List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


"We are very glad to see you," Miss Tavish said, cordially; "we have been
awfully dull."

"That is complimentary to me," said the Major.

"You can judge the depths we have been in when even the Major couldn't
pull us out," she retorted.  "Without him we should have simply died."

"And it would have been the liveliest obsequies I ever attended."

Carmen was not effusive in her greeting; she left that role to Miss
Tavish, taking for herself that of confidential friend.  She was almost
retiring in her manner, but she made Jack feel that she had a strong
personal interest in his welfare, and she asked a hundred questions about
the voyage and about town and about Edith.

"I'm going to chaperon you up here," she said, "for Miss Tavish will lead
you into all sorts of wild adventures."

There was that in the manner of the demure little woman when she made
this proposal that convinced Jack that under her care he would be
perfectly safe--from Miss Tavish.

After cigarettes were lighted she contrived to draw Mavick away to the
piazza.  She was very anxious to know what Henderson's latest moves were.
Mavick was very communicative, and told her nothing that he knew she did
not already know.  And she was clever enough to see, without any apparent
distrust, that whatever she got from him must be in what he did not say.
As to Jack's speculations, she made little more progress.  Jack gave
every sign of being prosperous; he entertained royally on his yacht.

Mavick himself was puzzled to know whether Carmen really cared for Jack,
or whether she was only interested as in a game, one of the things that
amused her life to play, to see how far he would go, and to watch his
ascension or his tumble.  Mavick would have been surprised if he had
known that as a result of this wholly agreeable and confidential talk,
Carmen wrote that night in a letter to her husband:

"Your friend Mavick is here.  What a very clever man he is!  If I were
you I would keep an eye on him."

A dozen plans were started at the tea for relieving the tedium of the
daily drives and the regulation teas and receptions.  For one thing,
weather permitting, they would all breakfast at twelve on the yacht, and
then sail about the harbor, and come home in the sunset.

The day was indeed charming, so stimulating as to raise the value of real
estate, and incite everybody to go off in search of adventure, in wagons,
in walking parties, in boats.  There is no happiness like the
anticipation of pleasure begot by such a morning.  Those who live there
said it was regular Bar Harbor weather.

Captain Delancy was on deck to receive his guests, who came out in small
boats, chattering and fluttering and "ship-ahoying," as gay in spirits as
in apparel.  Anything but high spirits and nonsense would be unpardonable
on such a morning.  Breakfast was served on deck, under an awning, in
sight of the mountains, the green islands, the fringe of breaking sea in
the distant opening, the shimmer and sparkle of the harbor, the white
sails of pleasure-boats, the painted canoes, the schooners and coal-boats
and steamers swinging at anchor just enough to make all the scene alive.
"This is my idea," said the Major, "of going to sea in a yacht; it would
be perfect if we were tied up at the dock."

"I move that we throw the Major overboard," cried Miss Tavish.

"No," Jack exclaimed; " it is against the law to throw anything into the

"Oh, I expected Miss Tavish would throw me overboard when Mavick

Mavick raised his glass and proposed the health of Miss Tavish.

"With all my heart," the Major said; "my life is passed in returning good
for evil."

"I never knew before," and Miss Tavish bowed her acknowledgments, "the
secret of the Major's attractions."

"Yes," said Carmen, sweetly, "he is all things to all women."

"You don't appear to have a friend here, Major," Mavick suggested.

"No; my friends are all foul-weather friends; come a bright day, they are
all off like butterflies.  That comes of being constant."

"That's no distinction," Carmen exclaimed; "all men are that till they
get what they want."

"Alas! that women also in these days here become cynical!  It was not so
when I was young.  Here's to the ever young," and he bowed to Carmen and
Miss Tavish.

"He's been with Ponce de Leon!" cried Miss Tavish.

"He's the dearest man living, except a few," echoed Carmen.  "The Major's

The yellow wine sparkled in the glasses like the sparkling sea, the wind
blew softly from the south, the sails in the bay darkened and flashed,
and the breakfast, it seemed to go along of itself, and erelong the
convives were eating ambrosia and sipping nectar.  Van Dam told a shark
story.  Mavick demonstrated its innate improbability.  The Major sang a
song--a song of the forties, with a touch of sentiment.  Jack, whose
cheerful voice was a little of the cider-cellar order, and who never sang
when he was sad, struck up the latest vaudeville ditty, and Carmen and
Miss Tavish joined in the chorus.

"I like the sea," the Major declared.  They all liked it.  The breakfast
lasted a long time, and when they rose from the table Jack said that
presently they would take a course round the harbor.  The Major remarked
that that would suit him.  He appeared to be ready to go round the world.

While they were preparing to start, Carmen and Jack strolled away to the
bow, where she perched herself, holding on by the rigging.  He thought he
had never seen her look so pretty as at that moment, in her trim nautical
costume, sitting up there, swinging her feet like a girl, and regarding
him with half-mocking, half-admiring eyes.

What were they saying?  Heaven only knows.  What nonsense do people so
situated usually talk?  Perhaps she was warning him against Miss Tavish.
Perhaps she was protesting that Julia Tavish was a very, very old friend.
To an observer this admirable woman seemed to be on the defensive--her
most alluring attitude.  It was not, one could hear, exactly sober talk;
there was laughter and raillery and earnestness mingled.  It might be
said that they were good comrades.  Carmen professed to like good
comradeship and no nonsense.  But she liked to be confidential.

Till late in the afternoon they cruised about among the islands, getting
different points of view of the coast, and especially different points of
view of each other, in the freedom of talk and repartee permitted on an
excursion.  Before sunset they were out in the open, and could feel the
long ocean swell.  The wind had risen a little, and there was a low band
of clouds in the south.  The skipper told Mr. Delancy that it would be
much fresher with the sinking of the sun, but Jack replied that it
wouldn't amount to anything; the glass was all right.

               Now the great winds shoreward blow;
               Now the salt tides seaward flow;
               Now the wild white horses play,
               Champ and chafe and toss in the spray."

Miss Tavish was in the wheel-house, and had taken the wheel.  This clever
girl knew her right hand from her left, instantly, without having to stop
and think and look at her rings, and she knew what port and starboard
meant, as orders, and exactly how to meet a wave with a turn of the

"I say, Captain Delancy," she cried out, "the steamer is about due.
Let's go down and meet her, and race in."

"All right," replied Jack.  "We can run round her three times and then
beat her in."

The steamer's smoke was seen at that instant, and the yacht was headed
for it.  The wind was a little fresher, but the tight little craft took
the waves like a duck, and all on board enjoyed the excitement of the
change, except the Major, who said he didn't mind, but he didn't believe
the steamer needed any escort.

By the time the steamer was reached the sun was going down in a band of
clouds.  There was no gale, but the wind increased in occasional puffs of
spite, and the waves were getting up.  The skipper took the wheel to turn
the yacht in a circle to her homeward course.  As this operation created
strange motions, and did not interest the Major, he said he would go
below and reflect.

In turning, the yacht came round on the seaward side of the steamer, but
far behind.  But the little craft speedily showed her breeding and
overhauled her big rival, and began to forge ahead.  The little group on
the yacht waved their handkerchiefs as if in good-by, and the passengers
on the steamer cheered.  As the wind was every moment increasing, the
skipper sheered away to allow plenty of sea-room between the boats.  The
race appeared to be over.

"It's a pity," said Miss Tavish.

"Let's go round her," said Jack; "eh, skipper?"

"If you like, sir," responded the skipper.  " She can do it."

The yacht was well ahead, but the change in the direction brought the
vessels nearer together.  But there was no danger.  The speed they were
going would easily bring her round away ahead of the steamer.

But just then something happened.  The yacht would not answer to her
helm.  The wheel flew around without resistance.  The wind, hauled now
into the east, struck her with violence and drove her sideways.  The
little thing was like a chip on the sea.  The rudder-chain had broken.
The yacht seemed to fly towards the long, hulking steamer.  The danger
was seen there, and her helm was put hard down, and her nose began to
turn towards the shore.  But it was too late.  It seemed all over in an
instant.  The yacht dashed bow on to the side of the steamer, quivered an
instant, and then dropped away.  At the same moment the steamer slowed
down and began to turn to assist the wounded.

The skipper of the yacht and a couple of hands rushed below.  A part of
the bow had been carried away and a small hole made just above the
waterline, through which the water spurted whenever she encountered a
large wave.  It was enough to waterlog her and sink her in such a sea.
The two seamen grasped whatever bedding was in reach below, rammed it
into the opening, and held it there.  The skipper ran on deck, and by the

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: