“That’s a beautiful hammock yonder,” said Mr. Davenport.
Beth could see no hammock. There was a wonderful, intricate growth of shrubs, trees, and vines which formed an almost impenetrable mass of green, but no hammock.
“Where is it?” she asked. “It seems a very queer place for a hammock.”
Mr. Davenport laughed at her, and explained that such a mass of green is called a hammock in Florida, not hummock as in the North.
Very soon they were past the swamps. The banks of the river grew higher and nice houses were to be seen on either side of the road.
Dolly, of her own accord, turned in at the gate of an unusually beautiful place. There are no fine lawns in Florida. In this case, the lack of such green was made up by a waving mass of blooming cardinal phlox, behind which was an orange grove in full bearing. In the well-cultivated grounds there were many inviting drives through avenues of trees.
“What are we going in here for?” asked Beth.
“Do you think it a pretty place?” returned Mr. Davenport.
“I never saw a prettier place. It’s grand.”
“Guess who owns it.”
“How should I know? I don’t know any people in Florida.”
“You know the Davenports. They are to live here. I bought the place this morning.”
Beth could hardly believe her father. He had, indeed, greatly surprised her. That she was to be a little Florida lady henceforth, hardly seemed possible. She thought she must be a fairy-story princess, and that the fairies were vying with one another in showering upon her the good things of life.
“I’m so happy, I don’t know what to say or do. Why, if a good fairy offered to grant me three wishes, I shouldn’t know what to ask. I have everything,” declared Beth.
“There aren’t any fairies, and you know it. So what’s the use of talking about them,” interrupted practical Marian.
“Mamma says our thoughts are the real fairies,” returned Beth, nothing daunted, and added, “papa has given me plenty of good ones to-day.”
“I was in great luck to secure this place,” said Mr. Davenport. “It had just been put on the market as Mr. Marlowe, the former owner, was called North by the death of his wife. The agent brought me out this morning, and I was so delighted with it that I would look no farther. I found the title all right, and so I signed the papers at once.”
The New Home
The house on the place just described was a rambling two-storied building with many porches—a typical vine-covered Southern cottage. It was picturesque from every side, and seemed to have no prosaic back. Marechal Niel roses, and honeysuckles, and some tropical vines, climbed over latticework almost to the roof. There were, also, many trees near the house, some of which were rare.