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Davis, "Out of the Sea," Part II--continued

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Page 542--continued

Ben Van Note did not run the Chief in near shore purposely; but the fog was dense, and Ben was a better sailor than pilot. He took the wheel himself about an hour before they struck, — the two or three other men at their work on deck, with haggard, anxious faces, and silent:  it is not the manner of these Jersey coast-men to chatter in heavy weather.

Philbrick, Doctor Bowdler's boy, lounged beside Ben, twisting a greasy lantern: "a town-bred fellow," Ben said; "put him in mind of young, rank cheese."

"You'd best keep a sharp eye, Van Note," he said; "this is a dirty bit of water, and you've two great men aboard: one patcher of the body, t' other of the soul."

"I vally my own neck more than either," growled Ben, and after a while forced himself to add, "He's no backbone, — the little fellow with your master, I mean."

"Umph!" superciliously. "I'd like to see the 'little fellow' making neat bits out of that carcass of yours!  His dainty white fingers carve off a fellow's legs and arms, caring no more than if they were painting flowers.  He is a neat flower-painter, Dr. Birkenshead;  moulds in clay, too."

He stared as Van Note burst into a coarse guffaw.

"Flower-painter, eh?  Well, well, young man. You'd best go below.  It's dirtier water than you think."

Doctors Bowdler and Birkenshead were down in the little cabin, reading by the dull light of a coal-oil lamp.  When the vessel began to toss so furiously, the elder man rose and paced fussily to and fro, rubbing his fingers through his iron-gray hair. His companion was too much engrossed by his paper to heed him. He had a small, elegantly shaped figure, — the famous surgeon, — a dark face, drawn by a few heavy lines;  looking at it, you felt, that, in spite of his womanish delicacies of habit, which lay open to all, never apologized for, he was a man whom you could not approach familiarly, though he were your brother born. He stopped reading presently, slowly folding the newspaper straight, and laying it down.

"That is a delicious blunder of the Administration," with a little gurgling laugh of thorough relish. "You remember La Rochefoucauld's aphorism, 'One is never so easily deceived as when one seeks to deceive others'?"

Doctor Bowdler looked uncomfortable.

"A selfish French Philister, La Rochefoucauld!" he blurted out. "I feel as if I had been steeped in meanness and vulgarity all my life, when I read him."

"He knew men," said the other, coolly, resetting a pocket set of chessmen on the board where they had been playing, —"Frenchmen," shortly.

"Doctor Birkenshead," after a pause, "you appear to have no sympathies with either side, in this struggle for the nation's life. You neither attack nor defend our government."

"In plain English, I have no patriotism? Well, to be honest, I don’t comprehend how any earnest seeker for truth can have.  If my country has truth, so far she nourishes me, and I am grateful; if not, — why, the air is no purer nor the government more wor-


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thy of reverence because I chanced to be born here."

"Why, Sir," said the Doctor, stopping short and growing red, "you could apply such an argument as that to a man’s feeling for his wife or child or mother!"

"So you could," looking closely at the queen to see the carving.

Doctor Bowdler looked at him searchingly, and then began his angry walk again in silence. What was the use of answering?  No wonder a man who talked in that way was famed in this country and in Europe for his coolness and skill in cutting up living bodies.  And yet —remorsefully, looking furtively at him — Birkenshead was not a hard fellow, after all.  There was that pauper-hospital of his; and he had known him turn sick when operating on children, and damn the people who brought them to him.

Doctor Bowdler was a little in dread of this future husband of his niece, feeling there was a great gulf between them intellectually, the surgeon having a rare power in a line of life of which he knew nothing. Besides, he could not understand him, — not his homely, keen little face even.  The eyes held their own thought, and never answered yours; but on the mouth there was a forlorn depression sometimes, like that of a man who, in spite of his fame, felt himself alone and neglected.  It rested there now, as he idly fingered the chessmen.

"Mary will kiss it away in time, maybe," — doubting, as he said it, whether Mary did not come nearer the man’s head than his heart.  He stopped, looking out of the hole by the ladder that served the purpose of a window.

"It grows blacker every minute. I shall begin to repent tempting you on such a harebrained expedition, Doctor."

"No. This Van Note seems a cautious sailor enough," carelessly.

"Yes. He's on his own ground, too.  We ought to run into Squan Inlet by morning.  Did you speak?"

Birkenshead shook his head; the Doctor noticed, however, that his hand had suddenly stopped moving the chessmen; he rested his chin in the other.

"Some case he has left worries him," he thought.  "He's not the man to relish this wild-goose chase of mine.  It's bad enough for Mary to jar against his quiet tastes with her reforming whims, without my"--

"I would regret bringing you here," he said aloud, "if I did not think you would find a novelty in this shore and people.  This coast is hardly 'canny,' as MacAulay would say.  It came, literally, out of the sea.  Sometime, ages ago, it belonged to the bed of the ocean, and it never has reconciled itself to the life of the land;  its Flora is different from that of the boundaries;  if you dig a few feet into its marl, you find layers of shells belonging to deep soundings, sharks' teeth and bones, and the like. The people, too, have a 'marvellously fishy and ancient smell.'"

The little man at the table suddenly rose, pushing the chessmen from him.

"What is there to wonder at?" with a hoarse, unnatural laugh. "That's Nature. You cannot make fat pastures out of sea-sand, any more than a thorough-blood gentilhomme out of a clam-digger. The shark's teeth will show, do what you will." He pulled at his whiskers nervously, went to the window, motioning Doctor Bowdler roughly aside. "Let me see what the night is doing."

The old gentleman stared in a grave surprise. What had he said to startle Birkenshead so utterly out of himself?  The color had left his face at the first mention of this beach; his very voice was changed, coarse and thick, as if some other man had broken out through him. At that moment, while Doctor Bowdler stood feebly adjusting his watch-chain, and eying his companion's back, like one who has found a panther in a domestic cat, and knows not when he will spring, the tornado struck the ocean a few feet from their side, cleaving a path for itself into deep watery walls. There was an instant's reeling and intense darkness, then the old Doctor tried to gather himself up,


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bruised and sick, from the companionway, where he had been thrown.

"Better lie still," said Birkenshead, in the gentle voice with which he was used to calm a patient.

The old gentleman managed to sit up on the floor.  By the dull glare of the cabin-lantern he could see the surgeon sitting on the lower rung of the ladder, leaning forward, holding his head in his hands.

"Strike a light, can't you, Birkenshead?  What has happened?  Bah!  this is horrible!  I have swallowed the sea-water!  Hear it swash against the sides of the boat!  Is the boat going to pieces?"

"And there met us 'a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,'" said Birkenshead, looking up with a curious smile.

"Did there?"—rubbing his shoulder.  "I've kept clear of the sea so far, and I think in future — Hark! what's that?" as through the darkness and the thunderous surge of the water, and the short, fierce calls of the men on board, came a low shivering crack, distinct as a human whisper. "What is it, Birkenshead?" impatiently, when the other made no answer.

"The schooner has struck the bar.  She is going to pieces."

The words recalled the old servant of Christ from his insane fright to himself.

"That means death! does it not?"


The two men stood silent, — Doctor Bowdler with his head bent and eyes closed. He looked up presently.

"Let us go on deck now and see what we can do," — turning cheerfully.

"No, there are too many there already."

There was an old tin life-preserver hanging on a hook by the door; the surgeon climbed up to get it, and began buckling it about the old man in spite of his remonstrances. The timbers groaned and strained, the boat trembled like some great beast in its death-agony, settled heavily, and then the beams on one side of them parted. They stood on a shelving plank floor, snapped off two feet from them, the yellow sky overhead, and the breakers crunching their footing away.

"O God!" cried Bowdler, when he looked out at the sea.  He was not a brave man; and he could not see it, when he looked;  there was but a horror of great darkness, a thunder of sound, and a chilly creeping of salt-water up his legs, as if the great monster licked his victim with his lifeless tongue.  Straight in front of them, at the very edge of the horizon, he thought the little clam-digger's fire opened a tunnel of greenish light into the night, "dull and melancholy as a scene in Hades."  They saw the men sitting around the blaze with their hands clasped about their knees, the woman’s figure alone, and watching.

"Mary!" cried the old man, in the shrill extremity of his agony.

His companion shivered.

"Take this from me, boy!" cried Doctor Bowdler, trying to tear off the life-preserver. "It's a chance. I've neither wife nor child to care if I live or die. You're young;  life's beginning for you.  I've done with it.  Ugh!  this water is deadly cold.  Take it, I say."

"No," said the other, quietly restraining him.

"Can you swim?"

"In this sea?"— with a half-smile, and a glance at the tossing breakers.

"You'll swim?  Promise me you'll swim!  And if I come to shore and see Mary?"

Birkenshead had regained the reticent tone habitual to him.

"Tell her, I wish I had loved her better.  She will understand.  I see the use of love in this last hour."

"Is there any one else?"

"There used to be some one.  Twenty years ago I said I would come, and I'm coming now."

"I don't hear you."

Birkenshead laughed at his own thought, whatever it was.  The devil who had tempted him might have found in the laugh an outcry more bitter than any agony of common men.

The planks beneath their feet sank


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inch by inch. They were shut off from the larboard side of the vessel. For a time they had heard oaths and cries from the other men, but now all was silent.

"There is no help coming from shore,"—(the old man's voice was weakening,) — "and this footing is giving way."

"Yes, it's going.  Lash your arms to me by your braces, Doctor. I can help you for a few moments."

So saying, Birkenshead tore off his own coat and waistcoat; but as he turned, the coming breaker dashed over their heads, he heard a faint gasp, and when his eyes were clear of the salt, he saw the old man’s gray hair in the midst of a sinking wave.

"I wish I could have saved him," he said, — then made his way as best he could by feet and hands to a bulk of timber standing out of the water, and sitting down there, clutched his hands about his knees, very much as he used to do when he was a clam-digger and watched the other boys bringing in their hauls.

"Twenty years ago I said I'd come, and I'm coming," he went on repeating.

Derrick Trull was no coward, as boy or man, but he made no effort to save himself;  the slimy water washed him about like a wet rag.  He was alone now, if never before in those twenty years; his world of beautiful, cultured, graceful words and sights and deeds was not here, it was utterly gone out;  there was no God here, that he thought of;  he was quite alone so, in sight of this lee coast, the old love in that life dead years ago roused, and the mean crime dragged on through every day since gnawed all the manliness and courage out of him.

She would be asleep now, old Phebe Trull, — in the room off the brick kitchen, her wan limbs curled up under her check nightgown, her pipe and noggin of tea on the oven-shelf;  he could smell the damp, musty odor of the slop-sink near by. What if he could reach shore?  What if he were to steal up to her bed and waken her?

"It's Derrick, back, mother," he would say.  How the old creature would skirl and cry over her son Derrick —Derrick!  he hated the name.  It belonged to that time of degradation and stinting and foulness.

Doctor Birkenshead lifted himself up.  Pish!  the old fish-wife had long since forgotten her scapegrace son, — thought him dead.  He was dead.  He wondered —and this while every swash of the saltwater brought death closer up to his lips — if Miss Defourchet had seen "Mother Phebe."  Doubtless she had, and had made a sketch of her to show him but no, she was not a picturesque pauper, —vulgar, simply.  The water came up closer; the cold of it, and the extremity of peril, or, maybe, this old gnawing at the heart, more virulent than either, soon drew the strength out of his body:  close study and high living had made the joints less supple than Derrick Trull's: he lay there limp and unable,—his brain alert, but fickle.  It put the watery death out of sight, and brought his familiar every-day life about him:  the dissecting-room;  curious cases that had puzzled him; drawing-rooms, beautiful women;  he sang airs from the operas, sad, broken little snatches, in a deep, mellow voice, finely trained,—fragments of a litany to the Virgin.  Birkenshead's love of beauty was a hungry monomania;  his brain was filled with memories of the pictures of the Ideal Mother and her Son.  One by one they came to him now, the holy woman-type which for ages supplied to the world that tenderness and pity which the Church had stripped from God.  Even in his delirium the man of fastidious instincts knew this was what he craved;  even now he remembered other living mothers he had known, delicate, nobly born women, looking on their babes with eyes full of all gracious and pure thoughts. With the sharp contrast of a dream came the old clam-digger, barefoot in the mud, her basket of soiled clothes on her shoulder, — her son Derrick, a vulgar lad, aping gentility, behind her.  Closer and closer came the waters;  a shark's gray hide glittered a few feet from him.  Death,


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sure of his prey, nibbled and played with it; in a little while he lay supine and unconscious.

Reason came back to him like an electric shock;  for all the parts of Dr. Birkenshead's organization were instinctive, nervous, like a woman's.  When it came, the transient delirium had passed;  he was his cool, observant self.  He lay on the wet floor of a yawl skiff, his head resting on a man's leg; the man was rowing with even, powerful strokes, and he could feel rather than see in the darkness a figure steering.  He was saved.  His heart burned with a sudden glorious glow of joy, and genial, boyish zest of life, — one of the excesses of his nature.  He tried to speak, but his tongue was stiff, his throat dry;  he could have caressed the man's slimy sleeve that touched his cheek, he was so glad to live.  The boatman was in no humor for caresses;  he drew his labored breath sharply, fighting the waves, rasping out a sullen oath when they baffled him.  The little surgeon had tact enough to keep silent;  he did not care to talk, either.  Life rose before him a splendid possibility, as never before.  From the silent figure at the helm came neither word nor motion.  Presently a bleak morning wind mingled with the fierce, incessant nor'easter;  the three in the yawl, all sea-bred, knew the difference.

"Night ull break soon," said Bowlegs.

It did break in an hour or two into a ghastly gray dawn, bitter cold, — the slanting bars of sharp light from beyond the sea-line falling on the bare coast, on a headland of which moved some black, uneasy figures.

"Th' wrackers be thar."

There was no answer.

"Starboard!  Hoy, Mother Phebe!"

She swayed her arms round, her head still fallen on her breast. Doctor Birkenshead, from his half-shut eyes, could see beside him the half-naked, withered old body, in its dripping flannel clothes.   God!  it had come, then, the time to choose!  It was she who had saved him!  she was here, — alive!

"Mother!" he cried, trying to rise.

But the word died in his dry throat;  his body, stiff and icy cold, refused to move.

"What ails ye?" growled the man, looking at her. "Be ye giv' out so near land?  We've had a jolly seinin' together," laughing savagely, "ef we did miss the fish we went for, an' brought in this herrin'."

"Thee little brother's safe, Bowlegs," said the old woman, in a feeble, far-off voice. "My boy ull bring him to shore."

The boatman gulped back his breath;  it sounded like a cry, but he laughed it down.

"You think yer Derrick ull make shore, eh?  Well, I don't think that ar way o' Ben.  Ben's gone under.  It's not often the water gets a ten-year-older like that.  I raised him.  It was I sent him with Van Note this run.  That makes it pleasanter now!"  The words were grating out stern and sharp.

"Thee knows Derrick said he'd come," the woman said simply.

She stooped with an effort, after a while, and, thrusting her hand under Doctor Birkenshead’s shirt, felt his chest.

"It's a mere patchin' of a body.  He's warm yet.  Maybe," looking closely into the face, "he'd have seen my boy aboord, an' could say which way he tuk.  A drop of raw liquor ull bring him round."

Phil glanced contemptuously at the surgeon’s fine linen, and the diamond solitaire on the small, white hand.

"It's not likely that chap ud know the deck-hands.  It's the man Doctor Dennis was expectin'."

"Ay?" vaguely.

She kept her hand on the feebly beating heart, chafing it.  He lay there, looking her straight in the eyes;  in hers — dull with the love and waiting of a life — there was no instinct of recognition. The kind, simple, blue eyes, that had watched his baby limbs grow and strengthen in her arms!  How gray the hair was!  but its bit of curl was in it yet.  The same dear old face that he


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used to hurry home at night to see!  Nobody had loved him but this woman, — never;  if he could but struggle up and get his head on her breast!  How he used to lie there when he was a big boy, listening to the same old stories night after night, —the same old stories!  Something homely and warm and true was waking in him to-night that had been dead for years and years;  this was no matter of aesthetics or taste, it was real, real.  He wondered if people felt in this way who had homes, or those simple folk who loved the Lord.

Inch by inch, with hard, slow pulls, they were gaining shore. Mary Defourchet was there.  If he came to her as the clam-digger’s bastard son, owning the lie he had practised half his life, —what then?  He had fought hard for his place in the world, for the ease and culture of his life, — most of all, for the society of thorough-bred and refined men, his own kindred.  What would they say to Derrick Trull, and the mother he had kept smothered up so long?  All this with his eyes fixed on hers.  The cost was counted.  It was to give up wife and place and fame, — all he had earned.  It had not been cheaply earned.  All Doctor Birkenshead’s habits and intellect, the million nervous whims of a sensitive man, rebelled against the sacrifice.  Nothing to battle them down but what?

"Be ye hurt, Mother Phebe?  What d' yer hold yer breath for?"

She evaded him with a sickly smile.

"We're gain', Bowlegs.  It's but a few minutes till we make shore.  He'll be there, if— if he be ever to come."

"Yes, Gran," with a look of pity.

The wind stood still;  it held its breath, as though with her it waited.  The man strained against the tide till the veins in his brawny neck stood out purple. On the bald shore, the dim figures gathered in a cluster, eagerly watching.  Old Phebe leaned forward, shading her eyes with her hand, peering from misty headland to headland with bated breath.  A faint cheer reached them from land.

"Does thee know the voices, Bowlegs ?" — in a dry whisper.

"It be the wreckers."

"Oh ! — Derrick," after a pause, "would be too weak to cheer;  he'd be worn with the swimmin'. Thee must listen sharp. Did they cry my name out?  as if there was some'ut for me?"

"No, Mother" gruffly. "But don’t ye lose heart after twenty years' waitin'."

"I'll not."

As he pulled, the boatman looked over at her steadily.

"I never knowed what this was for ye, till now I've loss Ben," he said, gently.  "It's as if you'd been lossin him every day these twenty years."

She did not hear him; her eyes, straining, scanned the shore;  she seemed to grow blind as they came nearer;  passed her wet sleeve over them again and again.

"Thee look for me, Bowlegs," she said, weakly.

The yawl grated on the shallow waters of the bar;  the crowd rushed down to the edge of the shore, the black figures coming out distinct now, half a dozen of the wreckers going into the surf and dragging the boat up on the beach. She turned her head out to sea, catching his arm with both hands.

"Be there any strange face to shore?  Thee didn't know him.  A little face, full o' th' laugh an' joke, an' brown curls blown by the wind."

"The salt's in my eyes.  I can't rightly see, Mother Phehe."

The surgeon saw Doctor Bowdler waiting, pale and haggard, his fat little arms outstretched:  the sea had spared him by some whim, then.  When the men lifted him out, another familiar face looked down on him: it was Mary.  She had run into the surf with them, and held his head in her arms.

"I love you!  I love you!" she sobbed, kissing his hand.

"There be a fire up by the bathing-houses, an' hot coffee," said old Doctor Dennis, with a kindly, shrewd glance at the famous surgeon.  "Miss Defourchet and Snap made it for you.  She knew you, lying in the yawl."


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Birkenshead, keeping her hand, turned to the forlorn figure standing shivering alone, holding both palms pressed to her temples, her gray hair and clothes dripping.

"Thee don't tell me that he's here, Bowlegs," she said.  "There might be some things the wrackers hes found up in the bathin'-houses.  There might, — in the bathin'-houses. It's the last day, — it's twenty year"—

Doctor Birkenshead looked down at the beautiful flushed face pressed close to his side, then pushed it slowly from him.  He went over to where the old woman stood, and kneeled beside her in the sand, drawing her down to him.

"Mother," he said, "it's Derrick,  mother.  Don’t you know your boy?"

With the words the boy's true spirit seemed to come back to him, — Derrick Trull again, who went with such a hot, indignant heart to win money and place for the old mother at home.  He buried his head in her knees, as she crouched over him, silent, passing her hands quickly and lightly over his face.

"God forgive me!" he cried. "Take my head in your arms, mother, as you used to do.  Nobody has loved me as you did.  Mother! mother!"

Phebe Trull did not speak one word.  She drew her son's head close into her trembling old arms, and held it there motionless.  It was an old way she had of caressing him.

Doctor Dennis drew the eager, wondering crowd away from them.

"I don't understand," said Doctor Bowdler, excitedly.

"I do," said his niece, and, sitting down in the sand, looked out steadfastly to sea.

Bow-legged Phil drove the anchor into the beach, and pulled it idly out again.

"I've some'ut here for you, Phil," said Joe, gravely.  "The water washed it up."

The fellow's teeth chattered as he took it.

"Well, ye know what it is?" fiercely.  "Only a bit of a Scotch cap,"— holding it up on his fist. "I bought it down at Port Monmouth, Saturday, for him.  I was a-goin' to take him home this week  up to the old folks in Connecticut.  I kin take that instead, an' tell 'em whar our Benny is."

"That's so," said Joe, his eye twinkling as he looked over Phil's shoulder.

A fat little hand slapped the said shoulder, and "Hillo, Bowlegs!" came in a small shout in his ear. Phil turned, looked at the boy from head to foot, gulped down one or two heavy breaths.

"Hi!  you young vagabond, you!" he said, and went suddenly back to his anchor, keeping his head down on his breast for a long while. —

He had piled up the sand at her back to make her a seat while they waited for the wagons.  Now he sat on her skirts, holding her hands to warm them.  He had almost forgotten Mary and the Doctor.  Nature or instinct, call it what you will, some subtile whim of blood called love, brought the old clam-digger nearer to him than all the rest of the world.  He held the bony fingers tight, looked for an old ring she used to wear, tried to joke to bring out the flicker of a smile on her mouth, leaned near to catch her breath.  He remembered how curiously sweet it used to be, like new milk.

The dawn opened clear and dark blue; the sun yet waited below the stormy sea. Though they sat there a long while, she was strangely quiet, —did not seem so much afraid of him as she used to be when he began to rise above her, — held his hand, with a bright, contented face, and said little else than "My boy! my boy!" under her breath.  Her eyes followed every movement of his face with an insatiate hunger; yet the hesitation and quiet in her motions and voice were unnatural.  He asked her once or twice if she were ill.

"Wait a bit, an' I'll tell thee, Derrick," she said.  "Thee must remember I'm not as young as I was then," with a smile.  "Thee must speak fast, my son.  I'd like to hear of thee gran' home, if thee's willin'."

He told her, as he would to please a


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child, of the place and fame and wealth he had won;  but it had not the effect he expected.  Before he had finished, the look in her eyes grew vague and distant.  Some thought in the poor clam-digger's soul made these things but of little moment.  She interrupted him.

"There be one yonner that loves my boy.  I'd like to speak a word to her before-- Call her, Derrick."

He rose and beckoned to Miss Defourchet.  When she came near, and saw the old woman’s face, she hurried, and, stooping down quickly, took her head in her arms.

"Derrick has come back to you," she said.  "Will you let him bring me with him to call you mother?"


She did not look at him.  Old Phebe pushed her back with a searching look.

"Is it true love you'll give my boy?"

"I'll try." In a lower voice, — "I never loved him so well as when he came back to you."

The old woman was silent a long time.

"Thee's right.  It was good for Derrick to come back to me.  I don't know what that big world be like where thee an' Derrick's been.  The sea keeps talkin' of it, I used to think;  it's kep' moanin' with the cries of it.  But the true love at home be worth it all.   I knowed that always.  I kep' it for my boy.  He went from it, but it brought him back.  Out of the sea it brought him back."

He knew this was not his mother's usual habit of speech.  Some great truth seemed coming closer to the old fish-wife, lifting her forever out of her baser self.  She leaned on the girl beside her, knowing her, in spite of blood and education, to be no truer woman than herself.  The inscrutable meaning of the eyes deepened.  The fine, sad smile came on the face, and grew fixed there.  She was glad he had come, —that was all.  Mary was a woman; her insight was quicker.

"Where are you hurt?" she said, softly.

"Hush! don't fret the boy.  It was the pullin' last night, think.  I'm not as strong as when I was a gell."

They sat there, watching the dawn break into morning.  Over the sea the sky opened into deeps of silence and light.  The surf rolled in, in long, low, grand breakers, like riders to a battlefield, tossing back their gleaming white plumes of spray when they touched the shore.  But the wind lulled as though something more solemn waited on the land than the sea's rage or the quiet of the clouds.

"Does thee mind, Derrick," said his mother, with a low laugh, "how thee used to play with this curl ahint my ear?  When thee was a bit baby, thee begun it.  I 'ye kep' it ever since.  It be right gray now."

"Yes, mother."

He had crept closer to her now.  In the last half-hour his eyes had grown clearer.  He dared not look away from her.  Joe and Bowlegs had drawn near, and Doctor Bowdler.  They stood silent, with their hats off.  Doctor Bowdler felt her pulse, but her son did not touch it.  His own hand was cold and clammy;  his heart sick with a nameless dread.  Was he, then, just too late?

"Yes, I did.  I kep' it for thee, Derrick.  I always knowed thee'd come," — in a lower voice. "There's that dress, too.  I'd like thee to've seen me in that;  but"--

"Take her hands in yours," whispered Mary.

"Is it thee, my son?"— with a smile.  After a long pause, —"I kep' it, an' I kep' true love for thee, Derrick.  God brought thee back for 't, I think.  It be the best, after all.  He'll bring thee to me for 't at th' last, my boy, — my boy!"

As the faint voice lingered and died upon the words, the morning sun shone out in clear, calm glory over the still figures on the beach. The others had crept away, and left the three alone with God and His great angel, in whose vast presence there is no life save Love, no future save Love's wide eternity.

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