And we felt that Gadabout would be of the same way of thinking. Indeed, could we not hear her joining in as we talked, and good naturedly grumbling that if we couldn’t have that kind of fogs, why then we ought to get close in shore among the crabs and the sand-fiddlers, where the big boats could not come; or else go into a quiet little creek with a sleepy little houseboat.
But by this time no one was listening to Gadabout. Any further fussy complaining of this little craft was drowned by the Commodore reading aloud. He had bethought him of a book containing some chapters on Brandon that we had got from the manor-house. And reading made us hungry; and there were two apple tarts on the upper shelf of the refrigerator (for had not the cook provided them “in case an’ you should wish ’em befo’ you retiah"?); and by the time the tarts were gone, so was the fog; and the steamer headed again for Richmond and we for Dreamland.
OLD SILVER, OLD PAPERS, AND AN OLD COURT GOWN
Toward the last of our stay in Chippoak Creek, the weather was bad; but it was surprising how agreeable disagreeable days could be at Brandon. It was dark and gloomy that afternoon when we got to looking at the old family silver, and even raining dismally by the time we were carefully unfolding the faded court gown; but on we went from treasure to treasure oblivious of the weather.
Fine and quaint pieces of old silver are among the family plate. Many of them bear the Harrison crest—a demi-lion rampant supporting a laurel wreath. And who would know what the weather was doing, when those ancient pieces were passing from hand to hand, and the fascinating study of hall marks was revealing dates more than two centuries past? There is even some ecclesiastical silver in the old home—the communion service once used in the Martin’s Brandon Church, a building no longer standing. The inscription tells that the service was the gift of Major John Westhrope, and the marks give date of about 1659.
But no one form of the antique can hold you long at Brandon. From out some drawer or chest or closet, another treasure will appear and lure you away with another story of the long ago. With the inimitable sheen of old silver still in our eyes, our ears caught the crackle of ancient parchment; and we turned to the fascinations of venerable records and dingy red seals and queer blue tax stamps. The papers were delightfully quaint and yellow and worn, but from their very age a little awesome too.
The most valued one of them all is the original grant of Martin’s Brandon bearing date 1616—four years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. The grant covers a page and a half of the large sheets of heavy parchment, and the ink is a stronger black than that on records a century younger.
[Illustration: Treasured PARCHMENTS, including the original grant of 1616.]