Read CHAPTER XXI  - A NEW CLIENT of Uncle Terry A Story of the Maine Coast , free online book, by Charles Clark Munn, on

When Albert arose the next morning the sun was just appearing round and red out of the ocean, and a crisp breeze blowing into the open windows. He heard the stir of some one below, and, dressing quickly, descended to the sitting-room. No one was there, and he stood for a moment looking at the curiously framed paintings that almost covered the wall.

One in particular caught his eye. It was a ship careened on the ocean with waves breaking upon her. She was resting on rocks that barely showed beneath, and in her rigging, heavily covered with ice, were five men. All around was the sea, tossed into giant waves, curling and breaking about the stranded vessel. He noted the life-like shading of the green and white billows; the ice that covered every shroud and rope and spar; and peering out of a cabin door was a woman holding a babe in her arms. In a way it was a ghastly picture, and one that held his attention from all the rest.

It was framed in a broad flat moulding covered with shells. He was still gazing at it when he heard Uncle Terry’s voice bidding him good morning.

“Ain’t ye up a little arly?” said that worthy; “I hope ye slep’ well. I ginerally roust out by day-light an’ put out the light an’ then start a fire, but thar was no need o’ you gittin’ out so soon.”

“I think the waves woke me,” replied Albert, “and the morning is so beautiful I couldn’t waste it in bed.”

“I’m goin’ over to the cove to mend a trap,” continued Uncle Terry, “an’ if ye’r’ willin’, I’d like ter hev ye go along too. The wimmin’ll hev breakfast ready by that time, an’ then I’ll take ye up to Seal Cove an’ see if yer boat’s thar.”

He seemed depressed and not inclined to talk, and as Albert sat on an overturned dory and watched him puttering away over a lobster trap, he began to feel sorry for him. His hat had fallen off and the sea winds blew his scant fringe of gray hair over his bald head. His brown shirt was open at the throat, disclosing a bony neck, and his well-worn garments showed the outlines of a somewhat wasted form. What impressed Albert more than all this was the dejected manner of Uncle Terry. It was as if an unexpected sorrow had come upon him. When he finished fixing the trap he pulled a dory in that was moored out in the cove and carefully bailed and wiped it clean. When this was done he said almost wistfully: “I’ve worried a good deal ’bout what you told me last night, an’ I’d like ter have a good talk with ye. I s’pose ye’r’ anxious ter see yer friends an’ let ’em know ye’r’ all safe, an’ I’ll take ye up the island the fust thing an’ then go an’ pull my traps, and then if ye’r’ willin’ we’ll sot down, if it ain’t askin’ too much o’ ye ter wait,” he added almost pathetically. “I’ll get Telly to show ye her picturs, and mebbe ye can give her some pints as’ll help her.”

“I shall be more than glad to do so,” replied Albert, “but if that shipwreck scene is hers, she needs no advice from me.”

Uncle Terry looked pleased, but made no answer. On the way back to the house he said: “I’d ruther ye’d make no mention to the wimmin of our hevin’ any talk.”

At the breakfast table he seemed in better spirits, and more like himself.

“I think ye told me last night,” he remarked, addressing Albert, “that ye painted picturs yerself some.” And then turning to Telly he added: “Mr. Page is comin’ back here bimeby, jest to look ‘round, an’ mebbe he’d like ter look at some o’ yourn.”

Telly’s face flushed slightly. “I shall be delighted,” added Albert, “if Miss Terry will favor me. Will you?” he added in a persuasive tone.

“I do not feel that my pictures are good enough to show to strangers,” she answered in a low voice; “I have never had any lessons or any one to show me.”

“From what I’ve noticed in your sitting-room,” responded Albert quickly, “you need not be ashamed to show them to an artist. I am not one. I only sketch a little, just as a remembrance of places I visit, but I love pictures even better than music.”

“I will gladly show you what I have done,” replied Telly simply, and there the conversation ended. When the meal was over Albert observed: “With your permission, Mrs. Terry, I would like to make a sketch of your home and the lighthouse, and after Mr. Terry has helped me find my friends I am coming back.” Then turning to Telly he added: “I can then feel easy in my mind, and shall enjoy looking over your paintings.”

“Won’t ye stop to dinner with us?” asked Aunt Lissy, as Albert thanked her for her hospitality; “we’ll be glad to have ye.”

“I will, thank you,” replied Albert; “this point, and in fact this village, was such a surprise to me, and is so charming, I am going to devote all my day to it.” Then bidding the ladies good morning, he followed Uncle Terry over to the cove, where they boarded his dory and started out to find the “Gypsy.”

Albert had spoken truly when he expressed surprise at the charms of the Cape and Uncle Terry’s home, and not the least of it was the hospitality shown him in that home. But perhaps the greatest surprise of all was the finding of so fair a girl as Telly hid away, as it were, in an unheard-of corner of the world. “And she has the soul of an artist in her,” he said to himself, as Uncle Terry pulled the dory out of the harbor and up the coast towards where he had been left stranded; “and what eyes, and what a perfect form!”

Then, as good luck would have it, when they rounded a point, there was the “Gypsy” following the island shore down to meet them. Albert stood up and waved his cap. He was answered by the whistle, and in an instant every one on board of her, even the crew, were out on her bows and waving caps lustily. The skipper kept the whistle blowing, and as the yacht slowed down and Uncle Terry pulled alongside, Albert was seized and almost dragged on board. Frank was so overjoyed he hugged him, and then gave vent to a war-whoop that might have been heard the entire length of Southport Island.

“We guessed what had happened to you,” he said, “when we picked up your boat. It was almost dark when one of the crew saw an empty boat floating up the bay. We were all down in the cabin at that time, and had not noticed how late it was, when he called us. Two of the crew lowered the other boat, and when they got back with yours we nearly had a fit. The missing cushions and loop on the painter gave us a clue, and we half expected you would find your way back to the ‘Gypsy’ by land.”

“I guess you’re not much acquainted with the interior of Southport Island,” put in Albert; and then going forward he brought back Uncle Terry, and introduced him to the crowd. By this time the “Gypsy” was almost down to the Cape, and under one bell, and the direction of Uncle Terry, she slowly steamed in. That worthy man had been looking over her, and his admiration was evident.

“A purty slick craft, boys,” he said to the party, as the “Gypsy’s” anchor ceased rattling out of the hawse-hole,-“a purty slick craft, an’ must ‘a’ cost a heap o’ money.”

Then as he pulled his own weather-beaten dory that had been towing astern along to the gangway, Albert stepped up to him and said in a low voice:

“Will you excuse me a little while, Mr. Terry? I want to change my clothes, and in an hour or so I will come ashore, and not only thank you for all your kindness, but make you a visit.”

When Uncle Terry had gone Albert related his experiences for the past eighteen hours to the party-that is, all but one incident, or rather surprise, and that he omitted for reasons best known to himself. Then nothing would do but they must all go ashore, and look the quaint little village over.

“I wish you would keep away from the lighthouse, boys,” Albert said, as they were getting into their boat. “Mr. Terry’s family are rather sensitive people and may not like to have a lot of us trooping around their place. I am going over there this afternoon to make a sketch, and then I’ll ask permission, and we’ll all go there some other day.”

He had whispered to Frank to remain on the yacht, and when the rest were gone he said to him: “Frank, I am going to confide something to you, and I want you to promise me on your honor not to hint it to any of our friends.” When that astonished young man had promised to keep mum, Albert continued, “The fact is, Frank, I’ve tumbled into an adventure, and fallen in love with a girl on sight, and without having exchanged ten words with her! She is Mr. Terry’s daughter, and has eyes that take your breath away, and a form like the Venus of Milo. She paints pictures that are a wonder, considering she never has taken a lesson, and has a face more bewitching than any woman’s I ever saw. It is like a painter’s dream.”

“Well, you have gone daft, old man,” replied the astonished Frank, breaking into a laugh in which Albert joined, and then adding with mischief in his eyes, “Does she take good care of her teeth and fingernails, Bert?”

Albert frowned. “Don’t for heaven’s sake mention her in the same breath with those cigarette-smoking blemishes on their sex!” he answered; and then he added more pleasantly, “But you haven’t heard it all yet. This unique old man, who saved me from sleeping all night in a thicket of briers, and who has opened his heart and home to me, has fallen into the clutches of-Nicholas Frye!”

“Great Scott!” exclaimed Frank, “and how on earth did he ever find Frye, or Frye find him? Was your old man of the island hunting around Boston for some one to rob him?”

“That I do not know yet,” replied Albert; “all I know is that Mr. Terry has paid Frye about four hundred dollars, and, as he says, so far has nothing to show for it. What the business was I expect to learn later. Now what I am coming at is this: can’t you manage to leave me here for the rest of the day, or, better still, make it two days? I’ll tell the boys I’ve tumbled into a bit of law business, which is what I think will come out of it, and you can run down to Bar Harbor, or out to Monhegan and back here to-morrow night.”

“Well, I’ll do that gladly,” replied Frank; and then he added with a droll smile, “It will give you a chance to say a few sweet things to this girl with the wondrous eyes, eh, Bert?”

“Please don’t joke me about her before the rest of the crowd,” said Albert; “remember your promise!”

“Well, you told the truth when you said you had fallen in love with her, I guess,” observed Frank; “a fellow that feels that way about a girl must be in love.”

“My dear boy,” replied Albert, “what you say may be true, but I’ve not yet insisted upon her singing ‘Ben Bolt’ three times in one evening.”