Vernonia eagle. (Vernonia, Or.) 1922-1974, November 08, 1935, Image 7

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    VERNONIA EAGLE, VERNONIA. OREGON
SHIFTING SANDS
CHAPTER I
HE WIdder lived on the spit of
T
sand jutting out into Crocker's
cove.
Just why she should have been
singled out by this significant so­
briquet was a subtle psychological
problem. There were other wom­
en in Belleport and in Wilton, too,
who had lost husbands. Neverthe­
less, despite the various homes in
which solitary women reigned, none
of their owners was designated by
the appellation allotted to Marcia
Howe.
Moreover, there seemed In the
name the hamlet had elected to be­
stow upon her a ring of satisfac­
tion, even of rejoicing, rather than
the note of condolence commonly
echoing in the term. Persons rolled
it on their tongues as If flaunting
It triumphantly on the breeze.
“Marcia ought never to have mar­
ried Jason Howe,” asserted Abbie
Brewster when one day she rem­
iniscently gossiped with her friend,
Rebecca Gill. “She was head an’
shoulders above him. Whatever
coaxed her Into it I never could un­
derstand. She could have had her
pick of half a dozen husbands.”
“She was nothin* but a slip of a
thing when she married. Mebbe
she had the notion she could re­
form him," Rebecca suggested.
“Mebbe,” agreed Abbie. “Still,
young as she was, she might ’a’
known she couldn’t Ten years ago
he was the same, unsteady, drink­
in’ idler he proved himself to be
up to the last minute of his life.
He hadn't changed a hair. Such
men seldom do, unless they set out
to; an’ Jason Howe never set out
to do, or be, anything. He was too
selfish an’ too lazy. Well, he’s gone,
an’ Marcia’s well rid of him. For
'most three years now, she’s been
her own mistress an’ the feelin’
that she is must be highly enjoy­
able.”
“S’pose she'll always go on livin’
there on that deserted strip of
sand?" speculated Rebecca. “Why,
It’s 'most an island. In fact, it Is
an island at high tide. It must be
a terrible lonely place.”
“I wouldn't want to live there,"
shrugged the sociable Abbie. "But
there’s folks that don't seem to
mind solitude, an' Marcia Howe's
one of ’em. Mebbe, after the life
she led with Jason, she kinder rel­
ishes bein’ alone. Furthermore,
dynamite couldn't blast her out of
that old Daniels homestead. Her
father an’ her grandfather were
born there an’ the house Is the ap­
ple of her eye. It is a fine old
place if only It stood somewheres
else. Of course, when it was built
the ocean hadn’t et away the beach,
an’ who’d ’a’ foreseen the tides
would wash ’round it ’til they'd
whittled It down to little more’n a
sand bar, an’ as good as detached
It from the coast altogether?”
“Well, say what you will against
the sea an’ the sand, they did a
good turn for Marcia all them
years of her married life. At least
they helped her keep track of Jason.
Once she got him on the Point with
the tide runnin' strong twixt him
and the village, she'd padlock the
skiff an’ there he’d be! She had
him sate an’ sound,” Abbie
chuckled.
“Yes,” acquiesced Rebecca. “But
the scheme worked both ways.
Let Jason walk over to town across
the flats an’ then let the tide rise
an’ there he be, too! Without a
boat there was no earthly way of
his get tin’ home. He had the best
of excuses for loiterin’ an’ carous­
in’ ashore.”
“Well, he don’t loiter and carouse
here no longer. Marcia knows
where he is now,” declared Abbie
with spirit. "I reckon she's slept
more durin’ these last three years
than ever she slept in the ten that
went before ’em. She certainly
looks It. All her worries seems to
have fallen away from her, leavin’
her lookin’ like a girl of twenty.
Slje’s pretty as a picture."
“She must be thirty-five If she’s a
day," Rebecca reflected.
“She ain’t She’s scarce over
thirty. But thirty or even more,
she don’t look her age."
“S’pose she’ll marry again?”
ventured Rebecca, leaning forward
and dropping her voice.
"Marry? There you go, 'Becca,
romancin' as usual.”
“I ain't romancin’. I was Just
wonderin’. An’ I ain’t the only per­
son in town askin’ the question,
neither,” retorted Mrs. Gill with a
sniff. “There’s scores of others. In
fact, I Agger the thought Is the up­
permost one In the minds of ’most
everybody.”
Abbie laughed.
“Mebbe. In fact, I reckon ’tis,”
conceded she. “It's the thought
that come to every one quick as
Jason was buried. Folks 'round
about here are fond of Marcia an'
feel she’s been cheated out of what
was her rightful due. They want
her to begin anew an’ have what
she’d oughter have had years ago—
a good husband an’ half a dozen
children. I ain't denyin’ there are
certain persons who are more self­
seekin'. 1 ain't blind to the fact
that once Jason was under the sod,
'bout every widower in town sorter
spruced up an’ began to take no­
tice ; an’ before a week was out
every bachelor had bought a new
necktie."
"Abbie!”
“It’s true.
An’ why, pray,
shouldn’t the men cast sheep’s eyes
at Marcia? Can you blame ’em?
She’d be one wife in a hundred
could a body win her. There ain’t
a thing she can’t do from shinglin’
a barn down to trlmmin’ a hat. It’s
a marvel to me how she’s kept out
of matrimony long's this with so
many men millerin’ ’round her.”
"She certalnly’s takln’ her time.
She don't ’pear to be In no hurry to
get a husband,” smiled Rebecca.
“Why should she be? Her par­
ents left her with money in the
bank an' the Homestead to boot,
an' Marcia was smart enough not
to let Jason make ducks and
drakes of her property.”
“All men mightn’t fancy havin’ a
wife hold the tiller, though.”
“Any man Marcia Howe married
would have to put up with it,” Ab­
bie asserted, biting off a needleful of
thread with a snap of her fine
white teeth. "Marcia's always been
captain of the ship an' she always
will be.”
Gathering up her mending, Re­
becca rose.
“Well, 1 can’t stay here settlin’
Marcia's fortune,” she laughed.
‘Tve got to be goln’ home. Lem-
my'll be wantin’ his supper.”
A scuffling on the steps, the kitch­
en door swung open and Zenas Hen­
ry's lanky form appeared on the
threshold. Behipd him tagged his
crony, Lemuel Gill.
“Well, well, ’Becca, if here ain't
Lem my come to fetch you!” Abbie
cried. “ ’Fraid your wife had de­
serted you, Lemmy? She ain’t. She
was just this minute settin* out for
home.”
“I warn’t worryin’ none," grinned
Lemuel.
“What you two been doin’?” Ab­
bie inquired of her husband.
“Oh, nothin* much,” answered the
big, loose-jointed fellow, shuffling
into the room. “We’ve been settin'
out, drinkin' in the air.”
The carelessness of the reply was
a trifle overdone, and instantly
aroused the keen-eyed Abbie's sus­
picions.
She glanced into his face.
“Where you been settin’?” she de­
manded.
“Settin’? Ob, Lemmy an* me took
sort of a little Juuut along the
shore. Grand day to be abroad. 1
never saw a finer. The sea’s blue
as a corn-flower, an’ the waves are
rollin’ in, an’ rollin’ In, an’—”
Lemuel Gill stepped into the
breach.
“ ’Twas this way." began he.
"Zenas Henry an’ me thought we’d
take a bit of meander. We'd been
to the post office an' was standin’
in the doorway when we spied
Charlie Eldridge goln' by with a
fish-pole—’’
“Charlie Eldridge—the bank cash­
ier?" Rebecca echoed. “But he
ain't no fisherman. I never in all
my life knew of Charlie Eldridge
goln' a-fishln’. Not that he ain’t
got a perfect right to fish if he
wants to outside bankin’ hours.
But—”
"But Charlie fishin’1" interrupted
Abbie, cutting her friend . short.
“Why, he’d no more dirty his lily-
white hands puttin’ a squirmin’
worm on a fishhook than he’d cut
off his head. In fact, I don’t believe
he’d know how. You didn’t, likely,
see where he went.”
“Wai—er—yes. We did.”
Zenas Henry wheeled about.
“Havin’ completed the business
that took us to the store—” he be­
gan.
"Havin’ in short, asked for the
mail an’ found there warn’t none,”
laughed Abbie, mischievously.
Zenas Henry ignored the com­
ment.
"We walked along In Charlie's
wake,” he continued.
“Followed him?”
“Wai—somethin’ of the sort. You
might, I s’pose, call it follerin’,”
Zenas Henry admitted shamefaced­
ly. “Anyhow, we trudged along be­
hind him at what we considered a
suitable distance.”
“Where'd he go?” Rebecca urged,
her face alight with curiosity.
“Wai, Charlie swung along,
kinder whistlin’ to himself, ’til he
come to the fork of the road. Then
he made for the shore.”
“So he was really goln’ fishin’,”
First
of all, a
pleasing love story . . .
but with an element of
mystery that will keep
you guessing until you
read the last chapter—
That
fairly describes our
new serial story
SHIFTING
SANDS
-By­
Sara Ware Bassett
❖ <• ❖
Read this first install­
ment and follow the
story through to its
satisfactory conclusion.
mused Abbie, a suggestion of dis­
appointment in her voice.
"He certainly was. Oh. Charlie
was goln’ fishin' right ’nough. He
was aimed for deep water," grinned
Zenas Henry.
“lie wouldn’t ketch no fish In
Wilton harbor,” sniffed Rebecca
contemptuously.
"Wouldn't you
think he’d ’a’ known that?"
"He warn’t," observed Zenas Hen­
ry mildly, “tlggerln’ to. In fact,
'twarn't to Wilton harbor he was
goln’. Bank cashier or not. Charlie
warn’t that much of a numskull.
He was primed to fish In more pro­
pitious waters."
"Zenas Henry, do stop beatin'
round the bush an’ say what you
have to say. If you’re goln’ to tell
us where Charlie Eldridge went,
out with it. If not, stop talkin'
about it,” burst out his wife sharply.
“Ain't I tellln’ you fast as I can?
Why get so het up? If you must
know an’ can’t wait another min­
ute, Charlie went tlsliln’ In Crock­
er’s Cove.”
“Crocker’s Cove?" gasped Abbie.
"Crocker's Cove?” echoed Re­
becca.
“Crocker's Cove,” nodded Zenas
Henry.
“Mercy on us! Why—! Why,
he—he must ’a' been goln’ ”—be­
gan Abbie.
“—to see The WIdder,” Rebecca
interrupted, completing the sen­
tence.
"rd no notion he was tendin' up
to her,” Abbie said.
“Wai, he warn’t ’xactly tendin’
up to her—leastway, not today. Not
what you could really call tendin’
up,” contradicted Zenas Henry, a
twinkle in his eye. "Rather, I’d say
’twas t'other way round. Wouldn’t
you, Lemmy? Wouldn't you say
that Instead 'twas she who tended
up to him?”
Sagaciously, Lemuel bowed.
“You see,” drawled on Zenas
Henry, “no sooner had Charlie got
into the boat an’ pulled out Into the
channel than he had the usual he-
ginner’s luck an’ hooked a strag­
glin’ bluefiesh. You’d oughter seen
that critter pull! He 'most had
Charlie out of the boat.
“I shouted to him to hang on an'
so did Lemmy. In our excitement,
we must ’a’ bellered louder’n we
meant to, ’cause in no time The
WIdder popped outer the house.
She took one look at Charlie strug­
glin' in the boat, raced down to the
landin’ an' put out to him.
"Qucker'n scat she had the flsh-
poie, an' while we looked on,
Charlie dropped down kinder limp
on the seat of the boat an’ began
tyln’ up his hand in a spandy clean
pocket handkerchief while The
W’idder gaffed the fish an’ hauled
It in."
“My soul I” exploded Abbie Brew­
ster. “My soul an’ body 1”
“Later on,” continued Zenas Hen­
ry, “Charlie overtook us. He’d
stowed away his fish-pole some­
wheres. Leastway he didn’t have
it with him. When Lemmy an' me
asked him where his fish was, he
looker
blacker'n
thunder an’
snapped out: ‘Hang the fish!’
"Seein’ he warn’t in no mood for
neighborly conversation, we left
him an’ come along home.”
CHAPTER II
meantime, Marcia Howe,
I N the THE heroine
of this escapade,
comfortably ensconced in her Island
homestead, paid scant heed to the
fact that she and her affairs were
continually on the tongues of the
outlying community.
Bitter though her experience had
been, it had neither taken from,
nor, miraculously, had It dimmed
her faith In her particular star. On
the contrary there still glowed in
her gray eyes that sparkle of an­
ticipation one sees In the eyes of
one who stands a-tiptoe on the
threshold of adventure. Apparent­
ly she had in her nature an un­
quenchable spirit of hope that noth­
ing could destroy.
Her start, she confessed, had
been an unpropitious one. But
starts sometimes were like that;
and did not the old adage affirm
that a bad beginning made for a
fair endiDg?
The past with its griefs, its hu­
miliations. its heartbreaks, its fail­
ure lay behind—the future all be­
fore her. It was hers—hers 1 She
would be wary what she did with it
and never again would she squander
It for dross.
Today, as she moved swiftly
about the house and her deft hands
made tidy the rooms, she had the
sense of being in step with the
world. The morning, crisp with an
easterly breeze, had stirred the sea
into a swell that rose rhythmically
In measureless, breathing immen-
“Zenas Henry, Do Stop Beating
’Round the Bush an’ Say What
You Have to Say.”
sit.v far away to its clear-cut, sap­
phire horizon. The sands had
never glistened more white; the
surf never curled at her doorway in
a prettier, more feathery line.
Lonely?
If she needed anything it was a
companion to whom to cry: “Isn’t
it glorious to be alive?" and she al­
ready had such a one.
Never was there such a comrade
as Prince Hal!
She would never want for a wel­
come while lie had strength to wag
his white plume of tall; nor lack
affection so long as he was able to
race up the beach and race back
again to hurl himself upon her with
his sharp, staccato yelp of Joy.
Oh, she was worlds better off with
Prince Hal than If she were linked
up with some one of her own genus
who could not understand.
Besides, she was not going to be
alone. She had decided to try an
experiment.
Jason had had an orphaned
niece out In the Middle-West—his
sister's child—a girl in her early
twenties, and Marcia had invited
her io the island for a visit.
In fact, Sylvia was expected to­
day.
That was why a bowl of pansies
stood upon the table in the big bed­
room at the head of the stairs, and
why its fireplace was heaped with
driftwood ready for lighting. That
was also the i-eason Marcia now
stood critically surveying her prep­
arations.
She was especially desirous the
old home should look its best to­
day, for the outside world had con­
tributed a richness of setting that
left her much to live up to. Sylvia
had never seen the ocean. She must
love it. But would she? That was
to be the test.
There was room, money, affec­
tion enough for two beneath the
Homestead roof and Sylvia was
alone in the world. Moreover, Mar­
cia felt an odd sense of obligation
toward Jason. At the price of his
life he had given her back her free
dom. It was a royal gift and she
owed him something In return.
(TO BE CONTINl I O>