The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore/Chapter 14

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CHAPTER XIV


THE FIRST PRIZE


When the last craft in the procession had passed the judges' stand, and the little lake was alive with decorations and nautical novelties, everybody, of course, in the boats and on land, was anxious to know who would get the prizes.

There were four to be given, and the fortunate ones could have gifts in silver articles or the value in money, just as they chose.

Everybody waited anxiously, when the man at the judges' stand stood up and called through the big megaphone:

"Let the Fisherman's Daughters pass down to the stand!"

"Oh, we are going to get a prize," Dorothy said to Nellie. "I'll just cut the line to Harry's boat and row back to the stand."

Then, when the two little girls sailed out all by themselves, Dorothy rowing gracefully, while Nellie helped some, although not accustomed to the oars, the people fairly shouted.

For a minute the girls waited in front of the stand. But the more people inspected them the better they appeared. Finally, the head judge stood up.

"First prize is awarded to the Fisherman's Daughters," he announced.

The cheering that followed his words showed the approval of the crowd. Nellie and Dorothy were almost frightened at the noise. Then they rowed their boat to the edge, and as the crowd gathered around them to offer congratulations, the other prizes were awarded.

The second prize went to the Indians!

"Lucky they don't know us," said Hal to Bert, "for they would never let the two best prizes get in one set." The Indians were certainly well made-up, and their canoe a perfect redman's bark.

The third prize went to the "Sea-serpent," for being the funniest boat in the procession; and the fourth to the gunboat. Then came a great shouting!

A perfect day had added to the success of the carnival, and now many people adjourned to the pavilion, where a reception was held, and good things to eat were bountifully served.

"But who was the little girl with Dorothy Minturn?" asked the mayor's wife. Of course everybody knew Dorothy, but Nellie was a stranger.

Mrs. Minturn, Mrs. Bobbsey, Aunt Sarah, Mrs. Bingham, and Mrs. Blake, the latter being the mayor's wife, had a little corner in the pavilion to themselves. Here Nellie's story was quietly told.

"How nice it was she got the prize," said Mrs. Blake, after hearing about Nellie's hardships. "I think we had better have it in money—and we might add something to it," she suggested. "I am sure Mr. Blake would be glad to. He often gives a prize himself. I'll just speak to him."

Of course Dorothy was to share the prize, and she accepted a pretty silver loving cup. But what do you suppose they gave Nellie?

Fifty dollars!

Was not that perfectly splendid?

The prize for Nellie was twenty-five dollars, but urged by Mrs. Blake, the mayor added to it his own check for the balance.

Naturally Nellie wanted to go right home to her mother with it, and nothing about the reception had any interest for her after she received the big check. However, Mrs. Bobbsey insisted that Mr. Minturn would take the money to Nellie's mother the next day, so the little girl had to be content.

Then, when all the festivities were over, and the children's excitement had brought them to bed very tired that night, Nellie sat by her window and looked out at the sea!

Always the same prayer, but to-night, somehow, it seemed answered!

Was it the money for mother that made the father seem so near?

The roaring waves seemed to call out:

"Nellie—Nellie dear! I'm coming—coming home to you!"

And while the little girl was thus dreaming upstairs, Mr. Minturn down in the libary was telling about his visit to Nellie's mother.

"There is no doubt about it," he told Mrs. Bobbsey. "It was Nellie's father who went away with George Bingham, and it was certainly that schooner that was sighted some days ago."

The ladies, of course, were overjoyed at the prospect of the best of luck for Nellie,—her father's possible return,—and then it was decided that Uncle William should again go to Mrs. McLaughlin, this time to take her the prize money, and that Mrs. Bobbsey should go along with him, as it was such an important errand.

"And you remember that little pearl that Nellie found on the beach? Well, I'm having it set in a ring for her. It is a real pearl, but not very valuable, yet I thought it would be a souvenir of her visit at the Cliffs," said Mr. Minturn.

"That will be very nice," declared Mrs. Bobbsey. "I am sure no one deserves to be made happy more than that child does, for just fancy, how she worked in that store as cash girl until her health gave way. And now she is anxious to go back to the store again. Of course she is worried about her mother, but the prize money ought to help Mrs. McLaughlin so that Nellie would not need to cut her vacation short."

"What kind of treasure was it that these men went to sea after?" Aunt Emily asked Uncle William.

"A cargo of mahogany," Mr. Minturn replied. "You see, that wood is scarce now, a cargo is worth a fortune, and a shipload was being brought from the West Indies to New York when a storm blew the vessel out to a very dangerous point. Of course, the vessel was wrecked, and so were two others that later attempted to reach the valuable cargo. You see the wind always blows the one way there, and it is impossible to get the mahogany out of its trap. Now, George Bingham was offered fifty thousand dollars to bring that wood to port, and he decided that he could do it by towing each log around the reef by canoes. The logs are very heavy, each one is worth between eighty and one hundred dollars, but the risk meant such a reward, in case of success, that they went at it. Of course the real danger is around the wreck. Once free from that point and the remainder of the voyage would be only subject to the usual ocean storms."

"And those men were to go through the dangerous waters in little canoes!" exclaimed Aunt Emily.

"But the danger was mostly from winds to the sails of vessels," explained Uncle William. "Small craft are safest in such waters."

"And if they succeeded in bringing the mahogany in?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Nellie would be comparatively rich, for her father went as George Bingham's partner," finished Mr. Minturn.

So, the evening went into night, and Nellie, the Fisherman's Daughter, slept on, to dream that the song of the waves came true.