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   Chapter 22 GOOD-BYE TO THE BEACH.

Vacation with the Tucker Twins By Nell Speed Characters: 6535

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


How we did hate to say good-bye to Willoughby! When I remembered my feelings on our arrival and compared them to my feelings on departure, I could hardly believe I was the same person or that it was the same place. I no longer missed trees and grass; my eyes were accustomed to the glare; and as for the dead monotony of sand and water: I had learned to see infinite variety in the colour of the land and sea; no two days had been alike, no two hours, indeed. Dum had taught me to see these shifting effects, and now land and water and sky instead of seeming as they had at first, like three hard notes that always played the same singsong tune, were turned into three majestic chords that with changing and intermingling could run the whole gamut of harmony.

We had spent a perfect month with so little friction that it was not worth naming, and the friendship of the five girls was stronger than ever. It would be impossible to sleep five on a porch, with cots so close together that the covers had no room to slip between, without finding out each other's faults and virtues.

Dee, for instance, who was an exceptionally rapid dresser, had a habit of using more than her share of hair-pins. She always insisted that they were hers or that she had not used them, and she would not take down her hair to see. Then when she finally undressed at night and plaited her thick, blue-black rope, she would be much abashed as we claimed our share of hair-pins.

Mary Flannagan snored louder and more persistently than anyone I have ever known; she also had a habit of talking in her sleep.

Annie Pore did take a little longer to arrange her ripe-wheat hair than was quite fair where there was only one mirror and four other girls trying to beautify themselves in front of it, but there is no telling how long any of us would have taken to prink had we been as pretty as Annie.

Dum's fault was putting on anybody's and everybody's clothes, especially stockings, and then wild horses could not drag them off her when once she had them on. She had a habit of undressing and throwing her clothes on top of other people's. No matter where you put your clothes or how carefully you folded them, you were sure to find something of Dum's on top of them in the morning. I was careless enough myself, so this did not bother me much, but it was a continual irritation to Dee, who was much more orderly than Dum; and poor little Annie suffered greatly from this habit of dear old Dum's. Annie had very few clothes and she was painfully neat and careful with them, and I have seen her turn away her head to hide her emotion when she found Dum's wet stockings, that she had been clamming in the day before, balled up on top of her clean shirt waist, and her muddy shoes resting fondly in the lap of her, Annie's, last fresh white skirt.

I know I had many faults as a room-mate, but I believe my habit of selfishly hogging the bathroom was the worst. I think people born and brought up without plumbing are always piggy about bath tubs when once they come in contact with them. I was irreverent enough to wish with all my heart that Mr. Pore had my grandfather's hat-tub and that Bracken, my beloved home, could have water put into it with an altogether, all-over, all-at-o

nce bath tub.

One last look through all the dressing rooms and porches, to be sure that we were not leaving any valuables for the next tenants to find, a lingering glance at the quiet, peaceful living-room where we had spent so many delightful hours, and we went out of the front door as Mrs. Rand came in the back, pail and broom in hand, to make ready for the incoming hordes.

"She won't find no use in that there kitchen fer buckets an' brooms. It's clean enough to ask any potentiate of Europe to eat off'n any spot in it. The King of France himself could make no claimant of the perdition of my kitchen," and Blanche's countenance began to take on the purple hue of rage.

"Oh, don't mind her, Blanche! She just likes for a new tenant to find her busy. Here come the new tenants, too! Isn't it a good thing we got out so early in the morning?"

Sure enough, as Dee spoke there loomed on the horizon a large family, coming to take possession of the cottage: a mother and father, four boys, two little girls, two young coloured maids and an old mammy carrying a baby. The last sound we heard as we hurried to catch the trolley was Mrs. Rand berating them for coming so early in the morning before she had time to clean up after the last tenants.

"Of course I know it is the fust of August, but the fust of August don't mean the fust thing in the morning. Tenants is all alike, skeered to death for fear they ain't going to git all that's coming to them. I never understood when you come dickerin' for my house that you had three niggers. I ain't partial to rentin' to folks that keeps nigger help. Now these last folks what jest left didn't keep but one nigger, but--" but what, we never knew, as we got out of earshot. Blanche's countenance lost its purple hue as we settled ourselves on the Norfolk trolley. We hoped that Mrs. Rand would realize that to make fifteen per cent. on an investment means one must be willing to put up with many things.

The boys who had been at the camp met us in Norfolk and engineered us to the pier to see Annie and Mary off on the James River boat, and then took Tweedles and me to the station and put us on the train for Richmond.

At the boat Sleepy shook hands with Annie until I really thought the Captain would have to interfere. With his face a fiery red, I heard him implore her to write to him. I don't know what she said, but I can't fancy Annie in an adamant mood, and as I saw Sleepy give her his card and hastily write something in a memorandum book, I have an idea she granted his request.

Wink's moustache was getting quite bushy, but his manner was still grand, gloomy and peculiar. He would walk by me, but would not talk to me, although I made every effort to make myself agreeable. He tugged viciously at his little moustache until I felt like telling him: "Kill it, but don't worry it to death!"

Just before we got on the train he said to me in a cold and formal tone: "May I write to you, Miss Allison?"

"Certainly, Mr. White!"

"But will you answer my letters?" He looked so sad and melodramatic that I burst out laughing.

"Of course I will, Wink! Don't be so silly!"

The last I saw of him he was trying seemingly to pull his poor little moustache out by the roots.

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