THE SPANISH CHEST
EDNA A. BROWN
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN GOSS AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF FLORENCE AND CLARA
who shared a winter spent in the Channel Islands and have now gone on a longer journey.
This little book I wrote for thee Thy friendly eyes will never see. It was not meant for critics' reading, Nor for the world that scans unheeding. For there are lines washed in with tears, As well as nonsense, mocking fears. Alas! thine eyes will never see This little book I wrote for thee.
THE SPANISH CHEST
Once upon a time a clever Japanese artist drew a sketch of a man who sat industriously painting, when, to his great amazement, all the little figures on his canvas came to life and began to walk out of the picture.
Something like that happened to this book. Books grow, you know, because somebody thinks so hard about the different characters that gradually they turn into lifelike people, who often insist on doing things that weren't expected. When this especial book began to grow, two persons who hadn't been invited, came and wanted to be in the story.
The author politely remarked that they were grown-up and couldn't expect to be in a book for young people.
They said that they were not so very grown-up, only twenty-three and a half and that they still knew how to play.
Connie said that her home was in the Island of Jersey where the story was going to be, and if she came in, she could make things much more pleasant for the other characters.
Max said that the story would go to smash without him, because he should be needed at an important moment.
So, because they looked most wistful and promised very earnestly to behave as though they were nice children, and not be silly, the author said they might have a share in the story.
Connie at once offered to lend her collie. So that is how the beach dog happens to be in the book.
I. AT ROSE VILLA II. FRAN ENGAGES LODGINGS III. ST. HELIER'S IV. THE BEACH DOG V. MONT ORGUEIL VI. A RACE WITH THE TIDE VII. MR. MAX VIII. RICHARD LISLE'S LETTER IX. CHRISTMAS IN JERSEY X. THE BUN WORRY XI. THE MANOR CAVE XII. WIN VISITS THE LIBRARY XIII. ABOUT THE SPANISH CHEST XIV. IN THE VAULTS XV. THE HAUNTED ROOM XVI. THE MANOR GHOST XVII. THE DOTTED LINE XVIII. ROGER THE MAROONED XIX. AT CORBIERE XX. WIN WONDERS XXI. THE TWO CHAINS XXII. THE CHEST ITSELF
"What is this tiny dotted line across the grounds?" Win inquired
The Village of St. Aubin's
"For a long time people supposed they were called Martello towers from the man who built them"
Above and behind towered the ruined castle of Orgueil
"Look there is a Jersey cow among the cabbages"
"He'll come for us! He means us to climb this rock and wait"
A most interesting little Church almost on the water's edge
The old Norman gateway leading to Vinchelez Manor
They came upon the loveliest of little beaches
Plemont is the spot where the cable comes in from England
Win's plan of the Manor cellars
What was undoubtedly the Spanish Chest
THE SPANISH CHEST
AT ROSE VILLA
The silence in the little drawing-room had lasted for some moments before being broken by the man seated in the big wicker chair. His dress indicated a clergyman of the Church of England, his face betrayed lines of kindliness and forbearance, but its present expression showed a perplexity not unmixed with disapproval.
"I suppose, Miss Pearce," he said at length, "there is no use in trying further to dissuade you from your plan, and of course it may work out for the best. But—you will excuse me, my dear, for I have daughters of my own—you seem too young to undertake a lodging-house. Now a position as governess in a nice family—"
Estelle Pearce interrupted him quickly.
"There is Edith, you know. Should I try teaching, it would mean separation from her. And I must keep Edith with me. We have only each other now. No, Mr. Angus, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest in us, but I am sure it is best to try my plan. You see I have the house on my hands. When we came to Jersey, Father leased it for the winter and I can't afford to forfeit thirty pounds. And there is Nurse as well as Annette. Surely Nurse lends dignity to any family. But I am older than you think," she ended with a smile and a pretty blush. "I am twenty- four, Mr. Angus."
A kindly look came into the eyes bent on her slender, black-robed figure. "You do not look it, my dear," her visitor said after a pause. "Well, with two good servants, the plan may be successful. Much depends on what class of lodgers comes your way. I am told that Americans are rather desirable inmates, that they pay well and are not exacting. If you could let your rooms to some refined American ladies, things might adjust themselves very satisfactorily. To be sure, few Americans visit the Channel Islands; they are given to wandering farther afield. But I will speak of your plans to the postmaster and one or two others. It might be advisable to put a card in the circulating library at St. Helier's. Rest assured that both Mrs. Angus and I will do all we can for your father's girls. Lionel and I were good friends at Oxford though we saw so little of each other afterwards. I did not think when he wrote me scarcely six weeks ago that it was to be Hail and Farewell.
"I must go," he added quickly, seeing that Estelle's eyes were brimming. "Where is Edith? I hoped to see her also."
"She has gone to the sands," replied Estelle. "It is dull for her, moping here, so I sent her for an errand and told her to run down and see whether the tide had turned. She begins school on Monday."
Mr. Angus took his leave, and still looking doubtful, went down the steps of Rose Villa, a quaint little house, covered with tinted plaster, as is the pretty custom of the Channel Islands, and appearing even to a masculine ignorance of details much more neat and attractive than its neighbors.
So Mr. Angus thought, as he turned from his puzzled survey of its exterior, to walk slowly down the short street at the end of which glittered the waters of the English Channel.
The tide was on the turn but the expanse of sandy beach lay yet broad. Far toward St. Helier's the curve of the port showed the high sea-wall, for this same innocent-looking tide that ebbs and leaves behind miles of sandy stretches and rocks, can return with force sufficient to dash over even the lofty breakwater and surprise the placid Jerseymen at times, by scattering large stones in the esplanade.
But here at St. Aubin's the curve of Noirmont Point sheltered the little town from the full force of the waves. Dr. Angus looked from the end of Noirmont Terrace straight down to the sands and saw in the distance the sunset air filled with wheeling gulls, a group of boys playing football on the wide level, and somewhat nearer, a slender girl of fourteen, dressed in black, with long fair hair floating over her shoulders.
She was walking slowly and the kind clergyman attributed her leisurely pace to dejection, but as a matter of fact, Edith was feeling quite happy and much interested in the tiny bright yellow snail shells the beach was providing for entertainment. She had been spared all that was possible of the depression and sorrow of the past weeks. Daddy had been poorly for years and Edith could not remember him as ever well and strong. His loss affected her more because it grieved Estelle, the only mother she had known.
There had been a few sad confused days when nothing seemed real, and strangers had been kind in a way that Estelle accepted with a sort of resentful patience, plain even to Edith. But since then, life had been rather cheerful, with a great deal of attention from Nurse, and Estelle's time almost wholly given to her. It was gratifying to share Sister's confidence and to help arrange the rooms attractively for the possible delightful people who ought to come to lodge with them.
That they might not be delightful, Sister would not admit for a moment, so of course they would be. St. Aubin's itself was far more desirable as a place of residence than the noisy Exeter street where Edith had spent much of her life. Far back in the past she could just remember a charming Surrey village with a pretty vine-covered church where Daddy used to preach. She could recall exactly how her fat legs dangled helplessly from the high pew seat. Directly behind sat a stout farmer with four sons. The boys made faces at Edith on the sly; their mother sometimes gave her peppermints.
Edith's thoughts had wandered rather far afield, though still alert for any gleam of the yellow shells, when she arrived opposite Noirmont Terrace and reluctantly left the sands. A light shone from the drawing-room and she knew that Annette would be bringing in supper, and Sister would be found poring over a little account book with a "don't speak just now" look in her eyes.
But Estelle proved to be waiting at the open door and as Edith began to run on catching sight of her, she thought that Sister somehow looked happier.
"Did you meet Mr. Angus?" Estelle inquired. "He went toward the sands."
"I saw him in the distance," replied Edith. "Why, Star, you look like—like a star," she ended laughing. "Was Mr. Angus agreeable? Did he say you oughtn't to take people?"
"I think he doesn't wholly disapprove now," answered Estelle gently. "And he is going to do what he can toward sending pleasant lodgers. Wouldn't it be nice if some dear old ladies should come and want to stay with us all winter?"
"Just ladies?" queried Edith. "Do they have to be old?"
"I shouldn't take gentlemen," said Estelle. "Nurse wouldn't approve, and ladies would be pleasanter. Perhaps there might be a young mother and some ducky little children. How would you like that?"
"Much better," responded Edith. "I don't want any fussy old freaks with false fronts and shawls. They'd expect to be read aloud to and waited on within an inch of their lives. I'd like some babies to take down to dig and paddle. Do say you'll have children, Sister."
"Well, as a matter of fact, I think we'll have to take the people who want to come," replied Estelle sensibly. "Let's just hope that somebody very nice will think we'd be nice to stay with. Come in now, Edith. Annette has shrimps for supper and after we are finished, we will put a card in the window and see what happens next."
But the little white card that most modestly announced "Lodgings" remained in the drawing-room casement for a week, and every day as Edith came from school, she looked anxiously to see whether it was gone. Its absence would mean that some one had looked at the rooms with approval.
One afternoon as she came up the Terrace, the sight of an unknown face at an upper window sent a thrill down her back. The card was yet in evidence but the presence of strangers indicated that some one had felt attracted by Rose Villa. Yes, there was a cab at the door.
As Edith entered quietly a voice struck her ear, struck it unpleasantly, an English voice, high-pitched and rather supercilious.
"I should require to see your kitchen, Miss Pearce, and your servants. I am most particular. In fact, I must be free at any time to inspect the scullery. There must be a definite arrangement about Marmaduke's meals. He likes a light breakfast with plenty of cream, and for dinner a chop or a bit of chicken. His dinner must be served with my luncheon. Then for tea—"
"I am afraid my servants would be unwilling to cook especially for a dog," interposed Estelle's voice, courteous but with a chilling tone Edith had never suspected it possessed. "It is useless for you to consider the lodgings."
"Oh, your rooms are very passable," said the voice. "Small, of course, and underfurnished, but some pictures and antimacassars would take off that bare look. And Marmaduke is adorable. Your cook would soon be devotion itself. Why, at my last lodgings—"
"I really cannot undertake the care of a pet animal," said Estelle firmly. "I hope to have other lodgers and his presence might be objectionable to them. You will excuse me now, as I have an engagement. I will ring for Nurse to show you out."
"Well, really, Miss Pearce," began the voice, but Nurse appeared on the scene so promptly that one might have suspected her of being all the time within hearing distance. Edith scuttled into the drawing-room, just avoiding a very large, over-dressed person, who came ponderously down the stairs, a moppy white dog festooned over one arm. Her face was red and perspiring and she seemed to be indignantly struggling with feelings too strong for words. Edith could not suppress a stifled laugh as she was ushered from the house in Nurse's grandest manner.
Emerging from her refuge, Edith saw Estelle on the landing, her face pale except for a tiny red spot on either cheek, her eyes unnaturally bright.
"My word, Star!" said Edith, giggling, "didn't you get rid of her finely? What a fearful person!"
"She was impossible," said Estelle. "Oh, Nurse," she exclaimed impetuously, seeing the old family servant still lingering in the hall, "do you suppose only people like that will want lodgings?"
"No, indeed, my lamb," replied Nurse, casting a glance of satisfaction after the cab disappearing from the terrace. "Don't you fret, Miss Star, and don't you take the first people who come. Just bide your time, and there'll be some quality who will be what you ought to have."
"Mr. Angus thought Americans might be rather desirable," said Estelle hesitatingly. To prepare Nurse for such a possibility might be wise.
Nurse pursed her lips significantly. "Well, it's not for me to disagree with the reverend gentleman," she remarked. "And I haven't been in contact with Americans. No doubt they're well enough in their country, but I hope, Miss Star, it'll be some of our people that want to come. Now an elderly couple or some middle-aged ladies would be quite suitable and proper, but Americans—Well, I don't know."
Nurse shook her head dubiously as she left the room. Edith came to put her arms about Estelle.
"What a fearful woman that was!" she repeated, drawing her sister toward the window. "Poor Star, I'm sorry you had to talk to her. Rooms underfurnished, indeed! And you tried so hard not to have them crowded and messed with frightful crocheted wool things. She'd want a tidy on every chair and extra ones for Sunday. And you've made things so pretty, Star!"
"We think so, don't we!" replied Estelle, kissing her little comforter. "Somebody may yet come who will agree with us. We won't give up hope."
Estelle was silent for a moment. She did not want Edith to suspect how very necessary it was that those rooms should prove attractive to somebody.
"Is that the Southampton boat just rounding the point?" she added. "She's extremely late."
"They must have had a rough passage," agreed Edith, looking at the steamer ploughing into the smooth water of St. Aubin's bay. "Let's put a wish on her, Star. Let's wish, hard, that she has on board the nicest people that ever were and that they're coming straight out here and say they'd like to spend the winter with us!"
FRAN ENGAGES LODGINGS
"I positively refuse," said Mrs. Thayne, "to go out again to-day. And I wish you wouldn't go either, Wingate," she added to her older son. "That steamer trip was frightful. What a night we did have! As for you two," she went on to Frances and Roger, "I suppose you won't be happy until you are off for an exploring expedition, but I don't see how you can feel like it."
"Why, Mother, I wasn't seasick," said Roger, a handsome, mischievous-looking boy about twelve. "I slept like a log till I heard Win being—hmm—unhappy. That woke me but I turned over and didn't know anything more till daylight."
"I shouldn't have been sick if you hadn't begun it, Mother," observed Frances, turning from the window overlooking the esplanade. "I feel all right now. Mayn't Roger and I go down on the beach or take a car ride?" she asked, eagerly.
"I don't imagine there are any electric cars on the island," said Mrs. Thayne.
"But out here is a funny little steam tram marked St. Aubin's," interposed Frances. "It's going somewhere. Look at the dinky cars with a kind of balcony and that speck of an engine."
"That's a pony engine for sure," drawled Win, joining his sister at the window. Except that he was thin and fragile no one could have known from Win's clever, merry dark face, how greatly he was handicapped by a serious heart trouble. But the contrast between his tall, loosely-knit figure and Fran's compact little person brought a wistful expression into Mrs. Thayne's observant eyes. Win was seventeen and had never been able to play as other boys did. Probably all his life would be different, yet he was so plucky and brave over his limitations.
"There's the Lydia down in the harbor," exclaimed Frances. "My, didn't she wiggle around last night!"
"Lydia, Lydia, why dost thou tremble? Answer me true. Traveler, traveler, I'll not dissemble, 'Tis but the screw.
Lydia, Lydia, why this commotion? Answer me quick. Traveler, traveler, 'tis but a notion. You must be sick!"
drawled Win, following the direction of his sister's glance.
"Win, how bright of you!" she exclaimed. "I wish I could think of things like that. But, Mother, mayn't we go out and take that little train wherever it's going?"
"Yes, I suppose so," agreed Mrs. Thayne. "Take care of Fran, Roger, and don't get separated. You might notice any attractive places offering lodgings. We don't want to stay in this hotel all winter and the sooner we are settled the better."
"Come along, Fran," exclaimed Roger. "That infant train is getting a move on."
The two tore impetuously from the sitting-room. "Such energy!" Mrs. Thayne remarked with a sigh. "Will you lie down here, Win?"
"No, I think I'll write a bit," replied her son. "I'm not so done up as you are, Mother."
"Why Roger wasn't ill after the strange combination of food he ate at Winchester last evening is a miracle," remarked Mrs. Thayne. "Were you planning to write to Father?"
"I will," replied her son. "Mother, do go and rest. You look like the latter end of a wasted life. But I hope the kids will light on some lodgings. I've had enough of hotels. Nothing on earth is so deadly dull and so deadly respectable as a first-class English hotel."
"Why, of course it is respectable," said Mrs. Thayne, looking rather puzzled.
"Thunder, yes! But it's so fearfully proper! That head-waiter down-stairs, with his side-whiskers and his velvet tread and his confidential voice—why, when he came to take my order, I wanted to pull his hair or do something to turn him into a human being."
Mrs. Thayne smiled. Much as she loved Win, she did not always understand him. Shut out from active sports, Win had early taken refuge in the world of books and his quick perceptions were often those of a mature mind.
When his mother had gone into her room, Win settled himself by the west window overlooking the bay where Castle Elizabeth rose on its rock in the middle distance. Win looked at it approvingly, promising himself later the fun of finding out its history and present use. Just now, he would devote himself to getting the family journal up to date for Father, on duty with the Philadelphia, somewhere near Constantinople. It was to be on the same side of the Atlantic that the Thaynes had come to England and a slight attack of bronchitis on Win's part had resulted in this additional trip. Jersey was reported to possess a mild climate as well as good schools where Roger and Frances might have new and probably interesting experiences. Win himself was not equal to school routine, but there would doubtless be some tutor available to give him an hour or two every day, a pleasant and easy task for some young man, for Win was always eager to study when health permitted.
Deep in his heart was the ever-present regret that he could not enter Annapolis nor follow in the footsteps of his father, but if an elder brother had any influence, Roger was going into the naval service. At present, Roger showed no inclination to such a future, and was but mildly interested in his father's career, but Captain Thayne and Win shared an unspoken hope that a change would come with the passing years.
For some time after finishing his letter, Win sat with eyes on Castle Elizabeth, idly speculating about the coming winter. This old-world island, with its differing customs and ancient traditions seemed a place where most interesting things might happen, a land of romance and fairy gold, offering possibilities of strange adventure. Just because Win was debarred from most boyish fun, his mind turned eagerly to deeds of daring. Visions of pirates, smugglers, and buried hoards often danced through his brain, and the least suggestion of any mystery was enough to excite his keen interest. That hoary old castle on its island proved a source of many romantic ideas to Win, who presently fell into a day-dream.
The sun set in crimson splendor behind the castle towers and Win's reverie changed to genuine slumber from which he was roused by the reappearance of Mrs. Thayne.
"I'm sorry I waked you," she said. "I didn't notice that you were asleep."
"Why, I didn't know I was," said Win lazily. "I must have been dreaming and yet I thought I was awake. It was such an odd dream about a young man or rather a boy, in queer clothes ornamented with silver buttons and wearing his hair in curls over his shoulders. I was following him somewhere through a passage, very dark and narrow. Then suddenly we were in a room with a big fireplace and books around the walls. It was a beautiful old room but I never remember seeing a place like it. Some other people came, all men, also in queer clothes and very quiet and serious. On a table was food of some kind and this boy I had been following began to eat but the others stood about, apparently consulting over something. Then I woke. Wasn't it a crazy dream? Oh, the reason we were in that passage was because something was lost. I don't know what it was nor how I knew it was lost but we were trying to find it."
"That was odd. You must have read something that suggested it," Mrs. Thayne began, just as Fran and Roger came into the room, bursting with suppressed excitement. For a few moments they talked in a duet.
"Mother, it's lovely over at St. Aubin's, ever so much nicer than here," Fran began breathlessly, her brown eyes sparkling. "And such a funny little train running along the esplanade!"
"You couldn't believe there was such a beach," put in Roger. "Why, the tide goes out forever, clear to the horizon! Fellows were playing football down there, two games. How much does this tide rise, Win?"
"This book I've been reading says forty feet," replied his brother.
"And the houses!" Fran went on breathlessly, "all colors, cream and brown and blue and pink."
"Oh, draw it mild, Sis," interrupted Win. "I should admire a pink house."
"It's out there," said Frances, "and what's more, it's very pretty!"
"That's right," corroborated Roger. "Wouldn't a pink house look something fierce at home? But here it's swell and kind of—of appropriate," he ended lamely.
"And flowers, Mother," Frances took up the tale. "Hedges of fuchsia, real live tall hedges, not measly little potted plants. Geraniums as tall as I am, and ever so many roses and violets. Oh, and we've found some lodgings. You're to see them to-morrow."
"Frances!" exclaimed her horrified mother. "You haven't been in strange houses, inspecting rooms?"
"Why, you told us to look for them, didn't you, Mother?" replied her astonished and literal daughter. "Roger was with me. It was perfectly all right."
"I simply meant you to notice from the outside any attractive houses that advertised lodgings," explained Mrs. Thayne. "Well—" she ended helplessly, "I suppose there's no harm done."
"Why, no," Frances agreed. "What could happen? Let me tell you about them. We took the baby cars and got off at St. Aubin's because that especial train didn't go any farther. It's lovely there, Mother, and plenty of lodgings to let. We walked along and saw one house that looked pleasant, so we went up and rang and a maid showed us into a parlor. We knew right off we didn't want to come there, because the place was so dark and stuffy and there were fourteen hundred family photographs and knit woolen mats and such things around. I was going to sit down but just as I got near the chair,—it was rather dark, you see,—something said 'Hello!' and there was a horrid great parrot sitting on the back of the chair. I jumped about a foot."
"You screamed, too," said Roger.
"I may have exclaimed," admitted Frances judicially. "It was not a scream. If I had yelled, you would have known it. Well, a messy old woman came who called me 'dear,' but when I said I didn't believe my mother would care for the rooms, she got huffy and said she was accustomed to rent her rooms to ladies, only she pronounced it lydies.
"We left that place," went on Frances, paying no attention to the look of silent endurance on her mother's face, "and walked some distance without seeing anything we liked. But suddenly we came to a tiny street going down to the sea. There were only six houses and one had a card in the window. They faced the bay and just big rocks were on the other side of the street. Now, listen."
Frances went on dramatically. "The house with the card was the dearest thing, all cream-color and green, with a pink rambler rose perfectly enormous, growing 'way up to the eaves, and a rough roof of red tiles and steep gables. The windows were that dinky kind that open outward and had little bits of panes. Everything was clean as clean, the steps and the curtains and the glass. While we were looking, the door opened and a girl came out. She was about my age, Mother, but so pretty, with gray eyes and yellow hair and such a complexion. I'd give anything to look like her."
Frances shook her head with disapproval over her own brown hair and eyes. To be sure the one was curly and the others straightforward and earnest, while her gipsy little face and figure were considered attractive by most people and by those who loved her, very satisfactory indeed.
"Well, this girl came out and we sort of smiled at each other and I asked if that card meant that there were rooms to let. I told her you were seasick, and at the hotel, and my brother and I saw the card and we were looking for lodgings and all the rest, you know. She said yes, there were rooms and she'd call Sister.
"Sister came and she was a love, tall and sweet and just beautiful, only she looked sad and wore a black dress. The younger girl went away but Sister showed us the rooms and they are just what we'd like, I'm sure. There wasn't any messy wool stuff nor ugly vases,—I forgot to mention that in the other place there were eight pair of vases on the mantel, truly, for Roger counted them. These rooms were clean and rather bare, with painted floors and washable rugs and fresh curtains and flowers, just one vase in each room and a clear glass vase at that. The beds had iron frames and good springs and mattresses, for I punched them to see. Aren't you proud to think I knew enough to do that?" Fran interrupted her story.
"Two bedrooms had the furniture painted white and the rest had some old mahogany," she went on.
"How many rooms were there?" inquired Mrs. Thayne, attracted by Fran's enthusiasm and interested by the pleasant picture she was describing.
"On the first floor is the drawing-room, which will be at our disposal," began Frances, evidently quoting "Sister." "It's pretty and sweet, Mother dear, very simple with a little upright piano and quite a number of books and a fireplace. Just behind is a room where we can have our meals. We can use as many bedrooms as we like; there are five and Sister said if we wished, one could be made into an up-stairs-sitting-room. The bathroom was really up- to-date, and looking very clean."
"And how much does Sister expect for all this?" inquired her mother.
"Well," admitted Frances, "I asked and she smiled so sweetly and said it depended upon how much service we required and whether we wanted to do our own marketing and perhaps it would be better to discuss the terms after you saw whether you liked the rooms. I told her we were Americans and she said yes, she had thought so. I don't see why," Frances ended reflectively.
Win gave a chuckle. "Easy enough to guess," he remarked. "I imagine English girls of fourteen don't go around on their own hook, engaging lodgings for the family."
"I am almost fifteen," said his sister severely. "And I understood that Mother wanted me to look for rooms, so I did, but of course she will make the final arrangements. I thanked Sister and said I'd try to bring my mother in the morning, for I felt sure she would like the rooms. And Sister said she'd be very glad to have young people in the house and that if you wanted references, Mother, you could apply to some clergyman,—I forget his name,— but I know it's all right. You'll think so, too, the minute you see Sister. I fell in love with her. Oh, her name is Pearce, Estelle Pearce. She gave me her card."
Frances produced it. "You will come and see the rooms to-morrow, won't you, Mother? Win can come too, for that tiny train is very comfortable and the walk to the house is short. Rose Villa, Noirmont Terrace. Isn't that a sweet name?"
The moment she entered Rose Villa, Mrs. Thayne heartily agreed with Frances as to its desirability. To Estelle's amazement, she proceeded to engage all the rooms, offering to pay for the privilege of having the whole house for her family.
This was better fortune than Estelle had dreamed of and scarcely two days passed before she realized that a kindly star was favoring her. Frances and Edith became friends on the spot; Nurse, who might have proved a problem, took an instant fancy to delicate Win and started on a course of coddling that luckily amused Win quite as much as it satisfied Nurse. Blunt, downright Roger appealed especially to Estelle, who also found Mrs. Thayne charming.
"Aren't we in luck, little sister?" she confided to Edith. "Even our wildest expectations couldn't have pictured anything more pleasant than this. If they only stop the winter! But where are you going now?"
"On the sands with the others," said Edith happily. "Fran asked me. The boys have gone ahead to the end of the terrace."
Win was singing softly to himself as he stood looking down upon the sandy beach that stretched for miles towards St. Helier's at the left, and on the right, though showing more warm red granite rocks, to Noirmont Point. "Britannia needs no bulwarks, no towers along the steeps," he hummed just above his breath.
"There's a tower right in front of you," commented Roger, between the throwing of two stones.
Win cast a glance at the deserted castle of St. Aubin's, a miniature Castle Elizabeth on its isolated rock off shore, another at the martello tower on the point.
"I was talking to a man about those little towers," he remarked. "One can be rented for a pound a year, and there are thirty-two of them around the island. But they didn't amount to much when it came to actual fighting. The rocks and tides are what makes Jersey safe. That's what I meant by this place needing no bulwarks."
"One of those martello towers would make a fine wireless station," commented Roger. "Why did they build them if they aren't any use?"
"They thought they were going to be," replied Win, looking to see whether the girls were coming. "About two centuries ago there was a battle down in the Mediterranean that was decided by the possession of one of those little towers, so England built a good many. But they weren't much use after all."
"I never knew that before," said Edith, as she and Frances joined the boys.
"England wasn't the only nation that was taken in by them," Win went on. "Italy has a number on her southern coast. For a long time people supposed they were called martello towers from the man who built them, but I found in a book that the name came from a vine that grew over this one in Corsica. Before many moons pass I'm going to get into one of them. Smugglers must have used them and there may be things left behind."
Frances cast a glance at the tower in question. At first inspection it looked like a stony mushroom sprouting from the rocks. Some distance above the base opened a rough entrance and a low parapet encircled the top. To scramble over the exposed rocks to the base of this especial tower appeared a hard climb, to say nothing of the difficulties of ascending. The feat looked beyond Win's accomplishment but Frances said nothing. To argue with Win about whether he could or ought to attempt anything was never wise. Left to himself he would stop within the bounds of prudence but resented solicitude from others.
"Well, where are we going?" she asked.
"Let's take the train into St. Helier's," suggested Win. "We've scarcely seen the town."
Edith looked doubtful. "I ought to ask Sister," she said. "Star thought we were just going on the sands."
"And so we are," replied Roger. "We're taking a train that runs on the sands," he mimicked in a teasing, boyish way. "Why don't you call it a beach?"
"Because it is sands," retorted Edith with a pretty flash of spirit that Roger already delighted to arouse. "The tram-line is far beyond the shingle."
"Shingle!" gasped Roger, staring in that direction. "I don't see any."
"The pebbles, cobbles, beyond the sands," explained Edith.
"Oh, excuse me," chuckled Roger. "I thought they were plain stones. Didn't see anything particularly wooden about them."
Edith looked at him. A few days had made her feel very well acquainted with these friendly young people, but Roger was often surprising.
"Oh, cut it short, Roger," drawled Win. "Run back, will you, and tell Mother that we want to go into town. She won't care and I don't believe Miss Estelle will either, but we ought to mention it. Hustle, because I think that train is coming."
Roger obligingly bolted back, received a nod of possible comprehension from a mother very much absorbed in an important letter, and arrived just as the others boarded the steam tram, a funny affair with a kind of balcony along one side where people who preferred the air could stay instead of going inside. Edith and Frances exchanged smiles of happiness.
"I haven't been to St. Helier's often," Edith confided. "Just to market once with Nurse, and once to choose curtains with Sister. We thought the drapers' shops quite excellent."
Fran's attention was held for an instant, but after all it seemed only reasonable that draperies should be purchased at a draper's.
"Isn't the beach lovely?" she confided. "It would be fun to walk back."
"We might," said Edith. "Would Win care if we did? Or could he do it too?"
"He couldn't walk so far," said Fran, "but he won't mind if we want to. Win is angelic about not stopping us from doing things he can't do himself."
"Has he always had to be so careful?" asked Edith. She and Frances sat at a little distance from the boys. Roger was peering around into the cab of the tiny engine; Win watched the water as it broke on the beach.
"Always," said Frances. "He was just a tiny baby when they knew something was wrong with his heart. It isn't painful and may never be any worse. Only he must take great care not to get over-tired. Ever so many doctors have seen him and they all say the same thing,—that if he is prudent and never does too much, he may outlive us all. Just now in London, he and Mother went to a specialist but all he told Win was that he must cultivate the art of being lazy. Mother says the worst was when he was too little to realize that he mustn't do things. Now, of course, he understands and takes care of himself. It's hard on Win but Mother says it's good for Roger and me. It does make Roger more thoughtful. He says anything he likes to Win and pretends to tease him, but if you notice, you'll see that he does every single thing Win wants and always looks to see if he's all right. It helps me too, for I'm ashamed to fuss over trifles when Win has so much to bear."
The little tram was traveling at a moderate pace toward town, stopping at several tiny stations where more and more people entered.
"I can't get used to hearing people talk French," said Frances. "It seems so odd when Jersey is a part of England."
"The French spoken here isn't that of Paris," remarked her brother, rising from his seat. "It's Norman French."
"I know I can't understand it easily," confessed Edith, "and Sister has always taken pains to teach me. I'm glad it isn't all my fault."
The train came to a stand on the esplanade of St. Helier's. The four stopped to look over the sea-wall, to the beach far below, across to the long stone piers forming the artificial sea basin and up to Fort Regent overhanging the town like a war-cloud.
"That fort looks stuck on the cliff like a swallow's nest," commented Roger. "Look, there's a snow-white sea-gull!"
"There's another with a black tail," exclaimed Edith. "Oh, aren't they beautiful!"
"In the United States is a city that put up a monument to the sea- gulls," said Win. "Salt Lake City, ever so far inland. A fearful plague of grasshoppers ate everything green and turned the place into a desert. They came the second summer, but something else came too. Over the Rocky Mountains, away from the Pacific Ocean, flew a great flock of gulls and ate the grasshoppers. Their coming seemed so like a miracle that the city erected a beautiful monument to them."
"Did they ever come again?" asked Edith, greatly impressed.
"No," said Win. "Just that once."
"Without doubt it was a miracle," said Edith so reverently that the three looked at her.
Roger gave a little snort, started to say something, looked again at Edith's rapt face and changed his mind. "Boston ought to put up a monument, too," he remarked at length. "Miracles happen every summer in Boston. The city swelters with the mercury out of sight and then along steps the east wind. In ten minutes, everybody puts on coats and stops drinking ice-water. Some tidy miracle-worker, our east wind."
"Especially in winter," said Win laughing. "I'm afraid a monument to the east wind wouldn't be popular along in January. Shall we come on? Let's go up this street. I've a map, but things look rather crooked, so we'd better keep together."
The quartette started, Roger and Win leading the way. St. Helier's streets are indeed crooked, and paved with cobble stones of alarming size and sonorous qualities. Numerous men and boys tramped along in wooden sabots which made a most unearthly clatter. Even little girls wore them, though otherwise their dress was not unusual. Outside one shop hung many of the clumsy foot- gear, the price explaining their evident popularity.
Signs over shops were as often French as English and sometimes both. At one corner, the party met a man ringing a bell and uttering a proclamation in French. At the next corner he stopped to announce it in English and the interested boys found that he was advertising a public auction. No one else seemed in the least attentive to his remarks.
Fifteen minutes' loitering through narrow, ill-paved streets, crowded with hurrying people and a great number of dogs, brought the four to an open square of irregular shape with a gilded statue at one end. Its curious draperies caught Win's observant eye and he walked around it thoughtfully.
"What a very queer costume!" he remarked as he completed his circuit. "What is it doing on a statue of an English king?"
Win spoke aloud, not noticing that the others were beyond hearing, but his inquiry was answered by a gentleman who chanced to be passing.
"It is a Roman statue," he volunteered, "rescued from a shipwreck. The thrifty Jerseymen considered it too good to be wasted, so they gilded it and placed it here in the Royal Square in honor of George the Second."
Win smiled as he turned to the speaker, a tall, thin Englishman in riding dress. His bearing suggested a military training and a second glance showed an empty coat-sleeve.
"This group of buildings may interest you," the speaker added. "They contain the Court House, Parliament rooms and a small public library."
Touching his riding-crop to his hat in response to Win's thanks, he turned into a side street where a young man mounted on a handsome horse sat holding the bridle of another. With interest Win watched them ride away. Even from a distance, something about the younger man struck a chord of recollection in Win's usually reliable memory. He was almost certain that somewhere, at some time, they had met. Yet he could not think of any American acquaintance of that age who would be at all likely to be riding about the island of Jersey, his companion not only an Englishman, but obviously an ex-army officer.
Still, the impression of familiarity was strong and Win was yet wondering about it as he slowly climbed the stairs leading to the public library.
Protesting somewhat, the others followed to look at a rather uninviting room, appealing to them far less than to Win, already on the trail for local history. The attendant proved obliging and after supplying Win with several books brought out a shabby brown volume.
"We have one of your writers on our shelves," he remarked with a smile, offering the book to Frances.
"Poems of Oliver Wendell Holmes," she read aloud. "Haven't you any other American authors?" she demanded in amazement. "And how did you know I was an American?"
The librarian shook his head. "I have often thought we should have more American books," he replied, "but they are so extremely dear as compared with those published on this side of the Atlantic that we have not afforded them. How did I know your nationality? By the way you speak."
Frances looked disgusted. She said little more, but soon persuaded the reluctant Win to postpone his investigations and come down again into the Royal Square.
"Now, Sis, what's the matter with you?" Win inquired on seeing her flushed face.
"Oh, you didn't hear that man say he knew I was an American by the way I talked," sniffed Frances indignantly.
"Anybody would think you didn't want to be one," commented Roger bluntly.
"I wouldn't be anything else," retorted Frances, "only I don't care to have fun poked at the way I talk."
Win's glance traveled from his sister's annoyed face to Edith's, which wore a look of perplexity.
"We're polite," he remarked. "Here's Edith, who wouldn't be anything but English."
"No," said Edith gravely. "One always feels that way about one's country. But I understand what Frances means. And I see why people know you are not English. It isn't so much your pronunciation, but you put words in odd places in the sentence and some of your expressions are most unusual," she ended apologetically. "I like them. It is interesting to hear things called by new names. Just now Fran said 'poke fun' when she meant 'criticise,' and Roger says a thing is 'fine and dandy' when I should call it 'top-hole.' That is the difference, is it not?"
The others laughed and Edith's attempt to bridge a dangerous situation ended successfully. Presently their whereabouts absorbed their attention for Win had left the map behind him on the library table.
For a time they wandered at random, following one narrow street after another, seeing interesting shop windows, but presently discovered that they did not know where they were.
"The esplanade must lie at our left," said Win. "If we keep turning in that direction we shall surely strike it."
"Look at that candy," exclaimed Roger, attaching himself to a confectioner's window. "Here's a chance to acquire some choice English. What is black-jack, Edith? Looks like liquorice. Bismarck marble, Gladstone rock, toffy,—what's toffy?"
"It is sweets made of treacle instead of sugar," explained Edith, turning surprised eyes upon him.
"Sweets! treacle!" exclaimed Roger after a petrified instant. "Bring me a fan! Give me air!"
"Why," said Frances, a sudden light dawning on her. "Treacle! I never knew before what Alice in Wonderland meant by her treacle well. It's molasses, Edith. There are some chocolate peppermints!"
Without stopping for further speech Frances dashed into the shop. Presently she emerged, carrying a white paper bag, or "sack" as Edith designated it, and with an odd expression of face.
"Joke?" inquired Win. "What did you ask for?" he demanded, accepting a piece of candy.
"I got what I wanted," said Fran evasively. "It's always possible to walk behind a counter and help yourself if you don't know the names of things."
Later she drew Edith aside. "What do you call these?" she asked confidentially.
"Peppermint chocolate drops," replied Edith. "What else could they be?"
Turning constantly to the left did not bring them to the sea. Instead they walked a long distance only to find themselves in a poorer part of the town, with increasing crowds of children inclined to follow. Their appearance seemed a source of interest to older people as well and presently Win was induced to inquire his way to the boulevard.
To his surprise the reply came in French, but between his own knowledge and that of Edith, they made out that they were traveling inland instead of toward the shore. This sounded impossible unless they had completely lost all sense of direction.
But a second inquiry brought the same answer, so they followed the offered advice, coming at last to the bay of St. Aubin's more than a mile below St. Helier's, fortunately near one of the tram stopping-places. Edith was good for a walk home and Roger would have gone also if challenged, but both Win and Frances were tired so Edith did not propose to return by the beach. Indeed, the tide was now so high that they would have been forced to go part of the way by the road.
"School for us to-morrow," said Frances dismally. "But I think we should plan to do something very interesting every holiday all winter."
"We will take a tea-basket and lunch out of doors," replied Edith happily. "There are beautiful spots to visit in Jersey."
Win looked up suddenly. "Fran," he asked, "did you notice those gentlemen who rode out of the square while we were looking at the statue? Had you ever seen the younger one before?"
Fran shook her head. "I noticed only the one who spoke to you," she replied. "I was looking at their horses."
"All the same," mused Win thoughtfully, "I've seen that young fellow before and it must have been in the United States, for I know I should remember encountering him over here."
THE BEACH DOG
"You would certainly smile if you could see the school I am going to," Frances wrote to her chum, Marjorie Benton, "but when I think of you and the other girls back at the dear old Boston Latin, I feel more like crying.
"First I must tell you about Edith Pearce, the girl in the house where we are staying. She has long flaxen hair which hangs over her shoulders in the most childish way, though she's our age. Her eyes are gray with dark lashes and when she looks at you they are like surprised stars. And she has the most beautiful complexion in the world, just pink and white. She is lovely to look at and I feel like a tanned, homely gipsy beside her. She's sweet too, but very easily shocked and I'm afraid she's not only good but pious. She can never take your place so don't worry, only, as I have to be here, I might as well have some fun with her.
"I go to school with Edith and it is as unlike the Latin School as the North Pole and Boston Common. There are about thirty boarders, some of them little bits of things—Edith calls them 'tinies'—who have been sent home from India where their parents couldn't keep them any longer. About fifty day-scholars attend, from kindergarten age up.
"I'm the only American and I can tell you I was well stared at. At first the girls couldn't believe it, insisted that I must be Scotch or at least Canadian, so now I wear a little United States flag pin all the time. Gracious, but things are different, especially clothes! Mine are the prettiest in school, if I do say it, and Edith thinks so too. She says my 'frocks' are 'chic.'
"Most of the girls, even the big ones almost eighteen, wear their hair hanging and have such dresses,—frocks, I mean. They fit like meal bags, and being combinations of many colors, look perfectly dreadful. And yet the girls are very nice, some of them from really important families.
"To cap the climax, most of them sport ugly black mohair aprons which they call 'alpaca pinnies.' Marjorie, can you imagine what they look like? I told Mother if she wanted me to be English to the extent of wearing a pinafore, I should lie down and die and I'm thankful to say that she simply grinned. But many of the girls have wonderful yellow or red-gold hair and stunning peachy complexions, so they aren't such frights as you'd think.
"Instead of going around from one class to another as in any sensible school, the girls stay in one room and teacher after teacher,—I mean mistress, comes to them. I get so everlastingly tired sitting still. Never before did I realize what a rest it was to walk from class to class and get a chat on the way. The only exceptions to this rule are preparation, when we sit at desks under the eye of a monitress, and gymnasium work.
"Marjorie, when I first beheld that gymnasium teacher, I nearly fainted. Her molasses-colored hair was frizzed hard in front and pinned in a round bun at the back of her head. She had on tight- fitting knee trousers, not bloomers, believe me. Over these she wore a white sweater of a very fancy weave. Over this was a weird tunic of alpaca with two box-plaits in front and three in back. This fell an inch or so below her knees, and every time she bent over or stretched up, those queer tight trousers showed. Her shoes were ordinary ones with heels. The girls wear either their usual frocks or an arrangement like this. I can tell you my pretty brown gym suit was the event of the day when I appeared in it.
"Everybody wears slippers at school, puts them on when she first comes and no wonder, because the English shoes are the worst- looking and clumsiest things ever invented by man. Edith's feet look twice as big in her boots as in slippers. You'd think by their appearance that English feet were a different shape from ours, but they are not; it is only the shoes. They make them so thick and stout that they last for years. Edith was plainly shocked when I told her I had a new pair every few months. She thinks mine suitable only for the house. Well, I will admit that English girls can out-walk me.
"The other mistresses aren't so queer as the gym teacher but look more like other people except that they wear too much jewelry. Everybody wears a great deal and you know what we think at home of ladies who appear on the street with rings and chains and lockets. Edith and her sister Estelle don't dress so, but Mother says they are quite exceptional.
"As for lessons, we have to study. They expect a lot of grammar and parsing, and dates in history and solid facts in geography and all that. Mother approves; she thinks the English system much less faddy than at home. We have Bible instruction in regular lessons. I'll admit that these English girls know more than I do about things in books, but they haven't any idea what's going on in the present world. They didn't know much about the Panama canal and the tolls. Win howled when I said I explained it to them and vowed he'd give a dollar to have heard me. And several didn't know who was president of the United States. Imagine that, when we're the most important republic in the world! I knew their old king.
"We begin school at half-past eight and have prayers and a Bible exercise. Different classes follow until eleven when a gong rings and everybody rushes into the garden, a lovely place with box- edged beds and a sun dial and gravel walks. There are myrtles and geraniums, great big bushes of them, and japonicas and heavenly wall-flowers and trees of lemon verbena and fuchsias up to the eaves. This is solid truth, and in November, too.
"In the garden we find a table with jugs of milk,—notice my English, please—and biscuit, that is, crackers, and we gobble and faith, we have reason! Studying so hard makes one famished. Then recreation follows for half an hour and we play ball or tennis. Some of the girls are splendid players. School again until two, when we day-scholars leave.
"Three afternoons a week, we have to go back for gym work and English composition, which is beastly. On Wednesday there is no school.
"Do you want to know what I've learned in one week of school in Jersey?
"Well, I can speak three sentences in French. I'll write you in French next time.
"I know that Amos and Hosea and Isaiah were all prophets and said that Israel was a very bad place.
"I know that Paleolithic man was probably the first inhabitant of Great Britain.
"I know how few people like to join mission study classes.
"And I know that I love you."
Fran finished her letter, directed and sealed the envelope, affixed a stamp, sniffing slightly at the head of King George instead of George Washington, and ran down-stairs.
"Do you know where Edith is?" she asked of Nurse.
"She is out in front, Miss Frances," replied Nurse. "Are you going for a walk?"
"Just to the beach. We'll be back for tea."
Edith stood at the gate and the two ran down to the shore. The tide, half-way out, left bare a tremendous expanse of wet sand, iridescent under the sun's rays. The water showed wonderful shades of blue, green and turquoise, and in the edge of the retreating waves walked hundreds of gulls, searching for food.
The girls started up the beach toward St. Helier's, chatting happily as they watched the water and the birds. Little sandpipers appeared and some huge gray cormorants.
Presently a handsome collie ran up to them, dropped a stone before Frances and stood looking at her, his head cocked on one side, all but speaking.
"You darling," said Frances, picking up the pebble. "Does he want to be played with? Well, he shall."
She threw the stone down the beach and the collie shot after it at full speed, his beautiful tawny coat shining in the sunlight.
"Twice before," said Edith, "when I've been on the sands, he has begged me to throw stones for him to chase. He's a thorough-bred. Such fine markings! He looks like one of the Westmoreland sheep dogs. You've heard of them, haven't you? They are so intelligent about taking care of sheep and they understand everything their masters want. We saw one once that separated and brought to his master three sheep out of a big flock and the man didn't say one word, only motioned to him. He wants you to throw it again."
"I can't throw stones for you all night," said Fran at last. "You take a turn, Edith."
Edith threw a pebble picked up at random. The collie raced for it and after a sniff, returned without it.
"He wants his own stone and no other," laughed Frances. "See, he's hunting all about. There, he's found it!"
For a good mile down the beach the collie accompanied them, till both were tired of play. Convinced that they would throw his stone no longer, the dog reluctantly left them. Looking back, they saw him accosting a young man, who promptly yielded to the mute coaxing.
"I wonder whose dog he is," said Edith. "He didn't seem to belong to any one we passed. I fancy he's here on his own."
"We really ought to go over to Castle Elizabeth soon," observed Frances. "Doesn't it look like a huge monster stranded out there in the harbor?"
"Sister is afraid of the tides," replied Edith. "A soldier was drowned there the other day, trying to cross the causeway after the tide had turned. Look, Fran, I believe that must be his funeral up on the road now. It is a military one at any rate."
Frances looked with interest. First marched a guard of soldiers, two by two, then a band with muffled drums, playing the Dead March. After the band came a gun-carriage drawn by four horses and bearing the coffin, over which was draped the English flag. Several barouches followed with officers in uniform, and then the rest of the regiment, walking very slowly, their guns reversed.
As the procession approached, every man on the route uncovered and did not replace his hat until it had passed, a mark of respect which struck Frances forcibly. "They have better manners than we have," she acknowledged half to herself.
Edith looked surprised. "Men always uncover on meeting a funeral," she remarked. "This was a private, but if he had been an officer, his helmet and sword would be on the flag, and directly behind the gun-carriage, his orderly would lead his riderless horse. A military wedding is so pretty, Frances. I saw one once in Bath Abbey. The officers were all in full uniform and after the ceremony they formed in the aisle, two lines going way down out of the church and at a signal, drew their swords and crossed them with a clash above their heads and the bride and groom came down this path through the glittering swords. I was just a tiny then, but I decided I'd marry a soldier so I could have the arch of swords."
"It must have been very pretty," Frances agreed. "Why, what are those? See, like immense horseshoes in the water."
"The bathing pools," explained Edith. "They show only when the tide is very low. They keep back water for bathing."
"And a good job, too, when you have a tide that goes out of sight," commented Frances approvingly, as she looked at the two huge masonry walls near St. Helier's, set in the expanse of wet sand. "Look at the boys sailing boats."
"Sometimes there are real races with little model yachts," said Edith. "There's a club of the young officers and some of the townspeople and they have the prettiest little miniature boats with keels about a metre long, rigged exactly like real racing yachts. It's great sport to see them. But ought we not to go back?"
The girls turned for they were already far from home. To their surprise they were presently greeted again by the collie who tore up to hail them rapturously.
"Still chewing your stone?" Frances inquired. "Come along. I suppose we'll have to take you part way back."
The collie flew for the pebble as though for the first time of the afternoon. Before they had gone more than a quarter of a mile, a pretty young lady came up.
"I'm afraid my bad Tylo has been bothering you," she said apologetically. "He is forever coming on the sands and badgering people into playing with him."
"Oh, we liked to play," said Frances, smiling. "I think he's a brick. What did you call him?"
"Tylo," replied the young lady. "After the dog in the 'Blue Bird,' you know."
Edith also smiled. Their new acquaintance was looking from one to another, a charming and rather mischievous expression lighting a sweet face.
"You're a little sister compatriot," she said to Edith; "but I fancy this little lady comes from across the ocean."
"Yes, I do," said Frances, "but how did you know?"
The young lady laughed merrily. "Oh, I've knocked about a good bit. And I happen to have known one American boy very well. Indeed, we really grew up together in Italy and England. 'Brick' is rather an American word, isn't it? I've surely heard my friend use it. Americans seldom find their way to Jersey. Are you stopping long?"
"Perhaps all winter," replied Frances.
"There are many delightful excursions to make in the island," said the young lady. "Come along, Tylo. We must go home to tea. Oh," she added to the girls, "when you go on picnics, don't forget to look for caves."
With another smile and a charming little nod, she left them.
"I wonder who she is," said Frances, frankly looking after her. The erect lithe figure was crowned by a finely poised head and a wealth of beautiful fair hair, prettily arranged. Something in her face suggested possibilities of good comradeship, and her dress, while simplicity itself, betrayed a French origin.
"She looks nice enough and ladylike enough to be an American," thought Frances approvingly and with a sudden stab of homesickness.
"I wish she'd told us her name," she went on aloud, "and who the American boy was. Perhaps we might know him."
"He can scarcely be a boy now if they grew up together," observed Edith. "Wasn't she sweet? I hope we'll see her again."
"And what did she mean by caves?" Frances continued, pursuing her train of thought. "That sounded very interesting and mysterious."
To find a tutor for the boys proved less easy than Mrs. Thayne anticipated. There seemed a dearth of available young men in Jersey and she had about decided to send Roger to the best school and let Win work as he chose by himself, when Mr. Angus heard of a young Scotchman, already acting as secretary to a gentleman in St. Helier's and who could give the boys his afternoons.
Such an arrangement was not ideal, but Win took an instant liking to the tall raw-boned person, who announced himself in a delightful manner as "Weelyum Feesher."
Roger promptly dubbed him Bill Fish and refused to speak of him by any other term, causing his mother to live in terror lest Mr. Fisher should in some way learn of the disrespectful abbreviation. Roger was not at all enthusiastic about Bill Fish but liked still less the two schools he visited. To accept the tutor seemed the lesser of two evils.
The chief drawback proved that the boys were occupied at just the time when the girls were free, with the exception of Wednesday, a holiday for all.
The result was that Edith and Frances were thrown much together. Frances found it fortunate that she had a companion of her own age, for the island ladies soon called upon Mrs. Thayne and drew her into numerous social engagements. The little community had a strong army and navy tinge and naturally welcomed Mrs. Thayne. She would have taken far less part in the various festivities had she been leaving her daughter alone, but the two girls proved so congenial and Mrs. Thayne was so well satisfied with Edith as a companion for Frances that she felt free to indulge her own social instincts and enjoy the pleasant circle so invitingly opened.
Whenever they went out, the girls kept a close watch for the "collie lady" and the "beach dog." Twice Tylo came to hail them on the sands, once apparently entirely alone. The other time he merely greeted them and bounded away to rejoin two riders on the road. One was his lady, her companion a slender young man of distinctly foreign aspect, dark and distinguished-looking. Their horses were walking slowly, the riders engaged in deep conversation and the beach dog's mistress did not see the eager faces of the girls.
They talked a good deal about her, wondering who she was, where she lived and whether they would ever know her. After seeing her on horseback, they fell more and more under the spell of her charm and began to picture her the heroine of all sorts of stories.
Day-dreams and romantic stories however, had but a small place in a world so busily filled with lessons of various kinds. One Tuesday evening, Frances was openly groaning over the need of writing an essay upon Julius Caesar.
"Wouldn't you like him better if you saw something he did?" inquired Win, hearing her lamentations. "There's a castle in Jersey, part of which he built."
Fran's eyes opened incredulously and Roger whistled. "Is that one of Bill Fish's yarns?" he demanded.
"Ante-dates him," replied Win. "It's Mont Orgueil, over the other side of the island. Let's have a picnic there to-morrow, take our lunch and stay all day. Mother, you must come. Don't say you've promised to make calls."
"I can go perfectly well," said Mrs. Thayne. "Only there is Roger's appointment with the dentist in the afternoon. He'll have to keep that, but there will be plenty of time for the picnic if we start early."
"Think of having an outdoor picnic in December," exclaimed Frances. "We'll take Edith, of course."
"Of course," assented her mother. "And Estelle, if she will go. I wish she would. She shuts herself up so closely and seems to shrink from seeing people, but perhaps she will go to Orgueil just with us."
Even Edith could not persuade her sister to join the party though Estelle was touched by their regret, evidently genuine.
"If you only would, Star," begged Edith. "You would enjoy it. You don't know how funny and nice they are to go with."
"I couldn't, little sister," said Estelle gently. "You go and tell me about it afterwards."
Edith was not satisfied but all persuasion proved useless. She had a vague idea that Star was worried. Just why, Edith did not see, since the plan of letting lodgings had come out so pleasantly. Everything was going smoothly at present; why should Star borrow trouble from the future?
Mont Orgueil is reached by a miniature railway leading from St. Helier's to the fishing village of Gorey. By this time the young people were all well accustomed to the absurd little narrow gauge tramways with their leisurely trains. But if the train into St. Helier's crawled, the one to Gorey snailed, to quote Roger. Time was ample to note the pretty stuccoed houses, pink, cream or brown, with gardens and climbing vines that even in December made them spots of beauty. They passed under the frowning cliffs of Fort Regent and saw several lovely turquoise-blue bays with shining sandy beaches. Farther on farms succeeded the villas, stone farmhouses with tiled or thatched roofs, some with orange or other fruit trees trained against their southern walls. Suddenly Frances rose to her feet.
"What on earth are those?" she demanded. "Just look at those cabbages on top of canes."
The others looked and saw something answering exactly to Fran's graphic description.
"Oh, yes" said Mrs. Thayne, "those are the cow cabbages of Jersey. They are common in the interior of the island. It's a peculiar kind of cabbage growing five or six feet high. The farmers pick the leaves on the stalk and leave just the head on top. These stalks are made into the canes we have seen in shops."
"I saw them," said Win, "but I didn't realize what they were. Look, there's a Jersey cow among the cabbages."
"The Jersey cattle are so pretty," said Frances admiringly.
"They are very valuable," said Edith. "The farmers coddle them like children."
Gorey proved a picturesque village with many schooners and boats of different kinds drawn up on the beach and in every direction fish nets drying. Above and behind towered the ruined castle of Orgueil, rising more than three hundred feet sheer from the sea.
Mrs. Thayne sent Roger to find and engage a donkey which Win mounted without protest, after one glance at the climb before him, though he insisted on swinging the boxes of luncheon before him on the little animal's neck. Its owner was dismissed, Roger agreeing to pull the beast up the hill.
Mont Orgueil forms the crest of a lofty conical rock and looks down like a grim giant upon the blue waters that stretch away to the coast of France. Tier after tier the fortifications mount the cone, crowned at the apex by a flagstaff.
At the castle entrance, gained after a steady climb, a small boy appeared, sent by the castle keeper to act as guide. He tied the donkey to an iron post and led the way into the interior.
"This is the oldest part," he began shyly. "They do say this tower was built by Julius Caesar."
"Gracious, that's some story!" whistled Roger, looking with all his might.
"I believe it is true," said Mrs. Thayne. "Win, you were reading about the castle before we started."
"Yes," said Win. "That's straight about Caesar. That's why I wanted Fran to see it. And most of the place was built a thousand years ago. Is it ever used now!"
"In summer the signal service is quartered here," replied the boy. "This is the well, ninety feet deep."
As he spoke, he dropped a pebble over a low parapet. Some seconds later came a hollow splash.
The guide showed them a cell where condemned prisoners were once kept, a ruined chapel with a very old crypt, and above the chapel a room reached by winding stairs. The girls entered with a simultaneous shriek of delight.
"What a love of a room!" said Edith.
"Mother, isn't this too sweet for words?" demanded Frances.
"This is the Cupola room," explained their guide. "Charles the Second stopped here during his exile from England."
"Prince Charles!" exclaimed Win, his imagination fired at once. "Oh, I read that in the guide book, but this—his room—"
Win's voice trailed into silence. To read a fact in a book was different from standing under the very roof that had once sheltered bonnie Prince Charlie. He looked about him, trying to picture to himself those far past days.
The ceiling rose in a huge dome and one immense window framed a wonderful view. From a little sally-port leading to a platform one could look sheer down to the rocks or across fourteen miles of tossing water to beautiful France. By using a little imagination the girls agreed that they could detect the spire of the cathedral of Coutances easily visible in clear weather.
"In the French revolution the governor of Jersey signalled to the army of the Vendee by means of a flagpole held in place by chains," said Mrs. Thayne.
"Yes," said their small guide. "The chains are still on the wall but the pole is new. The naval men use it in summer."
"Do they sleep here?" asked Win.
"Down in the chapel, sir."
"I'd stay here," said Win. "Say, how much would you rent this room for?"
"Three and six a week, sir, with the platform thrown in," replied their small guide so gravely that they all looked to see whether he was really in earnest.
"That's cheap enough, considering the view," said Mrs. Thayne, smiling.
Fascinated by the picturesque old castle, Win wandered off by himself, deciphering the inscriptions placed on the many doors. There is no guard in the guard-room, no stores are kept in the storeroom, and the chapel never hears a sermon save those preached by its own stones to those who have ears to hear. But the sunlight falling on the green platforms, the pigeons cooing on the walls, the blue sea stretching to the shining cliffs of France, the glamour of old-world romance struck impressionable Win. Dreamily he recalled that whether Caesar built the tower or not, no reasonable doubt exists that Orgueil was occupied if not built by the mighty Prince Rollo, grandfather of William the Conqueror. Over the main entrance to the castle-keep his coat of arms survives the centuries. For centuries to come, Orgueil will remain gathering more legendary charm as the slow years pass.
Win shook off the feeling of awe gently creeping over him and joined the others, investigating a tiny cell where Prynne the Puritan leader was confined for three years. Roger was immensely impressed by the ruins of a secret staircase, connecting a dungeon where the criminals were executed, with the keep and sally-port.
"There's a many secret stairs in the old Jersey houses," volunteered their guide, noticing his interest.
"Where can we see them?" demanded Roger at once, but this their small informer could not tell.
"Gentry lives in those houses," he volunteered. "They'se not open to trippers."
"To what?" demanded Roger.
"Visitors, strangers like," explained the boy.
"I like that," said Roger, flushing indignantly.
"Hush, Roger," interposed his mother. "No offense was meant. What are these chains? They seem very old."
"They were used long time ago to hang criminals. They do say they put 'em there alive and left 'em to the corbies."
"Corbies? Oh, crows," interpreted Win. "Nice custom! Mother, look at the heaps of rocks exposed by the tide."
"There's more this side," said their guide, turning a corner of the rampart with Roger close at his heels. The rest were about to follow when suddenly Mrs. Thayne gave an exclamation.
"Listen!" she said. "That must be a skylark."
From somewhere in the blue above fell a rain of happy music, so liquid and so sweet that it scarcely seemed to come from any earthly bird.
"Where is it?" asked Frances excitedly, peering into the air and dropping on her knees the better to look up. Mrs. Thayne did the same and both stared into the sky, trying to detect the tiny spot of feathered joy, the source of all this melody. Presently Edith and Win joined them.
Back around the corner came Roger and the guide, both stopping short at sight of the rest of the party down on their knees on the daisy-starred turf.
"Whatever are they doing?" ejaculated the boy.
"Oh, it's a skylark!" exclaimed Frances enthusiastically. "Come and see."
Mouth open in amazement, their small guide stood rooted to the spot. "A skylark!" he muttered, staring at the four in their attitude of devotion. "Lookin' at a skylark!" he repeated as though unable to credit the testimony of his own eyes.
Win burst out laughing and rose to his feet. "Take this," he said, producing a shilling. "Thank you for showing us about. We'll stay a while longer and eat lunch here."
The boy pocketed the coin and withdrew, his face still a picture of incredulous astonishment over the actions of this singular and apparently insane group of excursionists. At last sight, he was still slowly shaking his head and murmuring, "Lookin' at a skylark!"
A RACE WITH THE TIDE
After luncheon, time passed too quickly. Before it seemed possible, Mrs. Thayne declared the hour had come for Roger to keep his appointment with the dentist in St. Helier's.
"Let him go alone, Mother," said Win. "He's no kid. We want you to stay with us."
"Of course he could go alone," agreed Mrs. Thayne, "but I ought to consult the dentist myself and do an errand or two. There's no reason why you and the girls should cut short your stay. This is a lovely place to spend the afternoon and the day too perfect to hurry home. Just be back for dinner."
"Let Roger return the donkey," suggested Win. "I sha'n't need him going down hill and very likely we shall strike across beyond the village."
Mrs. Thayne departed, Roger clattering ahead on the donkey, and the three were left in the meadow by the castle entrance, a meadow starred with most fascinating pink-tipped English daisies.
"Just see the dears and then think that it's really winter," sighed Frances. "I can't believe that at home everybody is wearing furs and the ground is frozen. It doesn't seem possible that Christmas is so near."
Win was lying flat on the close-cropped turf, his attitude indicating that he contemplated a nap. After a glance at his prostrate figure, the girls wandered to a little distance, seeking the pinkest daisies. Presently they were surprised by the sudden arrival of a beautiful collie, who poked a cold nose into Edith's face.
"O-oh!" she exclaimed. "Go to Frances. She's the one who likes dogs. I prefer nice soft little pussy-cats."
"It's the beach dog," said Frances. "Do you suppose his lady is with him?"
Edith looked eagerly about. The elevated castle meadow commanded a rather extended view but in no direction was any one visible.
"I don't see her anywhere. Come here, Tylo. Oh, Fran, let's read the plate on his collar. Perhaps it will have her name."
Hot and panting from a run, Tylo willingly lay down by the girls and made not the least objection to having his collar examined. The unusually long plate bore considerable lettering.
"Laurel Manor, St. Brelade's," read Frances in excitement. "Here's some French, Edith."
"It's Italian, Fran. 'Palazzo Grassi, Via Ludovisi, Roma.' Just two addresses and no name!" Edith ended in disappointment.
"Oh, but wait!" exclaimed Frances. The light struck the plate at such an angle as to make visible to her some additional lettering, not engraved but apparently scratched with a knife. Though small, the words were extremely neat and legible and the girls deciphered them eagerly.
"Her name must be Connie!" Edith declared, turning excited eyes upon her companion. "Speak, Tylo! Is your mistress called Constance?"
Tylo vouchsafed no answer, only pricked his ears, hearing something inaudible to the girls. The next instant came a distinct though faint whistle.
The beach dog departed at once, tearing down over the meadow in a graceful curve to leap a hedge into a shady lane beyond.
"Well, we've learned a little," sighed Frances. "His mistress is called Connie and she lives at Laurel Manor. The rest ought to be easy. Let's go down to the shore. I want to explore that point of rocks."
"But Win's asleep," said Edith hesitatingly. "Ought we to leave him?"
"It's all right," said Frances. "He couldn't scramble on the rocks and it's splendid for him to sleep in this fine air. I'll leave a note telling him where to look for us."
Edith supplied a blunt pencil and Fran wrote her message on a bit of paper torn from the luncheon box, pinning it carefully to her brother's coat where he could not fail to see it. Then they ran down to the cove beyond Orgueil.
The water, far on the horizon, showed only as a gleaming line of light, leaving bare heaps and piles of rocks, inextricably turned on end in some prehistoric upheaval. In places the rocks were continuous, in others separated by spaces of wet sand.
Over the rocks grew masses of vari-colored seaweed, brown, yellow, blue-green, even pink. Footing proved both slippery and treacherous, but offered the fascination of exploring an unknown region. As they walked farther out, curious shell-fish were clinging to the stone.
"These are ormers and limpets," said Edith. "I saw them the day Nurse and I went to market. What a huge winkle!"
Fran stared at this new specimen. "Is that a winkle?" she demanded in disgust. "I call it a plain snail. Why, all my life, I've read about winkles and thought I'd like to eat some but I'd die before I'd eat a snail. Oh! Oh! Oh!"
Edith turned so quickly that she almost fell on the slippery weed. Frances was fairly dancing with excitement, wholly however of pleasure.
In the hollowed rock lay a pool of clear sea water, at first sight filled with bright-hued flowers, pink, purple, orange. The next glance showed them to be living organisms.
"Sea-anemones!" breathed Edith softly. "I never saw anything so beautiful."
The anemones were pulpy brown bodies varying in size from a pea to a tomato. From their anchorage on the rock they stretched waving tentacles of soft iridescent hues, transforming the little pool into a marine fairyland. Between the anemones a bright yellow lichen-like growth almost covered the warm red granite, and tiny yellow, rose, and black and white striped snails were set like jewels on this background. Two or three sharp limpet shells waved feathery seaweed fans.
A long time passed and the girls still lingered. They discovered that most of the pools boasted anemones, some not unlike an ordinary land daisy with light-colored tentacles stretching ray- shaped from a yellow centre. When touched with an empty shell, the anemone would close over it, folding both the shell and itself into a tight brown ball, then open slowly and drop the shell. The only food the girls had with them was some sweet chocolate, so they experimented with this, watching the lovely living sea- flowers seize upon fragments held within reach of their feelers.
"I suppose it will give them frightful pains," remarked Frances at last, rising from her cramped position. "Goodness! the tide is coming!"
"Yes, but it's far out," replied Edith, casting a glance at the line of water, still distant a full half-mile. "Look, Frances, here's a tiny pink crab."
For a moment Frances again bent over the aquarium but soon started to her feet.
"Let's go back, Edith. We're a long way from shore and you know how very fast the tide comes in."
"Oh, is that crab gone? I thought you would mind where he went," said Edith as she reluctantly rose. "I wanted to take him to Win."
The two began to retrace their way, at first over piles of red rock covered with seaweed, farther on over stretches of sand surrounding rock islands.
Just as they left the last of the solid rock a big wave came curling lazily along its side. For a second the water clung to it like fingers, then withdrew.
"Fran, we must run," said Edith quietly, but her face had grown pale.
Frances made no reply. Both ran as fast as they could across the stretch of level hard sand. Before they reached the first rock island, long fingers of foam again darted past at one side.
Neither girl spoke. Automatically they seized hands and redoubled their efforts. One island after another was left behind, then Edith, looking over her shoulder, saw that the tide was gaining. Its next incoming heave would overtake them.
"We'll have to climb these rocks!" she gasped.
"No!" said Fran, giving her hand a tug. "Keep on. No matter if we do get wet. We must get nearer in. These rocks will be covered."
Edith kept pace. They seemed to have reached a higher ridge of the beach since presently the water, instead of pursuing directly, passed on either side, stretching shorewards.
Too terrified to consider what this would mean when the tongues of water should meet before them, the girls pressed on blindly.
Suddenly there came a shout from shore, now measurably nearer. Down the beach sped a galloping horse, his rider waving to attract their attention.
Fran's quick wits grasped the situation. "He'll come for us!" she exclaimed. "He means us to climb this rock and wait."
This seemed what the rider meant for as they scrambled up the ledge, he ceased to call and merely urged his horse to greater effort. Edith reached the top without accident, but Frances slipped and soaked both feet.
The horse, a beautiful chestnut thoroughbred with tossing mane, came at quick speed. In the distance, his rider looked a mere boy, but as he approached, the girls saw that he was a young man of twenty-three or four, with a fine, clean-cut face, who sat his horse as though a part of it.
Arriving by their rock, the chestnut checked himself in full gallop and turned almost in his stride.
"Give me your hand," said the young man to Edith. "Step on my foot. Swing round behind me and hold on any way you can."
Edith instantly obeyed. "Here," he added to Frances, "scramble up in front. Quick! There's no time to lose. Steady on, Saracen!" he added as the horse jumped and snorted at touch of the water curling about his heels.
They were perhaps a quarter-mile from shore and the return was made at a fast pace, yet as they came up above tide mark, the waves were lapping the shingle and only a rock here and there remained uncovered.
During the hurried trip the young man had spoken only to his horse, words of encouragement uttered in a pleasant voice, and both girls were still too stunned by the sudden peril and their equally sudden rescue to realize their very unconventional situation; Edith with both arms around the stranger, her cheek pressed into his shoulder; Fran sitting on the saddle-bow, held in position by his left arm while his right hand clasped the reins.
Once in safety, Saracen stopped of his own accord, looking around as though, now the hurry was over, he would like to know what sort of unaccustomed load he had been carrying.
"Right we are!" said the young man cheerily. "Now I wonder if you can slide down."
Still speechless, Frances did so. The young man swung himself from the saddle and turned to lift Edith from her perch as though she was a little child. Again on firm ground, she began to utter incoherent thanks.
"I think you must be strangers to the island," he said rather gravely, "else you would know that the Jersey tides come in as rapidly as they ebb. This isn't a safe coast to experiment with."
"It was the anemones," began Frances. "We never saw any before and forgot to watch the water."
The young man smiled. "Those anemones!" he said. "I was once in a similar fix for the same reason. Better remember that the only safe time to watch sea anemones is when the tide is just going out. There's a place up here where the farmer's wife is a friend of mine. I think you'd better let me take you over to Mother Trott and she'll dry you out."
"I'm not wet," said Edith. "Frances fell, that's why she's drippy."
"Oh, but Win!" Frances exclaimed. "He'll find that note saying we're on the rocks and he'll see the water and be frightened. My brother," she added to the stranger, who was looking at her inquiringly. "He's in the meadow."
The young man's clear gray eyes grew rather stern. "And what is this brother doing while his little sister gets into danger?" he asked.
"Oh, it's not his fault. He was asleep and he mustn't be frightened," Fran began. She spoke rapidly, her explanation banishing from the inquirer's face all look of disapproval.
"I'll go and tell Win," said Edith. "I'm not a bit wet. You go on to the farm, Frances. Which house is it?"
"Do you see the long low one with the vines about half a mile up the hill?" replied their rescuer. "That's it."
"If Win's still asleep, for goodness' sake don't wake him," directed Frances as Edith set off toward the castle. "Perhaps I can get dry and be there before he need know what has happened."
"Would you be willing to ride in front of me again, Miss Frances?" asked the young man, as Edith vanished around the wall. "We could reach the farm much more quickly."
Without demur, Frances consented. She felt queerly shaken and ill and to her consternation, as Saracen crossed the highroad and entered the farm lane, a sudden burst of sobs overcame her. She struggled bravely to control herself.
"That was a beastly experience," said the pleasant voice, "but you were so near shore when Saracen and I saw you, that you'd probably have made it with merely a wetting."
"We haven't really thanked you," said Frances incoherently. "I do —so much—Mother—"
"Thank Saracen. He did it. It's nothing at all, and you mustn't let it trouble you. Hello, Tylo. Been off again on your own?"
Obedient to touch, his horse stopped at the cottage gate. Frances slid from her perch and the young man dismounted, throwing the reins to the beach dog, whose sudden reappearance did not surprise nor interest Frances, as ordinarily it would have done.
"Come round to the back," said her companion, opening the gate. "Mother Trott will probably be in her kitchen. She'll put you to rights in no time. No mess too bad for her to take on."
Frances accompanied her guide along a pebbled path neatly edged with big scallop-shells measuring fully six inches across. Beside the walk stretched garden borders still gay with geraniums, japonicas and other hardy plants in full bloom. As they passed the front door of the cottage with its whitewashed steps gleaming in the afternoon sun, a roughly outlined heart surrounding some initials caught Frances' attention. The design was carved in the stone top of the door-frame and looked very old.
"That's a pretty custom of the island," said her companion, noticing Fran's glance. "The people who first made a home had their initials cut over the door. Many of the Jersey farmhouses have several sets of initials on the door-stones."
Around the corner of the house lay a neat kitchen garden full of vegetables in thrifty green rows, a patch of the curious cabbages and in a field just over a fence, was tethered a pretty, soft-eyed Jersey cow. Beside the entrance stood a bench glittering with shiny copper pails and milk-cans.
Without stopping to knock, the young man stepped directly into a clean, low-ceiled kitchen, where white sand was scattered on the stone floor.
"Are you there, Mrs. Trott?" he inquired.
Hastily setting down the pan of potatoes she was peeling, a pleasant-looking stout woman rose to her feet with a curtsy.
"If it isn't Mr. Max!" she exclaimed, her voice expressing both surprise and delight.
"And as usual seeking help, Mrs. Trott. This young lady, Miss Frances, has been unlucky enough to be overtaken by the tides—"
"Poor dear!" interrupted Mrs. Trott. "Bess!" she called, "come you down. Ah, 'tis the tides that make the Jersey heartaches. Ye did quite right to bring her, Mr. Max. Bess, be quick!"
A rosy-cheeked girl of seventeen came clattering down the tiny stair, to smile at the visitors and drop an awkward, blushing curtsy to each.
"Why, Bess, you're quite grown up," said the young man, smiling back at her.
"A year does make a differ, sir," said Mrs. Trott. "Lead the young leddy up the stair, Bess, and dry her feet and give her your Sunday socks and shoon. Mr. Max, you'll drink tea? Sure, now, and taste my fresh wonders. The young leddy'll be down directly and a cup of tea will set her up."
"Indeed, I could do with some tea, Mrs. Trott, and I've not had any wonders since—"
Frances did not hear the end of the sentence for she was following Bess up the narrow, winding stone stairs to emerge in a little room with slanting caves and dormer windows in its thatched roof. The place was bare but spotlessly clean and through the open western casement shimmered the blue sea.
"Sit down, Miss," said Bess in a soft voice with curious musical intonations that made up for imperfect pronunciation.
With a sigh of relief, Frances sank into the straight chair. The reaction from her late adventure was still upon her. Before she knew what was happening, Bess approached with a basin of water and a towel, and knelt to unfasten the soaked shoes.
"Oh, I can do that for myself," Frances protested with the independence of an American girl.
"Sit ye still, Miss," said Bess pleasantly. "'Tis bad for the nerves to race the tides. It shakes one a good bit."
Her deft fingers made short work of their task. Presently, Frances was comfortable in white cotton stockings and black slippers far too large and wide.
"Twill serve," said Bess, smiling at the way they slid around on Fran's slender feet. "Dry at least. Now come ye down and drink your tea. 'Tis not lately we've seen Mr. Max. Mother'll be rarely pleased."
Frances had it on her tongue's end to inquire into the identity of her rescuer, but the difficulty of keeping on those heavy leather shoes with their big silver buckles distracted her attention. She came carefully down the stair to find Mr. Max seated on the big black oak settle, his hat and riding-crop beside him and Mrs. Trott arranging her table before the fire.