Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/56

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48
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA

delight in as a companion; Beethoven I revere as a master; but Haydn I love as a friend. You were about to say something?"

Judith had set an elbow on the piano and put her hand to her head, her fingers through the hair, and was looking into Uncle Zachie's face with an earnestness he could not mistake. She did desire to say something to him; but if she waited till he gave her an opportunity she might wait a long time. He jumped from one subject to another with alacrity, and with rapid forgetfulness of what he was last speaking about.

"Oh, sir, I am so very, very grateful to you for having received us into your snug little house——"

"You like it? Well, I only pay seven pounds for it. Cheap, is it not? Two cottages—laborers' cottages—thrown together. Well, I might go farther and fare worse."

"And, Mr. Menaida, I venture to ask you another favor, which, if you will grant me, you will lay me under an eternal obligation."

"You may command me, my dear."

"It is only this: not to let Jamie have anything stronger than a glass of cider. I do not mind his having that; but a boy like him does not need what is, no doubt, wanted by you who are getting old. I am so afraid of the habit growing on him of looking for and liking what is too strong for him. He is such a child, so easily led, and so unable to control himself. It may be a fancy, a prejudice of mine"—she passed her nervous hand over her face—"I do hope I am not offending you, dear Mr. Menaida; but I know Jamie so well, and I know how carefully he must be watched and checked. If it be a silly fancy of mine—and perhaps it is only a silly fancy—yet," she put on a pleading tone, "you will humor me in this, will you not, Mr. Menaida?"

"Bless my soul! you have only to express a wish and I will fulfil it. For myself, you must know, I am a little weak; I feel a chill when the wind turns north or east, and am always relaxed when it is in the south or west; that forces me to take something just to save me from serious inconvenience, you understand."

"Oh quite, sir."

"And then—confound it!—I am goaded on to work when disinclined. Why, there's a letter come to me now