“It is the loveliest necklace in the world,” declared Madge happily, touching the pearls. “It is far too beautiful for me. I shall love it all my life and never, never part with it. You have been too good to me, Mrs. Curtis,” she added earnestly.
“But think what you did for me,” reminded the stately, white-haired woman.
“That isn’t worth remembering. I did only what any one else would have done if placed in the same circumstances.”
“But you saved my son’s life, and that is the greatest service you could possibly render me.”
Yet before her vacation was over Madge Morton was to perform for her friend a further service equally great.
MADGE COMES INTO HER OWN AGAIN
Lillian and Eleanor were in the houseboat kitchen, making chocolate fudge and a caramel cake.
“I think it will be too funny for anything,” laughed Eleanor. “Let’s keep your surprise a secret from the others. It will be a delightful way to celebrate Madge’s return. Do you know that we have a hundred and one things to do today?” she added, stirring her cake batter as fast as she could. “This boat must be cleaned from stem to stern. I told the boy from the farm to be here at nine o’clock this morning to scrub the deck. He hasn’t put in his appearance yet. I wonder which one of us can be spared to go and hurry him along?”
“Let’s ask Miss Jenny Ann,” suggested Lillian slyly. “She has done her share of the work already, and Mr. Brown is sketching the old garden near the farmhouse. Haven’t you noticed that our chaperon has been very much interested in art lately? Mr. Brown wishes to paint a picture of our houseboat. He has a fancy for this neighborhood. He thinks it is so picturesque. ‘Straws show which way the wind blows,’ you know. Watch the candy for me. I’ll go ask Miss Jenny Ann if she will go out and round up our faithless boy.”
Miss Jones was quite willing to go, and started out, leaving the girls to their cleaning. Every now and then they were seized with a desire to work, which caused them to fall upon the houseboat and clean it from end to end. This morning the fever had been upon them from the time they had risen, and by the time Miss Jenny Ann started upon her errand it was in full swing.
Jack Bolling and Tom Curtis were to bring Madge home late in the afternoon, and, as a surprise for Madge, the boys had been invited to remain to tea. It was therefore quite necessary that their floating home should be well swept and garnished.
“Where’s Phil?” asked Lillian, stepping from the kitchen out onto the deck, where Eleanor had gone after having seen her cake safely in the oven.
There came a series of raps on the cabin roof. Phil leaned over among the honeysuckle vines on the upper deck. “I am up here, maiden, digging in our window boxes. Want me for anything?”