List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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aid of the men hauled out a couple of sails and dropped them over the
bow.  These would aid in keeping out the water.  They could float now,
but where were they going?  "Going ashore," said Mavick, grimly.  And so
they were.

"Was there a panic on board?" it was asked afterwards.  Not exactly.
Among well-bred people a panic is never good form.  But there were white
faces and trembling knees and anxious looks.  The steamer was coming
towards them, and all eyes were fixed on that rather than on the rocks of
the still distant shore.

The most striking incident of the moment--it seemed so to some of those
who looked back upon it--was a singular test of character, or rather of
woman's divination of character.  Carmen instinctively flew to Jack and
grasped and held his arm.  She knew, without stopping to reason about it,
that he would unhesitatingly imperil his life to save that of any woman.
Whatever judgment is passed upon Jack, this should not be forgotten.
And Miss Tavish; to whom did she fly in this peril?  To the gallant
Major?  No.  To the cool and imperturbable Mavick, who was as strong and
sinewy as he was cool?  No.  She ran without hesitation to Van Dam, and
clung to him, recognizing instinctively, with the woman's feeling, the
same quality that Jack had.  There are such men, who may have no great
gifts, but who will always fight rather than run under fire, and who will
always protect a woman.

Mavick saw all this, and understood it perfectly, and didn't object to it
at the time--but he did not forget it.

The task of rescue was not easy in that sea and wind, but it was
dexterously done.  The steamer approached and kept at a certain distance
on the windward side.  A boat was lowered, and a line was brought to the
yacht, which was soon in tow with a stout cable hitched to the steamer's
anchor windlass.

It was all done with much less excitement than appeared from the
telegraphic accounts, and while the party were being towed home the peril
seemed to have been exaggerated, and the affair to look like an ordinary
sea incident.  But the skipper said that it was one escape in a hundred.

The captain of the steamer raised his hat gravely in reply to the little
cheer from the yacht, when Carmen and Miss Tavish fluttered their
handkerchiefs towards him.  The only chaff from the steamer was roared
out by a fat Boston man, who made a funnel of his hands and shouted, "The
race is not always to the swift."

As soon as Jack stepped ashore he telegraphed to Edith that the yacht had
had an accident in the harbor, but that no one was hurt.  When he reached
the hotel he found a letter from Edith of such a tenor that he sent
another despatch, saying that she might expect him at once, leaving the
yacht behind.  There was a buzz of excitement in the town, and there were
a hundred rumors, which the sight of the yacht and its passengers landed
in safety scarcely sufficed to allay.

When Jack called at the Tavish cottage to say good-by, both the ladies
were too upset to see him.  He took a night train, and as he was whirled
away in the darkness the events of the preceding forty-eight hours seemed
like a dream.  Even the voyage up the coast was a little unreal--an
insubstantial episode in life.  And the summer city by the sea, with its
gayety and gossip and busy idleness, sank out of sight like a phantom.
He drew his cap over his eyes, and was impatient that the rattling train
did not go faster, for Edith, waiting there in the Golden House, seemed
to stretch out her arms for him to come.  Still behind him rose a picture
of that bacchanalian breakfast--the Major and Carmen and Mavick and Miss
Tavish dancing a reel on the sloping deck, then the rising wind, the
reckless daring of the race, and a vision of sudden death.  He shuddered
for the first time in a quick realization of how nearly it came to being
all over with life and its pleasures.


Edith had made no appeal to Jack to come home.  His going, therefore, had
the merit m his eyes of being a voluntary response to the promptings of
his better nature.  Perhaps but for the accident at Mount Desert he might
have felt that his summer pleasure was needlessly interfered with, but
the little shock of that was a real, if still temporary, moral turning-
point for him.  For the moment his inclination seemed to run with his
duty, and he had his reward in Edith's happiness at his coming, the
loving hunger in her eyes, the sweet trust that animated her face, the
delightful appropriation of him that could scarcely brook a moment's
absence from her sight.  There could not be a stronger appeal to his
manhood and his fidelity.

"Yes, Jack dear, it was a little lonesome."  She was swinging in her
hammock on the veranda in sight of the sea, and Jack sat by her with his
cigar.  "I don't mind telling you now that there were times when I longed
for you dreadfully, but I was glad, all the same, that you were enjoying
yourself, for it is tiresome down here for a man with nothing to do but
to wait."

"You dear thing!," said Jack, with his hand on her head, smoothing her
glossy hair and pushing it back from her forehead, to make her look more
intellectual--a thing which she hated.  "Yes, dear, I was a brute to go
off at all."

"But you wanted to comeback?"  And there was a wistful look in her eyes.

"Indeed I did," he answered, fervently, as he leaned over the hammock to
kiss the sweet eyes into content; and he was quite honest in the
expression of a desire that was nearly forty-eight hours old, and by a
singular mental reaction seemed to have been always present with him.

"It was so good of you to telegraph me before I could see the newspaper."

"Of course I knew the account would be greatly exaggerated;" and he made
light of the whole affair, knowing that the facts would still be capable
of shocking her, giving a comic picture of the Major's seafaring
qualities, and Carmen's and Miss Tavish's chaff of the gallant old beau.

Even with this light sketching of the event she could not avoid a
retrospective pang of apprehension, and the tightened grasp of his hand
was as if she were holding him fast from that and all other peril.

The days went by in content, on the whole, shaded a little by anxiety and
made grave by a new interest.  It could not well be but that the prospect
of the near future, with its increase of responsibility, should create a
little uneasiness in Jack's mind as to his own career.  Of this future
they talked much, and in Jack's attitude towards her Edith saw, for the
first time since her marriage, a lever of suggestion, and it came
naturally in the contemplation of their future life that she should
encourage his discontent at having no occupation.  Facing, in this
waiting-time of quiet, certain responsibilities, it was impressed upon
him that the collecting of bric-a-brac was scarcely an occupation, and
that idling in clubs and studios and dangling about at the beck of
society women was scarcely a career that could save him from ultimate
ennui.  To be sure, he had plenty of comrades, young fellows of fortune,
who never intended to do anything except to use it for their personal
satisfaction; but they did not seem to be of much account except in the
little circle that they ornamented.  Speaking of one of them one day,
Father Damon had said that it seemed a pity a fellow of such family and
capacity and fortune should go to the devil merely for the lack of an
object in life.  In this closer communion with Edith, whose ideas he
began to comprehend, Jack dimly apprehended this view, and for the moment
impulsively accepted it.

"I'm half sorry," he said one day, "that I didn't go in for a profession.
But it is late now.  Law, medicine, engineering, architecture, would take
years of study."

"There was Armstrong," Edith suggested, "who studied law after he was

"But it looks sort of silly for a fellow who has a wife to go to school,
unless," said Jack, with a laugh, "he goes to school to his wife.  Then
there's politics.  You wouldn't like to see me in that."

"I rather think, Jack"--she spoke musingly" if I were a man I should go
into politics."

"You would have nice company!"

"But it's the noblest career--government, legislation, trying to do
something to make the world better.  Jack, I don't see how the men of New
York can stand it to be governed by the very worst elements."

"My dear, you have no idea what practical politics is."

"I've an idea what I'd make it.  What is the good of young men of leisure
if they don't do anything for the country?  Too fine to do what Hamilton
did and Jay did!  I wish you could have heard my father talk about it.
Abdicate their birthright for a four-in-hand!"

"Or a yacht," suggested Jack.

"Well, I don't see why a man cannot own a yacht and still care something
about the decent management of his city."

"There's Mavick in politics."

"Not exactly.  Mavick is in office for what he can make.  No, I will not
say that.  No doubt he is a good civil servant, and we can't expect
everybody to be unselfish.  At any rate, he is intelligent.  Do you
remember what Mr. Morgan said last winter?"  And Edith lifted herself up
on her elbow, as if to add the weight of her attitude to her words, as
Jack was still smiling at her earnestness.

"No; you said he was a delightful sort of pessimist."

"Mr. Morgan said that the trouble with the governing and legislation now
in the United States is that everybody is superficially educated, and
that the people are putting their superficial knowledge into laws, and
that we are going to have a nice time with all these wild theories and
crudities on the statute-book.  And then educated people say that
politics is so corrupt and absurd that they cannot have anything to do
with it."

"And how far do you think we could get, my dear, in the crusade you

"I don't know that you would get anywhere.  Yet I should think the young
men of New York could organize its intelligence and do something.  But
you think I'm nothing but a woman."  And Edith sank back, as if

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