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THE VISION SPLENDID (chapter16,part3)

2006-08-28 23:39

    PART 3

    After dinner Jeff lost no time in waiting upon Miss Frome to thank her for her assistance. It was already dark. When he found her it was not in one of the saloons, but on deck. She was leaning against the deck railing in animated talk with Beauchamp, the while Mrs. Van Tyle listened lazily from a deck chair.

    "I like the way that red head of his came bobbing through the water," Beauchamp was saying. "Looks to me as if he would take a lot of beating. He's no quitter. Since I haven't the pleasure of knowing Mr. Powers or Senator Frome, I think I'll back Farnum to win."

    "It's very plain you don't know Joe Powers. He always wins," contributed his daughter blandly.

    "But Mr. Farnum is a remarkable man just the same," Alice added. Then, with a little cry to cover her flushed embarrassment: "Here he is. We do hope you're a little deaf, Mr. Farnum. We've been talking about you."

    "You may say anything you like about me, Miss Frome, except that I'm not grateful for the lift aboard you gave me this afternoon," Jeff answered.

    He found himself presently giving the story of his adventure. He did not look at Alice, but he told the tale to her alone and was aware of the eagerness with which she listened.

    "But why should they want to kidnap you? I don't see any reason for it," Alice protested.

    A shadowy smile lay in the eyes of Mrs. Van Tyle. "Mr. Farnum is in politics, my dear."

    A fat pork packer from Chicago joined the group. "I've been thinking about the sharks, Mr. Farnum. You played in great luck to escape them."

    "Sharks!" Jeff heard the young woman beside him give a gasp. In the moonlight her face showed white.

    "These waters are fairly infested with them," the Chicagoan explained. "We saw two this morning in the harbor. It was when the stewards threw out the scraps. They turned over on their——"

    "Don't!" cried Alice Frome sharply.

    The petrified horror on the vivid mobile face remained long as a sweet memory to Jeff. It had been for him that she had known the swift heart clutch of terror.

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