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Away From Gibraltar

Primary Kids Stories | 6-9 yrs | Reading Pod

As the Ariadne steamed away from Gibraltar, the harbor looked very unlike that of the afternoon. It was now cool, and dark except when lit by flashes from the searchlights.

The warships that had looked so sombre in the afternoon were now outlined by rows of tiny electric lights, and myriads of lights twinkled from the town lying along the face of the Rock.

With so much beauty outside, Irma could notleave the deck of the Ariadne. As she stood there alone, the little old gentleman approached. “There is to be a sham fight in the harbor to-night. That accounts for the unusual illumination.”

“It is too beautiful for words. I must stay until we see the other face of the Rock—the picture side.” “I wish I could stay, but I came only to bring you this. It may be of use to you, as you can have no dinner.”

“No dinner! But I wish none.”

“Some of your friends, however, may need something more substantial than the view.

The company is saving an honest penny by allowing those who went ashore to abstain from dinner. It would have been served as usual, it was ready, the stewards say, if there had been passengers here to eat it.”

“But they were all ashore.”

“The passengers coming on at Gibraltar were here. Others could have been, but they preferred sightseeing at Gibraltar.

Consequently they were punished.”

The company’s meanness seemed absurd, but as the old gentleman departed, Irma thanked him warmly for his gift,—a good-sized basket filled with fruit and cakes.

For some time Irma strained her eyes for a glimpse of the other side of the Rock. At length, against the sky rose a huge bulk that might have escaped a less keen vision. Almost instantly a passing cloud darkened the sky, and the giant became invisible.

When Irma went inside she found a discontented crowd gathered in passageways and in the library. Loud were the complaints that greeted her of the company’s cruelty in omitting dinner.

“We went ashore without even our usual afternoon tea, and no one had time to think of food at Gibraltar.”

Irma held out her basket. “A fairy godfather visited me,” she said, “but I really do not know just what he gave me. Come, share it with me.”

Aunt Caroline looked surprised; Uncle Jim gave an expressive whistle, while even on Marion’s face was an expression of curiosity.

“I do not even know what is in the basket,” repeated Irma, “though the fairy godfather
said it held fruit and cakes.”

“I should say so,” exclaimed Uncle Jim lifting the cover. “What fruit! And that cake looks as if it had been made in Paris. Just now these are much more attractive than those spangled scarfs I wrestled for with that Hindu. By the way, Irma, are these for show or use? They look too good to eat.”

“Try them and see,” answered Irma.

“I’d be more eager to eat if I knew the name of the fairy godfather.”

“I don’t know it myself,” said Irma.

[63] “This feast will dull our appetites for the nine o’clock rarebit,” interposed Uncle Jim, who had made a test of the basket’s contents.

“I am sure a fairy godfather wouldn’t use poison,” and Aunt Caroline followed Uncle Jim’s example.

When Irma turned to offer the basket to Marion, he had left the group.

“Poor boy,” exclaimed Aunt Caroline. “He told me he felt very faint. It seems he had little luncheon. Perhaps we shall find him in the dining saloon.” But when they descended to the dining saloon, Marion was not there, nor did they see him again that night. Yet, if she could not share the old gentleman’s gift with Marion,

Irma found Muriel most grateful for a portion. For some time the two girls sat together at one end of the long table, comparing notes about Gibraltar. They stayed together so late, indeed, that just before the lights were put out Aunt Caroline appeared.

“Why, Irma, my dear, after this exciting day I should think you would need rest earlier than usual.”

“Perhaps so, Aunt Caroline. But the day has been so exciting that I cannot feel sleepy.”

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