“Poor, poor Cap’n Abe!” sobbed Louise.
“Now, now!” soothed Betty. “Don’t take on so, deary. They’ll get ’em both. Never fear.”
But the rising gale forbade another launching of the lifeboat for hours. The night shut down over the wind-ridden sea and shore, and by the pallid light fitfully playing over the tumbling waters the watchers along the sands saw the stricken Curlew being slowly wrenched to pieces by the waves that wolfed about and over her.
ON THE ROLL OF HONOR
Stretched upon the couch in the living-room behind the store, with Diddimus purring beside him, Professor Grayling heard that evening the story of Cap’n Abe’s masquerade. Betty Gallup had gone back to the beach and Louise could talk freely to her father.
“And he saved me, for your sake!” murmured the professor. “He gave me his place in the lifeboat! Ah, my dear Lou! there is something besides physical courage in this world. And I don’t see but that your uncle has plenty of both kinds of bravery. Really, he is a wonderful man.”
“He was a wonderful man,” said Louise brokenly.
“I do not give up hope of his ultimate safety, my dear. The gale will blow itself out by morning. Captain Ripley is so badly hurt that he is being taken to Boston to-night, and the crew go with him. But if there is interest to be roused in the fate of the last man left upon the wreck——”
“Oh, I am sure the neighbors will do everything in their power. And Lawford, too!” she cried.
“The schooner is not likely to break up before morning. The departure of her crew to-night will make it all the easier for Mr. Abram Silt’s secret to be kept,” the professor reminded her.
“Yes. We will keep his secret,” sighed Louise. “Poor Uncle Abram! After all, he can gain a reputation for courage only vicariously. It will be Cap’n Amazon Silt who will go down in the annals of Cardhaven as the brave man who risked his life for another, daddy-prof.”
Aunt Euphemia did not leave The Beaches on this evening, as she had intended. Even she was shaken out of her usual marble demeanor by the wreck and the incidents connected with it. She came to the store after dinner and welcomed her brother with a most subdued and chastened spirit.
“You have been mercifully preserved, Ernest,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I saw young Lawford Tapp bring you ashore. A really remarkable young man, and so I told Mrs. Perriton just now. So brave of him to venture out in the lifeboat as a volunteer.
“I have just been talking to his father. Quite a remarkable man—I. Tapp. One of these rough diamonds, you know, Ernest. And he is so enthusiastic about Louise. He has just pointed out to me the spot on the bluff where he intends to build a cottage for Lawford and Louise.”