Illustrations by S. Schneider
A. L. CHATTERTON COMPANY
NEW YORK, N. Y.
I. SAILING DOWN THE HUDSON 9
II. A RACE AND ITS ENDING 24
III. ADRIFT IN THE GREAT CITY 40
IV. ON BOARD THE "PRINCE" 57
V. MOONLIGHT AND MIST ON THE SEA 73
VI. SAFE ON SHORE 89
VII. FINNAN HADDIE IN A GARDEN 106
VIII. DOROTHY AND THE BASHFUL BUGLER 124
IX. AN OX-OMOBILE AND A SAILBOAT 142
X. WHAT BEFELL A "DIGBY CHICKEN" 158
XI. IN EVANGELINE LAND 171
XII. SIGHT SEEING UNDER DIFFICULTIES 187
XIII. A MESSAGE FOR THE CAMP 202
XIV. HOW MOLLY CAME TO CAMP 217
XV. MRS. CALVERT PLANS AN INFAIR 234
XVI. WHEN JOURNEYS END IN WELCOME 249
SAILING DOWN THE HUDSON
"All aboard—what's goin'! All ashore—what ain't!"
The stentorian shout of the colored steward, so close to Dorothy's ear, made her jump aside with a little scream. Then as she saw that the boat hands were about to draw the gang plank back to the steamer's deck, she gave another little cry and fairly pushed Alfaretta toward it.
"Never mind hugging me now, girlie, you must go or you'll be left!"
But the lassie from the mountain only smiled and answered:
"I don't mind if I am. Look a-here!" and with that she pulled a shabby purse from the front of her blouse and triumphantly displayed its contents.
"Oh! Alfy! How'll you ever get back?"
"Easy as preachin'. I—"
But Dorothy had no further time to waste in argument. Here were Jim Barlow and Monty Stark shaking either hand and bidding a hasty good-by, while Molly Breckenridge was fairly dancing up and down in her anxiety lest the lads should also be left on board, as Alfaretta was likely to be.
But they were not. Another second they had bounded down the stairs from the saloon to the lower deck, a workman had obligingly caught Monty by his coat collar and laughingly flung him over the plank to the dock beyond, while Jim's long legs strode after and made their last leap across a little chasm of water.
"Good-by, good-by, good-by!"
Handkerchiefs waved, kisses were tossed across the widening water, the bell rang, the whistle tooted, and Dorothy's travels had begun. Then as the group of schoolmates watching this departure from the shore grew more indistinct she turned upon her old mountain friend with the astonished question:
"But Alfaretta! Whatever made you do this? What will become of you, alone in that great city of New York?"
"I didn't say anything about Ne' York, did I? Should think you'd be glad to have me go along with you a little bit o' way. Course, I shall get off the boat when it stops to Cornwall landing. And I thought—I thought—Seems if I couldn't have you go so far away, Dolly. It's terrible lonesome up-mounting now-a-days. And I—I don't see why some folks has everything and some hasn't nothin'!"
There was more grief than grammar in this speech and a few tears sprang to the girl's eyes. But Alfy boasted that she was not a "crier" and as she heard the stewardess announcing: "Tickets, ladies and gentlemen," she dashed the moisture away and stared at the woman.
After her usual custom, "Fanny" was collecting money from the various passengers and would obligingly procure their tickets for those not already provided. As she made her way through the throng, which on that summer morning crowded the upper deck of the pretty "Mary Powell," the three young friends watched her with surprised interest.
Apparently she took no note of the amount anybody gave her, carrying bills of all dimensions between her fingers and piles of specie on her broad palm.
"How can she tell how much she's taken from anybody? How can she give them their right change?" wondered Dorothy.
"I give it up! She must be a deal better at arithmetic than I am. I should make the mixedest mess of that business;" answered Molly, equally curious.
"Yet you will see that she makes no mistakes. I've been traveling up and down the river on this same boat for many years and I've given her all sorts of sums, at times, on purpose to try her. But her memory never fails," said Miss Greatorex who was in charge of the party. She sat quite calmly with the amount of three fares in her hand but with a most forbidding gaze at Alfaretta.
Who that young person was or why she had thrust herself into their company she did not understand. She had herself but known of this trip on the day before, when Miss Penelope Rhinelander had been obliged to give it up, on account of the extreme illness of a near relative.
However, here she was with her two pupils, whom she taught at the Rhinelander Academy, bound for a summer's outing in—to her and them—unknown lands. Also, as there may be some who have not hitherto followed the fortunes of Dorothy, it may be well to explain that she was a foundling, left upon the doorstep of a man and wife, in a quiet street in Baltimore. That he had lost his health and his position as a letter-carrier in that city and had removed to his wife's small farm in the Hudson Highlands. That among their friends there was somebody who had taken an interest in the orphan girl and had burdened himself—or herself—with the charge of her education. That she had passed the last school year at the Academy and had been in some most exciting episodes detailed in "Dorothy's Schooling;" and that now, at the beginning of the long vacation, she was traveling with her closest school friend and a teacher, whose life she had been the means of saving at the time of the Academy fire, toward New York; and from thence to Nova Scotia—there to grow strong for another year of study.
Alfaretta Babcock's home was near to her home upon the mountain; and though unlike, there was a sincere affection between this untaught country girl and the dainty Dorothy, and Alfy had begged a ride in a neighbor's wagon going to Newburgh, that she might bid her friend good by and watch her set sail on what seemed must be the most wonderful of journeys.
She was to have returned home as she had come; but when the steamer was on the point of leaving an impulse had seized her to travel thus herself, if only for the brief distance between this landing and the one nearer her own home. She had a few cents in her purse and hoped they would be enough to pay her fare; and now when they were already moving down the stream and her familiar mountain-top came into view, she made a wild dart toward the stewardess, shouting:
"Ma'am, please, ma'am, take mine! I've got to get off the next place and—and—I mustn't be left!"
Fanny picked up the camp-chair Alfy had stumbled over, remarked in a soothing voice, "Plenty of time, little gal, oceans of time, oceans of time," and glanced at the money so suddenly thrust into her already crowded palm.
"Four cents, little gal? Hardly enough. Fifteen is the regular fare. All you got, sissy? Look and see."
The tone was kind but the statement sounded like a knell in poor Alfaretta's ears. Thousands of times she had watched the many boats pass up and down the river, but only once had she been upon any and that was a row-boat. It had been the dream of her life to voyage, as she was doing now, far and away beyond those Highlands, that seemed to meet and clasp hands across the mighty stream, and see the wonderful world that lay beyond. For the boats always disappeared around that projecting point of rock and forest, and so she knew that the mountains did not meet but merely seemed so to do. Well, of course, she wasn't to find out about them to-day. She knew that quite well, because her own landing was on this side the "Point" and she could go no further. Indeed, could she now go even so far?
"Fifteen cents! My heart!—I—I—What can I do? Will the captain drop me—in the—river? Will—"
The stewardess was very busy. People were watching her a little anxiously because of her indifferent handling of her money and the tickets she had not hurried to bring; and the sudden terrified clutch at her skirts which Alfy gave set her tripping among the crowded chairs and made her answer, crossly:
"For goodness sake, girl, keep out from under foot! If you haven't the money go to your friends and get it!"
"Friends! I haven't got any!" cried Alfaretta, and flung her skirt over her face and herself down upon the nearest seat.
From their own place Molly and Dolly watched this little by-play for a moment, then darted forward themselves to see what was the matter.
"Why, Alfy dear, what's happened? Won't the woman get your ticket for you? Never mind. I'll ask her. Maybe she will for me."
"You needn't, Dolly girl! There ain't enough and I'm afraid they'll drop me off into the water! She—she—"
"Alfy! How silly! Nobody would do such a thing. It would be murder. But you shouldn't have come unless you had the money and I'll go ask Miss Greatorex for some. She has our purses in her satchel, taking care of them for us. Wait a minute. You stay with her, Molly, while I go get it. How much, Alfy?"
The girl began to count upon her fingers:
"Four—that's what I have and it was meant for candy for the children—five, six—How many more'n four does it take to make fifteen I wonder? I'm so scared I can't think. And I wish, I—wish—to—goodness—knows I'd ha' said good-by back there to the dock and not let myself get carried off down river to nobody knows where. If they dassent to drop me off the boat they might keep me here till I paid—"
"Alfaretta Babcock! I certainly am ashamed of you. That's a hard thing to say, just at parting, but it's the truth. The idea! First you fancy a decent human being will drown you because you haven't a little money, and then you can't reckon fifteen! What would dear Mr. Seth say, after teaching you so faithfully? Never mind. Don't act so foolish any more and I'll go get the money."
This was not so easy as she fancied. The boat was already nearing the next landing where Alfaretta must go ashore, or be carried on to a much greater distance from her home, but it seemed difficult to make Miss Greatorex understand what was wanted and why. The poor lady's deafness had increased since her fright and exposure at the time of the fire and, now that she had been put into a position of greater trust than ever before, her sense of responsibility weighed heavily upon her. At parting, her principal, Miss Rhinelander, had enjoined:
"Take particular care of the girls' finances, Cousin Isobel. It is important that they should learn to be wise in their small expenditures so that they may be equally prudent when they come to have the handling of larger sums—if that should ever be. Make them give a strict account of everything and check any foolishness at the beginning."
The subordinate promised. She was a "poor relation" and knew that she was an unpopular teacher with many of the pupils of the fine school, though she had modified her sternness altogether in the case of Dorothy who had saved her from the fire. But the mandate of her superior was fresh in her mind. She had been touched by the rarely familiar "Cousin Isobel," and determined to do her duty to the utmost. Yet here was Dorothy already screaming into her deafest ear:
"My purse, please, Miss Greatorex! I want some money right away! Quick, quick, please, or it'll be too late!"
The girl's voice was so highly pitched that people around began to stare and some of them to smile. Like most afflicted persons the lady was sensitive to the observation of others and now held up her hand in protest against the attention they were attracting.
"Softly, Dorothy. Better write what you wish if you cannot speak more distinctly;" and a small pad with pencil was extended.
But Dorothy did not take them. The satchel upon Miss Greatorex's lap was open, her own and Molly's purses lay within. To snatch them both up and rush away was her impulsive act and to scamper back across the deck, wherever she could find a passage, took but a moment longer. But she was none too soon.
Down below the steward was again crying:
"All aboard what's goin'! All ashore what ain't! All who hasn't got deir tickets, please step right down to de Cap'n's office and settle."
While another loud voice ordered:
"Aft gangway for Cornwall! All ashore—all ashore! Aft gangway—all ashore!"
Some were hurrying down the stairs to that "aft gangway," others speeding up them in equal haste with that excitement which always marks the infrequent traveler, and poor Alfaretta caught the same fever of haste. Without a word of real farewell, now that she had come thus far at so much risk to speak it, she dashed ahead, slipped on the brass-tipped stair and plunged headlong into the space below.
For an instant there was silence even in that busy scene, people halting in their ascent and porters turning their skids aside with angry exclamations, lest the trunks they wheeled should fall upon her as she seemed bent to fall upon them.
Yet only one thought now possessed the terrified girl—escape! She had bumped her head till she was dizzy, but she mustn't stop for that. Yonder yawned that open space in the deck-rail which they called the "aft gangway" and toward that point she propelled herself regardless of all that impeded her way.
Down the plank, out upon the boards of the board dock, into the medley of stages and yelling drivers she hurried, very much as James Barlow and Montmorency Stark had done at that other, upper landing. But when she felt the solid quay beneath her feet she paused, clapped her hands to her dizzy head and—felt herself grasped in a wild and fierce embrace.
Then both upon that dock and the deck of the outgoing steamer rang a shout of merriment, which made anger take the place of fear as she whirled about in the arms of whoever held her and shook her fist at the boat and its passengers.
"Well! That was a short trip but it was full of incident!" remarked one passenger, near to Molly and Dorothy. They had run to the rail to see what followed Alfy's disappearance, and if she were carried away injured. "I saw her come aboard and depart and she managed to get a deal of action into those few minutes. Friend of yours, young ladies?"
They faced about, wondering why this man should speak to them. He looked like a gentleman though a rather shabby one. Montmorency would have termed him "seedy." His coat had seen better days and his hat, lying on the bench beside him, was worn and discolored, and his thin white hair told that he, also, was old. This made the girls regard him kindly, for both of them had a reverence for age.
More than that, a crutch rested against his knee and this made an instant appeal to Dorothy's sympathy. She had seen nobody with a crutch since she had said farewell to Father John; and now in pity for this other cripple she lingered near answering his many questions most politely.
"Yes, she is a friend. She—I guess she ran away to sail a short distance with us. We shan't see each other again this summer. She forgot her money. I mean she didn't have any to forget; and—Sir? What did you ask me to find?"
"To buy a morning paper for me, my dear. You see, being lame—Did you ever know anybody who was lame?" asked the old man, with a smile.
"Ah! yes. The dearest man in all the world; my father."
Thereupon Dorothy huddled down beside the stranger and gave a history of her father's illness, his wonderful patience, and the last effort he was making to regain his health.
She did not know that it is often unsafe to talk with unknown people upon a journey; and in any case she would not have feared such a benignant old gentleman as this. She ended her talk with the inquiry:
"Where will I find the paper, Mr.—Mr.—I mean, sir?"
"Smith my name is. John Smith of Smithville. You'll find all the papers and books at a news-stand on the lower deck. There's a candy-stand there, too, such as will interest you two more than the papers, likely;" he answered with another smile.
They started down the stairs leading from the main saloon to the lower part of the boat, and not until they had reached the news-stand did either of them remember that she hadn't brought her purse nor asked which paper their new acquaintance desired.
"Oh! dear! Wasn't that silly of us! And we're almost to West Point, where my cousin Tom's a cadet! He promised to be on the lookout for us, if he could get leave to go to the steamboat landing. I wrote and told him about our trip and he answered right away. He's Aunt Lucretia's only child and she adores him. Hasn't spoiled him though. Papa took care about that! If I go back after our pocket-books I may lose the chance to see him! So provoking! I wish now we hadn't bothered ourselves about that old man. If he was able to come aboard the boat and go up those stairs to the deck he was able to buy his own old papers. So there!" cried Molly, stamping her little foot in her vexation.
West Point cadets are given few permissions to leave their Academy for social visits, so that Tom had never been to the Rhinelander school where rules were also so strict that Molly had been but once to see her cousin in his own quarters. Until he went to the Point and she to school in the hill-city a few miles further up the river, they had lived together in her father's house and were like brother and sister. The disappointment now was great to the loving girl and Dorothy hastened to comfort, by saying:
"Never mind, Molly, you stay right here. See! they're fixing that gang-plank again, at this very part of the deck. You stand right outside, close against the rail but where you won't be in the men's way and, if he's there, you'll surely see him.
"I'll go back and get the purses. Where did you lay them?"
"Hum. I don't know. I can't exactly think. You handed me yours, I remember, when you stooped to pick up his crutch he'd knocked down. Ah! Now I know. My hands got so warm and your pocketbook was red and I thought it would stain my new gloves. So I just laid them down on the bench beside him. You'll find them right there beside him. You can ask him which paper, then, and I say, Dolly Doodles, what right had that hindering old thing to expect us—us—to buy his papers for him? Why didn't he give us the money, himself? Seems if we'd been sort of—sort of goosies, doesn't it?"
"Oh! Molly! That's not nice of you to think about that dear, lame old man! And why he didn't was, I suppose, because he didn't think. We don't always think ourselves, dearie. Never mind. I'll hurry and be right back."
"Yes, do—do hurry! I've said so much about you in my letters I'm just suffering to have you two meet. Just suffering! Hark! They're whistling and ringing the bell and we'll be there in a minute! Do, do hurry—for I believe I see him now—that tall one at the end of the wharf—Hurry—or, better still—Wait! Wait!"
But long before the excited Molly had finished speaking Dorothy had run up the stairs, along the long passage to the aft deck where she had left her lame acquaintance waiting for her to do his simple errand.
He was not in the spot where she had left him. He was not in the big saloon, or parlor. He was not upon the forward deck; not yet amid the crowd pressed to the deck's rail, to watch for whatever might be seen at this historic landing place. Flying to the rail she scanned the few departing passengers and he was not among them. She saw, but scarcely realized that she did, a group of three cadets who had come as near the steamer as the wharf permitted and were gaily chattering with her chum, during the short stop that was made.
"Could he have fallen overboard? And if he did why did he take our purses with him?" she wondered. Then reflected that it would be a difficult thing to explain this affair to Miss Greatorex; and also that the missing pocket-books contained a full month's "allowance" for both Molly and herself.
A RACE AND ITS ENDING
Dorothy's search for the missing old man and, to her, the more important missing purses brought her to the lower deck and Molly. The latter was still leaning upon the rail, gazing a little sadly into the water, for the brief glimpse she had had of her cousin Tom had recalled their happy days in their old southern home. There were even a few tears in her bright blue eyes as she raised them toward her friend; but she checked them at once, frightened by the expression of Dorothy's own.
"Why, honey, what's the matter?"
"Our pocket-books are lost!"
"Lost? Lost! They can't be. You mustn't say so. We can't, we daren't lose them. Weren't they on that bench beside the old man?" demanded Molly.
"No, they were not. They were not anywhere—any single where. He wasn't either."
"Pooh! He must be. He probably wanted to change his seat and was afraid to leave them lying on the bench, lest somebody might be tempted to pick them up. Somebody to whom they didn't belong, I mean."
"Molly, what shall we do? What will Miss Greatorex say?"
"Humph. She'll probably scream out her disgust as if we were deaf too like herself. That's the way she always does: when there's something to be said you don't want anybody else to hear she just talks her loudest; and when there's something you're longing to know she merely whispers. That's the way all deaf people do, Miss Penelope says. And—you're the one that lost them, so you'll be the one to tell her, Dorothy girl."
"Why, child, I don't see how I lost them any more than you did! I'm sorry as I can be. Sorrier about yours than mine even, though I'd planned so many nice things to do with the money. Five dollars! Think of it! I never before had five whole dollars at a time, never in my life!" said Dolly, mournfully.
"Well, what's the use staying down here and just worrying about the thing? Let's go and look again for the man. When we find the man we shall find the purses; but—whether he'll give them back to us is another matter."
"Molly, what a dreadful thing to say! As if you thought he—he stole them, a nice old gentleman like that!"
"Pooh! Once my Aunt Lucretia had her little handbag snatched out of her hand, right on Broadway street in New York city. She did so; and all she could remember about the snatcher was that he was a handsome young man with an eyeglass in one eye. A regular dandy he was, if the thief was the fellow who brushed against her so rudely. Anyhow, after he'd brushed, her bag was gone and all her shopping money in it. Papa told her it served her right. That to carry a purse, or a bag, that way was a temptation to any rogue who happened to pass by. He said the snatcher was smarter than Auntie and he hoped it would teach her a lesson. Aunt Lu thought Papa was almost as horrid as the thief; and what will either of them say to us for being so careless?"
"I suppose we'll have to tell them!" reflected Dorothy, in sad perplexity.
"Course we will. Aren't they both to meet us at the steamer? Aren't they going with us all the way to Halifax? Why, I should want to tell the very first thing. How else would I get any more money?"
"I don't know, I'm sure. Lucky you! As for me there's nobody to replace my five dollars, so far as I know."
"Oh! come on. Don't let's stand moping. I'll tell you. Let's begin right here at this spot. You go one side this lower place, all along that passage beside the engine-rooms and things and I'll go the other. Then if we don't see him anywhere here we'll meet at the foot of the stairs and search the upper floor just the same way. Out on both ends of the boat, poke into closets and barber-shop and captain's office—everywhere there is a chance a man, a passenger man, might be."
It seemed a fine scheme and they promptly separated to put it into execution. But when they met at the foot of the stairway, leading to the upper saloon, neither had any success to report. Nor did they meet with any better fortune when they had made a prolonged examination of the whole steamer, even climbing to the hurricane deck and questioning the officer upon the bridge.
As they slowly descended to the place where Miss Greatorex awaited them, alarmed by their absence and equally afraid to move from the spot lest somebody else should confiscate their three comfortable camp-chairs and, possibly, their hand luggage, Dorothy suggested:
"Let's write it. That'll save other people, strangers, from hearing. Miss G. always carries a pad and pencil with her and I'll do it myself, since you think I'm most to blame. But I'm afraid even my writing won't stop her talking when she finds out! Oh! dear! I wish Alfy Babcock had never come on this boat! Then I shouldn't have gone to watch her and seen him."
"Huh! I don't think it's quite fair to blame poor Alfy for our own fault. We'd no business to be so careless, either one of us. I had a bright notion that maybe that stewardess or some official had picked up the pocket-books, so I asked every single one of them, big and little, black and white, and not a soul knew a thing about it. No, Dolly Doodles, the blame's our own and—the man's," said Molly, with conviction.
Miss Greatorex was vastly relieved to see her charges returning to her side. She had become anxious over their prolonged absence and in her nervousness had imagined all sorts of accidents which might have befallen them. Yet the same nervousness had prevented her questioning any employee of the steamer, who had come near, she shrinking from the observation this would attract to her deafness.
Therefore, it was with a much brighter smile than ordinary that she welcomed the truants, and was disappointed to have her greeting so dejectedly returned.
"I began to worry over you, my dears, I cannot call either of you really mischievous, yet I hope you won't leave me in suspense so long again. Anywhere, so that you are in my sight all of the time, you are free to move about. But—Why, my dears! What has happened to make you so sober?"
It certainly was vexing, when the lady was making such extra effort to be agreeable and to adapt herself to young people's ideas, to have these efforts so disregarded; and it was a strange thing that Dorothy should without permission take the notebook and pencil from her teacher's lap and begin to write.
Miss Isobel had set forth upon her travels with the firm intention of making notes about everything along the way and it disturbed her methodical soul to have anybody else "messing" with this neat little record. It was only a trifle better that the girl should have turned to the very back of the book and chosen a fly leaf there to scribble on. Scribbling it seemed, so rapidly was it done, and after a brief time the book was returned to its owner and she silently requested to examine what had been written in it. This is what she read:
"We've lost our pocket-books. Or, maybe, I lost them both. We've lost the man, too. He was a little, shiny old man, with a fringe of white hair around his head. When he put his hat on he had two foreheads under its rim, one before and one behind. His coat was shiny. His hat was shiny and had a hole in it. He—he seemed to shine all over, especially in his smile. That was perfectly lovely. Have you seen him? Because if you know where he is I'd like to ask him for our purses. That is if he has them as Molly and, maybe, I think. Else how could we buy his paper for him without any money and how can we give him the paper if he—isn't?"
Poor Dorothy fancied that she had made everything most explicit yet, at the same time, very gently broken the news of the lost purses. She was unprepared for the expression of confusion that settled upon Miss Greatorex's austere features as she read this communication once, then more carefully a second time.
Leaning forward, eagerly observant of "how she'll take it" Molly perceived that Dorothy's explanation hadn't been sufficient; or else that it had not dawned upon Miss Isobel's comprehension that her girls had really been so careless, that the loss was genuine. As the lady looked up, after this second reading, with a question but no anger in her expression, the observer exclaimed:
"Dolly, I don't believe you've told her all. Give me the book, please, Miss G. and I'll see what it says."
Then after a rapid perusal of the message Molly turned upon her chum with an amused indignation:
"You've said more about your 'shiny old man' with his adorable smile than our own trouble. Here, I'll write and I guess there won't be any mistake this time."
So she also possessed herself of the cherished notebook and made her own brief entry:—
"We laid our purses down on a bench and a man stole them. The same man D. described. Now somebody must have stolen him 'cause he isn't on the boat."
"Laid your purses down on a bench and left them there?" demanded Miss Greatorex in her most excited tones. Tones so loud that all the passengers sitting near turned their heads to look and listen; thereby calling attention to the two blushing girls, in a manner most unpleasant.
All they could do to avert this audible upbraiding was to point to the notebook and mutely beg that she would do her scolding by that silent channel. Not she, however. Never in all the years of her drudgery of teaching had she felt her responsibility so great as now. To be entrusted with the charge of Miss Rhinelander's most indulged pupils—all the school knew that—had, at first seemed a burden, and next a most delightful honor. But, after all, they were just like other girls. Just as careless, just as disrespectful and annoying; for the sensitive old gentlewoman had considered the use of her notebook a presumption and their long absence from her side a proof that they were inconsiderate. However, these were mere matters of sentiment, but the loss of ten good dollars was a calamity.
"Well, young ladies, all I have to say, and you may note that it is my final word, is: Those pocket-books must be found. You cannot leave this steamer until they are. I have promised especial care over your expenditures and I shall do my duty. I am now going to read my history of Hendrik Hudson. While I am reading you can seek your purses. We have still a long time before reaching New York and the better you employ it the better for—all of us."
Every syllable was as distinctly uttered as if she were dictating to a secretary, but she ignored all the curious glances turned her way and resumed her reading with an air of great dignity.
Molly and Dolly exchanged dismayed glances; then giggled, perceiving amused expressions upon the faces of many travelers near them. The whole affair began to seem more absurd than serious, and, finally, unable to longer restrain their rather hysterical mirth, they rose and walked away arm in arm.
But they did no more searching. Had they not already looked everywhere? Besides, as Molly declared:
"We're more apt to see that man somewhere if we sit right still in one place. Papa told me that was the way to do, if I were ever lost anywhere. I was once, in a big store in New York, but I remembered, I sat right down by the door and just waited and prayed all the time that Auntie Lu would come and find me there. I was a little tacker then, not bigger'n anything. And she came. I don't know how much the praying did 'cause all I knew then was 'Now I lay me;' or how much the waiting. Anyhow she found me. So, maybe, if we keep still as still, the 'shiny man' will get around past us sometime. He's the lost one in the case, isn't he? And did you ever see how restless the people all do seem? I guess they're tired of the long sail and anxious to be off the boat."
"I guess so, too. Let's do something to pass the time. Count how many girls and women we can see in white shirt-waists—seems if it had rained them, seems if! Or how many people go trapesing up and down the deck. Make up stories about them, too, if you like, and fit names to them. I always do give a name to anybody I see and don't know. Let's call that nice looking man yonder 'Graysie.' He's all in gray clothes, hat, gloves, tie, and everything. There's another might be what Monty'd say was a 'hayseed.' I think that's not a nice name, though, but just call him 'Green Fields.' He's surely come from some farm up the river and looks as if he were enjoying every minute of this sail. I'm beginning to enjoy it too, now; only I'm getting dreadfully hungry. If I had my purse I think I'd go down to that stand in the corner and buy us some sandwiches;" said Dorothy, in response.
Cried Molly, indignantly:
"Don't talk about sandwiches to a poor, starving girl! Sailing does make a body ravenous, just ravenous, even though we did have a 'vacation-breakfast' with something besides cereals and milk. When Miss Rhinelander does 'treat' us she does it thoroughly. But, what shall you order when we get to New York and meet Papa and Auntie Lu? You know we're all to dine at a big hotel, for the Nova Scotia boat doesn't sail till two o'clock. Two o'clock sharp! Not a minute before nor a minute after, Papa says; and he goes out to that country every year. Sometimes in the hunting season and now just to camp out and fish and get—get fat, I tell him. It's dreadful wearing to be a Judge. Judge of the Supreme Court. That's what my father is. He's a bank president, too, and has lots to do with other people's money. But he's something to do with a railway besides, and all these things and his taking care of Aunt Lucretia's 'property' wears him out. She hasn't any property, really, except the little tumble-down house where she and Papa were born. Papa says it isn't worth the cost of powder to blow it up; but Auntie loves it and makes more fuss over it than Papa does over all his own things."
"A Judge is a man that can send a person to jail or not, isn't he?"
"Worse than that! He can send one to the gallows or the electric chair—if he has to. That's the wearing part; having to be 'just' when he just longs to be 'generous.' If it wasn't that he has the same power to set a person free, too, I guess he'd give up Judging. If he could. I don't know about such things. What I do know is that he and some other Judges and some more bankers and such men have the greatest fun ever, summer times. They hunt up old clothes and wear them right in the woods. Auntie says she doesn't know where they find such duds 'cause they certainly never owned them at any other time. Then they sleep on the ground, and cook over a fire they make themselves, and fish and tell stories. 'Just loaf' Papa says, and to hear him tell makes me sorrier than ever I'm not a boy. If I were I could go too. But a girl—Pshaw! Girls can't do a single thing that's worth while, seems to me!"
"I'm afraid I shall be afraid of a real Judge, Molly. I'm afraid I—"
"The idea! You'll forget all those 'afraids' the minute you see my darling father! But you didn't say what you'd order for your dinner."
"How can I order anything if I haven't the money to pay for it? Or does that all go in with the expenses of the whole trip, that Miss Greatorex has to take care of?" asked Dorothy, who was in real ignorance of some most practical matters, having merely been told that she was to take this journey under Miss Greatorex's charge.
"I don't know what goes in or out; but I do know that my father wouldn't let ladies pay for their dinners when he was along. A pretty kind of a gentleman that would be! And Judge Schuyler Breckenridge is a Perfect Gentleman, I want you to understand," answered Molly, proudly.
"So is my Father John," said Dorothy with equal decision; and for a few minutes there was silence while each loyal daughter reflected upon the astonishing merits of their respective fathers.
Afterward they interested themselves in watching the people near them; so that it was with some surprise they heard "Diamond," the steward, announcing:
"New Yawk! Twenty-third street landin'! Fo'wa'd gangway fo' Twen-ty—thir-d-st-r-e-et!!"
Then followed a little scurry as they sought Miss Greatorex to inquire if this were where they would leave the boat. However she said not; that they were to remain on board until the steamer landed at Desbrosses street, lower down the city. There she had been informed that Judge Breckenridge and Mrs. Hungerford would meet them. After dining together they would cross the city to the other East River and take the steamer for Yarmouth. It was all very simple and yet very exciting.
Both Miss Isobel and her pupils had "read up" on Nova Scotia and felt as if the short ocean trip would land them in a foreign country. Whether the entire vacation should be passed in that Province or they to travel further afield had not yet been decided.
However, New York was sufficiently exciting, even to Molly who had been there many times, and far more so to Dorothy, who had passed through it but once. They could scarcely keep their feet from dancing as they gathered with the rest of the downtown passengers to await the landing of the "Powell" and their going ashore.
"See! See! Papa! Darling Auntie Lu! There they are, there they are!" almost shrieked Molly, frantically waving her handkerchief to somebody on the wharf.
There were many answering wavings of handkerchiefs from expectant friends to those still on board, and Dorothy peered eagerly among them trying to decide which was the pair to whom her chum belonged. Turning her head to beg information on this point she suddenly perceived her "shiny old man." He was on the edge of the crowding passengers, holding back and yet apparently in haste to get forward, by watching for little breaks in the ranks and dodging swiftly through them. His crutch was under his arm, he was not using it. His hat-brim had been lowered over his face, his coat collar pulled high about his ears and securely buttoned. There was none of that benign appearance about him now which had so won Dorothy's sympathetic heart and if he were lame he admirably disguised the fact.
It was her chance! In another moment he would have left the boat and she would miss him. She would run up to him and ask him if he remembered about the purses—Quick, quick! He must have forgotten—
He was going. Everybody was going. She kept her eyes fixed upon him, unmindful of the fact that somebody else was crowding her apart from Molly and Miss Greatorex, or that, as the throng pressed outward, they were getting further and further away.
The "shiny man" wasn't three feet ahead of her when they at last gained the gang-plank and surged forward to the wharf. She could almost touch his shoulder—she would in a minute—she was gaining—
No she wasn't! He had slipped aside and was hurrying away with the agility of youth! It couldn't be the cripple and yet—there was the point of his crutch sticking out behind! Well, she reckoned she could run as fast as he did and she promptly set out to try!
It was a strange race in a strange place. West street in New York is a very crowded, dirty thoroughfare. An endless, unbroken line of drays, beer-wagons, vehicles of every sort, moves up one side and down the other of the hurrying street cars which claim the centre roadway. The pavement is always slippery with slime, the air always full of hoarse shouts, cries and distracting whistles. Car bells jangle, policemen yell their warnings to unwary foot passengers, hackmen screech their demands for patronage, and hurrying crowds move to and fro between the ferries and the city. A place that speedily set Dorothy's nerves a-tingle with fear, yet never once diverted her from her purpose.
As she had once followed poor Peter Piper in a mad race over the fields, "just for fun," so now she followed her "shiny man," to regain her lost property. She had become convinced that he had it. He looked, at last, exactly like a person who would rob little girls of their last five dollars! Their own whole monthly allowance and a most liberal one.
"But he shall not keep it! He—shall—not!" cried Dorothy aloud, and redoubling her speed, if that were possible.
He darted between wagons where the horses' noses of the hinder one touched the tail-boards of the forward; so did she. He bobbed under drays; so did she. He seemed bent upon nothing but escape; she upon nothing but pursuit and capture. She believed that he must have seen her though she had not caught him turning once around to look her way.
They had cleared the street; they were upon the further sidewalk; a policeman was screaming a "halt" to her but she paid no attention. In that medley of sounds one harsh cry more or less was of small account. What was of account, the only thing that now remained clear in her eager brain was the fact that the fugitive had—turned a corner! A corner leading into a street at right angles with this broad one, a street somewhat narrower, a fraction quieter, and even dirtier. She followed; she also flashed around that dingy, saloon-infested corner, bounded forward, breathless and exultant, because surely she could come up to him here. Then she paused for just one breath, dashed her hand across her straining eyes, and peered ahead.
The "shiny man" had disappeared as completely as if the earth had opened and swallowed him up; and there Dorothy stood alone in the most unsavory of alleys, with a sudden, dreadful realization of the fact that—she was lost.
ADRIFT IN THE GREAT CITY
"My darling! My darling!" cried Judge Breckenridge, clasping his daughter close to his breast, then holding her off at arm's length, the better to scan her beloved face and to observe the changes a few months of absence had wrought. "My darling Molly! More like the other Molly than ever! Now my vacation has indeed begun!"
"Papa, Papa! You sweetest, dearest, beautifullest Papa ever lived! How good it is to see you! And, yes Auntie Lu, you're dear too; but a body's father—Why, he's her father and nobody like him, nobody!"
In her enthusiastic greeting of and by her relatives Molly forgot everything and everybody else. She had crossed the gang-plank as swiftly as the people crowding behind and before her would permit, her feet restlessly dancing up and down in the limited space; and now that she was upon the solid wharf to which the steamer was moored she bore them along with her by an arm linked to each, eager to be free of that throng and in some quiet spot where she could perch upon her father's knee and talk, talk, talk!
Had any of the trio thought about it for a moment they would have observed Miss Greatorex lingering close to the plank and staring at everyone who crossed it, searching for Dorothy.
"Strange! She certainly was right here a minute ago! I thought she had gone off the boat ahead of me, but she couldn't have done so, for she's nowhere in sight;" she murmured to herself.
When all had crossed and still Dorothy did not appear, the anxious teacher returned to the boat and renewed her search there: asking of all the employees she met if they had seen her missing charge. But one of them had noticed the girl at all; that was a workman who had helped to drag the gang-plank into place upon the wharf and against whom Dorothy had rudely dashed in her pursuit of the "shiny man."
He remembered her excited manner, her swift apology to himself for the accident, and her frantic rush across the wharf. He had looked after her with curiosity and had remarked to a bystander:
"That little passenger is afraid she'll get left! Maybe she doesn't know we lie alongside this dock till mid-afternoon."
Then he had gone about his own affairs and dismissed her from his mind till, thus recalled by Miss Greatorex's question, he wished he had watched her more closely. He was afraid she might have been hurt among the heavy wagons moving about, and that was the poor comfort which he expressed to the now thoroughly frightened lady.
Meanwhile the Breckenridge party had crossed the street, under conveyance of a waiting policeman, and had paused upon the further curb while Molly explained:
"Miss Greatorex is dreadful slow, Papa dear. But she'll be here in a minute. She's sure to be and Dolly with her. Oh! she is the very sweetest, dearest, bravest girl I ever knew! If I had a sister I should want her to be exactly like Dorothy. I wonder what does keep them! And I'm so hungry, so terribly hungry and we lost our purses—couldn't be she'd linger to search for them again when we've already ransacked the whole boat! Why, Papa, look! Miss Greatorex is on the boat again, herself. Running, fairly running around the deck and acting as if she, too, had lost something. How queer that is!"
Both the gentleman and lady now fixed their attention upon the teacher, until that moment unknown to them. She certainly was conducting herself in a strange, half-bewildered manner and the Judge realized that there was something wrong. Bidding his sister and child:
"Stay right here on this corner. Don't leave it. I'll step back to the steamer and see what's amiss;" and to the hackman he had summoned, he added: "Keep your rig right on the spot and an eye upon these fares! I'll be back in a minute."
But he wasn't. When he did come, after Mrs. Hungerford and Molly had had ample time to grow anxious themselves, it was with a woe-begone Miss Greatorex upon his arm and a very disturbed expression on his own face.
"Why, Papa, where's Dolly? Why didn't she come, too?" cried Molly, darting to meet him.
"That, my dear, is exactly what this lady and I would like to know. I was in hopes she might have seen you standing here and crossed to join you. Well, she's been in too great haste, likely, and started by herself to go—I wonder where! Anyway, the best thing to be done is for you three to get into this carriage and drive to the Astor House and order dinner for all of us. It's an old-time hotel where my father and I used to go when I was a boy myself, and I patronized it for old association's sake. You, small daughter, had fixed your mind on nothing less than the Waldorf-Astoria, I expect! Never mind; you'll get as good food in one place as the other."
"But, Papa, aren't you coming with us?"
"Not just yet. I'll stop behind a bit and set a few policemen or small boys in search for Miss Dorothy. Tell me something by which we can recognize her when found. New York is pretty full of little girls, you know, and I might miss her among so many."
The Judge tried to make his tone a careless one but there was real anxiety in it as his sister promptly understood; but she also felt it best to treat the matter lightly, for already poor Miss Isobel was on the point of collapse. So she answered readily enough:
"Very well, brother, so we'll do. I reckon I know your tastes so that I can cater for you and—is there any limit to what we may order? I'm a bit hungry myself and always do crave the most expensive dishes on the menu. Good-by, for a little while."
The Judge bade the driver: "To the Astor House;" lifted his hat to those within the carriage, and it moved away.
Then he summoned a policeman and asked that scouts be sent out all through that neighborhood, to search for a "thirteen-year-old girl, in a brown linen dress, dark curly hair, brown eyes, and—'Oh! just too stylish for words!'" which was the description his daughter had given him. Indeed, he felt that this very "stylishness" might be a clue to the right person; since denizens of that locality, girls or women, are not apt to have that characteristic about them.
He was a weary man. He had been up late the night before, and previous to his journey hither had been extremely busy leaving matters right in his southern home for a prolonged absence. He had counted upon the hour or two before sailing in which to procure some additions to his sportsman's outfit, and sorely begrudged this unexpected demand upon his time. Yet he could do no less than try to find the runaway, and to make the search as thorough as if it had been his own child's case.
It was more than an hour later that he appeared in the dining-room of the hotel where his family awaited him. They had still delayed their own dinner, though Molly's hunger had almost compelled her to enjoy hers. Only the thought of "eating with Papa," had restrained her, because she had little fear that Dorothy would not be promptly found, or that she had done more than go a few blocks out of the way. She had often been in that city before, though only in its better parts, and it all seemed simple enough to her. It had been explained that the upper part was laid out in squares, with the avenues running north and south, the cross-streets easily told by their numbers. How then could anybody who could count be lost?
"No news, Schuyler?" asked Aunt Lucretia.
"Not yet. Not quite yet. But there will be, of course there will be. I've set a lot of people hunting that extremely 'stylish' young maiden, so I thought I'd best come down and get my dinner and let you know that all's being done that can be. Don't worry, Miss Greatorex. A capable girl like Dorothy isn't easy to lose in a city full of policemen, if she'll only use her tongue and ask for guidance. Probably she has gone back to the 'Powell' already, hoping to find us all there. Before I eat I'll telephone again and inquire, although I did so just a little while ago, as I came in."
The more he talked the less he convinced his listeners that it would be that "all right" he had so valiantly asserted. Even Molly's hunger suddenly deserted her and she pushed away a plate of especially enticing dessert with a shake of her head and an exclamation:
"Papa's talking—just talking! Like he always does when he takes me to the dentist's! His voice doesn't ring true, Auntie Lu, and you know it. You needn't smile and try to look happy, for you can't. Dorothy is lost! My precious Dolly Doodles is lost—is LOST!"
For a moment nobody answered. Miss Greatorex echoed the exclamation in her own sinking heart, realizing at last how fully she had depended upon the Judge's ability to find the girl, until he had once more appeared without her. He had promptly sent a messenger to telephone again and awaiting the reply made a feint of taking his soup. Mrs. Hungerford kept her eyes fixed upon her plate, not daring just then to lift them to Miss Greatorex's white face; and altogether it was a very anxious party which sat at table then instead of the merry one which all had anticipated.
When their pretence of a meal was over and they rose, the Judge looked at his watch. Then he said:
"We have only time left to reach the 'Prince' in comfort. It is a long way up and across town to the dock on East river. You three must start for it at once. I'll step into a store near by for a few things I need and follow you. Of course, Dorothy knew all about her trip, the steamer she would sail by, and its landing place. Even if she didn't know that most of the officers would know and direct her.
"I now think that having missed us at the 'Powell' she has gone straight to the other boat and you will find her there. I'll follow you in time for sailing and till then, good-by. A hack is ready for you at the door."
Then he went hastily out, and Mrs. Hungerford said:
"Brother is wise. We certainly shan't find Dolly here, and we may at the 'Prince.' Have you all your parcels, both of you? Then come."
They followed her meekly enough but at the street entrance Miss Greatorex rebelled. Her anxiety gave a more than ordinary irritation to her temper and harshness to her voice, and her habitually ungracious manner became more repellent than ever as she announced:
"That's all very well, Mrs. Hungerford, and Molly. But I shan't go one step toward Nova Scotia till I've found my little girl. You three are all right, you've got yourselves and of course other people don't matter. But Dorothy saved my life and I'll not desert her to nobody knows what dreadful fate! No, I will not, and you needn't say another single word!"
As nobody had interrupted her excited speech this last admonition seemed rather uncalled for, but Molly waxed indignant thereat, though her Aunt Lucretia merely smiled compassionately. Then as they still stood upon the sidewalk, hesitating to enter their carriage, Miss Isobel waved her umbrella wildly toward another hack, and when it had obeyed her summons sprang into it and was whirled away.
Where was Dorothy all this time? Little she knew of the commotion she had caused. Indeed, for a long time, her only thought was for herself and her unfortunate predicament. She had never been so frightened in her life. Nothing had ever looked so big, so dismal, and so altogether hopeless as this wretched side street where her fugitive had disappeared. There was not a policeman in sight. She didn't know which way to go, but promptly realized that she should not stay just there in that degraded neighborhood. Even the wider street from which she had diverged, with its endless lines of wagons and people, was better. But—she must go somewhere!
She set out forward, resolutely, and as it proved eastward toward that famous Broadway which threads the city from its north to south, but that was yet many blocks removed. Indeed, it seemed an endless way that stretched beyond her; and it was not until she had run for some distance that her common sense awoke with the thought:
"Why, how silly I am! I must go back to the boat. That's where I'll be missed and looked for. Of course, Miss Greatorex wouldn't go on and leave me, and oh! dear! I reckon I've made her wait till she'll be angry. I'll ask the first nice looking gentleman I see, if no policeman comes, the way to the 'Mary Powell.' Here comes one now—"
A busy man came speeding toward her, whose coat skirt she tried to clutch; but he didn't even hear the question she put. He merely waved her aside, as he would any other street beggar with the passing remark: "Nothing. Get away!"
The second person to whom she applied was German and shook his head with a forcible negative. So he, too, moved on and she stopped to think and recover some portion of that courage which had almost deserted her.
"Of course. I couldn't be really lost, not really truly so, right in the broad daylight and a city full of people. But I am ashamed to have stayed so long. Oh! good! There comes a man in uniform—a policeman, a policeman!"
Quite at rest now she darted forward and caught at the hand of the uniformed person who stared at her in surprise but not unkindly.
"Well, little maid, what's wanted?"
"O, sir! Are you a policeman? Will you take me to where I belong?"
"Sorry to say 'no' to both your questions, but I'm only a railway conductor, in a hurry to catch my outgoing train. Wait a minute, child, and a real police officer will come and will look out for you."
The blue-coated, much brass-buttoned man snatched his hand from her clinging grasp and strode westward in desperate haste. He had calculated his time to the last second and even this trifling delay annoyed him.
But he had prophesied aright. A policeman was coming into view, leisurely sauntering over his beat, and on the lookout for anything amiss. Dorothy hurried forward, planted herself firmly in this man's path and demanded again:
"Are you a policeman?"
"Sure an' 'tis that same that I be! Thanks for all mercies! Me first day alone at the job, an' what can I do for ye, me pretty colleen?"
"Tell me, or take me, back to the 'Mary Powell,' please. I—I've lost my way."
"Arrah musha! An' if I was after doin' that same I'd be losin' mine! The 'Mary Powell' is it? Tell me where does she be livin' at. I'm not long in this counthry and but new app'inted to the foruss. Faith it's a biggish sort of town to be huntin' one lone woman in."
To anybody older or wiser than Dorothy Chester the very fact of his loquacity would have betrayed his newness to the "foruss." There wasn't a prouder nor happier man in the whole great city, that day, than Larry McCarthy, as he proceeded to explain:
"First cousin on me mother's side to Alderman Bryan McCarthy, as has helped me over from Connemara, this late whiles, and has made me a free-born Amerikin citizen, glory be."
"That must be very nice. I suppose an alderman is some sort of a very high-up man, isn't he? But—"
"High is it, says she. Higher 'an I was when I was carryin' me hod up wan thim 'sky-scrapers' they do build in this forsaken—I mane blessed—counthry, says he. Sure it's a higher-up Bryan is, the foine lad."
"Please, please, will you take me to the 'Mary Powell'?"
"How can I since ye've not told me yet wherever she lives?"
"Why she isn't a—she! She's a boat!"
"Hear til the lass! She isn't a she isn't she? Then she must be a he, and that'd beat a priest to explain;" and at his own joke the newly-fledged officer indulged in a most unofficial burst of laughter. So long and so loud was this that Dorothy stamped her foot impatiently and another uniformed member of "the force," passing by on the other side of the street, crossed over to investigate.
At whose arrival officer Larry straightened himself like a ramrod, squared his shoulders, and affected to be intensely angry with the small person who had delayed him upon his beat. But he could not deceive the keen eyes of the more experienced policeman and his superior in rank.
With a swift recognition of the newcomer's greater intelligence, Dorothy put her inquiry to him, breathlessly stating her whole case, including the loss of her purse and her regret over it.
"'Cause now, you see, sir, I haven't any money to pay for being taken back. Else I would have called a carriage, like people do sometimes, and got the carriage man to take me. That is, if there was any carriage, and any man, and I—I had any money. Oh! dear! That isn't what I wanted to say, but I'm so tired running and—and—it's dreadful to be lost in a New York city!"
Her explanation ended in a miserable breakdown of sobs and tears. Now that help had come—she was sure of it after one glance into this second officer's honest face—her courage collapsed entirely. The sergeant allowed her a moment to compose herself and then said, as he took out a notebook and prepared to write in it:
"Now, once more. Tell me exactly, or listen if I have the facts right. You are a pupil at the Rhinelander Academy in Newburgh. You are starting upon a trip for your summer vacation. You are under the care of Miss Greatorex, a teacher. You ran away from the steamer 'Mary Powell' in pursuit of a man whom you think carried off your own and a friend's purse. Very well. I will send you to the boat and if your story is true you will be restored to your friends and nothing more will come of it. If it isn't true, you will be sent to a station-house to await developments. McCarthy, proceed upon your beat."
Larry shrugged his shoulders more snugly into his new uniform, assumed the bearing of a drum major and duly proceeded. The superior officer put a whistle to his lips, and like the genii in Arabian Nights, his servant instantly appeared.
"Call a cab. Take this young person to the 'Mary Powell,' foot of Desbrosses street. If her guardian is not there, drive to the other landing at Twenty-third street and inquire if the girl has been sought for there. If this is a false story, report to me at the station and, of course, bring the girl with you."
The words "station house" sounded ominous in Dorothy's ears. During her Baltimore life she had learned all that was necessary about such places to infect her with fear, having with other children sometimes watched the "police patrol wagons" make their dreary rounds. She had peered at the unhappy prisoners sitting within the van and had pitied them unspeakably, despite the fact that they must have been wicked. A picture of herself thus seated and despairing flashed before her mind, but she put it resolutely aside and with great humility stepped into the cab which her new protector had summoned.
This was one of those then new electric cabs and instantly riveted her attention. To move through the streets so swiftly without visible means of locomotion was as delightful as novel; and the skill with which the driver perched up behind twisted around corners and among crowding vehicles seemed fairly wonderful.
It was a most charming ride, despite the fact that she was a lost person seeking her friends, and it came all too soon to an end at the dock she had named. She recognized the place at once and was out of the cab, hurrying along the wharf, calling back to her guide:
"Here she is! This is the 'Mary Powell!' See?"
He was promptly at her side again, his duty being not to lose sight of her until that "report" had been duly made when and where ordered. Also, the recognition of her by "Fanny" and the other boat hands proved that thus much of her tale was true. She had come down the river on that steamer's last trip and people had been back upon it, frantically seeking news of her.
"You oughtn't to have run away like that, little girl, and scare them people into forty fits. That nice Judge—somebody, he said his name was—he hired no end of people to go searching for you and now you've come and he hasn't. Like enough they've gone to the other landing, up-town, to seek you. Better drive there, policeman, and see."
"All right. But, stewardess, if anybody comes again to inquire, say that she'll be taken to the 'Prince' steamship, East river, and be held there till the boat sails. Afterward at station number —."
There is no need to follow all of Dorothy's seeking of her friends. Already, as has been told, they had made a fruitless search for her; and when at length fully convinced that she was telling a "straight case" the official who had her in charge, failing to find Miss Greatorex at that "up-town landing"—though a dock-hand said that she had been there and again hurried away "as if she was a crazy piece"—the cab was turned toward that east-side dock whence the voyage to Nova Scotia was to be made.
Here everything was verified. Dorothy's luggage marked with her name was in the baggage-room, having been sent down the day before in order to prevent mischance. With it was the luggage of Molly Breckenridge and Miss Greatorex. Also upon the steamer's sailing list was her name and the stateroom to which she had been assigned. To this point then must all the rest of the party come if they were to sail by that vessel. Obviously, it was the safest place for her to await her friends, and she was promptly permitted to go aboard and watch for them.
She had expected to see a much larger craft than the "Prince." Why, it wasn't half as large, it seemed to her, as some of the boats which passed up and down the Hudson. It had but one deck, high up, so that to reach it she had to climb a ladder, or gang-plank almost as steep as a roof. But she climbed it with a feeling of infinite relief and security. Sitting close to the rail upon one of the many steamer chairs she found there, herself almost the only passenger who had yet come aboard, she leaned her weary head against the rail, and, despite the hunger which tormented her, fell fast asleep. She knew nothing more; heard none of the busy sounds of loading the luggage, now constantly arriving, and was peacefully dreaming, when a girlish voice from the dock pierced through the babel and the dream:
"Why, Papa Breckenridge! There she sits—asleep! That runaway! Dorothy—Dorothy! how came you here? How dared you scare us so?"
She sprang to her feet and looked down, answering with a rapturous cry. There they were, Molly, Auntie Lu and the Judge! But—and now she rubbed her eyes the better to see if they deceived her—where was Isobel Greatorex.
Alas! That was the question the others were all asking:
"Where is Miss Greatorex? Only two minutes to sailing—but where is Miss Greatorex?"
ON BOARD THE "PRINCE"
There wasn't an instant to waste in questions. The captain of this steamship prided himself upon his exceeding punctuality, and had often declared that if he delayed for one passenger one day he would have to do so the next; that somebody was always late; that it might be that delinquent's misfortune if he were left but was not Captain Murray's fault.
Knowing this fact Judge Breckenridge handed his sister her ticket and Molly's, hastily bade her:
"Go aboard, Lucretia, while I claim our luggage. Miss Greatorex may already be there."
"Step lively, please!" requested a sailor in a blue uniform as the lady began to slowly mount the almost upright ladder. Other sailors were speeding up and down it, between the ascending passengers and an air of great bustle and haste pervaded the whole scene.
Then the blue-coat gallantly put his hand under Mrs. Hungerford's arm and fairly shoved her up the plank. Molly sprang lightly after, caught her foot in one of the little cross-pieces nailed across the plank to prevent people slipping and sprawled her length, hindering everybody a deal more than if she had climbed more slowly.
However, they gained the deck and Dorothy's side in safety, and took their stand against the rail to watch the Judge and many another passenger hurriedly identifying their baggage ranged under the wharf shed; and, as each piece was claimed, to see it swiftly tossed upon a skid and rolled into the lower part of the ship.
Captain Murray stood at the foot of the ladder, chronometer in hand, a picture of calm decision; while another uniformed official faced him from the other side the plank, to scan the tickets presented. Judge Breckenridge finished his task and also climbed to the deck, while a sigh of relief escaped Aunt Lucretia's lips.
"That's all right! I got so worried lest we should miss the steamer and there isn't another sailing for three days. I'm so glad to get our things! I never do feel comfortable until I see my trunks aboard my train or steamer."
"Yes, indeed! A woman bereft of her 'things' is a forlorn creature!" laughed the Judge, in gentle sarcasm, but his sister disdained reply. She merely reflected how much greater annoyance her brother would have felt had his sporting outfit been delayed and this was the very first piece of luggage he had identified—her trunk the last. However, there was the utmost good nature in their jesting intercourse, and both now turned their attention to the wharf where the "very last" passenger was hurrying to the ladder.
After him ascended the two officers, and the boat and dock hands seized the ropes to haul the plank aboard. The whistle was blowing, wheels were turning, passengers crowded the rails to wave farewells to friends ashore who had come to see them off, and at this very last second a cab came dashing furiously down the street and up to the steamer's side.
A woman leaped out, and rushed to the spot where the ship had been moored. She was almost past speaking from haste and excitement as she scanned the groups upon the deck, then with a look of satisfaction at sight of the Judge's party, clasped her hands imploringly toward the captain and the mate.
"Don't leave her, Captain Murray! I know her—she belongs to us—it isn't her fault—throw the ladder out again, even if—" shouted the Judge.
There was no withstanding the sight of so many clasped, entreating hands, even by such a rigid disciplinarian as this fine skipper. For not only Miss Greatorex upon the wharf, but the two girls and Mrs. Hungerford had clasped theirs, also, begging a brief delay.
Then the officer waved his hand, down went the plank again, and a couple of sailors sprang forward to the teacher's assistance. They had fairly to drag her up the now slippery incline, and almost to toss her upon the deck, where the Judge's arm shot out for her support and the captain himself helped her to a chair.
Another instant they had put a stretch of water between them and the land, and a fresh uproar of whistles and bells announced that the steamer "Prince" had sailed.
But those near her had thought now only for Miss Greatorex. Her face was at first intensely red and she leaned back in her chair, with closed eyes and gasping breath. Indeed, so difficult her breathing that it seemed as if after each respiration she would never breathe again. Mrs. Hungerford made haste to hold a smelling bottle to the sufferer's nostrils, but it was feebly waved aside as if it hindered rather than helped.
Then the color faded from the crimson face and all that terrible gasping ceased, so that those watching thought for a moment that life itself had ended.
"Fainted!" said the captain, tersely. "Get her to bed. Number Eight, take her ticket to the purser, get her stateroom key, and send the stewardess. Prompt, now."
Fortunately, the room engaged for Miss Greatorex and Dorothy was on that deck and very near; and thither the dignified lady was quickly conveyed, very much as a sack of corn might have been. But as for Dorothy's thoughts during this brief transit there is nothing comforting to say.
"Oh, I've killed her, I've killed her! If I hadn't been so careless and left the purses, and if I hadn't chased that 'shiny man' and made all this trouble, she wouldn't have—I can't bear it. What shall I do!" she wailed to Molly, as they followed hand in hand, where Miss Greatorex was carried.
"You can stop saying 'if' and worrying so. You didn't do anything on purpose and she's to blame herself. If she hadn't gone off mad from the hotel and left Auntie and me, maybe she wouldn't have run too hard and hurt herself. If—if—if! It isn't a very happy beginning of a vacation is it? Even though we have got Papa and Auntie Lu and everything. And I don't know yet what you did after you ran away from the boat. We can't do a thing here to help. Let's go to Papa, there and you tell us the whole story. He took a lot of trouble to find you and paid a lot of money to men to seek you, and he looks awful tired and—and disgusted. I guess he wishes he'd just brought Auntie and me and not bothered himself with you and Miss Greatorex. And that's my fault, too. If I hadn't asked him to do it he would never have thought of it. Seems if things never do go just as you plan them, do they?"
Under other circumstances Dorothy might have replied to her friend's unflattering frankness by some reproaches of her own, but not now. She realized the truth but was too humble to resent it. So she merely glanced once more through the door of the little stateroom at Miss Greatorex stretched upon the bed and Mrs. Hungerford with the stewardess attending her, and followed Molly.
The Judge met them with an encouraging smile and the command:
"Shorten up your countenances, little maids! This is a holiday, did you know? Folks don't go holiday-ing with faces as long as your arm. Here, cuddle down beside me and watch the sights. Tell me too, Miss Dorothy, all that befell you after you disappeared. I'm as curious as Molly is, and she's 'just suffering' to know. Don't worry about Miss Greatorex, either. She's simply over-exerted herself and allowed herself to get too anxious about this one small girl. The idea! What's one small girl more or less, when the world's chock full of them?"
But the affectionate squeeze he gave to the "girl's" shoulders as she sat down beside him, while Molly sat herself upon his knee, told her that he had already forgiven any annoyance she had caused him. He was too warm hearted to hold a grudge against anybody; least of all against as penitent a child as Dorothy.
She related her adventures and the Judge laughed heartily over her mimicry of Larry McCarthy, the "new policeman." Nor did he make any criticisms when the story was ended. She had been sufficiently punished, he considered, for any lapses from prudence and the lessons her experience had taught would be far more valuable than any word of his. So he merely called their attention to the scenery before them.
"This beautiful, green spot that we are passing is Blackwell's Island, where the city's criminals and other unfortunates are sent. Doesn't seem as if wicked people could be hidden behind those walls, does it? Well keep out of mischief and don't go there!
"Soon we'll be going up Long Island Sound, and you'll get a glimpse of some handsome homes. Hello! What's this? My little bugler, as I live! Good day to you, Melvin; and what is this present 'toot' for, if you please?"
A fair-faced boy came rather shyly forward and accepted the hearty hand grasp which the Judge extended, but he seemed to shrink from the keen observation of the two girls; though a flush of pleasure dyed his smooth cheeks, which were as pink-and-white as blond Molly's own.
"My respects, Judge Breckenridge, and glad to see you aboard again, sir. To get your table seats, sir, if you'll remember."
"Thank you, lad, and good enough! Come on, lassies, let's go down and scramble for best places and first table, when eating time comes."
All over the deck people were beginning to rise and make their way toward a further door, from which a flight of stairs descended to the dining-room, and these three followed the crowd. The very mention of "eating" had brought back to Dorothy a sensation of terrible hunger. She had eaten nothing since her breakfast at the Academy, and her sail had sharpened her appetite beyond ordinary. During her late experiences in the city and her terror concerning Miss Greatorex she had forgotten this matter, but now it came back with a positive pang. Suddenly Molly, too, remembered the fact and exclaimed:
"Why, you poor girlie! Talk about eating—you can't have had a bit of dinner! Papa, Dorothy hasn't had her dinner this livelong day!"
Her tone was so tragic that people behind her smiled, as her abrupt pause upon the stairs arrested their own progress, and she was promptly urged forward again by her father's hand.
"Heigho! That's a calamity—nothing less! But one that can be conquered, let us hope. Now, fall into line close behind me and watch this interesting proceeding."
From the earnestness depicted upon the countenances of the passengers, this securing of good seats at the first table, in a room which would not allow the serving of all at one time, was a vital matter. The purser stood at the entrance of the saloon and assigned a seat to each person upon the examination of a ticket presented. His office was not a pleasant one. There were the usual grumblers and malcontents, but he preserved his good nature amid all the fault-finding and selfishness; and the Judge had the good fortune to secure five places at the Captain's table, which was significant of "first call to meals."
This accomplished he led his charges out of line, carefully deposited his "meal tickets" in an innermost pocket, and crossed an ante-room to where there were plates of ship's biscuits and slices of cheese.
"Take all you want, all you can eat, both of you youngsters. Sorry to say no regular meal will be served, not even for Dorothy's benefit, till the six o'clock dinner. Unless she choses to get seasick; when she would have tea and toast sent to her and wouldn't be able to touch it! Enough? Take plenty. There's no stinting on Captain Murray's good ship though a lot of cast-iron rules that one must never break. Hark! There's Melvin's toot again! There must be a great crowd on board, if all haven't come to get their seats here yet. Now we'll interview our women folk and see how they're faring."
Munching their crackers and cheese the girls hurried to "Number Thirteen," the only stateroom on the promenade deck which Miss Rhinelander had been able to secure for her cousin Isobel and Dorothy; and though she had held her peace concerning it Miss Greatorex had inwardly revolted against this "unlucky" number.
But it was in fact among the very best on that small steamship. It's door opening directly upon the deck so that after retiring one could lie and watch the stars and breathe the pure air of the sea. Also, her short sojourn in it was to do her much good physically. Even now, when Molly and Dorothy peeped in they saw her sitting upright, drinking a cup of tea and chatting with the stewardess as calmly as usual.
At sight of Dorothy, however, she promptly dismissed the attendant and bade the girl enter and explain everything that had happened after her disappearance from the "Mary Powell."
Molly made a grimace, and Dolly sighed. Repetition of unpleasant things made them doubly disagreeable, and she now longed to enter into the Judge's spirit and feel that this was happy holiday. She cut the tale as short as she could; listened meekly to Miss Isobel's reproofs; waited upon that fidgetty person with admirable patience; and with equal patience received all the many instructions as to "suitable conduct" during their whole journey. When the final word had been said, and she had been told that no other "allowance" could be hers until "advices" had been received from Miss Rhinelander, and that she must report every cent expended, she ventured to cut the "lecture" also short, by kneeling in the little aisle between their berths and kissing her guardian's hand with the petition:
"Please forgive me, dear Miss Greatorex, for all the worry I gave you. I will be good. I will be 'prudent,' I will remember—everything—if only you'll say you'll love me just the same again!"
Miss Isobel was touched. In her heart she was very fond of Dorothy and grateful to her, on account of her bravery that night of the fire. But she felt it beneath her dignity to show this fondness openly, and answered more coldly than she felt:
"Certainly, it would be unworthy in me to harbor ill will against anybody. But I trust you will give me no further annoyance. Rise, please; and there is Molly. Thank you, Miss Breckenridge, I am much better. It was but a momentary weakness to which I yielded. Please make my regards to your father for his courteous messages of regret. Yes, Dorothy, you may go with your friend for a walk on the deck. I will join you very soon."
"Hope she won't, mean old thing!" grumbled Molly, under her breath. "She's one of the plans that didn't go right. Instead of darling Miss Penelope with her sweet mother-ways to have the 'Grater' forced on us this way is too bad. I know Papa and Auntie Lu aren't pleased with her either, though they're too polite to say so."
"O, Molly, don't! I was bad, I can't deny it and I deserve to have her stiff and cross with me. I don't believe she's half so vexed as she seems but she doesn't think it's 'proper' to let me know how thankful she is I wasn't really lost. Folks can't help being themselves, anyway; else I'd be a perfectly angelic sort of a girl, and be it quick! Hark! Those bells!"
"Yes, honey, let me tell you! Papa just told me. That's four o'clock, 'eight bells.' In half an hour it'll strike once. At five will strike twice. Every half hour one more stroke till at the end of four hours it'll be eight bells again. That's the beginning and the end of a 'watch.' A 'watch' is four hours long and the sailors change off then, one lot comes from 'duty' and another lot 'stand' theirs. Isn't it odd and interesting? Oh! I think being on shipboard is just too lovely for words! And aren't we going to have a glorious time after all?"
"Oh! Molly, I hope so. Course I think it's splendidly interesting, too, if I could get over feeling so ashamed of myself and my foolishness. I don't like to go near your father for he must think I have been horrid. I don't know how I can ever pay him back the money he spent hiring folks to hunt for me, and the trouble I gave him—oh! dear! Why didn't I let that old 'shiny man' go and not try to follow him!"
"Give it up Dolly Doodles. Reckon you happened to value that five dollars more than you did us, just about then. And you might as well have 'let him go' since he went anyhow and our precious purses with him. Now, honey, you quit. Don't you say another single word of what has happened but let's just think of all the nice things that are going to happen. Ah! Hold up your head, put on all your 'style,' make yourself as pretty as you can, for here comes that adorable young bugler and he's perfectly enchanting! Oh! I do so love boys! Don't you?"
"Molly Breckenridge, stop making me giggle. He'll think we're laughing at him and I don't like to hurt anybody's feelings."
"My dear innocent! You couldn't hurt his. Why, Papa says that all the passengers try to make a pet of that sweet youth, so he knows he's all right no matter who laughs. The trouble is he'll never speak to anybody if he can help it and unless it happens to be his duty. Sailors are great for 'duty,' you know. But did you ever see such funny clothes?"
The girls continued their walk around the deck, the bugler passed them by, unseeing—apparently; and quoth mischievous Molly:
"I'm going to get acquainted with that Melvin before we leave this ship, see if I don't! I believe he has a lot of fun in him, if he wasn't afraid of his 'duty.' Papa said he was the only son of his mother and their home is at Yarmouth. Papa met her last summer when he stopped there for a few weeks' fishing. I'll make him understand I'm my father's daughter; you see!"
"Molly Breckenridge, you'll do nothing to disgrace that father, understand me too. Here comes 'Number Eight.' Isn't he funny?"
To their unaccustomed eyes the sailor's clothing did look odd. The Judge had explained to Molly that these "numbered" officials were recognized by their numbers only. That they acted in various capacities; as table-waiters, and especially as "chamber maids." Each "number" had his own section of staterooms to attend, each one his especial table to serve in the dining saloon.
In a natural reaction from their anxiety of the earlier day the spirits of both girls had risen proportionately. They were ready to see humor in everything and poor Number Eight came in for his share of absurd comment, when he had passed out of hearing.
"He's such a big, red-faced, red-haired man, and his jacket is so little. Looks as if his arms and shoulders had just been squeezed into it by some machine. Did you notice his monstrous trousers? Enough in them to piece out the jacket, I should think, and never be missed. All these Numbers are dressed alike; little bit o' coaties, divided skirts for panties, and such dudish little caps! Who wouldn't be a sailor on the bright blue sea, if he could wear clothes cut that fashion? 'A life on the ocean wave,'" she quoted. "'A home on the rolling deep—'"
"'Where the scattered waters rave. And the winds their revels keep. The wi-i-inds their r-r-r-ev-el-s-s k-e-e-e-ep!'" A rich voice had caught the burden of Molly's song and finished it with an absurd flourish.
"Now, Papa!" cried the girl, facing suddenly about. So suddenly, indeed, that she collided with an unseen somebody, slipped on the freshly washed boards, and fell at her victim's feet. A bugle shot out from under his arm and banged against the deck-rail; but before he recovered that Melvin had stooped, said "Allow me!" and helped Molly up again. Then he lifted his cap, picked up his bugle, and proceeded on his way without so much as another word.
Molly stared after him, blushing and mortified, shaking her tiny fist toward his blue-uniformed back, and remarking:
"Huh! Master Melvin! I'd just declared I'd get acquainted with you but I didn't mean to do it in quite that way!"
Maybe, too, her chagrin would have been deeper could she have seen the amused expression of the young bugler's face; and again she observed—to Dorothy as she supposed:
"Anyhow, if you'd been a gentleman, a real gentleman-boy, you'd have stopped to ask if I was hurt. Huh! you're terribly 'sot up' and top-lofty, just because you wear a uniform and toot-ti-ti-toot on little tin-horn kind of a thing that I could play myself, if I wanted to. Don't you think so, Papa and Dolly? Wasn't it horrid of him to trip me up that way and make me look so silly? Why don't you answer, one of you?"
She turned the better to see "why," and found herself gazing into the stern countenance of Captain Murray. That strict gentleman had recently been annoyed by the "skylarking" of girlish passengers who had tried "flirting" with his "boys" and was bent upon preventing any further annoyance of that sort.
"Your father has gone forward to meet your ailing friend and the little girl is with him. I would advise you to join them."
That was all the reproof he administered, but it was sufficient to make Molly Breckenridge flush scarlet again, and this time with anger against the skipper. She hurried to "join" the others who had met Miss Greatorex and exclaimed with great heat:
"I just detest that horrid stiff Captain! He looked—he believed I tumbled against that precious bugler of his just on purpose! I wish I need never see either one of them again or hear that wretched thing toot!"
She could not then foresee how important a part in her own life that "toot" was yet to play; nor was the laughter with which her outburst was received very comforting.
MOONLIGHT AND MIST ON THE SEA
However and despite her declaration to the contrary it was a most welcome "toot" which sounded along the deck and announced to the hungry voyagers that dinner was served; and Molly was among the first to spring up and hurry her father tableward.
"Seems as if I'd never had anything to eat in all my life!" she exclaimed. "Come on, Dolly Doodles, you must be actually famished."
"I am pretty hungry," admitted Dorothy; but mindful now of her recent resolve to do everything as Miss Greatorex would have her, she waited until that lady rose from her steamer chair, gathered her wraps about her, and anxiously inquired of Mrs. Hungerford:
"Will it be safe to leave my rug behind? or should I carry it with me to table?"
"Oh! leave it, by all means. There's none too much room below and I never worry about my things. Lay it on your chair and that will prove to anybody who comes along that your especial seat is 'reserved.' I'm leaving mine, you see;" answered the more experienced traveler, wondering if Miss Isobel's nervousness would not prove a most unpleasant factor in their vacation fun. Also thinking that she had too readily given consent to Molly's written plea: that Dorothy and a teacher should be invited to join them on this trip.
Because there had been some question as to where the girl should pass the long vacation. Deerhurst would not be open, even if Mrs. Calvert had expressed any desire for a visit from Dorothy, which she had not. The old gentlewoman was to spend that season at the White Sulphur Springs, whither she had been in the habit of going during many years; and where among other old aristocrats she queened it at their own exclusive hotel.
The mountain cottage would, of course, be in the hands of the Martin family, and Mother Martha had not approved Dorothy's coming to Baltimore and passing the heated term there with herself. Indeed, deep in the little woman's heart was a resentment against the unknown benefactor who was now supporting her adopted child and sending her to such an expensive school. As she complained to the aged relative with whom she now lived:
"I feel, Aunt Chloe, that I've been meanly treated. I've had all the care of Dorothy through her growing up and having the measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and all the other children's diseases. I've sewed for her, and washed and ironed for her, and taught her all the useful things she knows; yet now, just as she is big enough to be some company and comfort—off she's snatched and I not even told by whom. I doubt if John knows, either, though he won't say one way or other, except that 'it's all right and he knows it.' So I say I shan't worry; and I wouldn't think it right, anyway, for her to come down south if only this far after being north for so long."
Seth Winters had not come back to his beloved mountain, so that she could not go to him; and the only thing that was left was to go to her father at his Sanitorium or remain with Miss Rhinelander.
Neither of these plans was satisfactory. Father John did not want her to pass her holidays in an atmosphere of illness; and Miss Rhinelander craved freedom and rest for herself. There were still extensive repairs to be made to the Academy and she wished to superintend them.
Finally, Molly Breckenridge had taken the matter in hand with the result related; and with the one unlooked for feature, the presence of Miss Greatorex where Miss Penelope had been desired.
However, here they all were at last; a few hours outward bound on their short ocean trip and looking forward to the most enjoyable of summers in lovely Nova Scotia. They were to make a complete tour of the Province, then settle down in some quiet place near the fishing and hunting grounds where the Judge would go into camp.
Molly was thankful that her table-seat was well removed from that of Captain Murray at its head. But she soon found that she need not have worried, and that the closer she could be to him—when he was off duty—the better she would like it. This wasn't the austere officer in command! who told such amusing tales of life at sea, who kept his guests so interested and absorbed, and who so solicitously watched his waiters lest anybody's wants should be unsupplied! No, indeed. He was simply a most courteous host and delightful talker, and before that first meal was over she had forgotten her dislike of him, and, after her impulsive manner had "fallen in love" with him.
Then back to the deck, to watch the moon rise and to settle themselves comfortably for a long and happy evening; and after awhile, begged Molly:
"Now, Papa darling, if your dinner's 'settled,' please to sing. Remember I haven't heard you do so in almost a year."
"Now, my love, you don't expect me to make an orchestra of myself, I hope? I notice they haven't one aboard this little steamship. Nobody but Melvin to make music for us. I must tell you girls about that lad. He—"
"Never mind him now, Papa. He will keep. He can wait. But I do want you to sing! Dorothy, go take that chair on Papa's other side; and here comes Number Eight with more rugs. Wouldn't think it could be so cool, almost cold, would you, after that dreadful heat back there in New York? Now, sir, begin!" and the Judge's adoring "domestic tyrant" patted his hand with great impatience.
"Very well, Miss Tease. Only it must be softly, so as not to disturb other people who may not have as great fancy for my warbling as you have."
Mrs. Hungerford leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes in great content. Like his daughter she thought there was no sweeter singer anywhere than her beloved brother; but the too-correct Miss Isobel drew herself stiffly erect with an unspoken protest against this odd proceeding. She was quite sure that it wasn't good form for anybody to sing in such a public place and under such circumstances. Least of all a Judge. A Judge of the Supreme Court! More than ever was she amazed when he began with a college song: "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," in which Molly presently joined and, after a moment, Dorothy also.
But even her primness could not withstand the witchery of the gentleman's superb tenor voice, with its high culture and feeling; because even into that humdrum refrain he put a pathos and longing which quite transformed it.
People sitting within hearing hitched their chairs nearer, but softly—not to disturb the singers; who sang on quietly, unconsciously, as if in their own private home. Drifting from one song to another, with little pauses between and always beginning by a suggestive note from Molly, the time passed unperceived.
Evidently, father and child had thus sung together during all their lives; and long before her that "other Molly," her dead mother, of whom his child was the very counterpart, had also joined her exquisite tones to his. Into many melodies they passed, college songs left behind, and deeper feelings stirred by the words they uttered; till finally perceiving that his own mood was growing most un-holiday like, the Judge suddenly burst forth with "John Brown's Body."
Then, indeed, did mirth and jollification begin. Far and near, all sorts and conditions of voices caught up the old melody and added their quota to the music; and when their leader began mischievously to alter the refrain by dropping the last word, and shortening it each time by one word less, delight was general and the fun waxed fast and furious.
The abrupt termination left many a singer in the lurch; and when the last verse was sung and ended only with "John—," "John—," "John," there were still some who wandered on into "the grave" and had to join in the laugh their want of observation had brought upon them.
By this time also Miss Isobel Greatorex had become quite resigned to a proceeding which no other passenger had disapproved and which, she could but confess, had added a charm to that never-to-be-forgotten evening. Moonlight flooded the sea and the deck. The simplicity and good-fellowship of Judge Breckenridge and his sister had brought all these strangers into a harmony which bridged all distinctions of class or interest and rendered that first night afloat a most happy one for all.
Until—was the moonlight growing clouded? Did those six strokes of the bell actually mean eleven o'clock? So late—and suddenly so—so—so queer!
Even if the little concert had not already ended nobody could have sung just then.
"I guess we've left the Sound and struck the ocean;" remarked one gentleman, in a peculiar tone. "Good night all," and he disappeared.
A lady next Miss Greatorex made an effort to extricate herself from her rugs and chair and observed:
"I've such a curious feeling. So—so dizzy. My head swims. Is—is there a different—motion to the boat? Have you noticed?"
Yes, Miss Greatorex had noticed, but she couldn't reply just then. Nor was this because of her "stiffness" toward a person who had not been properly "introduced." It was simply that—that—dear, dear! She felt so very queer herself. She would try and get to her stateroom. In any case it was very late and everybody was moving.
A petulant cry from Molly expressed her own desires exactly.
"Papa, dear Papa! What makes the folks go wobbling around the way they do? I wish they wouldn't! I wish they would—would keep real—perfectly—still! I wish! Oh! dear!"
The Judge rose at once and, despite her size, caught up his daughter and marched off with her toward Mrs. Hungerford's stateroom, whither that experienced voyager had as suddenly preceded him. When he came back, a few minutes later, he found that Miss Greatorex had vanished, and that Dorothy sat alone on the deserted deck wondering what in the world was the matter to make everybody rush off at once, or almost everybody. Wondering whether she should follow, and if her guardian would return and need her rugs again; yet placidly thinking over the delightful evening she had spent and how strange it was for her, "just plain Dorothy," to be having such a splendid trip in such charming company.