“And I had a fine chance to get chummy with them!” snapped Cecile. “They were both seniors.”
“But really,” Marian went on, “your entanglement with that movie actress is sure to make trouble for us, Ford. You might be a little more considerate. Just as we are getting in with the Perritons. And their guest, Mrs. Conroth, was really very nice to mother this morning on the beach. She has the open sesame to all the society there is on this side of the Atlantic. It’s really a wonderful chance for us, Ford.”
“And—he’s bound—to spoil—it all!” Mrs. Tapp sobbed into an expensive bit of lace.
“You might be a good sport, Fordy, dear,” urged Prue.
“Yes, Fordy; don’t crab the game,” added the vulgar Cecile.
“You know very well,” said the elder sister, “how hard we have tried to take our rightful place here at The Beaches. We have the finest home by far; daddy’s got the most money of any of them, and let’s us spend it, too. And still it’s like rolling a barrel up a sand bank. Just a little thing will spoil our whole season here.”
“Do, do be sensible, Ford!” begged his mother.
“Sacrifice yourself for the family’s good,” said Prue.
“Dear Ford,” began Mrs. Tapp again, “for my sake—for all our sakes—take thought of what you are doing. This—this actress person cannot be a girl you could introduce to your sisters——”
“No more of that, mother!” exclaimed the young man, patience at last ceasing to be a virtue. “Criticise me if you wish to; but I will hear nothing against Miss Grayling.”
“Oh, dear! Now I have offended him again!” sobbed the matron.
“You are too utterly selfish for words!” declared Marian.
“You’re a regular pig!” added Prue.
“If you get mixed up with an actress, Fordy, I’ll have a fine time when I come out, won’t I?” complained Cecile.
“Caesar’s ghost!” burst from the lips of the badgered young man. “I wish Betty Gallup had let me drown instead of hauling me inboard this afternoon!”
An express wagon, between the shafts of which was a raw-boned gray horse leaning against one shaft as a prop while he dozed, stood before Cap’n Abe’s store as Louise and Mr. Judson Bane came up from the shore front. She thanked the actor as he set the heavy baskets on the porch step.
“Those blackfish look so good I long for a fish supper,” he said, smiling in open admiration upon her.
Louise was quick to establish a reputation for hospitality. Perhaps it was the Silt blood that influenced her to say: “Wait till I speak to Uncle Amazon, Mr. Bane.”
There was a tall gaunt man in overalls and jumper, who, somehow, possessed a family resemblance to the gray horse, leaning against the door frame, much as his beast leaned against the wagon shaft. Perry Baker and the gray horse had traveled so many years together about Paulmouth and Cardhaven that it was not surprising they looked alike.