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The Sea Bride   By: (1889-1953)

The Sea Bride by Ben Ames Williams

First Page:

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Minor printer's errors corrected.





Published by Arrangement with The Macmillan Company



Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1919.



They were to be married before the open fire, in the big living room of the old house on the hill. Upstairs, Bess Holt was helping Faith dress. Faith sat before the old, veneered dressing table with its little mirror tilting on the curved standards, and submitted quietly and happily to Bess's ministrations. Bess was a chatterbox, and her tongue flew as nimbly as the deft fingers that arranged Faith's veil. Faith was content; her soft eyes resting on her own image in the little mirror were like the eyes of one who dreams dreams and sees visions. She scarce heard Bess at all....

Only once she turned and looked slowly about this low ceiled old room that had been her home: the high, soft bed, with its canopy resting on the four tall posts; the frame of that canopy was split in one place; she had wound it with wire to strengthen it. How many mornings, waking pleasantly as day stole in the little windows, she had seen that twist of wire first of all as her eyes opened. She used to look at it, and dream a little, before she rose.... One window, with its white hangings, was just at the foot of the bed. The cool, salt laden winds from the sea used to whisper in there and soothe her sleep. She had always loved the sea. Would she always love it so, when there was nothing else but the sea on every hand?... When she should have sailed away with big Noll Wing....

The high chest of drawers, the little dressing table, the delicate chairs.... These were all old and familiar friends whom she was leaving behind her. And she loved them, loved the ugly paper on the wall, loved the old daguerreotypes above the chest of drawers, loved the crooked sampler by the never used fireplace. Loved them....

She smiled happily and confidently. She loved them ... but she loved big Noll Wing better. She would not regret....

Below stairs, her father, Jem Kilcup, talked with Dr. Brant, the minister. They spoke of wind and weather, as men do whose lives lie near the sea. They spoke of oil, of ships, of tedious cruises when the seas were bare of whales.... The minister marked the old harpoon that stood in the corner by the fire, and Jem told how with that battered iron he had struck his last whale, a dozen years before.... A good tale. The whale fought hard, left Jem with a crushed chest that drove him from the sea. Their talk wandered everywhere save where their thoughts were; they did not speak of Faith, nor of Noll Wing. Jem could not bear to speak of his girl who was going from his arms to another's; the minister understood, and joined with him in a conspiracy of silence. Only, when Bess came whispering down to say that Faith was ready, old Jem gripped Dr. Brant's arm and whispered harshly into the minister's ear: "Marry them tight, and marry them hard, and true, Doctor. By God...."

Dr. Brant nodded. "No fear, my friend," he said. "Faith is a woman...."

"Aye," said Jem hoarsely. "Aye; and she's made her bed. God help her."

Things began to stir in the big house. Noll Wing was in the back room with Henry Ham, who had sailed with him three voyages, and would back him in this new venture. Young Roy Kilcup had found them there.... Old Jem had a demijohn of cherry rum, thirty years unopened. He sent it in to Noll.... And Noll Wing smacked his lips over it cheerfully, and became more amiable than was his custom. Roy Kilcup caught him in this mood and took quick vantage of it. When the three came in where Jem and Dr. Brant were waiting, Roy crossed and gripped his father's arm... Continue reading book >>

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