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   Chapter 4 BUBBLES.

Vacation with the Tucker Twins By Nell Speed Characters: 9136

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The sun finds an east porch very early in the morning and five o'clock was late enough to sleep, anyhow, when one has gone to bed at nine. Tweedles and I had many duties to perform and we were glad enough to be up and doing.

"Me for a dip in the briny, before I grapple with the day!" exclaimed Dum. That sounded good to Dee and me, so we all piled into our bathing suits. I felt rather strange in mine and very youthful, never before having had one on. Father and I had had several nice trips together but we had always gone to some city and had never taken in a seaside resort. I had a notion I was going to like the water and almost knew I would not be afraid. I determined to look upon the ocean as just a large-sized hat-tub.

"Hadn't we better start the kitchen fire before we go out, Dum?" I asked.

"I'm not Dum! I'm Dee! Dum's gone to peek at Zebedee to see if he is awake." For the first time in my acquaintance with the Tucker Twins I found myself at a loss to tell them apart. Of course it was Dee. The eyes were grey and there was a dimple in her chin, but the bathing cap concealed her hair and forehead; and, after all, the colour of the twins' hair and the way it grew on their foreheads were the chief points of difference. Their eyes were exactly the same shape if they were of different colours, and a difference that you had to stare at to find out was not much of a difference after all.

Dum came back to announce that Zebedee was awake and would join us in a moment, so we raced down to the kitchen, careful not to make any noise and wake up poor Miss Cox. We started the fire and put on the tea kettle and, as an afterthought, I went back and filled the Marion Harland percolator, putting in plenty of coffee. The morning was rather chilly and I knew that when we got back from our dip, coffee would not go amiss.

"Front door wide open! What kind of a locker-up are you, Zebedee, anyhow?" chided Dum.

"Well, I could have sworn I shut it last night and locked it. In fact, I can swear it."

"Well, if we had burglars they didn't burgle any. The pure German silver is all intact and the blue tea-pot is still on the mantelpiece. Come on, I'll race you to the water's edge," and Dum and Zebedee were off like two children, while Dee and I followed.

"Someone's out ahead of us," said Zebedee, pointing to a head far out in the bay. "Some swimmer, too! Just look how fast he's going!" The swimmer was taking long, even strokes and was shooting through the water like a fish.

How I did envy that swimmer! I felt very slim and very shy as I walked gingerly to the water's edge and let the waves creep up on my feet and ankles. The Tuckers wanted to stay with me but I would not hear of it. I knew that they were longing to get out into deep water and I have always had a wholesome dread of being a nuisance. They plunged in and were off like a school of porpoise, one minute under water and the next leaping high into the air. They seemed to be truly amphibious animals while I felt very much of an earthworm. I walked out in the bay up to my chin and then decided that I would try to swim back, although I had no more idea of how a body went to work to swim than to fly.

I lay down on the water and felt my feet rising to the surface and then a panic seized me, and such another struggling and splashing and gurgling as I was guilty of! My head went under and my feet refused to leave the surface. I thought I would surely drown, although I knew perfectly well I was not beyond my depth. Foolish poetry flashed into my brain:

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,

"And your hair has become very white,

And yet you incessantly stand on your head-

Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,

"I feared it might injure the brain;

But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,

I do it again and again."

From that I went on with Clarence's dream:

"O Lord! methought what pain it was to drown!

What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!

What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!

Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;

A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;

Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,

Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,

All scattered in the bottom of the sea,

Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in those holes

Where eyes did once inhabit there were crept

(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,

That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,

And mocked the dead bones that lay

scattered by.

. . . . but still the envious flood

Kept in my soul and would not let it forth

To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;

But smothered it within my panting bulk,

Which almost burst to belch it in the sea."

All this time that my brain was busy in this absurd way, my legs and arms were busy, too, and just when I got to the last line, quoted above, I felt a strong hand on the back of my bathing suit and I was pulled from the briny deep.

"Why, Page, why are you making a little submarine of yourself? You scared me to death, child. I was way out in the bay when I looked back to see what you were up to and not a sign of your precious little head could I see, nothing but bubbles to mark the spot where my dear little friend had gone down. But oh, such big bubbles! I thought you had ventured out beyond your depth, and here it is not much more than four feet of water," and Zebedee held me up while I spluttered and gurgled. Only the night before Zebedee had demanded that I should stop calling him Mr. Tucker, so now I was to think of him and speak of him as Zebedee. I had been thinking of him as Zebedee for a long time and it was very easy to stop calling him by the formal name of Mr. Tucker.

"Lend me a handkerchief!" I demanded just as soon as I could stop spluttering enough to speak, and then we both burst out laughing, as naturally he did not have one.

"I tell you what you do, little girl, you trot on up to the house and get into dry clothes, and I'll collect those water dogs as soon as I can and we will join you. I don't approve of staying in the water too long in the early morning, certainly not on the first day at the beach. The morning swim should be nothing more than a dip."

"Well, that's all mine was," and I scrambled out. My wet suit felt very heavy but my body felt light and there was a delicious tingle all over me as the morning air, a little cooler than the water, struck me. I raced to the cottage and into the downstairs bathroom-which had an outside entrance-where we had put our bath gowns so we would be able to drop our wet suits there. It took me only a few minutes to rub down and get into some dry clothes (thanks to middy blouses, which were surely invented for girls in a hurry). I was dressed and in the kitchen before Zebedee was able to collect his water dogs. The coffee was in a state of perfection, and glad indeed was I for a cup of the beverage which shares with tea the quality of cheering without inebriating.

The oven to the little range was piping hot so I made so bold as to stir up a pan of batter bread, Mammy Susan's kind with lots of eggs, and I then proceeded to set the table for breakfast.

"See here, this is a shame for you to be slaving so!" exclaimed Zebedee. "I simply won't have it-but gee, what a grand smell of coffee! You don't mean you've got some all made?" and he came through the living room and back into the kitchen in his wet suit, although he was the one who had made the rule the night before that bathers must enter from the rear and leave their wet suits in the bathrooms. I hadn't the heart to remind him; besides, I knew Tweedles would take great joy in doing so. I gave him a cup of steaming coffee and then made him hurry off to get into his clothes by letting him have a peep at my batter bread, which was behaving as batter bread should when it is made with plenty of eggs and the oven is piping hot-that is, it was rising like an omelette and a delicate brown was appearing over the surface.

"It must be eaten hot, so you had better hurry," I said as I put the sliced bacon in the frying pan and then cracked ice for the cantaloupe.

"All right, Mammy Susan, I'll show you what a lightning change artist I can be. I know I can beat Tweedles. They are still in the bathroom. By the way, do you know who the swimmer was we saw out in the bay? None other than our chaperone, Miss Jinny Cox! I just knew I had locked the door. You see, Jinny opened it. She has decided not to let anybody wait on her, after all. Tweedles are quite disconsolate. They have been planning to be so unselfish and here Jinny is refusing to be ill, and here you are, the honored guest, cooking breakfast on this, our first morning at the beach." He started up the steps but came down again, and, taking me impulsively by both hands, he exclaimed: "I am mighty glad you did not succeed in drowning yourself in four feet of water, little friend. You made very beautiful bubbles but I am going to teach you how to swim before the week is out."

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