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The Inn at the Red Oak   By:

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THE INN AT THE RED OAK

BY LATTA GRISWOLD

1917

[Illustration: "It's a treasure right enough!" cried Dan.]

CONTENTS

PART I THE OLD MARQUIS

I THE MARQUIS ARRIVES AT THE INN

II THE LION'S EYE

III THE MARQUIS AT NIGHT

IV THE OAK PARLOUR

V THE WALK THROUGH THE WOODS

PART II THE TORN SCRAP OF PAPER

VI THE HALF OF AN OLD SCRAP OF PAPER

VII A DISAPPEARANCE

VIII GREEN LIGHTS

IX RECOLLECTIONS OF A FRENCH EXILE

X MIDNIGHT VIGILS

PART III THE SCHOONER IN THE COVE

XI THE SOUTHERN CROSS

XII TOM TURNS THE TABLES

XIII MADAME DE LA FONTAINE

XIV IN THE FOG

XV NANCY

XVI MADAME AT THE INN

XVII THE MARQUIS LEAVES THE INN

PART IV THE ATTACK ON THE INN

XVIII THE AVENUE OF MAPLES

XIX THE ATTACK

XX THE OAK PARLOUR

XXI THE TREASURE

The Inn at the Red Oak

PART I

THE OLD MARQUIS

CHAPTER I

THE MARQUIS ARRIVES AT THE INN

By the end of the second decade of the last century Monday Port had passed the height of prosperity as one of the principal depots for the West Indian trade. The shipping was rapidly being transferred to New York and Boston, and the old families of the Port, having made their fortunes, in rum and tobacco as often as not, were either moving away to follow the trade or had acquiesced in the changed conditions and were settling down to enjoy the fruit of their labours. The harbour now was frequently deserted, except for an occasional coastwise trader; the streets began to wear that melancholy aspect of a town whose good days are more a memory than a present reality; and the old stage roads to Coventry and Perth Anhault were no longer the arteries of travel they once had been.

To the east of Monday Port, across Deal Great Water, an estuary of the sea that expanded almost to the dignity of a lake, lay a pleasant rolling wooded country known in Caesarea as Deal. It boasted no village, scarcely a hamlet. Dr. Jeremiah Watson, a famous pedagogue and a graduate of Kingsbridge, had started his modest establishment for "the education of the sons of gentlemen" on Deal Hill; there were half a dozen prospering farms, Squire Pembroke's Red Farm and Judge Meath's curiously lonely but beautiful House on the Dunes among them; a little Episcopalian chapel on the shores of the Strathsey river, a group of houses at the cross roads north of Level's Woods, and the Inn at the Red Oak, and that was all.

In its day this inn had been a famous hostelry, much more popular with travellers than the ill kept provincial hotels in Monday Port; but now for a long time it had scarcely provided a livelihood for old Mrs. Frost, widow of the famous Peter who for so many years had been its popular host. No one knew when the house had been built; though there was an old corner stone on which local antiquarians professed to decipher the figures "1693," and that year was assigned by tradition as the date of its foundation.

It was a long crazy building, with a great sloping roof, a wide porch running its entire length, and attached to its sides and rear in all sorts of unexpected ways and places were numerous out houses and offices. Behind its high brick chimneys rose the thick growth of Lovel's Woods, crowning the ridge that ran between Beaver Pond and the Strathsey river to the sea. The house faced southwards, and from the cobbled court before it meadow and woodland sloped to the beaches and the long line of sand dunes that straggled out and lost themselves in Strathsey Neck. To the east lay marshes and the dunes and beyond them the Strathsey, two miles wide where its waters met those of the Atlantic; west lay the great curve, known as the Second Beach, the blue surface of Deal Bay, and a line of rocky shore, three miles in length, terminated by Rough Point, near which began the out lying houses of Monday Port.

The old hostelry took its name from a giant oak which grew at its doorstep just to one side of the maple lined driveway that led down to the Port Road, a hundred yards or so beyond... Continue reading book >>




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