on, I'll introduce you to some ladies and you can have a good game of auction bridge;" and before the Judge could find any objection, Zebedee had steered him across the ballroom floor and had him bowing and scraping in front of the haughty Mrs. Garnett.[145] She unbent at his courtly, old-fashioned compliments, and I distinctly saw her tap him playfully with her turkey-tail fan. The faded gentlewoman was next introduced and readily joined in the proposed game. A fourth was easily found and before the next dance was over, Zebedee was beaming on me, as I danced around with Wink, delighted as he afterwards declared in having got the Harpie out of the room without having either to carry her out or propose to her himself. The rest of the evening I could enjoy to my heart's content with no hypercritical glances following me around. Cousin Park had a good time, too. Auction bridge was her dissipation and I have heard she played a masterly game. So Zebedee felt he had been a real all 'round philanthropist.

Once between dances Zebedee and I were out on the porch getting a breath of air and our steps took us near the window of the card room. Peeping in, we saw the game in full swing. Cousin Park had just made a little slam and she looked quite complacent and cheerful. The courtly Judge was dealing compliments with the cards, there was a flush of pleasure on the cheeks of[146] the faded gentlewoman, and Cousin Park wielded her fan with almost a coquettish air, announcing her bids with elephantine playfulness.

Once Judge Grayson picked up the fan and, looking sentimentally at it, began to quote in his high, refined old voice the following poem. It was between rubbers so the card devotees listened with polite attention, but Zebedee and I were indeed thrilled:

"'It owned not a colour that vanity dons
Or slender wits choose for display;
Its beautiful tint was a delicate bronze,
A brown softly blended with gray.
From her waist to her chin, spreading out without break,
'Twas built on a generous plan:
The pride of the forest was slaughtered to make
My grandmother's turkey-tail fan.

"'For common occasions it never was meant:
In a chest between two silken cloths
'Twas kept safely hidden with careful intent
In camphor to keep out the moths.
'Twas famed far and wide through the whole country side,
From Beersheba e'en unto Dan;
And often at meeting with envy 'twas eyed,
[147]My grandmother's turkey-tail fan.

"'A fig for the fans that are made nowadays,
Suited only to frivolous mirth!
A different thing is the fan that I praise,
Yet it scorned not the good things of earth.
At bees and at quiltings 'twas aye to be seen.
The best of the gossip began
When in at the doorway had entered serene
My grandmother's turkey-tail fan.'"

Zebedee clapped a vociferous but silent applause and I wiped a tiny tear from my eye. Poetry is the only thing that ever makes me weep but there is something about verse, recited in a certain way, that always makes me leak a little. The Judge knew how to recite that way and while there was nothing in "My Grandmother's Turkey-tail Fan" to make one want to weep, still that one little tear did find its way out. The faded gentlewoman was affected the same way and even Cousin Park's bombazine basque unbent a bit.

"Isn't he a sweet old man?" I exclaimed.

"Just the sweetest in the country. I have known the Judge for many years and I have never seen him anything but a perfect, courtly gentleman. He is to have luncheon with us tomorrow."[148]

"Oh, won't that be fine! Maybe he will recite some poetry for us."

"I haven't a doubt but that he will, and sing you some songs, too."

"Well, he has my undying gratitude for taking Cousin Park out of the ballroom;" and just then Harvie came to hunt for me to claim his dance.

I danced every single dance that evening except one that I sat out with Wink, and hardly ever got through a dance without having to change partners several times. They say it is a southern custom, this thing of breaking in on a dance. It is all very well if you happen to be dancing with a poor dancer and a good one takes you away, but it is pretty sad if it happens to be the other way. Sometimes I would feel as you might if an over-zealous butler snatched your plate from under your nose before you had finished, and you saw him bearing off some favourite delectable morsel and in its place had to choke down stewed prunes or mashed turnips or something else you just naturally could not abide. As a rule, however, the "delectable morsel" would not go away[149] for good, but hover around and break in again in time to let you finish the dance with some pleasure and at least get the taste of stewed prunes or mashed turnip out of your mouth.



Miss Sue Lee, Congressional Library, Washington, D. C., from Page Allison.
Dearest Cousin Sue:

I can hardly believe that July is more than half over and I have not written you. I have thought about you a lot, my dear cousin, and often wished for you. We have had just about the best time girls ever did have and more things have happened! I have learned to swim; we have been upset in a cat boat called the Goop, right out in the middle of Chesapeake Bay; our chaperone, Miss Cox, has become engaged and expects to be married in a few weeks; and last and most exciting of all (at least most exciting to me), I have had a proposal; I, little, freckled-nosed, countrified Page Allison! It was the greatest shock of my life, as I wasn't expecting anything like that ever to happen to me, at least not for years and years.

You see, it was this way: We went to a hop last night, the very first hop of my life, and we naturally dressed up for it in our best white muslins, low necks, short sleeves, silk stockings, tucked-up hair and all, and we looked quite grown-up.[151] All of us are sixteen, except Mary Flannagan, who is just fifteen. We went with a goodly number of escorts: Harvie Price and Shorty Hawkins, who are staying in the house with us; Mr. Tucker and Mr. Gordon, who is Miss Cox's lover; and four boys from a camp near us who have been very nice to us since we have been at Willoughby.

One of these boys, Stephen White (Wink for short), is studying medicine at the University. He is very good looking and has lots of sense. He and I have had a great many very pleasant times together, but it never entered my head that he thought of me as anything but a kid. In fact, I thought he was in love with a girl in Charlottesville; Mabel Binks, his cousin, told me he was. I also thought that Dee was his favourite among all of us girls. I know Dee likes him a lot. You see, Dee is so interested in sick kittens and babies and physiology that she just naturally takes to medical students. But last night Wink gave me what might be termed a rush. He broke in dances and claimed dances and did all kinds of things that were rather astonishing. He is not a very good dancer and as Mr. Tucker (I call him Zebedee now) is a splendid one I did not relish Wink's constantly taking me away from him nor did Zebedee seem overjoyed to lose me. I thought all the time Wink was doing it to tease Mabel Binks, who just naturally despises me and of course would not like to see her good looking cousin paying me too much attention. He asked me to sit out a dance with him and as he is a much better talker than dancer I was glad to do it, although I must confess I could not keep my[152] feet still all the time he was talking to me. He took me to a nice corner of the porch looking out over the water and began. I hope you don't think it is wrong of me to tell you this, Cousin Sue. You see I would bite out my tongue before I would tell any of the other girls, but I feel as though I would simply have to tell some one or—well, bust! He started this way:

"What do you think of long engagements?" and I said:

"I don't think at all; but I heard one of Father's old maid cousins say once when someone was discussing long engagements, 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.'"

And then Wink went on telling me of his prospects and his ambitions. He seems to have little prospects and big ambitions, which after all is the best thing for a young man, I believe. He asked me if I thought it was too much to ask a girl to wait, say, five years. I thought of course he was talking about the Charlottesville girl, who turns out to be a myth, and I said that I did not suppose true love would set any limit on waiting. He said he was almost twenty and had one more year at the University and expected to have a year in a New York hospital, and then his ambition was to become a first class up-to-date country doctor.

He loves the country and says he has never yet seen a good country doctor who was not overworked. I agreed with him there and said that my father was certainly overworked. I also told him that I had in a measure suggested him to my father as a possible assistant. That pleased him[153] so much that he impulsively seized my hand. I thought of course he was still thinking of the Charlottesville girl and wondered if she would be a pleasant addition to our neighbourhood, when Wink began to pour forth such an impassioned appeal that I could no longer think he was talking about the Charlottesville girl but was actually addressing me. I felt mighty bad and very foolish. When I told him he had known me but a little over two weeks he said that made no difference, that there was such a thing as "love at first sight."

"But," I said, "you did not love me at first sight."

"Yes I did, but I did not realize it until tonight when I saw you for the first time with your hair tucked up, and dressed in an evening dress."

"Well, when I let it down tomorrow and get back into a middy you will find out what a mistake you have made."

"Oh, Page, please don't tease me! It makes no difference now what you wear or how you do your hair, I am going to love you forever and forever. Don't you love me just a little?" And a spirit of mischief still prompting me, I answered:

"I can't tell until I see you with a moustache." And then, Cousin Sue, I realized that I was not being my true self but was doing something that I had never expected to do in my whole life: flirting outrageously. So I up and told Wink that I did not care for him except as a friend (I came mighty near saying "brother," but it sounded too bromidic). I said I was nothing but a kid and[154] had no business thinking about lovers for years to come. I said a lot of things that sound too silly to write and he said a lot of things, or rather he said the same thing over and over.

I never saw such a long dance. I thought the music would never stop. Wink wanted to hold my hand all the time he was talking, but I just shook hands with him and thought that was enough. It seemed to me to be too sudden to be very serious. Of course in books people do that way, Romeo and Juliet, for instance, but in real life my idea of falling in love is first to know someone very well, well enough to be able to talk to him without any restraint at all and then gradually to feel that that person is the one of all others for you. The idea of knowing a girl two weeks and then seeing her with her hair done up like a grown-up and deciding between dances that life could not be lived without her! Of course Wink thinks he is in dead earnest and it hurts just as bad for a while as though he were, but it won't last much longer than it did for him to make up his mind. He will be like a man who has had a nightmare: very trying while it lasts but not so bad but that he can eat a good breakfast the next morning and forget all about it, only wondering what made him have such a bad dream and what was it all about, anyhow!

Goodness, I was glad to see Zebedee when he came around the corner of the porch looking for me to dance a particular one-step that he and I had evolved together. I believe Zebedee (Mr. Tucker) knew what had been going on, because Wink was looking so sullen and I, I don't know[155] how I was looking, but I was certainly feeling very foolish. He tucked my arm in his and looked at me rather sadly just as he had at Dum last winter when Mr. Reginald Kent, the young artist from New York, asked her for a lock of her hair. I know Zebedee hates for any of us to grow up, me as well as the twins. I wanted awfully to tell him it was all right but I did not know how to do it without giving Wink away, so I just said nothing. I did not see Wink again last night and the boys tell me he has gone over to Newport News today with Mabel Binks to call on their relatives.

I have written a terribly long letter and still have not told you that Cousin Park Garnett is stopping at the hotel here in Willoughby. She is the same Cousin Park, only a little more tightly upholstered, if possible. I wish I could like her better, but she always makes me feel all mouth and freckles.

Good-bye, Cousin Sue, and if I should not have told you all of this nonsense about Wink and me, please forgive me. Lots of girls would tell other girls if they got a proposal, but I would never do that; but you have been so like my mother to me that somehow I do not feel it is indelicate to tell you.

With best love,

From Miss Sue Lee, Washington, D. C., to Page Allison.
My Dearest Little Page:

I was overjoyed to get your very interesting[156] letter and I hasten to answer it and to tell you that you must always feel at perfect liberty to tell me anything and everything that comes up in your life. I am a little sorry for Wink, but you were right not to encourage him. Do not be too sure, however, that he will get over this malady as quickly as he took it. Shakespeare was a very wise and true artist and you may be sure that when he made Romeo fall in love with Juliet as he did without a moment's warning,—and already in love with someone else, as Romeo thought he was,—such a thing can come to pass. We find as much truth in fiction as in fact, everlasting truths. But then, I am a sentimental old maid and you must not take me too seriously.

I want to know your friends, the Tuckers, very much indeed. I hope to spend August at Bracken and perhaps I can meet them then. Washington is very hot and I am quite tired out and will be glad of the quiet and peace of Bracken as well as the sane, delightful talks with your dear father. I hope Cousin Park will not choose the same time to make her visit. If she makes you feel all mouth and freckles, she makes me feel all nose and wrinkles. She told me once that she was confident my nose was the cause of my spinsterhood. As my nose is a perfectly good Lee nose, and as spinsterhood is as much a mark of my family as my nose, I shouldn't mind her remark, but somehow I do.

I am sending you a pair of blue silk stockings and a tie to match, to wear with white duck skirts and lingerie waists. No doubt you will be so captivating in this colour that proposals will come[157] pouring in. Please tell me about them if they do. Don't grow up yet, little Cousin Page! There is time enough for lovers and such like, and sixteen is o'er young for taking things very seriously. I am glad indeed that you sent poor Wink about his business and hope he will grow a moustache and a flowing beard before he addresses you again.

With much love,
Cousin Sue.




The morning after the hop we slept late. Of course we did not go to sleep as soon as we got into bed, as the best part of going to a dance is talking it over with the girls afterwards. We had much to tell and I for one had much that I couldn't tell. One and all we pronounced it a very delightful and successful party. Had we not, everyone of us danced every dance, except the fatal one that I sat out? Did we not have "trade lasts" enough to last 'til morning if sleep had not overtaken us? Hadn't Annie been freely spoken of as the prettiest girl there; the twins as the most popular; Mary as by all odds the brightest and funniest; and had not I overheard someone say that I had a nameless charm that was irresistible? Altogether, we were well pleased with ourselves and one another and slept the sleep of the just and healthy until late in the morning, when we heard Miss Cox singing at our door:[159]

"'Kathleen Mavourneen! the gray dawn is breaking,
The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill;
The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking,—
Kathleen Mavourneen! what, slumbering still?
Oh, hast thou forgotten how soon we must sever?
Oh, hast thou forgotten this day we must part?
It may be for years and it may be forever!
Oh, why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
Oh, why art thou silent, Kathleen Mavourneen?

"'Kathleen Mavourneen, awake from thy slumbers!
The blue mountains glow in the sun's golden light;
Ah, where is the spell that once hung on my numbers?
Arise in thy beauty, thou star of my night!
Mavourneen, Mavourneen, my sad tears are falling,
To think that from Erin and thee I must part!
It may be for years and it may be forever!
Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
Then why art thou silent, Kathleen Mavourneen?'"

There was a storm of applause from our porch and a great clapping of hands from down stairs[160] as Zebedee entered with old Judge Grayson. Miss Cox had an excellent voice and a singularly true one.

"Well, all of us Kathleens had better rise and shine after that appeal," yawned Dum. "It must be almost time for luncheon." And so it was. We just had time for a hasty dip in the briny and a hastier toilet in the way of middies and khaki skirts, when Blanche appeared to announce that our repast was reserved.

"Well, Gawd love us!" she exclaimed, when she beheld us dressed in our customary girlish middies. "Ef'n the butterflies ain't chrystalized agin into plain grubs! When I beholden you last night in all the begalia of sassioty I ruminated to myself that our young misses had done flew the coop, hair turned up and waistes turned down, an' here you is nothin' but gals agin. I'll be bound ef'n the beau lovers of the evenin' recently relapsed could see you now they would wonder how come they felt so warmed to'ds you. Not that you ain't as sweet as sugar now," she hastily added, fearing for our feelings, "but you is jes'[161] sugar 'thout the proper ingredients to make you what you might call intoxicational."

Every single girl except Mary looked a little conscious while Blanche was talking, and I could not help wondering if there had not been others besides myself who had been the recipient of tender nothings. Zebedee overheard Blanche's remarks and I saw him go into the kitchen and a little later the girl came forth beaming, tying into the corner of her handkerchief a shiny new half dollar.

"Every time poor, dear Blanche opens her mouth diamonds and pearls of wisdom come forth," he whispered to me. "It seems a shame to buy such priceless gems for fifty cents. I would not take anything for what she has just handed to all of my girls."

The Judge proved to be a delightful old man and all of us were charmed with his courtly manners and compliments. He seemed to think we were lovely and quite grown-up in spite of what Blanche had just "handed" us. He quoted poetry to us with an old world grace and seemed to have a verse ready for every occasion. Even Blanche[162] came in for her share of poetry as the Judge helped himself to another and yet another popover:

"'My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but oh, my soul is white!'"

Blanche smiled on him as though at last she had found someone who really understood her.

After luncheon we repaired to the piazza where Zebedee and the Judge could enjoy their cigars and the family guitar was produced at the instigation of the host, hoping to persuade the Judge to give us some of his fine old ballads. The Tucker guitar was something of a joke, as none of them could really play on it; but it was always kept in perfect order if not in perfect tune and placed in a conspicuous place. "Ready for an emergency if one should arise in anyone else," explained Dum. Dee could thrum out an accompaniment, if it happened to be a very simple one with only one or two changes. Dum knew part of the Spanish Fandango, learned from a teacher who had struggled with the family once when they had determined that a musical education was[163] necessary. Zebedee, who had a very good voice and a true ear, could tell when the guitar was out of tune but never could tune it to his satisfaction; but when someone else got it in tune he could put up a very good imitation of following himself in his favourite song of "Danny Deever."

The Judge jumped to the instrument as a trout to a fly and held it with a loving embrace.

"Gad, Tucker, but this is a good guitar!" and with a practiced hand and ear he quickly had it in tune.

"Sing, do sing!" we pleaded.

"All right, I'll sing to all of you five girls if you will excuse an old man's faults. My voice is not what it used to be, but the heart is the same and

"'No matter what you do if your heart be true,
And his heart was true to Poll.'

"This song I am going to sing is one I have always loved and it seems to be singularly appropriate for all of you young ladies, who, last night as I peeped into the ballroom, showed promise of what you might be. But this morning I find you[164] back 'Where the brook and river meet.' I can't tell whether it is because of the absence of the gallant swains or a mere matter of rearrangement of tresses."

Harvie and Shorty had gone to the camp for luncheon and to go crabbing with the boys, which was rather a relief, as Dum declared we could not have boys all the time without getting bored. Certainly on the morning after the hop we were glad just to be little girls again and not have to play "lady come to see" for a while at least. Dear old Judge Grayson and Zebedee were singularly restful after the friskings of the youths, and Miss Cox very calming as she sat on the piazza, an exalted expression on her good face, stitching, stitching on wedding clothes. All of us had undertaken to help her but mighty botches I am afraid we made of it, all except Annie Pore. She could take tiny stitches if shown exactly where to put them, but she was afraid to take the initiative even in sewing. Dum could design patterns for embroidery and Dee could tie wonderful bows; Mary was great on button-holes; I could not even sew carpet rags together well enough to pass muster,[165] but I was very willing and did my poor best.

In his high, sweet old tenor the Judge began to sing:

"'My love she's but a lassie yet,
A lightsome, lovely lassie yet;
It scarce wad do
To sit and woo
Down by the stream sae glassy yet.

"'But there's a braw time coming yet,
When we may gang a-roaming yet;
An' hint wi' glee
O' joys to be,
When fa's the modest gloaming yet.

"'She's neither proud nor saucy yet,
She's neither plump nor gaucy yet;
But just a jinking,
Bonny blinking,
Hilty-skilty lassie yet.

"'But O, her artless smile's mair sweet
Then hinny or than marmalete;
An' right or wrang,
Ere it be lang,
I'll bring her to a parley yet.

"'I'm jealous o' what blesses her,
The very breeze that kisses her,
The flowery beds
On which she treads,
[166]Though wae for ane that misses her.

"'Then O, to meet my lassie yet
Up in yon glen sae grassy yet;
For all I see
Are naught to me,
Save her that's but a lassie yet.'"

All of us sat very quietly as the old man finished his quaint, sweet song. Zebedee looked very shiny-eyed and I rather guessed he was thinking of his Tweedles, although he did look at me. I fancy he knew that I understood him and his anxiety about his dear girls. It is no joke to be the father of sixteen-year-old twins and only about thirty-six yourself. Dum and Dee were developing very rapidly and they had looked so grown-up at the hop and had conducted themselves so like young ladies that their anxious parent was troubled for fear their womanhood was upon him. He would rather see them romping hoydens than the sedate young ladies they seemed to be turning into. No wonder he had tipped Blanche with the shiny fifty-cent piece. Had she not put his mind at rest for the time being at least? They were certainly girlish enough looking on that day, even boyish looking as they[167] crowded each other out of the hammock, both intent on getting the middle.

"That's fine, Judge, give us another!" begged Zebedee, but the bard insisted upon Miss Cox's putting down her sewing and singing; and then Annie Pore must give us Annie Laurie; and so the lazy afternoon passed with songs and many good stories drawn from our guest by the tactful Zebedee.

Judge Grayson just naturally loved horses and next to being with them was talking about them. He had many delightful stories to tell of horses he had known and horses he had owned. He insisted that no horse was naturally vicious but always ruined in some way by its trainer, and no horse was irretrievably ruined if just the right person could get hold of it and by kindness bring it to reason. I had always felt that and of course this theory appealed to Dee, who thought much worse of humanity than animality, as she called it.

"The first horse I ever owned was the first horse I ever loved and he was in a way the best horse I ever owned," said the Judge, addressing his remarks to Dee who was all attention. "Dobbin[168] was the very ordinary name for a very extraordinary horse. My father gave him to me when I was six years old. I say gave him to me but what really occurred was that I was presented to Dobbin. For if ever man was owned by an animal, Dobbin owned me. He was an old circus horse and his intelligence was far beyond that of the average human. He was milk white with pink nostrils and eyes, a real Albino, in fact. His legs were perfectly formed, his head small and very well shaped, his back broad and flat as though especially made for bare-back riding. If you fell off him it was your own fault, and no more was he to be blamed than a bed that you happen to roll out of. Indeed his gaits were so smooth that you might easily go to sleep on him. His temper was perfect and his character very decided and firm. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and he also knew that his judgment was much better than a child's. I shall never forget the first time I got on his back. My father was going to have me taught to ride by our old coachman, but in the meantime I was given the duty and pleasure of feeding my horse myself. I[169] had only owned him a day and already I would have foundered him on oats if it had not been for his own superior intelligence and judgment. He ate what he considered proper and then deliberately turned over the bucket and puffed and blew and pawed until even the chickens had a hard time pecking up the scattered grain."

And here the old man laughed and took another cigar Zebedee offered him, pausing in his narrative while he bit off the end and lit it.

"But how about the first time you rode him?" demanded Dee.

"I'm coming to that. He was a very high horse, was Dobbin, so high that it was a tall mount for a grown man and of course it was seemingly impossible for a little boy to climb up on such a mountain, but get up I did. My father came out on the gallery and there I was as proud as Punch perched on the broad back of my snow-white steed. 'You rascal!' he shouted. 'Who put you up there?' 'Dobbin put me here,' I answered, and so he had, but my father could not believe it until Dobbin and I demonstrated the fact for him. I slid down the shapely leg of my circus horse[170] and then he lowered his head and I nimbly climbed up his neck and landed safely on his back. I can still hear my father laugh and then all the household was called out to witness this great feat, and my mother brought out sugar to feed my pet. She pulled down his head and whispered in his ear, 'Be careful of my boy, Dobbin! I am going to trust him to you, do you understand?' and Dobbin whinnied an answer and blew in my mother's hair with his pink nostrils. After that he felt that he was a kind of nurse for me and he certainly did make me walk chalk," and the old man chuckled in delighted memory.

"Tell us more about him," pleaded Dee. "He must have been darling."

"Well, sometimes he was right annoying. For instance, he saw to it that I minded my black mammy. One of Mammy's rules was that I could play in the mud all I wanted to in the morning, but in the afternoon when I was dressed in my clean linen shirt and little white piquet pants, I had to keep clean. The mud attracted me as much in the afternoon as morning, and sometimes I would lose track of time and would begin to[171] mix my delectable pies in spite of my spotless attire. Do you know that old horse many and many a time has come up behind me and gently but firmly caught me by my collar or the seat of my breeches, whichever presented itself handiest, and after giving me a little shake put me out of temptation? He never was known to do it in the morning when I was in my blue jean jumpers. Why, that horse knew morning from afternoon and jeans from white linen. He was a great disciplinarian, I can tell you. My mother would let me go anywhere just so Dobbin was of the party. She knew perfectly well he would take care of me. Had he not told her so as plainly as a horse could speak, and that is pretty plain to those who understand horse talk."

Dee nodded approval and muttered: "Dog talk, too!"

"We had an old basket phaeton with a rumble (they don't make them now-a-days) and in the afternoon in summer my sister and I would hitch up old Dobbin and go off for a picnic in the beech woods. Sam, my body servant and private property, perched in the rumble and Dilsey, my[172] sister's maid, crouched at our feet. Dobbin would jog along until he found what he considered a suitable spot for a picnic and then he would stop, and no matter how we felt about it, out we had to get. Nothing would budge Dobbin. He would look at us and whinny as much as to say that he had forgotten more about picnic places than we could ever hope to know and no doubt he was right.

"He usually stopped at a very nice spot where there was plenty of shade and a spring and maybe some luscious blue grass for him to nibble at. He was never tied but allowed to roam at his own sweet will. When the shadows lengthened, he would turn the phaeton around, with his nose headed for home, and as the sun touched the horizon he would send forth a warning neigh, gentle at first but if his voice was not hearkened to, more peremptory and then quite sharp. He would give us about five minutes and then he would start for home. I tell you there would be scrambling then to get in the phaeton, as none of us relished the thought of walking home, getting in late to supper and making the necessary explanations to[173] the grown-ups. One time Dilsey almost got left, having loitered behind in a fit of stubbornness. 'I's plum wo' out wif dis here brute beas' a bossin' er me!' she panted as she clambered over the wheel and sank on the floor of the phaeton. 'Ef'n he was mine I'd lay him out.' With that ole Dobbin turned his head around in the shafts, looked sternly at the girl, and deliberately switched her with his tail until she cried out for mercy, 'Lawsamussy, Marse Dobbin, I's jes a foolin',' and then that old horse gave a whinny more like laughing than anything you ever heard and trotted peacefully home."

The old man stopped and shook the ashes from his cigar. "Yes, yes, I loved that old horse as much as I did Mammy, and God knows Mammy was next to my parents in my affection. Not have souls! Why, I as firmly believe I am going to meet Dobbin when I cross the river as I am Mammy."

At that, Dee Tucker got up out of the hammock and went over and hugged and kissed the old Judge, and Zebedee and Dum both wiped the tears from their eyes. I felt like it, too, but then[174] tears are not mine to command as they are the Tuckers'.

Certainly the Judge had touched us all with his story. I wanted to ask him more about Dobbin but I was afraid the next thing would be Dobbin's death, as he must have been old when he was presented to the little boy, and somehow I felt none of us could bear up over the dear old horse's death. It must have been more than sixty years since those picnics in the beech woods, but you felt that in Judge Grayson's mind it was but as yesterday.




Harvie and Shorty came in that afternoon with a great basket of crabs for supper and countenances like boiled lobsters. Sunburn is as much a part of the seashore as sand and water, and sometimes it is even more in evidence. You can escape from the sand and water by going indoors and pulling down the blinds, but your sunburned nose you have to take with you.

The boys also brought the mail, a letter for Annie and one for me. My letter contained the bad news that my dear father could not come to the beach, after all, as Sally Winn was trying in dead earnest to die, and could not do it without Dr. Allison. Annie's letter had, I am ashamed to say, not such very good news, either, as it said that Mr. Pore had decided to come to Willoughby for a few days. We girls secretly dreaded this visit. We could not help knowing[176] that Mr. Pore was very stiff and strait-laced, and we feared the effect he might have on poor little Annie. Annie was having such a good time and it did seem a pity to interrupt it.

"I do wish Zebedee would not be so promiscuous with his invitations," stormed Dum, who was escorting me as far as the hotel where I was going to pay a duty call on Cousin Park. "He was certainly not called on to ask this old dried-up Englishman down here. He could have been polite without being so effusive. It is going to ruin things for Annie, I just know."

"Maybe it won't," I suggested, speaking for moderation that I did not feel. "Harvie Price says he is a very cultivated, interesting man."

"Oh, yes, I know the kind! I bet you he says position for job; and rabble for mob; retires when he goes to bed; and arises when he gets up; calls girls, maidens; women, females; ladies, gentlewomen; birds, feathered songsters; and dogs, canines. Ugh! I just know he is going to be a wet blanket."

"Well, Dum, your father got on with him and[177] seemed to like him very much. Maybe we can hit it off with him, too."

"Oh, that's nothing! Zebedee can get on with human oysters and clams and make animated pokers unbend. Why, that young father of ours is such a mixer he could even make ice cream and crabs agree. But that's no sign that Annie's paternal parent is not going to be a difficult guest. If it only had been dear Dr. Allison coming instead!"

I agreed with her there, but I tried to make impulsive, hot-headed Dum feel that the best thing we could do was to try to see the good in Mr. Pore for Annie's sake if not for his own. I was dying to tell her of the interesting things that Annie had divulged to me about her family, but a confidence is a confidence and must be respected as such. For my part, it seemed foolish to keep such an item as being kin to the nobility so strictly a secret. I don't believe that many Virginians would feel that being granddaughter to a baronet and great-granddaughter to an earl, something to be hid under a bushel. I fancy that Annie felt her clothes and general manner[178] of living to be rather incongruous to such greatness.

We found Cousin Park ensconsed on the porch in a steamer chair, knitting an ugly grey shawl with purple scallops, while Mabel Binks, who had returned from her expedition to Newport News with Wink, danced attendance on the pompous lady.

"I bet she's got an axe to grind!" muttered Dum. "What do you fancy Mabel wants to get out of your cousin?"

"I can't imagine, but I'll take my hat off to her if she gets it," I laughed. "Please come on and call with me. I can't face Mabel and Cousin Park at the same time," I begged Dum, and she good-naturedly complied, although I know she hated it.

Cousin Park greeted us with what was meant to be a cordial manner, and Mabel was almost effusive as she got us chairs and took upon herself to do the honours of the hotel porch.

"I rather expected you this morning, Page," said Cousin Park, looking over her spectacles at me. This habit of my relative of looking over[179] her spectacles at you would have made a person as mild as a May morning appear fierce, and its effect on Cousin Park's far from mild countenance was disconcerting in the extreme; but I did not feel nearly so uncomfortable with her as I had heretofore. Had I not seen her tap Judge Grayson with her turkey-tail fan, and listen with a pleasure that seemed almost human to the old man's recitation of the poem?

"We slept so late after the dance that there was no time to do anything this morning, and then Judge Grayson came to luncheon and that kept us all the early part of the afternoon. I also had a letter to write today."

"Ah, a very pleasant, well-mannered man, the Judge," said Cousin Park. "The legal profession should be proud of such a representative." Dum and I smothered a giggle at this, as Zebedee had confided to us that our charming old friend was only judge by courtesy. We said nothing, however. Far be it from us to lessen his dignity by one jot or tittle.

"We are to have another guest tomorrow," broke in Dum, in order to change the subject[180] from Judge Grayson's doubtful legal rights. "Mr. Pore, Annie's father, is coming to visit us."

Mrs. Garnett snorted and Mabel's lip curled, but they said nothing to Dum. However, the minute my friend left us, which she did after a moment to speak to an acquaintance she spied at the other end of the long porch, their eloquence was opened up on me.

"I can't see why Jeffry Tucker should ask such a man to stay in the house with an Allison. I am told he is nothing but a little country store-keeper, just the commonest kind of Englishman, lower middle class, no doubt. It is bad enough to have his daughter, although she is very pretty and seems well mannered; but such acquaintances that cannot be continued in later life should be discouraged. I never did approve of your going to Gresham, but Sue Lee, with the democratic notions that she has picked up in Washington, insisted that it would be best for you to make a wide acquaintance. I thought a select home school where there were accommodations for very few girls would be much more desirable. One would at least know who the persons were[181] you were meeting and you would be spared such embarrassing situations as you are now finding yourself in. I think you had better excuse yourself and come to the hotel and visit me. I could take you in my room without much inconvenience to myself."

"Thank you, Cousin Park! I would not inconvenience you even a little bit for the world, nor would I leave my friends until my visit with them is finished. Annie Pore is as much my friend as she is the Tuckers', and I love her dearly and have found her a perfect lady on all occasions. Mr. Tucker is acquainted with Mr. Pore and his judgment as to who is a suitable person to introduce to us is to be relied on implicitly. Mr. Pore is not a common Englishman at all but a very cultivated, highly-educated gentleman." How I did long to spring Sir Isaac Pore and the Earl of Garth on them! There are times when I wish I did not have such a keen sense of honour. It certainly does restrict your actions and words at very inconvenient moments.

"He may be educated but hardly a gentleman," said Cousin Park, dropping stitches in her indignation.[182] "One would hardly find a gentleman weighing out lard and drawing kerosene from a barrel for his darkey customers, and that is what Miss Binks tells me this Pore is accustomed to do."

"Ah!" I thought, "I fancied I could see Mabel Binks' fine Italian hand in this. She has never forgiven Annie since the Seniors gave her a cheer when she arrived at Gresham, all because the shy little English girl stood up for herself and downed the dashing Mabel with the retort courteous."

"I quite agree with you, Mrs. Garnett, about Gresham's being entirely too democratic. My mother was shocked when I told her of some of the ordinary looking, badly dressed girls Miss Peyton had allowed to enter. It used to be quite select. I am glad I am through. I am dying to come out this next winter," continued Mabel. "Richmond society is so charming. I envy these girls who can come out there. I have a cousin who lives there but she is not one bit sociable and it is not very much fun to visit her." I was beginning to see Mabel's axe as her grinding was quite evident.[183]

"I shall be glad to have you visit me," said Cousin Park. "I have not chaperoned a girl for some years, but no doubt I could make you have a very nice time."

"Oh, how lovely of you!" and Mabel's expression was indeed triumphant as she picked up Cousin Park's ball of purple yarn and restored it to that lady's rather precarious lap. I could have told Mabel that it was not such a sweet boon as she fancied: to visit the grand Garnett mansion. I thought of Jeremiah, the blue-gummed butler, with his solemn air of officiating at a funeral; of the oiled walnut furniture with its heavy uncomfortable carving, sure to hit you in the small of the back if you sought repose in one of the stiff hair cloth covered chairs, or to find a tender place on your shins when you passed a bureau or bed. I thought of the interminable, heavy dinners: roast mutton and starchy vegetables topped off with plum pudding or something equally rich and filling. I could fancy the line of family portraits, hung high against the ceiling, looking their disapproval at the far from dignified Mabel and plainly showing their wonderment[184] that she should have found her way into their august presence.

Those old portraits will little dream how much Mabel had fetched and carried for that invitation; how many cushions she had arranged and rearranged behind the plump back of the present owner of the portraits; how many tiresome moments she had spent holding the skeins of grey and purple yarn for Mrs. Garnett to wind her fat knitting balls. She had also gathered bits of pleasing gossip to retail to the willing ear of my relative. Cousin Park was the type ever ready and delighted to be scandalized. The day after the sail that we had spent in dough masks, Mabel had evidently spent in the mask of a lively, agreeable, obliging girl, doing everything in her power to make herself attractive to her possible hostess. Success was hers! A long visit in Richmond in her debutante winter with one of the wealthiest members of society meant a good deal to that young lady. Mabel's mother belonged to a very good family but her father's name, Binks, is enough to show that at least he was not of the F. F. V's. Wink White, who was a cousin of[185] Mrs. Binks, had confided to me that he rather preferred Mr. Binks to Mrs.

"The fact that she married old Binks for his money and now is ashamed of him shows about what kind Cousin Florence is," he had said.

Having said all I could say in defense of Mr. Pore, and having played so well into Mabel's hands that, by giving her a chance to agree so readily and heartily with Cousin Park, her invitation had come much more easily than she had dared to hope, I felt sure, I now took my departure with Dum. It should have made no difference to me how many visits Mabel Binks would pay in Richmond, but it did. I well knew what her game was there: she was determined to attract Mr. Jeffry Tucker, and had been from the moment she had seen him at Gresham, when he took Tweedles there to enter them at school. I well knew that Zebedee gave her not a moment's thought, but if she pursued him enough he might change his mind about her. She was certainly handsome and quite bright and entertaining. Tweedles would not be there to protect their young father and he was but human, very human,[186] in fact. I felt depressed on the way back to our cottage, so much so that Dum noticed it and begged me to cheer up.

"Your cousin is enough to make you blue, but remember that everyone has some scrubby kin. Just think of poor Annie and what oceans of spirits we will have to produce to drown her sorrow and depression when her respected parent arrives!"

I threw off my gloom the best I could and let Dum go on thinking it was Cousin Park who had cast the spell over me. I knew quite well that if I even hinted at Mabel and her machinations, Tweedles would refuse to go back to Gresham but stay in Richmond all winter to guard their precious Zebedee.




Mr. Pore was much more attractive than we had expected. Things in this life hardly ever come up to your expectations, either good or bad, which sounds as though I were still brooding over Mabel's proposed visit to Cousin Park and the possible enthralling of Zebedee. I remind myself of the Irishman who had raised a particularly fat pig from which he expected to realize great wealth. He took it to town on market day to sell. On the way home he met a neighbour who genially inquired:

"And how mooch did your pig be after weighing, Paddy?"

"Not as mooch as I thart it would,—and I thart it wouldn't," added Paddy pessimistically.

In the first place, Mr. Pore was handsome. He had a stately dignity and an aristocratic bearing that all the weighing of lard and drawing of[188] molasses in the world could not lessen. His forehead was intellectual; his eyes piercing; his nose aquiline and rather haughty; his mouth a little petulant with a pathetic droop at the corners; and his chin (rather indicative of his character, I fancy, and explaining why he was keeping a country store at Price's Landing instead of taking that place in the world to which by birth and education he was entitled), his chin decidedly receded. In doing so, however, it gave you to understand that it retreated in good order and was unconvinced. I mean that it had that stubborn look that receding chins sometimes do have. After all, stubbornness was the key-note of Mr. Pore's character, rather than weakness. I had gathered that much from what Annie had divulged to me that night at Gresham when she had opened the box with her dead mother's dress in it and found the note from her mother, with the twenty-five dollars pinned in the sleeve.

He was dressed in what books call decent black. Certainly there was nothing about him to make anyone doubt he was a perfect gentleman, even had they been unaware of the fact that only one[189] life stood between him and a title. He was so excessively English that it was hard to believe that he had spent the last fifteen years in a little settlement on the James River, never hearing his native tongue in all that time, perhaps. Our spoken language was very different from his, although I have heard it said that Virginians and Kentuckians and Bostonians come nearer to speaking the real English than any other Americans. We may come nearer than others but we are still far off from the kind of English that Mr. Arthur Ponsonby Pore spoke. I thought of Cousin Park and her "lower middle class" to which she had consigned the gentleman, and wished that he might just once look at her and Mabel through the gold pince nez that straddled his aristocratic, aquiline nose!

Zebedee had gone over to Norfolk to meet his guest, and under his genial influence I fancy Mr. Pore had somewhat melted; but his demeanor was still rather icy. He went through the introduction to Miss Cox and all of us girls as though it had been a court ceremony, and then turning to Annie, he gave her a little Arthur Ponsonby peck[190] in lieu of a kiss. Shaking his hand, Dee declared was like grasping an old pump handle when the sucker is worn out. You take hold thinking you are to meet with some resistance, but instead, the handle flies up and you find yourself foolishly shaking it up and down with no chance of getting any returns for your trouble. The Tuckers were famous hand-shakers, as all their friends knew, but doubtless Mr. Pore was unprepared for such a vigorous grasp from young ladies.

I found nothing to complain of in his manner of greeting me. Not being such a hearty hand-shaker as Tweedles, I put my hand in his and left him to do the shaking. This he did not do, but he gave my hand a slight pressure and gazed earnestly into my eyes. So earnest and burning was his glance that I felt almost confused, but I thought that no doubt Annie had told him of her confiding in me about her birth and he felt some interest because of her affection for me.

As we took our seats on the porch, Mr. Pore's chair was by mine and still he gazed at me with his piercing, melancholy eyes.[191]

"Did I hear your name aright? Was it not Miss Page Allison?"

"Yes, sir! I am Annie's friend from Gresham. We have been intimate from the day we entered school."

"Yes, yes! I know much of you and your courtesy. But tell me, Miss Allison, are you American?" (His American was so different from ours one could almost spell it A-m-e-h-r-i-k-e-n.)

"Yes, Mr. Pore, I am American, but my mother was English."

"Ah! I thought as much. Her name was Lucy Page, was it not?"

"Yes," I answered, wondering at his knowledge of my mother's name.

"Oh, Page! Page! Only think of it!" exclaimed Annie impulsively. "Lucy Page was my mother's little friend, the one who lent her the slippers to wear to the Charity Bazaar," and her enthusiasm went unrebuked by her father. Indeed, he seemed almost as excited as Annie. The poor man had been a long time away from persons who knew him and whom he knew and he had the absurd notion that very few "Amehrikens" were[192] his social equal; now he found that his daughter had made friends with the child of his wife's old friend.

"To think of it, to think of it! My word, but it is strange! I knew the moment I saw you that I had seen either you or your counterpart before. Tell me, child, all about your mother, and your grandfather, Major Page. What a fine old soldier he was!"

And so I sat on the porch by this strange, stiff Englishman, no longer stiff, but positively limber, Dum declared, and told all I knew of my poor little mother and the fine old soldier, her father. They had come to America to look up some investments made by the retired Army officer, had settled near Warrenton and there had met my father,—and the marriage had ensued.

"All I have left of my old English grandfather is his hat-tub, which I still use when I am at Bracken," I said.

"My word, how I should like to own one! I have not seen a hat-tub for twenty years," he sighed. "But tell me, Miss Allison, do you never[193] see nor hear from your mother's family in England?"

"I think all correspondence with them died a natural death many years ago. Father used to write once a year to a great-aunt, Gwendoline was her name, but she died; after that some of her daughters wrote once or twice and then stopped. I don't even know whether they are alive and I fancy they neither know nor care whether I am."

"I have never seen a more striking likeness than you have to your mother. She was much younger than my wife when I knew her. We had all been visiting at the home of the Earl of Garth, my wife's uncle. Little Lucy Page was really not old enough to be out of the nursery, certainly should have been in charge of a governess; but Major Page had his own ideas about such things and took his daughter wherever he went. She was about sixteen, I fancy."

"Just your age!" tweedled the Tuckers, who had been listening, with open mouths and eyes, in speechless silence to Mr. Pore's revelations. When he spoke of the Earl of Garth as his wife's[194] uncle they looked, as poor dear Blanche expressed it, "fittin' to bust." And then when in the most casual manner he let drop that his own father was a baronet, I know it was a relief to them that the hammock rope broke at the crucial moment and they were precipitated to the floor with Mary Flannagan who was between them.

"If something had not happened and happened pretty quick 'a kersplosion was eminent,'" whispered Dee to me. "And now I am going to beat it to the hotel as fast as my legs can carry me and let that hateful Mabel Binks know that she has been nasty to the nobility. Oh, I am going to be tactful and not let her know I came for the express purpose. I am going to ask her to tea and be generally sweet, and then just casually let it drop that Mr. Pore knew your mother while all of them were visiting at an earl's, and that said earl was Mrs. Pore's uncle. I'll rub in that it means that our modest, little English friend, called by Mabel and her ilk Orphan Annie, is the great-granddaughter of an earl on her mother's side and the granddaughter of a baronet on her father's."[195]

All this Dee whispered to me while the hammock was being tied up more securely by Zebedee. The solemn Englishman was evidently much amused by the mishap, as he laughed in a manner almost hilarious for one so dignified and sober. I have always heard an accident like that spoken of as an English joke, and truly it did seem to strike him as very funny.

Harvie Price and Shorty made their appearance soon after. Harvie greeted Mr. Pore with great respect and in a few moments they were conversing most affably about Harvie's grandfather, General Price, and news of the settlement.

Mr. Pore seemed to like the boy and Harvie evidently liked him. Once he had told me that he admired Mr. Pore greatly as one who could think in Latin.

It was easy to see that Mr. Pore was not going to be such a difficult visitor, after all. He had evidently decided that we were good enough socially for him, because of my mother's having been at the Earl of Garth's. He had already admitted Harvie to his exclusive circle since he had[196] permitted Annie to play with him when they were children. He liked Zebedee and Zebedee's cigars and Zebedee's children, who cracked such delicious jokes in falling out of hammocks. Altogether he intended to have a very pleasant weekend. I fancied he was a little sorry that he had spoken of his connections, as it was a subject he evidently had not touched on to strangers, but it had slipped out in his delight in meeting someone he considered of his world, that world that he had turned his back on so many years before but the world to which he still belonged. He had never identified himself with his "Amehriken" neighbours and had always held himself as an alien among them.

Annie looked a little startled and very happy. This was a new father to her, a genial gentleman who actually talked to her friends and admitted having titled connections in the old country. He had not censured her once and now he was talking to Harvie with actual affability.

"Oh, Page," she whispered to me, "how glad I am I accepted your slippers that night of the musicale at Gresham. You remember I said to[197] you that my mother had borrowed slippers, too, when she had worn that dress, and that she did not mind borrowing them because she knew her friend loved her. To think of that friend's being your mother! Oh, Page, I am so happy!"




Dee must have laid it on rather thick with Mabel Binks, as anything like that young woman's change of manner towards Annie could not have been brought about by a light touch. I am afraid Dee represented Mr. Pore's brother, the present baronet, as in the last stages of some wasting disease, and by some juggling of facts in regard to English titles gave the impression that Annie was in a fair way to become the Duchess of Marlborough or at least the Honourable Anne. She afterwards told Dum and me when we accused her of not having drawn it mild, that she had neglected to tell Mabel the exact connection with the earl, but had hinted that it was very close and one likely to lead to untold honours to our little friend.

"I saw to it that your haughty relative, Mrs. Garnett, was informed of the coincidence of Annie's[199] mother and your mother being friends and of their being at the house party of the big bugs together. Mrs. Garnett was duly impressed and somewhat astonished, intimating that her cousin, Dr. Allison, had picked up an English wife with no connections to speak of. She will evidently have a higher opinion of you now that she knows that your mother and grandfather were on visiting terms with an earl."

Dee pretended to be in jest about Cousin Park, but it was the truth that she had always rather looked down on my mother for not being Virginian. She never lost the chance to inform any stranger when I was introduced that my name was not the Virginia Pages. With her, F. F. V's were the first and last and only families worth considering in the Union or out of it. Of course, English nobility was in a way admirable, since it had given birth to F. F. V.dom, but the claim of inhabitants of any other state to aristocracy was brushed aside with scornful disdain.

I remember a story my father used to tell of an old gentleman who said he considered it very bad taste to ask any man where he came from.[200] "If he is a Virginian, he is sure to let you know it without your asking, and if he is not, there is no use in rubbing it in on the poor fellow by making him own up to it."

Mabel's being invited to supper was a question that had been discussed up and down by the Tuckers, principally down; but they had finally determined that it was on the whole up to them. Dee had been appointed inviter as being the tactful member of the team, and Mabel naturally jumped at the chance, overlooking the fact that she did not consider us properly chaperoned.

Her politeness and cordiality to Annie were entirely unlooked for by that shy maiden, who almost fainted from astonishment; and she actually gushed over Mr. Pore. He looked at her for a moment through his ultra gold glasses and then, deciding that she was nothing but a vulgar "Amehriken," he never seemed to see her again, although he was forced to hear her very often. She addressed many remarks to him and tried in every way to make him notice her, but an "Aw, reahly!" was about all she could get from him.

"I simply adore the English!" she exclaimed.[201] "They have so much reserve. Do you know, my grandfather Binks was English, and indeed he never lost his accent although he lived in this country for a great many years. I remember so well how he dropped his aitches and put them on in the most unexpected places."

"Aw, reahly now!"

"Aren't you and your sweet daughter going back to England soon? You don't know how we dote on your little Annie," and so on and so on, until it was indeed sickening. It was easy to see that Miss Binks was as anxious to get an invitation to England as she had been to Richmond, while Mr. Pore was entirely unconscious of what she was driving at. He looked upon her as some kind of escaped lunatic and Annie sat in open-eyed wonderment, expecting every moment to be insulted as of yore.

They did not dream of Dee's having turned the tables on Mabel Binks as she had done. Mr. Pore was still the country store-keeper and Annie was the same shy girl with her wardrobe as limited as ever, but the wily Dee had turned them into dukes and duchesses in Mabel's eyes, and the[202] snobbish creature was grovelling at the feet of the nobility. I have never seen two persons have as much fun as Tweedles did that evening. They were very quiet but spent the time "sicking Mabel on," as Dee expressed it.

I was pleased to see that Annie did not unbend in the least to her one-time persecutor. In spite of Annie's shyness she had a dignity that was most admirable; and while she was perfectly polite to Mabel, she permitted no advances. Getting invitations to England to visit in grand country houses that still belong to older brothers was certainly up-hill work. Winding purple and grey yarn for Mrs. Garnett and fetching and carrying for her, even agreeing with her at every point, was child's play to this thing of flattering a middle-aged Englishman who seemed to have no conversation at his command but "Aw, reahly!" or "My word!" and trying to undo the work of the last year and make a little English girl forget all the rudeness she had suffered at the hands of her persistent tormentor.

I kept wondering how about the lard and molasses that the middle-aged Englishman would[203] perhaps spend the rest of his life weighing out and drawing from the barrel for his negro customers as well as white; also if Mrs. Binks would still think Gresham too democratic in the class of pupils it enrolled. I so naturally hate a snob that I did not have a pleasant evening at all, and I could not quite see the fun in it that Tweedles did.

I was glad when it was over and we could stretch out on our cots with the pure sea air blowing on us, and, lulled by the soothing sound of the waves lapping the shore, sleep the sleep of the just. We could be thankful, at least, that Mabel Binks was, after all, none of us and when we left Willoughby Beach we might never have to see her again.

As we lay side by side, all of us so quiet that one would have thought sleep held us fast, there was a sudden upheaval from Mary's cot and a sound that might have been sobbing.

"Mary! Mary! What is it?" we demanded. "Are you ill?" And then the possible sobs turned into unmistakable giggles.

"Oh! Oh! Oh! I can't get to sleep for thinking[204] of Mr. Pore's countenance when Mabel told him of her Binks grandfather who dropped his aitches." Then we all went off into shrieks of laughter that very little would have turned into hysterics, if Zebedee had not knocked sternly on our dressing-room door and bade us remember that we had other guests. Of course he meant we must not do anything to make Mr. Pore think we were not perfect ladies, so we subsided with only an occasional upheaval and a smothered snicker.

And while we lay there I thought of a title for a short story and almost got a plot worked out; but I went to sleep before it was quite clear. The title was: "The Machinations of Mabel."




July was almost over and it seemed but yesterday since we had come to the Beach and taken possession of Mrs. Rand's cottage and made preparations for the continuous house-party. So many pleasures and excitements had been crowded into that month that really might have been spread over six months and still not have been stupid! It seems a pity that pleasant happenings make time pass quickly and sad and boresome things make it drag. How much better if it could only be the other way. I know Miss Cox felt that the month had gone very quickly and would have been glad of a few more weeks to give to preparations for matrimony, but Mr. Robert Gordon had got the bit between his teeth and there was no holding him in.

"Haven't I been waiting for years and years? Isn't my hair white with waiting?" he would say,[206] shaking his exceedingly becoming, iron-grey locks.

We girls privately thought that he might have spunked up a little sooner instead of spending all those weary years in growing grey, no matter how becoming it had proven to be; but Zebedee told me he rather felt that Miss Cox and Mr. Gordon were more suited to each other than they had been in their youth. The years of separation had taught them a lesson they might never have learned together: how to control their tempers and bridle their tongues.

I have never seen a couple who seemed to be in greater accord and harmony. It was a harmony of the soul and one that would last through eternity, not just a superficial agreement caused by the "glamor of the amour." Perhaps Zebedee was right and their happiness was more certain now that suffering and experience had instilled in their hearts the wisdom of moderation and self-control.

It was to be a very quiet wedding at old St. Paul's in Norfolk, but we girls were in a state of excitement that made Miss Cox appear calm[207] in contrast. The boys from the camp were invited and a half dozen of Mr. Gordon's most intimate friends.

Miss Cox was singularly alone in the world except for some very dear friends who were not getatable. Mr. Gordon's mother was dead and his sister married and living in California, so we were, after all, the nearest thing to a family they could scrape up. The groom wanted Zebedee for his best man but Miss Cox had to have him to give her away and a next best man must needs be chosen.

Blanche, of course, had to be included in the wedding party, and it was with a great deal of finesse that we persuaded her not to wear the fearful and wonderful costume she had arrived in. Zebedee solved the problem of how to do it by presenting her with a very large new black mohair skirt and a plain, tailored linen shirt waist and a black sailor hat.

"If poor, dear Blanche has a hankering for her gorgeous finery, tell her that she must wear this sober costume to please me. I know she would not hurt my feelings for anything. Also tell her[208] that it would be perfectly au fait for her to go to this gay function after the recent bereavement in her family, the untimely death of the brother's baby, provided she is suitably attired. There is a new white apron, too," said Zebedee, handing the box to Dum.

"For goodness' sake, don't ask me to do it!" exclaimed Dum. "Dee is the diplomat and is fully capable of soft-soaping Blanche into thinking that her striped skirt and purple waist are too fine to wear to a mere wedding but must be saved for funerals. I'd do it all wrong and make a mess of it." So Dee consented to be the fashion dictator to the cook if I would go with her and uphold her in her arguments.

"Well, now the generositiness of my employerer is well nigh asphyxiating!" cried the girl. "I have always heard a simplifaction of costumery was the quintillion of excellency. But would it not be more respectful like to Miss Cox if we female maidens adorned of ourselves in more gorgeous affectations?"

"Oh, no! Not at all!" declared Dee quickly. "You see—you see—Miss Cox is going to wear[209] a very simple gown herself—just a traveling dress—and it would not be fair for any of us to dress too finely and—and—attract attention to ourselves when all eyes should be drawn to the bride."

This was a knock-down argument and with a sigh Blanche put away her finery. Donning the plain and appropriate clothes Zebedee had purchased, she made herself ready for what she designated as "the wedding corsage."

I had been to very few weddings, as I believe I have said before. Our part of the country was like the Hereafter in that the inhabitants neither married nor gave in marriage, being composed chiefly of bachelors and old maids, with a sprinkling of widowers and widows who seemed to have found once enough. This wedding was even more exciting to me than my first hop. All of us were nervous except Miss Cox, who was singularly composed. Blanche forgot to put any salt in the batter bread that morning, and Dum came down to breakfast in odd stockings, one black and one tan. As for Zebedee, anyone would think it was his own wedding, he was so upset.[210]

"I don't see why they don't have undertakers for weddings as well as funerals," he exclaimed. "Someone to take all the responsibility and not leave the matter to amateurs! Here I am scared to death for fear the sexton won't remember to open the church in time; that the preacher won't come; that I might lose the ring—by Jove! I have lost it! I told Bob to keep it himself!" and he slapped his pockets frantically and began to turn them inside out. Of course it was in the particular place it should have been, safe in his pocket book; but I know I saw him at least a dozen times go through exactly the same search during the morning, his eyes big with fright and his hands trembling.

I don't know what there is about a wedding to make the masculine gender so panic-stricken, but I am told that there never was a man living who could go through a ceremony (whether it be his own or another's) without showing the white feather. Maybe Brigham Young and Solomon got so used to it they could at least assume composure, but I have my doubts about even those much-married gentlemen.[211]

The trolley was not considered good enough by Mr. Gordon and Zebedee for the wedding party, so we were conveyed to Norfolk in automobiles; and in spite of our host's lugubrious prognostications that we were going to be very late and the preacher would be gone, we arrived many minutes before we were due.

There were a few persons in the church attracted by curiosity and the rumour of a wedding, and Mr. Gordon was waiting for us with his next best man, who had just arrived from South Carolina.

"Gee whiz, I'm glad to see that man!" breathed Zebedee, looking as though a great weight had fallen from him. "Now he can take charge of this confounded ring. This is not in my jurisdiction, anyhow. Whoever heard of the father of the bride having to take care of the ring?" Then he began his usual search for the offending little circlet of gold, crying nervously: "I've lost it! I've lost it this time for sure!" But I reminded him of the pocket book and with a relieved sigh he handed the ring over to the next best man, who assumed the expression of Hercules[212] when Atlas got him to hold the world for a while.

As the bells rang out high noon, we seated ourselves sedately in the front pews. The minister took his stand in the pulpit and the organ pealed forth the wedding march. A little stir in the back and an almost inaudible titter from the strangers who were scattered about the church, caused us to turn to see what was going on, and who should be marching up the aisle, the observed of all observers, but poor, dear Blanche, heading the "wedding corsage"! Only a few yards behind her was Miss Cox on the arm of Zebedee. It was awfully funny, but we were too taken up with the serious matter in hand to know how funny it was until afterwards. "Thank goodness, she hasn't got on her 'costumery'!" whispered Dee.

Mr. Gordon was standing at the altar waiting for his bride, and the best man produced the ring at the proper time without much fumbling. Zebedee gave the bride away with an air of great generosity and then wept shamelessly as was his habit. Miss Cox kept her composure even until[213] she was Mrs. Robert Gordon. The groom shook like an aspen leaf but managed to make his responses in a loud, determined voice.

Over at last, the knot safely tied and Miss Jane Cox no more! By a word from the minister she had been miraculously turned into Mrs. Gordon. She looked very happy as she came down the aisle on the arm of her beaming husband, who had stopped trembling and had begun to prance, at least that is what Dee declared he was doing. Zebedee had stopped weeping and was now in a broad grin, and the next best man was evidently overjoyed to have shifted the burden of the ring to the rightful owner.

How pretty the table was in the private room at the Montecello Hotel where Zebedee gave the wedding breakfast! We all suddenly discovered we had eaten next to no breakfast, and now did our best to make up for lost time. There never were such brisk and attentive and omnipresent waiters anywhere before, I am sure. In addition, now and then we could see the delighted countenance of Blanche, peeping in from an adjoining room where she had assumed the office of ladies'[214] maid to help us off with our imaginary wraps. She felt that at last she was moving in high society and I think bitterly regretted the tabooed finery, especially when she saw the gleaming shirt fronts and Tuxedos of the waiters.

The breakfast was perfect. Had not Tweedles and I spent days going over the menu to be sure we forgot nothing and had everything we should and nothing we shouldn't? Dum came very near spoiling the whole effect because she insisted upon having cakes and molasses.

"You know Zebedee and I like them better than anything and always order them when we eat at hotels. I can't see that it would not be perfectly appropriate. The Montecello hotel would not have them on its menu if it wasn't elegant," she declared as we pored over the printed bill of fare that Zebedee had brought to Willoughby several days before the wedding.

"But, Dum," we explained, "this is not a real breakfast, just a wedding breakfast. It is to be luncheon instead of breakfast."

"All right then, let's have pan-cakes instead[215] of plain cakes! They have those on the luncheon menu."

It took much persuading and arguing to convince Dum that even pan-cakes would not do at a wedding breakfast. I thought once she and Dee would have to resort to trial by combat, a measure they had not had to employ for a long time. They still practiced with the boxing gloves but had not put them on to settle disputes for many a month. They finally appealed to Zebedee, who confessed himself to be no Ladies' Home Advisor as to the proper food to be eaten on such occasions, but said:

"What does Page think?"

"Well, I think that there is nothing in the world better than plain cakes and molasses except maybe pan-cakes and syrup, but somehow it does not seem to me to be very romantic eating for a wedding breakfast."

"The ultimatum is delivered," laughed Zebedee. "If you must have pan-cakes, Dum, for a wedding breakfast you will have to wait until you get a bridegroom of your own,—and I hope that will be many a day, honey."[216]

"All right, if you are all against me," sighed Dum, "I'll give in; but I can't see that broiled chicken and English peas are any more romantic than cakes and molasses,—not as much so, in fact. What could be more romantic than a nice passionate hot cake all smothered in sweet, sticky, loving molasses?"

What we did agree to have was canteloupe, then filet de sole with Parker House rolls, then broiled chicken and peas with pop-overs, a fruit salad with mayonnaise, and last but not least, a great cake with all of the things baked in it that are usual to wedding cakes, and wonderful ice cream in molds appropriate for the occasion.

If anyone felt like kicking, his or her feelings were carefully concealed. Even the bride and groom ate, and as for the boys from the camp,—you would suppose they had been living on hard tack from the way they devoured that wedding breakfast.

Just before the cake was to be cut, the head waiter himself came in, a broad grin on his good-natured countenance and in his hands a great tray laden with orders of hot pan-cakes, a surprise[217] and joke of Zebedee's. It wasn't such a joke, after all, as every last one of those steaming cakes disappeared as if by magic. One would have thought that the guests had had enough, more than enough, in fact, but as Sleepy said, no doubt voicing the sentiment of the crowd:

"When there is no room in me for pan-cakes, then you fellows had better get ready for a funeral. It would be a sure indication of the last stages of a wasting disease."

"Consumption!" suggested Wink. "Consumption of food!"

Zebedee told me he had ordered the cakes because he hated to see Dum disappointed; and then, too, he had a terrible fear that she might get married some time just so she could have pan-cakes at a wedding breakfast.

"I want to keep my girls with me as long as I can, and certainly don't want one of them to marry for the sake of a hot cake. Dum is fully capable of going any lengths to carry her point. Did you see how she squared her chin when you and Dee talked her down?" I hadn't seen it, but[218] I knew full well that when Dum did square her chin she meant business.

Pan-cakes and all were finally cleared away and the cake was cut, with many jests and much laughter. Dee got the ring, Annie the piece of money and Wink the thimble, thereby causing many a merry bit of banter from his friends. He came very near swallowing it, not expecting to find anything in his slice of cake as usually, by some miraculous juggling, the females get the things in the wedding cake.

I had not seen Wink since the night of the hop. He had absented himself from Willoughby, visiting various friends in Suffolk and on the Eastern Shore, and only getting back to the camp in time for the wedding. His absence had been somewhat of a relief to me. I did not know just how he would behave nor was I certain what my attitude should be. I felt that I must treat him as though nothing had happened; but if he was going to show hurt feelings or be silly, I knew I would get embarrassed and stiff.

I had not had a good look at him until we were seated at the table. Then, to my dismay, he was[219] placed next to me. I knew it was up to me to be pleasant, so I waltzed in to be agreeable but not too charming. If only I could make Wink feel as I did! He looked different, somehow, but for a moment I could not account for it; and then it suddenly came over me that Wink was growing a moustache!

I felt like crawling under the table but instead I turned to the gentleman seated on my other side, no other than the next best man, and I am sure that Mabel Binks herself could not have got off a greater fire of small talk than I managed to pour forth. When I told Wink that he would have to grow a moustache before I could be sure of the state of my feelings towards him, I was not in real earnest and he might have known it! I was quite sure at that wedding breakfast what my feelings were: decided resentment. Why could he not realize that I was nothing but a little girl who occasionally played lady?

At any rate I was not going to let a little old moustache composed of a few struggling hairs spoil either my pleasure or my appetite. The next best man proved to be most agreeable and[220] very easy to talk to, and the breakfast was good enough to occupy one without conversation had it been necessary to give your attention only to the matter in hand.

Wink looked rather ruefully at the thimble.

"You'll be darning your own socks 'til Kingdom Come," laughed Sleepy, glad that the joke for once was not on him. Wink sadly acquiesced, and then Zebedee kindly added:

"Maybe that means the kind of thimble Wendy gave Peter Pan, Wink. You remember in that delightful fantasy a thimble was a kiss."

"Well, anyhow, one can't wear a thimble and a mitten at the same time," muttered Wink so that no one heard him but me; and to my dying day I shall hate myself for the way I blushed. It was one of those blushes that hurt. I had a feeling that even my eyes were red. I had just taken the first mouthful of a wonderful molded ice: a pair of white turtle-doves billing and cooing, perched in the heart of a great raspberry sherbet rose. I choked (it must have been on the billing and cooing) and the next best man had to beat me in the back until I could get my breath.[221] I was thankful for the choke and hoped no one had noticed that my crimson countenance had preceded the accident.

And now the toasts were in order. Everyone had to say something no matter how bromidic. "Long life and happiness!" "May your shadows never grow less!" And Dum blurted out: "May you have many more wedding breakfasts!" which caused a perfect storm of applause, as it sounded very much as though she meant marriages for the newly wedded couple. Mary Flannagan got off an impromptu limerick that amused us Gresham girls very much, because we were well aware of the fact that Miss Cox was very unconventional in her ideas and always irritated by narrowness in religion or anything else:

"There was a young lady named Coxy,
Who wished to be married by proxy.
When asked why this wuz,
She said: 'Oh, becuz
I never could stand orthodoxy.'"

Then Wink, who was very clever at everything but growing moustaches, came back very quickly with:[222]

"The groom then he swore and he cust;
'I hate to begin saying "must,"
But I know my dear Jane
Will surely be sane
And be married in church, or I'll bust.'"

There had been some discussion about where they were to be married, Miss Cox rather leaning towards going to some friends in Albemarle, but we had joined Mr. Gordon in talking her out of it.

Zebedee made a wonderful toast master, encouraging the bashful members of the party with so much tact and kindliness that even the timid Annie actually got upon her feet and made a very graceful little speech before she seemed to be aware of the fact that she was really doing it.

Then Sleepy, feeling that if Annie did, he must, too, raised his bulky form, and very much in the tone of a schoolboy saying his piece, almost choking with embarrassment, managed to get out the following:

"May joy and happiness be your lot,
As down the path of life you trot."

We expressed ourselves in various ways, but we were all sincere in wishing well for the Gordons.[223] I, for one, regretted exceedingly that the one person who had ever made me comprehend mathematics was no longer to teach me. I dreaded the coming year, certain that I would have a terrible time with that bug-bear of a subject.

Zebedee's speech was: "There are many kinds of toasts I have always known, dry toast, milk toast, French toast and buttered toast, and these may be hot or cold,—but bless me if we haven't more variety of toasts at this nuptial banquet than were ever dreamed of in my philosophy. One thing I can assert: No one has offered a dry toast nor proffered a cold one. Each has been buttered and piping hot, and the best thing I can wish my two dear friends is that their toast may always be buttered and piping hot!" And he added feelingly: "May you always eat it together!"

Then Mr. Gordon made a very graceful little concession: he actually quoted "Alice in the Looking Glass," substituting Jinny for Alice. This was pretty nice of him, considering that their early and lasting disagreement had been all because of Lewis Carroll's nonsense verses.[224]

"'Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,
And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran;
Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea—
And welcome Queen Jinny with thirty-times-three.

"'Then fill up your glasses with treacle and ink,
Or anything else that is pleasant to drink;
Mix sand with the cider and wool with the wine—
And welcome Queen Jinny with ninety-times-nine!'"

Then Miss Cox arose to answer the toast, and one would have supposed it was some great sonnet in her honour that her new husband had composed, so graciously did she accept the tribute paid her.

"'O Looking Glass creatures,' quoth Jinny, 'draw near!
'Tis an honour to see me, a favour to hear;
'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea
Along with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me!'"




They took a steamer to New York, that Mecca of the newly-wed, and we all adjourned to the pier to wish them God-speed. As the vessel pulled out, Rags produced from his pocket the self-same old tennis shoes that we had found the morning we took possession of Mrs. Rand's cottage, and threw them after the departing couple. They looked very comical as they floated along for a moment like veritable gun-boats and then filled and sank.

"Requiescat in Pace!" muttered Wink. "At least you can't forget them again."

The boys were breaking camp next day, and the day after we were to get ready to turn over the cottage to Mrs. Rand's next tenants. Zebedee bitterly regretted that he had not taken the place for two months, but it was too late now. Besides, his holiday was over and we all well[226] knew that Willoughby would not be quite the same thing with our kind host not there, the boys no longer in their camp, and good Miss Cox married and gone.

Zebedee had to go back to Richmond that night, ready for harness the next morning.

"My, but I dread it!" he exclaimed as he took us over to the trolley to start us back to Willoughby Beach. "I almost wish I had never had a holiday, it is so hard to go back to work. What are stupid old newspapers for, anyhow? Who wants to read them?" This made us smile, as Zebedee is like a raging lion until he gets the morning paper, and then goes through the same rampageous humour later in the day until the afternoon paper appears to assuage his agony. "We journalists get no thanks, anyhow. I agree with the Frenchman who says that a journalist's efforts are no more appreciated than a cook's; no one remembers what he had for yesterday's dinner or what was in yesterday's newspaper."

Blanche listened to Mr. Tucker's words with rapt attention. She always stood at a respectful distance but within easy ear-shot of the conversation,[227] which she eagerly drank in and then commented on later to Tweedles and me. But this too nearly touched her heart for her to wait until we were alone to make her original and characteristic comments.

"Oh, Mr. Tucker, it is so considerable of you to find a symbolarity between the chosen professions of master and handymaiden! Sense I have been conductoring of the curlinary apartment of your enstablishment, I have so often felt the infutility of my labours. What I do is enjoyed only for the momentariness of its consumption, and is never more thought of unless it is to say too rich or something; and then, if it disagrees, poor Blanche is remembered again, and then not to say agree'bly. Sometimes whin I have been placin' clean papers on the kitchen shelves, the same sentimentality has occurred to me that you so apely quotetioned a moment ago, Mr. Tucker; namely, in relation to journalists and cooks. I see all that pretty printin' going to was'e jes as a restin' place for pots 'n pans, and then in the garbage pail I see the cold waffles that was once as fresh and hot as the next, one no more considered[228] than the other, and I could weep for both of us. Our electrocution teacher used to say a piece about 'Impervious Cæsar, dead and turned to clay doth stop the crack to keep the wind away.'"

We stood aghast during this speech. Dum looked as though she would welcome Death, the Deliverer, with joy, anything to relieve the strain she was on to keep from exploding with laughter; but Zebedee did not seem to think it was funny at all. He listened with the greatest courtesy and when she had finished with her quotation (which we afterwards agreed was singularly appropriate, since Cæsar had been made "impervious" enough to keep out water as well as wind), he answered her very kindly:

"I thank you, Blanche, for understanding me so well. I can tell you that I, for one, will always remember your waffles; and had I known at the time that there was any more batter, there would not have been any cold ones to find their last ignominious resting place in the garbage pail."

"I also have saved some of your writings, Mr. Tucker,—an editorial that Miss Dum said you[229] had written before you came for your holiday,—and I will put it in my mem'ry book as an epitaph of you."

Then Dum did explode. She made out that she was sneezing and even insisted upon purchasing a menthol inhaler before she went back to Willoughby, declaring she felt a head cold coming on.

The Beach seemed stale, flat and unprofitable somehow when we got back. We missed Miss Cox and above all we missed Zebedee.

"I'm glad we couldn't get the cottage for another month," yawned Dum. "Old Zebedeelums couldn't be here more than once or twice in that time and it would surely be stupid without him;" and all of us agreed with her in our hearts.

The cottage was in a terrible state of disorder. We had been too excited in the morning to do our chores. Beds were unmade, the living-room messy and untidy with sweaters on chairs, crumbs on the table and floor and shades some up, and some down, and some crooked (nothing to my mind gives a room a more forlorn look than window shades at sixes and sevens); the kitchen, usually in the pink of perfection, just as Blanche[230] had left it after cooking what she had termed, a somewhat "forgetable" breakfast.

"Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow," said Dee. "Let's leave this mess and take a dip before supper. We will have fifteen minutes at least before Blanche can get the funeral baked meats on the table."

We were to have a very simple repast and we told Blanche just to put it on the table and we would wait on ourselves. The girl was as tired as we were and we felt we must spare her. We determined to get the cottage in perfect order the next day and just to "live keerless" for that evening and night, as Blanche expressed it.

Five hats and five pairs of gloves, dropped where the owners happened to fancy, did not help to make the living-room look any more orderly. Dum took off her white kid pumps, that had been pinching a little all day, and left them in the middle of the floor. The morning paper, despised of Zebedee but eagerly devoured nevertheless, was scattered all over the divan and floor, and a bag of bananas Blanche had been intrusted with was in a state of dishabille on the crummy[231] table. It was surely a place to flee from and flee we did.

Such a swim as we had! It seemed the best of the whole month. The water was perfect, just a little cooler than the air, and the setting sun turned it to liquid gold.

"Why, look at Annie! She is swimming, really swimming!" called out Mary Flannagan. And sure enough there was Annie staying on top of the water and calmly paddling around like a beautiful white swan.

"Of course I can swim in golden water! Who couldn't? I do wish Mr. Tucker could see me. Isn't it too bad after all his patience with me that I wait until he is gone to show what I can do? Somehow this seems like a dream, and the water is fairy water."

"Let's all catch hold of hands and lie on our backs and float," I suggested.

"If you won't leave me when the tide comes, to turn over and swim in," pleaded Annie.

"I will stay with you until your shoulders grate against the shore," promised Mary.

And so we lay all in a row on top of the water,[232] faces upturned to the wonderful evening sky, our bodies as light as air and our hearts even lighter.

"Gee, Dee! I am glad you suggested this!" sighed Dum. "I never felt more peaceful in my life than I do this minute, and I know I never felt more forlorn than I did when we first got back to the cottage."

"Me too! Me too!" we chorused.

"Let's float to Spain and never come back," suggested Annie.

"And this from a little lady who has been afraid to get her toes wet all month! Well, I'm game if the rest of you are," and Mary gave a few vigorous kicks that sent the line some distance from shore; and still Annie with her white-swan expression floated peacefully on. We lay there chatting and dreaming, washing off "the cares that infest the day," planning the future and gazing into the clear obscure of the darkening sky.

"'Star light, star bright, first star I've seen tonight!
I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight,'"


sang Dum, and sure enough there was a star.

"Look here, girls, it's getting late! I hate to awaken you from this dream of eternal bliss, but we've got to go in," and Dee turned over on her face to swim in, thereby causing some commotion in the hearts of the two swimmers newly initiated in the art.

"Don't leave me!" gasped Annie.

"Didn't your faithful Mary swear to take you safe to shore? Just lie still and I'll tow you in;" and in they came, Mary steaming away like a tug boat and Annie floating like an ocean liner, until her shoulders grated on the sand and then and only then was she convinced that she could touch bottom.

We raced back to the cottage, hungry and happy, the fifteen minutes that we had meant to stay having turned into an hour in the twinkling of an eye. From afar we espied Blanche on the porch, shooing us back with one hand and beckoning with the other. We obeyed the beckoning one and eagerly demanded what was the matter. Her face was so pale that the name of Blanche was almost appropriate.[234]

"What is it, Blanche? What has happened?" we cried.

But she was speechless except for gasping: "Oh, the disgrace, the disgrace!"

We followed her trembling form into the living room, wet suits and all, feeling that the exigency of the case was sufficient cause for suspension of rules and for once we would bring dripping bathing suits into the house. The cause of Blanche's perturbation of mind was easily understood when we beheld the portly figure of Cousin Park Garnett stiffly seated in a dusty chair (on Dum's Panama hat it was discovered later). She was indignantly waving her turkey-tail fan, and such an expression of disgust I have never seen on a human countenance.

The room looked no better than when we had left it and even a little worse, as the pickup supper we were to have had been dumped on the table in great confusion and not at all in Blanche's usual careful style. We had told her not to set the table and she had taken us at our word. The odour of sardines left in the opened boxes mingled with that of the bananas, still in the bursting[235] bag. The bread was cut in thick, uneven slices. A glass jar of pickle and one of olives added to the sketchiness of the table. It was "confusion worse confounded."

"Oh!" I gasped, on viewing my indignant relative, "I thought you had gone!"

"No, I have not yet departed," stiffly from Cousin Park. "This is rather an unusual time for bathing, is it not?"

"Yes'm, but——" and I began to stammer out something, fully aware of the dismal figure I cut, standing limply in front of that august presence, my wet clothes sending forth streams of water that settled in little puddles on the floor. I was well aware of the fact that Cousin Park had never approved of my friendship with the Tuckers, and now, coming on us in this far from commendable state, she would have what she would consider a handle for her hitherto unfounded objections.

But Dee, who by some power that she possessed in common with her father, the power by a certain tact to become master of any situation, no matter how embarrassing, came forward and[236] with all the manners of one much older and clothed in suitable garments, so that you lost sight of her scant and dripping bathing suit, she said:

"We are very glad to see you, Mrs. Garnett, and are extremely sorry to have missed any of your visit. You have found us in some disarray from the fact that we are preparing to move and at the same time have just been engaged in having a wedding in the family."

"A wedding! Whose wedding?" The wily Dee had taken her mind off of the disorder in the room and now she felt she could soon win her over to complacency at least. The wetting paled to insignificance beside the wedding.

"Why, our dear friend and chaperone, Miss Cox."

"Your chaperone! Goodness gracious, child! Did she marry your father?"

"Heavens, no!" laughed Dee. "Mr. Bob Gordon is the happy man!"

"Miss Binks did not tell me a word of it," said Mrs. Garnett rather suspiciously.

"No, she did not know about it."[237] "Not know about it? That is strange! Was there any reason for keeping it secret?"

"No especial reason for keeping it secret except that it was to be a very quiet affair and the invited guests included only the most intimate friends. Mabel Binks has a way of getting herself invited by hook or crook, and we just decided not to tell her about the matter."

"How long were they engaged? It seems strange behaviour in a chaperone."

"I tell you what you do, Mrs. Garnett. If you won't mind the informality of a picnic supper, you stay and have supper with us. We will run up and get dressed and be down in a moment and then we will tell you the whole thing, how they got engaged and all about it." And so anxious was my cousin for a bit of news to retail to the ladies on the hotel porch that she actually stayed.

When we got down stairs after very hasty toilets, we found the good-natured Blanche had brought some order out of the chaos of the supper table and with an instinct truly remarkable had made a pot of delicious, fragrant coffee. Coffee, I had often heard Cousin Park declare[238] to be her one weakness. Now you may be sure that what Cousin Park, with her smug self-satisfaction, considered a weakness in herself would really have been a passion in anyone else.

As Dee, who was doing the honours at the head of the table, it being her week as housekeeper, poured the coffee and our still far from mollified guest saw the beautiful golden brown hue that it assumed the minute it mingled with the cream, her expression softened and she looked very much as she had when Judge Grayson recited, "My Grandmother's Turkey-tail Fan." The colour of coffee when it is poured on cream is a never failing test of its quality, and the colour of Blanche's coffee was beyond compare.

The food was very good if not very elegantly served, and I really believe Mrs. Garnett enjoyed herself as much as she was capable of doing. When anyone's spinal column has solidified she can't have much fun, and I truly believe that was the case with hers.

What she enjoyed as much as the coffee and even more, perhaps, was the delightful news she was gathering in every detail to take back to[239] the old hens roosting on the hotel porch. Mr. and Mrs. Gordon had made no secret of their affairs, even their former engagement and cause of the break being known now to some twenty persons; so we felt that it would be all right if we told the whole thing to our eager listener.

She agreed with the young lover that the Lobster Quadrille (of which she had never heard before) was nonsense pure and simple. Dum had to recite it twice and finally we all got up and danced it and sang it for her. Then she did acknowledge that it might appeal to some persons, but that a girl with as irregular features as the former Miss Cox had been very foolish to let such twaddle as that stand in the way of matrimony, and she was surely exceedingly fortunate, when Time had certainly done nothing to straighten her face, to be able to catch a husband after all.

We well knew that while Time had not had a beautifying effect on our beloved Miss Cox's countenance, it had made more lovely her character and soul, and that was after all what Mr. Gordon loved more than anything else. We kept[240] our knowledge to ourselves, however, as Cousin Park was not the kind of person to talk metaphysics to.

She finally departed, much to our relief, as we were one and all ready for bed. We escorted her to the hotel and before we were out of earshot we could hear her cackling the news to the other old hens very much as a real barnyard fowl will do when she scratches up some delectable morsel too large to swallow at one gulp. She immediately bruits it abroad, attracting all the chickens on the farm, and then such another noise, pecking, grabbing and clucking ensues, until the choice bit is torn to shreds.

We were very tired but not too tired to applaud Mary Flannagan, who imitated Cousin Park to the life as she recounted the tale to her cronies. Then Mary followed the gossipy monologue with her favourite stunt of barnyard noises, finally ending up with Cousin Park's parting speech anent the Lobster Quadrille and Miss Cox's imprudence in not taking a husband when she had a chance, even if their taste in the classics did not coincide.




The next day, our last at the Beach, such scrubbing, sweeping and dusting went on as was never seen before I am sure. We were determined that Mrs. Rand should not say that girls at best were "goatish." Blanche insisted that she could do all the cleaning herself, but we thought it but fair to turn in and help.

"How could people in one short month collect so much mess?" demanded Dum, as she turned bureau drawers out on the beds and did what she called "picking rags." "Do you s'pose on a desert island we would find ourselves littered up with a lot of doo-dads?"

"Well, Robinson Crusoe collected Friday, besides several other days of the week that I can't remember," answered Dee, "and it seems to me he got a dog and a cat and a parrot, and he certainly 'made him a coat of an old Nannie goat.'[242] He had no luggage at all on his arrival and had much to cart away. And look at Swiss Family Robinson! There was nothing they did not collect in the way of belongings on their desert island, even a wife for one of the boys."

"Do you know, I used to think Swiss Family Robinson was the best book that had ever been written," said I, emerging from the closet with an arm full of shoes.

"Well, I don't know but that it is still," declared Dum. "Wouldn't it be just grand to be cast on a desert island? Of course I mean if Zebedee could be cast along, too."

"Of course we wouldn't be cast without him," said Dee, "Heaven would be more like the other place if Zebedee wasn't there. Goodness, I wish he didn't have to work and we could all stay together all the time!"

"When I grow up a little more and learn how, I am going to sculp such a wonderful statue that Zebedee can stop working." Dum forgot all about the rags she was picking and with the dreamy expression we knew so well, began to ball up a perfectly clean shirt waist as though it were[243] clay and with her sculptor's thumb shape it into I don't know what image of surpassing beauty.

She was rudely awakened from her dream by Dee, who snatched the imaginary clay from her twin, exclaiming:

"Since that happens to be my shirt waist, the one I am going to travel back to Richmond in, I'll thank you to get-rich-quick on one of your own . . . or this dirty middy blouse might prove a good medium," and she tossed a very soiled article over Dum's head. It happened to be a middy that she had gone crabbing in, so it was not overly pleasant. Anything was enough to start Tweedles in a romp, and in a minute the air was black with shoes and white with pillows, and what work we had accomplished was in a fair way to be done over.

Annie and I took to the farthest cot for safety and Mary perched upon the railing and egged the warriors to fiercer battle by giving her inimitable dog fight with variations. As is often the case, the non-combatants got the worst of the fight. Dee ducked a pillow, thrown with tremendous force by her opponent, and Annie got it square on[244] her dainty nose, causing that aristocratic feature to bleed profusely.

"Oh, Annie, Annie, I'm so sorry!" wailed Dum.

"It is altogether my fault!" declared Dee. "I had no business ducking!"

"Id's dothing adall," insisted Annie, tightly grasping her offending member, "by old dose always bleeds. Jusd a liddle dab will draw de clared."

"Oh, but I just know it hurts awfully," and Dee raced off for a basin of cold water while Dum rummaged in the debris for some of the gentleman's handkerchiefs that she and Dee always used in common with their father.

Mary insisted upon dropping a large brass door key down the sufferer's back, declaring that nothing stopped nose-bleed so effectively as the shock occasioned by a brass door key dropped down the back.

"I just know it is going to disfigure you for days to come!" exclaimed Dee.

"Oh, I don't bind the loogs but id's just the bordification of being such a duisance," answered[245] the poor girl, as usual embarrassed over being the observed of all observers. And just then in spite of the basin of gore and Annie's pitiful expression and Tweedles' great solicitude, Mary and I went off into uncontrollable giggles.

"I'm not laughing at you, Annie, but at your 'bordification,'" gasped Mary, holding her own nose to give the proper accent; and then everybody laughed and it had the effect described in the nursery rhyme:

"Little Tommy Grace
Had a pain in his face
So bad he couldn't learn a letter.
In came Dicky Long,
Singing such a funny song,
Tommy laughed and his face felt much better."

Blanche arrived on the scene with a bottle of witch hazel and Annie was made to lie down in the farthest corner with healing cloths bound round her injuries.

"I never heard sech carryings on!" exclaimed the girl. "Mo' like a passel of boys. I couldn't believe my yers that 'twas my young missusses making sech hullybullyboo. That there rent woman[246] come by jes' then, and she rubbered 'til I thought she would sho' twis' her po' white neck off."

Blanche had as frank a dislike to Mrs. Rand as that good woman had for all darkeys, and it was only with the most tactful management that we could keep them from coming to blows on the few occasions when Mrs. Rand came over to inspect our cottage. The white woman was very free in her use of the very objectionable term "nigger," and Blanche on the other hand had an insolent bearing in her presence that was entirely foreign to her usual polite manner and gentle disposition. It seemed strange that two persons as excellent in their way as Mrs. Rand and Blanche should be so antagonistic. They were like two chemicals, innocent and mild until brought together and then such a bubbling and boiling and exploding! Mrs. Rand always entered the house through the kitchen, which in itself was an irritation to Blanche.

"I don't hold to no back-do' company. If'n she calls herself a lady, wherefore don't she entrance like one? What call is she got to be[247] pryin' and appearin' auspiciously into all my intensils? I ain't goin' to leave no mo' dirt than I found."

"Did she come in just now?" asked Dee as Blanche got off the foregoing tirade after having administered to Annie.

"No'm, she never come in! I squared myself in the do'way and she couldn't git by me and she couldn't git over me and Gawd knows she couldn't git under me. I wa'n't goin' to let her or no one else come in my kitchen 'til I got the dislocation indigent to the undue disordinary of yesterday somewhat abated."

"Did she say anything?" laughed Dum.

"Yessum, she said a absolute piece of po'try what I would not defame my lips by repeating to you."

"Oh, please tell us what it was!" we begged.

"Well, 'twas:

"'Nigger, nigger, never die,
Black face and shiny eye,
Flat nose and crooked toes,
That's the way the nigger goes.'"


"Wasn't that horrid of her?" we cried. "And what did you say?"

"Well, I held my head up same as a white lady, an' I answered her back same as a white lady, an' I called out to her:

"'I had a little dog
An' his name was Dash,
'Druther be a nigger
Than po' white trash!'"

"Well, I'm glad you got back at her; and now come on and let's get the cottage in such good order that we won't care which way the owner comes in," and Dee gave Blanche a friendly pat on her broad shoulder. The girl left us, her good-humour restored by our sympathy, and if there was a speck of dirt left in that kitchen it would have taken a magnifying glass to find it.

Trunks were soon packed, and we had proceeded to the business of dismantling beds (all but on our porch), when we heard the rasping voice of Mrs. Rand in the living room below, that wily woman having slipped in through the kitchen while Blanche's back was turned.[249]

"Hey—Miss Tucker Twins!! Where's that so-called paw of yours? I come over to go over the inventory with him."

"Inventory! What inventory?" asked Tweedles from the balcony.

"What inventory? Why, land's sakes alive, what are you handin' out to me? Didn't I give him a list of my goods and chattels to be returned to me in the same condition in which they was delivered to him on the fust of the month?"

"Oh, I believe there is a list of things in the blue tea-pot," and Dee raced down the steps and drew out the important document from the beautiful old blue tea-pot on the mantelpiece.

"But, Mrs. Rand, our father has gone back to Richmond, went yesterday, and he told me to tell you to send him the bill for anything that was broken or missing."

"Bill, indeed!" she sniffed. "I don't trust to bills with any of these here tenants. Richmond is Richmond and Willoughby is Willoughby."

"Certainly, Mrs. Rand," said Dee with great dignity, "we will not ask you to trust us for[250] any sum provided we have cash enough to reimburse you. There have been very few things broken and I fancy nothing will be missing. A few water glasses and some cups, I think, are the only things broken."

"Not with a nigger in the kitchen!" said our landlady, rudely. "Yer can't tell me a nigger has gone through a month without bustin' mo' things than that."

"Why, Blanche didn't break the things that have been broken. We did it ourselves. I don't believe Blanche has broken a single thing," exclaimed Dum.

"You is quite exactitude in yo' statement, Miss Dum," said Blanche, appearing in the kitchen door, where she had overheard all of Mrs. Rand's not too complimentary remarks. "I is not been the instructive mimber of the household, and what brokerage has been committed has been performed by you young ladies or yo' papa. I is fractured but one object since I engaged in domestic disuetude and that was a cup without no saucer, and before Gawd it was cracked whin I come."[251]

Blanche no longer looked the mild and peaceful character we had found her to be. Her pleasant gingerbread coloured face was purple with rage, and one of her pigtails, usually tightly wrapped, had come unbound and was standing up in a great woolly bush on the top of her head, giving her very much the appearance of a Zulu warrior in battle regalia. A rolling pin in one hand and a batter cake turner in the other added to her warlike aspect.

"I never seed a nigger yet that didn't say everything she broke was cracked when she come," sniffed Mrs. Rand scornfully.

"Blanche is quite right!" exclaimed Dum. "The cup she broke was cracked, because I cracked it myself. I cracked the cup and broke the saucer the first night at the beach, didn't I, Dee?"

"No, you didn't. I did it myself," said Dee.

"Well, hoity-toity! It looks like you both think you done something fine to bust up the chiny," and Mrs. Rand smiled grimly as she gave an extra twist to her Mrs. Wiggs knot and got out of her capacious pocket a huge pair of[252] brass-rimmed spectacles. "Come on, now, and go over this here inventory. Business is business, and if the chiny is busted, no matter who done it, it is the business of the renters to make good. I ain't a-saying the nigger done it, but I'm a-saying if'n she didn't, she's the fust nigger I ever seed that didn't behave like a bull in a chiny shop, bustin' and breakin' wherever she trod."

But Blanche had not had her say out and she took up the ball and continued:

"I is large, 'tis true, but I is light to locomotion, and brokerage is never been one of my failures. My kitchen is open fer yo' conception at any time, Miss Dee. You kin bring in the rent woman when it suits yo' invention," and with a bow that took in all of us and left out Mrs. Rand, Blanche retired to her domain and lifted up her voice in a doleful hymn.

Everything in the cottage was carefully checked off, living room first and then the sleeping porches. We were thankful indeed that we had cleaned up so well and had all of our accumulated mess out of the way. The old woman[253] complimented us on the appearance of everything. She was not at all an unkind person, except where coloured people were concerned. She seemed to take a motherly interest in us and highly approved of Zebedee.

"Well, you gals is sho' kept my house nice and I must say it is some surprise to me. You look like such harum-scarums that I was fearing you would be worser tenants than them boys—— Land sakes, if'n the tick covers ain't clean enough ter use agin. I always changes 'em fer a new tenant, but looks like it would be foolishness to take off perfectly clean things, 'thout spot or speck on 'em. Of course, I'll take off the nigger's tick."

Every time Mrs. Rand said nigger it made me wince. Mammy Susan had brought me up to think that that was a word not to be used in polite society or anywhere else.

"Niggers is the onliest ones what kin say nigger," she used to tell me. "Whin white folks says niggers they is demeaning of themselves, an' they is also paintin' of the nigger blacker than his Maker done see fit to make him."[254]

Blanche's room was in perfect order and I wondered if Mrs. Rand would not give her some praise, but that stern person only sniffed and passed on.

Dishes were next on the list and we ticketed them off easily. Four cups were broken, three saucers and a plate and six water glasses, about a dollar's worth in all, as the china and glass were of the plainest. Then came the kitchen and cooking utensils. We hoped Blanche would go out, but she stood to her guns bravely and refused to desert the ship. Mrs. Rand poked her nose into every crack and crevice and seemed to be hunting dirt which she could not discover. The tins were counted and found O. K.; and then the kitchen spoons and forks were as carefully gone over as though they had been of the finest silver. One iron spoon was worn on the edges and a little bent from the vigorous beating and stirring the batter bread had undergone, and the strictly business Mrs. Rand looked at it dubiously, but finally let it pass along with the "sheep," although her expression was very much[255] what Peter's might be if a goat had butt his way into Paradise.

"Why don't you speak up, girl?"—Page 255 "Why don't you speak up, girl?"—Page 255

"Where's that there can-opener, a perfectly good one that I bought from a peddler? I wouldn't lose it for a pretty! I never seed one like it before and the man I bought it from said he was the sole agent for it and mor'n likely would not be back this way for years to come," and Mrs. Rand rummaged in the table drawer like some lady who feared she had lost some precious jewel.

Blanche stood back abashed and was silent, and Tweedles and I looked at one another guiltily.

"Why don't you speak up, girl? You needn't think you can get off with my can-opener, 'cause you can't." Still Blanche held to the policy of the Tar Baby and said nothing, and Tweedles and I were as dumb as fish. "It was one of these here combination implements, a cork-screw and can-opener, beer-opener and knife-sharpener, with a potato-parer at one end and apple-corer at the other, and in the middle a nutmeg-grater.[256] I never seen a finer thing, and besides it had a attachment fer the slicin' of Sarytogy chips."

"I am very sorry, Mrs. Rand, but your can-opener is—is—lost," said Dee. "Blanche is not responsible for it, as she had nothing to do with it. Here is a very good can-opener, however, that our father brought back from Norfolk," and she took from its accustomed nail a sturdy little affair of the old-fashioned kind, meant to open cans and to do nothing but open cans, and in consequence one that did open cans. "Here is a cork-screw, and here is a nutmeg-grater! We never did know what all the other parts of the thing were meant for or I am sure my father would have got those, too, as he did not wish to defraud you in any way."

"You talk like that there so-called paw of yours had lost it, and I believe you is just trying to shield this nigger. I never seed a nigger yet who had the gumption to use one of these here labor-saving devices."

The purple colour again rose in Blanche's dusky countenance and the tuft of unwrapped wool began to shake ominously, but still she held her[257] peace, showing that she was a lady at heart. She knew as well as we did what had become of the prized and priceless implement, but her loyalty made her keep silence.

The situation was tense and the irate owner looked from one to another of our solemn countenances, trying to solve the riddle of the lost can-opener. Annie and Mary had come to the kitchen door, Annie with her nose not much the worse for the blow, but with her pretty face very pale from the loss of blood, Mary with the whimsical expression that she always wore when she was taking mental notes of anyone whom she intended to imitate later on.

We all of us could recall with the keenest delight the memorable evening when Zebedee undertook to open the sardines at a beach party we were having and his scornful remarks anent our can-opener.

"Look at this thing!" he had said indignantly. "Pretends to do so much and can't do a single thing right! Broke the cork in the olive bottle! Won't cut anything but a little round, jagged hole in this square can of sardines! I have cut[258] a biscuit out of my hand with this butt end that is meant for the Lord knows what!" (That must have been the end that was meant for an apple-corer.) He continued, "If it's the last act of my life, I intend to take this abomination out in the bay and drop it down ten fathoms deep."

He was as good as his word, and the very next morning when we went out for our usual before-breakfast dip, Zebedee appeared with the can-opener in his mouth (to leave his hands free for swimming) and with strong, rapid strokes shot out far into the bay, there to consign the hated abomination to its watery grave.

And now what was to be said to Mrs. Rand? It wouldn't do to stand like Patience on a monument smiling at Grief, indefinitely. We looked to Dee, our social deliverer, to save us, and I only hoped that Mary and I would not disgrace the crowd by going off into our usual giggles.

"As I said before, Mrs. Rand, it is lost and we are as sorry as can be. I will either reimburse you for your property or I'll send you another from Richmond." We were mighty proud of Dee, her reimburse sounded so grown-up and[259] business-like, but Mrs. Rand seemed not one whit impressed.

"How kin you git something when they ain't no more of them, and how kin you pay fer something when it is valued for its bein' so useful and so rare? I wouldn't a lef' it here if'n I hadn't 'a' thought you was all girls and had been raised proper, not to lose or break other folkses' things."

"Well then, Mrs. Rand, all I can say is that we are sorry, and if you will make out a receipted bill for the china and glass that is broken, we will pay you immediately and wish you good-morning, as we have a great deal to do on this our last day at the beach." Dee's dignity was wonderful. How often I have seen her father behave in exactly that way: do all he could to keep the peace, exercise all his tact to smooth things over and, that failing, take on a dignity and a toploftical manner that would reduce the offender to pulp.

"Well, now, you needn't get so huffy about it! Business is just business——"[260]

"Exactly, so please make out the receipted bill and let us pay you what we owe you."

"Well, I never said I was goin' to charge you fer those few bits of broken chiny. I reckon I kin make my fifteen per cent. off my investment, anyhow," and the old woman gave her rare snaggle-toothed grin. "I'll give it to you that you is leaving my house as clean as you found it, and that's something I can't say of most tenants."

"Cleaner!" muttered Blanche, but if Mrs. Rand heard, she pretended not to. Dee's grande dame manner had had its effect and she now treated us with great cordiality, shaking hands and expressing a wish to see all of us again at the beach and complimenting us again and again on the neatness of the cottage. She sent messages to "that so-called paw" and was almost genial as she bade us good-bye.

Mary and I managed to wait until she got away before we were shaken by the inevitable storm of giggles. "All of that row about an old can-opener," gasped Mary, "and after all it was a can't-opener."




How we did hate to say good-bye to Willoughby! When I remembered my feelings on our arrival and compared them to my feelings on departure, I could hardly believe I was the same person or that it was the same place. I no longer missed trees and grass; my eyes were accustomed to the glare; and as for the dead monotony of sand and water: I had learned to see infinite variety in the colour of the land and sea; no two days had been alike, no two hours, indeed. Dum had taught me to see these shifting effects, and now land and water and sky instead of seeming as they had at first, like three hard notes that always played the same singsong tune, were turned into three majestic chords that with changing and intermingling could run the whole gamut of harmony.

We had spent a perfect month with so little[262] friction that it was not worth naming, and the friendship of the five girls was stronger than ever. It would be impossible to sleep five on a porch, with cots so close together that the covers had no room to slip between, without finding out each other's faults and virtues.

Dee, for instance, who was an exceptionally rapid dresser, had a habit of using more than her share of hair-pins. She always insisted that they were hers or that she had not used them, and she would not take down her hair to see. Then when she finally undressed at night and plaited her thick, blue-black rope, she would be much abashed as we claimed our share of hair-pins.

Mary Flannagan snored louder and more persistently than anyone I have ever known; she also had a habit of talking in her sleep.

Annie Pore did take a little longer to arrange her ripe-wheat hair than was quite fair where there was only one mirror and four other girls trying to beautify themselves in front of it, but there is no telling how long any of us would have taken to prink had we been as pretty as Annie.[263]

Dum's fault was putting on anybody's and everybody's clothes, especially stockings, and then wild horses could not drag them off her when once she had them on. She had a habit of undressing and throwing her clothes on top of other people's. No matter where you put your clothes or how carefully you folded them, you were sure to find something of Dum's on top of them in the morning. I was careless enough myself, so this did not bother me much, but it was a continual irritation to Dee, who was much more orderly than Dum; and poor little Annie suffered greatly from this habit of dear old Dum's. Annie had very few clothes and she was painfully neat and careful with them, and I have seen her turn away her head to hide her emotion when she found Dum's wet stockings, that she had been clamming in the day before, balled up on top of her clean shirt waist, and her muddy shoes resting fondly in the lap of her, Annie's, last fresh white skirt.

I know I had many faults as a room-mate, but I believe my habit of selfishly hogging the bathroom was the worst. I think people born and[264] brought up without plumbing are always piggy about bath tubs when once they come in contact with them. I was irreverent enough to wish with all my heart that Mr. Pore had my grandfather's hat-tub and that Bracken, my beloved home, could have water put into it with an altogether, all-over, all-at-once bath tub.

One last look through all the dressing rooms and porches, to be sure that we were not leaving any valuables for the next tenants to find, a lingering glance at the quiet, peaceful living-room where we had spent so many delightful hours, and we went out of the front door as Mrs. Rand came in the back, pail and broom in hand, to make ready for the incoming hordes.

"She won't find no use in that there kitchen fer buckets an' brooms. It's clean enough to ask any potentiate of Europe to eat off'n any spot in it. The King of France himself could make no claimant of the perdition of my kitchen," and Blanche's countenance began to take on the purple hue of rage.

"Oh, don't mind her, Blanche! She just likes for a new tenant to find her busy. Here come[265] the new tenants, too! Isn't it a good thing we got out so early in the morning?"

Sure enough, as Dee spoke there loomed on the horizon a large family, coming to take possession of the cottage: a mother and father, four boys, two little girls, two young coloured maids and an old mammy carrying a baby. The last sound we heard as we hurried to catch the trolley was Mrs. Rand berating them for coming so early in the morning before she had time to clean up after the last tenants.

"Of course I know it is the fust of August, but the fust of August don't mean the fust thing in the morning. Tenants is all alike, skeered to death for fear they ain't going to git all that's coming to them. I never understood when you come dickerin' for my house that you had three niggers. I ain't partial to rentin' to folks that keeps nigger help. Now these last folks what jest left didn't keep but one nigger, but——" but what, we never knew, as we got out of earshot. Blanche's countenance lost its purple hue as we settled ourselves on the Norfolk trolley. We hoped that Mrs. Rand would realize that to[266] make fifteen per cent. on an investment means one must be willing to put up with many things.

The boys who had been at the camp met us in Norfolk and engineered us to the pier to see Annie and Mary off on the James River boat, and then took Tweedles and me to the station and put us on the train for Richmond.

At the boat Sleepy shook hands with Annie until I really thought the Captain would have to interfere. With his face a fiery red, I heard him implore her to write to him. I don't know what she said, but I can't fancy Annie in an adamant mood, and as I saw Sleepy give her his card and hastily write something in a memorandum book, I have an idea she granted his request.

Wink's moustache was getting quite bushy, but his manner was still grand, gloomy and peculiar. He would walk by me, but would not talk to me, although I made every effort to make myself agreeable. He tugged viciously at his little moustache until I felt like telling him: "Kill it, but don't worry it to death!"

Just before we got on the train he said to me[267] in a cold and formal tone: "May I write to you, Miss Allison?"

"Certainly, Mr. White!"

"But will you answer my letters?" He looked so sad and melodramatic that I burst out laughing.

"Of course I will, Wink! Don't be so silly!"

The last I saw of him he was trying seemingly to pull his poor little moustache out by the roots.




Zebedee met us at the station in Richmond with the faithful Henry Ford, quite spruced up (I mean Henry) with a new coat of paint, put on while the family was at the beach. Brindle, Dee's precious dog, was perched on the front seat with the air of injured dignity he always assumed, so Dee said, when they went off to the seashore and left him behind. His damson-jam eyes were moist and sad and his breathing even more stertorous than usual.

"Well, you know yourself how you hate the water and how grouchy you were the last time you went with us!" said Brindle's mistress, hugging the old dog and speaking to him as though in answer to the reproach in his eyes. "If you would learn to be a more agreeable traveling companion and eat fish like a respectable canine, we would never leave you. Goodness knows, I[269] miss you and long for you every minute of the day and night." Brindle snorted and gurgled and licked Dee's ear in token of forgiveness.

"I am sure any physician would say that Brindle's adenoids should be removed," commented Dum from the back seat. "Did you ever hear such a noise in your life as that old dog makes just simply living? Every breath he draws seems to require all the force and strength he can muster."

"Virginia Tucker, I will thank you not to be personal with Brindle. His breathing shows his breeding, which is more than your conversation does. You know how easy it is to hurt his feelings," and Dee looked daggers at her twin.

"Oh, excuse me, Brindle, I was merely joking!"

"You know perfectly well that Brindle's one fault is that he has no sense of humour."

"Well, I had forgotten it for the moment.—I saved him a chocolate peppermint out of the box we bought on the train. Do you think that would serve as balm to his wounded feelings?"

"It might!" said Dee dubiously. "Brindle is[270] very fond of chocolate peppermints, but he does hate to be guyed." It did, however, and peace was restored before Zebedee finished attending to the trunks and cranking up Henry.

Blanche's brother, "Po' Jo," had met her at the station, much to the relief of all of us.

"I am no snob," declared Zebedee, "but I'll be hanged if I was relishing the prospect of running poor, dear Blanche uptown in Henry Ford, bedecked as she was in all that glory of second mourning."

Blanche's feelings were so hurt when we suggested that she should travel in the decent black skirt and plain shirtwaist bought for the wedding that we had to give in and let her return in the costume in which she had arrived.

"Po' Jo" was quite as comfortable in figure as his sister. He was, in fact, as fat and sleek as a 'possum, and like that animal he had a perpetual grin on his coffee-coloured countenance. His portly form stretched the seams of a Palm Beach suit, on the left sleeve of which was stitched a large black heart in honour of his recent bereavement. Brother and sister beamed on[271] each other with family pride written all over their good-natured faces.

"Well, Sister Blanche, you is looking quite swanky, as a English gentleman at the Club is contingently saying." Jo was waiter at the Club.

"And you, Brother Jo, you is bearin' up wonderful an' lookin' mighty well in yo' new Palm Leaf suit," and she smoothed the sleeve with the black heart stitched thereon with an air of conscious pride that she could boast such a wonderful brother.

We were sorry to tell Blanche good-bye. She had endeared herself to all of us, and in spite of the fun we got out of her peculiarities, we were really very fond of her. She was perfectly honest and faithful, and above and beyond all that, as Zebedee said, she was a born cook. She was to stay a while with Jo and then go down to pay Mammy Susan a visit before returning to her school.

I was to spend one night with the Tuckers and then go back to my beloved Bracken. I was reproaching myself for staying even the one night longer away from Father, but Zebedee had[272] planned all kinds of things for my pleasure, and Tweedles were so persistent in their entreaties that I had submitted, although I was getting very homesick for Father and Mammy Susan, to say nothing of the dogs and Peg, my old horse.

Lunch first! Dee made all of us eat beefsteak, ordering a huge porterhouse so she could get the bone for Brindle. "I know he is tired of the food at that old café," she said. "He does not look nourished to me and I intend to give him some building-up food."

"Why, Dee, he is as fat as a pig," insisted Dum.

"Yes, I know he is fat, but I don't like the colour of his tongue. Flesh is not always an indication of health, Dum Tucker."

"That's so," put in Zebedee, "I've seen many a fat corpse, but my opinion is that Brindle needs exercise. He is so lazy."

After lunch as we spun up Broad Street, we noticed quite a crowd gathered near the marketplace. Zebedee, with an eye ever open and nose ever twitching for news, slowed up his car.[273]

"Nothing but a street fakir, but he must have something fine or be a very convincing talker."

Just then Henry indulged in his little habit of stopping altogether, and Zebedee had to get out and crank up. This enabled us to hear the fakir and see his wares.

"This, ladies and gentlemen, is a most remarkable implement, taking the place of a whole chest of tools! This is a potato-parer! This is an apple-corer! This is a cork-screw! This is a can-opener! This is a nutmeg-grater! This is a knife-sharpener! This——" But Dum leapt from the car and without any ceremony interrupted the man's stream of convincing eloquence. With every "this" he had illustrated the virtues of his wares by slicing potatoes, coring apples, opening bottles and cans, etc.

"How much?" she asked excitedly.

"Ten cents! Ten cents! Eight perfect implements in one for ten cents! I am the sole agent in the United States and Canada and you miss the chance of a lifetime if you do not purchase one. I am now on my way to California and will not return to Virginia for many years."[274]

"Give me five," demanded Dum recklessly, producing her last fifty cents.

The delighted and mystified salesman counted them out to her and the crowd began to buy excitedly, as though they thought that the wonderful magic implements would start on their trip to California and back by the Great Lakes and through Canada and they might be old men and women before another chance came to own one of these rare combinations.

"Mrs. Rand's lost treasure," gasped Dee.

"Here's another for good measure!" and the man tossed an extra one into Dum's lap as Henry got up steam and moved off. "You started my sales and I won't have a one left by night at this rate."

"I am going to send all of these to that hateful old Mrs. Rand," and Dum settled herself on the cushions, her lap full of can-openers.

We had told Zebedee of Mrs. Rand's carryings-on over her precious tool and he had been vastly amused.

"Don't send them all," I pleaded. "Take one back to Gresham. It would be invaluable at[275] boarding school to get olives out of the bottles, and to open trunks when the keys got lost. As a shoe-horn I am sure it could not be surpassed, for the apple-corer end would do for that. As for a finger-nail file, what could equal the nutmeg-grater?"

So Dum sent only five to Mrs. Rand, and one we took to boarding school with us, where it ever after played an important part in the curriculum under the pseudonym of "Mrs. Rand."

The Tuckers' apartment seemed especially crowded after the large simplicity of the living-room at Willoughby. As a family they usually managed to get anything they wanted very much, and they had had some sixteen years of wanting and satisfying their desires. It was a fortunate thing that they had, one and all, innate good taste. Mr. Tucker had wanted pictures and prints; Dum had wanted bronzes, carved curios of all sorts and casts of masterpieces; Dee had a leaning towards soft Persian rugs, old china and pets. The pets had some of them been mercifully overtaken by fate or I am sure we could not have squeezed into the apartment on that[276] hot afternoon in early August. All of them had wanted books and the books wanted shelves, so wherever there wasn't anything else there were book shelves. Small pictures were actually hung on the doors, as there was no wall space available, and the rugs lapped over each other on the floors.

"We usually have the rugs stored for the summer, but Brindle misses them so much that I wouldn't let Zebedee do it this year. He loves to lie on them and I truly believe he appreciates their colour as well as their softness," and Dee leaned over and patted her beloved dog, who had chosen a particularly wonderful old blue rug on which to take his after-lunch nap.

"Well, I only hope they won't get moths in them with your and Zebedee's foolishness," sniffed Dum.

"Oh, no, Brindle promised me to catch all the moths, didn't you, Brindle, old boy?" Brindle, as though in answer to his mistress, looked solemnly up and snapped at some tiny-winged creature which had recklessly come too close to his powerful jaws.[277]

"Look here, girls! Do you realize that our vacation is more than half over? Before we can turn around we will be back at Gresham," I said, fearing a discussion was imminent. I had heard the subject of moths and Brindle's fondness for Persian rugs thoroughly threshed out before and the gloves had had to be resorted to to prove the point that Brindle's comfort was more important than mere rugs.

"Oh, Page, don't introduce such sad subjects!" exclaimed Dum. "Gresham is all right in its way, but I can't bear to contemplate another winter there. Still, I know it is up to us to go back."

"We'll be Juniors, too—and Juniors are always in hot water," sighed Dee.

"Well, anyhow, we won't be beau-crazy Juniors like last year's class," declared Dum. "Did you ever see such a lot of boy grabbers in your life?"

"I can't fancy our being grabby about boys, but I tell you one thing," I laughed, "we are certainly much fonder of the male sex than we were[278] a year ago. Boys are nice and I do like 'em, and I don't care who knows it, so there!"

Zebedee came in from his afternoon work just then and overheard the last of my remarks. "What's all this? Page confessing to a fondness for the opposite sex? You like boys, do you? Well, I am glad indeed of my eternal youth. I am nothing but a boy, eh, Dum," he said, tweaking his daughter's ear.

"Boy, indeed! You are nothing but a baby!"

"Well, I am a tired and hot baby and I thought I would find all of you old ladies dressed and ready to go to the Country Club with me for a game of tennis, a shower bath and supper afterwards on the terrace."

"Ready in a minute!" we chorused, and so we were.

Richmond was looking singularly attractive, I thought, as we spun along Franklin Street, in spite of the fact that most of the houses were closed for the summer and the female inhabitants off to the seashore or springs. Here and there a lone man could be seen spreading himself and his afternoon papers over his empty porch and[279] steps, and occasionally a faithful wife was conspicuous by reason of the absence of other faithful wives. Usually she bore a conscious air of virtue and an expression that plainly said: "Am I not a paragon to be sticking it out with John?"

The trees, however, seemed to be flourishing in the masculine element, and in many places on that most beautiful of all streets the elms met overhead, forming a dark-green arch. There was a delicious odour of freshly watered asphalt and the streets were full of automobiles, all seeming to be on pleasure bent now that the day's work was over. A few carriages were making their stately way, but very few. The occupants of the carriages were as a rule old and fat. I thought I saw Cousin Park Garnett in one, with her cross, stupid, old pug dog on the seat by her, but we were just then engaged in placing ourselves liable to arrest by breaking the speed law, so I could not be quite sure. Dum was running the car and she always seemed to court arrest and fine.

"When I see a clear stretch of road in front of me I simply have to whoop her up a bit," she[280] explained when Zebedee remonstrated with her.

"That's all right if you are sure you are out of sight of a cop, but I have no idea of going your bail if you are hailed to the Juvenile Court for speeding. A one hundred dollar fine would just about break me right now. I don't set much store by the eleventh commandment in anything but motoring, but in this thing of running a car it is mighty important: 'Don't get found out.' There's a cop now!"

Dum slowed up and looked very meek and ladylike as a mounted policeman approached us, touching his cap to Mr. Tucker in passing.

"Zebedee knows every policeman on the force," said Dum teasingly. "There is nothing like keeping in with the law."

"Certainly not, if a man happens to own two such harum-scarums as I do."

The Country Club was delightful, but they always are. When people club together to have a good out-door time and to give others a chance to do the same, a success always seems to be assured. Certainly that particular club was most popular and prosperous and although we heard[281] repeatedly that everybody was out of town, there were, to my mind, a great many left. The tennis courts were full to overflowing before the evening light became too dim to see the balls, and the golf links had so many players it resembled more a croquet ground. I had never played golf and while the Tuckers all could, they did not care much for it, preferring the more strenuous game of tennis.

"I'm saving up golf for that old age that they tell me is sure to come some day," sighed Zebedee. "I don't really believe them."

None of us did, either. How could old age claim such a boy as Jeffry Tucker?

However, time itself was flying, and the one day and night I was to spend in Richmond with my friends passed in the twinkling of an eye. Before I realized it, it was really over, my vacation with the Tucker Twins was finished, and I was on the train for Milton, a volume of Alfred Noyes' latest poems in my suitcase for Father and a box of Martha Washington candy for Mammy Susan, who thought more of "white folkses' sto' candy" than of all the silks of the Orient or jewels of the Sultan of Turkey.



Milton, Va., August 3, 19—.
Dear Tuckers:

How can I ever tell you what a good time I have had with you? Maybe you know already by the glowing countenance I must have presented for the last month, only I can't believe it is really a month, it went flying by so fast. It took June tenants going out of Mrs. Rand's cottage and August tenants coming in to convince me that July was really gone, and still I don't see where it went.

Father met me at Milton, driving the colt as usual, only the colt is getting to be quite a staid and respectable roadster. Father says a country doctor's horse that can stay skittish very long is a wonder, with all of the hard driving he is forced to give him. He still shies at automobiles, but I truly believe it is nothing but jealousy. I don't think he is in the least afraid of them, but he thinks the automobile is snorting and puffing at him, and like a spirited animal, he wants to let the car know that he is perfectly ready to fight and orders coffee and pistols for two.

Mammy Susan was pathetically glad to see me.[283] She is very grieved, however, over the new freckles on my nose and tried to make me bind cucumber peelings on that much-abused and perfectly inoffensive member. The dough mask is too fresh in my memory, however, for me to get myself messed up with anything else.

Our neighbor, Jo Winn, was at the station and in his shy, husky voice actually had the spunk to inquire after Dee. He says his cousin, Mr. Reginald Kent, is making good in New York, and in every letter he writes he has something to say of the deer hunt and the wonderful Miss Tucker who shot the stag. His sister, Sally Winn, is at her old trick of trying to die. It is her midnight hurry calls that have tamed the colt, so Father declares.

Bracken is looking very lovely and peaceful. Some of Father's old-maid cousins have just left; they were nice, soft ones, so Father really enjoyed having them. Next week Cousin Park Garnett is coming for her annual visitation. I told Father about Judge Grayson and the Turkey-tail Fan and he nearly died laughing. He says he is going to try reading his new book of Alfred Noyes to her and see what effect it will have on her.

Dear Cousin Sue Lee is coming tomorrow and all of us are delighted. She is the dearest and sweetest in the world. I do hope you will all motor down to Bracken while she is here. You simply must get to know one another.

Father is still regretting that he could not get to Willoughby. I think he works too hard and he says he knows he does, but what is a doctor[284] to do? The people will get sick and will send for him.

Good-bye, my dear friends! I would feel depressed that our wonderful vacation together is over, if I did not have the future to look forward to and know that I will soon be back at school with the Tucker Twins!

Your best friend,
Page Allison.




It was good to be home and how easily I slipped back into being a child again! I could hardly believe I had been so grown-up for a month, going to hops and having a proposal and what not. I spent a great deal of my time driving around with Father, who was very pleased to have me. Sometimes we squeezed Cousin Sue Lee into the narrow-seated buggy and then we would have a jolly time. Cousin Sue seemed younger even than the year before. It was incredible that she should be nearly fifty. It was not that she looked so young, as her hair was turning quite gray, but she was so young in her attitude towards life.

We had to have our annual confab on the subject of clothes, and a catalogue from the mail order house was soon the chief in interest of all our literature.[286]

"I can't think what I would have done last year if you had not taken hold for me, Cousin Sue. My clothes were so satisfactory."

I told her of poor Annie Pore and at her suggestion sent my little English friend a catalogue with things marked that I was going to order.

My order was almost a duplicate of the year before except that I did not need quite so many things, as I had a goodly number of middies left over and some shirt waists.

Miss Pinky Davis, our country sempstress, was sent for, and again Cousin Sue spent hours planning how best to cut up and trim the bolts of nainsook she had ordered from Richmond. She laughed at my awkwardness with a needle and declared I did regular "nigger sewing." I tried to whip lace, but no matter how clean my hands were when I started, I ended with a dirty knotted thread and the lace went on in little bunches with plain, tightly drawn spaces intervening.

"I declare, child, I don't believe Jimmy Allison himself could have done it any worse," she said, looking at my attempt to whip lace on a petticoat.[287] Cousin Sue always called Father, Jimmy. "How do you get it so grubby?"

"It gets itself! I don't get it!" I exclaimed. "I washed my hands with lye soap so as to be sure they were clean, but they just seem to ooze dirt when I begin to sew."

"Well, in the first place you are sewing with a needle as big as a tenpenny nail and who ever heard of whipping on lace with thirty-six thread?" And my dear cousin patiently threaded me a finer needle with the proper thread and started me again. "Go from left to right, honey, you are not a Chinaman."

"No, you are a Zulu, my dear, and should go clothed as such," said Father, coming in to view our operations. "I believe even you could string beads for your summer costume and cut a hole in a blanket for winter."

"Well, I do hate to sew so, no wonder I can't do it. I want the clothes but I don't want them bad enough to make 'em myself."

"The time will come when you will like to sew," said Miss Pinky, her mouth full of pins.

"That sounds terribly sad," laughed Father.[288] "What is going to make her like it, Miss Pinky?"

"Oh, the time will come when she will find it soothing to sew."

Miss Pinky snipped away with a great pair of sharp shears as nonchalantly as though she were cutting newspapers instead of very sheer organdy for another white dress that Cousin Sue had decided I must have. I never could see how she could tell where the scissors were going to cut next, they were so big and she was so little. Miss Pinky always reminded me of a paper doll, somehow. She seemed to have no thickness at all to her. Her profile was like a bas-relief and rather low relief at that. I remember when I was quite a little girl I examined her dress very carefully to see if it could be fastened on the shoulders in the manner of my paper dolls, with little folded-over flaps.

"Maybe it will, but it is certainly not soothing now. It makes me want to scream."

"Don't do it! Just put up that flimsy foolishness and come drive over to Milton with me. I think I'll drop in on poor Sally Winn before supper and maybe she will get through the night[289] without me. We can call for the mail, too, and beat R. F. D. to it."

The Rural Free Delivery is a great institution in the country where persons cannot go for the mail, but sometimes it was a great irritation to us. Our mail was taken from the Post Office very early in the morning and did not reach us until quite late in the afternoon, the carrier circling all around the county before he landed at our box. "Come on, Sue, you can squeeze in and we can have a jolly drive."

We found Sally Winn up and very busy. As she had been snatched from a yawning grave only two nights before, we were rather astonished.

"Comp'ny's coming and I had to get up and put things to rights. I've stirred up a cake and set some Sally Lunn for supper, and while I was up I thought I had better preserve those peaches on the tree by the dairy before they got too ripe. They make the best tasting preserves of any peaches I ever saw. I am certainly going to fix a jar for you, Doctor. Don't let me forget it. I've got two of Aunt Keziah's children, she is[290] raising, here helping me, but they are not much good for anything but just to run to the spring and wring the frying size chickens' necks." In writing I am perforce compelled to use a few periods, but not so Sally. She poured forth this flow of conversation with never a pause for breath or reply.

"The company that's coming is Reginald Kent, son of my first cousin once removed. He is a great hand at eating and made so much fuss over my cooking that it seemed like an awful pity for me to lay up in bed when he was here, although it may be the death of me to be up and doing and no doubt will bring on one of my spells."

"If it does," broke in my wily parent, "take a teaspoonful of that pink medicine out of the low flat bottle and repeat in half an hour. Be sure you do not take more than a teaspoonful and be very careful to have half an hour between doses."

Father told us afterwards that there was nothing in the pink medicine in the flat bottle but a most harmless and attenuated mixture of bromide, but he warned her to take the exact dose and wait the full half hour to make her feel[291] it was a potent medicine that she must handle with great care so she would think it would make her well. There was nothing much the matter with Sally Winn but imagination; but imagination is sometimes more powerful than the most potent drugs, and Sally was just as sick as she thought she was, so Father said. He was wonderfully patient with her and treated her ailments as seriously as though they really existed. She had a leaky heart but there was a chance of her outliving her whole generation. Of course there was also a chance of her being taken away at any time, but Father considered the chance quite small as she seemed to be growing better as time went on instead of worse.

"Reginald Kent is hoping that those Tuckers will be back here when he comes on this visit, though he doesn't exactly say so. He just intimates it by asking if the Allisons have any visitors. He is a mighty likely young fellow and is getting on fine with his work. He really is coming down here on business in a way. He wants to get some illustrations of some of these views around here. He says he wants Aunt Keziah's[292] cabin and some of the little darkeys, and he wants an inside view of old Aunt Rosana's and Uncle Peter's house."

Here Father stopped her long enough to say that he would go over to Milton for the mail and come back for Cousin Sue and me. We had not got in a word edgewise, but I never tried to when Sally once started. I should think that anyone who saw as few persons as she did would want to listen and find out things instead of imparting knowledge, but Sally just seemed to be full to overflowing and she simply had to let off steam before she could take on anything more. She wanted to know but she wanted more to let you know.

She told us all she could about Reginald Kent, which was on the whole rather interesting. Then she began on her turkeys and chickens and enlarged somewhat on the subject of Jo and his irritating way of keeping news to himself, and then with a bound she leapt upon her symptoms. I knew it was coming and bowed my head in resignation.

"It looks like if I get to studying about things[293] that one of my spells is sure to follow. Now I have been thinking a lot lately about Reginald Kent's mother, my first cousin once removed, and the more I think of her the more I get to brooding. If you would believe me, in the night I got to trembling so that I could have sworn there was an earthquake going through the county. My bed fairly rocked. I had to call Jo. He gave me a dose of my pink medicine and it ca'med me some. Each time I get one of those attacks I hope it means the end, but somehow I always come back."

"But, Sally, why do you hope it is the end?" I asked. "I don't see why you want to die. It would be very hard on Jo if you should leave him."

"Why, child, dying is one of the things I have always wanted to do. I somehow feel that in the other life I'm going to be so happy. I dream I am dead sometimes and, do you know, I am always real pretty and have curly hair in that dream and lots of young folks around me who seem somehow to belong to me."

Poor Sally! I felt very sorry for her and so[294] did Cousin Sue, whom I saw wiping a furtive tear away. I fancy Sally's life had been a very stale, flat and unprofitable one and she had formed the habit of looking upon death as at least a change, an adventure where she would be the heroine for once. I determined to come to see her oftener and try to bring some young life into her middle-aged existence.

Father brought us quite a bunch of mail. In it was a letter from Dee telling the good news that they were going to motor down to Bracken on Friday, the very next day, and stay over Sunday with us.

"Now you will know them and they will know you," I exclaimed, hugging Cousin Sue. "I am going to bring them over to see you, too," I promised Sally, noting her wistful expression.

Silent Jo Winn, who had come back from the station with Father, grinned with delight when he heard that the Tuckers were coming. I remembered on our memorable deer hunt of the winter before how Dee had won his shy heart and had actually made him talk just like other folks.[295]

"I tell you what let's do," he ventured. "This young cousin of ours, Reginald Kent, is to be here to-night and he has to go over to Uncle Peter's cabin to take some pictures. What's the reason we couldn't all go on a picnic? We might fish in the river near Uncle Peter's, where Miss Dum Tucker shot her deer."

"Splendid!" from Cousin Sue and me. Cousin Sue was always in for a picnic.

Sally Winn gasped and clutched her heart until I thought we'd have to run for her pink medicine; but she pulled herself together. It was nothing but astonishment at the long speech from Jo. Jo actually stringing words together and getting up a picnic! It was too much for Sally, but she rose to the occasion with plans for a big lunch.

"I've a ham all cooked—and some blue Dominicker chickens that have just reached the frying size—I'll make some fried pies—and some light rolls—some Columbus eggs would eat good—and my pear pickle can't be beat, and a stem to every one so you can eat it without messing yourself up——"[296]

"I have some news that is not quite so entrancing as yours, my dear," said Father, interrupting Sally's flow of eatables as he read from a fat, crested, vellum letter. "Cousin Park Garnett will be with us to-morrow, also."

"But she said Monday next, in her last letter!"

"She has changed her mind. She arrives on the afternoon train and will bring her pug with her."


"Yes, it seems the pug is the reason for her coming sooner. The doctor thinks he needs a change of air."

"Heavens! And Dee is bringing Brindle, too!"

"Well, they'll have to fight it out."

"But, Father," I wailed, "can we go on and have the picnic?"

"Yes, my dear," broke in Cousin Sue. "I'll stay with Cousin Park."

"Indeed you won't!" declared Father. "Cousin Park can be invited to go to the picnic, which of course she will not do. She can just stay at home with Mammy Susan to wait on her and[297] Miss Pinky Davis to listen to her, while the pug dog breathes in great chunks of change of air. I have some business to attend to over in the neck of the woods near Uncle Peter's, so I can land at the ford for dinner with you."

Father was a great comfort to me. He always took such a sane view of subjects. I was very uneasy for fear he might think we would have to stay at home because of Cousin Park, as he was very strict with himself and me, too, where hospitality to disagreeable relatives was concerned. Cousin Park, however, could be perfectly well taken care of at Bracken without us and there was no reason why we could not go on with our plans; certainly no reason why dear little Cousin Sue should have to forego the pleasure of the picnic to stay with a person who never lost an occasion to mention her Lee nose and her spinsterhood.




The Tuckers arrived right on the dot with Cousin Park. I had hoped they would get in first, but Henry Ford had a blow out and they had to stop for repairs.

We always had to send for Cousin Park in a great old sea-going rockaway that was never pulled out of the carriage house except on state occasions. Father and I hated to ride in it as it always reminded us of funerals and Cousin Park. It was a low swung vehicle with high, broad mud guards and a peculiar swaying motion that was apt either to put you to sleep or make you very seasick, if you were inclined that way. It took two large strong plow horses to propel it. I don't know where Father got it but I do know that he had always had it. I believe there are no more built like it but its counterpart may be seen in museums. I used to play dolls in it when[299] I was a kid, and on rare hilarious occasions when I had a companion we would get up great games of Jesse James and Dick Turpin and other noted highwaymen who would stop the coach and rob all the dolls.

Cousin Park came riding up in state, her ugly, cross old pug placed between her and Cousin Sue, who had most generously offered to go to Milton to meet our august relative so I could be at home to receive the Tuckers. As the rockaway made its ponderous way down the drive, the plow horses foaming painfully after their twelve-mile pull, six to Milton and six back, I spied Henry Ford, in a swirling cloud of dust, turn into the avenue, and in a trice he was whizzing up behind the old sea-going rockaway. Pug wrinkled his fat neck and whimpered when he saw Brindle, who occupied the back seat with Dee; Cousin Park gave an audible snort. Brindle paid no attention at all to Pug but sat like a bulldog done in bronze and for the time being even refrained from snuffling.

I dreaded the meeting between my dear friends, the Tuckers, and Cousin Park, knowing that[300] lady's overbearing manner when things did not go to suit her. But I really had not fathomed the depth of Zebedee's mixing powers. I remembered what Dee had said about his being able to make crabs and ice cream agree if he set his mind to it.

All the Tuckers looked rather aghast as they drew up near the rockaway from which Cousin Park was emerging, Pug clasped in her arms. They composed their countenances quickly, however, at least Dee and Zebedee did; Dum was never able to pull her social self together quite so quickly as her father and sister. Zebedee shut off his engine and in a moment was assisting my dignified relative with her many traveling necessities: small pillows of various sizes and shapes, designed to ease different portions of one's anatomy on trains and in carriages (she carried four of them); several silk bags bulging with mysterious contents; a black sunshade; her turkey-tail fan; Pug and a box of dog biscuit.

Zebedee got them all safely into the house, even taking Pug tenderly in his arms, much to the astonishment of that dull-witted canine. He[301] assured Cousin Park that Brindle would not hurt Pug, provided Pug did not try to get too intimate with him and bore him.

"We can count on Brindle up to a certain point, but if he gets very bored he is apt to be cross," another human attribute my dear Tuckers gave their pet. Cousin Park rather bridled at the idea of her precious dog's boring anything, but Zebedee's manner was so deferential and his solicitude so apparent that mortal woman could not have withstood him.

Cousin Sue and the Tuckers took to one another from the beginning. I had thought they would, but sometimes the friends that you expect to like one another are the very ones that act "Dr. Fell" and develop a strange and unreasoning dislike.

The picnic was under discussion and was approved of unanimously. I thought Dum blushed a little when I announced that Mr. Reginald Kent was back in the county. She undoubtedly had a soft spot in her girl's heart for the good looking young illustrator who had been so enamoured of her the winter before.[302]

One thing occurred to mar our pleasant anticipations: Cousin Park, instead of declining the invitation to go on the picnic, which Father and I pressed upon her, expecting of course that she would refuse, accepted with alacrity, announcing that the piney air would be good for Pug. We told her the road was impossible for the rockaway and that she would have to go in a spring wagon; but that made no difference, go she would and go she did, four little cushions, bulging silk bags, purple and black knitting, Pug and package of dog biscuit, turkey-tail fan and all.

We made an early start to avoid the heat of the August day. Mammy Susan had packed a hamper with every conceivable good thing the countryside afforded, and the floor of the spring wagon was filled with watermelons, the pride of my dear father's heart. Next to his library, Father loved his watermelon patch. My earliest remembrance is watermelon seed spread out on letter paper to dry, with a description of that particular melon written on the paper. Every good melon must have some seed saved from it for the purpose of reproducing the species.[303] "Very rich in colour with black seeds and thin rind. Sweet and juicy," would be one; then another: "Small, round, dark green,—meat pale in colour but mealy and very delicious;" another: "Large, striped rattlesnake variety,—good if allowed to ripen, but great favourite with niggers."

On that hot day in August small round ones rubbed noses with large rattlesnake varieties and the rich red ones with thin rinds and black seeds jostled each other in the bottom of the wagon as we bumped over the none too smooth roads that our country boasted.

Cousin Park required a whole back seat for herself and Pug and her many belongings. Zebedee drove with Cousin Sue Lee and Brindle on the front seat with him, and we three girls sat in the back with the tail gate down and our legs a-dangling. It was thoroughly selfish of Cousin Park to allow us to do it but we enjoyed it hugely. Father had many morning calls to make but was to land at the ford for dinner.

Jo Winn was waiting at the cross roads in his knock-about, his favourite setter between his[304] knees and his handsome cousin by his side. Mr. Kent could hardly wait for the vehicle to stop to jump out and speak to us. Again he seemed to think we needed masculine protection so Dee changed places with him and joined the grinning and delighted Jo, and the young advertising artist squeezed in between Dum and me.

A jolly ride we had in spite of the many bumps in the road and the fact that at every bump the watermelons would roll against our backs. Cousin Park sat in solemn silence, but Zebedee and Cousin Sue kept up a lively conversation on the front seat and we three with our legs a-dangling never paused a moment in our lively chatter.

I think Cousin Park regretted many times that she had not decided to spend the day quietly at Bracken with Miss Pinky Davis for company and Mammy Susan to wait on her. We had not let her come without informing her of the bad roads and the long drive to Uncle Peter's cabin and then the rough walk to the ford, but nothing would keep her from coming and now she was making the best of it. She emitted an occasional[305] groan but never a word of complaint, which was quite fine of her in a way.

We found Uncle Peter hoeing his tobacco but glad of an excuse to stop. Aunt Rosana was as fat as ever and her cabin just as clean. She was overjoyed to see us and flattered beyond measure when Mr. Kent told her he had come all the way back from New York just to get another picture of the inside of her house. This time he wanted to make a drawing, not being satisfied with the time exposure he had taken before. Of course he could not possibly find his way to the ford alone, so the wily youth persuaded Dum to wait with him while he made his sketch. She seemed nothing loath and even made a sketch herself.

"Lawsamussy, Rosana! Come look at dese here watermillions Docallison done sent to de pickanigger!" exclaimed Uncle Peter, his eyes rolling in delight. Aunt Rosana waddled out.

"Great Gawd! They mus' be one apiece."

"So they are, Aunt Rosana, and you must have one left here for you so you can have your share. Which kind do you like best?" I asked.

"Well, all watermillions is good but some is[306] scrumptious, and I low I'll take a chanct on one er dem striped rattlers. If it do prove to be scrumptious they will be so much er it. I is jes' lak a lil' pig wif a million—whin he'll eat a whole bucket er slop an' thin git in de bucket. I eats all they is an' thin jes' fair wallows in de rime."

"I can't raise no millions, it looks like," said Uncle Peter sadly. "Dem dere swamp niggers comes an' gathers 'em whin dey's no bigger 'n cowcumbers." He reached into the back of the wagon and thumped every melon with his horny forefinger, a smile of extreme satisfaction lighting his kindly features. "I tell yer, Docallison ain't a gwine ter hab no millions on his plantation pulled green. He knows de music ub a ripe un 'bout as well as he reckernizes de soun' ub pneumony in a sick man's chist. Whin I comes to think ub it they is similar sounds. I'll be boun' Docallison done got up hisself an' pulled dese here millions wif de dew on 'em. Dey's still cold in spite of the heat dey done been in."

That was so. Father always pulled the watermelons himself and always did it very early in the morning when the dew was still on them.[307]

We started on our walk to the ford, the same walk we had taken the winter before on our memorable deer hunt. Uncle Peter loaded the melons into his wheelbarrow and Zebedee and Jo Winn swung the baskets on a stout pole which they carried between them. Cousin Park got between Dee and me and taking an arm of each proceeded on her ponderous way. I would gladly have wheeled the watermelons or carried the hampers. It would have been child's play beside the load we carried. Pug and Brindle trotted along, Brindle still ignoring the existence of Pug and Pug whimpering every time he caught Brindle's eye. Jo's setter kept well in advance and pretended he was none of us.

"Why do we go so far? Why not sit down right here and have our repast?" panted poor Cousin Park.

"But we are to fish at the river," suggested Cousin Sue, who was laden with Cousin Park's many cushions and bags and the knitting and dog biscuit.

"And there is such a fine spring there, too," I said, and added, knowing Cousin Park's weakness:[308] "We can't make the coffee unless we get near a spring." And so we trudged on, Zebedee and Uncle Peter taking down the worm fences to let Cousin Park and the watermelons through, and then patiently building them up again.

There was the deep cathedral peace in the pine woods and our presence seemed almost a sacrilege as we tramped heavily over the soft bed of fragrant pine needles. Cousin Park had to sit down and rest every now and then and it took the combined effort of all the males, white and coloured, to get her on her feet after one of these pauses.

At last we reached our camping ground. The kindly and resourceful Zebedee made a bed for my august relative of pine boughs and with the help of the different sized and shaped pillows she was quite comfortable. With her various bags distributed around her and her knitting and her stupid Pug by her side she went off into a deep sleep, much to the relief and delight of all of us.

"Now we can be ourselves!" exclaimed Zebedee, turning handsprings like a boy; and Cousin Sue and Dee and I caught hold of hands and ran[309] to the spring which sparkled and gurgled in a beautiful stone grotto at the foot of the hill near the river ford. Uncle Peter put all the melons into the little branch flowing from the spring and there they cooled to a queen's taste.

We made the camp fire and prepared the coffee well away from Cousin Park and we devoutly hoped that she would sweetly sleep until her favourite beverage was ready.

What a good time we did have that day! We fished in the river, and while our catch was nothing to be proud of, we had fun all the same. Dee caught a catfish that pulled and tugged at her line like a veritable whale. She finally landed it with a shriek that made Cousin Park stir uneasily from her bed of pine boughs and brought on herself, Dee, a good shaking from Zebedee.

"Wake her up, and I declare you will have to entertain her! It's your turn, anyhow."

I caught what Uncle Peter called "a mud turkle." We threw him back into his delectable mud and he went in with a grateful "kerchunk," sending back many bubbles of appreciation.

"Almost as good at making bubbles as a young[310] lady I know," said Zebedee, re-baiting my hook for me.

Enough small river perch were caught to make a little mess which Uncle Peter cleaned with great skill and fried on our camp fire. Dum and her cavalier, having finished the sketching, joined us with such a racket that Cousin Park really waked up and confessed herself much refreshed when she detected the odour of coffee in the air. She was much more of a sport than I had expected to find her and not such a bad picnicker after all.

Father got there in time to sit down to as good a dinner as was served in all the land on that hot day in August, I am sure. Sally Winn had put on the big pot and the little, and Mammy Susan had out-Susaned herself. We had no forks for our fried fish, but the person who can't eat a fried fish without a fork deserves to go fishless. Cousin Park drank so much strong coffee that she was really boozy and actually flirted with Zebedee.

The watermelons were—well, there are no words to describe those melons. Watermelons[311] are like sunsets—no words can picture them. You have to be on the spot with both wonders to appreciate them. Father's pockets were bulging with seeds, saved for next year's planting. Uncle Peter, who sat over behind a pine tree having his dinner, declared himself "fittin' fur to bust!"

All of us had reached our limit of endurance and when the food was all disposed of decided we should either have to go on a long walk or drop to sleep. Cousin Park again sought her pine bough couch where she sat in state, dozing and knitting on her ugly black and purple shawl. Uncle Peter acted as body guard to her while all the rest of us went on a long tramp on the other side of the river.

We came back feeling fine and no longer full to "stuffifaction," as poor dear Blanche used to say. Zebedee held up two fingers, the sign all the world over among boys that a swim would be in order. Father responded with a boyish laugh and all the men trooped off to a swimming hole that Jo knew of a little way down the river.[312] We could hear their shouts of laughter and a great splashing.

They were hardly out of sight when we were out of our shoes and stockings and in wading, Cousin Sue as eager as any of us. How good it felt! I'd rather wiggle my toes in a clear brown stream with a sandy bottom than do anything in the world. We took bits of bark and slender twigs and scraps of stray paper and sailed them down the swift-flowing water, watching to see which reached the tiny eddying rapids first and cheering the winners. Then at Dee's suggestion we picked up little pieces of wood and named them Volunteer, Valiant, Vixen, and Valkyrie and held an exciting cup race.

We dabbled our hands in the cool water. We splashed and sang. We romped and ran. You know what we did and what fun we had if you ever spent part of an August day in such a lovely spot.

But bye and bye we heard laughter again and voices, and we knew the men were coming back. So we scrambled out of the stream, dried our feet[313] on the sunny bank and popped them again into demure and proper coverings.

We sighed a little that it was over—that glorious bit of freedom—but argued that it must stop sometime.

And that reminds me: this book, too, must stop, and it might as well be now, although the picnic story is not quite ended.

I had thought of telling how Uncle Peter took Cousin Park back to the spring wagon in his wheelbarrow, and something of the wonderful drive home with the crescent moon shining in the glow of the sunset. How Father drove Cousin Sue in his buggy and I sat on the front seat with Zebedee,—but I must stop.

I wonder,—shall I meet you all again when I am "Back at School with the Tucker Twins?"





Transcriber's Note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Varied hyphenation was retained. This includes words such as cork-screw and corkscrew; football and foot-ball. This text spells the more usual "Monticello" as "Montecello."

The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.




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