Next morning Mrs M'Kenzie made a suggestion at breakfast-time. She did not
want to sound too eager, but she felt that the two boys might get on better
if they were thrown together more.
'Rajah,' she said, in the pleasant,
friendly way by which her nephew, in spite of his anger, could not help
being attracted. `I wonder if you would take Douglas in hand and teach him
to swim. I can't let him go swimming alone until he is a good swimmer, and I
hear that you are like a fish in the water.'
Rajah felt slightly flattered.
'Mavis tried to show me the arm stroke,' said Douglas eagerly, `but how can
a person learn to swim if he can't go near the water?'
Rajah laughed quite naturally.
'All right, Aunt Mag,' he said, 'I'll give Douglas a lesson this morning
if you like.' Turning to Douglas he said, 'Can you be ready about half-past
eleven? It's long enough after breakfast, so that's when I'll give you a
'Now. Douglas,' said Mrs M'Kenzie firmly, `remember, you must do exactly
as Rajah tells you. There must be no going out of your depth, and no diving
'Don't worry, Mother,' promised Douglas, as he ran off excitedly to get
his swimming gear.
Rajah kept his promise and met Douglas at the appointed time. He was very
patient too, though the novice kicked about a good deal in the water.
Douglas had no fear, and tried hard to follow his cousin's instructions, so
the lesson was quite a success, in spite of much splashing.
'I'll have you swimming in no time, Douglas,' Rajah said, quite genuinely
pleased. 'You can come for coaching every day if you like.'
'Thanks awfully, Rajah,' said Douglas, then he made, quite
unintentionally, a blunder. His eyes spotted Hapland Castle, shining in the
sun. In his eager boyish way he said, 'Isn't that a topping house? I can
hardly believe the old place belongs to me.'
All the pent up jealousy in Rajah's heart seemed to well up. Without a
word, he plunged into the deeper water and swam off with a strong, swift
overhand stroke. He knew it was wrong to leave Douglas alone where he was,
without warning him of a deep pool nearby, but he felt he did not care what
he did so long as he got away from the boy who had taken his place at
Douglas did not mind being left alone, for he felt quite confident in the
water after Rajah's coaching. So he splashed about happily for a time in the
shallower water, thoroughly enjoying the breaking waves as they passed him
in a cascade of foam. Then, plucking up courage, he ventured a little
further out. With startling suddenness his feet went down under him, and he
felt himself struggling in deep water. A big wave rushed up and almost
choked him. He gave a sharp cry of distress, but, in spite of his sudden
fear, he did not lose his head for a moment. He worked his arms as Rajah had
taught him to do, and kicked his legs wildly, till, just as suddenly as he
had sunk into deep water, he felt the sand under his feet, and with a little
difficulty he stood upright again.
He turned and saw Rajah swimming wildly towards him. 'I heard you cry
out,' he said breathlessly. He did not like to think of the fear that had
caught him when he looked back and saw no sign of Douglas.
'Oh, it's all right,' panted Douglas. 'I got into a deep pool, somehow or
other, but I managed to wangle out somehow. I must say the sea is full of