Then, only a week later, Tom shipped in the new brig, Touch-Me-Not. He was twenty-two and captain. Lydia, standing alone on the housetop within the white-fenced walk, watched the sails flutter to mere threads as the ship changed her course off Great Point—so defenseless a speck in the gray expanse—so infinitely precious—her dear one held within that tiny thing.
Suddenly Lydia turned with bowed head and disappeared down the dark hatch.
"Ain't she cold-hearted, though," quoth Liza Anne Renuff, who, from her housetop was watching too. "Goin' downstairs when her husband's ship's still in plain sight."
Liza Anne could not see the young wife locked in the lonely bedroom, nor the agony of stifled sobs which swept her there. This day began for Lydia that habit of solitary prayer which grew upon her as the years went by—hours alone locked in her room.
This lonely battle bred in Lydia a severity which Dencey—the happy "image of her father"—could never seem to pierce during the long years of Captain Tom Coffyn's absences. Yet it helped to form in the child a surprising strength of character, well tempered by true Quaker concern for others. Downright Dencey is a probing portrayal of the power of love to overcome social barriers and religious strictures. The Quaker setting, historically accurate and thoughtfully depicted, gives added depth to this treasure of a novel.
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