She knew that in the years to come, Beth would learn the gentler graces, for she had a kindly heart; so, instead of punishing Beth, Mrs. Davenport had a long talk with her that did Beth a world of good. In fact, her mother’s gentleness was an inspiration to right living all through her life.
Learning to Swim
Marian, Julia, Beth, Harvey, and Don were in bathing. The deep water enclosed by the walk and piling surrounding the boat house made a safe bathing place for them,—safe at least from the alligators, though the water was deep. Harvey and Don were the only ones in the party who knew how to swim.
The other children struggled hard to learn. Harvey was a very willing teacher, but did not know exactly how to impart his knowledge. He said:
“Why, it’s very easy. See, you just have to start out like this, and there you are.”
Thereupon, they started out as directed, but, alas, they were not there as he said. Their feet grew unaccountably light so that their heads disappeared under the water. However, they enjoyed even the ducking.
Don reveled in the water frolic as much, if not more, than any of them. He was ever ready to do the children’s bidding, and ever kept a watchful eye on his charges. Beth, however, was his especial care. He seemed to feel an ownership for her.
Don, too, tried to encourage the children in their efforts to swim. He plunged out into deep water, and then looked persuasively back at the children nearer shore, as if to say:
“Follow me. It’s really very easy.”
Beth as usual proved the venturesome one, and started out after Don.
Mrs. Davenport, who was sitting on the wharf doing some fancy work and at the same time watching the children, called:
“Beth, do be careful or you’ll get into trouble.”
“Why, mamma, I am careful.”
Mrs. Davenport again became absorbed in her work. Suddenly, she was startled by screams from the children. Above the other voices she heard Marian calling:
“Don, Don, save her.”
Poor Mrs. Davenport sprang to her feet in a frenzy of terror. It was as she expected. She saw her beloved Beth sinking. She was so horrified that for a second or two she could not cry out.
Harvey was near Beth, but made no effort to rescue her.
“Harvey, Harvey,” screamed Mrs. Davenport, “save her.”
But even as she cried another was swimming to the rescue, and this was faithful Don. He had no idea of letting his beloved little mistress drown. He grabbed her by her bathing suit and swam towards the shore with her.
“Why, Mrs. Davenport, we didn’t think you’d be frightened. It’s only play,” called Harvey.
How proud the delighted dog was. He thought he had really saved Beth’s life. He did not know that she was just pretending for the fun of having him come to her.