“Peter and me was sitting among the rocks over against big pool s’afternoon and we saw things”—with a grin.
“Aw, Tom!” deprecated Peter in red confusion.
“An’ Peter, he said he never seen anything so pretty in all his life as—”
“Aw now, Tom, you’re a liar! I never said anything about it.”
“You thought it, or your face was liar too, my boy. Like a dog after a rabbit it was.”
“It was just like you both to lie watching,” flamed Nance. “If you’d both go and jump into the sea every day you’d be a great deal nicer than you are; and if you’d stop there it would be a great deal nicer for us.”
“Aw—Nance!” from Peter, and a great guffaw from Tom, while Gard devoted himself guiltily to his plate.
“You looked nice before you went in,” chuckled Tom, who never knew when to stop, “but you looked a sight nicer when you came out and sat on rocks with it all stuck to you—”
“You’re a—a—a disgusting thing, Tom Hamon, and you’re just as bad, Peter Mauger!” and she looked as if she would have flown at them, but, instead, jumped up and flung out of the room.
Gard’s innate honesty would not permit him to take up the cudgels this time. Inwardly he felt himself involved in her condemnation, though none but himself knew it.
But he had taken at times to glowering at Tom, when his rudeness passed bounds, in a way which made that young man at once uncomfortable and angry, and at times provoked him to clownish attempts at reprisal.
Mrs. Hamon bore with the black sheep quietly, since nothing else was possible to her, though her annoyance and distress were visible enough.
Old Tom was completely obsessed with his visions of wealth ever just beyond the point of his pick. He toiled long hours in the damp darknesses below seas, with the sounds of crashing waves and rolling boulders close above him, and at times threateningly audible through the stratum of rocks between; and when he did appear at meals he was too weary to trouble about anything beyond the immediate satisfaction of his needs. Besides, young Tom had long since proved his strength equal to his father’s, and remonstrance or rebuke would have produced no effect.
As to Bernel, he was only a boy as yet, but he was Nance’s boy and all she would have wished him.
In time he would grow up and be a match for Tom, and meanwhile she would see to it that he grew up as different from Tom in every respect as it was possible for a boy to be.
HOW GRANNIE SCHEMED SCHEMES
Stephen Gard’s experience of women had been small.
His mother had been everything to him till she died, when he was fourteen, and he went to sea.
When she was gone, that which she had put into him remained, and kept him clear of many of the snares to which the life of the young sailorman is peculiarly liable.