Sorry this is a little later getting up. (If anyone actually does read this at 7:30.) My computer is being rather slow. I don't think it wanted to get up this morning, much less get to work. :P
Right now we have a dusting of snow. I'm sure it won't be staying long, but it's pretty even if it doesn't even cover the grasses. I'd love to get several inches of snow, but most of the snow seems to have gone north, south or east of us. Maybe later. Like in February or March. We've been known to get a foot of snow in March. But, even if we don't have snow, it's been cold. Okay, some of you wouldn't call it cold, but for us, single digits is cold, as are the teens and even the twenties are cold.
I've actually gotten a good bit written this week and I hope to actually reach 5,000 words this week. The new Graham Quartet mystery is moving along with new twists and turns. I am finding that I can't write it quite as quickly as I can some of my other stories. It may be that keeping the mystery going without telling too much, but trying to follow new clues and things makes me take a little more time. Here's the working title for the story: "The Graham Quartet and the Day Maid." What do you think?
Okay, here is part 4 of the story. If you can't remember what happened in the first 3 parts, you can read part 1, part 2 and part 3.
The Graham Quartet
“Hello,” a friendly voice greeted them. “Enjoying the sand and water already?”
Matt looked up quickly. “Yes, sir, Lieutenant. Would you like to join us? These are my sisters, Elsa and Selena. And that is my younger brother, Tim.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you all; I’m Lieutenant Ashwood. I met your brother a short time ago at the house. Aren’t you four called ‘the Graham Quartet’?”
“Yes, sir, but–” Tim began.
The Lieutenant laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. I just learned about that name from your aunt and uncle.” The lieutenant, a younger man, appearing to be in his late twenties, sat down in the sand and clasped his arms about his knees. His hair was sandy in color while his eyes were the same deep blue as the lake water. He seemed to belong there. “Is this your first time at the lake?”
Elsa nodded. “Yes. We’ve wanted to come before, but haven’t been able to.”
“Well, what do you think of it?”
“It surpasses what I thought it would look like,” Matt confessed, and the others nodded in agreement.
Several minutes passed as they all enjoyed the quiet of the warm beach, and watched the endless waves rolling onto the sandy shore. A few sea gulls, riding on the air currents, soared overhead with harsh cries.
“Go ahead, Tim, ask your question,” Lieutenant Ashwood smiled.
“How did you know I had a question? And how did you remember my name? Do you remember everyone’s names?”
Tim had turned and was eyeing the lieutenant.
“Well, I must confess that remembering your name was easy.” The lieutenant grinned. “I have a younger brother named Tim. As for knowing all your names, I’m half way there because I know you and already knew Matt. And I knew you had a question because most boys your age do.”
“And Tim probably has the most,” Matt put in.
A general laugh went up at this and even Tim joined in the merriment. When it subsided he said. “Someone has to ask questions or we wouldn’t learn anything. You aren’t wearing your uniform, so I couldn’t tell that way . . .”
“I’m in the Navy, Tim. Stationed just north of Chicago. I had some R & R time, and some of my buddies recommended your uncle’s place and, well, here I am.” Leaning back on his hands, Lieutenant Ashwood looked about him at the interested faces of his listeners.
“What is R & R?” Selena asked, puzzled.
“Yeah,” Tim added. “It sounds like a railroad crossing.”
A smile played about the corners of the lieutenant’s mouth as he replied, “Rest and relaxation. No railroads involved. Now, where are you all from?”
For several minutes the Graham Quartet told their new friend about their lives in the northern woods of Minnesota. At last Tim sprang up.
“I’m tried of just sitting here. I’ve been sitting all day. Let’s go explore.”
The others were eager to follow Tim’s suggestion, and Lieutenant Ashwood accepted their invitation to come along. He assured them that he had a watch and would make sure they were back in time for supper. Matt ran back to the house to let one of his parents know where they were going and soon returned with a pair of binoculars around his neck.
Since everyone, except the Lieutenant, had left their shoes inside, the Quartet stuck to the sandy beaches or grassy slopes, deciding that the next time they went exploring they would wear their shoes.
At last, reaching a lovely promontory shaded by tall pines, they halted and gazed out over the lake.
“I never imagined the waters could be so blue,” Elsa exclaimed. “Just look at it.”
“And there’s a ship.” Tim pointed to a small vessel some distance from the shore.
“Actually that’s a boat, Tim,” the lieutenant corrected.
“What’s the difference?” the boy wanted to know.
“A ship is a larger vessel needing many people to man her, while a boat is something small, usually built for smaller groups of people or even one person to handle. The boat you see now would probably need two men to handle her. And look over there.” Lieutenant Ashwood pointed farther south. “There’s a small sailboat. One man could probably sail her in any kind of wind without trouble.”
“Don’t they have any boy boats?” Tim demanded, folding his arms.
A hearty burst of laughter came from the lieutenant. “No, Tim, I’m afraid not. Don’t ask me why all boats and ships are called ‘she’ and ‘her,’ but they are.” He chucked again. “I’ll ask around when I get back to base and see if anyone knows why that is. I’ll let you know what I find out.” He chuckled again.
Matt, who had been using his binoculars, asked, “Lieutenant Ashwood–”
“Please, just call me Lieutenant, all of you. That’s what everyone else does and it’s shorter. Now, what were you saying, Matt?”
“I was just wanting to know if you could tell what kind of thing a boat was used for just by seeing it out on the lake like this.”
The lieutenant shrugged. “Sometimes. It depends on the build of the craft.”
“Matt,” Elsa said, “can I take a look through those?”
“Sure.” Lowering them from his eyes, Matt passed the binoculars to his sister’s waiting hand. “Next time we come out, we should bring the other pair too.”
The single pair was passed from hand to hand and arrived at last back at Matt. Raising them, he peered through them and seemed to be focusing them on something farther away. “Lieutenant, there’s a boat out there that seems larger than these others, would you call it a ship?”
Matt handed him the binoculars and pointed in the directions of the craft. “It seemed different to me, but I’m not familiar with boats and things like that.”
For a moment the lieutenant’s entire attention was focused on the object out on the lake and he said nothing.
What do you think the lieutenant will say about the boat?
What are boats only called "she and her"?
Do you want part 5 next week?