The Guest Book by Sarah Blake Read Online (FREE)
Read The Guest Book by Sarah Blake full novel online for free here.
“IT’S THE USUAL STORY,” the man at the tiller reflected, regarding the beautiful derelict on the hill. “At the end of old money there is real estate.”
There were three of them in the boat that Saturday in June. They had set out from Rockland, Maine, on a day’s sail into the bay, and tacking into a cove of one of the many granite islands eight or nine miles offshore had come face-to-face with the great white house before them, some sea captain’s pride, sitting squarely on top of a long lawn leading down to a boathouse and dock.
The house needed paint. The lawn needed cutting. The boathouse roofline sagged and the shingles slipped. Empty of boats, the dock in front of them had been patched and patched again.
It was magnificent.
“I’m waiting for it to go up for sale,” the host of the weekend went on. “Low-hanging fruit.”
“Whose is it?” the man sitting beside him asked.
“One of those families who used to run the world.” The host stretched his legs, pressing his bare feet against the boat’s hull. “WASPs.”
“WASPs?” The other chuckled. “Do they even exist anymore except in their own heads?”
The host smiled. He had just made a fortune in health care.
“What happened?” the man beside him asked.
“The usual, I’d suspect. Drinking, apathy, dullards in the gene pool.”
“What’s their name?”
“Don’t know.” He jimmied the boom. “Milton? The Miltons?”
“Milton?” The third man, the man in the bow, who had been staring up at the house all this while, turned around. “As in Milton Higginson, the bankers?”
“Sounds right,” answered the host, pulling the mainsail in so the wind caught, sending them on an angle out of the cove and back into the channel, running with the wind along the coastline of the island. The sailors fell into a companionable silence, punctuated by the host’s “Ready about” and “Hard to lee,” calling them to shift their weight from one side of the Herreshoff to the other, leaving room for the boom to sail unchecked over their heads.
“It’s one of those tragic families,” he said as they reached the end of the island’s granite spine. “They say somebody drowned there.”
“Just there, off those rocks.” He pointed to a mound of white granite boulders humped high above the waterline, backed by a ridge of spruce rising into the sky.
There was nothing to see.
“Ready about,” the man at the tiller said. And they tacked away.
THE FALL HAD TURNED to winter and then back again without conviction, November’s chill taken up and dropped like a woman never wearing the right coat until finally December laughed and took hold. Then the ice on the black pathways through the park fixed an unreflecting gaze upward month after month, the cold unwavering through what should have been spring, so that even in April, in the Bowery in New York City, the braziers still glowed on street corners, and a man trying to warm his hands could watch the firelight picked up and carried in the windows above his head and imagine the glow traveling all the way along the avenues, square by square above the streets, all the way uptown and into the warm apartments of those who, pausing on the threshold to turn off the light, left their rooms and descended in woolens and furs, grumbling about the cold—good god, when will it end?—until it turned without fanfare one morning in May, and spring let loose at last. All over the city, children were released from their winter coats and out into the greening arms of Central Park. So here we all are again, thought Kitty Milton, stepping into the taxicab on the way to meet her mother at the Philharmonic.