“Well,” said he confidentially to the Patriarch, “that’s settled and I don’t mind admitting that it’s a load off my mind. I hate to think of what we’d have done without Hiram Higgins—in fact, it distresses me to think of it. Let us think of something else. Day after to-morrow Helena’ll be along. Helena is the one and only—but you’ll find that out for yourself. I don’t mind telling you though that she wears a number two shoe, and you can guess the rest without any help from me. Then a day or so later the Flopper and Pale Face Harry’ll be along—you’ll enjoy them—things aren’t going to be a bit slow from now on. I expect the Flopper will bring some friends with him, too, so’s to make a nice little house-party—I wrote him about it, and—” Madison stopped abruptly.
The Patriarch, evidently catching a movement of Madison’s lips, was gesticulating violently toward his ears, while he smiled half tolerantly, half protestingly.
Madison nodded quickly and smiled deprecatingly in return.
“By Jove!” he said apologetically. “I always keep forgetting that you can’t hear. I was suggesting that perhaps you might like to go for a walk—Mr. Higgins says it’s a fine day.” Madison picked up the slate and in huge letters that sprawled from one end of the slate to the other wrote the word: “WALK?”
The Patriarch rose from his chair with a pleased expression, and Madison helped him solicitously to the door.
They passed out into the sunshine and headed for the beach—the Patriarch, erect and strong, guiding himself with his hand on Madison’s arm.
Reaching the beach, the Patriarch paused and turned his face toward the ocean, while he drew in great breaths of the invigorating air—and Madison involuntarily stepped a little aside to look at the other critically, as one might seek a vantage ground from which to view a picture in all its variant lights and shades. Against the crested, breaking surf, the fume-sprayed ledges of rock, the Patriarch stood out a majestic, almost saintly figure—tall, stately, grand with the true grandeur of simplicity, simple in dress, simple in attitude and mien, patience, sweetness and trust illumining his face, his silver-crowned head thrown back.
“I can shut my eyes,” said Madison softly, “and see the Flopper being cured right now—and the Flopper couldn’t help it if he wanted to!”
THE PATRIARCH’S GRAND-NIECE
It was Hiram Higgins who introduced Helena Vail to Madison, two days later. Madison had led the Patriarch outside the door of the cottage as the sound of wheels announced the expected arrival, and was waiting for her as Mr. Higgins drove up in the democrat. Helena, marvelously garbed, in the extreme of fashion, was demurely surveying her surroundings; while Mr. Higgins was very evidently excited and not a little flustered. A huge trunk and two smaller ones occupied the rear of the democrat, with the dismantled back seat lashed on top of them.