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Frances Waldeaux   By: (1831-1910)

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FRANCES WALDEAUX

A Novel

BY

REBECCA HARDING DAVIS

AUTHOR OF "DOCTOR WARRICK'S DAUGHTER"

A REMEMBRANCER OF BRITTANY FOR THE BEST FELLOW TRAVELLER IN THE WORLD

FRANCES WALDEAUX

CHAPTER I

In another minute the Kaiser Wilhelm would push off from her pier in Hoboken. The last bell had rung, the last uniformed officer and white jacketed steward had scurried up the gangway. The pier was massed with people who had come to bid their friends good by. They were all Germans, and there had been unlimited embracing and kissing and sobs of "Ach! mein lieber Sckatz!" and "Gott bewahre Dick!"

Now they stood looking up to the crowded decks, shouting out last fond words. A band playing "The Merry Maiden and the Tar" marched on board.

The passengers pressed against the rails, looking down. Almost every one held flowers which had been brought to them: not costly bouquets, but homely bunches of marigolds or pinks. They carried, too, little German or American flags, which they waved frantically.

The gangways fell, and the huge ship parted from the dock. It was but an inch, but the whole ocean yawned in it between those who went and those who stayed. There was a sudden silence; a thousand handkerchiefs fluttered white on the pier and the flags and flowers were waved on the ship, but there was not a cry nor a sound.

James Perry, one of the dozen Americans on board, was leaning over the rail watching it all with an amused smile. "Hello, Watts!" he called, as another young man joined him. "Going over? Quite dramatic, isn't it? It might be a German ship going out of a German port. The other liners set off in as commonplace a way as a Jersey City ferryboat, but these North German Lloyd ships always sail with a certain ceremony and solemnity. I like it."

"I always cross on them," said Dr. Watts. "I have but a month's vacation two weeks on board ship, two on land. Now you, I suppose, don't have to count your days? You cross every year. I can't see, for my part, what business the assistant editor of a magazine has abroad."

"Oh, we make a specialty of articles from notorieties over there; statesmen, scientific fellows, or people with titles. I expect to capture a paper from Lorne and some sketches by the Princess Beatrice this time."

"Lorne? It throws you into contact with that sort of folk, eh?" said the doctor, looking at him enviously. "How do they strike you, Jem?"

"Well," said Perry importantly, "well bred people are the same the world over. I only see them in a business way, of course, but one can judge. Their voices are better than ours, but as to looks no! It's queer, but American women the wives and daughters of saddlers or farmers, perhaps have more often the patrician look than English duchesses. Now there, for example," warming to the subject, "that woman to whom you bowed just now, the middle aged one in blue cloth. Some Mrs. Smith or Pratt, probably. A homely woman, but there is a distinction in her face, a certain surety of good breeding, which is lacking in the heavy jawed English royalties."

"Yes; that is a friend of mine," said Watts.

"She is a Mrs. Waldeaux from Wier, in Delaware. You could hardly call her a typical American woman. Old French emigre family. Probably better blood than the Coburgs a few generations back. That priggish young fellow is her son. Going to be an Episcopalian minister."

Mr. Perry surveyed his friend's friends good humoredly. "Brand new rugs and cushions," he said. "First voyage. Heavens! I wish it were my first voyage, and that I had their appetite for Europe."

"You might as well ask for your relish of the bread and butter of your youth," said Watts.

The two men leaned lazily against the bulwark watching the other passengers who were squabbling about trunks.

Mr. Perry suddenly stood upright as a group of women passed.

"Do you know who that girl is?" he said eagerly. "The one who looked back at us over her shoulder."

"No. They are only a lot of school girls, personally conducted... Continue reading book >>




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